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Leaders Developing the Heart of Christ

 

Matthew 9:1-8; 1 Corinthians 1:13-17

 

Jim Davis

 

Matthew 9:1-8

9:1 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."

 

3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"

 

4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." 7 And the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men. NIV

 

What would make people so excited to come to Christ that they would tear the roof off the house to get to him? These men tore the roof off of the house to get this paralytic to Jesus. Donít you wish people were that excited to get into this church building. The drawing power of Jesusí life is staggering. Zacchaeus, a wealthy tax collector, was drawn to Christ. He came to Jesus promising to give up half of his wealth to the poor, as he promised to reimburse anyone he had cheated fourfold (Luke 19:1-8). A woman with an issue of blood fought a crowd of people just to be able to reach out and touch the hem of his garment.

 

Do you know what made Jesusí heart attract sinners? Matthew says that when the crowd saw the paralytic healed, ď. . . they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men (Matthew 9:8).  Jesus says to the Pharisees, ďBut if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon youĒ (Matthew 12:27-28 NIV). The power of Christ was the result of the Spirit of God presence in his heart.

 

The heart of Jesus Christ is the drawing power of the gospel. The people didnít come to Jesus because of his logical arguments. They didnít come to him because he was a Jew. They didnít come to him because he was poor, or because he was powerful, or because he was the Son of God, or because he was resurrected. They came to him because the heart of Jesus drew them to him.

 

The authority and power of Jesus emanated from a heart possessed by Godís Holy Spirit.  David Chadwell says, ďThe person who relates to people with his heart is the person who relates to people by touching their hearts.Ē Chadwell goes on to say, the qualities people love most about Jesus Christ is his meek or unassuming nature. His compassion. His mercy. His forgiveness. His kindness. His unselfishness, sacrificial nature. These all are issues of the heart.

  

Emptying the Cross of Its Power

 

The biggest problem with the church in the twentieth century was that we tried to build the church solely upon human reason and human wisdom. When the Corinthians sought to do this they emptied the cross of Christ of its power.

 

1 Corinthians 1:13-17

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel-not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. NIV

 

The Corinthians were emptying the cross of its power. The Corinthians were not lacking in knowledge, or spiritual gifts, but they were lacking in spiritual wisdom. They were empting the cross of its poweróthey had spiritual knowledge but they remained carnal minded.

 

They had the proper foundation, but they were using shoddy building material to build Christ kingdom.

 

1 Corinthians 3:10-13

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. NIV

 

The Corinthians possessed spiritual knowledge, but the call of the flesh was stronger than the call of the Spirit. 

 

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. NIV

 

The flesh calls us away from a Spiritual birth. Spiritual knowledge can be gleaned from the Scriptures, but Spiritual wisdom comes from God. James says, if any man lacks wisdom, let him ask God for wisdom. He gives it to everyone without impartially (James 1:5). The wisdom to use spiritual knowledge comes from. There is no way the flesh can direct us to use spiritual knowledge.

 

John 3:5-7

6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. NIV

 

John 6:63-64

63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. NIV

 

Spiritual wisdom comes from God as we allow Godís Holy Spirit to work in our hearts. The Corinthians had acknowledged the truth with their heads, but their hearts were untouched by the truth because the Holy Spirit was not directing their lives. Only the Holy Spirit can lead and empower the heart to do what the head knows. When the Holy Spirit directs the heart, our hearts are set on obeying what the head knows, and spiritual lives are developed.

 

We Need Spirit Led Leaders Today

 

Difficulties arise when we seek to carry on the work of the church with those who possess spiritual knowledge but are not filled and guided by the Holy Spirit. Where we have Spirit led leaders whose hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit the word of God abounds.

 

Acts 6:1-7

6:1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."

 

5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

 

7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. NIV

 

The flesh was in full control of the early church, so the apostles instructed them to choose men full of the Holy Spirit to lead them to a resolution. There was a racial barrier preventing the proper distribution of food to the Grecian Jews by the Hebraic Jews. When they listened to these Spirit led men the barriers to the gospel were removed.

 

The Promised Gift of the Holy Spirit

 

The Holy Spirit is promised to all who believe in Christ. Wherever the work of the Holy Spirit thrives the world finds living water.

 

John 7:37-39

37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. NIV


Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, but after his resurrection Jesus gave his disciples the Holy Spirit to guide their efforts.

 

John 20:21-23

21 Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." NIV

 

The disciples of Jesus received the Spirit before Pentecost, but they experienced the Holy Spiritís power on Pentecost as he directed their efforts. It was the power of the Holy Spirit that overcame the language barriers hindering the preaching of the gospel.

 

Acts 2:1-7

2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

 

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. NIV

 

On Pentecost the gift of the Holy Spirit was promised to all who believed in Christ.

 

Acts 2:38-39

38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call." NIV

 

The heart will never be developed to touch the lives of the list until we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The power of Godís Spirit is not realized until we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our lives. It is not enough to just receive the Holy Spirit at baptism; we must allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a personal choice.

 

Ephesians 5:15-20

15 Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. NIV

 

Many visitors may get turned off within the first two songs we sing a cappella. I know we may be out of harmony, and off key, but our singing is designed to persuade everyone here to make a heart felt response to God. When we speak to one another through the songs with our hearts filled with the Holy Spirit we move one another with that heart felt response just as Jesus moved the crowds with his heart felt response in reaction to their deepest needs.

 

When we fail to move one another with this type of singing, it is probably because we are here to fulfill the ritual of worship rather than being here because we are filled with the Holy Spirit. If this is the case, our worship is no longer in spirit and in truth. It is vain.

 

Being filled with the Holy Spirit moves us beyond worship as we touch the lives of those who have much deeper needs. Jesusí was a great leader who touched the lives of sinners because he was led and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

 

The first requirement of leadership in the first century was spirit filled Christians appointed by the Holy Spirit.

 

Acts 20:25-31

25 "Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men.   27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. NIV

 

The Holy Spirit is still in the business of appointing spiritual leaders over Godís people. The message of the Holy Spirit found in the New Testament instructs us how to appoint leaders. When we follow his instructions, we will have leaders appointed by the Holy Spirit.

 

1 Timothy 3:1-7

3:1 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5  (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap. NIV

 

There is a difference in self-willed leadership and Spirit filled leadership. Self-willed leaderships seek to have it their way. Spirit filled leadership seeks Godís way.

 

Titus 1:7-9

7 Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless-not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. NIV

 

A grave mistake is made when we seek a form of Christianity void of the leading and filling of the Holy Spirit. We may seek to observe five steps to salvation, five acts of worship, and we may seek to organize the church without considering the need of Godís Spirit filling our hearts.

 

Conclusion:

 

Seeking to carry on Godís work without the Holy Spiritís leading robs the church of its only poweróit empties the cross of its power.

 

Want you be baptized into Christ today for the forgiveness of your sins? (Acts 2:38).

Want you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to give you a new life in Christ? (Acts 2:38).

Want you be filled with the Holy Spirit? (Ephesians 5:18-19)

 

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