Do you have a hard heart?

Episode 4

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Hosted by
Carl Joseph

Carl is a biblical scholar, minister, husband, father and life coach. In his mid-twenties he had a powerful encounter with God and saw miraculous healings as a result. He passionately shares these stories and empowers others to fulfill their God-given potential.

The word ‘heart’ is mentioned nearly one thousand times in scripture. God cares deeply about our heart’s condition, and you should too. Its wellness impacts our very existence in more ways than you think. When we become ‘born again’, our heart is sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit but there is a tendency to allow it to become callous over time. The challenges and setbacks of life provide an array of opportunities for us to become bitter if we’re not careful. Tune in now to diagnose your heart’s condition and what you can do to rectify it.

Here is a complete transcript of the podcast…(below)

“Friend let me ask you this; do you have a hard heart? Chances are even if you did, you wouldn’t even know it. This is how a callous heart works; it builds up gradually over time. We become unaware of its hardened condition because along the way we might receive a scratch here and a scar there, or let the sun go down on our wrath and begin to lose feeling in that area all together. The best illustration of this I can offer is the branding of an animal. When I was growing up, several of our extended family members were farmers and I would often witness the branding of sheep or cattle by my uncle or grandfather. When the searing hot poker touched the animal’s skin the animal would wince in enormous pain. But amazingly in time, because the nerve endings were damaged in the area of the brand, they would have no feeling whatsoever from that point onward.

This is what it’s like with our heart, the more and more we go through life without correcting our heart issues, we can become more and more desensitized to the voice of God and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the bible talks of this as a seared conscience, 1 Timothy 4:2, Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.Remember, the conscience is the voice of the human spirit, and we should never ignore it. To give you another illustration, I had an uncle growing up in Wales in the UK who could boil a kettle, pour a boiling hot cup of tea, and drink it straight down without taking a pause. Why? Because he had seared his throat to the point where he could swallow boiling tea with no feeling whatsoever.

I know in my lifetime the Lord has corrected me several times about my own heart on an ongoing basis, and He does so through His word primarily, but He can also use friends, family or leaders to do so on occasion. But we also know as Christians, there is a tug from the Holy Spirit within us that lets us know, something is not right but if we ignore it for too long, it will be to our detriment. We can ignore it for a while, heck we could even grieve the Holy Spirit, but His mercy endures forever, and He will never let go of us even if we let go of Him. Friend today, I wish to remind you of one of the key parables that Christ spoke of in his narrative and that is the parable of the sower. Its focus is our heart condition and friend, our hearts are so important to God. The word heart is mentioned 787 times in the OT and 167 times in the NT. Not once was it talking about that blood pump beating in your chest cavity. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life,” and “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life” (AMP) and finally “Above everything else, guard your heart; for it is the source of life’s consequences” CJB Prov4:23.

When it comes to our heart, if we align ourselves with God’s word, the course of our life will be set in the right direction, His direction. In fact, scripture attests to the fact that God constantly keeps close tabs on our heart condition, “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jer 17:10 – NIV). Friend our ability to receive in this life is in direct proportion to the state of our heart. We want our soil to be full of nutrients, fertilizer and weed killer. We want to maximize our potential and it’s our responsibility to clean up our hearts if needed. There is also mention in scripture of the hardened heart being ‘cut’ or ‘pricked’ when the Gospel was presented to certain people:

Acts 5:33 – “When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.”

Acts 7:54 – “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.”

Acts 2:37 – “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

When God cuts your heart, you have two choices, as outlined by these scriptural examples. You can either choose to become angry, gnash your teeth or seek to confront the one who did the cutting, or you can find out why you feel this way. Who did the cutting? God did! Now, you can choose rightly as in Acts 2:37 where the devout Jews that witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit said, “what shall we do?” I their specific case, they needed to repent and be baptized with the Holy Spirit, but you need to ask the Lord what He wants you to do, because surely if you’re listening to this, He is confronting your heart condition right now.

Let me tell you a story about being cut to the heart, I had a friend in Bible College from Norway. It’s a long story but God supernaturally brought him from Norway to Tulsa Oklahoma to study there. One day while we were playing golf together, he shared the following account. There was a time when this man was unscrupulous in his business dealings, and he had such an insatiable desire to get ahead in the business arena that he would do anything to be successful. When he was invited to a meeting to gain entry into the Freemason organization he jumped at the chance. So as part of this strange initiation ritual, they shut off all the lights in the building, and allowed the initiates to stumble around in the dark, so they would feel what it was like, to not be ‘illuminated’ until the lights came on. It was at this moment that he felt a very sharp instrument stab him in the chest area. So strong was the pain that he keeled over and fell to the floor.

As he gasped for breath, he was in great fear because of what had happened, as he thought someone had literally stabbed him in the heart. But as he fondled his chest there was no sign of blood whatsoever, so at this point he was very confused. It was at this time that he heard an audible voice speak these words, “I have pricked your heart, now run out of this building as fast as you can, right now!” Friend this man was about to get involved with something very dark, very sinister and he was so callous to the situation it took a sharp pain to his chest, to get his attention. He indeed left the meeting as best he could and never went back. The good news is from that time onwards, he turned his life around and went in the direction of God’s plan, as he eventually became born again and filled with God’s Spirit.

Friend, let me ask you this, has God been trying to get your attention but you haven’t been listening to Him? When our heart becomes hardened, we are in a precarious spiritual condition. Let’s just remind ourselves of the key takeaways from the parable of the sower. I urge you to read it for yourselves when you have a moment. This parable can be found in all synoptic Gospels (Matt 13, Luke 8, and Mark 4). Jesus effectively said “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? (Mk 4:13), so we better pay attention to this parable very closely.

Let me read it for you now, “15 And these are they by the wayside, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundredfold.”

Now recall verse 15. Mark 4:15, 15 “And these are they by the wayside, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.This is an ominous threat from Satan no doubt that he comes to steal the word sown in our hearts, But Matthews Gospel reveals exactly how Satan is able to do this, Matthew 13:19 19 “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside.

Friend did you catch that? Satan cannot simply steal the word of God from you for no reason, it’s only when you don’t understand it, that he has grounds to steal it from you. This is why understanding the word of God and rightly dividing it are so important. Not only is this passage a typology of whether people receive God’s word and become born again but the understanding of God’s word for daily application in their lives. Whatever aspect of God’s word is impregnated within us, we want to see a harvest manifest in all areas of our lives, whether it’s a bad habit we’re trying to get rid of, or being healed of a terminal disease, or prospering in your finances, the Word of God sheds light on all of these areas but if we don’t understand it, or know how to apply it, Satan can steal from you.

Friend, we need to rid ourselves of the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, and free up our hearts to seek out God’s plan only and to heck with everything else. The sower is generous with his seed as the Lord is generous with his word. The point is, we need to adjust our soil, not the seed. We need to remove stones and thorns, and thistles etc. and ensure our heart is ready for what is to be planted. No-one can suffer from a victim mentality in this parable, because everyone gets a liberal dowsing of the seed in equal measure, but the seeds inability to take in the soil is hindered solely by us.

Friend, I cannot stress enough, the importance of the heart. In my experience, once our heart becomes hardened, we lose sensitivity to God’s leading and intimacy with other people. The same barrier you put up to defend your heart is the same barrier that prevents intimacy with God and other people. Let’s change that today, it’s time to pull that barrier down and lay it aside. If you are having difficulty rightly discerning God’ leading in your life, it could be that you need open heart surgery, so allow God to use his scalpel which is the word of God to make the necessary repairs and unblock the arteries that are holding back God’s presence in your life.”

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