Day 36: Count the Cost

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run. Thoreau

Christianity is the most important commitment that a person will make in life. It is more important than committing to a new job, a big move, and even marriage. Since the decision to become a Christian and then live as a Christian is a lifelong commitment, it should not be entered into lightly or without thorough investigation. This is the 36th of 40 days in this series of changing your life for God and I would encourage you to re-read and study the Scriptures on each proposition made thus far. So, have you counted the costs for this new life yet? You really should prior to committing the rest of your life to Christ.

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it.

Jesus, as recorded in Luke 14:27-28, NKJV

Day 37: Guaranteed Success

Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.

We began this series on changing your life in 40 days ten weeks ago. The idea was to give 4 life changing principles per week from the Bible. Week One included the facts that 1: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, 2: You can know the truth, 3: Whoever believes in Jesus will have everlasting life, and 4: It is by grace you are saved.

Fail to miss anyone of these truths and you cannot begin to change your life. Accept them, and you have a foundation with which to start. I do want to point out that God's grace and merely believing in Christ are not the sum total of what is required to be saved - but you cannot even start on the path to salvation without these two keys.

Week Two contained these encouragements 1: You must be committed to God and to His change, 2: Read the Bible as much as you can, 3: Pray as much as you can, 4: Worship with the church as much as you can.

I have noted that these four principles seem too simple to most people - so they never try them... so they fail.

Week Three introduced the principles of 1: Love for God, 2: Love for our fellow man, 3: Joy, and 4: Don't worry.

The key to changing your life for God is in love. Jesus stated that the two most important commands were to love God with all of your heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. The next two principles are gifts that flow from this type of love - you will have happiness beyond what you thought was possible and you simply won't have to worry about the things that most men worry about.

As this series nears its conclusion, you need to ask yourself this question: "Has my life changed?" If so, won't you share this change with others? It's highly likely that they have noticed something different about you if you have experienced a true change. But, if your life has not changed, isn't today a great day to start? Let me encourage you to go back and review these articles mentioned in today's post. Pay more attention to the passages of Scripture than you do to the commentary I have provided. If you will listen to God's pleas to you to change your life for Him and for Christ, you will truly begin to live the life that He has called you to live.

And, then... there is Heaven.

Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves: Do what it says. James 1:22, NIV

Day 39: Almost Saved... Is Lost

Almost saved is lost. Anon.

The final three weeks of this series on changing your life for God focused on salvation. The reason for spending so much time on this one topic is simple: There will be a judgment someday, we will all be judged, and we will either be saved or we will be lost. This is why you are changing your life. If you have any goal that is more important than the salvation of your soul, and the souls of your loved ones, then you probably won't make it. But you will make it for you are going to change!

In Week 7 we looked at, 1: Are you saved?, 2: The Grace of God, 3: The Blood of Christ and, 4: Sanctification by the Holy Spirit. The point of this week was to look at what has been done for us so that we may be saved. The grace of God is a wonderful gift that should never be overlooked - it is our starting point. It should be stressed that the Scriptures do not say we are saved by grace only, but we must understand that we cannot even start without grace.

The sacrifice of Jesus is our next consideration. All have sinned, the wages of sin is death, but Jesus died in our place. Will you now live for Him? The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is also a critical part of salvation - without holiness, no one will see the Lord, and this is why the Holy Spirit's part is so vital to our being saved. Don't overlook that God's grace, Christ's sacrifice, and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, were done for us, not by us. That was their part. The wise man will ask, "What is my responsibility?"

The Bible is not silent on our part of salvation. In weeks 8 & 9 we looked at, 1: The Gospel, 2: Faith and Belief, 3: Confession of Belief; 4:Repentance and, 5: Baptism. In short, we are to hear the Gospel, believe, confess our belief that Jesus is Lord and the Son of God, repent of our sins, and be baptized.

Please also note that our part is not like a buffet line wherein you can pick and choose what you want. It is God's plan of salvation, so not one part can be left out. Once we hear the good news and believe it, we then have a decision to make: Will we freely confess our belief in Christ before men? Will we truly repent - that is, turn away from our sins? Will we even be baptized, or will we reject this part or perhaps even do something else and call it baptism? It should be noted at this point that baptism is an immersion. It does not mean to sprinkle or pour water. Bible scholars are in full consent that all who were commanded to be baptized in New Testament times were immersed. Since we have that pattern, does it make any sense to take a chance that He will accept anything else?

