Friday, December 28, 2007

Four Missing Ingredients in the NORMAL Christian Life

Boldness, courage, confidence, faith!

Four words that sound impossible to today’s men and women are the four missing ingredients. If we take time to read the Bible these strong words are there. Not only is this a description of the first believers, it identifies what you and I can demonstrate.

“Hold on,” you say. “I didn’t sign up to make a spectacle of myself. Just being normal is good enough for me.”

But, wait. Don’t sell yourself short. Nowhere does Jesus say, “Follow me and I will let you have a quiet little life, an ordinary existence that doesn’t require any belief or any actions beyond normal.”

“Well, that was then and this is now,” you interrupt.

Before you gain your composure I smile understandingly. Yes, those were my very words not long ago. I actually complained to God. Since I knew He knew what I was thinking anyway, I just blurted it out in sort of a bedtime prayer. I have tried to be honest with Him.

The very next day my routine Bible reading was interrupted by God’s Holy Spirit. It was like a bright yellow highlighter pen drew my eyes to certain words. I was speed reading through Colossians to try to keep to my schedule.

I saw “heard of your faith” and “bearing fruit.” Then it was “filled with knowledge” and “all spiritual wisdom” and “please Him in all respect.” The pinnacle was “strengthened with all power.” A strange dawning of honesty showed me my life was missing what these guys had.

Reading just those assigned verses from chapter one was enough for me. My eyes clouded up and so I closed them as I closed the Bible. “Lord, I don’t even know the basics, here, not to mention the depth.”

It was time to find out what was going on.

A yellow tablet became my outline. I wrote on the first page, BOLDNESS. On the second I put COURAGE. The third was CONFIDENCE. The fourth became FAITH. Over the next couple of weeks I read and meditated and re-read the 95 short verses of that New Testament book. I noted the verses for each topic; good food for thought.

The last verse of that first chapter gave me quite a boost. “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

I wondered how many times the Bible uses these words. This Internet website let me search:
Here’s what I found there: Boldness = 3 times
Courage = 50 times; Confidence = 39 times
Faith, faithful = 505 times, Power = 529 times
Be strong = 310 times. (NLT version)

Before this I’d seen the verse, “… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…” in Acts 1:8, but now the truth shined like a glorious sunrise.

If the world, so laden down with selfishness, sin, and suffering could see God’s power in you and me there’d be no more passivity in us. We wouldn’t be covered with confusion or smothered with indifference. We would be actively, eagerly asking for God’s wisdom, then actively, eagerly reaching out to our needy world.

At this point of our boldness, courage, confidence and faith the powers of darkness would make us a target. All the more reason to stand tall in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Why does the Bible talk about spiritual warfare? For the empowered believer that is “normal.”

The message of salvation gets attention, and God gets the credit. The Gospel can change the lives of individuals and nations. You and I could be a blessing to unbelievers, pre-believers and ordinary, passive believers.

When people around us see a difference in our words and our behavior, then we have gone past the normal, ordinary, indifferent lifestyle. In embracing a true love relationship with Jesus we now display the missing ingredients of the real, normal Christian life:

Boldness, Courage, Confidence, and Faith!

by Elaine Hardt ©2007