“But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:14 NLT)
If you’re serious about following the narrow road that leads to an eternity with Jesus, you’ll PURSUE Him with intentionality, you’ll PRIORITIZE your schedule to make time to grow in your understanding of who He is and what He desires for you, and you’ll develop healthy life-PATTERNS, that when followed will lead you closer to Jesus. What might that look like?
God has purpose in everything He does. He’s following a “blueprint” that He established before the beginning of time that takes into account the lives of everyone who has lived, is living, or who will ever live. It only makes sense to me that we, as His children, should follow His Word, the Bible, in establishing life-patterns (habits) that would guide us on our faith journey of becoming more like Jesus.
Romans 8:29a says: “For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son” (NLT) In Philippians 3 Paul writes about the priceless value of knowing Christ. He essentially walks us through the pattern of his life and in verse 17 says: “Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.” (NLT)
With no claim to this being an exhaustive list, based on Paul’s writings, let me suggest the following:
- As Jesus followers, we are citizens of heaven and should reflect that status in and through the way we conduct ourselves here on earth. How so? In what we allow our eyes to see, our ears to hear and our mouths to speak. Is what we’re watching on the internet, our phones, TV, or from whatever source, going to build our faith and our dependence upon God or tear it down? Is what we listen to, whether in personal conversation or otherwise, edifying and honoring to our Savior? Is what we speak, the whole truth, shared in love and humility? Does it build up or tear down? Does it exalt Jesus or demean His life in you and/or in others?
- Godly habits lead to godly character. Paul told Timothy: “Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me – a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:13 NLT) How do YOU best learn? Whatever way works best for you, find ways to learn what the Bible teaches, for yourself, not just learning someone else’s ideas about the Bible. Allow the Holy Spirit to teach you, not only facts about the Bible, but promises and truths that will enable you to build a strong, vibrant faith. At Hope Church we are blessed to have great men of God who study well and teach well, but you can’t be dependent on the words of a human being alone, even a godly Pastor. YOU MUST allow the Holy Spirit to bear witness with your spirit that what you’re hearing is the truth, then dig into that truth and let it become your own. A Study Bible with a Concordance and notes can go a long way in helping you learn basic truths. The highlighted link below will lead you to a very unique study Bible that I highly recommend. Dr. Gene Getz has compiled more than 1500 teachings, that by scanning QR Codes throughout the Bible, can become teaching sessions on whatever device you’re using. Dr. Getz is someone in whom I have great confidence: https://bibleprinciples.org/the-life-essentials-study-bible/
- The nearer you grow to Jesus, the more Christ-honoring fruit your life will bear. Jesus said: Yes, I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who remain in me and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NLT) Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:22 (NLT: But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” The Holy Spirit is the Author of this fruit, not me or you. The greater the measure of submission to the Holy Spirit’s activity in your life, the greater the measure of fruit He will bear in and through you. Grow in your dependence upon God and He will reward you with godly character and a winsome, wholesome witness for Him.
- One last thought. Jesus said: “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Do the ways you spend your money reflect where your “heart” is? Absolutely! Did you notice Jesus didn’t say: “Wherever your heart is, there your treasure will also be?” What’s the implication? Your heart follows the money, which illuminates what your heart believes to be your “treasure.” If you’re not as close to Jesus as you want to be, look at your checkbook or credit card statements. Where your money goes, so goes your heart.
There’s one more “P” I’d like to share with you tomorrow. Thank you for reading these articles.
Blessings, Ed 😊