Date: November 2, 1997

Series: Jesus: Lord of His Church

Speaker: Ron R. Ritchie

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The Centrality of the Heart
Revelation 2:1-7


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For above all else, the Christian life is a love affair of the heart. It cannot be lived primarily as a set of principles or ethics. It cannot be managed with steps and programs. It cannot be lived exclusively as a moral code leading to righteousness. In response to a religious expert who asked him what he must do to obtain real life, Jesus asked a question in return:

The truth of the gospel is intended to free us to love God and others with our whole heart. When we ignore this heart aspect of our faith and try to live out our religion solely as correct doctrine or ethics, our passion is crippled, or perverted, and the divorce of our soul from the heart purposes of God toward us is deepened.

The religious technocrats of Jesus' day confronted him with what they believed were the standards of a life pleasing to God. The external life, they argued, the life of ought and duty and service, was what mattered. "You're dead wrong," Jesus said. "in fact, you're just plain dead (whitewashed tombs). What God cares about is the inner life, the life of the heart" (Matt. 23:25-28). Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the life of the heart is clearly God's central concern. When the people of Israel fell into totally external life of ritual and observance, God lamented, "These people...honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Isa. 29:13).

Our heart is the key to the Christian life.

The Sacred Romance
Brent Curtis and John Eldridge


Ephesus: Guard Your Love!
Revelation 2:1-7
TO:
FROM:
1...the angel of the church in Ephesus write...
these are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven gold lampstands:...
1. A Word of Encouragement: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
2. A Word of Correction: 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.
3. A Word of Exhortation: 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
4. A Promise: 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (NIV)

Some Questions to Consider

1. What is your present image of Jesus Christ?
2. What ministry or ministries are you involved in at this present moment?
3. What do you think is your real motive for ministry?
4. Do you think that Jesus would say to you at this moment, "You have forsaken your first love for the mistress of activity!" Explain!
5. What plans are you now making to leave the mistress of activity and return to your first love? Explain!




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