Spoken Prayer – Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through the reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.
For more help use this Bible Study method
by Karen Burkhart
It's been said that dying for Christ is easy, it's living for Him that's hard. I couldn't agree more. Though I hope I am never in a position where someone with a gun is demanding I renounce my faith in Christ, I expect my response would be something akin to: Over my dead body. You see, I know that momentary suffering is nothing compared to the joy that awaits me in heaven. Still, if I could write the script for my life, the final scene would be set at home surrounded by my loved ones. Thankfully, few of us will ever be called to literally die for Christ, but all of us are called to live for Him--moment by moment, day by day, year by year.
So, what makes living for Christ so hard? For starters, people naturally love the way of least resistance but living for Christ means always swimming upstream. Sometimes the current is tumultuous like the Colorado River and other times gentle like a lazy river at the waterpark, but in either case, exhaustion is inevitable. Further, with each labored breath, temptation mounts to grab hold of one of the many ropes tossed from friends and strangers alike floating blissfully downstream in the endless parade of rafts. It takes great resolve and endurance to keep one’s eyes fixed and body progressing upstream toward the only Source of hope.
Another reason it's hard to live for Christ is that people naturally love to be loved but being a Christian means never being nominated for, let alone winning, the world's popularity contests. If it’s generally true that you can only please some of the people some of the time--it’s extra-true for Christians. There is simply no way to hold to the teachings of Christ and not, at times, be offensive to others. People don’t like it when you don’t grab the lifeline they have made the effort to toss to you. People don’t like it when you won’t affirm their values that contradict Biblical ones. People don’t like it when you refuse to participate in the activities you used to participate in with them before you met Christ. Above all, people don’t like hearing you say that Jesus is the only way to reach God, the Father. The good news is: true Christian fellowship with even a few is more soul-satisfying than being Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
If today you're struggling for your next stroke in your swimming marathon, maybe it's time for a rest period so you can refuel on the Bread of Life and drink in some Living Water. The Word of God and The Spirit of God are strength-building, joy-inducing, life-giving resources that never run out and are available to everyone at any time! If instead or in addition you're feeling alienated and lonely, turn to a brother or sister in Christ and share your burdens, sharpen one another, and pray for one another. Sometimes all it takes is a few minutes of true fellowship to be reminded that you're not swimming upstream alone and to gain the courage to power on.
Keep loving God "with all the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever! (1 Peter 4:11)"