Express His Glory in Your Life

Posts tagged ‘living faith’

Choosing to Change

The Christian life is all about transformation…redemption that frees captive souls.  The Cross is the dividing line.  Jesus completed the Work and says, “It is finished.”  Our choice is this:

Do we live on the earthly side..choosing to take responsibility for making ‘it’ happen

OR

Do we live on the eternal side…choosing to live in Christ knowing it is done?

The steps will often look the same.  We walk out faith in the earthly realm…but the substance of life is actually unseen.  The experience will be amazingly different…and the results worlds apart.  That sounds like you are about to read a simple 1,2,3 process, doesn’t it.  I wish.

Do you know the old saying:  Those who can do and those who can’t, teach?

Folks often tell me that God designed me to be a teacher…and in light of the above phrase, I agree.  I’d rather teach this than live it.  I believe it is Truth straight from the Word of God…and I will show you that.  The earthly Truth is that taking this from Head to Feet involves struggle, muscle building–possibly some muscle tears and real tears.  The choices that lead to change are hard work.  I don’t do it perfectly; knowing it is easier than living it.  Faith is what pleases our awesome God, so let’s press in!

BUT FIRST:  This is much longer than I typically post. If there is too much as you begin to read through and you would like to receive this in PDF, comment below before you leave the page :).

GOALS & OBJECTIVES

Unless you are grant writer, you probably think goals and objectives are synonymous.  Let’s split them up, though.  Think of Goals as the BIG THINGS and Objectives as the map to arrive at the goal.  As a Christian, the GOALS our lives are orchestrated to accomplish are the GOALS GOD sets.  We often set objectives and confuse them with goals.  That is one source of great unrest and clouds of confusion.  God’s goals aim at connecting us to Him and giving us abundant life.  When we live amiss from His goals, He lets the consequences of our choices drive us back to Him.

CHOOSING CHRIST

When we accept Christ as our Redeemer, we also accept Him as Lord–even though we don’t understand all that that means.  God knows and guides us through life to achieve understanding and know Him more.  He will design our circumstances to accomplish His will (often in spite of us).  God has designed each of us in a unique way and prepared good works for us to do in Christ (Ephesians 2:10), and those purposes will be accomplished wherever we are and whatever we do as WE CHOOSE to do them in Christ.  When we don’t choose well, He will hem us in with the consequences until we do.

A myriad of books exist that guide us on how to live in Christ.  We know many of the verses that point us to this goal.

‘The old is passed, the new is come…’

 ‘Such were some of you…but I say live by the Spirit…’  

My church uses a saying that pierces my heart:  “Dead men don’t feel the knife.”  I still feel the knife sometimes…there are places in my life that I still live in the flesh.  Praise God, He will not leave me there.  He will bring me to a point of choice…and He will love me through to making the right choice.

Recently, God led me to an old-fashioned filter for my choices that I will share with you.  You already know it:  the 10 Commandments.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law.  He is the pure, living embodiment of the commandments.  To live IN CHRIST, I must make choices based on the Law.  So here’s what that looks like in my mind.

Worship God.  Seek to see and slay all competitors.  Honor the character of God:  His loving authority & power.  THEN, in the earthly realm:  Honor life and the family heritage you received and build AND the heritage of others.  Speak truth (with words & actions).  Contentedly rejoice in His presence.

The challenge with that filter is that we can easily rationalize our choices to fit…but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.  Rationalizations are in the head.  Faith is evidenced in our feet and in our heart.  If the sweet fruit of the Spirit is not filling our heart, the journey from head to heart is still underway.  Do you remember the fruit?

fruit-of-spirit-tree

CHOOSING GOD’S GOALS

When I allow the LAW — or Jesus Christ — to filter my choices, I move toward God’s GOALS.  1 Peter Chapter 1 outlines the awesome inheritance we have received but 2 Peter Chapter 1 helps us grow into that inheritance:

Fruitful Growth in the Faith

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

The fruitful growth of our faith IS God’s goal.  Digging into this passage unveils the journey our right choices take us upon.  Diligence is doing.  Faith is a free gift but there is work to be done on earth.  We must act upon our faith.  Understanding does not come until we act in faith.  Do you recall the priests who carried the Ark into the Promised Land?  They had to cross the river Jordan when it was at flood stage.  Fruitful faith requires us to step into the waters that exceed our ability–and threaten what we love.

That type of active faith requires that our mind be under the control of the Holy Spirit.  Scripture tells us we have the Mind of Christ…but we must surrender to it.  Our ‘self’ must be under control and not driving our life.  That takes us back to the ‘dead men don’t feel the knife’ truth.  We often believe we have given God control…life reveals where we have been deceived!

Allowing the Spirit to control our lives demands patience.  The definition of the Greek Word for patience reveals why we all struggle with it:  willingness to suffer long.  The demand for immediate gratification is the hallmark of immaturity.  Patience is a fruit of the spirit; we don’t drum it up or push out the fruit from our natural self.  It is a by-product of God’s nature within us.

