Living Our Faith

“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:6

We’ve learned how to live the Christian life when we’ve learned to live our faith, and enjoy its help and comfort, in our daily life.

It’s easy to join devotionals, to quote Bible verses, to praise the beauty of the Scriptures…but all of us must go out from church on Sunday into a week of very real and very common life. We must mingle with people who are not angels. We must pass through experiences that will worry and upset us.

Many people around us, either on purpose or by accident, annoy and try us. We’ll meet many troubles and worries during the week — there are continual irritations and annoyances.

The key is to live a beautiful Christian life in the face of all these trials and temptations. But how can we get through the obstacles which block our path? How can we live sweetly amid the vexing and irritating things, and the multitude of little worries and frets which infest our way, and which we cannot avoid?

HOW WE SHOULD LIVE

Life should be a joy and not a burden. We should live victoriously, ever master of our experiences, and not tossed by them like a leaf on the dashing waves. Every earnest Christian wants to live a truly beautiful life, whatever the circumstances may be.

Someone, when asked “what does it mean to be a Christian?” replied, “To be a Christian means to live as Jesus would live, and behave as Jesus would behave.”

No better definition of the Christian life could be given. Each one of us is to live just as Jesus would if He were living out our little life, mingling with the same people with whom we must mingle, and exposed to the very annoyances, trials and temptations to which we are exposed. We want to live a life that will please God, and will bear witness to the genuineness of our faith and love for Him.

SCRIPTURE ON LIVING A CHRISTIAN LIFE

– Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. (Phil 4:7-8)

– Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:15-18)

– The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Gal 5:2-26)

– Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:15-17)

J. R. Miller

Be Kind To Everyone

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

There’s nothing that this sorrowing, sinning world needs more than kindness. Yet, there are many Christians who seem to never learn how to be kind.

We need to pray for the grace of kindness, so that we may walk softly among people, never hurting another life by harsh words or ungentle acts.

When we’re kind, we have something of the beauty of Christ in our life. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, the light of divine love will shine out from our dull nature, and transform it.

“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col 3:12)

This will make us more sweet-tempered and gentle-spirited. It will make us honest in our dealings with our fellow men. It will make us godly people to live with at home. It will make us good neighbors and faithful friends. A life lived this way will leave countless blessings in this world.

Such a life of quiet, simple, humble, Christlike goodness will influence other lives, making them better, happier, holier, sweeter. A ministry of simple kindness is within the reach of every Christian. It requires no brilliant gifts, and no great wealth. It is a ministry which anyone may fulfill.

“The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Pet 3:4)

In these days of worldliness, the church needs just such simple goodness. It has eloquence in its pulpits, and activity in its pews, but it needs more godly people filled with the gentleness of Christ, repeating the life of Christ wherever they go.

– J. R. Miller

3 Keys To Christian Living

1) Keep your eyes fixed on eternal things

“We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Cor 4:18

A Christian should keep his eye on his journey’s end, just as our Lord Jesus, while enduring the cross, kept focus on the joy that was before Him (Heb 12:2). And again when the stones flew towards Stephen, his eyes were lifted up to heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God (Acts 7:55-56).

Though you may lie at the rich man’s gates, soon you will escorted into Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:19-31). Though Israel had a rough journey through the wilderness, Caleb and Joshua, men of excellent spirits, had their eye upon the good land they were going to (Num 14).

In the same way, set your heart on the hope to which Christ has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe (Eph 1:18-19).

2) Be content

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. ” – Phil 4:11-13

Though you may suffer now, your suffering will not last forever. Your sorrows shall be short, and your joys long. Remember that Christ first endured the cross before he wore the crown. And David, before he was a king, was a shepherd. Remember that Lazarus, before he was carried into heaven, had experienced sorrow and sufferings on earth.

When Jeremiah would ask the Lord why wicked prosper, he was sure to say that the Lord’s judgments were righteous. And his point wasn’t to charge God with being unfair, it was to learn understanding of him in the way of his judgments (Jer 12).

Even if the godly have many waves of trials crashing upon them, the Lord will command his love towards them (Psa 42:7-8). And, after a little while, they shall arrive at the heavenly haven. This world is not the Christian’s resting-place, their rest is still to come (Heb 4:9).

