Friday, September 2, 2016

Live for God

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-27

Salvation through the repentance of sin and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the foundational cornerstone upon which every other tenant of the Christian faith is built. It's important that we do not underestimate the gravity of Christ’s words from Luke 14.  It can be all too easy to gloss over these words because we have heard them so many times before. Make no mistake, these words are not to be taken lightly. With these words Jesus calls for complete submission to the will of God. Across all four Gospels we find Jesus preaching this same message multiple times; repent, and give your life to me. Paul would later echo these words in his letters.

 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Sadly, salvation is often treated as a means to an end. Our selfish human nature will seek to twist all things- even grace. It is easy to fall into a trap with thoughts of self- promotion, arrogance, or jealousy. In 1 Samuel 18 you can read about how King Saul becomes jealous of the anointing on David. Many of us are guilty of the very same sin when we become jealous of a fellow Christian’s gifts from God.  We might envy their gift of prophecy, or we might envy how God uses them as a vessel for healing power. We might even envy their leadership position within the church. However, this jealousy is a tool of the enemy to distract you with someone else’s gift so that you never discover the gifts God wants to give you.
Sometimes we put the cart before the horse. Which is to say we become so caught up in trying to be who we think we ought to be that we miss out on who God wants us to be. We can become so caught up in praying for miracles that we forget to pray for souls. God has called each and every one of us to give our lives to Him by accepting the salvation of Jesus Christ. Unless we sow the seeds of salvation we will not reap the fruits of the spirit.

Unless we sow the seeds of salvation we will not reap the fruits of the spirit.
Unless we sow the seeds of salvation we will not reap the fruits of the spirit.

I can’t say that enough. We are called to repent. We are called by the conviction of the Holy Spirit to confess our sins before God, accept the sacrifice of our Savior, and likewise sacrifice ourselves to God to live as servants to His will. There is nothing without the salvation of Jesus. The perfect sacrifice of Jesus is what makes us able to be in the presence of God. It’s what makes us able to be living temples of the Holy Spirit, and therefore bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Everything starts with the rejection of self, and the acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior. In Luke 14 Jesus does not try to make His Gospel easy to swallow.  He makes it very clear that you’re not welcome unless you’re willing to give up everything. God doesn’t offer a “try me for 30 days, money back if you’re not satisfied.” God doesn’t accept you coming with any demands or any preconceived notions about the type of spiritual fruit you’re willing to bear, or the type of ministry you're willing to perform. God says, “Come prepared to lose your life or don’t come.”

The Book of Job tells us about a successful man of God who was tried by Satan. In just a day Job lost all his children, all his servants, and all his livestock. As if this wasn't enough, Job was then cursed with a terrible illness. Rather than turn against God, who allowed all these terrible things to happen, Job humbled himself before God, and continuously reminded the people who watched him suffer that his life, his health, his birth, his death, wealth, family, mind, body, and spirit belongs to God. Job's response to all these trials is the most perfect example of Christian living in the Old Testament. Long before Christ’s words in Luke 14, Job lived the perfect example of what God has called all of us to do: to lay our lives down before Him, and submit to His will. After hearing the terrible news of the death of all his children, servants, and animals Job says,

“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

How many of us can say we have a faith like Job? How many of us serve God unconditionally? How many of us go to God with our only request being that he forgives our sins and guides us in His will for us? God is not looking for a compromise. God is not looking for followers who are only interested in signs, miracles, and opportunities for advancement. God wants us to give Him our entire lives. God wants us to praise Him when we are at our lowest point and our highest point because God is present in the lows and the highs!

If you live for God, then I have all the confidence in the world that the gifts will come when God wants you to have them. Do not worry about speaking in tongues, or healing the sick, or prophesying. These things will be given to you according to God’s plan for you. Understand that God is working all the time. He is working just as much when you become sick as He works when you are healed. God is working just as much when you’re taking the trash out as he does when you’re prophesying. All you have to do is live for God which means doing everything to the glory of God. If you do all things for God then God will work through all the things you do.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23

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