Living For Christ Must Become Personal


The remnant that lives in a state of seriousness for God discovers through time that maturing in Christ is a process that helps us understand what life is all about. The phases and levels of learning to know God and to learn about human behavior can hardly be grasped by the young novice. The spiritual life can be seen as an interstate highway that leads us to a specific destination. There are blessings that can be found in the “rest areas” but there can also be the dangerous temptation to build our home there. As we have said before, each person is a unique individual and this includes their own measurement of wisdom and spiritual containment. As God used the expression of being filled with His Spirit, the concept can be realized that if our heart is like a container there are endless percentages of amounts stored within our mind and conscience. There seems to be no limit to how much we can absorb and this encouragement to continue being filled also allows us to notice that possibly we can likewise lose some of His presence if we discontinue the filling process. In this light we can see how crucial it is to not only press toward the mark of becoming filled with Him – but also to STAY filled. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be FILLED with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5: 18-21) Allow us to continue with looking more carefully at this passage.

When Paul preaches to be “filled” with the Spirit, he is referring to the Holy Spirit and in accordance to God’s Word this is not an option. The Bible is not a book of suggestions but rather a daily instruction manual about how to become what Christ died for us to be. The reason why most people live in a state of lukewarm spiritual mediocrity is because they refuse to obey God’s demands and commands. These verses begin with comparing alcohol consumption and the “feelings” of intoxication with being filled with God’s presence and the overwhelming joy this brings us. He goes on to reveal the secrets of how we can encourage ourselves by confessing God’s Word out loud and worshipping Him in Spirit and truth. We notice that he is trying to explain to us that we do not need to wait on someone else to sing or preach – we must take the initiative to approach God on our own. Why? Because our relationship is not based on a public service or corporate meeting, it is grounded on the intimacy of PERSONAL love and adoration. Without this personal relationship with Him there is no being “filled” with Him and without His anointing and power He is not able to use us to accomplish His will. Paul concludes with the importance of being grateful to God which is connected with humility and meekness and this provides the attitude that allows us to be submissive not only to the Father but also to one another in the reverential fear of God. All of this (which is Christian living) can only happen when we desire to be emptied of self and filled with His Spirit.

No one can take God seriously while also being absorbed with their own life. Selah. This time it is not Paul speaking but Jesus Himself, “No man can serve two masters: either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mathew 6: 24) There are only two masters in this life – God and our will. There are many idols that are associated with the devil but even Satan himself can only become our master if our will allows him to be. This verse is specifically referring to money and materialism but definitely not being limited as the only other “master.” Most people do not think of what they love as having anything to do with serving something or someone. This is because they fail to remember that the external temptations and idols of this life are not really what is causing us to become a servant – it is our will that is the true captain of our ship. Until we allow Christ to govern every part of our being, it is our will that is the commander and chief executive officer of our life. All of the other lust and desires that capture our attention are only entertaining our rebellious nature. The truth that most people do not consider is that until the Christian life becomes “ultimately” personal there will be very little spiritual transformation!

I want us to go deeper into this thought of Christ becoming personal and I would like for us to turn to John the nineteenth chapter. In this section we read about the exchanges between Jesus and Pilate, the crucifixion of Christ and eventually his death. In verses 25 through 27 we notice that His mother Mary did not run away but rather bravely is seen standing by the cross in the emotional trauma of agony while watching her innocent child be tortured. I want us to think for a minute about just how PERSONAL this event was for the mother of Jesus. Everything she had experienced and seen in the past 33 years was beyond human understanding as she had been so blessed to have been chosen to give birth to the Son of God. She had been completely convinced in her mind, heart and spirit that Jesus was God and there were so many miracles that proved who He was she could hardly remember them all. Her life was NEVER THE SAME after she “conceived” and began to carry Jesus as He became and remained the “center” of her being. Do you see where I am going with this? Only when we become filled with God and He becomes the focus of our existence can we “give birth” to Him! He cannot be expressed or released within us until we are overflowing with Him! He did not grow inside of Mary to remain hidden within her – He came to be a ransom for sin and to be launched into the world to do His Fathers will. Likewise, salvation is not for us to have Him live within us and remain hidden because of our fear and lack of faith but His desire is for us to be FILLED to the point of overflowing with His presence so that THROUGH US He might accomplish not OUR will but HIS will!

