“A heart transplant?” Jesse asked with wide eyes. His parents had just explained to him and his younger brother, Marcus, that the doctors had decided Grandpa should have a heart transplant as soon as a donor could be found.
Dad nodded. “It’s amazing what doctors can do these days, but we must remember that it’s a dangerous operation and isn’t always successful. Let’s pray for Grandpa and trust God for the outcome.”
“But wait a minute! What if Grandpa has the heart transplant and then dies anyway?” Marcus asked anxiously. “He wouldn’t go to heaven.”
Everyone turned and looked at Marcus curiously. “Why do you say that?” asked Mom. “Of course Grandpa would go to heaven–he’s a Christian.”
“Yeah. Grandpa loves Jesus,” said Jesse. “He said he trusted Jesus as his Savior when he was just a kid, remember?”
“But my teacher at church says we won’t go to heaven unless we have Jesus in our hearts,” replied Marcus. “So if Grandpa gets a different heart, he won’t be a Christian anymore, will he?”
“Didn’t your teacher explain what she meant by having Jesus in your heart?” asked Dad. Marcus just shrugged. “Well,” said Dad, “think of it like this, Marcus. You have a big place in my heart, but that doesn’t mean you’re actually inside my physical heart.” Dad placed his hand on his chest. “You don’t crawl around in the organ beating inside here. So what do you think it means when I say you’re in my heart?”
“I don’t know. I guess it means you love me a whole lot,” said Marcus.
Dad nodded. “Right. It’s like that when we talk about having Jesus in our hearts. We don’t mean our physical hearts then either. We mean that we know Jesus loves us, and we love Him too. When we trust Him to forgive our sins, we say He comes into our hearts–not into our physical hearts, but into our lives. He’s with us all the time, and we look to Him for help and direction. So no matter what physical heart is inside Grandpa’s body, Grandpa loves Jesus and belongs to Him. Does that make sense?”
Marcus smiled and nodded. “I feel better now.”
Do you have Jesus in your heart? In the Bible, the word “heart” refers to your innermost being–the place where your thoughts, feelings, and desires come from. The Bible says our hearts are sinful, which is why we need Jesus to free us from sin and change the way we think and the things we desire. When we trust in Him, He comes into our hearts–not physically but spiritually. Trust Him to change your heart today.
When Jews prayed, they normally stood upright with hands raised, but Paul’s bowed posture in Ephesians 3:14-21 tells us that this is no ordinary prayer; it is the prayer of someone kneeling, like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Even now, kneeling before someone is considered a way to acknowledge that he or she is greater. Whether people kneel physically or only in their hearts, they should come to the throne of grace with a spirit of submission and humility.
Paul prayed for at least four things:
- An inward power.
- An inward presence.
- An inward perception.
- An inward provision
Paul was very specific in the petitions in his prayer. The exact number of intercessions is not important. What is important is that we identify the mystery of God in prayer.
Paul saw two elements of human nature:
- The flesh, which includes all the impulses and activities of our earthly lives.
- The mind, where our true personality lives. It is the inner self that can be continually renewed and strengthened.
The latter item is the key point of Paul’s theology. A person many be “in Christ” and thus live in the Spirit and in the power of the living God who lives in us. Union of Christ and possession of the Spirit mean the same. They are created and affected by faith. When Christ lives in us, our lives are reoriented. In other words, when the Holy Spirit comes to us, we get a spiritual heart transplant.
God’s love can be known. It can be known because the Cross is the supreme revelation of love. This love is so glorious that it can’t be described. It is best experienced by fellowship with other believers. The more we are united with fellow believers, the more we enter into fellowship with God. Christ’s love is so boundless that the only way to understand it is through the combined experience of all Christians.
Paul used four dimensions to describe the immensity of God’s love:
- Its breadth reminds us that His arms reach around the globe. On the cross, Jesus’ hands were stretched out for the whole world.
- Its length reminds us that His love extends from eternity past to eternity future. It existed before the foundation of this world and will exist after this world’s end.
- Its depth reminds us that His love addresses the deepest needs of the human heart. God loves sinners no matter who they are, what they have done, or where they have been.
- Its height reaches to the very throne of God. Out of love Jesus came down from heaven and lifts up to His level anyone who chooses to believe, because no one can climb up to His level.
The word “dwell” means more than merely to live in a place. It means to settle down, move in, take up residence and be at home. When God makes His home in the hearts of His people, and the Holy Spirit fills them with His presence, they begin to understand the length, depth, width and breadth of His love.
God’s love can’t be contained, but we can receive it to the full measure of our capacity and to the degree that we yield to it. That is what it means to be filled with the Spirit. We have a relationship with God that is so yielded to Him that He comes to us and lives with us in intimacy and power. Consequently, we can experience in life all things Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would do for believers.
