Wird Geladen

Lessons from my own bible study

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Wanting God At The Center Of Our Lives

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.
                                                                                                 Gal 5:6

No action we perform is going to put God at the center of our lives. The tips in this series only work to clarify and solidify in our minds “Yes, that is what I want: for God to be at the center of my life.” Once that mindset is decided, God takes up the work alongside us, with us, to form a union in Him.

We must never underestimate the two-sidedness of this relationship; the urgent desire that God has for us to get to know Him. The whole reason Christ died was to set in place the spiritual mechanisms that let us and God be united. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 that it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that our hearts and lives become God-focused:

No one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received that spirit so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.  
1 Cor 2:11-12

Wanting A God-Centered Life Requires A Deeper Choice

Choosing to focus our lives on God only comes after a harder decision has been made: change. We have to want the inevitable changes that come as the Holy Spirit moves us into Godliness.

Paul says to the Galatians:

Walk by the spirit, and you will no longer gratify the desires of the flesh.
Gal 5:16

A God-centered life requires that we deny ourselves and let the Holy Spirit transform us into new beings entirely. This verse is not a commandment but a truth! When we choose to change, the Spirit clears out our sinful human habits- anything about us that does not worship God- and fills us with light to guide us toward ultimate righteousness.

Change is a painful and daunting task. It requires we do that one thing which is completely anathema to our Selves: submit. In the war between God and Self, Satan fights his hardest on the side of Self, and submission is what He fights against.

The Holy Spirit Helps Us

But even here we find comfort through the Holy Spirit! In this miserable struggle between Self and God, the Holy Spirit offers us the ultimate pass: we do not have to earn our Godliness. Technically we cannot. Before Christ, we were not worthy of God’s love. Now the Holy Spirit makes us worthy through no power of our own. All we have to do is submit to letting ourselves be changed. God does the rest. It’s still not easy, but at least it only requires one step.

Success Comes Through God Himself

But isn’t that beautiful?! Responsibility for our salvation does not lie in our hands! Our livelihood and flourishing success is not ours to worry about! What a comforting thought.

When we desire God to be at the center of our lives, changes will come that amaze and thrill us. Our hearts come to see the enormous value of empathy, love, compassion, and consideration. This is because our work is no longer our own. Our decisions aren’t guesses- we don’t worry that what we’re deciding is right, useful, effective, or righteous. We can trust that everything will be set up for us to the good of the Kingdom.

This is all because every move and prayer contributes to a higher project for which we are not ultimately responsible, and to which all of our contributions can only be put to use for good. The most mundane parts of our day gain meaning because God accepts our offer to let them contribute to His Kingdom.

God works all things for the good of those who love Him.
Romans 8:28

Our thoughts, passions, urges, and directions come from no other place than God himself. They go to no other place than God’s glory.

Practical Application- Change + Tips 1-5 = Trust

Build others up and let it change the way we speak. Pray regularly and let it change the way we use our time. Be responsible with our bodies and possessions and let it change the way we live. Concentrate on what and how much we sacrifice to God and let it change the way we think.

Feel the urge to submit to these changes, but also feel the urge to resist them. Where there is resistance, know that God is immediately at hand to discuss the matter. Waste no time with thinking “I’ll worry about that later” or “I wonder what that means?” God is always in our thoughts, available the instant an issue arises. We can ask for strength in the desire to overcome our natural sinful urges. We can ask for clarity to see how important it is that we overcome this temptation in the first place. We can pray to be successful, even if not a single ounce of ourselves actually wants to be. When we do this, God carries us through and set us down closer to His center.

Practically, this means we have to trust that those changes will be for the better of us and God’s Kingdom. We need to trust that they are at work even though we can’t feel them, and can’t see the end of the means of which we are a part; like ivy slowly covering a brick wall.

The Promised Result

Keep going in the faith, trust, and excitement that it will become easier and easier to find God as we search for Him. Our centers will get closer and closer to His, thus we’ll have less distance to travel. Get to know God so that we can contribute to His Kingdom. That’s the purpose of our lives.

TIP #5- WANT GOD TO BE THE CENTER OF OUR LIVES, AND HE WILL BE.

