A Burning Heart

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TEXT: Romans 1: 8-17

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi



The phrase a “Burning Heart” by Timothy and Maranatha could be explained thus:

“The conflict that goes on within us is for the moment, at any rate, transcended.  Our hearts are aglow with a love of the pure, true, good, and a sense of inward reconciliation.  The chill paralysis of indifference or uncertainty is banished from our hearts and they burn within us.  The hours of insight are those hours of supreme exaltation which come to us when the Spirit breathes upon the inward fires, and our hearts burn within us.  In those hours of revelation we penetrate to the deeper meaning of life, comprehend more clearly the ways of God, see stretching before us the straight path of duty, and will the means for the fulfillment of the end.” 

The above statement reminds me the story of Prophet Jeremiah, who wanted to ignore, quit, or abandon the great mission that the Lord entrusted into his hand.  He said thus: 

 Jeremiah’s complaint

You deceived[a] me, Lord, and I was deceived;[b] you overpowered me and prevailed.  I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. 8 Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction.  So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long.  9 But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak any more in his name, ‘his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.  I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.  10 I hear many whispering, Terror on every side!  Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!’ All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, ‘Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.’ (Jeremiah 20: 7-10).

             In today’s sermon we will focus on the following:

1.  The Call from Above Me

The Apostle Paul said there is a call that comes above him that ignites his heart for the mission that the Lord entrusted into his hand.


Paul Recounts His Conversion

“12 While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now[a] send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

Paul’s Post-Conversion Life

19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance (Acts 26: 12-20).

   The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the Apostle Paul and said He had chosen him as a minister that he might witness both of the things which he had seen and of the things which will be revealed to him latter.  He also said He will deliver him from the persecution that the Jewish and the Gentiles were planning against him.  That is, the Apostle Paul is commissioned to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to the glorious light and from the power of the Devil to the power of the Holy Ghost.  This means, the Jewish and the Gentiles can receive forgiveness of their sins through faith in Christ Jesus alone.  This is an indication that the Apostle Paul is a person “under orders,” which means, being ordered for a great purpose and for a good task.   Therefore, if you too have met the Lord Jesus Christ personally and He Lives in your heart, you are then a person “under orders.”  That is, to make the good news of the Lord known to the lost people because that is the only way they can be saved.

2. The Crowd Around Me

    What does the phrase “The crowd around me” stands for?  This means, to listen to conversation.  For instance, you can say the children crowded around the store or apartment complex to listen to the radio.  The Apostle Paul also narrates it in this way:

          Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,[a] that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[b] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”[c] God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them (Romans 1: 8-19). 

The above Scriptural passage indicates that the Apostle Paul had not gone to the City of Rome but he wanted to go there to share the message of the Lord Jesus Christ with them.  That is why he said, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong.”  He wanted all of them to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.  This could be interpreted has owning a debt to the Greek and to the Barbarians which he wanted to pay back.  These people are his creditors while he is their debtor.  What he owned them is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ which he wanted to preach to them for their repentance.  I believe that is why the phrase in the book of Ezekiel says:

“7 Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for[a] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved (Ezekiel 33: 7-9). 

3. The Cross Behind Me

The Apostle Paul whole-heartedly believes that the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary is for the remission of our sins, which could also be defined as “Reconciliation.”  Reconciliation means: To reestablish a close relationship and to settle or resolve dispute or argument.  The Scriptures also define this in various ways as you can view it below:

The Ministry of Reconciliation

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 11-20).

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Tim. 1: 7).

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jer. 29: 11).

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Eph. 4: 32).

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Rom. 5: 10-11).


                I wish you fully understand the story of Timothy and Maranatha regarding the phrase the “Burning Heart.”   This means, “the conflict that goes on within us is for the moment, at any rate, transcended.  Our hearts are aglow with a love of the pure, true, good, and a sense of inward reconciliation.”   The Apostle Paul also said there is a call that comes above him that ignites his heart for the mission the Lord committees into his hand.  What about you?  How faithful are you in the Lord’s mission entrusted into your hand?  Are you doing it faithfully or you are still saying, send another person because I am too busy? 

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