I have heart condition known as atrial fibrillation, or a-fib for short. Without going into medical jargon, this is a condition where the top part of the heart (the atria) beats faster than, or out of sync, with the bottom part of the heart (the ventricles). This problem comes and goes. Sometimes I know when it is happening, and sometimes I don't. Just before Christmas 2013, the combination of a-fib plus bronchitis put me in the hospital. What I learned about the human heart during that stay was very revealing and worth passing on.
The doctors performed a sonogram of heart so they could see what kind of condition it was in. The result of the sonogram was that my ejection fraction was only 10 percent. This of course, was not good. In case you are wondering, ejection fraction is the measurement of the percentage of blood leaving your heart each time it pumps. My heart was barely ejecting enough life force to keep me alive. My heart needed to beat faster and harder to maintain blood pressure. My heart would need to be made stronger if it was going to last.
The cardiologist revealed an interesting statistic to me. He said that even though my ejection fraction was only 10 percent, the average person has an ejection fraction of only about 55 percent. An athlete has an ejection fraction of 70 percent, and no one has an ejection fraction of 100 percent. To say I was surprised would be an understatement.
The Bible has a lot to say about the heart. By that I do not mean the physical organ, but rather, the center of our spiritual life. A healthy heart is vital to being a dynamic Christian. Ezekiel 36: 26-27 says “(26) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (27) I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances.” (NIV) When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, God fills them with His spirit. The transformation process begins and your old heart is transformed into new heart. We become more compassionate and forgiving towards others. We become more obedient to God and delight in His ways. It is important to realize that this is a process and does not happen instantly.
When you first got saved- you were suffering from spiritual heart failure. You had a heart of stone which is incapable of beating. You were dead in your sins and nothing more than a statue adorning the devil's yard. But then you got saved and something happened. God reached in and pulled out your heart of stone and gave you a new heart and it started to beat. It may not have beat very hard at first, but beat it did. As God's blood began to flow through your veins, the outer shell of the statue began to fall off and a new you began to emerge.
God desires for us to grow a Christians, and it is important that we do. Your new heart may have a spiritual ejection fraction of only 10 percent or less. We must grow in Christ in order for our new heart to become strong and increase its ejection fraction. So how do we grow in Christ? Let me give you some steps to follow.
Study the Bible. The Bible is God's word to us, and helps us to know and understand Him better. It also gives us instruction on how to live effective lives.
Pray to God. Prayer is an important way that God uses to communicate with us and we with Him. Think of prayer as a two way street with communication flowing in both directions.
We must obey God. Obedience is a key factor in our relationship with God. Obedience means to place ourselves under God’s authority and to do and act as He commands. It means that God is in charge of my life instead of me.
Fellowship with other Christians. Fellowship is important because it involves getting together for spiritual purposes: for sharing our needs with each other, and praying for each other. It also enables us to discuss what we are learning in the Word, and also to encourage, comfort, and to build each another up.
Witness for Christ. This where we share with others what Christ has done for us. The change that people see in you, they desperately want for themselves. If God has transformed your life, share that with others so that God can transform them as well.
Following these steps will help your heart to not only grow stronger, but to increase the spiritual ejection fraction. So what exactly is a spiritual ejection fraction? It is the amount of God's life force that you are pumping through your spiritual blood veins. James 3:17 says “But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere.” (CEV) Galatians 5:22-23 says “God's Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, (23) gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways.” (CEV)
The stronger your heart becomes, the higher your ejection fraction becomes, and the “fruit” from the verses above will flow through you. Be warned however, the more of Jesus' blood that flows through your veins, the more you will become like him. Many Christians are quite content with an ejection fraction of 10 percent, and do not desire to become more Christlike. Not me. I don't even want to be content with an ejection fraction of 50 percent. Our goal should be to have an ejection fraction of 70 percent or higher. We should be athletes for God, running the good race; and running to win.
Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us.” God expects us to be athletes for Him. In order to do that we must have strong hearts with great ejection fractions. So what is your spiritual ejection fraction? Is it where it needs to be? If not, follow the steps above and strengthen your heart. We are in this race together, and we are going to win.
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