Friday, December 11, 2009

A Life Well Lived


How many of us turn to self-help books to learn how to live a life worthy of our Savior? We read books that teach us about boosting our self-esteem, managing our stress, being happy, loving well...the list goes on. I'm not knocking those books. Many are written by strong men and women of God and are very applicable to our spiritual growth; however, sometimes I think we forget that some of the best rules or principles for living come from the Word of God - the Bible.

On Guard

We are to be on guard in our lives. The Greek word for guard is grēgoreō, a verb which means:

1) to watch
2) metaph. give strict attention to, be cautious, active
a) to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one

If we are alert and at watch, we tend to give more caution to what we allow into our minds through books, television, movies, internet, music, etc. The media bombards us with sensationalism and it can really get us to thinking on the wrong things if we let it.

We also must guard those we are charged with protecting in our lives. From spouses to children, extended family and friends, we must take action and never be idle lest the devil gain a foothold in their lives.

A good way to guard is to read the Bible. Warning signs clearly given of things to stay away from will help us know how to pray to guard ourselves and others we love.

While God is our ultimate guard, we must, through the power of the Holy Spirit, guard our hearts in Christ so that we can guard not only ourselves but those we love.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." ~ Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Standing Firm

The Greek word for the phrase stand firm is stēkō. Also a verb, this means:

1) to stand firm
2) to persevere, to persist
3) to keep one's standing

We must take a stand for the things we know are right. While tolerance is preached in cotton candy churches and in the world, we know that we are not of the world. Sin can so easily entangle us if we let it creep into our lives. We must remain steadfast and persevere for God, living a life of purity and holiness, setting an example for the world around us, rather than becoming of the world around us.

The root word of stēkō, or standing firm, is histēmi. This verb means:

1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set
a) to bid to stand by, [set up]
1) in the presence of others, in the midst, before judges, before members of the Sanhedrin;
2) to place
b) to make firm, fix establish
1) to cause a person or a thing to keep his or its place
2) to stand, be kept intact (of family, a kingdom), to escape in safety
3) to establish a thing, cause it to stand
a) to uphold or sustain the authority or force of anything
c) to set or place in a balance
1) to weigh: money to one (because in very early times before the introduction of coinage, the metals used to be weighed)
2) to stand
a) to stand by or near
1) to stop, stand still, to stand immovable, stand firm
a) of the foundation of a building
b) to stand
1) continue safe and sound, stand unharmed, to stand ready or prepared
2) to be of a steadfast mind
3) of quality, one who does not hesitate, does not waiver

We have some great guidelines in the meanings above on how to stand fast and what it means to stand firm. I think I'll be following these a little more closely myself. I have found one show on television that I thought was a great show but alas, twas not to be. When a doctor on the show referred to God as a Christian's imaginary friend, I didn't even change the channel! How is that standing firm? I was ashamed. God is not to be mocked, yet I left it on a show that was mocking Him. What did that say about my standing firm? Oh, I fail. But through perseverance, I try again. No more "that show" for me.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." ~ Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Standing on Faith

We are to stand firm on the faith. We've heard about faith all our lives, that it's the belief in the unseen, that it's a hope that we have in God. Let's look at the Greek word for faith. Pistis means:

1) conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it
a) relating to God
1) the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ
b) relating to Christ
1) a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God
c) the religious beliefs of Christians
d) belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same
2) fidelity, faithfulness
a) the character of one who can be relied on

Faith is a strong thing! It's built on a strong conviction, and is not something to be taken lightly. If we don't have this strong faith in our life, what is the point of being on guard? And if we do have this strong faith in our lives, how can we not be on guard? We must be on guard and stand firm because of faith. Faith in God demands it.

"Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus." ~ 1 Timothy 3:13 (NIV)

Courage

As men and women of Christ, we are given this command to be of courage. The Greek word for courage is andrizomai. This verb means:

1) to make a man of or make brave
2) to show one's self a man, be brave

Bravery is not for the fainthearted. We must be of courage to tie all these things together. With the way the world is going, indeed it is a necessity. By our courage, we can show others our faith and perseverance, our standing firm and being on guard. Timidity has no place in the Christian faith. (Reverential awe does, but this is not about that right now.) How many stories have you read in the Bible about courage and bravery? Countless, no doubt. One of the bravest men I know is Paul. In chains he still preached the Word. I doubt if he turned on the television today that he would shake in his boots over rumors of swine flu (he was bitten by a snake and lived) or be kept up at night because there is talk of going to a one world currency. No! He would remain content, no doubt, and while praying for the moral depravity in the world, keep preaching the Word. We should be as brave.

