Reaching the Heart

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Slowly the rays of the sun recede behind the darkening skies. Mount Calvary is engulfed in an unusual darkness. The world hides its face for the shame that it is looking upon. Jesus, a god man, is hanging on a cross dying between two thieves, bearing the shame of the nakedness of man and his folly of sin. A huge storm has gathered, for there is a battle between the spiritual powers of heaven. Darkness is everywhere, not only in the sky, but in the hearts of men. Lightning flashes and thunder echoes down the valley. The earth shakes, the darkness is terrifying, and even the soldiers looking on say “Surely this is the Son of God.” Jesus is giving the ultimate demonstration of love and sacrifice.
God created us. By choice we sinned and lost our relationship with our creator, God.He reached out to us in love because we could not reach out to him. In love and sacrifice he chose to buy us back. Through the death of His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, a bridge was formed so the hearts of sinful man could reach out to Holy God.
We need to love. A disciple one day said to Jesus, “Show us the Father.” Jesus replied, “If you have seen me ye have seen the father.” Jesus had the Father’s love for men! Jesus as a man developed a relationship with his people as he walked, talked, and worked (fished) with them. We also need to develop social relationships with men before we can enter into a spiritual relationship. Many times we are a selfish people. We don’t have time for others and really, we hardly have time for God either! In this we fail the greatest of all commandments that we should love God with all our heart soul and mind and strength and love our neighbor as our self. See Mark 12:29-31. Jesus wants us to think of others. “Look unto the fields.” Why should I look unto the fields? Jesus said “For they are white and ready to harvest.” Jesus asked Peter, “Lovest thou these (fish) more than me?“ When Peter responded, “Yes I love you” Jesus replied, “Then feed my sheep.” That’s love and sacrifice!
We need to forgive. God asked Jonah, “Don’t you care for Nineveh? Where is your love for souls?” Jonah responded, “I knew that if I preached repentance you would forgive them. But God they are our arch enemies. Why should I care for them? Why should I love and forgive them? That is why I didn’t go! I preached yet forty days and Nineveh shall be over thrown and they repented and you didn’t destroy them.” “And God said to Jonah, Doest thou do well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle” (Jonah 4:9-11)? God is asking, “Isn’t the salvation of Nineveh important?” When God forgives why can’t we forgive? Men can tell from our actions whether we forgive. Even those who don’t ask for forgiveness should know that we treat them as we would a brother. Let us walk in love and sacrifice, in humility, and forgiveness. Men need to know that we love, care, and offer forgiveness to them.
Some will resist. On one occasion, Jesus and his disciples planned to travel through Samaria. “Jesus sent messengers before his face… and… the Samaritans... did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples… saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village” (Luke 9: 52-56). Sometimes we are like the disciples. We would just like to see some revenge on certain people because they resist us. But Jesus understood their hearts and said, “I didn’t come to destroy but to save. I came to love not to hate. If they resist you and the gospel of love go to the next town - to the next group of people.”
Jesus was a praying man. Prayer was a common everyday occurrence. He was always praying and seeking God’s will for his life. Even in the last hours of his life he was in sweat and tears as he prayed. “And it came to pass in those days, that he (Jesus) went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;” (Luke 6:12-13). In prayer and meditation he was given spiritual wisdom in choosing his twelve disciples.
We need to pray. The need of prayer was recognized by the disciples and they asked their Master to teach them to pray! Jesus taught them to pray that the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ last hours on this earth he kept repeating, “Not my will but thine be done.” We “fear” to mingle with the world for fear the wolves may destroy the lambs. But Jesus said I have prayed for you. “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world (John 17:15-18). We need to pray for God’s protection and a sanctified heart as it is His will that we would not be overcome by the evil world around us. “And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, Jesus took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering” (Luke 9: 28). After meditation and prayer God often reveals Himself more fully to us and helps us to understand our own selves and the majesty of God. Our countenance becomes changed as we develop a heart for reaching out to men.
Jesus calls His disciples one by one. “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him (Matt 4:18-20). “The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me” (John 1:43). Jesus saw in the following of new disciples all the imperfections of sinful man (and even had a traitor Judas) and their need to learn and grow up in Him. But they had a passion and desire to give all for Jesus, and to be Jesus’ hands and feet to a hurting world in a way that we seldom encounter in today’s world. Are we able to let Him share the gospel? Or do we say, “You need to wait and become more mature in Christ?” They laid down fishing (gave up their living or high dollar jobs) at the Lord’s direction, to begin a ministry of faith. “I will make you fishers of men!” What precious thing is there in my life that Jesus is telling me to give up to “Follow Me and be fishers of men”? So we walk with Jesus as imperfect men, but perfect in Christ, perfect in God’s will, and in zeal for the souls of men! We live in love and sacrifice!
Jesus ministered to the children. “And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” (Lu 18:15-17). We do well to pay attention to little children. Not only are they of the kingdom, but they are precious to their parents. Many times when we reach out to touch the lives of little children it touches the heart of parents and opens the way to share Christ.
We need to find ways to build relationships with the unbeliever. It may be drinking tea with them or it may be sharing and helping with gardening or selling them a product or a service. They need to see more than honest transactions. They need to see honorable transactions. We need to make sure that they get a ”bushel measure” pressed down and running over. It is in these transactions that men will learn that you love and care for them and are not selfish. It is in these relationships that men learn to admire and trust us for the life that we live and embrace in Christ. Outside of building these relationships, men will never know that you have been with Jesus. They may think that you are just a strange group of people or even maybe a strange cult.
We need to walk with caution. Jesus was accused of eating with sinners and it is alright for us to receive the same accusation. Let us be careful that “the eating” is to win their hearts and not to satisfy our carnal souls.
We need to reach out to men. “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves (Luke 10: 2-3). “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Mat 28:18-20).
The gospels are binding to followers of Jesus no matter what the culture or vocation of a person might be. Jesus is our king and we are committed to love and sacrifice in the kingdom of heaven. “As citizens of God’s Kingdom we gladly surrender every fiber of our lives to the one who breathed the stars into being” (Preston Sprinkle).
We pray, we yield our hearts to God and allow Him to mold and fashion us, this clump of clay, into the image of his dear Son. O Father teach us to love and have compassion on the lovely and the unlovely. Give us the gift of love and sacrifice for the souls and hearts of men. Help us to go to “all nations.” Let us reach out to the hearts of men in love and sacrifice for the glory of God! One day Jesus will come again to gather the harvest of our laborers from the fields that are now white and ready to be harvested!