Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
It’s been a tough couple of months! You may have been experiencing some of this too. For me, as a lot of you may know because I tell you or post about it, I have been in a survive-the-day mode lately. It’s mostly physical, but of course when one struggles physically, there is a spillover to the emotional and the spiritual side, too. At least there is for me.
Lately, I have become dry, angry, frustrated, fearful and many other things I could mention. But what bothered the most is I became spiritually dry. Don’t get me wrong, I have been doing the right things even though they may have been a struggle. I have maintained my time in the Word, I have sought to pray, I kept coming to church and worked in re:generation. But it was more out of duty than anything else. Basically, in my mind, I became a respectable churchgoer and missionary worker, but there has been very little life in it.
It makes me think about a devotional I wrote around nine years ago. In Malachi 1:6-11, God says to the priests that they have despised His name? How did they do that? They had been offering defiled sacrifices to the LORD. Basically, their worship had become dull and just a job. Their motivation was no longer love and devotion for the Lord. This made me thing about my own life. What they were doing was offering sacrifices to the LORD that were not in accordance to the Law. They offered blind, sick and lame animals and kept the best for themselves. In other words, they began to love themselves more than they loved the LORD. God even told them to offer the sacrifices to their Governor and see if he would accept it. But he was tired of their offerings and did not want to see them any longer. The priests became sloppy in their service to the LORD. Today, I feel like my love and devotion for the Lord is sloppy. I can tell you, constant pain draws you into loving and taking care of yourself above all else. That may be a “normal” reaction. But since when should a Christian have a “normal” reaction to the trials of life.
Another verse that I have read and heard several messages on struck me today. “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (Revelation 2:4).” I guess (to save face) I don’t want to say that I have abandoned my first love, but I have certainly put myself and my needs above that of Jesus Christ. I wonder what Jesus would say about that. In this passage in Revelation 2, John is writing about the church at Ephesus. They were basically a good church. They did good works, they patiently endured trials for the name of Christ and they tested people who called themselves apostles and rejected many of them for false doctrine. Most pastors would be thrilled to lead a church like this. But something was wrong. God said ‘you don’t love me like you used to.’ He then told them to repent and go back to doing the original works they were doing but with the attitude of Loving Christ above all else. This makes me think, is it possible to go about doing good things for God and looking good for God and be falling away? Evidently, we can.
If I can be perfectly honest with you, these past couple of months have been a time of loving myself. Please, I’m not discounting difficult times in our lives. I know of several people who are struggling right now with sickness, discouragement and even death of loved ones. It’s OK to feel sad or troubled about such things. But we do need to guard our hearts about becoming discouraged and dull in our walks with the LORD. There is another passage that I came across today. Let me quote it here for you: But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
I’m not trying to scare anyone, but we are living in difficult times. Talk about stating the obvious. I think there will be more and more pressures on God’s people. We will have trials and struggles and will be tempted to forget about God and become lovers of ourselves, proud and fearful. But we can still look good on the outside and appear to be godly but have no power. This passage ends with, “avoid such people.” That scares me a bit. One thing I do not ever want in my life is that I become a respectable church goer. The real question is, how are we going to live because this is going to happen? Are we going to be ready?
I don’t know if this will make sense to any of you. Maybe this is just for me. And I’m certainly I’m not judging anyone. But for me, I need to ask myself some serious questions. Questions like am loving myself more than I love God? Am I ready to suffer for Him? Am I going to trust Him in uncertain times? Is Jesus worth dying for? If we don’t ask ourselves questions like this and keep the LORD first, we can easily fall away and not even know it until God reveals it to us.
That seems to be what happened to me today. I repented of my selfishness and my self-pity. I repented that I love myself too much and especially these past couple of months I have put taking care of my needs and pain above all else. One thought I have had about my pain during this time, was that I wonder how my wife lived in pain for 30 years or more. I’ve been putting up with this for a couple of months and I’m ready to throw in the towel.
God’s people should be different. We should not be proud, arrogant, abusive or living for ourselves. We should have a deep love for others. We should be humble and let others be first over ourselves. I could go on but I won’t. This time of trial for me has been really small when I look at the trials of some other people that I know. Our trials will continue and probably get worse. Scripture bares that out. My prayer for myself, and for all of God’s people who are truly serious about following Christ, is that we will be the real thing. May we be lights in the darkness. May we have the courage to be serious about God and His purposes. Our director at the ministry has told us several times, “don’t hold on to your lives too tightly.” Our lives are not our own. Jesus said that ‘he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Those who hang on to their lives will lose it.’
May we become a people who are totally surrendered to Christ. He is worth it! Whatever we may go through here on this earth is worth it. We will have an eternity to spend with Christ! Are we ready? God bless you!