And then we reach the beautiful awareness of God Himself.  God is the goal of our lives…knowing Him IS life.  Only then do we move onto phileo love–caring about the concerns of others.  We often think we care about others naturally…but our love is impure until it flows from the love of God Himself.  The pinnacle of our faith is true unity with the Father in agape love.  It is not an easy journey.  Jesus opens the door but walking out faith in the dusty roads of life isn’t reclining on a beach or having everything go your way.  The life of Christ readily reveals that view was not His reality…and it is not ours.

This beautiful progression of fruitful growth has a distorted mirror image.  There is a chilling truth spoken by those who worship Satan.  The phrase ‘As above, so below’ is part of their belief.  Romans 1 shows the horrific reflection created by choosing against Christ.

 

CHOICES FOR GOD (2 Peter 1) CHOICES AGAINST GOD (Romans 1)
Doing – God’s way w/diligence that leads to freedom Doing – my way w/diligence that leads to captivity
Understanding what God is aiming to achieve Refusing to think on what God wants
Self under control Self-controlled
Patience – willing to endure suffering Prideful darkened heart pushing for self
Life giving knowledge of God Life sucking demands of idols
Phileo love – concern for others Consumed by lust of flesh
Agape love – union with God Wrath of God – separation from life; death

 

Satan is a deceptive angel.  He is powerful.  Each step away from Choosing God creates greater captivity.  The work of walking in faith increases…but Jesus overcame the world.  He offers victory.  No one is separated from the love of God without hope.  Change is possible.

Beth Canupp Butterfly

…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Romans 12:2

TOOLS FOR CHANGE

The opening verses of the 2 Peter passage give the hope that is needed:

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3

Jesus provides all we need but we have to work out what He has put within.  Part of being designed by God as a teacher is being designed as a learner.  I love to learn and have identified some things I need to truly grab hold of new concepts and allow them to become part of my very being.  Before I share these with you, one of the most powerful truths I know about transformational change comes from Romans 13:14:  “…make no provision for the flesh…”  Knowing our weaknesses and acting accordingly is wise.  Beyond that some of the things I need for change are:

I need a reason, a motivation to move beyond where I am at.

I need a vision of where God is going or what He is desiring to accomplish.

I need role models who show me what that vision looks like in this world.

I need focus that exceeds the distractions sure to come and that requires discipline.

I need time … to see, understand and practice.

I need lots of practice!

I need encouragement and tools to help me until my strength develops into the change.

I need to share with others because that is the greatest tool for growing stronger.

So, what do you need to change?  How can we pray with you through to transformation?

How we live matters.

The chaos and horrors of the world pile up to make us feel helpless and hopeless.  It isn’t true.  Every life has impact; every life matters.  We must accept responsibility both for how we live and what we look at.  The children’s song I used to sing with the children is on my heart this morning:

Proverbs says that in the path of the righteous there is no death.  That doesn’t mean that any of us can always do righteously or that no one will die. It means that lives seeking God with passion and perseverance…lives seeking righteousness IN Christ emanate life.

Last evening we looked at these verses from Romans.

Romans 8:24-25New American Standard Bible (NASB)

24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Many believe in Jesus…accept ‘fire insurance’ so to speak.  We are willing to believe in the face of what they cannot control…but then set out to control everything else.  We have a ‘confident assurance’ for eternity but doubt God’s ability to handle a car repair or a disability or …. you name whatever robs your peace.

We only believe what we live.  Peace is possible in the midst of ALL things.  I was compelled to write this this morning after reading of a recent martyrdom in the Middle East.  The article is painful to read.  It reminded me both of the reality of my faith for life…and the impact of lives focused on Jesus.  I want to be found faithful.  I want to live–and die–to the glory of God.  It takes time, focus and intentional living.  Let’s do it!

When the eight victims were forced to kneel for their beheadings, all eight prayed loudly.

“Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus, others said some were praying the Lord’s Prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus,” the ministry director explained. “One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, ‘Jesus!'”

 

Turning Life’s Battles into Victories

Battles in life are a sure thing.  Those battles are our individual, unique opportunities to enjoy the victory of Christ personally.  Each of us has victories to give back to Jesus that only we can give to Him! Isn’t it exciting to think of giving Jesus Christ a special gift?!  Unveiling God in the details of our days is both a privilege and a responsibility.  Every child of God is blessed by His presence; it is challenging to fix our eyes on the victories in our lives though.

Leave a note about Jesus victories that have blessed your life, won’t you?

The battles of life are as diverse as our own individual personalities. A battle against alcohol may have no greater spiritual significance than another saint’s battle against critical speaking. Self-mutilation, lies, murder, unforgiveness, slander—all are sins which, when grown, produce death and destruction. Jesus came to set us free from sin’s captivity. Giving Him the glory for chains released is our glorious privilege. It has been said that our battles are our unique opportunities to give a victory to Jesus that only we can give!

We love to recite Romans 8:28 but too often we present Christianity as a future hope more than a present reality. People need to know faith in Jesus Christ can make a difference when:

• The children are sick and the boss insists on your presence at the meeting.

