To follow Jesus, the disciples all gave up something. Their livelihood, their reputation in some way, virtually all of them let something go in order to follow Jesus and they did so willingly.
A man from about 140 years ago once said this: “Beware of no one more than yourself, we carry our worst enemies within us.” Charles H. Spurgeon
Sometimes when we think we have given up a lot in order to follow Jesus and be useful to Him, we really haven’t given up much at all. On top of that, we are our own enemies because we can convince ourselves of things which we haven’t done or shouldn’t do even when God has called us to do these things.
So…what would you give up?
Would you go on a fast for a few days or maybe a couple of weeks, drinking only juice and water? I have done it myself but it was nine years ago, right before I was called to preach a few months later. I had to pray a lot but I was also working full time at a computer shop, so being away from home and food and cooking made it a little easier. Just work, drink water and go to the restroom a lot. Then after a week, it got easier and so on. I am not bragging about this because it truly was hard to do without all day and then come home and smell supper being cooked. I actually made it through about thirty days with juice and water and some protein drinks made with water (I know that last was kinda cheating). But after three weeks without solid food it is hard for your mind and your will to push back hard enough. The good thing about it, I lost thirty pounds!
Would you give up watching TV? I think this is even harder than fasting from food. I have heard of people who don’t even have a TV in their home and that’s great! I’m sure they don’t have computers or smartphones either. Although I could save a couple of hundred dollars a month cutting off the Internet and satellite TV. I don’t want to be without my phone though, just for emergencies.
What else could you and I give up? Snacks? Candy? Coffee…no, scratch that. Chocolate…can’t do it because it is in the same field as coffee.
Truthfully, we are our own enemies because we will listen to those voices which pop up in our mind. We think that they are our own ideas when they could be suggestions from Satan. The more we listen to them, the more influence they have over our lives. We can also talk ourselves out of doing things which we know God has called us to do. We become our own worst enemy because of this and sometimes we will even talk ourselves into doing something, thinking that it is the Holy Spirit talking to us.
If you don’t believe me just think back over your life and find those schemes or whatever you want to call them which didn’t work out so good. You heard about an “opportunity” or a “hot tip” and you thought “What will it hurt to give it a shot?”, “Who am I hurting but my own bank account?” I’ve done it, you know someone who has done it or you have done it and tried to forget about it. You mind and your thoughts are easy for Satan to manipulate because he’s been doing it for thousands of years. He knows where your buttons are and he know exactly how hard to push them so that it is tempting the first time and then it becomes a bit more and pretty soon…well you get the picture. It’s just like any of the temptations which he messes up other people’s lives and yours too, if you’re honest.
It is hard to push those ideas and temptations away when you are tired or hungry like Jesus was when He was tempted, but He used the Word of God against Satan and we have know it well enough to do the same thing. We will never know it though, unless we read it and study it every day, year after year. God’s Word is full of encouragement and heartache and wisdom and promises, but we need to know them so we can use them in our every day lives. Here is the challenge that I am putting here:
So…can you give up about fifteen minutes each day to read and pray about one chapter in God’s Word? Then do it again tomorrow and the next day until you’ve finished the New Testament. Then start on the Old Testament and do the same thing because after 21 days, reading God’s Word will have become a habit and it will be a habit that your heart and soul will truly miss when you miss one or two times.