Are you stuck?
That was the question I posed to my newsletter readers this month. I have been contemplating that myself this week. I have a routine that I follow pretty closely every day and every week. I work out three days a week – usually. I go to church every Sunday morning at the same time. I go to my small group every Tuesday night. I sit down at my computer every morning and look at emails before I get my morning smoothie. I have my quiet time at the same time every morning. That’s my usual week. Since last Wednesday, I had to rearrange a few things.
I hurt my shoulder a few months back and did not stop working out to rest it. I went to the chiropractor last Wednesday, and she got my shoulder back in working order. But instead of going to work out on Friday or Saturday or even Sunday, I decided to take a break. I also, started writing the book (PRAISE to the Lord for the inspiration that finally came!). So my days have been focused on getting words on the screen. I even decided to write in a different room to get my inspirational juices flowing.
But am I stuck spiritually? That’s what I am wrestling with this morning. In my quiet time for the last two mornings, I have been reading in Revelation 3. The church in Ephesus had been doing things well. They had been serving the Lord and doing all that they were supposed to be doing, yet they had forgotten their first priority was to love. One of the things that God has pressed upon me is to demonstrative love toward Him by helping others. We are to “do good” but we are called first to love. The Ephesians church forgot the love part. I wrote in the newsletter last month that “being a disciple of Jesus means that we will demonstrate our love for Him. We don’t earn His favor or earn our heavenly home by doing good works. It comes by belief in the grace of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus says that we are to love God with all our hearts, soul and strength. We are to love others as we love ourselves. These are the two greatest commandments stated in the Bible – so Jesus says.”
We are told if we are His disciples that we will obey His teachings. In order to obey, we have to know what He teaches us in the Gospels. The central theme in His teachings is: loving others. There really is no other message that we should take away except the way Jesus demonstrated love toward everyone He meet. He even loved the Pharisees – they just didn’t understand though. He wept over Jerusalem when He knew they were going to be battered and scattered for generations because of their lack of love for God and Him. They just didn’t get it. Sometimes I think we don’t either. We – the people of God – could be viewed as the church at Ephesus in this time and place. We are all about helping others, but are we too busy to love God? There are too many things that keep us from devotion to God and to Jesus. We don’t make time to get in His word and learn what we need to be the people we need to be. The weather is turning for the better here in the US (or at least in the south) so that will mean that outdoor activities may keep us from going to church.
Andy Stanley said in a recent sermon “Devotion to God is authenticated by love for others.” In First Corinthians 13, in the famous love speech, “if there’s no love in our action, then it means nothing but devotion to me.” People in the world understand selfishness and it’s “all about me.” But we are to be different. We are to live differently. God said in His word that He created good works for us to do. Before the foundation of the world, He thought of us and gave us a hope and a future. The way life was supposed to be was in an intimate relationship with Him. That’s what He desires. When we finally understand that we are to Love Him and show love toward others, we will finally shake off the Pharisee robe and live as a follower of Jesus!
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:10-12