In the beginning of the Christian walk it’s almost as though you are on a cloud. You are so excited because of what has happened in your life … the miracle of the New Birth. After a few month or a few years your spiritual momentum might slow down or cool off … and this is not the time to seek another miracle or an extraordinary experience. This is the time to look to Scripture to ensure you are walking the pathway of intentional Christianity. I would like to suggest there are a few “check points” to consider.
1) Ask whether you have set the Lord before yourself … always.
Ps 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
I love the construction of the first part of the verse … it is not … “I have set the LORD before me” but “I have set the LORD always before me”. Always means permanent! The Lord is enthroned on the thrown of the Psalmist’s heart so decidedly that wherever he goes and whatever he does the Lord is with Him. His lifestyle, choices, thoughts, words, vision, hearing, speaking and doing are all controlled by this one factor … “I have set the LORD always before me”. This needs to be our first check point. Is Jesus Lord of the heart … for if He is, all life will be governed by His Lordship and reign.
2) Ask whether you are obeying the Lord … always. This check point is very much determined on the previous one. Is Jesus Lord … of all?
Phil 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
You know that you cannot be saved through works. We are saved by grace through faith … not by work … but works proves salvation. The “always obeyed” is connected to the “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. Another way to explain this is to say … “my obedience to the Gospel is realized in Gospel living before God proving I am a real Christian”. Many fail at this point. They dip into the world too often and after “enjoying” their sin they wonder whether they are still saved. Take good care to ensure you are proving yourself salvation through Gospel obedience.
3) Ask whether you are praying … always. It’s great to be talking to the Lord throughout the day, but this does not and cannot replace a dedicated prayer time in the morning (or whatever time in the day suits you).
Eph 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
To pray in the Spirit is to connect with the Spirit in prayer. This changes the shape of prayer into a personal experience of communicating and knowing you are heard. Then we can be liberal with our “all kinds of prayers and requests” as well as tracking the progress of the saints (brothers and sisters in Christ) to pray intelligently for them. It’s amazing when praying like this because you tend to lose sight of time for such praying is enjoyable and exhilarating.
4) Ask whether you are magnifying the Lord … always. I am sure you have used a magnifying glass at some stage. Working with wood or steel lends itself to getting wood or steel splinters in your hands or fingers. Sometime these slinters are so small you cannot see them with the naked eye, but with a magnifying glass it may be seen and extracted. So, what does the magnifying glass do? It makes the slinter large. That is exactly what magnify the Lord means … to make Him big or large in your heart and life. Paul’s uses a different word in Philippians, but the end intention is the same:
Phil 1:20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
The word is “exalted”. Make Christ big (huge) in my body (life) to the point that to continue living is Christ and to die is gain … that is … heaven with Christ! Are you living life making Jesus huge in your being? Is He all in all? Is He everything? Is He to “live is Christ”? Is He to “die is gain”? Thought provoking?
5) Ask whether you are rejoicing … always. Rejoicing does not mean walking around shouting out “praise the Lord” or “Hallelujah” all the time. To rejoice is an inner conviction … an inner attitude of over flowing happiness because of who Jesus is and what He has done for you that your being is lite up. If rejoicing comes from inside because of the benefits of salvation, disappointments and hardships cannot rob you of that which is inside, coming out.
Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
The word “always” is important here! Always means throughout each day, each experience … whether good or bad.
Some people say you must be “positive” or “look on the bright side” or “you need to believe things will come right”. The true fact is that these statements are not biblical. Things don’t always turn out “right” or “better” … but in Jesus Christ it is possible to face the hardships and traumas believing and doing what the Bible says. Through this you attitude to live changes because you do life God’s way for His glory and your benefit!
Glorious Loving and Caring Lord, bless Your Hoy Name for in Your mercy You have given us Your people such help to direct our pathways, our minds and our hopes as we turn to You through Your Precious Word. Amen.