Whenever you’re sick or have been put on the shelf in life, you begin to think differently. You think about how you’re going to change when you get the chance to get back in the race. Once you’ve MISSED the opportunity to do well, you get filled with all kinds of thoughts about how you would do things if you only had the privilege of being allowed to go back and do things differently. In times of pain, rejection and weakness, that’s when God has challenged me the most. Those are the times that I firm up my commitments to Him and during those times of feeling “set aside”, you begin realizing that playtime is over and it’s time to get back to work. Each time I read the paper or watch the news, I get the same feeling of how some people are serving the devil and how determined they are to be mean and cause pain and suffering to other people. When I see some people put so much energy into inflicting pain and suffering on others and making it their main goal to accomplish, it makes me ashamed of the how little we do for God.
Not only does it seem like we do very little for our Lord, but that the little we do get done is completed half-hazard that it takes as long to make it right as it did to even do it in the first place. It seems like the majority of Christians go through their lives as though they were half asleep and like serving God was just something they’re dreaming about. They live for Jesus in a way that would NEVER be accepted by their bosses and that’s why I’m a little different than most ministers. Many years ago, I determined that I never wanted to be put on the shelf because of half-heartedness. I resolved then to leave out every bit of fluff from my messages and preach nothing but the Bible truths that people need to hear and to hurl those truths at people with all my might. I’m committed to living my life at high pressure using all the energy that God gives me to reach people during this short lifetime. See, I know that one day I will have stand before God and give account to Him for how I’ve lived and that’s why it’s impossible for me to forget that we’re dealing with souls that may be lost forever or saved forever, souls that cost Jesus his blood and life.
I wonder what will God say to those Christians who did their own work well but did His work badly or worse yet, left it undone? What will happen to the Believer who demonstrated all kinds of energy for play, recreation and hobbies but couldn’t stir himself to be faithful in church and the work of God? I have several close friends whose meat and drink are to do the will of the Father, but guess what, any of them will agree that they could be more on fire than they are. All would quickly admit that they could have had more success if they had just been more ready and more prepared. All of us get humbled by what more could’ve been done if we had just been more fit instruments for God to use. You say, “I’ve done the best I could.” Maybe that’s true. Maybe you’ve mentioned to all your friends that you’re a Christian and you go to church and maybe you tell people every chance you get. Maybe you couldn’t talk anymore than you do, but you could put more GOSPEL in what you’re saying. You could allow the Holy Spirit more room to operate in your life the way he wants to.
What can you do? First, get hold of as much of the Word as possible and if you’re going to have Heaven’s strength, you’re going to have to feed on Heaven’s food. Your spirit is a very hungry creature and you have to constantly feed it by reading and meditating. It also longs for frequent times of fellowship with your Heavenly Father. If you’re not reading your Bible and other books that help us understand it, we’re just wasting time when we’re reading and learning other things. What would YOU say about a student who wanted to be a doctor, but spent all his time studying farming? Well, that’s the same thing that can be said about the person who says he wants to be a strong Christian but spends his time studying and learning other things instead. Second, get on fire for God and I’m not talking about being a fanatic, but to be full of the fire that comes from zeal for God, a zeal that’s in accordance with your knowledge of Him. Jesus said that failing into a lukewarm condition is very real and dangerous threat to the Christian. If a person is numbingly cold towards spiritual things, you know exactly where he is and what he’s about. Likewise, if a person is red hot, even overly enthusiastic for the Lord, you at least know where he’s coming from and where he’s going. But, if after being around someone you say she was neither cold nor hot, neither totally sold out for God nor anti-God, you can almost get angry. I wonder, if an angel would take a spiritual thermometer and go around to all the churches is Southern Maryland, he would find that most of them are not too cold and also not too hot. Most of them would fall somewhere in between.
What if he took the same thermometer and checked the spiritual condition of individual Believers? If you say, “well, I’m not the hottest of Christians but I’m certainly not the coldest…” then I have a sneaking suspicion of your temperature and so do you! Inner fire like I’m talking about comes from your dealings with God and time in the Word, prayer and devotion form your daily walk with Him. There’s no excuse for allowing your fires to burn low. Each time you open the Word, or send up a prayer to God, He gives you more fuel to keep your fire hot. This is the kind of fire that brings a warmth to your personality, to your speaking and even in your handshake. There’s no such thing as a fire that doesn’t give off warmth. Remember the Aesop’s fable about the apes and the glowworm? Some apes found a glowworm shining on the riverbank and they gathered around it to warm themselves. They piled sticks on it and tried to make a fire but it wouldn’t burn. It was pretty and looked like a burning coal but they couldn’t warm their cold hands with it’s cold light. I’ve known Christians like that who had light but they had no heat.
Remain faithful to the end and know that there are many things that are demanding a lot of your time. I understand the discouragements you face and just know that you don’t need to be afraid to work hard for Jesus. A terrible day is coming for those who refused to deny themselves and went for the things of this world but a great reward is reserved for those who follow hard after Jesus, no matter who or what comes against them. You won’t regret your sacrifices and struggles when Jesus comes and calls His own servants to be with Him. It’ll have been a sweet thing to have served Him faithfully, not turning aside for wealth, fame or any other vain thing that this world has to offer. Let’s commit ourselves to follow Jesus all the way, denying ourselves and yielding to God’s Holy Spirit. Ask His forgiveness for half-heartedness and being lukewarm. Seek His power to set you on fire and trust Him to keep that which you commit to Him until the day of His appearing. That way, we’ll never have to be put on the shelf or kept out of God’s service due to being unfit vessels.