Practicing Consistently - Encouragement Café - September 18

Practicing Consistently
 
By Joan Walker Hahn

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB

My 6-year old granddaughter is taking gymnastics.  She goes to the gym three days a week for several hours each time.  But even when she is at home, she is constantly practicing flips, just because she loves accomplishing the feats she is being taught. One day as I watched her working on her backflip, I had this thought.  What would happen if believers “practiced” being a Christian as much as my granddaughter practiced gymnastics?

Consider any skill that a person has to work at for a long period of time in order to be good at that skill.  Whether it’s sports, video games, a production line worker, or a grocery clerk.  Everything someone does, they do faster and more efficiently the longer they perform that task.  So why, then, are professing Christians, someone who has been a believer for years, no more like Christ now than they were when they first believed?

This thought really convicted me.

When someone is learning a skill, they first learn the basics.  Once they have the basics down, they begin building on that base, adding new elements, getting those down pat, before adding even more skills. This principle of growth applies to everything from a child learning to walk and talk, to a star athlete in the Olympics. So, it would stand to reason that a Christian should also grow, evolve, mature in the faith. So why don’t we?

I have the following ideas:

  1. We don’t fully grasp the basics. When someone receives Christ, it is because they came to the realization that they were lost and needed a Savior. The Bible clearly states that if we come in repentance and faith, confessing and believing in what Christ did on the cross for us, then we shall be saved. But we fail to understand that we have to die to ourselves.  We have to allow Christ to be more than our Savior, He also has to be Lord of our life.
  2. We don’t build on our knowledge. We don’t grow as a Christian if we don’t have knowledge of what a Christian is supposed to be.  We have to spend time daily with our Lord in prayer and Bible Study. 
  3. We don’t practice what we believe. Once we have knowledge of how Christ expects His children to live, we often don’t strive to live according to His Word. We live how our flesh desires to live instead of allowing His Spirit to control us.

We have to choose consistently to die to ourselves and allow the Spirit that resides within us to be in control. It takes discipline. Just as my granddaughter is consistently practicing her gymnastic skills. She does it because she has a strong desire to be better.  She does it because she loves the sport. Do we love Jesus enough, do we have a strong enough desire to consistently live for Him? 

When we find ourselves falling short of what He has asked of us to do, I pray we will recognize the need to draw closer to Him. In and of ourselves, we can do nothing.  But Christ can accomplish anything within the life of a willing believer. May we practice daily walking in the center of His will, growing in the knowledge of His Word, and surrendering to the control of His Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I confess I lack the discipline sometimes to consistently live for You. Lord, give me a fresh hunger and thirst for Your Word. Help me to live in a manner so that my conduct is worthy of the gospel of Christ and to run the race before me with endurance. Thank You, Father, that it is Your strength I live from and not my own, and because of that, I know You will complete in me what You have started. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NIV

For more encouragement, visit Joan at joanwalkerhahn.com.

© 2020 by Joan Walker Hahn.  All rights reserved.

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