If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.
(Isaiah 1:19, NIV)
Bob Gass starts us off this week. “Are you willing to learn? Willing to obey? Willing to change? Willing to work? Or are you at least willing to be made willing? If you are, that’s a start!”
As I have been sharing messages from the gospels for the past couple of years, I have been struck by the fact, that whenever Jesus was asked if He was willing, He always answered yes, I am willing. That is always nice to know and helps to build our faith. To know that Jesus is always willing to heal or minister to us in some way that will build us up. He never said, sorry, not today, come back tomorrow, maybe I will be willing to help you then.
This then prompted me to put the shoe on the other foot so to speak and see if I was always willing. Willing to follow in the steps of the master, willing to deny myself to become more like Him. Jesus had a few words to say about this and they are very challenging.
Luke 9:23 (NKJV)
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Jesus is saying there are no half measures here. If we are going to seriously follow Him, then we have to take up our cross daily. This does not mean that we get a nice silver or gold cross on a chain and wear it around our necks. He is talking about the ultimate Roman method for inflicting pain, suffering, and death. A call to follow Jesus then is an invitation to a funeral, our own funeral. In his writings, Paul describes the process of the born-again experience. We often use these words as part of our baptismal services. How our old sinful nature before we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour is literally put to death, in fact, drowned, and then we like Jesus, are raised up out of the waters of baptism to a new life in Him.
Colossians 2:12 (NLT)
12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
The question then becomes again, are you willing? Are you willing to leave your old life behind and reach out for all that Jesus has planned for your life?
“In his great book, Ladder to the Top, Sherman Owens says, “We want the fruit, but we are not willing to get out on the limb. We don’t want to build an ark; we just want to know how to miss the flood.” Nothing in your life will change for the better until you stop looking for an escape, and start looking for a solution.”
Once again we are faced with the question, are you willing? Are you willing to press into the heart of God and commit to His plans for your life no matter what that may entail? I have found since I have been here that it is in the abandonment of a personal agenda that I have found true freedom. It was Colin that taught me that, very early in our relationship, as we shared our vision for the church. It was clear to him that the only way that we could thrive was to abandon our preconceptions as to how the church should function and step back and allow the Holy Spirit to have the freedom to operate however he saw fit.
The last word from Bob Gass
“Salvation is the work of a moment—maturity is the work of a lifetime! You didn’t get into this shape overnight, and you’re not going to be transformed into His likeness overnight. (See 2 Corinthians 3:18.) You’re going to be working on this for the rest of your life, so get rid of your “microwave mentality.” Don’t be in such a hurry to get to the top that you miss some of the rungs on the ladder. Remember, on each rung, you learn different lessons and form different relationships which will ultimately sustain you when you get to the top. It’s dangerous to arrive without them.”
 Bob Gass, A Fresh Word For Today: 365 Insights For Daily Living (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 225.