Find Your Zeal

I’ve been silent again. Too silent. Lost in a dark and lonely solitude of my own making. A silence that is not easily explained, or even identified for that matter. A silence that tonight was reawakened by one simple word. A word that in today’s world of instant this and immediate that, just isn’t spoken. A single word that could have only been placed on my heart and in my mind by the Spirit that lies deep within myself; the Spirit He placed with in me, within us all that believe.

ZEAL

What is zeal? Webster defines it as great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. Its synonyms include: passion, fire, devotion, enthusiasm, eagerness, keenness, and intensity. With antonyms that include apathy and indifference. In my silence, I had lost; correction, have lost my zeal.

So as I set in the quaint setting of an old barn tonight, sharing in fellowship, with a sisterhood of women who like myself, love the Lord; I was reminded, as perhaps some of them were, that my life was missing a vital piece of God’s armor; the Cloak of Zeal.

Many of us are familiar with the Armor of God. Ephesians 6 reminds us that this armor includes: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the word of God). Tonight it was also revealed to us that there is one more vital piece of armor that no soldier should take the battlefield without, the mysterious cloak of zeal.

woman-armor

     To learn of this lesser know part of His armor, we must venture back to the Old Testament, to the book of Isaiah. Chapter 59, verse 17 states: He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. (NIV) The New Living Translations reads: and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.

Zeal. Passion.

     He wants us to wrap ourselves in this attribute, to be entirely protected by His armor, allowing the final piece, the cloak of zeal to cover all the other pieces, further protecting us from the enemy. We must remember to put on each piece of this armor, each morning as we prepare to face the day. Allowing us to be properly equipped to take on anything the enemy may bring our way.

The speaker asked us, what are you passionate about? I instantly thought about my desire to write, to share my thoughts and revelations. To share what He has done and continues to do in my life. My passion to share how with His love and direction, you can overcome anything. That with Christ in your life, you can accomplish anything that is a part of His will for you. I know that with His guidance, I have so much to say, so much to share… that my voice, directed by Him, just might have the ability to change a life.

I have previously shared brief glimpses into some of the darkness that was my former life, my life before I learned to trust Jesus Christ as my Savior; trusting Him to get me through the hardships that had been all to often placed before me. I have battled depression for decades and sometimes, even with the truth and understanding, and the hope He brings; the darkness can creep in and with it the silence that eventually engulfs me. It sneaks in slowly, quietly… sometimes I notice it, but it is just so comfortable, so familiar, that I don’t stop and think about it being harmful for me. Forgetting how much it will hinder the progress I have made in my growing relationship with the Son of the living God.

So here I am, smack dab in the middle of another bought of silence, brought on by the stress of life, the fear of the unknown, and simply listening to the enemy repeat the familiar old lies of why I will never be more than I am, why I will never succeed in my life. I know better, Christ has brought so much more to my life than I could have ever imagined. Yet, with life gets tough, when there are too many unknowns; it is all too easy to believe those old recordings, to look in the mirror and see who I used to be, instead who He has helped me to become. It’s difficult to have passion, to live with zeal, when your life seems to be nothing more than a black and white movie that lacks even the possibility of a remotely happy ending.

As I listened tonight, to our speaker, a woman whom I love and am blessed to call my friend, I was/am reminded that I am responsible for my own zeal. I am in control of what I am (or am not) passionate about in my life. If I want to be able to share what He has done in my life, I need to be spending time with Him,so that He can continue working in my life. I am disheartened to admit that my time with the Lord has been minimal. My time in His word, even less. I pray, occasionally, and the only time I open my bible is on Sunday morning as I sit with the rest of the congregation while our pastor leads us through His Word. Tonight I was gently reminded that this is not enough. Not even close. He needs and wants more from us, He deserves more from us. As our faith grows, we learn to call him friend, companion, even father. These names signify a relationship and we should be nurturing this relationship, allowing it to become stronger every day.

I can often find myself complaining about being tired or not having enough time to get certain things (like the dishes) done. Yet, I can stay up late, watching one more episode of my favorite show on Netflix, or playing a game on the computer. Or take my weekend off and spend it nearly motionless on my couch, instead of catching up on one of the many things that could be done. Most every morning I hit the snooze multiple times instead of simply getting out of the bed and hitting my knees and spending five or ten quiet minutes starting my day in prayer. Its a conscience choice, one that I have been making poorly for a few months now.

So, my zeal has been renewed. I once again have a fervent urging to find time, no, to make time to spend in prayer and more importantly in His word. Utilizing even the smallest of moments to help strengthen my faith, but better yet my relationship with Him, the One who never stops wooing me. And He doesn’t, He is always pursuing us, all of us, even when we stop pursuing Him.

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So I leave you with a few questions, including the question that was asked of me tonight… what are you passionate about? Are you lacking zeal? Do you take the time to arm yourself every day with the Armor of God? In closing I also encourage you to find that passion and give it to God… allow Him to direct you and how you can best serve Him with your passion. Go to Him in prayer, and in those quiet moments, be reminded of all He has, can and will do for you… if you only let Him.