After Jesus died, was buried and rose again, I want us to continue thinking about His mother and His disciples. We notice in today’s world when something tragic happens to a child that sometimes the mothers will turn to the legal system or even congress to try and pass a law that will promote awareness or might prevent a crisis from happening with another child. Why is this? Because the mother has taken the event so personal that it is ALL she can think about. Those who are directly affected by tragedy do not take what happened lightly neither does the impact of the reality fade away quietly. When the mother of Jesus went back to the routine of everyday life after Jesus eventually went back to heaven, do you believe she just stopped talking about God’s plan of saving mankind? Do you think her memories were that Jesus was just a good kid that was passionate about religion? Definitely not! She was CONSUMED with God’s plan of salvation and was POSSESED with His divine truth that she knew was real and the cure to redeem all those who would believe. Yes, of course she was a fanatic and I’m sure she could hardly think of anything else but my question is; why are we not the same way? For one reason, we do not think about what happened to Jesus in the same personal way she did. He was not our child but was someone else’s the same way we do not feel the deep sorrow when we see those mothers on TV pleading their case before the world. It is because these are not our children and these problems do not directly affect us. We are not dealing with these specific difficulties so we are not as concerned or interested. However, for example if our teenager was killed by a drunk driver we would want to speak with the president of the United States to see if he could do something about how to “fix” this from happening again as an honor to the innocent one who tragically lost their life. It seems that Christianity has become a sleepy addition to our already hectic lifestyle and instead of us being fervently passionate about Jesus and the burden for souls, we are intimidated and embarrassed to be an aggressive messenger of His gospel. It would seem that if God lived inside of us, and we had the opportunity to release Him to the world, this would be the most ultimate PERSONAL experience and “mission” anyone could have! There is no doubt our will is so strong and dominating that it has threatened us to keep this “extremist” business under strict control. Another question is; will we ever become so determined to be a radical Christian that we discipline our will into submission? Do we really desire to be “led” by His Holy Spirit or is this just a religious thing to say that makes us seem spiritual?

I have been noticing lately how that many companies are using graphic skins on their vehicles. These computer images are pretty awesome advertisements and supposedly do not damage the finish on the paint. I have been considering having it done to my vehicle with a theme of the crucifixion and have actually mentioned it lately to a few people I know. The response so far has been surprisingly negative because they would not want everyone staring at them. I thought that it had the potential to reach out to thousands of people and possibly could be used as a powerful witness that could bring conviction and salvation to those who see it. I am surprised that I have not seen anything like this already and evidently it is because of the same reasons. We do not feel ashamed to wear a shirt with our church name on it or even our seminary where we went to school or even a cross around our neck. Many people place small bumper stickers or emblems on the back of their vehicles that contain spiritual messages however, I guess that covering your car completely with the gospel would be a little “extreme” but is that not what we have been called to be? How much courage would it take for someone to stand on the corner of the street with their Bible and begin to share the gospel? Now brother, people would think you have lost your mind! Do you not have any pride or concern about your integrity and are you not caring that people will laugh and make fun of you? Oh, I get it, we are embarrassed to be seen being a fool for God. We are afraid that people will not respect us anymore because they will think we are an out of control, unstable, weird, scary, religious extremist. I realize that we do not really need to do anything to show that we are Christians except to actually live like one, but it does make you think about just how much more we could do to tell the world about Jesus. I have mentioned this before, but what if we knew Jesus we coming this Friday, would we do anything more than we would normally do? Jesus knew what His mission was and He also knew the condition of the world. He did not have any time to waste and realized that the more He preached and performed miracles the more people would be able to know God. This is why He taught on the hillsides and from the boats that were docked on the shore. He was completely absorbed with His mission and did not care what people thought of Him. He was never intimidated and did not allow the mocking unbelievers to scare Him away or prevent Him from doing His Fathers will. This has caused me to wonder just how far we are willing to go with our witness. Are we a person who thinks that having a cross on our keychain is pushing the envelope or are we building courage to become a “sold-out” radical that lets go of everything and gives their life completely to God?

Have you ever been driving down the road and saw an individual carrying a large wooden cross? A couple of times in my life I have actually seen someone doing this and I have to admit I was awestruck. As I drove by my heart was pierced with emotion and in my shock I was immediately reminded of Christ and convicted that I did not have the courage to do something like this. So what causes someone to build a large cross, put it on their shoulder and begin to carry it through town? It’s simple; Jesus has become so personal to this person that the burden for souls has become a “life-changing” revelation. There are levels of desire and concern and when our love becomes a burning passion WE WILL do something out of the ordinary! It is NOT knowledge that causes us to become a radical disciple – it is being set on fire! We are supposed to be a “peculiar” people and I believe that includes willing to be a fool for God and not caring about our reputation but more concerned about being a representative!

When we draw from the wells of our soul, we tap into the deepest most “personal” places of our being. Within each human conscience there are rooms and closets of secret compartments which hold thoughts that many times are never revealed or exposed. It is in these chambers of our mind that we come to terms with what we believe is true and allow our trust and love to be developed. It is in these hallowed halls of intimacy that God desires to have access and to bring His penetrating light of truth. Our heavenly Father does have an agenda and that is to literally possess us. If we can ever become determined to harness our free-will and allow Him to set-up His Kingdom within us, He can freely take control and complete His will through us. This can only happen when we become tenacious to please Him and become saturated with love for Him. The definition of tenacious is; “Steady persistence in a course of action, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement. Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” “Lord, give us passion to become tenacious for you, amen.”

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