What do you have a vision for? What do you have faith for? What do you yourself expect God to do this year, not next year? What can you see happening right now and from now on? What do you personally plan to do about it? What do you personally hope to do about it and want to do about it?
The most uncomfortable place for a Christian is a comfortable place. One of the greatest dangers is the feeling that you've really accomplished something; so much so, that you no longer have that driving motivation which makes you feel like you cannot stop, that you've got to keep going even if it kills you!
We cannot go on "business as usual"! If we don't obey God, this could happen to us, the feeling that we have arrived--that we've made it and we're satisfied with what we've accomplished. The minute you get that feeling, that's as far as you get.
How like death moving is! It's the ending of one life and the beginning of another. Moving is hard to do. I'm having a real battle moving on to the next place. If I have to keep moving, I have to keep dying. You can understand why Paul said, "I die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31).
It's not a matter of looking off in the future. If you're not willing to die daily right now in order to get the job done, you'll never be able to die someday as a martyr. And if you're not willing to deny yourself in all the little ways every day to reach the lost, you'll never be able to deny yourself in the end by a martyr's death.
If you're not willing to go and choose to die daily for Jesus right now, you may never be! And that begins on your block, getting out in your neighborhood, in your part of the world. As the lady said when she had to go out witnessing, "Oh, this just kills me!"
Well, that's exactly what it should do: It should kill your pride, your selfishness, your egotism, and may even cause some considerable physical sacrifice and strain. If you have lost that compulsion--that feeling like you just have to get out and make progress and keep moving or you'll die, and if you don't have that feeling anymore that you'd rather get out there and die for something rather than live for nothing--then you've lost the martyr spirit. That's the real martyr spirit!
This daily dying is the hardest kind, because you do it a thousand times, whereas at the end of your life the final death is nothing by comparison. Your final death is your graduation! This slow death of dying a little each day--that's what takes a lot of guts.
A young reporter once asked the leader of a well-known Eastern religion about his young followers and if he thought they were old enough to understand what it was all about. He wisely answered, "We're all old. You're old. You may die tomorrow. They're old because their lives may be over tomorrow. So today we're all old." In other words, they've got to be old enough. Their lives may be over tomorrow.
"Boast not thyself of tomorrow" (Proverbs 27:1). It may not only be later than you think, but you may be older than you think. You're counting on doing the job someday soon, but we'd better do it now!--Or we may never get it done.
The shocking question I want to ask you is: Are we getting in a rut? Are we turning sour, losing our fire, our convictions, our vision, our faith, our courage? And where is our initiative?
There's nothing that succeeds like success. But at the same time, there's nothing that fails faster than failure! You're never so near the abyss, the deep, bottomless pit, as you are when you're standing on the brink--on the mountaintop. When you're on the top, it's not only the most victorious place to be, but it's the most dangerous. When you're on the bottom, you have nothing to lose. There's no way out but up, and the bottom is the safest place in the world. You're nobody and nobody cares what you do.
Egypt never worried about the Jews until they began to be numerous and powerful. The Egyptians did not really become their enemies in earnest until they had gotten to be about three to six million and spread out all over the land of Goshen. But when they began to really threaten the status quo, and began to appear to be a genuine threat to the system of the day, Pharaoh and his army got busy to try to put a stop to them!
There's also such a thing as trying to go too fast. You get out of touch with the Lord. Some of you nearly work yourselves to death--you're really killing yourselves! You have to take a vacation. God's Word even tells us to. God couldn't even trust them to stop their work one day a week and take the rest they needed. He had to make it a commandment (Exodus 20:8Ã¢â‚¬â€œ11), and say, Just take it off because I said so! You're going to burn out if you don't.
You want to die daily, but you don't want to die completely right now! It's your business for God's sake to stay alive so you can carry on, and this attitude of trying to kill yourself off quickly through your service to Him instead of trying to live as long as possible is not what God wants. You're going to have to try to live a little longer to carry out what God wants.
The gruff, blustery, colorful, dramatic, outspoken, but highly successful General Patton is credited to have once said, contrary to popular opinion, that "It is not the duty of every good soldier to die for his country, but to see to it that the other dumb bastard dies for his country!" In other words, although a good soldier must be willing to die for his cause, if necessary, it's far better for him to learn how to live for it, how to stay alive and keep fighting, as you won't be much good to anyone dead.
You have so much to do and so little time to do it in--so many things to take care of, so many people to take care of--that you work yourself to a frazzle and a frenzy trying to get everything done and take care of everything and everybody, that you're going to find that you may very well be neglecting both God and God's will.
If we've gotten the idea that our main job is to keep disciples and grow in numbers, we have lost our whole goal. If you think that is our main objective, you have forgotten what it's all about! Our job is to reach the ends of the earth with the Gospel--to get the message across. That's our job.
My name is James Arendt. I was raised in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the southeast side of Chicago, Illinois, served in the USAF from 1970 to 1974, and became a full-time missionary for Christ living 40 years in Japan, 3.5 years in Russia, and a few months in other countries such as Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China where I also served the King of Kings, Jesus, as an Ambassador for His Kingdom.
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