Old Virtues Can Make Your Life New
- Monday, December 25, 2006
* Pursue knowledge. Pray for the knowledge you need to be wise, and the humility to always remember that knowledge is a gift from God and therefore shouldn’t be used as a trophy to exalt yourself or a weapon to make others feel inferior. Read, study, and ponder the Bible often to learn the truth about God’s nature and work. Get to know God better as you encounter Him through worship and prayer. Learn about God through experiencing and studying His creation. Come to know God more deeply by inviting His love to flow through you to others in your community through relationships.
* Pursue self-control. Pay close attention to what God has done and is now doing. Be aware of how evil is trying to trip you up as you run the race of faith. Ask God to help you see what’s really going on (without illusion or distortion) and act wisely in light of it. Train yourself to think clearly about what matters most. Instead of just reacting to stressful situations, pray first to help you decide how to respond wisely. Work the habit of prayer into your daily routine, so when crises hit, you’ll have learned how to rely on prayer to get you through. Stand firm in your faith. Be self-controlled because you’re grateful for the salvation you’ve received and want to thank God by pursuing holiness, because your prayers matter now and for eternity, and because you need to resist evil that is seeking to destroy you.
* Pursue perseverance. Don’t quit in tough situations. Don’t let setbacks defeat you. Remember the value in suffering: it refines your faith, it perfects your hope, it deepens your intimacy with Jesus, it trains you in holiness, and it weans you from sin. If you believe you are on the right path, stay the course, no matter what obstacles you face along the way. Remember that God will never abandon you and that He isn’t out to get you, but He is out to perfect you. Ask Him what He wants you to learn from your current challenges and how you should redefine your expectations. Pray for the encouragement you need.
* Pursue godliness. Know that God loves you completely, just as you are, but that He loves you too much to just leave you there. Understand that He wants you to become all you’re meant to be. Do so by developing Christ-like character. Make your relationship with Jesus your top priority in life, and give His guidance precedent above everything else (your opinions, your emotions, your background, etc.). Don’t allow anything to stand in the way of Jesus’ work in your life. When you sense Him leading you to do something, follow through. Hold onto hope, even in the worst situations. Remember that God can take the most challenging circumstances and transform them to accomplish good purposes. Always be willing and prepared to tell people who ask you about the reason for your hope, but do so with gentleness and respect. Remember that you represent Jesus when you interact with those who don’t yet know Him; try to make His presence tangible to them by letting His love flow through you. Don’t seek revenge whenever you’re mistreated; instead, trust God to vindicate you at the right time. Remember that your life makes a real difference in the spiritual realm that you can’t see right now, but that exists in another dimension where angels and demons are watching you. Understand that your influence extends beyond the confines of your church and local community and impacts the whole planet by touching the lives of other people who, in turn, touch others’ lives. Live in light of eternity, realizing that you will be rewarded in heaven for your faithfulness. Pray for the strength to avoid worldliness – whatever makes sin look more attractive than God. Constantly remind yourself of how dependent you are on God. Remember that Jesus faced many trials and temptations that you also face, and look to the example of how He handled them when you need strength to overcome them yourself. Practice the daily discipline of dying to yourself in small ways (such as avoiding yelling at someone with whom you’re angry) so you can gradually let go of selfishness in larger ways as well.
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