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Revived Zeal

Yesterday, one of my readings was in Romans 12.  That is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible.  There is extremely practical wisdom dripping from each verse.  I don’t know if I have just never paid attention to verse 11 or perhaps my recent fatigue caused me to see this verse with new eyes, but I have not been able to move past that verse.

Romans 12:11 – Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

I have asked myself several times since yesterday morning if my zeal and spiritual fervor are visible.  I fear that most of the time the answer might be no.  It is easy to get bogged down in the day to day and lose that excitement and energy that comes when we are walking in step with the Father.

In The Message, Eugene Peterson translates this verse this way:  Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.

I think he captures the heart of the verse – don’t burn out but remain cheerfully expectant.  As followers in The Way, we are to walk close enough to the Father that our strength is continually being renewed.  It is when we wander or fall behind or run ahead that we begin to walk or run in our own strength.  Gradually, often imperceptibly, our strength begins to wane.  We might not even notice it initially.

Fatigue sets in and robs us of our zeal.  Before we know it we are going through the motions – no energy, no enthusiasm – no zeal.

So how do we combat this loss?  How do we revive and maintain our zeal?

Here are two steps that will renew your zeal.

  1.  Start with rest.  Physical fatigue is the loss of energy and energy holds hands with zeal.  Take time to get physical rest.  But even more importantly, take time to rest in the Father.  Time with Jesus should never be an item on the To Do List but rather be the foundation and motivation for our To Do Lists.
  2. Set your focus on Jesus.  When we see our lives as a gift from God and we set our eyes on him and commit ourselves to staying close to him, our energy is restored..

Paul challenges us to never be lacking in zeal but rather continue serving the Lord.  Rest in him and stay close today.

Lord Jesus, on those days when we are tired, in those moments when we have no energy or enthusiasm, open our hearts to your goodness and plan for our lives and revive our energy and strength.  May others see the zeal we have for you today.  We rest in you cheerfully – expectant!

Amen

 

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Clear Vision

I have been told by more than one person around this great state of Texas that I am blessed with THE best view of any pastors’ office in the state.  I tend to agree.  For a west Texas boy who grew up on a beach with no water, being able to sit at my desk and see water and watch ships coming and going is like nothing I could have ever imagined.  I am blessed!

Clear Office View

Some days, the view is clear and I can see to the other side of the bay.  The sky is blue and the water is beautiful.  The gulls float and hover and an occasional sail boat glides in and out of my view.  It truly is a picturesque scene!

Then other days, like this morning, the skies are overcast and the haze prevents seeing more than a quarter mile into the bay.  There are ships coming and going but I can’t see them.  There is activity happening on the other side of the bay, but without having those clear days, there would be no concept of life beyond the mist.Overcast Office View

Our lives are like this in many ways.  God blesses us with vision when we are paying attention and we have moments of clarity.  We can see what God has for us and we can set steps in place to help us carry out his call on our lives.

It is that clarity that motivates us on those days when the vision is not as vivid.  There are days in our lives when we reach a point of wondering why we are doing the things we do.  On those days, remember the vision he has given you to be the best Jesus follower you can be.  Hold to the passion that comes from clarity.

God does have a plan for each of us.  He has created you completely and utterly unique – –  just like everyone else!  You are the only you on earth and God has special plans for you.  Pray for profound clarity of his calling for you.

As I finish this post, I turn to the window – – it looks like things are clearing!

Be blessed!

May Others See Jesus

Who are those souls that will spend an eternity in heaven with the Father because of your example and testimony?  I have been asking myself this question this morning.

One of my readings today was John 4.  At the end of this chapter, an official traveled to Jesus to ask him to make the journey to his home (a day away) in order to heal his son.  Jesus did not make the trip but he did tell the man, Your son will live.

The man headed home from this encounter and while he was still on the way, people from his household came running to tell him his son was alive and well.  When he asked them when this new development occurred they told him the boy got better at 1:00 the day before.  The man realized that was the exact time Jesus had told him that his son would live.

We are told, as this story closes, that the man and all his household believed.  They believed!  They had experienced the touch of Jesus even though only one had actually seen Jesus and they all believed!

As I have pondered this account.  What is most obvious to me is that the family encountered healing.  They rejoiced in a son made well.  But had the father not been there to tell them how it came about, they would have simply been happy about it but oblivious to the one to whom credit was due.

How many people in our lives experience the touch of Jesus but, because they have not met Jesus, don’t even realize what has happened?  It is up to us to point them to the author of faith and the giver of life.

1 Peter 3 15

Will they see Jesus through me – not just in my actions but in my words?

The father in this account believed and because he believed and shared the full story with his household and they all believed as well.

Is that not our calling – to share Jesus?

May heaven be populated by the souls who saw Jesus in you on this earth.

Be a blessing today!

