We are one week – 7 days and many miles from the entry to Jerusalem. It is time to get our spiritual life together, get our annual checkup, and prepare to make adjustments as needed. This is, as Zig Zigler has said – we need to get a check up from the neck up. – Well, we need to get a check up from the heart and soul out. If we let Him, God can repair, revitalize, and light a new fire within us – fill us with excitement and enthusiasm…..deep within and flowing outward.
An ancient story tells of four people who were walking in the woods. They were all complaining about their lot in life. “Woe is me,” one said.
And the other said, “Don’t tell me that, you don’t know my problems. My lot in life is terrible.” Each had a more relenting story than the other.
All of a sudden, as they were walking in the woods, they came across a high wall. They were very curious because they could not see over the wall, so they built a ladder.
The first person climbed up and was amazed at the incredible beauty in this other world, on the other side of the wall. Then he climbed down and the second one climbed up and he was also amazed at the beauty.
Everything they had ever prayed for in their lives was on the other side of the wall. The third person climbed up and said the same thing.
The first, the second, and the third thought it was nice, and yet they climbed back down the ladder and returned to their usual lot in life, complaining all the way. The fourth climbed up the ladder, stood at the top, and said, “I want a better life and there is a better life; and I am
going to go over the wall and accept it and make a commitment to it.” He did so and lived in the other world.
I am going to ask you a very serious question. Is your life working for you? Which side of the wall are you living? What words do you cry out to others.
When you think about yourself and who and what you are, what your personality emotes, what do you see and hear? We all have characteristics that are part of us but there is a part that is much greater, hidden in the shadows of our negativity but they are there. We are more than these characteristics. We are a spiritual being, more than this flesh we carry around.
Look deeply within and truly see yourself, and you will see yourself as an expression of God. You will allow your spiritual nature to show in everything you do.
One time, Paul was in Athens. He was very upset about what he saw there. “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the market place every day with those who chanced to be there.
“So Paul, standing in the middle of the Areopagus, said: ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, `To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is God served by human hands, as though God needed anything, since God gives to all humans life and breath and everything. And God made from one every nation of humans to live on all the face of the earth, having
determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after God and find God. Yet God is not far from each one of us, for `In God we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, `For we are indeed God’s offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now God commands all people everywhere to repent. . . . Acts 17:16-17, 22-30
God demands, requires us to change our focus, to rise up, and start thinking about Him and serving Him and His people in love.
Today, I am going to ask you a few questions – short ans sweet – and ask you to meditate on them throughout the day and week. From these answers you accept from the Lord, I pray you have a deep development and growth (a change for the positive) in your spiritual life.
Question 1: Can you put your belief into words? It is not difficult to profess faith in God, especially here in this laboratory of faith. But what kind of God do you believe in during the secret times? How would you explain your idea of God to someone else from a laboratory of another faith? Ask yourself whether you can put your profession of faith into words. Do you have a creed you can believe in? What spiritual principles do you live by, work by, and stand by?
Then there are questions regarding your belief about life after death. Do you believe in heaven? Do you believe you will be reunited with those you love, after death?
As a Christian, what do you believe about the person and mission of Christ? What about His miraculous birth and His miracles? His death? His resurrection?
Question 2: Do you live as though what you believe is true? It is one thing to profess a faith and quite another to practice it. You need to ask yourself how much of your faith is just a mere verbalization of the use of terms out of which a lot of meaning has gone.
William James once suggested that the average religious believer had a religion made for him by others, communicated to him by tradition, determined to fixed forms by imitation and retained by habit.
Do you remember the story told by a theologian about when he was a boy on his grandfather’s farm. his grandfather had a herd of rams in a certain caged area. He called the boy over and he said, “I want you to watch what is going to happen now. This is a life’s lesson.”
He called the first ram over. The first ram jumped over the gate. Then the grandfather said to the boy, “Watch this.” He opened the gate so it was no longer in the way of the rams, but every ram followed the first ram and jumped over the gate that was not there. He said, “Son, throughout your whole life, I want you to think about what you are doing and why.”
That is so important. Your faith, to be alive, has to be alive in you. It has to be an individual, personal practice. Finding God ourselves, in the depths of ourselves, that is our goal. Then we can truly answer question #2.
