A Renovation of Our Heart


  1. Sermon Manuscript
  2. Sermon Audio


This Sunday, Pastor Donnell encouraged us to be more introspective. This doesn’t mean just thinking about ourselves, but thinking (and praying) about our life, particularly how we interact with God and others. That is basically what we try to do once each week here with the Practical Tip.

Pastor Donnell also asked us if our life was characterized by joy: joy when things were going well and joy when life was going badly. He posited that joy was the result of gratitude, gratitude towards God for whatever comes our way.

We are all familiar with happiness. We feel happy when something unexpectedly good happens to us. Joy is different. We can be joyful even when things go wrong, if we believe that God is still in charge and that we are still being lovingly cared for by someone with the power to get it done. Of course, feeling joy in the midst of trying circumstances is a challenge for essentially all of us. This is not an exercise in self-condemnation. It is an exercise in opening up our true life to God and seeking his help and healing to live more in step with His kingdom. One step towards experiencing more joy is to consciously examine our life and determine when we experienced joy and when we experience its opposite, be it abandonment, resentment, envy, anger, etc.

In the sermon, Pastor Donnell cited a verse from chapter 13 of Matthew’s gospel:
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Mt 13:44)
This week, we will use this verse to help us become more aware of how we approach our life, particularly whether we approach it with gratitude and joy, or whether we approach it with striving and stress which result in the feelings mentioned above. The passage in Matthewe is very short, so we can meditatively pray it numerous times during our time of prayer.

For our purposes here, the kingdom of God referred to by Matthew is our participation in this kingdom, life in a kingdom where God (Jesus) is king. Again, for our purposes here, the key feeling to examine is joy. This is the joy at finding something that is so valuable we could never have enough money to buy it. But because it is hidden within something we can buy, we can actually obtain it. This is like finding a bag of very rare gold coins in your yard when you were digging a hole to plant a bush or tree.

So as we read this verse the first time, consider how you feel about your life with God. What has made you happy over the past week, month, year? Why do you think you felt happy? What has made you angry? Why do you think you felt angry? Share these feelings with Jesus.

Now read the passage again. This time, try to imagine hearing this parable for the first time from Jesus’ own mouth. Imagine how you would feel if you found a hidden treasure. Consider your life with God again. How do you feel? Share your feelings with Jesus.

Read the passage once again. This time, consider what Jesus meant by the person selling all they had to buy the field. How do you understand this part of the parable? How do you feel about this? How does this compare with your life? Share your feelings with Jesus.

Read the passage one more time. This time, clear your mind of thoughts as much as you can. Simply focus on the words as you think or say them. Be open to God speaking to you as you do so.

When you are finished, make a note of any particular leadings that you experienced during the time of prayer.

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: spiritual.practices@annarborvineyard.org.

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