Turn Up the Heat

My faith cooled and became lukewarm when it should have boiled.

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It has been awhile since I have written in my journal.

I’ve been spiritually asleep, and I have been struggling to wake up and shake the sleep from my mind. I realize now that over my lifetime, I haven’t put the time and commitment into my faith that would allow me to remain spiritually energized. I have relied on others to reach and stir within me the inspiration and motivation to know God. I have been waiting for God to come to me.

I suppose I have been avoiding a confrontation with Christ, ashamed and afraid that I have given Him less than I am able. Doubting God’s grace to forgive a sinner such as me.

And I played the blame game. Blaming churches for not keeping me engaged.

As a consequence, my faith cooled and became lukewarm when it should have boiled. At long last, I have spit out my tepid indifference and, with God’s grace, I am turning up the heat.

I am reading “The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events” by Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, who is a messianic Jewish believer. He is dedicated to “evangelism of Jewish people and discipleship of Jewish and Gentile believers from a messianic Jewish frame of reference.” I have just begun reading his book, and it is challenging, stirs something within me, and it is thought-provoking. It is the study of Biblical prophecy, including the book of Revelations.

I don’t pretend to understand it all, but certain aspects speak to me and echo my Biblical studies: That is, despite good intentions, religion has been corrupted over time. The author reminds us that it is important to distinguish between man’s laws and God’s. Often times, our spiritual leaders preach to us what we want to hear instead of what we need. Sometimes, religious doctrines stray from Scripture.

It is our responsibility to read the Bible and seek an in-depth knowledge of the written Word of God – at least to the best of our ability. Faith is interactive. It is not passive. A relationship with God requires that we show up. It requires us to look to Him and learn what He wants from us, not the other way around. It requires faith that He is waiting for us to open our hearts to Him, that we are loved, and that we won’t be turned away.

Although my faith is evolving, I believe I have in the past made several errors. I once believed erroneously that I could earn God’s forgiveness for the things I do that I know are wrong. I cannot. We are forgiven by God’s grace through our faith, not because we do or say anything that makes us worthy of His forgiveness. God loves us despite our faults. He knows us better than we know ourselves. We need not – cannot – achieve perfection to obtain His forgiveness, so we need to stop obsessing about that and being so incredibly hard on ourselves. God forgives us when we sin and repent not because we are entitled to forgiveness, but because we are loved.

I realize now that if I make the effort — by praying and regularly reading and studying the Bible  — I can learn what God desires me to learn, but in His timeframe — not mine. I must curb my impatience to understand those things that I may never understand or that I cannot understand without effort.

We must resist the temptation to remain indifferent about our faith or take it for granted. Our faith should boil, not be tepid or lukewarm: “I know your reputation as a live and active church, but you are dead. Now, wake up! Strengthen what little remains — for even what is left is at the point of death. Your deeds are far from right in the sight of God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly and turn to me again. Unless you do, I will come suddenly upon you, unexpected as a thief, and punish you.” (Revelations 3:1-4)

I have learned to cut through the noise and return to the basics: Pray, submit to God’s authority, read the Bible, and love one another.

I have faith that by putting ourselves in Jesus’ hands, and trusting in Him and the Holy Spirit to guide us, God’s Word is all that any of us need to carry on — and, with God’s grace, to carry us Home.

 

Photo credit: Salvatore Virz

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