If we are weak, it is not because there is no available power. The power of God that created the universe and raised Jesus from the dead is always available to us through prayer. Spiritual power is a mark of every Christian who submits to the Holy Spirit. It is not reserved for special people. It is available to those who discipline their minds and spirits to study God’s Word, understand it and live by it. Just like Christ grew in Mary until He had to come out, He will live in us until He comes out in our speech, our actions and our decisions. We, like Mary, will deliver Christ into the world.
Paul urges us to think about what it means to represent Christ in the world. When people look at us as Christians, do they see Christ-like qualities? After all, God works through people who know Him and trust Him. God’s ability to perform miracles is not the question. The question is: How do we get the miraculous to happen to us? The answer is that we have to believe in God’s power, which is alive and working in us. When God’s Word is alive in our hearts, we must keep it alive and active in us. We don’t know how He does this in all believers all the time, but without God living through us, it would be impossible to live the Christian life.
If the Holy Spirit lives within us, and if He is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, should we not expect more of ourselves than merely what we’ve known or attempted in the past? We don’t have to worry that we don’t have the tools, skills or experience to do what God asks us to do. God does not call the equipped. He equips the called.
Here are some truths for us to consider today:
- There is no promise too hard for God to fulfill.
- There is no prayer too big for God to answer.
- There is no problem too big for God to solve.
- There is no disease God cannot heal.
- There is no heart God cannot mend.
- There is no relationship God cannot restore.
- There is no sin God cannot redeem.
- There is no bondage God cannot break.
- There is no need God cannot meet.
- There is no mountain God cannot move.
- There is no enemy God cannot defeat.
- There is nothing God cannot do.
A good example of what God can do in our lives can be found in the life of a gentleman named Stuart Hamblen. He had a popular radio show on the West Coast of the United States in the late 1940s. During Billy Graham’s 1949 Los Angeles Crusade, Stuart Hamblen invited Billy Graham on his show as a guest. Stuart Hamblen encouraged his audience to attend the crusade and remarked that he would be there too.
The first night Stuart attended, he was convicted of his sins. Because he could not understand what was going on in his soul, he shook his fist in anger and left. He came back several times and each time he had the same reaction. One night, Billy Graham was awakened in his hotel room by the ringing of the telephone. Stuart Hamblen was on the other end on the line, and he was in tears. He asked to see Billy Graham right away. They talked and prayed, and Stuart Hamblen gave his life to Christ that night, and came forward in the next service during the crusade.
Not long after, Stuart had a conversation with the actor John Wayne. That conversation inspired Stuart to write one of the most famous Gospel songs. Some of the words are:
It is no secret what God can do
What he’s done for others he’ll do for you
With arms wide open, he’ll pardon you
It is no secret what God can do.
Without the Holy Spirit, we can’t live the Christian life. With God in our lives, we can experience Christ’s life in abundance. How does this happen?
- God’s Spirit makes us alive in Christ.
- He assures us that we are His children.
- He guides us into all truth by taking the things of Jesus and making them known to us.
- He gives us the power to understand and experience the love of God.
- He works in us to live out God’s purposes for our lives.
- He expresses the fruit of His live through us.
The great Protestant reformer Martin Luther commented on a professor of his who would follow the same routing every day. He would enter the classroom, hang up his coat, then proceed to take off his hat and bow before every single student in the classroom. Finally, Martin Luther asked him, “What are you doing? Why do you bow before each of us?” The professor replied, “I bow before you in honour of what you might become if you get your life in tune with God!”
What might we become if our lives were consistently in tune with God? What might we become if our lives were set apart, knowing Him, confident, mature, allowing His power to work exceedingly abundant in us? What might we become if we entrust our loved ones to Him, knowing that they will be safer with Him than in our hands? God can bring change in people’s lives, but people have to follow His plans instead of their own.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1643)
- Hazel W. Marett, “A New Heart.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dunnam, M.D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 31: Galatians/Ephesians/Philippians/Colossians/Philemon (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; pp. 182-189)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 1636-1637)
- “Success Story: A Community Formed by Remarkable Differences.” Retrieved from Chrsitianity.email@example.com
- Pete Briscoe, “God’s Working Today Through You.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- Christine Caine, “First Things First with Christine.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. Ed Young, “In Tune With God.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Bob Christopher, “The Word of the Holy Spirit.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org.
- T.M. Moore, “Pushing the Limits.” Retrieved from www.ailbe.org
- Billy Graham, Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham (San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins Worldwide; 1997; pp.145, 147-148)