Part II: Life’s continuing: the heart’s role in Revival
A Guarded Heart
Our spiritual health as a Christian is intimately connected with the state of our heart. Thus, the wise man writes, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23 NASB). Keil & Delitzsch say it this way: “Guard it as the most precious of possessions committed to thy trust.” Unfortunately, in the end of his life, Solomon failed in this, and his wives turned away his heart to follow after other gods (1 Kings 11:3-4). How easy it can be for something or someone in our lives to be placed ahead of God in our affections.
A Heart that Left
When the Lord writes to the assembly in Ephesus, He mentions all of the good things they were occupied with. They were an assembly that had been given rich truth (Ephesians) and had been blessed abundantly. They did not have the doctrinal error of Pergamos or the immorality of Thyatira. But it is to Ephesus that the Lord warns of the possibility of the removal of the lampstand of testimony. And why? They had left their first love, their chief-love for Christ– Christ was no longer first in their hearts.
A Heart to Return
If the state of our heart is the reason for our departure, it is what must be affected in order to bring about our return.
What will rekindle my heart to “chief-love” for the Lord? I would like to make a few suggestions.
1. An Attitude of Repentance and Prayer
The message to Ephesus was “Remember! Repent! Renew!” It was a call to remember their former love for Christ. It was a plea for a change of mind and heart. It was a desire to see labors done with the right motive again.
I am reminded of this principle illustrated in Old Testament passages:
- The humble can be restored to intimacy with God: (Isaiah 57:15) For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
- Those who have been taken captive by their failures can be returned to the land of blessing through seeking the LORD in repentence: (Deut. 4:29) But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
- A prayerful return in heart to the house of the LORD brings forgiveness and restoration: (1Kings 8:38-39) What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)
2. An Ear for the Scriptures and the Shepherd’s voice
John 15 reminds us of the importance of abiding in Christ. We need to take our strength and sustenance from the living Vine, and have a life connected with His.
The two walking to Emmaus in Luke 24:32 said, “Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?” The risen Lord had opened their understanding to the Holy Scriptures, and had revived their faith. They were reminded of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that was prophesied to follow those sufferings. Just as Jacob’s spirit was revived when he finally took in that Joseph was alive (Gen. 45:27), these two were restored to a heart full of joy in a living, glorified Savior. We as well can have our faith and joy renewed as we think upon the love that brought our Savior from above to die for us, and as we view Him seated in glory. It is a fresh appreciation of the sufferings of Christ that warms our hearts and draws out our affections anew. It is the sight of a living Christ that revives and strengthens our spirits.
3. An Eye fixed on Eternity
As I consider a risen Christ, I am reminded that that same Jesus will come again. When my eye is fixed on heavenly things, when I remember that it is only those things that will last for eternity, it will help bring my heart back to the proper state. In Luke 12:34, the Lord Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” If I am building for time, putting all my energy into my house, my car, my job, my toys… then my heart will tend to be drawn away from the Savior. But if my life is devoted to the things of God, to building for eternity, to seeking the blessing of God’s people and living with His coming in view, then I will be laying up treasure in heaven, and my heart will be drawn away from things of this earth to heavenly things. The toys of time will never satisfy, nor bring lasting joy and benefit to others. Let us “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1 NASB).
To bring back chief-love for Christ, what I need is not necessarily to listen to messages on revival, though that may be helpful. Centering on our faults and failures will not bring us back to true devotion and commitment. What I need is a heart set on fire by a living Christ. I must have a life connected with His life. A sight for eternity. A fresh look back at the Christ of Calvary, and an earnest look onward and upward to the coming King and my heavenly Bridegroom.