What a talker!

fruitWill (not a real name) always has a great story. “What have you been up to these days?” is all it takes to bring on another tale. There is sometimes a grain of truth in them but, as I have learned, most of the time he is beyond exaggeration and into pure fiction.  Knowing the struggles he has dealt with I understand why he escapes into the world of words. I feel sad for him, that he feels the need to create this imaginary life of exploits. At the same time there is a level of amusement at the detail his mind creates in this fictional existence. But, in the end, he is all talk.

Mark Batterson, pastor and author, alludes to a masterful musician generally esteemed as the best cellist of the 20th century, Pablo Casals. He played for Queen Victoria when he was 22 years old and 64 years later, at age 86, played for President Kennedy in the White House.  He lived to age 96 and was still practicing 3 hours a  day. Asked about that habit, he said, “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”  (Chase the Lion, 2016, Multnomah) Casals was not content to reach a certain level of competence and rest. He did not just dream of performing. He worked at it, honing his skill, learning, developing until the end of his life.

What kind of Christian do you want to be? Perhaps the question puzzles you. Am I referring to the church you attend – Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal? Not at all.

Then, perhaps you think that since becoming a Christian happens by faith in Jesus, there is nothing more to say. And, in that, you would be mistaken.

We are given new life, restored to our Father in Heaven, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. But, what of the life that follows that new birth?  Paul urges us to “live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.”  (Philippians 1:10-11)

Our  habits and attitudes need to be shaped by a daily encounter with the Holy Spirit.
Do you love your stuff and find being content difficult? That can change.
Are you enslaved by emotions that hold you back – hatred, fear, feelings of worthlessness?

God can help you to become loving, courageous, and confident! But, it won’t happen because you just learn the language of the Church.  The ability to quote a Bible passage for every situation is useful, but not if the truth of the Word is disconnected from where we live. Authentic Christians know that they cannot just let ”Word go in one ear and out the other.” James tells us to “Act on what you hear!”  (James 1:22)

There are daily disciplines that pattern our lives, that open channels for the Spirit to flow into our lives.  When we give them a priority place in our otherwise busy lives, we grow in grace and the beauty of the Lord emerges, becoming more radiant each day.  What are they?  Prayer is primary. When we are conscious of God’s presence, presenting ourselves to Him, listening – He speaks.  Confession is critical, too.  This discipline keeps us before Him and receptive to grace. Study of the Word feeds the soul and enlightens the mind.  Richard Foster’s work, The Celebration of Discipline, outlines twelve disciplines:  meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.

Isaiah reveals the promise of those who engage in the pursuit of godliness.
“The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth. …My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:7,9, NIV)

Why settle for just being a Christian when you could become a beautiful, skillful, gifted, effective follower of Jesus?  Don’t be a good talker. Be a faithful do-er.

Here is a word from the Word.  “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,
a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.”

(2 Timothy 2:15-16, NIV)

Lord, call us deeper into Your love, transforming us day to day into Your holy likeness. Amen.

______________

Mighty To Save

Ev’ryone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Ev’ryone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

Savior He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Ev’rything I believe in
Now I surrender

Shine your light and let the whole world see
We’re singing
For the glory of the risen King

Jesus
Shine your light and let the whole world see
We’re singing
For the glory of the risen King

Ben Fielding | Reuben Morgan
© 2006 Hillsong Music Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055

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