Follow through. It does us no good to have all the facts, to have a grasp on the theology, to have accurately identified the challenges, and then to simply say, “I’ll do it later.” You must follow through, and today is the day to do it.
The whole point in your journey through Scripture is to come closer to God. You can only make progress as you strive toward obedience, as you apply the truths you’ve learned, and as you’ve actually begun to undertake the journey. So, as we begin this step, we want to begin as always with prayer. Prayer is the simplest and most powerful way to grow closer to God, and often the simplest most accessible point of entry for our Christ-ward movement. Now that we are prayed up, we want to review our notes from the previous days. Remember our context. Recall the theology. Retrace the practical challenges. Read, again, the text. Now, do something.
Often we struggle with this step because our applications, although well intentioned, are too big. They’re too grandiose for the real world. But remember, the first step to running the marathon is not crossing mile 26, but getting off the couch. For this step, I want to introduce you to the C-4 questions. If you’ve watched enough movies, then you’re probably aware of an explosive called C-4. It looks like clay, so it can be molded to the particular need then detonated to make a massive change. If Scripture is moving us, then it is going to be molded by its very nature and by the work of the Holy Spirit to speak into our lives. I’ve found its often in at least one of the following ways.
The challenge of the text may be that the Holy Spirit is working to convince you of something you need to begin doing, namely trusting Christ as your Savior or to endeavor to greater discipleship. The New Testament is filled with the language of persuasion. Every sermon recorded in Scripture is delivered with the aim to convince or persuade someone of the truth of the gospel or the expectations of God, and the need to respond accordingly.
The concept of being convinced could be that someone hears the gospel and is convinced of its truth. It could be that the text is challenging you to deeper commitment to your faith. Is the Spirit using these verses to convince you that you can trust God? That you can rest on your faith in Him? The gospel is worthy of your confidence. Maybe the first step you need to take is in placing your confidence and trust in Him? The first C-4 question is to ask, “Are these verses trying to convince me of something?”
Perhaps the challenge of the text isn’t that you need convinced of some truth, but convicted of something we are doing that we should not be. The Word of God cuts and the Holy Spirit convicts us of wrong in our lives. He shows us where we fail and how sin has torn creation apart. Conviction is not just a guilty conscience or a fear of punishment. It means that we are being shown that we are in the wrong with such power that we are challenged to respond.
Isn’t it encouraging that God loves us so much that He does not leave us where we are, but urges us in a Christ-ward direction? Has the text challenged you by convicting you of the need to repent (feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin) of some action or attitude? Then that would be a good first step to take on your journey Christ-ward. The second C-4 question would be something like, “Are these verses trying to convict me of something?”
There are times when the Word meets us when we need neither convincing or convicting. Instead, maybe the challenge of the text is to comfort us? Living faithfully is hard. If we are trying to follow Him in our own strength its not a matter of if, but when we will fail. There is a comfort or peace and strength that can be found in God’s Word. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of this. Is that where you are today? Does God intend to comfort you through His text? Do the promises and truths there need to remind you of who He is and what He is doing? Maybe the third C-4 question would sound like, “Are these verses trying to comfort me in someway?"
In either case, whether convincing, conviction, or comforting, the main point of interacting with God’s Word is to change. God’s desire for you is deeper discipleship and forward movement. This movement only happens when there is change in us that led by Christ. The fourth C-4 question I ask is, “How are these verses trying to change me?”
I recently heard of a church that is emphasizing the word, practice. Their point is valid. They wanted everyone to realize that we may never achieve perfection in following Christ, but we can practice our faith every day. We can move step by step, incrementally in a Christ-ward direction. It is the journey of a lifetime, but it begins with your decision and action in the first few moments after interacting with God. Will you take that first step?
A great way to identify what to do first is to begin by asking yourself a few questions. The following list isn’t all inclusive. These are just some suggestions, but maybe they will give you somewhere to start. What if you asked yourself:
What would it look like if I made the changes? If I didn’t?
What steps do I need to take to apply these truths/challenges.
What help do I need in order to apply this in my life?
What guardrails do I need to establish to develop this in my life?
What is one thing I can do right now to get started?
Then, do it!