Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Instructions for Life 4

OK, I don't speak French, and I barely passed Spanish IV.  Welcome to Part 4.

In high school I was always involved in some sort of ministry, prayer group, church.  They all offered some sort of retreat or pep rally-type experience that allowed members to rejuvenate and recommit themselves to their goals.  I attended each one I could, and when they were over, always left "on fire" for the ministry.  After school, I immediately dropped off the grid.  I quit all of the above and joined the society of the world.  I did what I wanted to do.  I had no spiritual influence, no spiritual guidance, and no zeal for the Lord.  I did, however, seek to learn as much as I could about the world, experience as much as I could about it, and commit most of my time to serving it.  I wound up with a heart for the world, eventually leading only to disappointment and emptiness.  Point is, whatever you pour yourself into, that's what you're going to be excited about.  There is a reason employers offer workshops, morning meetings and retreats; it's to get people fired up, get them recommitted to their employer and their purposes.  You get folks in the boat, and before you know it, you've got a whole crew eagerly running the ship when you may have started with only a few.

Romans 12:11 says, "Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord."  Our Christian walk is no different than any other relationship to which we wish to remain committed.  Check out the "Relationships" section of your local bookstore or library; it is filled with books telling you to do all sorts of things to keep your relationship "kindled": communicate, do things together, set aside time just for the two of you...  Don't they sound like the same things God requires -- prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17), serving others in His name (Galatians 5:13,14), quiet time (Psalm 1:1-3)?  No relationship is going to work if we just sit back on our laurels and watch.  It will die out like any garden we refuse to water, or any fire we are too lazy to feed, or any emotion that fades with time.

Verse 12 reminds us of the hope that God offers through Christ's death on the cross; we are not bound by sin, we have freedom from eternal death, and we no longer view things from an earthly perspective, but have the power to see them as God sees them.  If that isn't cause to rejoice, what is?  As for problems, trials and tribulations?  "Be patient."  God is in control.  God will work those things out for His good and ultimately, the good of those who truly love Him and wish to serve Him.  It may not happen this day or even this year -- maybe not in your lifetime -- but be patient and know that those who seem to be getting away with it, those who "don't deserve it," those who appear to be lost forever?  God is not asleep at the wheel; He sees it all and has it covered.  Meantime, pray.  Not like the old days, when they sent the expectant dad out to boil water -- just to give him something to do and keep him out of the doctor's hair.  Pray so you're in on it!  You're involved, committed, on fire!  There's that pep rally again.  God loves to hear from us, but prayer is just as much about our hearts!  Spiritually, it helps us to stay right where we need to be -- in the boat!

Lastly, verse 13.  Charity and hospitality.  Without getting on my political soapbox, charity is something instituted by God long before the United States government instituted taxes.  If each individual gave what they should -- large corporations right on down to the little guy -- we wouldn't need governemnt funded programs to do what private charities do.  There are some amazing non-profits the government can't hold a candle to; they can stretch a dollar until it screams, without everybody and their brother taking a cut.  And hospitality.  Be warm, friendly and generous to guests and strangers. 

On that note, I thank you for your hospitality, and hope to join you tomorrow for more "Instructions for Life" from Romans 12!

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