On Good Friday, in the Guildhall Square of the city near where I live, nearly 200 people from churches across the city were involved in an outdoor Passion Play. It drew great crowds, and is estimated to have reached 10,000 people. The aim was to put Jesus at the heart of Easter by telling the story of the events that led up to His crucifixion and resurrection. Many went forward to receive Him into their lives in response to the powerful message given - Jesus died, arose from the dead and is alive for evermore.
On the resurrection day the risen Jesus met two disciples on the road to Emmaus as they walked and talked about Him and the things that had recently happened. They were disappointed and disillusioned men. Their faith was at low ebb and their hopes were dashed. Though Jesus had told them He would rise on the third day, they seemed not to have grasped the reality of this, and they were kept from recognising Him on the road.
Jesus asked them what they were talking about and why they were so sad. In reply they told Him the things He already knew. The disciples didn’t know it was Jesus, even as He began to explain the Old Testament Scriptures concerning Himself. When they came to the village to which they were travelling they convinced the stranger to stay the night with them, and as He broke bread and gave it to them, their eyes were opened and they knew it was Jesus. As He disappears from them they make this powerful statement, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
A burning heart is a heart which is set on fire and consumed with Jesus. Someone has said that every Christian should have a burning heart, and yet few Christians do have a burning heart. So many things can have the effect of quenching the fire for Jesus in our hearts, - for instance holding to the values of the world; failing to recognise ungodly heart attitudes; discontentment with the circumstances of life; self-centredness and selfishness; bitterness, the fiery darts of the devil and much more.
The fire in the burning heart has two main sources - firstly, the Word of God. Those first disciples found their hearts burned as they listened to Jesus open up the Scriptures to them. A Christian magazine recently did a survey which revealed that 80% of church-goers don’t read the Bible daily, and another survey said that most Christians don’t read the Bible much. Jeremiah said, “His word is in my heart like a fire.” Love for God’s Word is evidence of our love for Him. It fuels the fire in the burning heart.
Secondly, God’s Spirit is a fire. On the Day of Pentecost small flames of fire rested on each person present. From that day on they were set on fire, their hearts burning with love and passion for Jesus, which compelled them to make Him know to a lost world, and fulfil the great commission.
In two thousand years nothing has changed. We too are called to be men and women with burning hearts. Sometimes we need to meet Jesus anew, have our eyes opened afresh to who He is and what He has done, for the fire in our hearts to be rekindled.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please change my heart. I ask for a deep love for Your Word, and the sensitivity to listen to what You say to me through it. I pray that the refining fire of the Holy Spirit will continually burn away the things in my heart which limit my passion for Jesus and grieve the Holy Spirit. As I surrender to Your will and purposes, please give me a heart which burns with passionate love for Jesus and compassion for those who don’t yet know Him. I ask You, today, to fulfill Your purposes through my life. For Your glory alone. Amen.
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