Spiritual Fervor

How would you respond if God asked, “What would you like to do for Me on earth?”

Provide food and clean water? Eradicate an illness or disease? Ensure justice for the oppressed? Develop life-changing technology? Share Christ with an unreached people group? Love hurting children? Share truth and grace through the arts?

There are so many options, so many needs in the world! The question can feel overwhelming and leave us paralyzed, unable to choose where or how to help. But each of us is drawn toward someone or something. Some options stir more excitement in us than others. I am a firm believer that lives would be permanently changed if each of us acted on our God-given passion.

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (I Peter 4:10, NIV)

God wants His children to make a difference. And He has equipped us to do so. That is where we find far more life. Some of us are called to do big things that impact many people. Others are called to administer God’s grace to only a few people, or even just one. But in order for God’s plan to be accomplished, each of His children has a job to do. One is not better or more important than another.

Finding and following our passion helps us obey this instruction:

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:11, NIV)

I think if we are using our gifts and following our passion, we will be zealous and fervent because we are fanning the flame that God lit within us. But when we struggle to serve Him, when our hearts are not in it, we may be trying to do something He has not gifted or equipped us to do. Lack of zeal and fervor is a warning to check the condition of our hearts.

There are certainly important tasks we do not find exciting. For one it can be washing dishes or teaching children’s church, while for another it may be budgeting or listening to someone’s problems. We can perform them out of love for God (and those around us), even when they are not enjoyable. In fact, God instructs us:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24, NIV)

But we can get bogged down with the mundane tasks of life and forget that God has called us to more. We find far more life when we balance life’s necessary tasks with those that fuel our passion.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:21 & 33, NIV)

For some, God has one mission that they pursue their whole life. Paul is an example of this (Acts 9:15). He spent his life sharing the good news of Jesus. Sometimes this was in person through individual conversations, public preaching, and planting churches. Other times it was through letters sent all over the world — and saved in the Bible for us to read, too!

For others, the mission changes as the needs around them change. Joseph is an example of this (Genesis chapters 37-50). Throughout his life He impacted individuals (his father, his master, the baker, the cupbearer, Pharaoh, his brothers) as well as the whole nation of Egypt and those who became the nation of Israel.

If you are not sure what your passion is, consider these questions: What do you value? What do you enjoy? How can you use those interests to reveal God to others? It may be something you can do right away — like I did when I started this blog! Or it may require a time of planning and preparation. But identifying what you want to do for God is the first step; you cannot pursue a dream you have not dreamed or reach a goal you have not set! Once you identify something you want to do for God, you can start fulfilling it day by day.

Near the end of His life, Jesus offered this prayer. It was confirmation that He lived far more life. He could only say this because He kept his spiritual fervor until God’s plan for Him was fulfilled. May we find our fervor and say this to God at the end of each day, too!

“I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4, NASB)

Sisters,
Is the idea of making a difference in the world appealing to you? Why or why not?
What energizes you? What do you value? What do you enjoy?
In what mundane area would it help you to remember you are working for God, not for people?
What would you like to do for God?
Find fervor and far more life by taking a step toward fulfilling that passion today.
-Shari

Copyright 2022, Shari Damaso

Good and Perfect Gift

I have an app that prompts me to praise God as part of my morning prayers. My praise acknowledges His character qualities — who He is — rather than what He has done for me. Praise prompts me to remember He is a person in whose image all other people were created. Praise helps me understand why He acts in certain ways or gives us certain instructions. Praise lets me think about God from new perspectives.

As I read the Scriptures, I often look for more qualities and traits to praise. Thinking about the person behind the action leads me to new discoveries about Him. I recently noticed these verses in my Old Testament reading:

…Do not say to yourself, “The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you. (Deuteronomy 9:4, NIV)

This thought is repeated two more times in this passage so it must be important. At first reading it seems odd — maybe even harsh or critical — that God would keep emphasizing that the people are not righteous enough for Him to bless them with the Promised Land. These are God’s chosen people whom he promised to rescue and establish in their own land (Exodus 6:6-8). So why the strong words and what can we learn about God through them?

I believe God’s righteousness caused Him to speak this truth clearly and boldly. God is without sin and cannot tolerate sin. The people groups living in this strategic area He created have rejected Him completely. Their unrighteousness has made them God’s enemies. So He is taking away this land and granting it to the people who acknowledge, follow, and obey Him: the Israelites.

But the Israelites did not acknowledge, follow, and obey Him perfectly. The journey from Egypt to the Promised Land could have been completed in a few weeks, but it took them 40 years because of their sin (Numbers 14:34). Perhaps God’s justice requires Him to remind the Israelites of their own sin. It may prompt Him to remind them that they have not earned this land and do not deserve it. Justice may cause Him to make it clear this land is His gift.

There are many other surprising statements or actions of God recorded in the Bible. Here are a few verses that help us understand why we cannot always anticipate what He will do or say:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV)

Although we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), His thoughts and plans are vastly different from ours. His reasoning is perfect; ours is not. His plans are perfect; ours are not. Unlike us, His motives are perfect. Far more life accepts and embraces God’s thoughts and ways as perfect and ours as imperfect.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3, NIV)

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand…Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt”? (Job 38:4, 8-11, NIV)

God spoke the heavens and the earth — and all that is in them — into existence. He did not follow a manual or consult others. His wisdom, creativity, and power were sufficient to create both the smallest and largest components of our universe…and everything in between. Far more life understands that our limited minds cannot grasp God’s wisdom and power.

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. (Numbers 23:19, NIV)

Can you even imagine never telling a lie or changing your mind? What would it be like to have all the information and confidence needed to get everything right the first time and never need to protect or defend yourself with lies? Far more life accepts that God is vastly superior to us and cannot be fully understood in this lifetime.

When I read ancient Greek and Roman mythology, I feel sad for the people who followed it. The gods are depicted with many of the same weaknesses we have. They lie, scheme, cheat, and steal; they suffer from jealousy, anger, lust, and greed. I wonder why anyone would be attracted to gods that are no better than themselves? Why would they worship gods who are so unpredictable and self-centered? The One true God, the God of the Bible, is not like those man-made gods. He deserves our praise, worship, and adoration. We may not understand Him fully, but we can trust Him fully. The better we know Him, the more this is affirmed.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17, NIV)

The Promised Land was a good and perfect gift that God gave the Israelites. Growing our relationship with God and one day seeing Him face-to-face is a good and perfect gift He gives us (I Corinthians 13:12). Praise helps us recognize the source and value of these gifts.

Sisters,
What confuses you about God? Who can you ask for help to understand Him better?
Which of His character qualities are most meaningful to you?
Praise God for who He is. Thank Him for the gift of far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2022, Shari Damaso