Monday, November 23, 2015

Love - Part 7 of 7 Daily Essentials For the Christian Life

heart cross
We come now to our last daily essential. The previous six essentials are really about who we are as believers and not just what we do as believers and followers of Christ. To ensure that our faith in God moves from religion to relationship, we have to approach our life of faith from the mindset that actions don't produce character, but rather, character shapes our actions. Yes, the way I behave has an enormous impact on my inward character, but the better measure is that my actions are a reflection of my character. Therefore, our last essential, in large part, is the barometer of how well we have incorporated these daily essentials into the fabric of our lifestyle.

Read Colossians 3:1-17. This is a synopsis of all of the 7 Daily Essentials - relationship, prayer, worship, fellowship, discipleship, stewardship and love. Look at verse 14 again. It says, "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." This is the key to this passage. Without love, everything we do is meaningless. Love is the fruit by which our character is judged.

Take it a step further though and look at it this way. Love is the resulting fruit, or outward evidence, that I am living a lifestyle of relationship, worship, prayer, fellowship, discipleship and stewardship. By "putting on love over all these virtues" we are putting skin on our faith. Love makes faith real and more than just a belief system or religion. Love puts my faith to action.
Are you loving your spouse more deeply? Do you find yourself drawn to  people that you used to avoid? Are you more sensitive to the hurting people around you? Do you find yourself speaking words of encouragement instead of the usual criticism? If your answer is yes, then you are putting on love. If the answer is no, you can't just start loving people. Go back to the first essential and work your way up the list again. That will lead to a lifestyle of love.
Get free updates from The Good Life in your inbox. Subscribe today!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Stewardship - Part 6 of 7 Daily Essentials For the Christian Life

On our journey of discovering the 7 Daily Essentials for the Christian Life, I hope your thinking is being transformed so that you understand that our walk with Christ is the core of who we are and not just things we do. You are not a mechanic who happens to be a Christian, or a parent that also performs Christian duties. You and I are followers of Christ who just happen to do other things--mother, father, accountant, pastor, etc. The goal is not to follow these seven steps and become a Christian. Yes, we must make these daily habits, but we need to see beyond mere actions. The goal is that these seven essentials are the outward manifestation of who we are from the heart. I do these things because of my identity. It is important to grasp this concept to understand our sixth essential.

Daily Essential #6 - Stewardship.
That word may possibly alienate half of the readers of this post. Stewardship is horribly misunderstood by many in the Church today. Much of the credit for that goes to the many charlatans on TV telling us to sow our seed of faith to them. They promise that if you give them money, then God will make you prosperous. That is not stewardship and is nothing short of what they were doing in the temple during Jesus' earthly ministry when he turned their tables over.

Stewardship is not about giving God your money, although giving your tithes and offerings is a part of that. Stewardship is simply living a life that recognizes that everything I have ever had, now have, or ever will have is not mine. It really belongs to God and He has entrusted me to take good care of it and invest it in His kingdom. It's not just giving God 10% but rather 100%. It is all His to begin with and He then entrusts us to invest that into His kingdom. In doing so we are honoring and recognizing Him as our sole source of provision.

Money is just such a small part of the bigger picture of Stewardship too. What about giving God the best of our time, energy, and talents? What if today He got the first hour of the day, the best of our attitude, or first crack at our desires? Ask yourself, "What changes do I need to make in my lifestyle to enable me to live a lifestyle of Stewardship?" In other words Stewardship focuses on who we are, not what we have or what we do with it.

Luke 6:38 says, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." The spiritual principle here is that your generosity is rewarded by His extravagance. Be generous today.
Get free updates from The Good Life in your inbox. Subscribe today!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fellowship - Part 5 of 7 Daily Essentials For the Christian Life

So far we have covered four of the daily essentials for living a successful Christian life--Relationship, Prayer, Worship and Discipleship. These four have to do with our vertical relationship with Christ. The fifth essential now addresses how we live our lives in relationship with other people.

Daily Essential #5 - Fellowship.
God has created every human being with an innate desire to worship Him. But He also placed in each of us an innate desire for fellowship. That is one of the basic fundamentals of the character of God--He desires fellowship with us. As we are created in His image, that same fundamental characteristic has been created in us.

Before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve lived in perfect harmony. After they sinned, they lost that harmony and became at odds with one another. We see this manifested as they blame each other before God for their sin. Not only did sin separate them from God, it caused separation in their relationship with each other.

