“Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). That is a great verse with great implications.
I believe there are two foundations for lifelong service. The first is our desire for God Himself. This desire must be cultivated. It is not automatic. Without this desire, everything else becomes mechanics…merely “how-to” courses in the spiritual life.
Psalm 63 is a great example of a leader (David) who had cultivated desire in his life. One of the most helpful things we can do is to pray Psalm 63 as a way of developing this desire for God.
The second foundation to a consistent life of service is an awareness of Christ living in us. As we go through the day, whatever the tasks ahead of us, we must always keep before us this amazing truth: The Lord of the universe has come to take up residence within us. We are not on our own and we do not belong to ourselves. Jesus lives within us and Jesus is our Master so, the glory belongs to His great name.
“Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?” (Ps. 15:1, NLT).
Those are two good questions that demand an answer. If you are experiencing times of intercession and worship that are dry and difficult, it may be time to take inventory as David did in Psalm 15. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if any of the following are hindering your worship:
- Are you leading a blameless life and doing what is right? What about staying away from things that have the appearance of evil? (v. 2)
• Are you speaking the truth from a sincere heart? Any half-truths or painting yourself in a better light when recounting a story? (v. 2)
• Do you absolutely refuse to slander others no matter what? Do you refuse to harm your neighbors or speak ill of your friends or spouse? (v. 3)
• Do you despise persistent sin? Do you honor the bride of Christ in thought, word, and deed _ even with those who think differently? (v. 4)
• Do you keep your promises even when it hurts? (v. 4)
• Do you want something in return when you do something nice for someone? (v. 5)
• Do you speak against someone when it is in your own best interest? (v. 5)
Here is a good prayer to pray before you give an answer. Holy Spirit, show me any areas of my life that are hindering my walk with Christ. I desire to walk with Jesus with a pure heart and I need Your help!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
I have prayed that verse in many situations for many different people, including myself. Unfortunately, many modern Western believers have the attitude that life needs to be perfect, or that God promises us a “happy” life. So, any time calamity comes to us or those we care about, we immediately pray, “Lord, remove this…Fix this.” But what if His way of “fixing” is different than what we expected. What if He wants to do something for His kingdom through that “calamity”? Who knows, perhaps as unbelievers watch a Christian go through a trial with great hope and grace, they will turn to Jesus and come into His kingdom.
So, the next time you pray about a difficult situation in your life, maybe God would have you pray for joy and peace, and especially hope to fill your heart amidst the difficulty, so that in your overflow of that power-filled hope, people will be attracted to Christ.
Jesus wants your heart to be filled with joy! He desires you to rejoice and be glad as you follow His precepts and obey His Word. It is not His plan for you to be downcast, defeated, depressed or anxious about anything. The believer’s walk is to be pure and blameless, and regardless of circumstances, it is to be joy-filled. Has your joy been stolen from you by the enemy? Ask the Lord of joy to draw your heart back into a continual season of rejoicing!
So, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).
Occasionally I run into people who will say something like this: “Well, it’s okay for you to teach on spiritual warfare, but I’m just not into that sort of thing.” Well, it doesn’t matter whether you are “into” spiritual warfare teaching or not. The real issue is, “How are you doing in the battle? Are you winning or losing?”
It’s not a game where you can take your ball and go home. God’s Word is clear, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) Spiritual warfare is a reality that must be faced! It won’t go away. It is time to prepare ourselves to wage war, not as the world does, but with the weapons provided by the Spirit of God.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love…Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me…Save me from my bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me” (Psalm 51:1a, 11, 14a).
David’s ability to ask for forgiveness is rooted in the very nature of God. It is because of the Lord’s “unfailing love” and His “great compassion” that those of us who follow Christ today can, as David did, boldly ask the Lord for forgiveness. It is the nature of God to forgive. Because we are made in His image, it is important that we too have the nature of forgiveness: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).
The prerequisite to being forgiven in the kingdom of Jesus is to forgive others! “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14).
Says what it means and means what it says _ so Jesus follower, DO IT!
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Dean Trune wrote a book entitled The Path toward Passion (Nine Disciplines that Connect Your Heart to God’s). Here are some passages from that book that hit home with me.
We must discipline our thoughts and attitudes. Jesus said, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45, emphasis added). It is our heart that needs to be disciplined because our outward actions will simply reflect our inward thoughts and attitudes. The following progression is helpful for me to remember:
- My thoughts determine my attitudes.
- My attitudes determine my actions.
- My actions determine my habits.
- My habits determine my character.
If I want to change my character, I need to go back beyond my actions to my thoughts. My thoughts will eventually determine my character. My character determines if God is glorified through my life. Maybe that is why Paul wrote, “. . . we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We test every thought to make sure that it is consistent with the character, the teaching, and the message of Jesus. Un-Jesus-like thoughts will always lead to dishonoring God. The best way I know to have the thoughts of Jesus is to deepen my passion for God through the spiritual disciplines. My passion for Him will connect me with His heart. Knowing His heart (thoughts and attitudes) will change my heart.
Holy God, please take every thought captive so that I will be an obedient servant, growing in grace and transformed by Your heart so that every action reflects Your Son.