To attest to what you know. All three of the words in the title of this post frequent the same root in the original Greek language. The noun form is from the root “martus”, the verb from “martureo.” That should rattle your cage. The next time that you are called to witness to one of the lost, keep in mind all those that have given their lives to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So what does it look like if you are living your Christianity out loud? If you are in fact living that way then other folks know that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. What does the world see in you that tells them that you are a follower of Jesus Christ? Paul, in his letter to the church at Galatia, wrote “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). That single picture, a life absorbed and covered with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, is the foundation, the bedrock of living your Christianity out loud. It seems at once complex and yet it is so simple. It is not about what we do but rather what Christ does within us. What He does within us is, after all is said and done, what shows on the outside. There is no fanfare. There are no announcements or pictures in the local newspaper proclaiming our status as a follower of Jesus Christ. Christian character, according to Paul, is the result of the indwelling Holy Spirit, not by anything that we do or produce. Be very careful that your concentration is on that one thing: It is not about what you do. It is about what the Holy Spirit does through you. Take a few minutes and read the first five verses of the gospel of John as Jesus explains our position in living our faith out loud. These verses are indeed the root of living your faith out loud. Your life as a Christian is not about you.
I fear that there is a built in complacency that comes with our claim of availability. I fear that we may find an excuse to say to the Lord that we cannot do “that thing” that we have been led to do and we hang it on some limitation, real or not. That’s okay, at least we were available. Wrong. The call is not that we are to be available for only certain things at certain times and we are free to use our limitations as filters for what we are willing or able to do.
Am I serving God with a reserve? That’s a fair question for any of us. Have we said to God that we will do anything or go anywhere for Him and yet, in the test, are there things that we will not do and places that we will excuse ourselves from going? Have we ever been guilty of declining an opportunity to spread the free gift of Jesus Christ? How will a stranger know that you are a child of God if it is not obvious in your behaviors? Consider the words of Paul as he addressed the church at Corinth with this phrase: “I will very gladly spend for you everything that I have and expend myself as well” (2 Corinthians: 12: 15 NIV). Can I truthfully say that? That is what it takes to follow the Lord. It is important that when we believe that we are doing something for the Lord or to honor Him, we examine what our motivation really is. It is ours to disappear in the life of Jesus Christ.
Living a Christian life in that manner that can redefine the phrase, “all in.” Are you “all in” or just along for the ride? _dg
“Willful obedience” sounds a lot like “on purpose” to me. Make it a little more concise and think of it as “willing to obey.” Webster is good with that one too. A question comes up about how we know what we should obey. As Christians we often say to the Lord, “Of course I will obey you” but then we seldom stop to listen to the instructions and directives. “Sure, Lord. I am willing to obey you but I might not hear you so…” The Lord in heaven might turn the volume up a tad so you will hear Him amid the din of your life. Then again, He may not do that and instead just move on to someone who is listening. What a horrible thing to reconcile when we realize that we were just not listening when the Lord called on us. To be obedient requires an open, constant communication link between us, as individual Christians and our Father in heaven.
We would never be willfully disobedient but we so often forget about the parameters of willful obedience. We find it convenient and far too easy to turn the volume down or even to be tuned in to a different station. How do you suppose that will work out for you? Good luck in explaining to the Lord how you were just too busy to be listening at that moment and on that day. Don’t let your “stuff” get between you and the Lord. That is harsh but that is directly to the point. _dg
You are asking God for His will in your life, for his direction and control; you have listened for his call. You have kept your boots in good shape and your weapon clean and loaded. You do not know when or how the call will come but you have prayed that it will. You have prayed for direction and now it is in front of you every time you open your eyes. We have all been there waiting, telling God that we will do what He asks us to do and now it is in front of you. It is time to do the next thing. Do not ignore the order because you think it is not the right voice that you are hearing, that surely God would not ask such a thing of you. You know better. You spend time in the Word and even more time communicating with the Lord and when the marching orders come you still find time and reason to question them.
