Series: Followers of Jesus
Message: In the Church
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 12:1-21 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Paul writes, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).
I married a zealot (a person never lacking in zeal.) When we go on vacation, I want to rest, relax, and recuperate. My wife wants to get up at the crack of dawn, go and see everything there is to do, experience, smell, feel, and taste. Then and only then can we come home at midnight so that we can sleep a little and then get up and do it again. I’m tired just thinking about going on vacation.
Paul says that we are to never be lacking in zeal, but are to keep our spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. That sounds hard for those of us who land on the phlegmatic end of the personality scale.
I think this is a call to the church in Rome to not get distracted. Church folks had been arguing about law and grace, circumcision and uncircumcision, holy days, and what a person can and can’t eat. All this arguing about who was a true follower and who wasn’t made it so that the Lord wasn’t being served at all. All the church’s spiritual zeal was being consumed by the desire to be right. Everybody was so worried about what other people were doing that they had taken their eyes off the prize and got distracted.
Paul is reminding his church in Rome that when they spend all their time arguing about who is right and who is wrong, the mission of the church gets set aside. The only victor in this kind of behavior is the devil.
As long as we stay on task, treat each other love and respect, and work together for the salvation of the world, we will keep our spiritual zeal. We will work together to make the Kingdom come.
Our church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, needs this advice given in Romans 12. Instead of writing blogs about what we think is wrong about people, instead of setting up more committees to investigate each other, instead of slinging mud, maybe we should come together as brothers and sisters and do the Lord’s work. Maybe we need to reclaim our zeal.
Recalibrate: What are the things in your life that threaten to steal your spiritual zeal?
Respond: Pray for the Holy Spirit to renew your zeal, your love for souls.
Research: Check out this article on criticism.
Remember: “Love must be real. Hate what is evil; stick fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9, KNT).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Pacific Union College Church in Angwin, CA. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Mark has served as a youth pastor, Bible teacher, college and academy chaplain, and lead pastor in the United States and Canada for the last 33 years. He has also authored four books: Born Chosen, Live Out Loud, Portals, and Just Jesus.
Little kids are pretty famous for having sticky hands for numerous reasons: food, mud, boogers. You are almost always encouraging them to wash their hands. You wipe off their hands to make them less sticky. Today, let them do something (make a mud pie, play with their food) that will make their hands sticky. Talk about how it’s important that we have clean hands but a sticky heart. A heart that sticks to Jesus and sticks to good things!
Our Words to Remember this week tell us that we should “stick to what is good!” What are some things that are really sticky? Bubble gum? Slime? Cookie dough? Stickers? Glue? There are lots of things that remind us that we should be sticking to good things and, most importantly, sticking to God! Make something sticky today. Have your parents help you look up a sticky craft on Pinterest, or try this one. Remember that it’s important to stick to the good things and not the bad.
Have you ever gone through seasons in your walk with Jesus where you felt super close to Him, and then seasons where you felt super far away? When I first became a Christian, the best way to explain my walk with Jesus was to compare it to a roller coaster. Spiritual highs and spiritual lows—all wrapped up into something I called a “relationship with Jesus.” As I have grown in my faith I have mellowed out a bit. I don’t find myself on this wild ride of ups and downs. Rather, I have a constant fervor (passion) for Jesus because I know that He is with me, He loves me, and He is doing something with my life. When Paul says not to lack zeal and to keep spiritual fervor, I think he is telling us to learn how to be constantly in step with Jesus. No taking breaks in our relationship with Him. As you look at your spiritual life, do you feel as though you have developed a daily walk with Jesus? Or is your spiritual life looking a bit like a roller coaster ride? Wherever you find yourself, don’t be discouraged. Just keep inviting Jesus into your life and put one foot in front of the other.