22 Nov An Intentional Faith Living
Brothers and sisters, our determination can come with great power. When we set our minds to have fun, no matter how busy we may be, we will try to find time for leisure. And needless to say for our personal desires, we do not need to force ourselves to fulfil it and it will be done through our own will. However, for the moulding and sanctification of our spiritual life, do we put in that same amount of determination? Even though God has personally seek us out and redeem us, this does not mean that our faith should be a passive one. But let us also not misunderstand it as using human will to do things. It is true that when it comes to matters of salvation, it can only be done by the Lord’s intervention and conviction in a person’s spirit. But when it comes to matters of sanctification, for those of us who are already born again in Christ, we can have an intentional approach to the way we pursue the Lord and make every effort to lead a blessed life.
Now to become a faithful servant of the Lord, it does not happen by chance but because the person has the heart to live out a life that is in sync with the gospel after receiving Christ. That is how there is gradual and genuine growth in men’s spirit. God’s word guides us here in a few verses. Ephesians 4:1 “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” And in James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Then in Matthew 7:21 ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” After we have receiving His grace, the Lord would also want us to have a faithful response. If a believer assumes that after receiving Christ he does not need to continually seek the Lord in all things, and only expect to be convicted by God by being passive, he will very soon return to the state he was before receiving Christ and lead a seemingly God-less lifestyle. If one only listens to the word of God but does not have the intention to live it out, this does not please the Lord. Actually, when a person believes in Christ, he or she will immediately enter a warfare between flesh and spirit. If we do not have a set-apart and intentional heart to hate our sins and wrestle with the flesh, we will be powerless before the attacks of Satan and be too crippled to follow the Lord. However, James 4:7-8 says “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” When we intentionally seek to be sanctified, have the heart to follow God’s leading in our living, we will then enjoy the abundance of life that God wants to bless us with.
How do we lead an intentional faith living?
In fact, when a person has heard the Lord’s word and is frank with themselves, they would see the need and take action to deal with their flesh, living according to the truth. Therefore, an intentional faith living will definitely bring about practical actions. If we merely listen but do not act on it, there will not be any genuine transformation or fruits bearing from our spirits. We are born with weaknesses and carnal inclinations, thus if we do not stick closely to the Holy Spirit, we will be easily manipulated by the flesh. Of course, the Holy Spirit is living and can work in different ways to convict us on how to intentionally lead a blessed living, but below are a few areas that we can put it more heart and effort as we pursue life that goes after the Lord.
1. Be intentional about starting the day in a blessed way.
Especially the moment we wake in the morning, take time to think about the Lord, face Him, and communicate with Him. Also, spend time reading God’s blessed word for us, allowing His truth to flow through our thought system, becoming the guiding voice for the rest of our day.
2. Be intentional about discovering the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
Ephesians 5:10 says “Find out what pleases the Lord.” And Galatians 5:16 says “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Our hearts are prone to be taken over by what pleases us and we will very quickly surrender to our needs and desires. Therefore, we have to be even more intentional about the Holy Spirit’s conviction, lest we let it be drowned out. In order to be more sensitive and aware of the Holy Spirit’s conviction, we can:
– Find some pockets of time throughout our entire day to “step out” and look to God, seeking His clear voice in our present.
– Intentionally set up a blessed environment for ourselves. For example, displaying some verses that touches our hearts in our office bulletin board or as our handphone wallpaper, and if possible, listening to worship songs in the background as we do our work, catching up on gospel messages or sermons as we commute in the morning or evening. When we intentionally immerse ourselves with what is blessed, we will naturally be more sharp in detecting the Holy Spirit’s conviction and be more motivated to follow the Lord.
3. Be intentional about choosing the path that obeys the Lord after we have understood His will.
Finally, brothers and sisters, we have to be intentional about the choices we make because we are responsible for them. In our spiritual battle between flesh and spirit, we can make a choice and choose the way that submits to the Holy Spirit, not our carnal desires. Just as how Moses told the Israelites, in Deuteronomy 30:19-20 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” If we have received the Lord’s grace, received the indwelling and help of the Holy Spirit, and know God’s will, but do not make the choice that pleases the Lord, then we will have to bear the consequences that comes with that choice. And especially since living out the truth is harder than just listening to the truth, we definitely have to be more intentional about how we “strike a blow to our body and make it our slave” <1 Corinthians 9:27>, instead of letting it become our bondage.
Brothers and sisters, if we truly want to bear fruits in our spirits, we have to be faithful in relying and submitting the the Lord. This means that we cannot lead a passive and complacent faith living, but one that is intentionally “working out our salvation with fear and trembling.” <Philippians 2:12>