Yesterday, we began a new series on Sunday mornings titled, Lord Teach Us To Pray.  For the next several weeks we will be looking at the Model Prayer found in Matthew 6.  I am excited to see what God will do through this series as we take a concentrated look at this beautiful, well known form of prayer.

We opened the series with a look at the words, Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.

The depth and breadth of theology in this one sentence is staggering.  We are to begin our prayers with an understanding and attitude that we have the opportunity of having a conversation with the great I Am.  He is, at the same time, intimate Father and completely holy, sacred and other.  What a mystery!prayer over scripture

A.W. Tozier said, What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.  I think he is on to something.  We must have a healthy understanding – as best we can – of who it is with whom we have the privilege of an audience when we address God.

Often, we tend to think of God as an infinitely better version of ourselves.  But that is faulty thinking.  While we are created in his image, God is completely outside creation and not like anything we know.  He is to be hallowed in our minds – consecrated, set apart and holy.  This is the God we serve – this is the God who invites us to converse.

This completely other, holy and sacred God is also personal and intimately engaged in our lives.  Adrian Rogers made the statement years ago that God doesn’t love us all, he loves us each.  God knows you and loves you.  He knows your name, he knows your needs, he knows your dreams – he knows you!

What a mystery!

What a blessing!

What a Father!

Staying Connected

Yesterday, I encountered a huge blessing.  I had the opportunity to enjoy a lunch with some saints from our church.  And part of the lunch was the celebration of communion together.

The occasion that prompted this particular gathering was to say “see you later” to one of the couples around the table.  They have been active pillars of our church since 1966.  Raymond and Betty will celebrate 70 years of marriage this summer and this weekend they are moving from our city.

Over the years, this couple has served in too many roles in our church to even count.  But the one area that rises to the top in my mind is their role in ministering to children.  They have given selflessly to make sure children had a safe and welcoming place to experience the love of Jesus.

I didn’t ask this question, but I believe they would say that working with kids has kept them young.  The both of them are an inspiration.   As times have continued to change, they have worked hard at staying connected to the younger generations.

IMG_4245

I think we need to learn something from their example.  If we are to make sure that future generations grow up to follow Jesus, we must always strive to connect with them.  Raymond and Betty have done a great job doing just that.  In fact, one of the highlights of our time together yesterday was when we lined up to take a group picture and I heard Raymond say, “hang on, I’m trying to take a selfie.”

Raymond and Betty may be moving from our city but they will always be part of our family!

There is a connection that will never be lost.

Encountering Jesus

We find ourselves today living in the wake of Easter.  It is easy for us to celebrate the empty tomb and then get back to our daily lives – our schedules and commitments and all that life brings.  But I want to remind us that the resurrection changed everything.  In one wonderfully cosmic event, life as we know it changed.  Jesus overcame death securing for us the assurance of our own eternal life.

Jesus taught that if we will be first we must become last and if we are to truly live we must die to ourselves.  When we surrender our desires and plans to him, we are, in a very real sense, dying to ourselves and being resurrected to live for Jesus.

Easter should be a reminder for us to live resurrected lives each and every day.  We must seek to encounter Jesus each day not just at Easter.

One of my favorite accounts in scripture is the Emmaus Road encounter.  Two of Jesus’ followers were reeling from the events of his passion.  They had heard of the women who had gone to the tomb earlier that day and found it empty.  They were talking to each other trying to make sense of it all as they walked the road.  As they walked, Jesus joined them on the journey but they did not recognize him.

He spent time with them, instructing them on how the scriptures had foretold what would happen to the messiah but even through his teaching, they did not recognize him – at least not yet.  It wasn’t until they sat down to eat together that their eyes were finally focused on who was sitting there with them.  When they realized this stranger at the table was Jesus, he vanished from their sight.

As the two of them discussed all they had just experienced, they asked each other, “were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened scripture to us?”

There is so much power packed into that simple question!

When we encounter Jesus, our hearts burn within us.

When is the last time you experienced an encounter with Jesus that rekindled your inner flame.  Jesus is in the business of igniting passions within us to make a difference for him.

That is what it means to live a resurrected life.  It is to live a life of passion for the King!

May our hearts burn within us today because we have encountered Jesus!

We Remember

We remember.

We stand at the foot of the cross, or kneel.

The draw of the exuberance of the empty tomb pulls at us but your words to your disciples to stay – to remain awake – to stay near compel us to pause.

We remember your words, even as the wafer touches our lips – “This is my body, given for you.”

Lord Jesus, we remember.

Cross in Communion Cup

As the cup is raised to our mouths we look to the cross and we remember.  This is your blood that was spilled out for us.

We remember.

Lord Jesus we remember!

We are not worthy of your sacrifice.  We do not deserve the gift of eternal life you made possible on that cross.  But we do remember.

And we say thank you!