BASICS OF CHRISTIANITY – PART V
The Bible says that Christ “appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). Does that mean it doesn’t matter whether or not you sin? No, of course not. Sin is serious; it is an offense to God, and it breaks our fellowship with Him. God calls us to “be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
We should also be a good witness for Christ; others should be able to look at us and tell that something is different about our lives. You can’t live the Christian life in your own strength. You need God’s help, which is why He has given His Holy Spirit to you. When you sin, confess it immediately, then seek the Holy Spirit’s help each day to live as you should.
God’s Will — A Message from Billy Graham
God has a plan for every one of us. Many people go through life without ever thinking about it, but that doesn’t change the fact that God put us here for a purpose. In other words, we aren’t here by accident; we’re here because God put us here. And He put us here for a reason—to know Him in a personal way and then live the way He wants us to live.
This is the greatest discovery you will ever make: You were created to know God and to be His friend forever. God not only has a general purpose for each of us, but He also has a specific plan for each of our lives. God knows all about you, and He has a plan for you. That’s why you can pray and seek God’s will when you face decisions, and it is why you can know God is with you every moment of the day. The Bible says, “Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path” (Psalm 27:11).
Knowing God’s Will
Knowing God’s will can give you peace in the midst of suffering and everyday trials. When you are in constant fellowship with God, He will lead you in the fulfillment of His plan. To know God’s will, you must first know God Himself. You can do that by committing your life to Jesus Christ, who was God in human flesh. Christ came to earth to show us what God is like and save us from our sins, and once you accept Him into your heart, you are a child of God! You can know God’s specific will for your life. If you have accepted Christ, here are some ways to understand God’s will for you: — Make right any behavior or relationships that might keep you from knowing God’s will.
Is there a certain sin that continues to plague your life? Are you in an unhealthy relationship? Confess any wrongdoing, eliminate anything that might distract you from living a godly life and commit your life to God who can make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:6). The Bible says, “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16). —
God will never ask you to do something outside of His will.
Do you feel like He’s telling you to take a certain action? Have godly friends encouraged you to use a certain talent? Don’t ignore wise advice or your own common sense. — Look at God’s Word, the Bible. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” What does God command of you? Has a verse motivated you to do something? — Pray and ask God to reveal His will to you. —
Make a list of pros and cons when faced with a decision. As you seek God’s guidance, weigh your options.
How Do You Know When God Is Speaking?
Maybe you’ve felt a tug to do something and wondered if it’s God speaking. Our feelings and emotions can be tricky, and they can deceive us—especially if we depend on them alone for making a decision. God gave us our emotions, and they are important, but He also gave us our mental abilities, and when we face a decision, we need to look at it carefully and logically.
Part of discerning God’s will is to ask Him to help us see all sides of an issue—sometimes with help from others we trust. But emotion and intellect aren’t enough. When we face a decision, we need to pray about it, trusting God to lead us. We also need to do it in light of God’s Word, the Bible. God will never lead you to do something that is not in accord with the Bible. Also remember to have an open mind when waiting for God to respond to your prayer. He might not answer right away, or His answer might be something you haven’t considered.
The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB). Make sure of your commitment to Christ, then submit every decision you face to Him. When we sincerely want God’s will above all else, He will help us know what is right.
Living Daily with God When we come to Christ, the barriers between us and God are broken down, and God Himself lives within us through His Holy Spirit. In other words, we now know God and He knows us. Think of it: We have a personal relationship with the God of the universe! But like any other relationship, it needs to be nurtured and strengthened. If it isn’t, it will wither and grow cold; God will seem distant to us, and we will no longer think of Him as our friend. We might even drift into behaviors that don’t honor Him and instead lead us to destruction.
The Bible warns, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. … The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15, 17). Worldly values include greed, lust and obsession with one’s status. Godly values include serving and loving others and humility. So how do we learn to do God’s will—to walk with Him—every single day? Think of a human friendship: How do we grow closer to someone on a human level? By spending time with that person—talking, listening, sharing concerns and lending a hand when he or she needs help. The same is true with God. When we read or hear His Word, the Bible, He speaks to us. When we pray, we speak to Him. And when we worship Him and obey Him, we are doing His will and participating in His work.
Followers of Christ are often called disciples. Once you decide to follow Him, it’s important to begin a life of discipleship, following His teaching and telling others what He has done for us on the cross. If you have not already done so, try to organize your day so that you have a special time to spend alone with God. Be sure you don’t neglect this “quiet time” because it will give you strength and power to resist Satan (James 4:7), to live above your circumstances (Romans 5:3-5) and to become a victorious Christian (1 Corinthians 10:13).
It’s also important to read your Bible daily. This will help you mature spiritually (Colossians 1:10; Ephesians 3:17-19). As you give your heart and life to Christ, you will grow as a Christian. Worship and fellowship in a Gospel—preaching church are also necessary for spiritual growth.
Every Christian faces temptation. Even Jesus was tempted! So how can you resist the urge to give in and stay strong? Think of it this way: Did you ever play with a couple of magnets when you were a child? If you did, you’ll remember that the closer they got to each other, the harder it was to pull them apart. Temptation is something like that. The more you dwell on it and the closer you let it get to you, the stronger its attraction will be. In fact, if you don’t look out, the time may come when it will be almost impossible to pull away from it. Don’t let that happen! The first step you need to take is to flee from whatever is tempting you. Get as far from it as possible. The Apostle Paul told his young friend, Timothy, to “flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace” (2 Timothy 2:22).
Remember that our thoughts are as important as our actions. In fact, Jesus had strong words for people who were outwardly righteous but inwardly corrupt. One reason is because our actions typically start with our thoughts. The Bible says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19).
Don’t entertain tempting thoughts. Avoid anything that fills your mind with sinful thoughts and fill it instead with good things by studying God’s Word and praying for His guidance. Most of all, you need God’s help to fight this battle. If you have never done so, turn to Christ and ask Him to come into your life. Then ask Him to fill your heart with His love and power, and to crowd out whatever is wrong in your life. God has promised that “when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Ask Him to show you the way out—and then take it.
Have you ever asked yourself what prayer is? Prayer is simply talking to God. It is for every moment of our lives, not just for times of suffering or joy. In fact, we should also use prayer to thank God for everything He has done in our lives. Many people pray haphazardly. A few words spoken hastily in the morning, then we say goodbye to God for the rest of the day. At night we push through a few sleepy petitions. That is not the example of prayer that Jesus gave. The Bible tells us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This doesn’t mean we should spend every minute of the day on our knees, but that we should have a prayerful attitude at all times—acknowledge our dependence on God, obey Him and talk to Him throughout the day.
Prayer should not be our last resort; we should start every day by giving it to God. God loves us and has promised to hear us when we pray. How can you learn to pray? First, understand why prayer is possible. Prayer is possible because Jesus Christ removed the barrier between us and God—a barrier caused by our sins.
Sin separates us from God, and because of that, we have no right to come before Him. But by His death on the cross, Christ paid the penalty for our sins and removed the barrier. God then gives us the privilege of coming into His presence when we commit our lives to Christ. The Bible says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). If you have never done so, ask Christ to come into your life today. Then understand that God now welcomes you into His presence and promises to hear you.
(More to Come)
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