• Your frail and aging parents have more needs than you can meet.

• Your spouse chooses to end the marriage.

• Your child loses their way and continues to spin farther from God.

• Failure seems to be the only thing you are capable of…

Jesus meets us in our battles in ways and times perfect for our needs. He uses all we encounter to help us learn who we are and to reveal to us that He is the great “I am.” God reveals Himself in His people (in the details of our lives) so that others can see Him and know who He is too! We have the joy of helping people glimpse new dimensions of our awesome God as we share the victories that walking in the light of Christ’s presence.

God’s Word enlightens our path and reveals ways we can obediently follow Him as we face hard times. Sharing the instructions and victories we receive helps others see Truth as well. Consider the glimpses of God from the battles above:

• A parent learns God still provides as she prays and shares her dilemma.

• The overwhelmed caregiver finds new understanding about God’s ability to meet needs and learns to rest in Him rather than ‘do it all.’

• The abandoned wife realizes more of Christ’s passion for people who have rejected Him as she confronts her own emotions.

• A parent feels the depth of comfort there is in knowing the Shepherd who searches relentlessly for the lost.

• One focused on perfection finds the peace of knowing that the love of God does not depend on performance.

Those of us who walk with God must tell the difference He makes in our day-to-day lives—and what lies we have to release to receive Him. Please consider sharing the details of how you have glimpsed Christ in your life. The Master Weaver entwines the thread of our lives in amazing ways. We need each other to broaden our view:

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

Cross-Life Coaching aims to help Christians live the realities of faith in the midst of the realities of life.  Learn more here:  Cross-Life Coaching

Fighting for Freedom & Abundant Life

Everyone struggles in this life.  Jesus said it would be that way:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Scripture tells us that it was for freedom that Christ came (Galatians 5:1, Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18)…but freedom is not free.

  • Freedom cost the Father the pain of watching His Son suffer.
  • Freedom cost Jesus the pain of rejection by His own, physical suffering and he shame of death on the Cross.
  • Freedom costs us the discipline of surrender; it requires that we be willing to lay down our desires and do His will.  We call it dying to ourselves.  We can’t do it without the Holy Spirit–and we can’t do it alone.

Sometimes the cost feels too great; our trust is too small to get us through to surrender.  Other times the enemy of our souls, Satan, obscures and confounds the message of freedom.  Fear, blindness and hopelessness keep us from the life God desires for us.

The fight for freedom–the fight for the abundant life Christ came to give us–demands relationship with others.  We are designed for one another and grow best in the context of relationships. Pursuing discipleship with other believers is key to the health of the Body–corporately and individually.  It is not a sign of weakness or ill-health to seek help for struggles in life; it is a sign of a desire to live fully!

What things keep Christians from walking in freedom?

  • Hurts that breed resentment and unforgive-ness happen in every life.
  • Truths that get stuck in our head and can’t find their way to our heart (or our feet) are part of the human experience.
  • A lack of confident understanding about the authority of one who is in Christ and/or the skills to use that authority.

The life of faith—the life of freedom—is one of continual growth.  God created us to need one another.  Those who engage in mentoring relationships minister to those who mentor.  It is a mutually beneficial relationship.  It is a beautiful time of living faith and seeking to understand how the living Word applies to the life we are living.

Why would someone seek a mentor?

Those who are willing to face challenges and ask ‘why?’ seek to be discipled.  They are the individuals strong enough to believe that God has promised abundant life…individuals willing to seek the face of God.  Faith that demonstrates such courage inspires others.

In the Old Testament, most of God’s children told Moses—‘you talk to God and tell us what He says.’   God is not interested in second-hand conversations, but learning to hear His voice takes time.  Mentors help tune ears and fix eyes on the ways of God.  Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to approach the throne of grace with boldness to obtain mercy and receive grace.

Is a mentor just a friend?

A friend can be a mentor, but often friends do not want to ask the hard questions.  Mentors have to be willing to make you a bit uncomfortable.  We don’t grow best in our comfort zones.  Friends are important, but friends often find comfort in keeping us where we are at.  Mentors focusing on helping us grow.

How do I find a mentor or form a discipling relationship?

  • The place to begin is your church.  Ask God top reveal to you who would be a good person to help you grow spiritually.  Speak with your pastor or a member of the leadership team about your desire.  Then, simply share with that person your desire and see if a plan can be set up.  Discipling requires discipline and commitment.  If the first person you ask is unable to make the commitment, keep looking!
  •  Some churches (like my own) have ministry teams who schedule appointments for those interested in discipleship.  I would love to share information on how this began and ways to do the same in your community.
  • Use the internet.  There are many websites like this one, and many individuals like myself who offer discipleship coaching or classes for a fee as a way to continue ministering at large.
  • Begin a Bible Study with a friend and serve as accountability partners.  I have some favorites, I would be glad to recommend if you don’t know of one you’d like to do.

For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  Romans 8:29

God has great plans for us!  The Holy Spirit superintends our growth.   He guides us in the desire to grow in grace and knowledge  as Jesus did.  Enjoy the journey!

 

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