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“Our hearts are His”, 2 Corinthians 4, Mark 4 / June 9th, 2024 / 4th Sunday after Pentecost / Hope Lutheran Church, Rev. Lucas Andre Albrecht

Text: 2 Corinthians 4:5-5.1; Mark 3
Theme: “Our hearts are His”

Intr – Two friends were chatting at the cafeteria, and one friend told the other how sometimes people would make her feel completely discouraged, devalued, with no desire to carry on.|
“When I hear comments that tell me that I can’t, that it won’t work, that I can’t get it right, I feel really bad; they make me think of giving up.”
The other friend then gave her this advice:
“Look, when you hear something like that again … agree with it.”
Her friend looked at her, astonished: “I should agree with it? What do you mean?”
“I mean that, in your heart, you should agree with the essence of the comment. You should admit that you, in fact, have no strength in yourself, that you are imperfect and liable to fail, and that you will never be able to do everything right. Then, you may remember that you know in Whom you have all of strength, capacity, and motivation to continue on. The one to whom your heart belongs: Jesus.”

When we think we can take care of things by ourselves, when we rely on self-help or superficial motivational speeches to find strength to carry on, we are on the wrong path. We may be about to lose our strength. And if someone says that we are not going to make it, we cannot deny that they might be right.

This topic is important because anxiety, melancholy, and lack of motivation have been around for a while, and it seems that lately the number of cases is soaring. Or perhaps people are becoming more open to talking about it. It may be hitting home with you, or with someone dear to your heart.

When we look at the Apostle Paul’s life after his conversion, anxiety and depression seem to have been at moments not too far away from his daily life. Or at least sometimes he was not having the best of his days. In 2 Corinthians he writes: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Afflicted, perplexed, persecuted; struck down. Those are things that may really have a person undergoing grey or dark days. The type of situation that may get you really sad, downtrodden, depressed even. We can add to all the problems they had back then the fact that the main cause of persecutions and afflictions was not money, family problems, personal struggles or government bills. It was spiritual. Persecution was coming down unhinged upon him, and many Christians, due to their strong stand on their Faith. He was suffering primarily not for doing something wrong, but for proclaiming a good, life-giving message.

Have you been there too? I would think so. This problem has not disappeared. We could mention many places in the world where Christianity is persecuted to this day. However, it may also be just at hand, here at home, as we see political correctness reigning in almost every corner of society, and Christianity being swept aside to the fringe of culture on for not being inclusive and tolerant enough. In different topics and agendas, we are constantly invited to be “on the right side of things”.

What do we do at this point? Is motivation and a positive attitude all the help we need? Let’s make a test. (Pastor asks the congregation to encourage him with words like “Do it, pastor,” “We believe in you,” and others. Then he tries to play Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with a Canadian spoon.) No, it doesn’t work…

Motivation is not everything. We need more; we need content. Paul says that “we do not lose heart.” This is achieved through the content from the Word of God. How do we not lose heart?

1 – Because we proclaim not ourselves, but Christ as the Lord

“We do not proclaim ourselves.” They weren’t relying on themselves, but in Christ only. Likewise, we don’t point to ourselves, but to Christ. We don’t lose heart, because our hearts would be steadfastly protected under His wings of love. We agree with Christ, and Him alone.

Christ The Promised (Genesis 3)
Christ Our Brother (Mark 3)
Christ, the Lord and Saviour.

There is the story about two boys who decided to have a contest to see who could draw the straightest line in the snow over a distance of fifty yards. They both set out eagerly and when they  reached the end of their paths and looked back, one boy’s line was noticeably irregular, while the other’s was as close to straight as humanly possible. Curious about his friend’s success, the boy with the wavy line asked, “How did you manage to draw such a straight line?” The victorious boy replied, “I noticed that as you were walking and drawing your line, you kept your eyes on the ground, trying to do your best. I did something different. Do you see that Church over there? I fixed my eyes on the cross on top of its tower. By keeping my focus on that point, I was able to draw the straight line you see.”