 

Until the next moment,

 

 

 


Jesus, Friend of Sinners

*Beginning note, please forgive my absence for these past three months, I am still getting adjusted to work and school even when I only have the one child at home! 🙂

As I began my devotion time this morning, continuing to study the word #JOY as it can be found in scripture, I came across a really wonderful verse in Acts. Acts 14:17, here it is in context of the moment being expressed by Paul, insisting that he and Barnabas were mere men just as the people they were reaching out to through their acts of healing and serving the Lord. He told them “We are only men with feelings like yours. We preach the Good News that you should turn from these empty things to the living God.

16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy. 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

Shortly after some neighboring Jews showed up and quickly filled the minds of these same people with the idea to stone them! They did and Paul was drug out of the city believed to be dead. Crazy right? One moment they want to worship these mere men and the next they are stoning them to death!

Then I got distracted.

I often look through my fb news feed before I start my prayer time, so that I can be mindful of my friends and family, those in my community who might be in need of prayer. As I filtered through this morning, I came across a link shared by a mother of an old classmate. It was to a blog, the entry entitled “When she became a he – Walking in love”. My friends reaction was what I might have expected so I too read the entry.

It is written by a woman, a Christian woman, mother of four (I feel her pain ;P) who was shopping with her husband. While in a particular store, she recognized the sales associate as someone she knew from many years before only something had changed. The young man that she had known so many years before, attended church with – was now a woman.

She went on to share the encounter; it was uncomfortable at first. The friend visibly shaken, certainly inwardly thinking about what she must have been thinking about them. Wondering if she was inwardly judging them. The woman recognized this and put him at ease, smiling and expressing genuine excitement about seeing an old friend and they proceeded to reminisce about old childhood friends and shared pictures of their families. She shared that they talked for quite some time and when she left the store how sad she felt for this friend and why. She reminded us that if we are who we say we are. If we are indeed Christians, followers of the Living God; then shouldn’t we love like He did? Shouldn’t our actions be a reflection of Him?

And she’s right, Jesus didn’t stay away from the sinners, he spent time with them; teaching them about the truth in His Father’s Word. He healed the sick, ate with tax collectors and  even had an in depth conversation with an adulterous woman. I often remind my children that we can certainly not approve of someones actions (especially when we understand it to be sin) but if we are truly Christians and want to “be like Jesus” then we still need to love those friends, the sinners, the lost souls who have undoubtedly been deceived by the lies that Satan quietly whispers into our ears. If we stopped talking to the people we know who make these sorts of drastic life changes, openly displaying behavior that we disapprove of, that is considered to be, by definition sin- who would we talk to? Where would our friends be?

Her post made me think of a friend of my own. I dear friend who helped me get through a lot when I first moved back to Nebraska so many years ago. We were neighbors, both single moms with little ones. I had my three oldest, all under 5 at the time and she had two, both under 6. We babysat for one another so we didn’t have to miss work or school, or if we just needed a night to ourselves! We went shopping together, took our kids to the park together. I shared my deepest hurts with her, and she did the same. I moved to my current hometown and she move out of state causing us to loose track of one another. Then thanks to good ole facebook I found her again a few years ago. But she had changed, she was in a relationship and ultimately married another woman. I was shocked initially and I won’t lie, it made me sad for her. Because in my eyes, her lifestyle is something that will keep her from the same eternity that I wanted to share with her. Yet, my God, the loving God He is wants me to love her still. We chat occasionally, laugh about old times and marvel at the amazing young men and women our children have become. She reached out to me with kind words and her own prayers when both of my daughters were in life threatening situations. I pray for her and her family as well, that they have good health and that they are happy. I pray that she will find Him once again.

Prayer, it is the only tool I have.

I try to use it often.

I hope I use it well.

Then there was an article about the very much heated transgender bathroom issue with Target. Simply put, it reminds us as Christians that we are not in this battle with the people who consider themselves transgender, or even Target. We are in battle with the ultimate enemy, Satan himself! I just finished reading Paradise Lost this past week for my literature class. I had always heard so many mixed things about reading it as a Christian, I think that as Christians, we need to read it! I have to believed that just as the Bible was God directed, God breathed; that Milton, who indeed professed a strong faith was directed by God in the images he creates as he tells the story of the fall of man, once again reminding us that we are all sinners. I enjoyed how he walks us through so many pivotal moments in the Bible, both old and new testaments. It almost seemed as if time intertwined in such a manner that it leads me to wonder if our years here on earth will be but a millisecond in heaven.

Oh the #JOY we will know then.

So whatever your initial thinking on many of the tough issues, we can’t control much in this world beyond our own actions. We need to hold our swords and not in haste cut off someone’s ear just because we don’t agree with their lifestyle. We need to love them like Jesus would. Remember WWJD? We need to reach out to them and without condemnation try to show them what the Word tells us to be true. Pray for them. Pray with them if they allow, asking God to show them His way, to draw them near to Him. How we react or don’t react is important because as we all know we have young eyes watching our every movement. Our children our our future. Let me repeat: Our children are our future! I don’t mean the children you gave life to or raised, but any child you may come into contact with as you work or serve in your church or community. They watch us, as our actions are far louder than our words… In showing compassion, they will learn compassion and our world needs a lot more love and compassion in it.

I’m not saying, that we teach them that the behaviors we understand and believe to be wrong are acceptable. I’m saying we remind them that everyone, even those whose actions we disapprove of should be treated with kindness. Once again asking ourselves:

“What Would Jesus Do?”

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Luke 5:31-32 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

saveSinners

Until the next moment,