The Word of God is an amazing thing. It is supernatural, divine, holy, inspiring, and changes the way I think. Hebrews 4:12 says it is “active and alive, penetrating, judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” I love reading scriptures, meditating on and contemplating them. I love praying the word of God. I love reminding other believers what the Bible says.
But, the Bible it is not easy. Not when it comes to living it. It is truth and life. It is satisfying and sanctifying, but definitely not easy. If it were effortless Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, would not have used words like “striving, struggle and suffering” so often.
“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.” Philippians 1:27-30 NLT
“So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect (mature) in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.” Colossians 1:28-29 NLT
“You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition.” 1 Thessalonians 2:2 NLT
I can clearly see how the Bible requires tough choices and actions when I’m talking to my friends about their lives. It seems obvious, I mean every Christian knows that following Christ means laying down our desires and will, right? Luke 14:27- “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” I really can’t understand why they would even hesitate.
Today I was reminded that I often struggle applying God’s word, especially when it involves a sacrifice or pressing of me. I was reminded that reading and agreeing with scripture is not the same as believing. Believing occurs when we act on God’s word.
This revelation occurred not because of great suffering such as Paul experienced, but as a result of small sacrifices that loomed large in my mind. I committed to a short term mission trip several months ago and now that it is approaching I changed my mind. I don’t want to go. There, I said it! Now you know how carnal and immature I can be. Actually, I can be worse, but never mind…I’m pressing on. I could give you a list of ALL the reasons I don’t want to go. In fact, I will.
1. $2500.00- Need funding, must send letters to friends and family, I hate asking.
2. Visa, forms, pictures and vaccinations required.$$$
3. 3rd World country- long flight, cramped in coach, security, customs.
4. Do not feel proficient for task.
5. Don’t want to use foreign bathroom facilities in bush.
6. They want us to wear a SKIRT over our scrubs as not to be offense to local believers. Seriously, I don’t mind taking up my cross, but a SKIRT?
7. Don’t want to be away from home, family, or comfort.
In the midst of my, “Why did I say, “Yes” anxiety attack and the emotional struggle going on in me I was confronted with reality. God’s word kept coming into my mind, “Will you carry this small cross of inconvenience and follow me?” “Will you press on?” “Will you deny yourself a little?”
Will I be content to mentally ascribe to His word, prescribe it to others and fail to truly believe? No I will not. I belong to Him and He is faithful and true. Phillipians 1:6-
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” NLT