Getting Back Up: Staying up

Picture 1Over the past few posts, we have been examining some fundamental, biblical truths about the restoring work of Christ. Last post, we considered the importance of delighting in Scripture and its relationship to spiritual transformation.

Today I want to focus on three more fundamental truths/commands that believers must follow if they desire to live consistently in the joy of the Lord and in fellowship with Him.

PRAYER

Volumes of books could be written on this topic, so I will just make one suggestion that I have found to be quite helpful. Believers should combine Scripture reading and prayer, not keep them separate.

Ephesians 6:18 reminds us of this second vital truth that should be coupled with one’s absorption of God’s Word.

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

All times” in this context means in every season. We should not merely pray when a crisis or emergency occurs.

“With all prayer” should be understood as every kind of prayer. Whatever you read in Scripture each day, if possible try to respond to the passage with a prayer. As you open your Bible, don’t divorce your Bible reading from prayer.

Kneeling PrayerEvery passage will spawn a kind of prayer, whether that is intercession, thanksgiving, adoration, humiliation, and confession.  Approach Scripture with reverence, thanking the Lord.  Then proceed to seek change by repenting of how you fall short, and then move to petition, asking the Lord for the power and grace to do His will for His glory.

This discipline will keep you from wasting time in prayer, because Scripture is entirely truthful. Praying Scripture should also enhance your knowledge of God’s Word, because it should force you to really understand the passage in order to pray its real meaning.  And when you pray the Bible, it is really quite difficult to run out of praying material!

HUMILITY

James 4:6

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

We live in a culture that tries to cultivate self-pride as a way to turn in a right direction.  Most shopping experiences are built around making you feel good about yourself. Unless you think highly of yourself, you can’t be or do what you are supposed to do.

God says, you take that path of pride, and He will be opposed to you.

PrideHumility is our greatest friend, just like pride is our greatest enemy. If we really want to enjoy the blessing of God–His grace, then we have to be committed to humility. Followers of Christ need to be engaged in the process of actively tearing down the foolish imaginations that are in our mind that cause us to be prideful. We must do that because we want grace and not God’s opposition.

At the core principle of humility is a right view of self in relation to God.

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned (Romans 12:3).”

We are to think of ourselves in a way that is sound. That judgment is only properly done in relationship to God, not His creatures. We don’t compare ourselves to other people; we compare ourselves to God.

Pride is assuming about ourselves that we possess God-like privileges. We think our knowledge is superior, or we think that we are able to handle life (I Corinthians 8:1-2).   We look at what we know compared to other people, and we think we are better.

Yet God alone is worthy to be worshipped and served. Pride is when we assume we deserve service or good treatment. Humility is recognizing our insignificance, wickedness and weakness. I like that because the truth is that you and I in the big picture of things are nothing! Isaiah reminds us that all the great men of the world are like grassphoppers, and the nations like a drop in the bucket (Isaiah 40:21-26).  May our hearts be genuinely humbled before God as we seek to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

REPENTANCE

Repentance is not one of the minor matters of the Christian life. It is not for just a random occurrence. Repentance should be a daily matter.

I John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

Repentance 1Believers must confess their sin and seek God’s view on their sin through Scripture. It is a 180 degree change of one’s mind about their sin and a move in the opposite direction to God’s will.  If believers see their need to repent and follow through, God will be faithful and just to dismiss their sin completely out of hand, and out of consideration.

Why is God’s faithfulness and justice highlighted in I John?  I think in part it is because we tend to think that, having been defeated by sin’s temptation time and again, it would be just for God to punish us and stop forgiving us. It would seem fair that our continual lack of worship would be grounds for God to push us away.  It would be just for God to leave us to our own devices. But the Bible says, God’s salvation is such, that He can be just, and justify ungodly people (Roman 3:26). God can be just in His dealings with the ungodly based on one condition—faith and repentance in Christ.

This is possible with Jesus having taken the place of every believer on the cross, and having rendered a full equivalent to the divine wrath for all that his people deserve to suffer.

Our hope lives not because we abstain from sin, but that we are sinners for whom Christ died. Our trust isn’t that we are holy, but that being unholy, Jesus is our righteousness.

We are to live at the foot of the cross. May we always embrace Christ and His work on our behalf. Be ensured that the work of Christ makes our sins whiter than snow (Isaiah 1:18). God is not hesitant to forgive you.  In fact, God says to come boldly and confidently before Him.

Don’t say to yourself you have no sin. But if you will confess your sins, He will be faithful and just to dismiss your sins and cleanse you from all righteousness (I John 1:9).

UttermostJesus has done all these great things for us while we were His enemies, full of pride and arrogance, rejecting His authority over our lives.

May we be thankful that Jesus humbled Himself and was a servent for our sake and the Father’s glory. May our attention be taken off ourselves and on to our Savior, so that we may recognize that He alone has the right to rule and demand our worship.