Who Lives Your Life?
by Keith Whitehead
We often hear people make remarks like "I live my life to the full" or "No one tells me what to do" and so forth. Those who make such remarks are either worldly people or people whose attitudes are dominated by the world.
Following The World
Things are, or should be, very different for the Christian. Why? Simply because someone who is imitating Jesus cannot at the same time be imitating the world. Revelation 12.9 tells us two interesting facts. The first is that, when the ancient serpent, or Satan was defeated he was not consigned to hell but was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Secondly, we are told that Satan leads the whole world astray. Consequently, those who follow the world follow Satan. Perhaps not knowingly, nor willingly. But then, Satan cares little about how much people know or whether they would do what they do willingly if they knew differently!
What is the alternative? How do we guard ourselves against being misled? How do we avoid being duped by Satan?
Following Jesus = Following The Spirit
Every Christian has been given Jesus as his/her model. His is the example we follow - in everything!
This is not easy but it is something we have to keep pursuing. Now, in John's gospel Jesus makes a particular principle of his very clear. On several separate occasions he tells us that he never does anything except that it is in the Father's will for him (e.g. John 5. 19; 5. 30, 77. 16;8. 29). It is therefore our task to live as nearly as possible in the Father's will. It is no more than Jesus has instructed us. How do we do it?
Living Through The Spirit
We are given the Holy Spirit to be our mentor. A mentor is someone who guides us. He is wise and trusted advisor. Someone we can rely on totally to give us the very best direction in whatever circumstance we might find ourselves in, whatever problems and decisions we are faced with.
The Bible uses the term "Paraclete". (Some bibles use the term "Counsellor" as in John 14. 26) This is a Greek word and can sound a bit off-putting to us. But the Greeks had a type of boat which was sent out to ships which were in difficulties. It was called a paracletos, which gives us another insight into the intended role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Yet we do not have to be in difficulties before we can turn to the Holy Spirit for assistance. The example of Jesus is that we should seek the Spirit's guidance at every turn of our lives.
On the whole, what we see of Jesus in the gospels is his handling of the big things in his life. Yet the letter to the Hebrews tell us in chapter 5.7 - 8 that, through his prayer, Jesus learned to submit to the Father's will. In fact, his obedience came only through suffering.
We suffer whenever we have to bend our own will to that of someone else. We seem to have an inbuilt desire to do our own thing. And that is something the world encourages in us. Just take notice to a few TV adverts to see that.
Now, where other people are concerned, we can often argue that we know as well as they do. But where God is concerned we can never say that. Got always knows best - and even more, God's love for us is so pure that he never acts except in our best interest. Hence we can never do better for ourselves than to do what God wants us to do!!!
It's not always easy to hear God. In fact, there are two general situations. The first is when God speaks, as it were, without prompting. He just says something - and there is always something about that which marks it out from the usual kind of thoughts. Secondly, there are those times when we are asking God about something. Then it can be more difficult to hear him. If you meditate regularly on Scripture, you will soon get used to discerning his communications. (This is discussed at some length in my book "The Keys To Christian Mediation", but is rather too involved to detail in a short article)
If we have not tried to discern God's will for us on a daily basis, we should start small. Ask him about the small things first: if the forthcoming weekend is free, ask how to spend it; if thinking about buying a book, ask the Spirit whether or not you should - or which one, if there are alternatives. Small things like this.
Leave the bigger things until some experience has been gained. But the objective is to gradually bring the whole of one's life under the domain of the Spirit. Then he lead our life. We do not lead it ourselves. And it is all the better for that!
Rules for Pious Life
Archbishop Platon of Kostroma lived in 19th century Russia. This
article codifies the teachings of the Desert Fathers into guidelines we
can follow today.
Fear and Faith Cannot Occupy The Same Space
Prayer, in faith, is our greatest protection against all manner of evil that may present itself in any form. Prayer works for those who believe in their salvation in Christ Jesus, walk in the power of God, and call out His name in time of trouble.
Who Prays When You Pray?
When we pray, who does the praying? Almost any knowledgeable Christian will give the same response to that question. In fact, it is a questions which separates the
knowledgeable from the less knowledgeable Christian.