This a re-post (with some edits) of an article that was originally posted under the title, “Don’t Distract Me: I’m Living for the Lord!” in April 2012. I happened across this post as I did some general ‘house cleaning’ and I believe it was for a reason and for this season. The seasons of nature come and go each year and it’s so with our spiritual seasons. I pray this blesses and encourages you in this season.
Time: it’s that essential but limited element we long for in our lives. We’re ever in need of more of it but can never find enough. Yet, God desires a person who dedicates, not part, not most, but all of one’s life, desires and time to Him. How is such a seemingly impossible task to be completed? How can we ever succeed? Living for the Lord entails a dedicated mind, heart and soul – it’s hard but, with God all things are possible.
“Living for the Lord” it sounds like the title to a song or book doesn’t it? You can almost say it is – for we are living scriptures or as Paul said, “living epistles” being written out before the eyes of the world. How our story ends is determined by how we live.
Jesus said that I come, not to condemn but to give you life, and that more abundantly. An abundant life is a life that is full – plentiful in faith and faithfulness.
God is faithful. In other words, He is a surety, a sure thing, fixed, immutable – unchanging in His thoughts or love. What a God! Man on the other hand is ever changing. We are mercurial by nature, physically and emotionally. In the natural, we grow from infancy to childhood and on to adult hood and then to old age. We change in our opinions and beliefs and affections. In being true to our nature, we are faithless to one another, to ourselves and to God.
David declared, O man, thou art wretched and Paul the apostle despised the wretched man that he was. Yet, one man was a man after God’s own heart and the other He used to evangelize a whole generation of people! One man was faithless to his friend, his wife and country by committing murder while the other was faithful to his faith and the law by laying waste to the church. But they had this in common: they were always faithful to God.
Let’s look at Paul for an example. This man had a single-minded determination to destroy all that was (in his view) in opposition to God and God’s law. Remember, it was the law that the Jews lived by; it was their connection to God and it was all they knew to be true. Paul did not know of this Jesus whom the traitorous believers of Christ, was proclaiming to be the Messiah. Paul was a zealot. He was zealous for the Law of Moses and God and he was determined to defend the faith: he was focused and would not be distracted from his purpose to cleanse the house of Israel.
But, God had other plans for Paul. He first chastened him then freed him from this mind set and used Paul’s single-mindedness to His advantage. Later, Paul declared that (as a result of his service to God) he’d been beaten, in danger of his life, in danger of the deep, in danger of robbers, naked, hungry, in danger of his country man and of the infidels. And still, he willingly poured out his life as a drink offering to God.
This is a stark contrast to modern day Christians. We, who have greater avenues for learning, enjoy amenities such as running water, electricity and the like, erroneously believe that because we attend church every Sunday or attend Bible study regularly, that we’re living for the Lord! How foolish we are, how childish, how unfocused.
Living for the Lord is not a complex undertaking. Really, it’s not. But, it does take time, a life time in fact. It is a lifetime of dedication to God, which requires the full dedication of the soul, heart and mind to that one purpose. Such dedication is what is difficult because we have a tendency to rely on our flesh (the carnal man) in our attempts to produce spiritual fruit. It’s like trying to demolish a skyscraper with a hammer! It can’t be done!
An illustration of the disparity between focused and unfocused living can be found in a closer examination of our approach to knowing scripture. It is the Word of God and yet I have known many people in my life (Christians all) who have uttered these words, “I may not be able to quote scriptures but I know the Lord,” or “I don’t know the Bible like I should but I’m walking with the Lord.” These are paradoxical statements to be sure. We cannot know the Lord or walk with Him if we don’t know His word.
The Bible proclaims that, “In the beginning was the word and the word was God” further it reads, “and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among men” – this is found in St. John, the first chapter. I didn’t have to look in a Bible to know this because I’ve read and studied the scripture so many times, it’s ingrained. Can I tell you every verse, chapter and quote verbatim all the time? No. But, “the Word I have hidden in my heart”. Beloved it’s what we know that determines how we’ll live.
If the Word of God is not planted in our hearts, how do we know how to live? How can we share our faith? How can we fight the flesh demons, the mind demons and Satan who come to destroy us if we don’t know the Word of God? We can’t. We could tread water at best but sooner or later we’d tire, sink and drown.
God said, “My people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.” This is why it’s important for us to study our Bibles daily. Spot reading a verse here or there is an excellent way to begin the habit of picking up our Bible every day, however, it won’t be enough to fight and defeat the adversary of our souls. Satan isn’t going to pick on us a little and leave us alone, he hates us as much as he hates God and he wants us dead!
If a thief came into your home at night and attacked you unaware and you knew it was fight or death, wouldn’t you fight him with all of your might? Beloved, Satan is a thief and a liar, he’s not playing games. He’s playing for keeps. He knows that his time is at hand and he wants to destroy us. We’ve got to turn off the TV, leave off the games, vacate the computer chair and get focused!
Where our time is spent most that is where our hearts lie. Let’s study the Word of God as if our lives depends on it – because it does.
My quotes are not verbatim in this post and I did not provide the book(s), chapter and verse because I set my self the task of using the Word I’ve come to know without physically referring to the Book. It is possible to saturate yourself in the Word of God by simply reading it (or hearing it) daily. As a result, I know when someone approaches me with an untruth because I know the truth of God’s word. I can share my faith without fear that I’m saying the wrong thing. I can stand on the Word of God when the tempter comes to attack my mind – and you better believe he comes. When I need comfort the Word of God is there, when I need strength, He’s there, when I need to hear His voice – beloved, He’s there! God is His Word, the Word is God and it is alive. We must know it to live.
Jesus fought Satan in the wilderness with the Word of God. He did not quote scripture, author, date or time, he simply said, “It is written…” That’s enough. We’ve got to know that it is written, what’s written and hold on to it. This is one way we can begin to effectively live for the Lord.
Beloved I promise this, if you focus on Him, you’ll come to know God in ways you never knew was possible.