Abundant Living: To Live Is Christ
To Live Is Christ
It's said that in their lifetime, the average American spends:
3 years in business meetings
13 years watching TV
$89,281 on food
Consumes 109,354 pounds of that food
Makes 1,811 trips to McDonalds
Spends $6,881 in vending machines
Eats 35,138 cookies and 1,483 pounds of candy
Catches 304 colds
Is involved in 6 motor vehicle accidents
Is hospitalized 8 times (men) or 12 times (women)
Spends 24 years sleeping
The Apostle Paul said, "...to Live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). There's so much that we can delve into with these nine words, but before we can actually get started in it we must answer the question of, how are we living?
Living for ourselves comes both easy and naturally for us. It's evident from the way we engage in our relationships, to how we approach going to work, and even in the way we choose to eat.
If living for Christ is the goal then discipline is the key.
Legendary Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry once said, "The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don't want to do, in order to achieve what they've always wanted to be."
We often know who, and what, we want to be spiritually but we live in doubt that we can be that person. We live in doubt because the natural tendency to live for ourself drives us away from the man, or woman, of Christ that we desire to be, but spiritual discipline will always be able to pull us back.
Living for Jesus doesn't have to be the most difficult thing we do. In fact, it can easily become the most routine and gratifying that that we do. Here's how.
The Apostle Paul literally begs us to live sacrificially (Romans 12:1). In fact, he goes on to say that doing so is an, "act of worship". It's quite possibly the most difficult act of worship there is though.
By definition, sacrifice means to give up something that we want. When our desires and God's desires don't match up then something has to give. We're supposed to trust that the Lord has a plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11) We also understand from the scriptures that He has a "higher knowledge" than we do and that walking in faith is trusting in the unknown. So why is it so difficult to sacrifice the things we want for the things God wants for us?
At some point we have to address the question, is God who the Bible claims He is? If we say yes to that then it truly requires a change in the way we live.
Making it a habit to live sacrificially not only allows us to see God do things that we never could have imagined, it also increases our faith and dependence as the Lord proves himself to us.
Keep in mind that the premise of this post is the way we live. Should we decide to live for Jesus then we must be connected to Jesus.
Don't you hate it when a relationship just fades away? Not due to conflict, or to the fault of anyone, but just because life got busy. Jobs changed, children came along, priorities shifted and suddenly communication isn't close to what it used to be. The result is a fading relationship.
Communication is the key to any relationship. The more we're connected to someone through communication the more the relationship has the potential to blossom.
Is your relationship with Jesus in bloom or is it fading? The answer is most likely found in an examination of your prayer life. How connected are you to Jesus? Remember, Jesus said that we are able to bear fruit only when we're connected to him, and apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Lack of conviction is the missing key to spiritual success. We live in a culture that tries to defend the sinful nature rather than stand up to it. We make excuses (sometimes they're really good ones) for unholy behavior and, at times, we even attempt to shame those who don't participate in it.
Conviction is the first step to repentance. Once we become calloused to conviction we become resistant to repentance. We must understand the role that conviction plays in the way we live. God begins the process of calling us back to him through convicting us for wayward behavior.
Conviction is the Holy Spirit at work in us. We should be fearful of a day when we are no longer fearful of our sin. Rather than resist conviction, let's embrace it and practice true repentance by turning away from sin and towards God.
Let's go back to Philippians 1:21 one more time. A frequent mistake here is that he says we are to live "in" Christ. He actually says to live "is" Christ. He's the key! He's the centerpiece! He's the way! The truth! The life!!!!
Too many times moms and dads leave Jesus out of their marriage. They leave Jesus out of the discipline of their children. They don't consider him when making financial decisions. Then they wonder where Jesus is when it comes to the family crisis.
Students leave Jesus out of their dating and social lives. They forget him when they walk through the doors of their local school. Then they wonder where He is in the midst of their personal crisis.
Pastors leave Jesus out of their ministry planning and preparation. They plan activities, events, and the direction of their ministry based on personal desires rather than following the lead of Jesus. Then they wonder why there are so many frustrations an failures within the church.
The Apostle Paul had it right. "To live is Christ!" He understood sin, failure and struggle quite possibly better than we do. I'm pretty sure that's why he wrote, "I can do all things through Christ..."
How are you living? Have you considered Jesus today?
© 2018 Matt Hofeld