A dear brother in Christ wondered if I might include a more personal aspect to living a Christian life. That is, more when “I get out of bed”, kind of stuff. So, given all the posts so far and all the verses referred to let’s look at the question … how then should we live?
God Loves Us and Wants Fellowship with us
First and foremost we recall God is Love, is a Good God and Loves us endlessly (see the post … what’s with the suffering? part I)
Secondly, we need to know that humans, exist for the purpose of having a relationship with God and glorifying Him. Humans are unlike any other creature. We have the image of God in us – He gave us a spirit
Galatians 5:16-23 tells us if we live by the Holy Spirit our life can bear good fruit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Those verses also remind us that sin has made our spirit ugly, the reality of our natural sinful self
Walking, not in the sight of God, not before God, but WITH God
God walked and talked with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8-11). Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:22, 24) as did Noah (Genesis 6:9). Using the concordance (like I described in … what’s the Bible mean by “praise”?) the Hebrew word for ‘walked’ means walked conversantly i.e. in conversation with. It implies a closeness in fellowship
In fact, God wanted to live among his people …. “I will put my dwelling place among you, …… I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people” (Leviticus 26:11-12). Micah asked rhetorical questions regarding sacrifices when we come before God. Then he said “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)
And for us, Paul wrote … “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:9). If that isn’t enough to assure us, John reveals Jesus saying “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20) He wants a relationship with us. Like back in the garden of Eden, He seeks us out, ‘comes to the door and knocks’. That’s God wanting to be friends with us – sharing together
Hunt explained that the overgrown and long-unopened door in his painting has no handle on the outside. Like the door to our heart it can only be opened from the inside. He proposed this as representing “the obstinately shut mind” and showing God’s Love not barging in but knocking (calling) and waiting
Building Friendship with Jesus
Like any relationship, developing one with Jesus takes time and consistency. But let’s face it, He has already done so much and sown so much into our relationship that the effort is pretty much on our side and lightweight at that. So what can we do?
a) Be Thankful!
For any relationship to grow we usually show the other person that we really do appreciate them for who they are. So we look for opportunities to catchup with them. We shower them with as much GENUINE gratitude as we can. (See the earlier post “… what’s with being thankful?”). So whenever you think of the Lord, thank Him for ……..
- seeking you out
- ‘knocking on your door’
- loving you even when you were so not worth it
- saving you
- the beauty and awesome design in creation around us
- revealing Himself in His Word
- home, food, clothes regardless of how little or much you have
- freedom in our country to worship Him
The list is pretty much endless because “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (James 1:17) both for this life and for eternity. However, recognising what we have to be thankful for in the ‘everyday’ of life is often not easy. It is common for us to notice the bad more than the good. It depends on a number of factors in our environment and upbringing but none the less, recognising the good and being grateful is a vital part of how then we should live
From my personal experience, the more I thank the Lord for stuff when I think of Him, the more I begin to think of Him. And, the more I can recognise His Love of me. Moreover, as I made this more and more a common practice, I began to Love Him, for real, not just in principle
b) Seek Refuge in Him!
Giving thanks to the Lord in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18) is definitely what God wills for us, and possibly more for our sakes than His.
- It sends the enemy on His way when he is trying to distract us from the Lord
- It helps keep our attention on the Lord
This helps us to make the Lord our first “Turn to” when life isn’t going so well ….. health, finances, work, friendships, suffering etc etc. So much so, He soon becomes our refuge of choice. We will find ourselves instinctively calling on the Lord. “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10). A great way to live
Again, from my experience, this is a powerful reaction to develop. Not just because it provides that sense of ‘safety’ and calm but it definitely improves my perspective on the situation
In fact, read the earlier post … what’s with the Joy of the Lord?. You will see how “being joyful always; praying continually; and giving thanks in all circumstances, …… ” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18a) ties into the Joy of the Lord being our strength. Of course we won’t find it easy to ‘flick a switch’ and suddenly be good at these three. But they can become a healthy ‘habit’ once we make a deliberate start. As Paul went on to say, they are “God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1Thessalonians 5:18b) and therefore are a part of how we should live. Definitely something the Lord will be keen to help us with should we ask
c) Benefit from the Sword
It’s likely you would know that “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17) is “living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, ….. it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). It is part of the ‘Armour of God‘ which Paul tells us to put on so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11)
So, as a sword, the Word cuts deep into our inner being and judges the thoughts and attitudes of our heart. This assists the Holy Spirit in convicting us of sin that we may be even unaware of
More than that, the Word aids us in resisting the enemy by keeping us ahead of his game. It teaches us enough about the enemy so we are not left ignorant of his ‘schemes’
Also, remember how Jesus used the Word as a sword to ‘cut off the enemy’ when he was tempting Jesus to sin? Jesus simply quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:16 then 6:13 to destroy each temptation respectively. The enemy then knew he wasn’t able to lure Jesus away from trusting Father God
So then the devil left Him. That was all it took. No arguing, no bickering, the enemy was defeated in that battle by three simple but obviously powerful Truths
d) Sharpen your Sword
The Word also has other purposes none the least of which is revealing to us everything we need to know about God, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit and their plans for us. It definitely makes sense then that building our relationship with Jesus should include us getting to know Him better. That means spending time with Him just like we would with anyone else with whom we were becoming better friends. This then is how we should live : – taking time to read the Word, asking Holy Spirit to reveal Truth to us, expecting the Lord to speak to us. Talking with Him about ourselves – how we feel, asking questions, praising Him. Kind of like the Psalmists although there is definitely no formula!!!
