Excuses, Excuses!

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“Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”  Revelation 2:5

Imagine being scolded by Jesus! The church at Ephesus was doing a lot of things right, but something crucial was missing. They were no longer doing good things because they loved Him, they were doing right for wrong reasons. They had slacked off on their relationship with Him, and substituted religious duty. They weren’t trying to sin, but their motives for doing good had become self-centered. Because their behavior was beyond reproach, they made excuses for their coldness. But they were only fooling themselves. They were not fooling God. So Jesus gave them a wake-up call, and His wake-up call applies to us, too. 

Some of their excuses may have sounded like these: “We haven’t been to church in several weeks, ‘cuz our kids have sports.” “I’ll start giving again after I get my bills paid off and our vacations paid for.” “We’d love to serve, but we’re just gone so much on the weekends.” Sound familiar? We didn’t invent spiritual excuses; Ephesus beat us to it. Jesus warned the Ephesians that if they did not repent of their mixed-up priorities, He would cancel all the blessing and fruitfulness He wanted to give them. He warns us too. When we ignore Him, He misses us. Misses our fellowship, our passion, and our love. Without that heart connection, we are only serving ourselves and are no longer beacons of light in the darkness; we become the darkness.

If you heard this warning from Jesus, what might He be referring to? 


Fan It Into Flames

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fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.  2 Timothy 1:6

He sat with his face in his hands, staring at the desktop. So many issues. So much need. So many conflicts. He was too young, they said. Too inexperienced. Maybe they were right. Who was he to lead this flock of fledgling believers? Who was he to pastor a church in the footsteps of the great apostle Paul? It had all seemed so grand in the beginning. He had so much passion, such fervor to see the gospel spread and the believers grow in faith. Pouring himself out and seeing God use him had been all he wanted. But now… Now, the struggle threatened to overwhelm the passion. He was tired. Just. So. Tired.

Then the letter came. Conceived in the heart of God and expressed through the pen of Paul, the words on the curling parchment said just what Timothy needed to hear. “Fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you,” it said, and something inside flickered to life. Paul was right. God had gifted him to do this work and God would see it through. He could straighten his back, lift his shoulders, and let press on. This was God's work, not his. When had he forgotten that?

When did you forget that? When did zeal for God’s work become a duty? It can slip up on us. Somewhere between familiarity and busyness, we lose sight of our purpose. But we can rekindle the fire that once burned bright. We can step back, catch our breath, and remember why we’re doing this. When we fan into flames our spiritual gifts, we live with joy and purpose.

Final Thought: Are you fanning into flames the spiritual gifts God gave you?