3) Let faith and hope in Christ lift you above your suffering

“We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations…” – Rom 5:2-3

Find peace in the fact that through Christ, whatever your present troubles are — whether outward afflictions, or inward temptations — they will soon be over. Then your sighs and groans shall be turned into songs of praise.

Four Types of Christians

As we read through the New Testament we find at least four types of Christians.

1) The Dead Christian

“I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” – Revelation 3:1

The first type of Christian we find is one who is a Christian in name only. The Dead Christian may go to church, and may even claim to follow Christ, but hasn’t truly come to Him for forgiveness.

Jesus addressed the Dead Christian in Revelation 3:2-3 when He told them, “I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.”

What is the work of God He found to be incomplete? John 6:29 tells us that “the work of God is that you believe in him whom he has sent.” And what is it we’re to believe? We find the answer to that in 1 John 5:11-13, “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Once a person believes in, and calls on Christ to forgive them, they are forgiven and are “made alive” in Him (1 Cor 15:22).

2) The Bound Christian

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature… serve one another in love.” – Galatians 5:13a

The next type of Christian we want to look at is the Bound Christian. This is a Christian who is alive in Christ, but is bound by sin, and this hinders his relationship with the Lord.

Romans 6:16 warns that “when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness.”

And Galatians 5:17 tells us of a battle that wages between the Spirit and the flesh. “The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

We follow the Spirit when we “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires” and produce the fruit of the Spirit which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-24)

We’ll stumble in our walk, but when we do, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

We don’t have to be slaves to sin. We can be slaves to righteousness if we follow the Lord’s ways. Romans 6:17-18 gives “thanks to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”
 

3) The Loner Christian

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:22-25

The third type of Christian is the Loner Christian. The Loner Christian is alive in Christ and enjoys fellowship with God. His life is full of blessings but the Loner Christian is keeping his blessings to himself.

Jesus said He came so that we “may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Christianity is a faith that should be lived through both our words and our actions.

Jesus told Peter in John 21:17 that if he loved Him he would care for His followers. We’re all blessed with some sort of gift. Some are good at encouraging, some are able to teach, some love to pray, others have the gift of compassion. There are many different types of gifts but what they all have in common is the gifts God gives us are designed to serve others. This stands in sharp contrast to the world which put its emphasis on serving yourself.

4) The Complete Christian

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

The final type of Christian we want to talk about is the Complete Christian. We call him complete because he alive in Christ, has a strong relationship with God and is a blessing to everyone around him.

We are encouraged in Matthew 5:16 to “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

We should live our lives in a way that when people see us, they see Jesus, and God is glorified. When we came to Christ we took all the blessings that go along with it. Forgiveness from sin, freedom from sin, fellowship with God and the honor of representing the living God to the dying world.

The Strength To Carry On

There is a truth about Christian living which, if people knew it, would make all of life easier for them. The truth is this: Whatever trial or task comes our way in life, we will receive the strength we need to face it. There are several promises that give this assurance.

One reads, “your strength will equal your days.” (Deut 33:25) This seems to mean that the help which God gives, varies according to the tasks and trials of the particular day. God fits His blessing to our days.

When we are weak, He increases strength. (Isa 40:29)
When we are sorrowful, He gives comfort. (2 Cor 1:3-6)
When we are in danger, He grants protection. (Ps 32:7)
When we are weary, He gives rest. (Mtt 11:28)

Another of Christ’s promises reads, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (Cor 12:9) Every word of this assurance shines with brilliant light.
“My grace is sufficient for you.”

It is Christ’s grace that is sufficient. We know that He has all Divine fullness, and so we are sure that no human need can ever exhaust His power to give help!

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

It is Christ’s grace that is sufficient. If it were anything else but grace, it might not give us such comfort. Grace is undeserved favor, goodness shown to the unworthy. We deserve nothing because we are sinners, but it is Christ’s grace which is sufficient, and so we can claim it.

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

His grace “IS” sufficient. Christ is always speaking personally to the one who is in any need, and saying, “My grace IS sufficient for you.”

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

The word “sufficient” is one whose meaning expands and amplifies with the measure of the need. No need is so small that it can’t be included; and none is so great that it can go beyond the capacity of the blessing that is promised.

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

The grace is sufficient for each of His redeemed children. “For you” the promise is made.

