Marks of a True Christian

This blog post is a slightly longer one, but I encourage you to pray, read and meditate on the scriptures, set some time apart to think through it, and respond with what God spoke to you through this text and how we might apply some of these things to our lives. I read this passage this morning. The more I allowed God to speak to me through it and the more I wrote in response to it, the more I realized that it is kind of piggy backing off of Pastor Drew’s sermon this past 1st chapel.

In Romans 12:9-21 Paul talks about the marks of a true Christian. He instructs the Romans in their conduct by saying this:

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,t serve the Lord.12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.t Never be wise in your own sight.17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Yes, I used a corny heart picture, and I'm a guy... but it's a nice picture.

If we desire to live lives that will glorify God, then we must have a love that is genuine. This passages helped me see that the context of unity/harmony is loving others no matter what their condition or your condition is. We are not to discriminate against another person’s condition: poor or rich, young or old, white or black, male or female. When someone’s condition is sorrow, we are to weep with them. When someone’s condition is joy we are to be joyful with them. That is what it means to be unified. Under God, we are all a family. Each and everyone of us, designed and created by God in his image with unique gifts, are tied together through a God who loves us. We are to be there for one another and lift each other up.

Furthermore, we must ask ourselves if others look at us and see that we have a hope that can’t be acquired from anything in this world. When others look at us do they see us complaining because of the difficulties we are facing or do they see patience that goes beyond a person’s natural tendency to just want to shut down, mope around, or get angry? Are we constantly in conversation with God? No one is perfect and we all could work on these things. If we begin to meditate on that verse 12 alone and start living it out, then we will begin to reflect Christ more and others around us will want to know what it is about us that is different.

What makes that difference is God’s love working in us. If God’s love wasn’t in us, then we wouldn’t be able to combat the sin that our flesh and human nature desire, love others, do good beyond what the world considers good (ie. love your enemies), and live passionately. God’s love calls us to live above reproach and “overcome evil with good.” It is when we experience God’s love for us and come to know and have a greater revelation of God’s love for us, that we will begin to hate what is evil because it pulls us away from that love. When we know God intimately, we know what good is because he reveals his heart to us. God alone can give us eyes to see as he sees. God loves every person abundantly, so we are to love all even when we have the right not to in the eyes of this world.

What is truly good only flows out of real love. What’s good and what is evil does not change so we must change and become more loving. Real love conducts real living.

God, I pray that we would let nothing keep us from receiving your love and sensing it daily. I pray that we would extend your love towards others even when we have the right not to. I ask that you would just grant us grace as we fight against our natural desires and work towards what is good through the power of your Spirit. Thank you for calling me out of my sin and freeing me from it. I love you God. In the name of your son Jesus, through whom all who believe have been set free, I pray that you would seal this in the heart, soul, mind, and spirit of every person who reads this, including myself. Amen.

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A Devotional of John 15:8-11

John 15:8-11:

8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

A revelation of God’s love will not occur until we obey what He commands us to do in His word. Sin separates us from the love of God, but if we keep His commands, then we will be free from sin. We will always have sinful desires, but God helps us to remain in his love. It’s what you know about God and the magnitude of his relentless, abundant love that will determine fullness of joy and life. Once we experience that joy, our lives are never the same. It is a joy that is complete; therefore, we can’t help but change habits and things in our lives that interfere with it.

What are we to do to experience such a joy, bear fruit, and remain in God’s love?

  • Abide in scripture. God has already provided us with a written guide for our lives. As Pastor Chris said one Monday night chapel, “Just read it and do it.”
  • Die to your flesh daily and continually have a repentent heart.
  • Ask God to draw you closer to him. Really seek God out in prayer.
  • Do not ignore those times when the Holy Spirit is tugging on your heart.
  • Thank God for his grace and mercy.
  • Meditate on the fact that God is always with you. He is the closer than any friend, he always sees the best in us, and he is always interested in what we have to say.
  • Lastly, we bear fruit when we put your faith into action.

Dear God, I ask that you would remove everything in our lives that is keeping us from growing and bearing fruit. Help us to abide in you and remind us that without you we are nothing. I thank you for your grace, mercy, and patience as I look to you and your will.

May we always be obedient to God and in doing so be intimately connected to his love and joy, amen.

The Pursuit of Godliness: 1 Timothy 6

1 Timothy 6:6-11

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

When you know who you are in Jesus and what he has truly done for all mankind, then you will find contentment and it is one of the greatest assets of life. It means you do not have to live with fear, doubt, or worry because you know your eternity is secured in Jesus. “Godliness with contentment” is key to spiritual growth and personal fulfillment. We should honor God and center our desires on him, and we should be content with what God is doing in our lives.

Verse 7 tells us that “we brought nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out of it.” God is ultimately in control of our lives and His ways are a lot better than our own. He’s infinitely wise, he always has known the best way of going about things and always will. It is up to us to decide whether or not we will trust in His sovereignty. This is why God teaches about money. When a person gets so focused on money and develops a love for money, then he or she will be tempted in many different ways. This is why Jesus said that we cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24). We can either put our trust and dependency in God or in money.

Verse 11 tells us that serving God requires lifelong training, effort, and action. What is it here that Paul is telling Timothy to continually go after with all that he has?

  1. Righteousness – living in continual repentance, turning from what we know is wrong and turning to God
  2. Godliness – worshipping God for who he is and allowing Him to make us more like Him.
  3. Faith
  4. Love
  5. Endurance or patience
  6. Gentleness or meekness, which means having controlled strength

From verse 12 we learn that serving God means giving it all that you got because of the way the truth has impacted your life. “Fight the good fight” is used to describe the struggles of the Christian life. When you are fighting you are contending with adversaries. The word used here meant to enter into a contest like the athletic competitions Greeks would hold.  What do you want to do when you enter into games? “If you had fun then you won,” right? Wrong, when you contend you either win or you loose. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone wants to win because there is a little competitor in each of us.  Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV) says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

The devil wants to do everything he possibly can to keep you from pursuing God, but God has already won, we just have to believe in him and pursue godly character. Thank God that through Him we have the strength to overcome every temptation and struggle that we face (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called. In the pursuit never loose sight of the cross and never forget that moment when you allowed Jesus into your heart. When we confess our faith, we do what Jesus has already done. When we suffer for our faith, we undergo what Jesus has already undergone.

As Christians we should not be working to satisfy man, but working to satisfy Christ. Pursue God’s approval and not man’s because what you pursue will determine either your shortcomings or your growth in serving God.

A lot of people think Christianity is a passive religion that advocates waiting for God to act. But we must have an active faith, training, working hard, sacrificing, and doing what is right. Is it time for action on your part? Christian service like athletics requires training and sacrifice. Our discipline and obedience largely define whether or not we will be contributors or merely spectators. Don’t waste your life being a spectator. Take the initiative to pursue godliness. God loves you and he wants you to live in His contentment. So be a person who is full of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance or patience, gentleness or meekness and fight the good fight. Go after God with everything you have and let his love overflow from your life into others. When you do this you become a contender for Christ and the devil doesn’t stand a chance.

Lord, I pray that all of this would be so in each and everyone of us. I thank you that we can depend on you and trust in you. I thank you that you have gone ahead of us and reconciled us. Draw us closer to you each and every day. I pray this in the name of Jesus, amen.