We will never have a perfect straight line while we live on Earth. But keeping our eyes in Christ is what keeps us going straight forward, without losing heart.  We look to Christ, we point to Christ. For our hearts are His.

2 – Because his light shone on us

Melancholy and depression are often associated with grey and dark colors. Grey and greyer, dark and darker is what you observe in the absence of light. The more you have light, the brighter you see the colors.

Christ is our light amid darkness. Psalm 130 shows an anxious and even semi-depressed writer. He is down. He is not in his best days. Still, he doesn’t look inside to find answers. He cries out to the Lord, he looks above. The Lord shines His light even in the deepest, darker pit.

Think about this: you are standing in a vast plain, field on sunny summer day. No trees, no vegetation, just the field and the low-cut grass. You look ahead and try to see any spot of shadow and find a small tree and its shade. How close it must be to it so you can see the shade? And how many people in the radiance would be able to see it as well? Now think of yourself in the very same spot, on a clear dark night. From what distance can you spot a point of light, even if it is dim or feeble? We know it can many hundred yards aways and you’ll still see it. And so can many people in the radiance. Even the biggest dark spot is nothing in face of the daylight. Even the feeblest light stands out and overcomes darkness.

The light of Christ overcomes the darkness of sin and devil, and shines in us and through us. No matter what hour of the day, what month of the year, what season of life. It is always there shining in our hearts. For our hearts are His.

3 – Because we have His treasure (in jars of clay)

What we have doesn’t depend on ourselves, on our capacity, on our goodwill. What we have won’t detach from us in the darkest hour, in the scariest moment, in the lowest time. It is a treasure. We have God’s treasure in us, jars of clay that we are. By faith He will always maintain the treasure of His salvation, presence and love in our hearts of clay. 

4 – Because we want to avoid the Sin against the Holy Spirit.

We want our hearts to be kept in Jesus by the action of the Holy Spirit. We desire constant forgiveness. But there is one sin that can’t be forgiven. The Sin against the Holy Spirit. What is that sin?

From the Lutheran Witness Magazine: Sin Against the Holy Spirit? Since the first three Gospels all record Jesus’express warning about the unforgivable “sin against the Holy Spirit,” Christians cannot easily overlook or ignore the topic. Matthew (12:31–32) and Mark (3:28–29) tell us that Jesus uttered this warning in response to the Pharisees’ accusation that Jesus was casting out demons “by Beelzebul, the prince of demons” (Satan). According to Luke, Jesus also mentions this sin in adiscussion of publicly acknowledging or confessing Him (Luke 12:10). Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matt. 12:31–32).

Focusing on Jesus’ words (some also see reference to the sin in passages like 1 John 5:16; Heb.6:4–6; 10:26–27), we learn this about the sin: Jesus specifically singles out the sin as “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” and speaks of it in distinction from blasphemy against the Son of Man (Himself). It belongs in a category to be distinguished from all other sins (though these remain gravely serious as well).

Those who commit such blasphemy are guilty of taking aim directly at the Holy Spirit, reviling and denigrating not only Him but what He does. In the words of Luther’s Small Catechism, the Holy Spirit has “called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.” Without the Holy Spirit’s working through God’s Word, repentance and faith are not possible (John 15:26; Acts 5:31–32; Titus 3:5, etc.).

Placing a target on the Holy Spirit and deliberately slandering Him implies that the person who commits this offense knows exactly what he is doing. The sin, therefore, manifests a heart hardened in impenitent opposition to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. Every effort on the part of the Holy Spirit to bring or restore such a person to faith in Christ is rejected, repulsed and repudiated. “Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit,” Jesus solemnly warns, “will not be forgiven, either in this age or the age to come” (Matt. 12:32).

