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Friday, January 31, 2014
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"I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then" (Joshua 14:11). "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11).
Nigel and Laifong are friends in Massachusetts who named their son Caleb, which has become a fairly common name for boys. In fact we have a baby in our church named Caleb as well. It took Ester a long to get it straight as Brooksyne would often correct her, "Ester, his name is Caleb, not Cable." It's a good name based on a dynamic Bible character. We don't recall ever meeting anyone our age or older with the name Caleb but today's text references a man 85 years old!
I preached a message several years ago about Caleb, highlighting his faithfulness and zeal even when he was an old man. I told the congregation, "Should the Lord tarry and I'm alive at 85 years of age, like Caleb, I want to have the same zeal and fervor and faithfulness."
Following the service a young man named Tony walked up and showed me what he had written during the sermon. In the front of his Bible to the effect, "Invite Steve Weber back when he is 85." I was impressed that he had listened so carefully to the message. We had a good chuckle, but who knows, I just might get an invitation to return to preach in that church when I'm 85 and those still in the church at that time will see if I've truly kept my spiritual fervor and am faithfully serving the Lord.
Caleb was one of the twelve who spied out the land of Canaan soon after the Red Sea crossing. He, along with Joshua, stood before the Israelites and with bold confidence declared, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it" (Numbers 13:30). Caleb's faith in God was energized by the great challenge that lay ahead as they set out to defeat the Nephilim, who were giants. He was a valiant "young" man of 40 years when he gave this daring challenge to the Israelites. But as Bible readers know they did not proceed at that time and thus the forty years wilderness wandering.
Although Caleb and Joshua both had faith to proceed it was Joshua who assumed the leadership position following Moses' death. One might wonder how Caleb handled this. Was he jealous or resentful? I don't think so! He may not have been as famous as Joshua but his life reminds me of a saying I read many years ago on a church sign: "Better to be faithful than famous." (Attributed to Theodore Roosevelt)
Did Caleb's faith and vigor weaken over the years? I'm glad Scripture gives us a glimpse of Caleb 45 years later in his senior years when he said these words, "So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then!" This Scripture doesn't show Caleb sitting in a rocking chair mulling over the unproductive thought, "If only I were young again." In fact he's charged up and ready to follow the Lord's leading even at 85 years of age! (Of course, his children might have a different estimation since some older folks don't always have as sharp a judgment as when they were young.)
We both memorized the second daily verse as young Christians in our early twenties. "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Although we are now in our fifties we want to mirror Caleb's attitude as he kept his spiritual fervor throughout his life and into his eighties.
We would all do well to memorize this verse. It's short but packed with a life long challenge. Let's look at three characteristics we should aspire to:
1) "Never be lacking in zeal." The word translated "zeal" is one of my favorite Greek words. "Spoude", which is an ancient word related to our English word "speed", connoting diligence and earnestness. My, how I want that to be true in my life and ministry! Paul knew how the cares of this life could overshadow our zeal causing our enthusiasm to diminish, although Scripture shows no evidence of any such lacking of zeal in his own life!
2) "Keep your spiritual fervor." The word "fervor" literally means "to be hot, boil or glow." The Amplified Version translates this phrase "be aglow in the Spirit". One dynamic I've noticed in my own life and ministry is that keeping a spiritual fire going takes diligence on my part. Paul warned against quenching the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
3) "Serving the Lord." Are you serving the Lord? We have a tendency to compartmentalize our service, which actually limits it. Are you serving the Lord right now? You should be, wherever you are and whatever you're doing. Paul teaches "It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:24b) and to "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men" (Ephesians 6:7).
Perhaps you can take just a moment right now and earnestly pray, "Lord Jesus, help me to keep my zeal and spiritual fervor today as I serve You in whatever I do!"
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer:Father, it is our lifelong desire to love You without reserve, to never be lacking in zeal, and to keep our spiritual fervor as we serve You. We devote ourselves to You only and want to do what is good and right in Your sight so that it may go well with us and we will bring You pleasure. We want to be careful that we do not forget You or fail to observe Your commands You have set forth in Your Word. Otherwise our hearts will grow proud and we will forget our first love. Keep us on the right path all the days of our life we pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Find Us Faithful" Video Let There Be Praise Singers
"Where No One Stands Alone" Video Gaither Vocal Band
My brother Pat, who is a pastor in eastern Pennsylvania, shared about a time when he was dedicating a little boy named Joshua but kept referring to him as Caleb throughout the entire ceremony. I wonder if his parents kept saying Joshua under their breath so Pastor would dedicate the right child. At least he had the Bible associations correct and God was never confused!
Many years ago we shared a daily encouragement message titled "Famous or Faithful?"
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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