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I’ve observed with keen interest how God changes the heart and attitude of a person who accepts Jesus Christ as Savior. As the Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I’ve seen some of the hardest characters imaginable—people with tough, bitter hearts—become tender and even affectionate once they accept Jesus Christ as Savior. It’s a beautiful thing to observe.

Decades ago when we lived in Tucson, we had some marvelous next-door neighbors named Jim and Jan. Jan was the first to receive the Lord. God’s Spirit started working in her heart in a marvelous way and she had a terrific conversion. What a thrilling moment when she accepted Christ! She had a very bubbly kind of personality and the Lord just enhanced her whole identity. Immediately Jan wanted to tell her husband that she had accepted the Lord. But he was a hard man, especially against the things of the Lord. So she felt she ought to wait for a more appropriate time to tell her story of conversion.

That evening when Jim came home from work, however, their youngest daughter started jumping up and down with great excitement. “Mama,” she said breathlessly, “are you going to tell Daddy what happened when Chuck came over today?” She kept it up until Jim finally said, “What in the world goes on when I’m not at home?” So Jan told her husband how she had received Jesus Christ. She described how she had instantaneously felt a wave of peace and joy flood her spirit. She didn’t completely realize it yet, but this is the work of God’s Spirit—giving a new heart.

At first, Jim reacted very negatively. But some time later when we began to talk about it, I had the privilege of kneeling down with him as he, too, accepted the Lord. Shortly afterwards he and Jan got transferred to Alaska. And just a few days later I received a letter from Jim that I will cherish forever. In it he thanked me for sharing Jesus with him and for introducing him to a brand new life in Christ.

“Chuck,” he wrote, “it used to be that I hated children, even though I had three beautiful daughters. I said children were the scourge of the earth. I felt trapped in my marriage and with my children—but I cannot describe how God has changed my heart.”

Jim had to leave for Alaska before the rest of his family could join him, and he wrote the letter to me before his loved ones had arrived at their new home. “I’m up here finding myself missing them desperately,” he wrote. “I cannot wait for them to get here so I can embrace them and have them with me.” And then he added the clincher: “I cannot understand myself—but I’m such a different person.”

That’s exactly what God said He was going to do! He promised to take out the stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh. Remarkable changes would come from within, not from some outward and oppressive kind of legal bondage. God doesn’t want to sign you up for some lifeless contract. Unlike what many people think, He doesn’t “play the game.” Whenever you miss some detail, He doesn’t say, “C’mon, Bud, you didn’t read the fine print!” He has no desire to keep you in a binding, legal arrangement. He’s interested in a loving relationship with you. That’s why He wants to give you a new heart, a heart that truly loves God and the things of God.

– excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith

continue reading the views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Calvary Southampton

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