Life lies before us, with its burdens, its duties, its responsibilities, its struggles, its perplexities. It does not come to us all at once. God breaks our years into months and weeks and days, and never gives us more than we can bear or do for the day.

If we take up the present duty or burden we shall always have strength to do it. If we do not have strength of our own, we don’t need to falter because even if the task is impossible to our ability He will sustain us by giving us all the help we need.

– J.R. Miller

God Works Good In All Things

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

It is one of the wonders of divine love, that God will take even our blemishes and sins, when we truly repent of them and give them to Him, and make them blessings to us in some way.

Someone once showed an expensive handkerchief to an artist. The hankerchief had a blot of ink on it.

“Nothing can be done with that!” the person said, thinking that the handkerchief was now ruined and worthless. The artist took it with him and after a time sent it back to his friend. In a most skillful and artistic way he had made a fine design on the handkerchief, using the blot as its foundation. Instead of being ruined, the handkerchief was made far more beautiful and valuable.

In the same way, God takes the flaws and blots and stains of our lives, the disfiguring blemishes, and by His marvelous grace changes them into strength and beauty of character! God gives us beauty for ashes. (Isa 61:3)

David’s terrible sin was not only forgiven, it was made a transforming power in his life.

Peter’s sad fall became a step upward through his Lord’s forgiveness and gentle dealing. Peter never would have become the man he became if he had not denied his Lord, and then repented and been restored.

Paul tells us that we become more than conquerors in all life’s trials, dangers, struggles, temptations, and sorrows only “through Him who loved us.” (Rom 8:37)

Without Christ we are defeated. There is only one power that can turn evil into good, pain into blessing — the love of Christ. There is only one Hand which can take the blotted life and transform it into beauty.

– J. R. Miller

Materialism Never Satisfies

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” – Augustine

The pursuit of materialism is described in Scripture:

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? (Isa 55:2)

Materialism is wandering from object to object in a quest for happiness, but always ending up frustrated by unfulfillment and repeated disappointments.

We would feel sorry for a person whom we saw seeking some necessary thing day after day in a place where we knew it was impossible to be found. This is what happens with all people until they come to Christ.

Satisfaction is what people say they’re working for, and they turn over every stone in an attempt to find lasting happiness, but never find it.

Jesus calls us to find satisfaction and rest in Him:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)

Real satisfaction is only found in Jesus. When people come to Him, they are fully satisfied.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil 4:12-13)

And again:

Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. (Jhn 4:13-14)

– John Newton

4 Signs You’re Living For Christ

Christians are people whose lives are suppose to be God-centered instead of self-centered.

The Apostle Paul encouraged Christians to “count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus,” (Rom 6:11) while Augustine confessed “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

It’s Christ who is the source of our joy, strength and purpose. (Col 3:4) “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

So how do you know you’re living for Christ? Here are four signs to help you:

1) You desire to read and study the Bible.

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. (Ps 25:4-5)

Reading and studying the Bible pleases God because it increases our faith. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17)

Reading and studying the Bible also pleases God because it allows us to identify and avoid bad teaching about Him. “Watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” (Rom 16:17)

2) You desire to put the Bible’s teaching into practice.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (Jam 1:22)

A famous prayer says “Father, let me not only love Your truth, but live it.”

When we’re living God’s Word it pleases Him because it’s evidence we’re walking with Him. “This is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.” (2 Jhn 1:6)

When we walk with the Lord He comforts us with a special love. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Ps 23:4)

We don’t look to do good works in order to be saved but because we are already saved through Christ.

3) You’re searching your heart.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps 139:23-24)

We please God when we search our hearts for sin because sin hinders our relationship with Him.

What do we do when we find sin? “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” but we are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 3:23-24) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

4) You build people up through your words.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Eph 4:29)

God is pleased when we build people up instead of tearing them down. We represent the living God to a dying world and our words should reflect that. Our words should be filled with hope, peace, encouragment and the good news of salvation through Christ.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isa 52:7)

Are You Making These 3 Mistakes In Your Christian Walk?

The Christian walk is often a hard one. Our old, sinful nature continually battles against the Spirit, causing us to sin. (Gal 5:17)

Even the Apostle Paul struggled at times, admitting that, “I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Rom 7:15) So in this study we’re going to look at three mistakes all Christian’s make and what to do when we make them.

