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The Lord once laid down a principle that you and I have proved so true time and again. It was a principle that the Old Testament prophet Samuel needed to learn and it is one that we do well to embrace and apply in the many situations that will come our way. Here it is.....

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Sam 16:7 NIV)

We don't have to travel far along life's road to recognise how important it is that we don't fall into the trap of "judging a book by its cover". We Christians are not exempt from falling into this trap.

Come with me into the New Testament and learn this lesson as we compare two churches. Two very different churches. Yet, I suspect, that if we looked only at the outward appearance, we would think they were very much the same.

The Church at Ephesus (Revelation chp. 2) gave the appearance of being very orthodox  doctrinally , very busy in mission. The Head of Church looked at the outward appearance and this is what He saw:

I 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. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. (Rev 2:2-3  NIV)

"Your deeds...."    "Your hard work...."     "Your perseverance....."

That is quite a commendation from the Head of the Church. I'd like to be a member of that Church. Why, I think I'd move at the next Church business meeting that we have those words engraved on the wall behind the pulpit for all to see

Now look at the Church at Thessalonica

We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess 1:2-3 NIV)

"Your work produced by faith.....  "Your labour prompted by love..."  "Your endurance inspired by hope...."

(Incidentally, the same 3 Greek words are used of both Churches - work, labour, endurance)

If we look only at the outward appearance (the Ephesian Church) we see "deeds", "hard work" and "perseverance".  If we look at the heart  (the Thessalonian Church) we see "work produced by faith", "labour prompted by love" and "perseverance inspired by hope".

Both Churches have the outward appearance. But the Church at Thessalonica has something that is missing in Ephesus - faith, hope and love.

What is it that motivates the ministry expressions of my Church? What is it that motivates my service for the Lord Jesus Christ? That's the heart of the matter.

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