In some ways, the sin is a tautology. Since the Holy Spirit brings us to faith, to reject or blaspheme Him is to reject Christ’s forgiveness. If that rejection continues and is not repented of, it is unforgiveable.

Christians are always to take seriously Christ’s admonition. But those who worry that they are guilty of this sin should be comforted in distress and assured that they have not committed the sin. As our Confessions remind us, God wants to strengthen all those who “feel and perceive a tiny glimmer and longing for God’s grace and eternal salvation in their hearts” and want His help in their weakness.

And finally, we make no judgments as to who may have committed this sin. We leave such judgment to Him who alone knows the heart (Matt. 9:4) and, for our part, remain faithful in our efforts to restore those who are overtaken by a trespass (Gal. 6:1ff.).”[1]

 5 – Because sufferings are momentary; Glory is eternal

Think of these examples:

_What do you endure going to the dentist? I guess it’s because you know the suffering that may come out of it is momentary, but your healthy teeth will last for a long time

_Why do parents discipline their children even when it drives them angry – and make them, the parents, suffer inside? I would bet it is because they know that while they are suffering inside for the moment, they are teaching them lessons that may last their whole life.

_Why do we accept undergoing the anxiety and fear of a surgery? Because you know that when the outcome is good your health will be improved.

Momentary. As opposed to long lasting. Now think of undergoing momentary suffering because the outcome would be…forever…        That’s what Jesus endured for us. He suffered unto death to save us from sin, to grant us forgiveness, and to graft us into a life of joy that will never end. This is our life under the cross. The sufferings of the present time pale before the blessings of eternal life.

The message today is not intended to ignore or downplay the reality that we should have proper treatment when mental health issues ensue. It’s the other way around – as we turn to physicians when our body is not right, why wouldn’t we also resort to mind doctors when our mind needs healing? But as Christians we know that the most important medicine is already provided by the doctor of our souls – Jesus Christ: forgiveness of sins and salvation. He keeps us grounded in Him, secure that his light reaches us in the greyest places and in the darkest hours even if we are experiencing mental health issues – like maybe Paul, or some of his close friends, might have experienced. This is Christ’s gifts for all his family, which are, as He says in Mark, all those who do the Will of the Father. [2] In all of this, we know one thing: our hearts are His.

Now, let me pick up this paper that has been beside the pulpit since the beginning of the service and put it away in the garbage. (Pastor looks inside, finds a $100 bill.) Oh, there’s a $100 bill here. But since it is wrapped in garbage, it’s not good anymore… right? Of course not. That’s the same with our life. We may sometimes feel like garbage, but inside us, we have God’s treasure, Jesus, which never loses its value. Our hearts are His, and this is the treasure that causes us not to lose heart and live on in Him.

Cc – Our hearts are his. At all time. Even when we fell like We do not lose heart. In Jesus we find forgiveness, life and motivation to continue in life. For He is the only and one to agree 100% with all the time, for He will be there with us all the time. There is no other like Him. When faith is in our hearts, there is no way it will be removed from there. in the Love and presence of Jesus Christ we do not lose heart. For our hearts are His.  



[2] Here I highlight the importance of choosing our words when we talk to people in their darkest, saddest and hopeless days. Words like: “be strong”, “hold on”, “believe in yourself”. “You’ll find your way out of this” may have the contrary effect we desired. For we know that when we are weak, strength and willpower is exactly what we don’t have for the moment. We can be easily broken. We need the treasure of God’s Love to hold us together amid pain and loss. He is the one who strengthens us and is right there, by our side, all the time.  It may be better perhaps just to be there, stay there, be a helping hand or a helping shoulder. Words like: “God is with you”. “God won’t abandon you”. “God will carry you by faith”, “Your heart is His”. may better convey the message that person needs in that moment of their life. Also, to point to this place – life in community. Helping ears, eyes and hands in the family of faith, together with other words of encouragement. For even in the darkest of our days, our hearts continue to be His.


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