Thursday, April 14, 2016

Seven Principles for a Healthy Christian Life

This week's post is submitted by Reggie Koop, who filled in at the pulpit for me this past Sunday. His message is to help us know the seven non-negotiables necessary for living according to God's plan for lives.

The seven non-negotiables for true Christian living are:

1. Seek God, not sin.

Amos 5:4: “For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, seek ye me, and ye shall live.”

God is the giver of life.  We will find life in no other God.  But because we are sinful creatures, our hearts are naturally prone to wonder from our Creator. Our souls were made to pursue God, know God and walk with God-nothing else.  It’s only as we pursue him that we live.

In the book of Amos, God tries over and over again to get the attention of his people.  He allows them to experience famine, drought, and pestilence and yet as God says in Amos 4:11, “I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.”

But Amos 5:4 reminds us of where life is found.  God says, “Seek me that you may live.”  These words should get our attention.

2. Fear God, not men.

Proverbs 19:23: “The fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.”

Our God is holy and is the Lord God almighty.  Think about the power he holds, a person can’t but fear God and hold him in reverent awe.

Do you care more about what men think of you than God?  If you do, you need to learn to fear God and then you will be preoccupied in walking in his presence, not wondering what other people think of you.  Then you will begin to live your life in light of eternity, and the temporal views of men won’t matter anymore.

The fear of the Lord also keeps us from evil and sin.   A. W. Tozer wrote, “It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate.” When we lose the fear of God and don’t respect his commandments, we are going to live our lives without accountability to God and one another, which is the cause of a number of sins.

3. Love God, not the world.

1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world not the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flush and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

What is the object of your affections? Power? Recognition? Hobbies? Job? Possessions? Money? Are these what life is about? These are what the secular world wants to pursue. The world is continually seeking to seduce us into a love affair, but we must love God and be preoccupied with pleasing him, him alone.

Matthew 6:24 says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Also, we must love God’s people and be concerned about their eternal destiny.  We must look at them with compassion, like Jesus, and be moved with action to do something for them. Remember each time Jesus was with the people he met their physical needs but more importantly their spiritual needs.  Those who love God will do what he wants and be concerned about his mission and his will, and they will fulfill his calling.

4. Believe God, not the deceiver. (Who’s the deceiver?)

John 8:44: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

In 1938 a man in long island ordered a very expensive weather barometer.  He unwrapped it and realized that the arrow that was supposed to reflect the weather he was experiencing was stuck at the bottom, pointing at “hurricane.” So he slammed it down a few times, and when it didn’t respond, he wrote a hot letter to the manufacturer and mailed it off on his way to work. When he came home, he found that a hurricane had hit, and everything was gone.

As believers, sometimes we don’t want to believe the truth.  When life and scriptures collide, which one do you believe and trust?  The scriptures tell us that without faith it is impossible to please God, but our human nature is to move toward unbelief.  Never forget that our adversary is the father of lies. He wants to destroy us, so he works to make us doubt the promises and to accuse the brethren.

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

5. Obey God, not your appetites.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win.  Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Our appetites are the passions that we have within our flesh, contrary to the spirit, craving and battling to be satisfied.  If you give in, even the slightest, to these desires, the enemy can use that to launch an attack in your life.  At the same time, the same trivial act in obedience to God may be used to launch a powerful life-changing ministry.  Our passions must be subordinate to the cross.

Obedience to God demands 2 main things:

  1. It demands courage to say not to self, no to appetites, no to lusts of the flesh, no to what’s easy, and yes to carrying the cross. In Mark 8:34, Jesus said to his disciples, “whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” 
  2. It also demands faithfulness-the plodding endurance to God, to his call and to that which he calls you to suffer. Only by yielding to the cross can you obey God, not your appetites.

6. Serve God, not self.
Isaiah 6:8: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, here I am, send me!”

The concept of becoming a “bond slave” in the scriptures means that we are the slaves, and he is the master.  That means that we must surrender completely, without reservation.  Many would see this type of service as lowly, and it is humbling, but it should be seen as a privilege to serve such a loving Lord.

7. Worship God, not comfort.

Habakkuk 3:17-18: “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be not fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”

Worship God above all else. Remember job? I don’t know anyone who enjoys suffering, but many people have benefited from the growth that occurs as a result. Are you celebrating God and worshiping him in the midst of your pain or do you seek comfort by escaping it?

When suffering comes, you must move through the pain to the God who allowed it to come to fruition.  When you escape, you miss the comfort God gives in the midst of that pain.  Pain can remind us that we are not in control.  Pain results in growth and greater fruitfulness for God. We can worship God through music, prayer, God’s word and baptism. But we should also worship God in the midst of suffering and pain.

These seven non-negotiables are the basics for a solid Christian life, and if any of them are neglected, we will be the ones to pay not God. This will be your next step:

Now that you know what the non-negotiables are, sit down with God and meditate on the areas where you are taking good care of your spiritual life and then ask God to show you the areas where you need help. Soon you will begin to experience a healthier life-mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Journey letters for the week are R & Y - R for Revere, that we may worship God & Y for You because you have to do choose to live by these non-negotiables.

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