"In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:33
Years ago, I spent some months watching one of the ladies in my congregation die. She was relatively young, in her early forties. She was dying because she had a bad heart. Doctors gave her a host of medications to keep her going, but all of those drugs were only temporary. She knew she would never be there for the weddings of some of her children. She would never hold a grandchild on her lap. She agonized about how much of a goodbye she should give to her husband. She had things to say, but she didn’t want to add to his worry. He was going to be alone. She was dying, and there was no cure.
Then, in a different state, a young man had an accident. After the man’s wife donated his organs, the woman from my church got a call: “Be at the hospital in an hour, we have a new heart for you.” The surgery worked. She came home from the hospital with color in her cheeks; she came home with a future. She could never forget that a young man had died so she might live. As a result, she would have done anything she could to say “thank you” to that man’s family.
Thousands of years before heart transplants were invented, the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel wrote: God says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. … you will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:26-28).
Ezekiel was describing God’s plan to give dying humanity a spiritual heart transplant. To give us this new lease on life, God sent His Son as our divine donor. He carried our sins and died the death our transgressions deserved. His resurrection three days later is proof that His sacrifice has been completed and was successful. Now, like the psalmist, believers can confidently pray, “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Knowing God has given us a new spirit and a new heart, we are gladly grateful to the Savior who intentionally, willingly, has given His life so that all who believe might live forever with Him.
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached on September 19, 2004.
THE PRAYER:Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me a new lease on life. Open my heart and mind to your will, so that I may act upon the opportunities you place before me today. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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