Routine Maintenance — “Into the Word” Week 5

   In the mid 1970’s, my sweet abuelos moved into a 2-bedroom townhouse that sat on a lake.  Over the years, they have hosted countless holiday dinners, served tons of Cuban coffee, and charmed all the neighbors.  That happy little house is home to many who feel wrapped in their love when they cross its threshold.

As my grandparents have aged, however, the house has started to show signs of decay — signs that my grandfather refuses to properly address.  Rather than replace the tattered roof, countless minor repairs have patched holes.  When it rains, water seeps in, but he excuses it away as a minor nuisance caused by too much wind.

Today, my dear hubby spent a couple of hours trying to repair several kitchen cabinets and drawers that according to my grandmother had “suddenly broken” — she expressed horror when my dad suggested that her 40-year old kitchen should really just be gutted and completely redone.  The house is falling apart at the seams, but my grandparents are at home in the ruins.

I may shake my head in disbelief at their lack of due diligence in routine home maintenance, but the fact is that God often shines a light on my soul and says, “See that spot right there — it’s leaking.  That hole in your heart needs some attention.”  Sadly, my response often mirrors my grandparent’s atrophy and blindness.  I just don’t want to be bothered.

This week as I was digging “Into the Word,” I came across a letter from God to a group of very loving, sincere people – He commended the Ephesian disciples for their hard work and perseverance, but He pointed out that they had “forsaken their first love”  (Revelation 2:4).   In the Greek, the word “forsake” implies

  • to disregard
  • to refuse to discuss now
  •  to omit, neglect
  • to leave, go way from
  • to desert wrongfully
  • abandon, leave destitute

Somehow, I don’t think the Ephesians woke up one day and decided to forsake God.  I don’t think they even realized that they had strayed.  Thankfully, verse 5 provides a step by step “routine maintenance” plan:

  • Remember therefore from where you have fallen — Do you remember a day when your heart felt more connected to God? Self examination is essential to maintaining your spiritual well-being.
  • Repent — Spend time in prayer, confess your need for Him, and ask God to help you get back on track.
  • Do the works you did at first — What are the spiritual disciplines that nourish your soul to love Him more? How can you intentionally exercise your faith and build up your spiritual muscles?

I want my heart to be a healthy, vibrant place that thrives in communion with God.  Don’t you?  How do you keep your heart’s home from decaying?   I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

 Every Monday we will be working our way through Anne Graham Lotz’s 52-week study “Into the Word.”    Hop on over to the 3dLessons4Life Blog Facebook Page to join us as we dig into God’s Word together.

Photo Credit

Excuses

As a former high school language arts teacher, I heard a plethora of excuses from students over the years:  “Teacher, I did my paper, but then our electricity went out, and I couldn’t print it.  May I e-mail it to you tonight?”  “M’am, we had to take my little sister to the emergency room yesterday, so I’ll have that paper in tomorrow.”  “Doc, my mom took me to the library, but I couldn’t find any books on my approved research paper topic.”  Dealing with students wisely was a daily challenge.  I asked God to give me discernment, but I must admit that I was a terrible failure on many days.  You see, if the same student came in with a new excuse every week, it really got hard to respond graciously.

Lately, the Master Teacher has been dealing with me, His negligent pupil, on the subject of excuses.  I have been such a procrastinator — this post has been spinning around in my head for weeks, but I kept making excuses as to why I didn’t have time to write it.  I realize that I am always giving God excuses.  “Lord, I am too tired to read my Bible this morning.”  “Father, I would give to that missionary, but I just don’t have enough money in my budget.”  “God, I don’t have any time to help that person this week.”   Why is God so patient with me when I am such a sluggard?

A few weeks back, I came across a story in Luke 14 during my devotions.  Later that week, I read a devotional on the same passage.  Don’t you love it when God repeats Himself to get your attention?  I realize that just like the men in the story, God invites me to participate in what He is doing.  One man said He had to inspect a field (v.18) — Am I selfishly letting my possessions and greediness keep me away from doing what God has for me?  The second excuse maker, a farmer, had a field to plow with some new oxen (v.19) — Am I letting my work and other responsibilities take over my life so that I am missing out on God’s plan for me?  The last gentleman indicated he couldn’t accept the invitation because of his wife — What personal relationships are holding me back from God?

Proverbs 13:4 (NIV) states:  “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” Verse 19 in the same chapter reads:  “A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.”  What am I waiting for?

Photo Credit