Friday, September 28, 2012

"Is THIS life as God meant it to be lived?"

As I was looking at the list of those who have read my blog in the past week, there were ten countries listed, including the United States.  So if you are reading this from Russia or China or the United Kingdom or somewhere else, I pray that God will speak to you through His Word.  It is a privilege to be able to share these daily posts with you and I would love to hear your comments.  The body of Christ is a wonderful thing.  There is only one true religion and it is what is described in the Bible, the very Word of God.  In it God reveals where we came from and where we are going, and also why we are here.  The Church is the "ekklesia," the "called-out ones," who have been chosen and called by God to be His ambassadors in the world.  No one else can share the good news of the Gospel except those who have experienced the power of His Spirit and who have come to know Jesus, (the One who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and who rose from the dead and ascended into heaven), as their Savior and Lord ...  only these can testify concerning the truth to those in the world.

And God has His people everywhere.  But not all those who claim to be Christians are.  Some who claim to be Christians and are part of the visible church do not trust in Jesus and do not proclaim His Word.  Instead, they come up with their own theories and theological schemes.  "To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace" (Hebrews 6:6).  Don't dislike the Church because there are some in the "church" who are not following Jesus.  God is at work in and through His people.  My concern is that in our culture here in the United States life has gotten too ... well, busy, hectic, chaotic, and therefore the Church is not fulfilling its calling to make God known and to proclaim Jesus as Savior and Lord, to share the Gospel with those who haven't heard.

Jesus told His disciples to go and make more disciples, baptizing them and teaching them all that God has called believers to be and to do.  This takes TIME, and it takes effort.  Increasingly, Americans in general don't have time or energy to be engaged in discipling others.  We barely have time to seek God ourselves, let alone help someone else to do so.  "Evangelism" is avoided like the plague, partly because people don't have time and mostly because people don't know what they would say if they got in a spiritual conversation with someone.  Yet, isn't this what Jesus wants His followers to do?

The early believers spent time together in worship, in their homes, in prayer and in serving one another.  Increasingly here in America people spend the bulk of their "free time" doing what they want to do (making their lives busier than they were already), and if they can squeeze in a little time for "body life" they'll do so, but otherwise, their faith and life are kept in a safe box, to be taken out on special occasions.  If it sounds like I'm being hard on American Christians, that's not my intention.  As a pastor for 35 years, these are my observations.  And my questions is this:  "Is THIS life as God meant it to be lived?"

I wonder how people in other parts of the world live.  I have had the opportunity to travel to Cambodia, Haiti, Guatemala, Italy ... and I have seen how some people in these countries live.  I have found that there are some who live with the same hectic schedule we have here in our country.  But I have also found that some have learned how to slow down and focus on the "important" things of life.  Of course, we have to come to an agreement of what is important and what is not?  Who should determine that?  Can any person determine for someone else what is important, what should have the priority in life, and what shouldn't?

God can, and He has.  The Word of God holds the key to God's priorities for those who are His children, who are disciples of Jesus.  Since it is God's desire that we should be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29), we should be living as Jesus did.  Jesus lived His life in relationship with the Father, which required time spent in prayer and fellowship.  And Jesus lived life as a servant, saying, "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).  THIS is life as God meant it to be lived.

Throughout the books of the New Testament God instructs His people in godly living, Christ-centered living, Holy Spirit-empowered living.  Even at the age of 12, Jesus told His parents that He needed to be about His Father's business.  As our Father's adopted children, WE need to be about our Father's business.  If we are too busy for fellowship with the body and serving others, both within the body and outside of the body, we're too busy.  If we struggle with giving up things WE want to do, and rarely think about what GOD wants us to do, what are we saying to the One who sacrificed Himself for us on the cross?

Frequently, I ask God to show me where I am falling short in living the life He has called me to live.  I fall short often!  His Spirit continues to teach me through His Word, and I try to pass on that knowledge to others, as I am doing in this blog.  I would encourage you to ask yourself this question often:  "Is this (the way I am living today) LIFE as God meant it to be?"  If not, then ask God to help you to restructure your schedule, to examine your priorities and to set your eyes and your heart on Jesus, who is able to help you make the necessary changes.  Here is something worth praying about.  And why wouldn't God hear you?  "Ask, and it shall be given to you.  Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and the door will be opened!"  God will help you to live your life, HIS life, as HE meant it to be lived!

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