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Faith: Jesus knows our heart

I agreed to this April faith column date months ago - of course, unaware then that when April came I would find myself in a slump. Not a terrible, career-ending slump. In fact, if not for the preparation to begin this column, I may not have even ...

I agreed to this April faith column date months ago - of course, unaware then that when April came I would find myself in a slump.

Not a terrible, career-ending slump. In fact, if not for the preparation to begin this column, I may not have even been able to identify it. I'm sure you know the kind of slump I'm talking about; outsiders stay completely oblivious to the condition of my heart, but God and I know that I have lost some of my steam.

My relationship with Jesus is not as powerful as it was a few weeks ago. I am told (and so I tell others), sin can cause a divide in our personal walks with God. I am no different than anybody else. I have sin in my life, but that's not the cause of the slump. I almost wish it was. I have been there before and it's a relatively easy fix. I could just identify the sin, call it what it is and begin to eradicate it from my life.

The nice thing about a relationship with Jesus is, not only are we not expected to be perfect, he knows we won't be. So perfection is never a requirement for his acceptance.

No, I'm afraid my slump stems from a different cause. I was recently reading in the book of Revelation. Jesus' letter to the Church in Ephesus reads, "You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first."

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Like me, the Ephesian Church looked healthy and productive from the outside. They were doing all the right things. They never missed a Sunday, they led all the right Bible studies; nobody could say a cross word about them. Nobody but Jesus.

Jesus could see through all of the actions they were systematically going through. He could see through to their heart, and when he did, he saw that they had lost their zeal.

I identify with Ephesus. I am going through all the correct motions, so much in fact that as of lately I find it exhausting. Far more exhausting than usual. I am realizing, it is exhausting because not only am I doing all the things I typically do, I am also pretending I still have the zeal.

You probably know, true zeal is energizing, refreshing and gives one a constant renewal. Zeal is powered by the Holy Spirit (who has an endless amount of passion and energy to give).

But pretending to have zeal draws solely on the individual - me in this case. I will be the first to tell you, on my own, I do have very real limitations and I am seeing them clearly.

But perhaps the biggest drawback to imaginary zeal is the lack of fruit produced. I cannot produce fruit without the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in this line of work, fruit is what matters. Jesus says in Luke 6, "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit."

A classic trap was laid out before me and I fell right into it. I got so caught up in doing work for Jesus, that I stopped spending time with him, just like the Church of Ephesus.

To get myself out of this hole, the first and often hardest step is to identify the fact that I have fallen into the trap, which my preparation for this column has done. Next is to realize that when I rely on my own power, I am going to be sadly disappointed. I need to get back to where I rely solely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Lastly, I need to spend some real quality time with Jesus. If that means canceling a Bible study or any various part of my weekly schedule, so be it. He wants the time together more than my works (especially the weak works done under my own power).

"Lord, I thank you for your loving mercy. I thank you for your patience in me as I struggle to stay on the path of Righteousness. Lord, I ask you to renew my heart with your zeal. Give me the desire to serve that I had at first. Change my heart like only you can. Lord, help me and my ministry to bear fruit for your Kingdom. I love you Lord Jesus, amen."

I am grateful for this opportunity to work through some issues and hope that it can be a help to others who struggle hanging onto the zeal in serving Christ. We are imperfect beings, and in this life, that is all we will ever be.

But if we humble ourselves, and realize that we alone cannot bear fruit for the kingdom, and focus first and foremost on our relationship with Christ, we can renew our heavenly zeal!

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength" - Philippians 4:13

Related Topics: FAITH
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