Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Make Every Effort

There are a few things in my life that take great effort on my part to complete or follow through with. For instance, math is not my thing and it takes me a while to figure out a math problem. Okay, I’ll be honest; it takes me a long time to work out a math problem. My brain is not set up that way.

It takes a lot of effort for me to memorize anything. Whether it’s a phone number, a name, or a verse of Scripture, it will take great concentration and continuous repetition before I get it…then it really is a question of how long that piece of information will remain in my brain. So the real question is, “Did I memorize it?”

I have plantar fasciitis in both feet and it takes great effort each morning just to walk. Until those tendons loosen, I am in pain and must walk slowly and carefully. This effort also requires a lot of patience!

These are just a few pieces of my physical life that take effort. There are some spiritual efforts that I am required to work at as well.

Actually the verses we will be seeing today say to “make every effort.” Do more than just try. Don’t stop working at it. Do everything in your power, then allow God’s Spirit to jump in to help. Make every effort.

Let’s see what they are.

Jesus begins our teaching today. In Luke 13, Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem, but made stops along the way in the local towns and villages. At one point, He was asked, “Lord, are only a few going to be saved?” (Luke 13:23 – NIV)

Jesus said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Luke 13:24 – NIV) The narrow door isn’t the easy door, but those who do enter, will be greatly rewarded. Make every effort to get through that narrow door!

Paul encourages the Roman church with these words. “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19 – NIV) Yes, these are difficult, but we are called to peace and edification.

Synonyms for edification are improvement, education, enlightenment, instruction, teaching, or learning. Are you studying God’s Word so that you are able to mutual edify someone else? This verse tells us that we are to make every effort to join in on this process. Make every effort!

In Ephesians 4:3 (NIV), Paul speaks of unity. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Unity seems so difficult with so many personalities and occupations and cultures and just about anything that make a person who they are. But we are to keep the unity.

The good news? We have a Helper. The Holy Spirit. With the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit, this effort becomes effortless. We are able to accomplish this task because of who is within us. Make every effort.

“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11 – NIV) “That rest” is our salvation. Not that we gain salvation by our works, but that our faith walk should be what others to see.

When we allow our disobedience to overtake our spiritual lives, we are not making every effort to reach our goal. And the worst part is that we can cause others to follow along the disobedience path. Therefore, we must make every effort to enter that rest…and take as many with us as we can.

Another passage in Hebrews says, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14 – NIV) Again, live in peace, but we are also called to be holy. We are to make every effort to be holy.

What does it mean to be holy? To consecrate, sanctify, dedicate, to be set apart. Another definition says, “to purify internally by renewing of the soul.”[i] We become holy because we have God’s presence within us. But there must be effort on our part. We must make every effort to purify ourselves of sin. God will finish what we start.

The last two passages are from 2 Peter. I’ve mentioned the first one recently, so let’s be reminded of Peter’s words. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7 – NIV)

And then there is 2 Peter 3:14 (NIV). “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this [a new heaven and a new earth], make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him.” I believe we must put all of these verses into practice to find ourselves in this place. Spotless. Blameless. At peace with God. Make every effort. It is worth it.

Three little words, but so much work! Make every effort. Where do you feel you’re lacking effort? In what area have you become lazy? Why not make every effort today in all that you do?

God’s Spirit is there to help you. He will give you the strength when you are ready to give up. He will encourage you when you’re failing. He will lead you in the direction you need to go. Don’t overlook this powerful Assistant. He can make it seem effortless!

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


[i] Strong, Exhaustive Concordance, G37.

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