Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Set Heart

Jesus is not a concept. He's a person with whom we have an authentic, personal relationship.

This truth has profound implications for Christians. It means that while sound doctrine is crucially important, by itself it is not sufficient. An accurate set of facts about another person does not constitute a relationship -- I'm gathering lots of facts about presidential candidates right now, but I don't have a relationship with any of them.

An authentic personal relationship requires the involvement of what Scripture calls our "heart" - the inner being comprised of the mind, will, and emotions. Repeatedly throughout Scripture, God calls those who would follow Him to have a "set heart".

To have a "set heart" quite literally means to "give center". It's an action involving the very core of our being. It's far more than an emotional decision - it involves, as Jesus said, loving God with heart, mind, soul, and strength. And, like in any relationship, it's a choice.

In Scripture, individuals are most frequently exhorted to set their hearts on God. But there are some other interesting uses of the phrase. Solomon was told to set His heart to seek God in the process of building the temple (1 Chr. 22:19). Ezra set his heart to study, do, and teach God's law - His revealed truth (Ezra 7:10). Ezekiel was commanded to set his heart on what God revealed (Ez. 40:4). Daniel set his heart to understand God's revelation and to humble himself before God (Dan. 10:12).

The bottom line: God wants us to set our hearts on Him and on His revealed truth. The consistent example in Scripture of individuals who did so - the Hebrews 11 "hall of faith" comes to mind - shows that a "set heart" results in both a passion and a practicality. Hearts full of love for God cannot help but flow out in love to others. Perhaps this is why the charge against the church of Ephesus was so serious: "You have left your first love." A heart less set on God loses that passion and that practicality, and fails to be a witness of His love for the world.

God reminds us, too, that we aren't the only ones with set hearts. He also has set His heart - amazingly, on us! In Job 7:17, Job says, "What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him." David echoed the same idea in Psalm 8:3-4: "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" No wonder John tells us that we love, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

A set heart - an intentional decision to give all that we are to Him. This is the meaning of a relational faith that results in both passion and practicality. And this is the heart of mission: telling people about the God who has set His heart on them, living out a life flowing from a heart set on Him - and praying that their hearts will be captivated to worship Him in spirit and truth.

Take time to set your heart on Him today. It's not just important for you personally - it's crucial to God's kingdom purposes in your life, because the heart of missions is bringing more worshippers before the throne. And the best way to do that is to be a worshipper yourself.

He Reigns - by NewSong

It's the song of the redeemed
Rising from the African plain
It's the song of the forgiven
Drowning out the Amazon rain

The song of Asian believers
Filled with God's holy fire
It's every tribe, every tongue, every nation
A love song born of a greatful choir

It's all God's children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns He reigns
It's all God's children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns He reigns

Let it rise above the four winds
Caught up in the heavenly sound
Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals
To the faithful gathered underground

Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation
Some were meant to persist
Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples
None rings truer than this

And all the powers of darkness
Tremble at what they've just heard
'Cause all the powers of darkness
Can't drown out a single word

When all God's children sing out
Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns He reigns
All God's children sing out
Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns He Reigns
All God's children sing out
Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns He Reigns

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