Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Christian Life

Scripture:  Romans 12 v 9 - 15: "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
 10  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 
 11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
 12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
 13  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
 14  Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
 15  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."

The Christian life is how we should live if we are truly following Jesus, and not by putting the pastor on a pedestal and adoring him.  This is happening more and more frequently as people make idols of personalities seen on tv or in movies, on sports fields or in business.

John said to us, Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  We are always little children in God's eyes, who need to be comforted, loved, cherished and protected from the world.  The world is overflowing with temptations to sin or do evil and Christians should be separate from it to live honest, righteous lives.

So Paul gave us a list of things to guide us into an acceptable lifestyle, not to herd us or clone us, but to be pleasing to the Lord.

He says Let our love be pure and genuine, not a ploy to gain advantage over others.  The love of Jesus is the standard we must attain.  He said in John 15 v 12: "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you."  In other words it is not impossible, its necessary.

When we walk in love, we make allowances for other's mistakes and esteem them higher than ourselves, and be humble, gracious, forgiving and kind.  We don't undermine or make anyone feel small or offended through our words, looks or behaviour.

We must recognise that which is evil and abhor it as loathsome.  We must distance ourselves from it and never condone or compromise with it.  Jesus spoke truth to power when He publicly condemned the scribes and Pharisees for hypocrisy and religiosity.  Jesus did not come to start a new religion but to begin a whole new way of life for His followers.

In His death and resurrection He became the prototype, the firstborn of a new creation.  Every born again (resurrected and redeemed) Christian has been spiritually revived from death through sin.  The wages of sin is death and we were born in sin therefore already spiritually dead.

Only when Jesus took our sin and death upon Himself who was sinless, could we feel the life of God return to us.  As God said in John 3 v 16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Our Father has a perfect plan for everyone who follows Jesus.  The more we seek to know His plan for us, the more He reveals and the sooner we start to comply.  Prayer and fellowship are the keys that open our plan for us.  Communication with Christians already living their Godly plan who share their testimonies and give wise counsel are a blessing not to be ignored or neglected.

Part of each plan is to be helpful to one another.  Share your plenty with those who serve the Lord in tithes and offerings.  Tithes are one tenth of your income which belongs to the Lord.  The whole amount belongs to Him but we get to keep 90 percent of it.  

Tithes are given to the storehouse, i.e. the place from which our nourishment comes.  Those who tithe receive wonderful returns on their gifts as Jesus opens the windows of Heaven to bless us, and rebukes the devourer for our sakes.  The devourer is Satan who steals from us, ruins our crops, causes many costly malfunctions, blocks our income in various ways, because we don't obey the Lord.  Disobedience ties His hands.  Those who obey have their needs met and live an abundant life.

Offerings are gifts that come out of our overflow.  Clothes, shoes, food, or whatever need the Lord shows us that we are in a position to perform.  We are fulfilling the plan of God and more doors will open as we submit to His will.

So the Christian life is an unselfish, forgiving, humble and obedient experience in which we should be available to the Lord whenever He needs us to help others.  It is not just for an hour on Sundays, but as continual as life should be.  The rewards are beyond our imagination and bring us joy unspeakable and full of glory and the half has never yet been told.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, please forgive us if we have not complied with fulfilling Your plan, and have neglected to walk in the life You ordained for us.  Please correct our steps and give balance to our ways so that we become pleasing in Your eyes.  In Jesus' name. Amen.