May 10, 2014.
Today I want to talk about practical ways to live the Christian walk. Over the past few months we have discussed more theology than practicality, and sometimes I believe we can get too caught up into the words of Christ and forget about the application. There have been many times in my life where I have come together with people to discuss problems, solutions and bible, but then leave the group just to go back to all things normal and not change anything. I have come up with five practical things we can all do to grow our faith and walk in the light. This is a progressive list, meaning you might not want to implement them all at the same time. If this is new, start out slow and build. Start with the first (and maybe the second if you are ambitious) point and steadily add the next points. If you have already mastered some of the points, focus on the ones that you haven’t (but sill work more on the ones you have). Whatever you do, I only ask you do one thing: don’t give up.
Five Practical Ways to Live the Christian Life:
1. Set aside daily time for prayer and praise.
This one can be a stickler for some, including me. I am very well versed in reading the bible (no pun intended), but ask me about my prayer life and you will see a different person. I have been working a lot on this, and it has improved. The best piece of advise I can give to you is to not give up. Just keep praying. Start out small. Set aside 10 minutes at first. Pray, sing, praise, meditate. Do what you need to do. 10 minutes can seem daunting at first, but over time you will find that it isn’t enough time. Once you build your relationship with the Father, it will become easier to talk to Him. Think about your Father or Mother or child. Would it be enough time if you just got to spend 10 minutes a day with them? If it is hard to spend this time with the Father, pray about it. Just talk to God about what you are struggling with. Don’t make it a formal thing or an obligation. Talk with Him.
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”
2. Read the Word.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
This is a big one for me. If you want to grow in faith, you have to read. There is no more time to make excuses, no more “I just don’t have time.” Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. This may be hard to believe, but I can assure you this is true. I urge you to find a reading plan if you do not already have one. Plans make things happen. I was once told that if a date wasn’t set, then whatever it was you were going to do was not going to happen. These words are very true. If you are going to do something, there can be no ambiguity about it. Find a reading plan, and stick to it, even if it seems like an obligation at first. The word of God is no ordinary book. It is the word of life. You will be enriched. Your faith will grow. Reading the word is necessary to mature in Christ. No more excuses.
3. Build your relationship with the family.
Once you get the first two points started, I would suggest you start building relationships with other Christians. No man is an island, and the church was established for a reason. This reason was not just so we have something to do on Sunday morning. Christ died for the church, do you think he would care if you don’t care for her? Christ and the church cannot be separated, no matter how much mainstream American Christianity tells you otherwise. We are the bride of Christ, and we are meant to be together. I cannot tell you how much I have learned this lesson over the past two years. I now better understand the relationship we are to have with one another, helping and encouraging each other at all times. Spirtiual growth is catalyzed by others who are trying to grow alongside you. More on this later.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
4. Don’t be afraid to talk religion!
It is often said there are two things you don’t talk about: Religion and Politics. I reject this notion, at least half of it (I could not care much less about politics). Don’t be afraid to talk about religion. Don’t ever be afraid to talk about Jesus. Don’t be afraid to talk about doctrine. As with the point above, we grow in community. If you don’t discuss spirituality with people, you will not grow very fast. Do you know why we have such a technology boom today? It is because of the exchange of ideas and communication across the world. This boom started with the printing press, when ideas were made accessible to more and more people back in the 17th century (don’t quote me on that date, it was somewhere around then). The same thing works with religion. We learn by discussion. Start asking questions. Incorporate Jesus into your daily conversations. This will be really weird at first, but in the end you will be blessed by it.
“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice.”
5. Find an accountability partner.
This again is one that I don’t like. But I don’t like it because it works. If you set out to do something, it is always more likely to get done if you have someone to answer to. Do you want to read more? Find someone who will follow the reading plan with you. Do you want to pray more? Find someone who will hold you accountable. Did you mess up? Find someone to confess to. Again, we grow in community. Jesus sent them out two by two for a reason. We are made for relationships. We disciple through relationships. We need relationships. Whenever Paul set out on missionary journeys he always had someone go with him. Now if Paul, the Paul, needed someone to go on a missionary journey, what does that say to us? Being held accountable is not a bad thing. It will help us grow.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Again, this may seem like a daunting list at first, but just break it down and work on it little by little. The important thing is that you see progress. And this is by no means comprehensive. There are many other practical ideas out there. I hope this helps someone out there, as I hope it helps me. May God bless our walk.
Suggested Daily Reading: James 1-5.
The Lord grant you peace.