ZK bubble windows full

This post has been the final addition in the “Putting God At The Center” Series, a project of learning how we can bring our lives to focus on God.  The four previous posts are: Centering Our Conversations On GodMealtime PrayerWorshiping God By Worshiping Our Bodies, and We Worship Whatever We Sacrifice To. If this series has helped you, I and other readers would love to know how! Please comment, like, and share!

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Worshiping God By Worshiping Our Bodies

The best way to change our minds is to change our habits.  Habits are things we do without thinking, a divot we follow mindlessly along the road of life.  Changing a habit requires attention, concentration, and consideration of why that habit needs to be changed in the first place; it implies there’s a better alternative.  In this post we’ll discuss why making good choices for our bodies helps put God at the center of our lives.

In the first place, the body already stands at the center of our lives.  Everything we experience takes place right here.  Our thinking happens in the head, our doing happens in the hands, our seeing happens in the eyes, our growing happens in the stomach- we don’t need a lesson on the uses of different body parts.  But it makes sense that when we look to the body, we’re seeing the center of our life.  Here’s what Paul says in 1 Corinthians:

DO YOU NOT KNOW THAT YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU, WHICH YOU HAVE RECEIVED FROM GOD AND THAT YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN?  FOR YOU WERE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE, THEREFORE GLORIFY GOD IN YOUR BODY.        

                                                                                  v. 6:19-20

We all have habits that harm or weaken our body.  As it stands we live with these habits, and though we may want to change, there’s no need- no motivation- good enough to get us there.  Falling into a bad habit again and again is enough to dig us into despair.  It breeds guilt, and hopelessness- probably the two most opposite things to God.  Changing out of habits that hurt our bodies can revamp our efforts at getting to know God, and placing him at our center.

For the sake of example, I’ll give some major habits that hurt my body.  The first is smoking.  A single cigarette parches out my lungs and throat for days- not unreasonably I feel burnt inside.  The feeling permeates my whole body.  I can’t turn my head, or sit up, or even speak without some cottony resistance.  Smoking interrupts all the fluid, natural movements that make life sweet.

The second is junk food.  It’s so easy to eat cheap, low quality, food.  Cooking, vegetables, exercise- these mean sacrifices of time, money, and effort that life seems easier to do without.  Yet if the body is the temple of Christ, then nutritious eating is the lawn service, the janitor, the contractor, the electrician, the plumber, the cleaning service, and everything else that goes into keeping a building shining and standing tall.

For the sake of a totally different example, in Berlin I had a bike that I got for free.  I never chained it up, I rode it through the snow and mud puddles, I popped high curbs.  Three months in my possession and the chain had rusted away, the tires stuck, the gears fell out of place; I eventually just had to abandon it.  My friend lent me his bike in the meantime.  I keep that bike indoors while I’m not riding it.  I stay on smooth road, go around puddles, and lock it obsessively.  I owe my friend all the respect and gratitude in the world for his generosity, and taking care of his bike is the best way to show my appreciation (really the least I can do).

It’s easy to mistreat something we consider our own, especially if it comes for free, or if it’s been around a while.  But quite in fact, our bodies are extraordinarily expensive, one-of-a-kind gifts, which our dad has lent to us with a joyful, hopeful purpose.  “Do you not know that your bodies you received from God, and that you are not your own?”  Our bodies are meant for God’s glory, just like everything else.

Making sacrifices for the health of the body means making sacrifices for the glorification of God.  Resisting the temptation to smoke, or lust, or follow whatever habit brings us down demands that we pay constant attention to our bodies, and in doing so we’re paying constant attention to God.

In the effort to figure out how to make God the center of our lives, let us try re-imagining the body as GOD’s temple on Earth, the tool by which he works here.  Let us think now and try to come up with some things we do to your bodies that we dislike; some bad or nasty habit that leaves us breathless and achy.  Conversely, what habits do we know would make life sweeter but just haven’t picked up yet?  When the time comes to make the choice- should I or shouldn’t I- think of God and use His glory to do what’s good for your body.  His glory can be the motivation we need to change our habits and make our bodies the healthiest, happiest machine it can be.

TIP #2- We put God at the center of our lives by worshiping our bodies and breaking the habits that harm them.

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This has been the second installment of the “Putting God at The Center” series.  Follow along next time when we consider how mealtime prayers keep us in line with our goal of putting God at the center of our lives.  Comments, feedback, shares, suggestions, criticisms are always encouraged.

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