Just as the Lord promised Joshua, we, too, can be men and women of courage, being on guard and standing firm on faith, because we know God is with us.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." ~ Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Strength in the Lord

We are also commanded to be strong. The Greek word for strength is the verb krataioō, which means:

1) to strengthen, make strong
2) to be made strong, to increase in strength, to grow strong

This isn't something learned overnight. A child who is baptized at 7 is still afraid of the dark. As he grows he learns that darkness isn't always a bad thing and in fact, comes to need it to sleep. Just as that child grows in strength, so should we.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." ~ Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)

Doing Everything with Love

Is that really possible? God seems to think so. We are commanded to do so in Scripture.

The Greek word for everything is pas. It means:

1) individually
a) each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
2) collectively
a) some of all types

The Greek word for love is agapē. It means:

1) affection, good will, love, benevolence, brotherly love
2) love feasts

It comes from the root word agapaō. This verb means:

1) of persons
a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly
2) of things
a) to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing

Do you struggle with tying all these things - being on guard, standing firm in faith, being men (or women) of courage, being strong - up with love? I do! It's hard to love the process you go through of learning to embrace that Scripture. Who loves pain? Not me. But I love what it makes me when I finally go through it.

Stretching those faith muscles and keeping this Scripture in your heart will be well worth it in the end.

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." ~ 1 John 3:18 (NIV)

Our love for others should be evident in the way we think, speak, write and serve.

Wrapping it Up

Questions for Reflection: Which part of the Scripture given above do you find the hardest? How can you make it easier? Through prayer, Bible reading, stretching and growing?

Verse of the Day: "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love." ~ 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)

Prayer: Father, as we learn how to be on our guard, standing firm in the faith, becoming men and women of courage and doing everything in love, we ask for Your help. Strengthen our hearts and our love for others and place within us a burning desire for living a life that is worthy of You, a life well lived. Impress upon our hearts the seriousness of Your Word and help us not to fear but to be encouraged because You reign victorious. May we do everything for Your glory, Lord, and not our own. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

A life well lived is an abundant life in Christ.

A - Accepting Christ as our Savior frees us from living life in the pit. "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." ~ Psalm 40:2 (NIV)

B - Believe that God has provided us with goodness, mercy, and everything we need to have love toward others. "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV)

U - Understand that God has a plan for our lives and the lives of those we love - a good plan! "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~ Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

N - Never lose sight of the prize set before us - eternal life. "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

D - Deny wrong earthly desires we feel and fix our eyes upon Jesus. "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." ~ Galatians 5:16 (NIV)

A - Admit our sins to God and keep a short account them. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." ~ 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

N - Never forget that God delights in us and in those we love. "the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." ~ Psalm 147:11 (NIV)

T - Trust God to provide His goodness for us. "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living." ~ Psalm 27:13 (NIV)


L - Let our attitude be one that exudes confidence in God, during hard times and good times. "The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever." ~ Isaiah 32:17 (NIV)

I - Identify with God, not the world. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." ~ Romans 12:2 (NIV)

F - Fill our lives with the fruit from the Vine - the fruit of the Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." ~ Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

E - Eagerly share Christ's love with other believers, spurring them on toward an abundant life in Christ. "He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." ~ Mark 16:15 (NIV)
Note: this post originally ran on 5/27/09.



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4 comments:

Shannon said...

I LOVE your post! I am guilty of reading self-help books!!

I am reading and studying His word more and more but still having trouble with bad habits (cleaning the house, laundry, dishes, CHOCOLATE, that sort of thing!!). So I am currently reading "Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight" by Karen Scalf Liname (can you say I have bad habits all over the place!!!).

Saleslady371 said...

Hi, Laurie Ann:
I find it hard to stand in faith a long time in a long trial. But that is when faith is refined.

JesusRulzMe said...

Hey there twinny, twin!

L-o-n-g time no visit...waaaay too long. I have truly missed you sister and think/pray for you often. ♥

Due to my crazy health these past 6 years and continuing decline this past year...well, I've found it difficult to share what God's teaching me, let alone have strength (and the mind) to visit and comprehend (so that I can truly appreciate) all that God speaks through precious sisters like you.

I'm so thankful to the Lord for giving me a renewed mind and strength in Christ Jesus, so that I might encouraged by faithful writings like what you wrote today! HALLELUJAH!

I found myself saying "Amen" pretty much after every sentence! :-) We SO need to hear and LIVE more of what God has given you to faithfully share today; stand on God's word, not the world's psychology, don't compromise God's majesty and holy reverence due Him simply b/c "most" of what we're watching, reading or listening to "seems" good. We must always remember, God alone is good; therefore, anything absent of God, is absent of good. It may be nice, entertaining and make us feel good, but w/o God all things fail to qualify to be "good".

I could go on and on (and it seems I have, LOL), but I'll stop here. It's just been so refreshing to visit you again and such a tremendous blessing.

I love you so much my precious twin in Jesus Christ our Lord.

♥,
Sunny

Pia said...

i was guilty of reading self help books years ago but not anymore. God has taught me to trust in Him and Him alone. love this very informative post.

God bless you, laurie ann.