“Our continual mistake is that we do not concentrate upon the present day; the actual hour of our life. We live in the past or future, we are continually expecting the coming of some special hour when our life shall unfold itself in its significance. And we do not observe that life is flowing like water through our fingers, sifting like precious grain from a loosely fastened bag. –Alexander Elchaninov Diary of a Russian Priest
The clock ticks. Each breath breathed and each moment spent passes like the dew in the morning. We have a tendency to dwell on past mistakes that we regret: “I should have been a better husband.” “If only I could go back in time, I would have focused more on my academics.” “I wish I would have stuck to that New Year’s resolution.” Or we focus on the future, hoping that one day our life will be significant. “When I get a job, I will be happy.” “When I graduate from college then I will be approved by others.”
What all of us should be focusing on is what am I doing with my life now? How will my decisions today affect my relationship with God and others? There are 4 principles that I would like to address that will hopefully help you live a life of victory.
1. Pursue fellowship with God -The Lord’s first commandment was “not to have other gods that took his place.” Why is that? Because when we replace our pursuit of God with idols (entertainment, pleasure, money, success) we end up broken-hearted. Why? Because these idols don’t end up saving us from the emptiness we experience inside. That void is supposed to be filled by God because He is the only one sufficient enough to satisfy your desire for joy and wholeness.
How does one pursue God? Just like any relationship, you must get to know God’s character first. Psalm 19 says that the heavens declare the glory of God and Romans 1 states that His invisible attributes are clearly shown in nature: the power of the lion roaring in the jungle, the intricate details of the blades of grass, and the innumerable stars that suspend in the grand cosmos. All of these examples are just signs that point us to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
Moreover, God has revealed Himself through the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments which we call the Bible. The truth of God’s Word helps us to identify that He is good, all-powerful, personal, and trustworthy. Psalm 1 tells us “Blessed is the man who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of living water.” When we meditate on God’s Word, we will grow healthy like a tree planted by a water source.
Both the external world and God’s Word reveals His nature. He is shouting to us in a megaphone: “I am here.” As in any healthy relationship, we not only need to listen but also communicate back. As Christians, we call this prayer. It is when we speak to God about our joys, fears, and sins. The good news is that He never gets tired of hearing from us so I want to encourage you to call out to Him. Carve out a daily time in your schedule where you can communicate with the one who formed you and knitted you in your mother’s womb.
2. Cultivate a Holy Lifestyle – In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah saw a vision of heaven. The seraphim angels were singing around the throne “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts: the whole Earth is full of His glory.” The term holy or holiness means to be set apart or distinct from others. Obviously God is set apart since He is the only self-sustaining person in the universe who has eternally existed with a perfect nature. Nevertheless, what does it mean for us to be holy?
Hebrews 12:4 states: “Strive for holiness…without which no one will see the Lord.” God calls us not only to turn from our sins, but also to conform into His image. Repentance is not only the crucifixion of the lusts of our natural man, but our call to put on the new man, Jesus Christ. Of course we must completely rely upon the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to counsel us in this endeavor.
For example, let’s say God convicts you because your always complaining about something. It could be as trivial as the weather, a favorite sports team losing, or as serious as being frustrated with your job or boss at work. God not only wants you to repent of complaining, but to replace that thought with a holy one – thanksgiving. Psalm 95:2 encourages us to come before God with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. Therefore, when we pursue a holy life, we are not only called to put to death the deeds of the flesh (covetousness, immorality, greed, slander, etc) but to put on the new man (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc).
3. Pray for others – Before Jesus was crucified, he told Peter: “Satan has come to chaff you like wheat, but I have prayed that your faith would not fail.” Although Peter denied Christ three times, it’s important to remember that Peter’s faith did not fail. Throughout the book of Acts we see a man of boldness who was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus.
James 5:16 reminds us that the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Who could you be praying for? I want to encourage you to pray for the people of God, the lost, the oppressed, and the unreached people groups. Write down a list of individuals who God has strategically placed in your sphere of influence who need to be prayed for. If you want to pray for the oppressed and unreached people groups, I suggest visiting Voice of the Martyrs at http://www.persecution.com.
4. Proclaim the Gospel and Make Disciples – The great commission is to go into all the world, preach the gospel, and make disciples. What does it mean to make disciples? It is an active verb suggesting that as we share the good news with others about the grace and mercy found in Jesus Christ, it is important that we train and teach them how to follow Christ. Colossians 1:28 says, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
What are some ways to preach the gospel to others? Get to know those around you and teach them what the Bible says. This is called personal evangelism. Go out into the marketplaces and lift your voice up like a trumpet, proclaiming the good news to strangers who would never step foot at the church. This is called mass evangelism. Both of these modes are biblical and can be practiced by believers. The advantage of personal evangelism is that you can invest time with them since you personally know them.