Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stop living for God

After reading and discussing chapter 2 of Ian Thomas' book The Saving Life of Christ, I have been struck by a couple of ideas...
The absolutely inadequate way that the Christian life is portrayed and offered by our churches- how many of us grew up hearing sermons proclaiming that we must live for God? Everything we do must be done for God! Witness to the lost... For God! Every aspect of our walk with God was to be focused on a life lived for God. It's an easy misunderstanding, and no harm was meant by the fantastic men and women that taught these principles, but they are principles that shift the focus and the burden of the Christian squarely on our own shoulders. It leads to massive amounts of people who come into a saving relationship with Christ to be radically changed and excited about going about and doing good works to advance God's kingdom... They are excited about living for God's glory... but then, as they get further into it, the same excitement begins to fade, our fruits begin to wither, rot, die, and decay... We get tired and burnt out, it's too hard, the burden is too heavy, and we become just like the majority of Christians that we have ever known... The kind that the lost world looks at and says, "why do I need God? I'm already tired and defeated"
We've missed a very crucial point... It is never supposed to be us living for God, us living for Christ, because that places us in a religion that is just like so many others with the believer at the center, trying to earn goodness... Christianity is different, we are to live surrendered, not for Christ, but with Christ living through us! It is saying at that moment that we ask Jesus to forgive us and become our Lord and Savior, that we surrender our bodies and mind to Him so that He may come and live through us. The burden of living for God is lifted by God living through us. The joy and peace of the Christian life is knowing that I can't live for God and accomplish anything, but if I choose to allow God to live through me, He can accomplish everything. It is only when we forget and try to again do something for God's glory that we are back on the road of defeat. We must choose daily to surrender, to find the strength to surrender, and by doing so, having an unspeakable joy just knowing that through you, God can do anything. Jesus told His disciples that even though they witnessed Him doing great things on this earth, that they would do even greater things once the Holy Spirit was descended upon them. It's because it allows Christ, through the surrendered flesh of all who believe, to work in all places, in all things, doing all work, for all time! It's not because we are somehow more able to do something for God, but rather we are more able to submit to His doing something through us that His glory would be magnified!
Stop living for God... He can do it better. A life lived in regular submission is a life filled with abundant joy that makes a lost world curious. A life lived in recognition that all God has ever expected from man is failure, is a life free from the burden of hoping that you're good enough. A life lived consenting to the will of a loving God is a life that is fulfilled in a way that can only be experienced, not described. The only way to experience that joy and freedom, that true peace, is to step out in faith and tell God that you want to surrender. Tell God that you are tired of trying to live for Him, and you are ready for Him to live through you.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Morning Conviction- 9/9/12; Love or Hate

Love presupposes hate... those words struck me this morning as I sat in church. Love presupposes hate. Among the most sure ways we know that love exists is because it is easily apparent in our world that hate exists. It is impossible to love without also hating, both must be active in your life. If you express a love for something, you are saying that you hate anything that strives to harm that love. If you do not hate that which seeks to harm the thing you claim to love, one could argue that you do not truly love. We have been offered a watered down truth that hate is wrong. Hate that calls us to stand up for that which harms our love is righteous and biblical. Because God loves us, He must hate that which seeks to harm us. Because God must hate that which seeks to harm us, He must deal with it in a very serious way. If he does not act against these things, then He does not love us. But because we know that God does love us, we know He will work against those things that seek to harm us. But, also, out of His love for us, God allows us the free will to choose His love, or the things of this world that we try to use to find love. If we choose to love the things of this world, and thus place them at a higher priority in our lives that we place God, then we are telling God that we love those things, and therefore we hate God. We are allowed to make that choice, and the consequence is very clear... the wages of sin is death. To choose against God is to choose eternity apart from His love. To choose against God, is to choose Hell. Or, we can choose to place God as our priority, and ask for His help in placing Him higher that the problems of this world, and we are then choosing to live in His love... to live in His love is to follow Christ... and that is to choose an eternity in Heaven. The choice is ours to make, the details of how to make the choice, and the consequences for each choice is clearly lined out. It is a decision to made sooner rather than later. It is a decision that alters the path of our lives on a daily basis. What choice have you made... love, or hate?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Resetting my prayer life

Was thinking back to the last time I posted... It's been a little while... So I thought I'd share a little of what God has been teaching me lately.
I felt strong conviction about the laughably weak prayer life I lead. It got to the point that if I managed a heartfelt prayer a week, outside of church, then I was feeling pretty good. I really felt like things were running smoothly, i didn't feel the need to pray. I was coasting along no problems... Except, the problem was the stunting of my growth in spiritual maturity. God kept reminding me of passages on lukewarm belief, and the propensity of stagnant believers to backslide. And then I kept being reminded of some advice my dad gave me repeatedly when I was younger... it's easiest to coast downhill.

There were multiple people in my life that were struggling with one thing or another, each time I quoted this advice, it seemed to help them... Yet I never listened to it myself.

I was coasting, and by doing so, opening myself up for influence from an enemy that seeks to destroy us, one step at a time. I needed change, progress, growth. I was convicted of that anemic prayer life. I wrote out a prayer list and scheduled a time to pray over it every morning. Mostly the needs that my friends had made known to me that week. And then I made a list of the men that most influence my walk with Christ... I scheduled a time to contact and pray for 2 of them each day. I say this, not to boast on what I have done, but in how God has used this to minister to me. To focus on the needs of those around me, and to simply spend time in the presence of my Lord, has been an incredible experience. It has helped maintain my focus on how I can advance to Kingdom work of Jesus, and how I can simply serve those who are around me.

I also say this to encourage anyone who reads this (all 6 of you) to let me know if there is something you want me to add to this list.