Stale bread and flat soda

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I like those artisan breads, made locally, without the preservatives found in packaged breads. There is one problem, however. If I do not use the loaf within a couple of days of purchase, the bread goes stale, the flavor lost. I also enjoy a nice cold glass a raspberry-lime seltzer as long as it hasn’t had time to go flat, losing the carbonation that gives it that unique appeal.

Did you know that our Christianity can lose the edge, get stale? Peter wrote to us to encourage maturity in the daily practices of our faith- “complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love.”

And, he then goes on to say, But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” (2 Peter 1:9-12, NIV)

What does a stale faith look like?

It is mumbled prayers, without heart, without faith. It is dutiful service lacking in fervor. It is an unread, dusty Bible or, at best, a few minutes spent in familiar Psalms. It is apathetic about the condition of the world that does not know the hope of Jesus. It is loveless, joyless, and lukewarm. The Bible warns of ‘deadly drift’  in life, when the pressing issues of each day carry a person away from the fellowship of the Spirit, with a growing chill in the soul.

It is quite possible to wake up and find that the things of God just don’t matter anymore, the faith that once burned brightly in the heart, cooled to an ember, only to die completely!  Paul reminded Timothy, the younger pastor in a struggle in his church, to remember the calling, the faith, he had found and to take care of it. “Fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” (2 Timothy 1:6, NLT)

We know how important daily habits are to our health, don’t we? At my most recent physical exam, the doctor looked me over and wryly asked, “So, are you taking care of your body, God’s temple?” She pointed out the neglect of exercise, the extra pounds round my waist, and the rising blood pressure that were evidence of my need to change some of my ways. I know full well that I should walk each day, that I should eat a better diet, but I choose to push those choices of to tomorrow with gradual consequence to my good health.

Similarly, there are choices to be made for spiritual vitality. They are not usually all that difficult nor do they require horrendous sacrifices. Keeping faith fresh asks you and me to make some priority choices.

  • On Sunday morning, set the alarm and go connect with God and His family in worship.
  • Instead of watching another TV program, spend some time with a prayer journal, the Bible, and the Spirit.
  • Read something soul nourishing.
  • Choose a playlist that helps you to know God’s presence.
  • Forgive and strengthen ties instead of hanging onto resentments.
  • Find a place to give yourself away on a regular basis, doing something for others in Jesus’ name where there is no immediate benefit to you.
  • Make every effort to balance work and worship!

These are the kinds of habits that draw us back to the renewal of our faith, that ‘make our calling and election sure.’

One last thought today …  don’t confuse ‘exciting’ with ‘fresh.’  A fresh faith does not require novelty or entertainment. A common mistake of the modern church is to replace the Presence of the Spirit with things that excite us. Bright lights, loud music, faster songs, and sermons designed to tug at emotions instead of transforming us into Christ’s likeness.  A few tears replace repentance. But let’s remember –  vital faith is not novel faith; it is God-focused, eternal, hopeful, and holy.

Here is a word from the Word. Lord, help us to do those things that allow You to work in us and through us to become holy people that shine Your Light brightly into our dark work, passionately living out the faith.

“Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see. “The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!

“Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors!” (Revelation 3:18-21, The Message)

___________

Spirit of the living God,

Fall fresh on me.

Melt me, mold me,

Use me, fill me.

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