#1. God still cares. God wants an intimate relationship with each one of us, and the only way to get that is by spending time with Him. We think that we can live our lives how we want during the week, and then expect to meet God on Sunday. It just doesn't work like that! Matthew 5:6 says, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." A friend recently emailed me, and in the course of the email he asked how he could pray for me. (This is just a rabbit trail, but you can tell that someone truly cares about you if they ask how they can pray for you!) One of the things I asked him to pray was that I would have an increased hunger and thirst for God. As I wrote that, I thought, "You know, an appetite for righteousness is not something that God gives automatically, it's something that must be developed. God will give us SITUATIONS that can deepen our walk with Him, IF we allow them to."
Think of it like this- everyone gets hungry physically (some of us more than others :). In the same way, everyone gets hungry spiritually. The only thing is, most people don't know that their spirit is hungry, they just know they need something to satisfy them on the inside. That's why people turn to entertainment, wealth, success, etc. They are trying to satisfy the craving that's inside of them.
Now, let's go back to the physical man for a minute. At first, he is not a picky eater. Think about it, a baby will put just about ANYTHING into their mouth! However, over time, that child develops likes and dislikes. If his mother feeds him healthy food, he learns to enjoy healthy food. If his mother feeds him junk food, he learns to enjoy junk food. In the same way, if we choose to fill our life with carnal things, we develop an appetite for carnal things. BUT IF WE FILL OUR LIFE WITH SPIRITUAL THINGS, WE BEGINS TO DESIRE SPIRITUAL THINGS! It's not rocket science, it's just the law of nature; appetites are developed!
Colossians 3:1-3 says, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things of the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." God still cares where our affections are; He still cares what we do! Some people say, "Well, saying that you ought to read your Bible and pray EVERY DAY is being legalistic!" Well, JESUS said in Matthew 4:4, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." We seem to find time to eat, and yet we can't find time to read the Bible and pray? Christians in America are in bad shape! (Now, lest you think that I'm preaching down at someone, I need to apply what I'm writing as much or more that anyone else does. The things I write here are normally things that God is dealing with me on, and He wouldn't need to deal with me if I had it all together!)
Think of the great heroes of the faith, and of the great Christians you know now. I guarantee you that if they were, or are being, greatly used of God, it was only as they spent time with Him. Think about it this way- we can do nothing apart from God (John 15:5); He is the one who does the work, not us. Therefore, when we are not abiding in Him, we don't bring forth fruit (John 15:4).
Luke 22:39 says (talking of Jesus), "And he came out, and went, as he was wont (in the habit of doing; accustomed), to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed Him." Two verses later, we find Jesus praying. He made it a habit to spend time alone with His Father. Now, if Jesus needed to do that, how much more do we! Think also of Daniel- he made prayer a habit (Daniel 6:10)! Hey, it's time we started obeying God, not just because we feel like it, but because it's the right thing to do! John 14:15 says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
Now, it is possible to do everything I just talked about (Bible-reading, prayer, scripture memory, witnessing, etc.), WITHOUT loving God. That leads to legalism. People become legalists when they keep doing the right things, but with the wrong attitude (sounds to me like pharisees!). However, many Christians take another wrong approach by saying, "All this stuff about 'being consistent and disciplined' sounds like legalism; I think I will just follow God in my own way." Now, they wouldn't say it quite like that with their words, but that's what they are saying with their actions. They don't want to live a disciplined life, so they find an excuse not to. That's called taking the wrong approach with the wrong attitude, and it's no better than being a legalist!
In closing, I want to leave you with this thought. Joshua 24:15, one of the most popular verses in the Bible, says this- "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Notice what Joshua didn't say. He didn't say that he would serve God when he felt like it. He didn't say that he would serve God when it was convenient or when he had time. He didn't say that he would serve God when he was on an emotional high. He simply said, "We will." Period. End of story. He made a decision to serve God, and to be disciplined about it. Read God's charge to Joshua in Josh. 1:1-9. Then think about this- God said to Joshua in verse 7, "Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law." God expected Joshua to know the law and to do it! God also told Joshua to meditate on the law. (v.8) Meditation is kind of difficult if you don't have any Scriptures memorized! God blessed Joshua just like He said He would, but only because Joshua made a decision to do what was right.
Who will you serve? The choice is yours.