By the time you read this 2020 will be over, and good riddance!
What a difficult year! None of us have faced in our lifetime anything like the Covid pandemic. And we are all ready for this year, that included so much hardship, to end, and grateful to turn a corner and start something new.
As hopeful as I am for improved circumstances, I am more concerned for you ongoing spiritualhealththanIhaveeverbeenforanycongregation. ThisisnotbecauseIthinkwe’ve done something wrong. It’s because hardship wears down a person’s faith, and the improvement of external circumstances will not by themselves restore it.
Perhaps you remember Elijah’s despair in 1 Kings 19. A great victory only increased the danger he faced and ran for his life. Finally, exhausted he fell down under a broom tree and moaned, “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life;” (1 Kings 19:4). Hardship can wear down anyone’s faith.
But there is a more subtle danger of which I am more concerned. That is the effect of a spiritually inactive life. Faith that is not nurtured and used will grow weak. And like the debilitated person who doesn’t get rehab, a spiritually inactive Christian can grow accustomed to their lack of vitality.
Therootofthisdangeristheabsenceofpublicworship,Sundayschool,fellowship. Werely on these opportunities to restore us every week and we have been deprived of them for weeks. To face this loss of public spiritual life we need to exert private spiritual practice.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, taught his followers to stay in love with God through spiritual disciplines. Among them are essential practices you can and must do privately, personally: 1) Private prayer, including worship and thanksgiving as well as petition; 2) The Word of God, read, studied and applied to life; 3) Fasting or abstinence (we do not live by bread alone)
Of course, they are familiar. They are so fundament that any discussion of spiritual life MUST include these practices. They are as fundament to Christian life as tackling, blocking, and ball carrying are to football. Get sloppy in the fundamentals and your game unravels. Get sloppy in fundamental spiritual practices and your spiritual life will unravel, as well.
So let me encourage you to read from the Bible. I don’t mean one short verse, I mean over several days returned to and read extended passages from the Bible. Let me encourage you to pray, spending an extended time in which you deliberately seek God’s presence for worship and adoration as well as petition?
Let us turn this corner to renewed faith and vitality. Then 2021 will truly be a New Year.
~ Pastor Byron
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