In Week 9 we concluded with, 1: Just Do It, 2: Discipline and, 3: Counting the Cost. The principles of these three thoughts were all included at the very beginning of this series, but need to be re-visited by those who are really going to do something about their service to God. If we are to ever serve God in His way, we will have to just buckle down and do it. This will take a type of discipline that many people have never possessed -pray to God for help - He will not fail you in this! And, of course, there is the need to count the cost. Serving God and Christ is not a part time effort - it is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week... for the rest of your life.

Most will not be willing to give this type of commitment, but there is a life of indescribable joy awaiting for those who are willing. Have you begun your change yet? If you have, even if you are just getting started, then you already have experienced a glimpse of the joy and peace that are reserved for the faithful children of God.

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.     I Timothy 2:3-4, NIV

Day 38: Quality Results Require Quality Effort

None of the so called, "secret of success" formulas will work... unless you do. Anonymous

This is a longer article, but it contains important concepts that are hopefully worth the 5 minutes of your time it will take to read.

In Week 4, we looked at the importance of, 1: Getting started, 2: Sacrifice, 3: Zeal, and 4: Trusting God. Since no plan of merit will work unless you actually get started, it seems good to be reminded at the midway point that you have to begin sometime. This determination to start such a monumental change will only work if we have the enthusiasm and the willingness to make sacrifices for God - after all, big changes do not come without some pain. Trust in God is vital, since men will never make a single change for God unless they really believe that He knows best.

In Week 5, we looked at the concepts of, 1: Trust, but verify, 2: Faith, 3: Goodness, and 4: Knowledge. The idea of trusting but verifying is the understanding that men make mistakes - usually unintentionally, but sometimes with intent. So, whether you have been following the advice of friends, family, preachers, pastors or priests, you need to compare every word they say about God with the actual Word of God. If somebody is teaching something that is different from the Bible, they are, by definition, a false teacher. So, verify!

The next step of faith is clearly pivotal to Christianity. If you do not believe in God and His Son, there is no reason to change your life - you would be wasting your time. Goodness of heart is also critical, as it will do you no good to attempt to serve God if you have no desire to be good. As to just what the proper definition of "goodness" is, you will actually have to read the Bible for that answer. Knowledge, true knowledge, of God's plan for you is found in only one place: The Bible.

Week 6 looked at the topics of 1: Self-control, 2: Perseverance, 3: Godliness, and 4: Kindness. By this stage, you should be making real progress towards real change. This means that you are finding some things in God's Word that are contrary to the way you might have been living for many years. Sin is more than just a "bad habit" and it will take self-control to change those things that God defines as sin, as it will take self-control to add those things that God deems necessary.

Perseverance is vital to your quest of change, for it is easy to get tired and distracted. Life has a way of wearing you down and you must have thestrength of character to persevere in Christ's way if you are to succeed. Let me say at this point that you will fall a thousand times - you just need to have the will to get back up when you do fall and get back on the right path. Godliness is the next step - and a key step at that. Godliness is the possessing of the characteristics of God that are proper for us to possess. We understand that we do not possess His power, or His knowledge, or His place as Master. It's the virtues like love, compassion, and holiness that make one more like God, and we must acquire these virtues and put them to work. The last point of kindness is one that should not be missed. One of the greatest changes you will make to your life is in the area of kindness -to your family, to strangers - to everyone, and it is kindness that will truly set you apart from the person you were before you changed.

This has been a long article, but it is important to remember that worthwhile change will require a lot from you. Again, something as wonderful as a deep and meaningful relationship with God and Christ does not come without effort. Christianity, with all of its blessings on this earth and its promise of eternity after this short life is over, will never work... unless you do.

Why do you call me, "Lord, Lord" and do not do what I say?... the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.  Luke 6:46; 49, NIV

Day 40: Will You Choose?

 Every choice you make has an end result. Zig Ziglar

This series on changing your life for God ends with this question: Have you made your choice to serve God, in His way, for the rest of your life? If so, then prepare yourself for a level of commitment and effort that only those devoted to God can give. Prepare yourself for satisfaction beyond anything that you have ever experienced. Prepare yourself for a life filled with love and joy and peace. Prepare yourself for service.

Have you decided not to follow God and Christ? Then prepare to be disappointed - in yourself, in the rest of your life and for all eternity. This may sound harsh, but remember that this is not the choice that God wants for you, nor is it the existence that He has planned for you. But, fail to choose God and it will be your reality.

Which will you choose? Let me encourage you to choose life!

This day I call heaven as earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life...Deuteronomy 30:19-20, NIV