This is your mission. Your life has, at your request and by God’s molding been transformed from faith and prayer into the act of following the Lord. Obey. That one word statement says it all, obey. Garrison time has ended and the orders to saddle up and move out are here. In today’s vernacular this is not a test. This is not a drill. You joined this outfit for a lot of personal reasons but the orders come from God. You are a bit hard of spiritual hearing but you know what you heard. Spiritual hearing comes from prayer and listening. You know the voice. It may be about righting a wrong, taking care of someone or something that God has made you mindful of. It might be about keeping your own yard clean and your spiritual gear in top shape. It might be about doing what God has prepared you to do. You may not know or understand the reasons but it IS about obedience. Saddle up and move out.
Listen. A spiritual darkness, a time when we do not see God at work in our lives, is a time for acute listening skills. It may well be that during this darkness is a time for you to be actively listening for God. We have all heard about active listening skills somewhere in a language class long ago. Think about listening to the speaker, of making and maintaining eye contact, of making yourself active or animated in your own speech. Respond to the gestures and tone of the speakers’ voice; be involved in the conversation. How often do we find ourselves in darkness and assume that we are the only one there? God is there – Listen even when you do not hear anything. Listen for that still, small voice.
Take care of the personal things of your relationship with the Lord and stay close by. Continuously pour out your own soul and spirit on the altar of prayer and listen. Read the scriptures and find God’s voice in them. Lights often come on as a direct result of our making sure that our switch is in the right position. _dg
“Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die” (Ex. 20:19, NIV). So who do you listen to? It is likely that we do not intentionally disobey God, rather we simply do not listen to Him. God implies “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (Ex. 20:6). His commandments are there in the bible. Are you keeping them or are just counting on the pastor or the Sunday school teacher to tell you what you need to know, what you ought to do next. That is not a complex question but I beg you to consider your answer carefully. Who are you listening to? Be careful that you are not listening to a teacher’s embellishments of the scripture when the real words are quite clearly expressing the Lord’s message and the teacher is perhaps adding or subtracting their own interpretation to what has already been clearly said. The results of that can impact your eternity.
Why would we be afraid to have God speak to us directly, choosing rather to have a teacher or pastor speak to us? A cause for that could be simply that if God speaks to us, it is imperative that we do what God tells us to do. To do less is a blatant act of disobedience. If the pastor or teacher speaks to us it seems less final, it gives us a bit of wiggle room. They are, after all, just human and they just do not have the final authority and say. We assume that we can disobey them without disobeying God. Who are we listening to in our life of Christianity? Are we ready to have the Almighty God speak to us directly? If we are, there are no more negotiations or scheduling when and how we respond. I dare you to answer that truthfully. Much may hang in the balance of the answer. _dg
Kings with their little toy soldiers do not measure up. Mental toddlers with their airplanes and big bombs are no match. Have you not figured it out yet? Has anyone ever told you about our Lord? Have you not been told that “the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (v. 28)? God has not, does not and will not get tired and weary! The Lord understands things that we cannot conceive of. We are not capable of understanding nor can we imagine that which is of the Lord. Our best built civilizations, built and populated with the best minds of human ingenuity and human kindness are not even at the game. What the Lord knows and understands, no one, not one human mind can fathom. His strength is beyond comprehension. “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; (40:30)…” The greatest of great men, even the greatest and most evil of despots cannot be measured in their infinitesimal, micro-existences when they are measured by the Almighty God in Heaven.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; (v. 31)”. I have been blessed among men by being allowed to watch eagles soar. For a seemingly endless day they will rise and fall with ease as they slice through the air above. If you strain to see the motion of their wings you may see a wing twitch, perhaps no more than a flick of a single feather that adjusts to turn or to catch another current of air. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; They will soar on wings like eagles;” Oh the strength and freedom given to those who hope in the Lord! “They will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (v. 31). “But those who hope in the Lord…”
My name is Dan. That isn’t who I am, it is just my name. I am more apt than not to sign my name as “_dan” or “_dg” with the underscore and the lower case letters being an intentional thing. That is some sort of self-effacing tactic because I want people to know who I am, not just my name. I want people to see what I do or say or write or love as being more important than what my name is. Who I am is not so cleverly hidden inside my words and actions. I am here, wherever that is at any given moment, because God put me here. He has a job for me to do and it is all about my living my own Christian faith out loud, letting it be ubiquitous in my life. And yes, I love words. I love it when I am able, even accidentally, to use them well, to understand them, to let them express the shape and content of my soul.
I am here to bare my soul, to share it with anyone. I invite you to know my soul through my thoughts and words for they are all I really have. _dg