Question 3: Does your faith meet your need in times of crisis? Can you feel Him in those times? It is easy to be helpful and optimistic when we are riding the crest. The faith that matters is the kind that sees a person through bad breaks and guides the person through the valleys.
When you try to rate your faith, ask yourself whether it is a stabilizer in times of triumph and tragedy.
Steel is tempered by plunging it into cold water while it is red-hot, when we emerge from a dark night of a deep, spiritual experience, we are immeasurably strengthened. A writer once put it this way: “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” With God, you can do things that you cannot even dream of in your human mind.
Question 4: Do you have special daily times for spiritual development? While faith cannot be put into boxes and while religion should not be restricted to certain areas or special hours, people of great faith have always set aside stated times for meditation, prayer, and spiritual
Remember in the story Jesus told: the sheep return because they know the voice of their Master. Do we listen to the voice of our Master, or do we heed other voices? Other voices of worry, fear, and disaster outside of us will never be God’s voice. We need to do this religiously so we can build that relationship with God and listen to the voice of our master.
Question 5: Is your home life better because of your religious faith? Someone once said when a person gets religion, even his dog and cat ought to see the improvement. Our spiritual and religious growth should build a happier life. You can rate your faith by asking yourself: “Does my attitude in my home contribute to an atmosphere of affection, mutual respect, and cheerfulness? Do I properly reflect the deep convictions of the faith that is mine?”
Question 6: Does your faith give you a sense of companionship, even in times of solitude? A common criticism leveled at Americans is that as a group we are afraid to be alone. We are told we do not want to know ourselves or analyze ourselves. We are accused of looking for continual
means of escape. Spend time in the silence in solitude with God. True faith should provide a feeling of spiritual oneness within our conscience. Think on this – “A person is never less alone than when he or she is with God.”
Question 7: Does your faith give you a new outlook on your job and a new approach to your work, regardless of what you do? There is an old saying, “Work is worship.” It is a true corollary of faith. Of what use is your religion in the day to day chores or work world if it does not provide a usable philosophy for you when you are on the job? How do you fit yourself in that place of work? How do you devote yourself to it? And I ask you this even if your job is washing dishes or vacuuming floors or cleaning your bathroom.
Question 8: Does your faith give you a sense of security in meeting life? A well-known story about the early career of John Wesley tells of his fear during a storm. He was on board a ship and he was terrified with fright. As he shook, he heard a group of Christians singing. They were praising God.
Wesley asked them, “How in the world, in a storm like this where we might all perish, can you sing?” They said to him, “If your faith cannot serve you during a storm, what is the good of it?”
Question 9: Has your faith ever inspired you to do a good deed? One of the most rewarding acts is to give without a thought of getting help without wanting help in return.
Remember this as you go about the day – “The finger of God never leaves identical fingerprints. You are the finger of God in every situation.” So think about what deeds your “fingers” are doing and the emotion it fills within you.
Question 10: Does your faith command your deepest loyalties? Meister Eckhart, said, “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which He sees me.” It means our highest loyalty should be our recognition of our oneness with God.
St. Francis de Sales said, “Remain either in God, or close to God, without trying to do anything, and without asking anything of God unless God urges it
Question 11: Is your world different because of your faith? Are you able to leave your cares, your fear behind and move forward with confidence, working for the good of all? Our spiritual life is refined, perfected, deepened when we walk through our journey with faith
We need to look beyond and within things in a new way. If we profess faith in the creative power of God, we should see all life as God’s life, all
scenes as God’s scenes. Even when unexplainable events confront us in our lives, such as war, terror, and death, we should seek God’s way of dealing with these circumstances in your yet-not-perfect world.
When we seek God’s way, we are going to deal with things in a much better way, with a strength and courage that we of ourselves would not have. There is no such thing as a complaining Christian. Those of us who hold to faith need to express an attitude of gratitude at all times, because of what we are aware.
Let’s focus on the eleven questions, meditate on them and strengthen our faith through constant and deep prayer and meditation,. Let us in our walk with the Lord, be part of Him, and know that we are one with Him who loves and cherishes us.
May you always have God near you and may He be real to you and may your life continue to be in close association daily and for every day and every breath you take. That is my prayer,
For we are what God has made us. Ephesians 2:10
Lord, we come to you; we do our best, and we leave the rest to you. Help us Lord to deepen our love and faith and association to You, knowing that we always have You within..
In Jesus Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
God bless you!