And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.
We were blessed with above average temperatures last weekend. We were able to get out to the course donning short sleeves. That is in of itself something for this area in late December, but I was able to observe something else even more remarkable – youth on the course practicing! This sighting was something not seen on our local course in over a decade. Football and basketball usually take precedence all year long in our county and golf gets anything left over. However, there has been a shift in the last few months in the increase number of teenagers picking up the game and dedicating themselves to improving. They are quickly finding out that the process is an all year endeavor. As most of us adults figured out too late in life, the game requires this kind of dedication if the next level of performance is to be achieved.
Our Christian lives require this same dedication in order to be prepared for inevitable trials and tribulations when the “season starts.” Our faith is not just for spiritual bandaids or emergencies when we call upon God for His special touch. If we are not constantly dedicated to prayer, Bible study and worship, temptation will likely befall us before it is even acknowledged. I am afraid we as a body of baptized believers have become neglectful in our desire for spiritual growth. The new forms of “church” is one of acceptance and as a “come and leave as you are.” The faithful believer is never content, comfortable or satisfied in the current state.
We are familiar with Ephesians 6:18 when Paul told the church to be always be in prayer in the Holy Spirit. However, he goes further in verse 19 by explaining this fervent prayer life gives us a certain “boldness” to declare mysteries to which we have not even considered. The faithful Christian works in the “off season” when the devil is temporarily at bay. This “seasoning” and maturation process allows us to speak confidently and clearly. The theologian and preacher John Owen wrote that abiding in prayer should “be one part of our daily contending with God, that he would preserve our souls, and keep our hearts and our ways, that we be not entangled; that his good and wise providence will order our ways and affairs, that no pressing temptation befall us; that he would give us diligence, carefulness, and watchfulness over our own ways.” A dedicated prayer life leads to a cognizance of our personal needs and deficits. This “woke” status gives us the desire to be watchful for temptation and dedicated to prayer for His guidance and protection.
A close relationship with Christ enables us to have a selfless confidence for our guaranteed triumph in the face of adversity. In Ephesians 6:20, Paul spoke about himself as being “an ambassador in chains.” He considered these chains as a “glorious adornment” reflecting his duty for Christ. We have a duty to serve Christ by becoming a strong witness of his Word. This inner-strength thereby enables us to strengthen our family, community, and world around us. Let us be continually working and striving to be closer to Christ in the coming new year. We are off base when our emphasis is on a religion or denomination. It is solely about a relationship!