When Jesse Ventura became governor of Minnesota, on election night he recalls looking at his wife with the expression, “What did I just do?” I have no doubt that all the while he was campaigning, he was too busy to think about all the things he would have to do as governor. He probably gave little thought to all the things he would now have to be responsible for as governor. But now, on election night, when the campaigning is over and the results are counted and he has won, all of a sudden the enormity of the task at hand must have hit him square in the face. “What did I just do?”
Of course none of us campaign to become Christians. The Bible clearly says that there are none that seek after God (Romans 3:11). Usually we are brought to a place of salvation through the work of someone else in concert with the Holy Spirit. But it’s not too long after becoming a Christian that you begin being taught all that lies ahead of you as it pertains to what you should do…not do…say…not say…etc. As we look ahead at the rest of our lives, the task and responsibility of living for the Lord may seem enormous and down right impossible to imagine pulling off with any kind of consistency. Yet that is precisely what God expects of us…and it can be done.
God is incredibly wise in how He puts things before us. He created us and knows us better than we know ourselves. He is the best psychologist out there because He knows exactly what we need to succeed. Here’s what I mean…just think of all the promises God makes in the Bible. There are so many places in the Bible where God says, “I will…” But there’s one thing about which God never says, “I will.” The one promise He never gives is this, “I will give you another tomorrow.” So you may look at your Christian life (young or old in the Lord) and think the task of living for the Lord for the next ten years is daunting, but it really isn’t…because you’re only ASSUMING you will live the next ten years. You may not even live past today!
In Luke Chapter 12, a foolish rich man had laid up for himself tons of material possession and wealth. He had enough stuff stored up to be able to live comfortably for the rest of his life…or so he mistakenly thought. God took his life that night. The Bible is very clear that we are not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34) because we may not have one. God wants us to live day to day and trust Him for what we need. In James 4:13-15, foolish people say they will do this, that, and the other thing tomorrow, yet God tells us that we don’t know what lies ahead tomorrow for it may never come. Instead, He teaches that the posture we should take is that IF GOD WILLS, we will do this, that, and the other thing.
Now you may say that God is a forward thinking God who wants us to plan for the future. After all, He tells us to lay up for our selves treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:20), which has to be done by having a forward thinking approach, right? Nah! Any act that you do here on this earth is how you will lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven. And guess what…those acts are ONLY done in the PRESENT! No one has ever done a FUTURE act. So you can’t look and plan how you will lay up treasures in Heaven next week after you have worked overtime this week to earn material earthly treasures. Next week may never come and then you are left with nothing laid up for yourself.
No…the daunting task of living the Christian life is no more difficult than the present moment in which you find yourself! Even yesterday is too late to do anything. Even last hour, last minute, and last second are too late. The Christian life seems so much more manageable if we live it moment by moment. It’s not even about “slow and steady wins the race.” It’s about recognizing God wants us to eat the elephant one bite at a time, and right where we’re at in that present moment in time, in those circumstances. Of course the elephant I speak of is the Christian life in its totality and the responsibilities we have toward God as we progress through it.
Think about the statement Christ made to the woman caught in adultery when He told her to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Can you imagine looking at the days, weeks, and months which are seemingly ahead of you and feel overwhelmed at the task of never sinning again? Who in their right minds would honestly believe they could pull that off? However, again, God is wise. In Matthew 6:13, the Lord taught us to ask God to steer us clear of temptation and to keep us from sinning, and that specific request is supposed to be made daily, at the least (Matthew 6:11). So at the very moment of temptation, we can be certain that it’s God’s will that we NOT sin. So if we pray to God to keep us from sinning, He will do it right then and there, and we can have confidence that God will answer any prayer that is prayed according to His will (1st John 5:14). So it is possible to not sin moment by moment.
Let’s look at some of the things God does, and that He does on a DAILY basis:
1. Provides for His people daily (Psalm 68:19; Matt 6:11; Daniel 1:5)
2. God adds to the church daily (Acts 2:46-47)
3. God judges the righteous daily (Psalm 7:11)
4. Renews His mercies daily (Lamentations 3:22-23)
So God looks after us everyday. He saves people everyday. He watches our lives and actions every day and judges us accordingly. Lastly, God cleans off the slate every morning and mercifully gives us another DAY! Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the DAY which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” I can’t stress enough that we have only this day to get things done for God. We can’t worry about tomorrow, or next week, or the next ten years because they may never come to pass.
God will be faithful to do His part every day, now let’s see what God expects out of us on a daily basis:
1. We must be sensitive to God’s voice daily (Hebrews 3:15; 4:7)
2. We must take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23)
3. We must die to self daily (1st Corinthians 15:31)
4. Gather and utilize God’s provisions daily (Exodus 16:15)
5. We must keep our vows to God daily (Psalm 61:8)
6. We must praise God daily (Psalm 72:15)
7. We must cry out to God and pray daily (Psalm 86:3; 88:9)
8. We must rejoice daily (Proverbs 8:30)
9. We must seek God’s wisdom daily (Proverbs 8:34)
10. We must seek open doors of ministry daily (Acts 5:42)
11. We must be in the Word daily (Acts 17:11)
12. We must exhort each other daily (Hebrews 3:13)
Some things on that list are examples of things that people in the Bible did on a daily basis or that God has commanded us to do on a daily basis. This list is daunting (if I can use that word again). But much of that list actually has to do with our state of mind and spirit. We must be sensitive to God’s voice, and that is a heart issue, not something we need to physically do. Taking up our cross and dying to self daily may require that we physically do things, but again, it starts with a spiritual state of mind and heart. Keeping our vows, praising God, and praying to God all flow out of a proper attitude toward the spiritual things in our walk with God. Rejoicing, seeking wisdom, and seeking open doors of ministry begin with a right heart toward God and culminate in the appropriate and desired actions in the end. Reading the Bible and exhorting others will be something we want to do, if our hearts are right toward those things.
So here’s the “trick.” It’s not really a trick, but rather God’s solution to having the right heart everyday that puts us in the position to naturally want to do the things God wants us to do on a daily basis. In Psalm 51:10, the psalmist begs God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Remember I said that everything on that list starts with a proper attitude toward the spiritual things of God? Well, God will renew our hearts. But how often is God willing to renew our hearts? He’s willing to renew our hearts DAILY! Look at this promise of God that Paul let’s us in on: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed DAY by DAY” (2nd Corinthians 4:16).
See… God wants to help us live the Christian life…day by day! That translates into taking on this Christian life one bite at a time…and that’s the only way anyone can eat an elephant.