One last thing about the sword. Learning particular verses that we can use against the enemy in times of temptation is an invaluable exercise. It sharpens your sword as it were and assists you in cutting off the enemy just as Jesus did. Definitely recommended as part of how we should live
“But I’m too flawed to be of Use in God’s Plan”
Every single one of us has regrets and hurts, some from way back in the past, depending on our age. All have fallen short of God’s design (glory). Even the “stars” of the Old Testament had some serious flaws. Well, all flaws are serious but you know what I mean….. BUT He loves us just as He loved them. He wants us to spend time with Him, share honestly with Him and to do things with Him. He wants to walk with us. What a way to live
You too can walk with God. But of course, outside the covering of Jesus our sins mean we can’t even survive in God’s presence (Holiness). God knows that much, much better than we do! That’s why He suffered Jesus dying for me and you. “… God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners [very flawed], Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:8-9) But it’s also why Jesus rose again. So we could have a great relationship with Him freed by His redemptive work for us. John recorded Jesus as saying, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36)
So then …
In spite of all our flaws there is “… now a righteousness from God, apart from law [our striving but failing], …. to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe … and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:21-24)
Praise God, the payment of our penalties for all our flaws, inadequacies and resulting sins is complete. And completely perfect – Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said He came that we might have life and have it to the full. Fully in Christ is how we should live. Then we can participate in the “good works that God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10) which may or may not be very spectacular in our eyes
How do we live to fight our way out of this trap of Satan’s?
However, what if, for example, ‘I can’t forget those mistakes’. So, how then should I live if I carry so many flaws? They seem to have a strong hold on my mind. OR, am I being RE-minded of them, being condemned by them? Of course, that is why Satan is called the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). But the good news is, we don’t have to tolerate the enemy putting things back on us that Christ has dealt with on the Cross. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2Corinthians 10:4-5)
It is commonly accepted that our lives are a reflection of our strongest thoughts. Our life being determined by our mind battles.
That being the case, we regularly need a thought audit. We need to regularly check ourselves. “What have I been thinking about? What’s been my predominant thought over the past few days? What have I been thinking/saying about myself?” We are told to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2)
So then one great strategy is to:-
- Identify the number one ‘stronghold’ (thought, memory etc) that’s holding me back.
- Admit to the fact that yes I was like that or yes I did do that BUT I have confessed it to the Lord and asked/received His forgiveness [if you haven’t done that DO IT RIGHT AWAY]
- Name the Truth (Bible verse) that destroys that stronghold. (What does the Word say about that thinking/stronghold?)
- Name the stronghold, call it out, apply the Truth to it. The Truth claimed over the thought will break it and set us free from that binding stronghold. It helps to be familiar with the Word. So time spent ‘sharpening my sword’ and growing my confidence and Trust in Him is time very well spent
For example, say I can’t forget (or am often reminded) that I stole an item of clothing 15yrs ago. Assume that I have confessed the sin to Jesus and accepted that He has died and rose again to completely redeem me from my sinfulness. If the thought just keeps coming back and preventing me from moving on with the Lord then either:-
case a) I haven’t forgiven myself OR
case b) I’m listening to the enemy as he keeps condemning me
Way forward – how then should we live?
Case a) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9) who am I to deny the truth of this? God’s word says it, I believe it, therefore I forgive my self and begin to move on [I may have to process this several times for it to ‘sink in’]
Case b) once I realise the truth of this verse from case a) it simply remains for me to use this Sword of the Spirit (name it as the Truth) to break the stronghold of those condemning thoughts that the enemy keeps whispering into my mind. Keep claiming the Truth until He flees
In either case, “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always” (Psalm 105:4). Also,a dose of praise, prayer and thankfulness (being joyful always; praying continually; and giving thanks in all circumstances) moves me on into the Joy of the Lord as my Strength. I might even end up singing the song below….
This then is how we should live
… just sayin’
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” is a classic hymn written by preacher Joseph M. Scriven as a poem in 1855 ….. how true it still is
- The Holy Bible, New International Version®. Pradis CD-ROM Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, © 1973, 1978, 1984.
- Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary – 1708-10 (Public Domain)
- Image: painting “The Light of the World”, (1851–1853) by William Holman Hunt (Public Domain)
- “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Life.Church https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9oRay5YBHg
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