Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Discipleship Model, Part 5of7

~ Step 5:  Feed Your New Lifestyle ~

NOTE:  This Discipleship Model is a special 7-part series showing a clear path to spiritual victory. One step will be posted each day for a calendar week. After completion of this series Abundant Life Now will “resume regular programming.”

What kind of lifestyle do you currently possess? Is it all you desire? If not, what kind of lifestyle do you desire?

Here are two good examples of lifestyles. First, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders, and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). Second, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more  abundantly”(John 10:10b).

Our thought life is critical since it forms attitudes. Attitudes are an extremely important aspect of our motivations. In order to possess a consistent God-pleasing lifestyle and consistent spiritual victory, we must consistently think correctly. Such a lifestyle is the result of controlling our thinking. A faulty lifestyle is a symptom of a spiritual problem which has its roots in our thought life!

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8). This is the foundational aspect to controlling and maintaining correct patterns of thinking (attitudes). Our Lord understood this—recall that when He was tempted to think incorrectly, He quoted Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11).

Life is a series of changes or “change points.” Some are gradual and some are abrupt. But we are all being constantly changed. The key to living in a changing world is the ability to adjust, to relate, and to take control of the direction of our change. The role of a disciple is be control their changes in order to become more Christ-like—that is normal (not average) Christian living. If we are controlled by the Spirit we are being changed into the image of Christ—a lifelong process that is at work in us now. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Thinking forms attitudes which motivate our action. Spiritual maturity is the result of training one’s thinking to discern good and evil thinking. “The mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14). In that passage we have been given a definition of spiritual maturity. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was” (James 1:22-24). We are only mature when we translate our head knowledge into foot knowledge.

There is a practical side to all of this. We live in a crazy world. In order to maintain sanity we need to be looking at the source and completer of our faith. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2a). This has been the source of His people’s strength throughout history. For example, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored” (Daniel 4:34).

But maturity is a long-term process and maintaining sanity in an insane world is an on-going process. This is counter to our environment which is based on an instant mentality. We have fast food restaurants. In our home we use products labeled shake 'n' bake, pour 'n' serve, stir 'n' blend, bake 'n' slice, mix 'n' broil, chop 'n' simmer, etc. Many of us eat junk food rather than nutritious food. We tend to focus on short-term convenience rather than long-term health. The world is training us in the opposite direction than we need to go. 

The remedy is given to us in Scripture, “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). The underlying important point is that as humans we live forever. Life on earth is an extremely tiny portion of forever!

Abraham Lincoln put it this way, “I’d rather lose in a cause that ultimately wins than win in a cause which ultimately loses.”

Jim Elliot wrote in his journal, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”  

My favorite author said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Jesus Christ, Mark 8:36). The point in all this is that we should not sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.

Step 1:  Paradox  ~  Understand your partnership with God.
Step 2:  Thinking  ~  Choose to control your thoughts!
Step 3:  Attitude  ~  Increasingly rely on properly cultivated attitudes.
Step 4:  Motivation  ~  Be motivated predominately by yourself, rather than by external factors.
Step 5:  Lifestyle  ~  Continue to practice the fundamentals. 
The next step will focus on-going spiritual victory.  

~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW

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