Now it’s very important to understand that we aren’t trying to correct these mistakes to earn our salvation. Our salvation doesn’t depend on our ability to live a perfect life, it depends on Christ’s ability to live a perfect life, and be a sacrifice for our sins.

In other words we fight against sin not to be saved, but because we are saved, and we want to be as close to our Lord and Savior as we can.

Mistake #1 – God’s Word Isn’t Guiding Your Actions

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (Jam 1:22)

The Christian faith isn’t something only to be professed, it’s also something to be lived. “True faith”, J.C. Ryle once said, “is more than holding theological positions – it’s living, burning and active. It produces works of love, it purifies the heart, and overcomes the world.”

What you believe should affect how you live. God’s Word is “living and powerful”, a “light to our path”, and is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness.” (Heb 4:12, Ps 119:105, 2 Tim 3:16)

If God’s Word Isn’t Guiding Your Actions: “The just shall live by faith,” and “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Hab 2:4 , Rom 10:17). Commit yourself to reading and applying the teachings of the Bible every day.

Prayer: Father, let me not only love Your truth, but live it.

Mistake #2 – You Aren’t Living In God’s Strength

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. (Isa 40:29)

Christians should live day by day in God’s strength, but often they turn their focus from living in His strength, to living in the world’s strength.

People live in worldly strength by intimidating, oppressing or seducing those with lesser strength. The world’s strength is seen by breaking those under them.

People live in God’s strength when they recognize that He alone is the source their joy, value, purpose and power. God’s strength is seen when He gives, renews and increases the strength of those who take refuge in Him. The world forces down and breaks, God lifts up and rebuilds.

If You Aren’t Living In God’s Strength: Focus on living – not for the world – but for Christ, who is your life, and through whom you can do all things. (Col 3:4, Phil 4:13)

Learn from Abraham, who Romans 4:20-21 tells us “was strengthened in faith” because he was “fully convinced that what God had promised He was also able to perform.”

Trust the Lord to see you through whatever has been put in your path. Turn to Him to increase your strength when you are weak, give you comfort when you are hurting and give you rest when you are weary. (Isa 40:29, 2 Cor 1:3-6, Matt 11:28)

Prayer: O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

Mistake #3 – You’re Living For Sin Instead Of Living For Christ

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Rom 13:14)

We sin when we go against God’s law. We do this by either not doing what God requires of us or by doing what He has forbidden us to do. Sin can occur in thought, word, or deed.

All too often Christians underestimate the power of sin and overestimate their own power to avoid it. We fall into sin by becoming increasingly comfortable going in the wrong direction. We flirt with sin, then engage in it, then before we know it, we’re overwhelmed by it.

If You Are Living For Sin: Turn from sin to Christ. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jhn 1:9)

Prayer:Through Christ wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

How You Can Have Peace In Your Life

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

Our text tells us that those whose mind is “stayed on” the Lord will be kept in His perfect peace. What does it mean to keep our mind “stayed on” the Lord? It means at least three things:

1) It means making the Lord the center of your life

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
(Col 3:2-4)

All around us people are seeking happiness in things such as money, social standing, fame, pleasures — all of which are broken vessels which hold no water. Only the One who made us can satisfy our heart’s desires.

Only after we trust Christ, and turn our focus to things above, (Col 3:2) do we begin to experience His “perfect peace”. This is because Christ “himself is our peace”. (Eph 2:14)

2) It means accepting whatever happens in this life

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

This begins by first recognizing that “from Him and through Him and to Him are all things,” (Rom. 11:36) and responding to this fact by saying, “He is the LORD; let him do what is good in his eyes.”(1 Sam. 3:18).

When we do this, we’re trusting Christ to give us the strength and grace and guidence and protection we need, then His “perfect peace” will be ours in this world of sin and turmoil.

3) It means leaving the future entirely in God’s hands

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Pro 3:5-6)

All our days are in His hands (Psa. 31:15) and He has promised to never to leave nor forsake us! (Heb 13:5) There’s no need be fearful of what lies ahead.

We’re told to live our lives one day at a time and “not worry about tomorrow”. (Matt 6:34) When we do this, we’re trusting that our future is safe and secure in Christ, then His “perfect peace” will be ours.