Friday, February 10, 2012

How To Know You Are Living For Jesus And Not Yourself

Have you ever felt that perhaps you have everything screwed up? You know what I mean, where you are doing some things right but they seem to be all twisted in things that aren't quite right but you are not sure how to untangle it all? Perhaps I am reaching too far to start with and you are still at that point where you think everything is okay. The usual reason for thinking everything is okay is because we are blind to the real situation. There is an idiom that says, "If you can keep calm while everyone around you is loosing their head in panic, it's because you don't know what's going on." Funny.

I believe many Christians are doing what they think they are suppose to do but they are doing it without power and often times without real conviction. This means that the first sign of trouble or resistance and they drop their faith and run. Perhaps we don't run from church, which has become our family, but we don't rely on God to get us out of situations, often turning to other people or trying to dig our own way out. All of this is a result of lack of prayer. It is in our prayer time that we are convicted about things in our lives, strengthened to do the right thing and are shown the correct path to take. Without prayer we are left to our own devices.

After writing to his friend Timothy concerning the importance of prayer, Paul then spoke of his desire for the Church:

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. (1 Timothy 2:8)

This is what Paul desired to see developing out of a disciplined life of prayer, a lack of anger and disputes; a lack of arguing and division. You can't spend a great deal of time with Jesus and come away the same. Prayer and fasting changes a person; it changes them to be more like Jesus. The more time you spend with him the more he rubs off on you. You can't hate someone you are praying for. If you go into prayer angry with someone, that time with Jesus will change your heart so that you come out with forgiveness and renewed love. You can't be a prayer warrior and be filled with anger and hate. If you are, you are a fake.

Paul also expressed another desire he had for the Church:

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

This was not a command telling women how to dress, but it was an expressed desire of Paul to see radical changes produced through prayer. You can't mandate modesty. If you try it becomes legalism. It is something that is birthed as a loving response to Jesus. You can't spend time with Jesus without it changing your thinking, perspective and desires. Fasting and prayer helps you understand the priority of the Kingdom and gives you a desire for those priorities. It causes us to let go of the things that do not bring us closer to God and of the things that are unhealthy for us.

Consider it from Jesus' perspective: Why did he die on the cross/ What was the purpose of his resurrection? Was it so we could spend all our money on fashions, jewelry, and make-up? Was it so we could fill our heads with worrying about how we look and how people perceive us? I am not saying there is anything wrong with looking presentable; I wear a suit for that exact reason, to look presentable. But when that occupies your thinking, pocket book and desires then it has taken priority over the Kingdom. Paul picked on fashion but we could use sports, cars, fitness or anything else that takes priority over God's priorities.

What do we think Jesus' priorities are? Paul says dress to look good but your energy needs to go into the things that honour God, such as good deeds. I would add to that, working for the salvation of souls, because that is the mission we have been given. A healthy prayer life does this by keeping us in tune with the Holy Spirit. It keeps us in the mind of Christ and helps us fix our eyes on that goal of eternity. It helps put everything in it's place. There is nothing wrong with nice clothes, sports, or fitness, but when they become more important than the Kingdom of God we have begun to twist things again.

If you want to judge the health of your relationship with Jesus check your habit of prayer. Not only do we need to be praying ceaselessly, we need our relationship building time with Christ; that time we set aside just for him. The healthier that is, the healthier our relationship, the more we will walk in his conviction and power. Let's get our life untwisted by spending the time we need to with Jesus, who is our everything.

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