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Remembering Your First Love

Snow HeartIn my last post I talked about time spent with the Lord. Sometimes the more work you do for God, the less time you have to spend in His presence. We looked at the following verse.

“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. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Revelation 2:4-5

Church leaders especially need to constantly be taking stock of their work. Why did you enter the ministry back then? What motivated you to work for the Lord?

It was the love of Christ that constrained you.   Why are you doing the work now? It needs to be done, no one else will do it, or it’s expected of you. If that sounds like you, than you’re letting your relationship with the Lord grow cold. You’ve lost your first love.

That’s why the Lord is seen as the one who walks among the churches. He’s the one inspecting the work. He’s checking not only what’s done, but also why it’s being done.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

Timothy was a young pastor. Paul was his father in the ministry. Even though this was written almost two thousand years ago, it should serve as a warning to all of us in the ministry today.

There’s an inspection process constantly going on in the church. The Chief Shepherd inspects the work of the under-shepherds.

This verse says that we should be approved. That Greek word literally means inspected and stamped with a seal of approval. It doesn’t matter what man thinks of you. Are you approved by God?

This calls for self-evaluation. Paul said that if we would judge ourselves we would not come under judgment. When you take a long hard look at your spiritual life, what do you see? Has it grown in depth since you started out in the ministry?

Has the fire started to wane, and you find yourself more and more “running on empty”? If this is the case, it’s an indication that you’ve lost your first love. Don’t let pride – the unwillingness to admit your situation – keep you from God’s renewal process.

Even pastors are not exempt from this. That’s the reason for the rash of “clergy burnout” that’s seen across America in this generation. One study showed that 80% of all seminary graduates had left the ministry after 5 years.

Another study tells us that 1,500 pastors per month leave the ministry because of burnout, problems, and moral failure. Without a living relationship with the all-powerful Creator of the universe, we’ll never find the strength needed to cope with all the stresses placed upon us by the church work we’re involved in.

Are you on the fast track to a spiritual derailment? Do you feel like you’re constantly giving out and never replacing your spiritual stores? If so, then the time is now to make a course correction that will affect the rest of your life positively for the glory of God.

In my next post I’ll talk about the specifics of how to get back on track.

Question: How do you regularly take stock of your spiritual life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

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Posted by on June 17, 2015 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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The First Step to Excellence #excellenceinministry

MountainI’ve been posting about the walk of excellence for a few days now.  Hopefully, as a child of God, you desire to walk in excellence before Him.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

Where do you start on this road to excellence?  As is the case with many things in Christ, it’s going to start with a choice.

It’s sad to say, but many believers will not be willing to make that choice.  The cost is great.  This is that small gate that leads to the narrow road that Jesus said few would find.

The reason is not that it’s difficult to see or understand, but because it involves sacrifice.  I have to sacrifice my plans, dreams, and hopes to make room for His.

Basically, I have to learn to see myself as lying dead upon the altar of the Lord in order for His resurrection power to raise me to new levels in Him.  That’s why, generally speaking, the body of Christ in this generation is in its present state.

There is a transformation process that I need to undergo in order for His Word, His will, and His Way to become a part of my being.  I must allow the Living Word and the Holy Spirit to renew my heart and mind.  My thought processes and desires must be transformed into that which conforms to His plans.

It’s only when I’m willing to see it through to completion, in God’s way, that He will entrust me with His excellent plan for my life.  So many people have come to me as pastor down through the years asking me how to “find” God’s will for their lives.

The above verse doesn’t say that I need to struggle or search for God’s will.  It says that if I’m willing to lay my life down on His altar and begin the renewal process of my mind, then I will just know it.  When I see His will for my life, I will approve it.  I think you can agree that if something is good, pleasing and perfect – it can also be described as excellent.

It’s only after the decision of excellence is made that God will entrust you with His will.  Too often our attitude is that we want to know His will first so that we can decide whether we want to do it or not.  The Lord requires faith if we’re to please Him.  We must come to Him with the decision to see it through before He’ll give us the glimpse of the road ahead.  If you will not trust God with your future, then He will not trust you with His vision.

Question: Have you chosen the road of excellence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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