(Welcome to our youth staff meeting. For more info about the 5 Essentials click here.)
When I first started driving I had an innate fear. I was terrified of running out of gas. So, in an effort to always stay full, I would stop by the gas station near my house anytime my tank got below 3/4 of a tank. The idea of getting close to "E" scared me. I can proudly say that I have never ran out of gas. However, things have changed since then. Now, my car hardly ever sees 3/4 of gas in the tank. I know this is not normal, but I hardly ever really get a full tank of gas. I usually just stop and get $20 worth or $30 worth after my car tells me that I have "0 Miles to empty."
There are two reasons that I usually drive on empty:
#1 - I don't want to pay the price - gas is expensive as all of you know, and I hate the idea of dropping $80 to fill up my Jeep.
#2 - I am too busy - It seems that I always need to fill up with gas at the most inconvenient times. Life is busy and I am never excited about detouring from what I am doing to fill-up.
I think it is the same in my spiritual walk. When I first felt the call of God on my life I was so terrified about running out of gas and I did whatever it took to make sure that my spiritual tank stayed full. However, as years go by, it is very easy to grow comfortable just living our spiritual lives on "E." Two things get in our way. We don't want to pay the price, and we allow the busy lives to crowd out our relationship with Jesus.
I want us to do an inventory of our hearts and see if we are living our spiritual lives too close to empty. Understand, we can't give students what we don't have. We can't take students where we have not been. We reproduce what we are, not what we want to be. We must lead others from the overflow of what God is doing in our own hearts and lives.
It is easy to allow our WORK for God to replace our WALK with God. When we allow our work to replace our walk then we are out of order.
28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?" 29 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.'This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
Jesus says that the two greatest commandments are: #1 to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. #2 To love your neighbor as yourself. Notice their order again. The first commandment is to love God, then we love people. When we love people first we are in danger of having a ministry-centered life instead of a God-centered life.
As Doug Fields says, "We are called to love God and like students."
5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Understand that without being connected to God we can do NOTHING of eternal value. We can do nothing that truly matters. If we are going to be effective in working with students understand the foundation is not our creativity, ingenuity, or our superb ability to relate to students. If we are going to have fruit that remains from our work in student ministry our foundation is our connection with God. In John 15 Jesus goes on to say that he wants us to go from a servant to a friend relationship. In other words, he wants us to be more than just task-oriented servants, he wants us to be relationship-oriented friends. We must develop an intimacy with God that is not dependant with him using us in ministry.
1. You have extended periods when you do not spend time with God alone.
2. You only spend time in prayer and study of the word when you are preparing to minister.
Ways to Fill-Up
1. Set aside specific times to connect with God through prayer.
2. Have a daily diet of scritpure not consumed for the purpose of teaching.
3. Place God's abiding Word in your heart through memorizing the scriptures.
4. Practice the discipline of fasting.
5. Utilize marginal time in your life to fill-up. (Spend time during your daily commute to listen to the Bible or a message.)
The warning from John 15 is clear. Without staying connected to Jesus we can truly do nothing. However, the promise is clear as well. When we do choose to abide in Him and allow His word to abide in us then we will bear much fruit. Let's choose to pay the price and set aside the business of our lives so that we can stay full of the Holy Ghost.