Do You Need a New Heart?
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
John and Charles desperately needed a change of heart.
Yet these were the very two brothers who had formed the Holy Club while in school – covenanting to live disciplined Christian lives of serious Bible study, prayer, fasting and charitable works. They had grown up in a strong Christian family and served in church leadership.
Still, it wasn’t enough.
They longed for more assurance of God’s love and grace.
Desiring to be used by Him, John and Charles even sailed to the colony of Georgia with General Oglethorpe. John served as a military chaplain and Charles secretary to the governor. But their strict legalism made them view the natives as savage thieves, liars and murderers. And there was opposition from the other white colonists who resented their rigid high churchmanship and many prohibitions.
The Wesley brothers returned home to England totally disillusioned. John even wrote, “I went to America to convert the Indians; but, oh, what shall convert me?”
Have you ever found yourself going through the motions? Checking off a list of spiritual activity and involvement, but discovering no joy in the process? Doing all the ‘right things’ but for all the wrong reasons?
Perhaps you, too, need a change of heart.
God promises “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one.” Ezekiel 36:26 All you have to do is turn to Him and ask.
That’s just what Charles and John Wesley did back in 1737 after they returned from America. They had witnessed a vibrant faith in a group of Moravians who spoke of the assurance of salvation that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus.
Then on Sunday, May 21, 1738 Charles had a spiritual experience that enabled him to be justified by faith. He wrote in his journal that the Spirit of God “chased away the darkness of my unbelief.”
And then he went on to write more than seven thousand hymns reflecting his new heart, beginning with this one “No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him, is mine; Alive in Him, my living Head, And clothed in righteousness divine, Bold I approach the eternal throne, And claim the crown, through Christ my own. Bold I approach the eternal throne, And claim the crown, through Christ my own.” (hymn “And Can It Be,” Charles Wesley, 1738)
A mere three days later, his brother John had what he called his own “heartwarming” experience. On May 24, 1738 he journaled, “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans… While he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed.” He ran to his brother and declared, ‘I believe!’ They prayed together and embarked on a very full life of international spiritual influence to this day.
God is in the business of fanning the flame of cold hearts. If you are in need of a “heartwarming,” just ask. And He will replace yours too.
under the mercy, Cindy
©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
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