Hi Friends,

In 2020 we have all become a lot more conscious about our health and hygiene.  Some of you have to take daily temperatures for your jobs.  Hand washing posters are everywhere. No shirt, no service signs have been replaced with no mask, no service.  And if you want to clear a way through a line, all you have to do is cough and people will start running for the nearest exit.

With as health conscious as we have become, something I’m aware of is that I’m not always as spiritually conscious as I should be.  I can spot the signs of COVID, but can I spot the signs of spiritual illness? I know what I have to do to stay physically healthy, but am I as diligent in seeking to be spiritually healthy?

As we close out this year, something I know that I need to do is take some time to do a spiritual health checkup.  Doing this can be dangerous, because anytime we look at ourselves we can feel tempted to either be self righteous (look how great I am) or self condemning (look how terrible I am).  However, the gospel rescues us from both of those things by calling us to look away from ourselves and our performance and looking to Jesus and His performance on our behalf.  The Gospel tells us that we are never good enough to not need Jesus and never so bad to be beyond the reach of Jesus.  Through what Jesus has done in His life, death, resurrection and ascension we have assurance of God’s love for us, God’s forgiveness of us, and God’s welcome to us both now and for forever.  But the security that the Gospel supplies is not meant to enable us to live spiritually lazy lives.  No, the more we know the riches that we have in Jesus, the more we should steward those riches by investing our lives in godly living for Jesus.  We can’t do anything to improve our standing with God, but we can pursue living in such a way to increase our enjoyment in God and the glory that He gets from us.

So, being grounded in the Gospel, here are some questions that I’ll be asking and maybe you’ll find helpful too.

1) Loving God

  • Crisis (and 2020 has been one long crisis) can justify all kinds of bad habits, so are there any things that I’m doing now that would have concerned me back in 2019? Is there anything that I need to stop justifying and flee?
  • How often is my heart being moved to worship God?  Are there things that are dulling my spiritual senses?
  • Are there things that I have stopped doing that used to stir my affections for God?  What can I start doing to cultivate a deeper love for Him?
  • What place does God have in how I spend my time?  How much of my time is spent in learning more about Him and speaking to Him in prayer?
  • What places does God have in my finances?  How am I applying what Jesus taught about our hearts following where we put our treasure?

2) Love each other

  • What place do my fellow church members have in my time?  Are there ways that I can be more creative in overcoming the barriers that are currently in place to spending time with other people?
  • Are there any offenses or hurts that I haven’t worked through with someone?  Am I doing anything that would allow roots of bitterness to grow in my heart?
  • How often am I encouraging other people? Am I aware of ways that God is at work in other people’s lives or have I become too caught up in myself to notice?
  • Who knows me and can help me answer these questions?  If I’m not known, what can I start doing to build relationships that are strong enough for vulnerability and loving enough to speak truth?
  • How often am I praying for others?  Am I aware of people’s needs or only have I become only focused on my own?

3) Love our city

  • What am I doing to make my neighborhood a better place to live?
  • How am I loving and serving my neighbors?
  • What are prayer needs that my neighbors have?  When was the last time I asked them how I can be praying for them?
  • Who have I shared a church service or devotional with recently?  What is keeping me from doing this more?
  • Are there spiritual conversations that I’ve avoided due to laziness or fear?  What can I learn from those missed opportunities?
  • How much am I praying for people that God has placed in my life who don’t yet know Him?

These questions are not meant to be exhaustive.  These are just the questions that I know that I need to regularly be asking myself.  I’m grateful that because of Jesus, my sins are not only forgiven, but as His adopted son I’ve been empowered by the Holy Spirit to continue to pursue growth and change.  In Christ, the best is always yet to come as we continually grow closer to Him through pursuing the lives He has created us to live.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Jeff