7/30/06, P8B, Communion

Christ In Our Hearts
Ephesians 3: 14-21

14.For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15.from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16.I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17.and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18.I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19.and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20.Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21.to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  (NRSV)

  hope our little children are still singing the Sunday School song, “Into my heart, Into my heart, Come into my heart Lord Jesus. Come in I pray, come in to stay, come into my heart Lord Jesus.”

Looking back, I now remember how those simple verses indelibly imprinted on my heart the truth that I needed Jesus in it, and in order to have Jesus in my heart I would have to invite Him in. The best thing that my parents ever did for me was to get me into the annual summertime Vacation Bible Schools for children. Eddie and I were not allowed to ever miss weekly Sunday School either. Going to church on Sunday meant both the worship of God and the learning about God.

The main point of all that church going was not only to gather information, but to be brought to a point where we, at an early age, would welcome Jesus into our hearts. It seemed to us that if we did not let Him in that all else in life would be a big mess.

If you were reared in America, especially in the southern part, you probably had a similar experience to mine. Many have fallen away from that elemental experience of knowing Him in your heart. In my day it was not popular to be a Christian. I can only recall three or four kids who ever acted, or mentioned, their faith at Asheboro High. It was not “cool.”

Thankfully, in today’s world, it is OK to be outwardly religious. Young people now include such information on their applications to college. Most of the young people that are active in our youth group are very firm in their faith.

However, some have asked, over the years, “Why does the Bible seem to interchange the words heart and soul as the seat of humanity’s center of being?

You probably have heard on the news that the popular Astronaut Charles Brady committed suicide late last week. He was an Eagle Scout, a Duke University M.D. and also a Blue Angel precision pilot. He set endurance records for NASA. At the time of his death he had been through a difficult divorce and was living in a relationship that evidently turned bad on a Pacific island off Seattle. A domestic violence call was received and Chuck Brady’s body was found in the deep woods. His lifelong friends from the small towns of eastern North Carolina will say that “he lost his soul!”

How does our heart differ from our soul? Physically, the heart is a pump that pumps billions of times during our lifetimes. The word soul could be substituted when we are speaking of our sense of self. In Scripture and in most old hymns and songs the words are interchanged. Indeed, this sermon title could have been entitled, “CHRIST IN OUR SOULS.” In Bible days it was thought that the heart was the center of the soul but we know today that our cognitive self is in our minds. We define the word soul as the invisible essence of who we really are: The kernel of our being. The soul is the source of deep thought and emotion. Love is most easily identified as being from the soul. Couples describe their love as being “soul-mates.”

Prayer is a soulful experience as we connect with God. When sorrow comes we might continue conversation with Him all day long from the depths of our soul. Most people who seem distant in thought will tell you that as they are “talking to themselves.” Yet, God’s Spirit is can be a part of our thoughts, logic, planning and decision making. When we need Him most, the Spirit can take up residence in our soul. Think of the profound implications that the Almighty one can help sort things out and get us back on track.

Many leaders of industry business, government, science, military, have shared that they could not be able to make decisions without calling upon the Spirit in their souls to guide, direct and nudge them into minor and major decisions. We are seeking “God’s Will,” whenever we are inwardly praying for the Almighty’s guidance and help.

If you have seen the motion picture chronicling the life of Helen Keller (The Miracle Worker) you saw what may be one of the clearest portrayals of a person becoming an awakened soul. You know the story of the Tuscumbia, Alabama child who was deaf and blind, and also mute. Patty Duke did a great acting job portraying the wild child that for the very first time made the connection with the word “water” that was spelled in brail in one hand with water running over the other hand. Suddenly Helen received an awakened soul. Later she, and her teacher, traveled the world to raise funds for medical research to assist persons who are blind.

Can we not all say that it has been our soulfulness that has brought us into a relationship with God that has sustained our lives? And we are grateful!

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
7/30/06, P8B, Communion