Here are some tips from Paul for living a life of discipleship. Paul’s affection for his readers spills over for us. You and I are his joy and crown. His desire is for us too to stand firm in the Lord. So, how do we?
Crucially, remember that it’s ‘done’, not ‘do’. You came to faith by trusting that ‘His blood avails for me’. Don’t start making a list of things you need to do in order to earn your salvation. Giving enough money, praying enough prayers, singing the right songs, attending church, being baptised, being confirmed, taking communion. Most of that is good but don’t let your faith become about rules and regulations, more concerned to satisfy man rather than God.
Don’t trust in your own background, pedigree, experience, track record, brilliance, wisdom, insight etc. You haven’t got it all together. Learn to depend upon Him.
Whose life are you living for? Your own or Christ’s? Whose reputation? Whose priorities? Whose Kingdom? Whose will? Whose righteousness do you trust in: your own - that which is given to you by others – the way others view you, their opinion of you; or, that which comes simply by faith in Jesus? What shapes your identity: your position, reputation, achievements - or knowing Christ Jesus as Lord?
What is your priority in life? What does it really mean to you to know Christ? Do you know Him? Do you know what it’s like to share in his sufferings? Some of you may well have experience of being mocked for your faith, insulted, ostracised, penalised, harassed, excluded. Probably few of us reading these notes will have been beaten but many of us will know of others who have been and have even given their life for no other ‘crime’ than knowing Jesus.
Is your foot now off the pedal? Have you been running the race but have run out of steam? Have you lost hope of there being more than you have already experienced? Are you weary and heavy laden? You need to run. Press on. Don’t look back. There is more. Really. Press on towards the goal. That prize for which God has called you heavenwards to win is within reach. Stretch out your hand. Gird those loins. Run.
Join with others. Find partners in the race. Pray with them, encourage them, help them back to their feet, be their pacemaker. Choose your role models with care. Those whose minds and attention are set on wanting to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.
Wait expectantly and eagerly. Remember: your citizenship is defined by heaven and you are being transformed into His likeness day by day.
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Memory verse: ‘I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things’.