Christ's redemptive work not only restores our relationship with Him, it seeks to remove the separation that exists between each other. It is impossible to truly live the Christian life and not be drawn towards others around us. We can't navigate this life with all of its trials, temptations, frustrations and pitfalls without each other. One trap I see Satan use against people in the Church is to isolate them from others when life gets hard. I have seen people withdraw from their circle of friends in the Church when life falls apart, usually to their demise. That is when we need people the most. When life gets tough we should press in and lean harder upon those around us. We have to resist the urge to hide when things around us are falling apart. We need to feed off of the strength and encouragement of others. That is why Paul encourages us in Hebrews 10 to not give up meeting together, and all the more as you see the day approaching. You can't survive by yourself.

If you are going through some difficult circumstances, I encourage you to take the initiative and seek out a friend that you can lean on. Don't wait for them to come to you. Seek them out. If things are going great for you, be sensitive to someone around you that may need someone to come alongside them and lift them up. That is what we are created for. That is what fellowship is really all about.

Get free updates from The Good Life in your inbox. Subscribe today!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Discipleship - Part 4 of 7 Daily Essentials For the Christian Life

discipleship - part 4 of 7 daily essentials for the christian life
In our first three essentials for the Christian life we discovered that it all boils down to relationship. The Christian life is not a daily exercise in completing a list of requirements, but rather, developing a growing and personal relationship with Jesus. As mentioned before, it is not something we do, it is who we are. What I do doesn't make me a Christian. Who I am defines me as a Christian and what I do is a result of that identity. This is true for the fourth daily essential.

Daily Essential #4 - Discipleship.
I have learned that the success of my marriage is dependent upon how much I am willing to invest in the relationship with my wife. This has required that I become a lifelong learner of her--not just learning facts about her, but discovering what truly makes her happy; what her dreams and goals are; what her greatest fears are. In other words, after 29 years I want to be able to know what she's thinking and to anticipate what would make her happy. This takes work but it is well worth the investment.

The Christian life is the same. It isn't enough to just read the Bible and learn facts about God. Discipleship is the commitment to developing a sensitivity to God's heart and learning to recognize His voice. It's being able to read His word and understand what it means for my life at that moment. It's also a daily commitment to become more like Him than I was yesterday. When you read the Bible, keep a daily journal and write down what you sense the Lord is speaking to you through His Word. Read it not just to fulfill your daily requirement, but to discover things about God that you've never understood before.

Remember, the Christian life is not about religion. It's all about relationship so the focus is not on the things we do, but on who we are. As a disciple, the key is to approach everything you do as an investment into your relationship with God.
Get free updates from The Good Life in your inbox. Subscribe today!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Worship - Part 3 of 7 Daily Essentials For the Christian Life

hands raised
 Relationship and Prayer. Like these first two, the third essential does not come automatically. It must be developed and nurtured and developed as a lifestyle choice, not an action that we do.
Our third essential for the Christian life springs out of a life that is lived with the foundation of the first two essentials--

Daily Essential #3 - Worship
Worship is not defined by what we do in Church on Sunday mornings. That is part of worship but we must be careful that our definition of worship is not limited to that activity. We must understand that worship is not something we do, but rather it is who we are. Worship is the outflow of who we are and the way we live our lives. We tend to focus on "how" we worship - musical style, body position, hymns and choruses, guitars and organs, etc. God focuses on the "who" in worship. In John 4 Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that God is not looking for a certain kind of worship. He is looking for a certain kind of worshiper. It is important for us to define worship the way God defines it. Our actions and methods as we worship are important, but God is first and foremost concerned with the kind of people we are as we worship.

My definition of worship is this - "Authentic worship is a lifestyle of bringing glory and honor to God through the way we live." This is based on Romans 12:1 where Paul defines worship as "offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God." If we are lifting our hands and singing songs of praise to God in church on Sunday morning yet living a lifestyle that does not bring honor to Him on Monday, we are not worshiping. The greatest act of worship is simply living a life fully surrendered to God everyday.

How can you and I live today as a way of offering worship to God in all we do? That is what true worship is really all about and that is what brings honor and glory to Him. Don't just do worship today. Be a worshiper!

Get free updates from The Good Life in your inbox. Subscribe today!