I hope all of you who read this are seeking the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Before you read this message, I would encourage you to have a Bible with you so you can look up the verses I refer to. Also, please read the surrounding passages and study them. May the Lord help us to serve him.
Within the pages of the Bible are the guidelines and requirements for one who chooses to follow God. These include denying one's self (Matt. 16:24, Luke 14:27), loving God above anything else (Luke 14:26, 33; Matt 22:37), and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 22:39). If we have true faith in God, our faith causes changes in our lives. These changes are evidenced by what we do (James 2:14-16; Eph.2:8-10), what we think (Phil. 4:8; Col. 3:1-3; Eph. 5:23), what we say (Eph. 5:25, 29), and what we delight in or take pleasure in (Psalm 1:1-2; I Pet. 2:2, Matt 5:6). Through Christ we are dead to sin (Romans chapter 6) and our former way of life. By His grace, we are made free from sin (Rom. 6:18). Jesus is our example and we need to follow in his steps (I Pet. 2:21) and live like he lived (I John 2:6). Those who are in Christ are a new creation (II Cor 5:17) and we need to "...put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:24). In Christ Jesus, we are created by grace to be righteous and holy through faith in him. We are told to forsake our life of sin.
Is Jesus's call too difficult? Is it too hard? For just any human being, it is too difficult, but a Christian has the Spirit of God. God's power is at work in us (Eph. 3:20). Through Christ, we ARE dead to sin (Rom. 6) and we ARE crucified with Christ; He lives in us (Gal. 2:20). So, I ask you this: is obeying God and overcoming sin in our lives too hard for us IF we have faith in him and trust in him (not ourselves)? Let's see what the Bible says:
Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your sould. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:29-30). Would you agree that Jesus' yoke is easy and his burden ligh t? From a human standpoint it may not seem like his yoke is easy. But what is a yoke anyway? A yoke is a device that holds two oxen together to plow a field; it has two large holes--one for each ox. If we take the spiritual yoke upon us that has one h ole for Jesus' head and one for ours, we must let him lead and give up our will. If we rebel, the yoke will pull at our neck and then it will hurt; but if we let him lead, He will guide us through the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23). Don't get the wron g idea: just because Jesus said his yoke was easy doesn't mean we won't suffer persecution. In fact, Jesus said that WE WILL go through trials but we can have peace in Him (John 16:33). He even gives us joy that enables us to rejoice at being counted wo rthy to suffer for him (Acts 5:41). Also, trials serve to perfect us (James 1:2-4). If we rebel against God, we will find that Prov. 13:15 is true: "Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard." So, the way of a transgressor is hard, not the way of the righteous. Saul (later named Paul) found the way of a transgressor to be hard when Jesus appeared to him and said that it was hard for Saul to kick against the goads (Acts 26:14). (An ox kicking against the goads was a Greek proverb symbolizing useless resistance; eg- the ox was only hurting itself.) It is hard to rebel, but IF we surrender our will and die DAILY to ourselves, it is easy to let him lead. We must continue to serve him and deny ourselves (Matt. 16:24) or else we will find ourselves fighting God. We WILL fall if we rely on ourselves. "Where fore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall" (I Cor. 10:12).
God's commands are not a burden to us, but rather a joy. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (I John 5:3). And it is possible to keep his commands because as the very next verse in I John 5 states: "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (v.4). Have the faith to believe that his power works in us (Eph. 3:20) and you can and will overcome. "Take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish ALL the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Eph. 6:16). "Everything is possible for him who believes" (Mark 9:23). "I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST which STRENGTHENETH me" (Phil 4:13). "No temptation has seized y ou except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (I Cor. 10:13).
Rely on God to help you take the way out of EVERY temptation. He is a faithful God. "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and HE WILL DO IT." I Thess. 5:23-24
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