Living for Christ

Links: "Living for Christ" Archive (October 2009 and beyond)
Former "Living A Godly Life" Website (January - September 2009)
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October 2009
Daily Devotions Reference List:
(Click here to view the daily devotions)

(10/1) 1 Peter 1:6-8a
(10/2) 1 Peter 1:13-16
(10/3) (none)
(10/4) 1 Peter 1:22-25a
(10/5) 1 Peter 1:22-25a
(10/6) 1 Peter 2:1-3
(10/7) 1 Peter 2:11-12
(10/8) 1 Peter 3:1-2
(10/9) 1 Peter 3:3-4
(10/10) 1 Peter 3:7
(10/11) 1 Peter 3:8-9
(10/12) 1 Peter 3:13-14
(10/13) 1 Peter 3:15-17
(10/14) 1 Peter 3:15-17
(10/15) 1 Peter 3:18
(10/16) 1 Peter 4:1-2
(10/17) 1 Peter 4:3-4
(10/18) 1 Peter 4:3-4
(10/19) 1 Peter 4:8-9
(10/20) 1 Peter 4:10-11
(10/21) 1 Peter 4:12-13
(10/22) 1 Peter 4:14-16
(10/23) 1 Peter 5:1-4
(10/24) 1 Peter 5:1-4
(10/25) 1 Peter 5:5
(10/26) 1 Peter 5:6-7
(10/27) 1 Peter 5:8-9
(10/28) 1 Peter 5:10-11
(10/29) 2 Peter 1:2-4
(10/30) 2 Peter 1:5-9
(10/31) Amos 5:13-15

Note: This is subject to change.
Introduction:
Welcome to the brand new "Living For Christ" website! This is essentially a re-launch of the former "Living A Godly Life" site. Why the change? There are a couple of main reasons. First, the former site had no regular updates. Articles were posted at rather random intervals (basically just whenever I completed one), so visitors had no idea when a new one might be posted. This website will take on the feel of a monthly online magazine, updated on the first day of every month. The second and more important reason deals with the name change itself. While living a godly life is important, I felt that the old name did not give Jesus the recognition that He deserves, and could be misleading for someone who is trying to follow a different, man-made "god." Jesus Christ is the One we need to live for and the new title clearly reflects that. Without further ado, I again welcome you to this new website and I hope you enjoy what you see! You can use the link at the top-right of any page to send me your comments or any questions or suggestions you may have.

Monthly Feature: "A Prayer-Centered Life"
Introduction
Some of you may recall that the very first article I introduced on the former "Living A Godly Life" website also dealt with prayer. Portions of that article are included in this one. However, it is an extremely important topic for Christians and I feel that God has taught me some more things since that time which I feel led to share with you in this month's feature article. So, why and how should we pray? I will attempt to answer these two questions below.

Why should we pray? Prayer can possibly change God's mind.
First of all, I believe that prayer can change God's mind. It won't every time, and in fact it probably happens rarely, but we know from the Bible that it is possible. One example can be found in Genesis 18, where Abraham interceded in prayer for the wicked city of Sodom. God appeared ready to destroy the city, but Abraham asked if He would spare the city if there were ten righteous people within it, and God agreed to do just that. Ultimately the city was destroyed because there weren't even ten righteous people living there, but the point remains the same--Abraham talked to God, trusted that God would be just, and God honored Abraham's request.

Why should we pray? Prayer shows God that you trust Him.
When you pray to ask God for something or ask him to do something, you are showing Him that you trust Him to determine the best outcome in that particular situation. You are letting go of it, letting it out of your control and giving it over to God. If you are able to stop worrying about it and completely trust God, that is the best way to live. Still, if you pray about it regularly and your worry decreases, you are showing God that you trust His decisions. We know that God wants to see that we have complete trust in Him after the test He gave to Abraham (Genesis 22). Abraham passed that test, giving God great pleasure, and God rewarded Abraham because of the complete trust Abraham had placed in Him.

Why should we pray? Prayer pulls you away from the world.
In a world where things seem to be moving both faster and farther away from God with each passing day, setting aside time to spend in prayer can pull you away from the world in several different ways. Physically, it can give you a much-needed time of rest. Mentally, it can help you reflect on the things that are more important in life. Last but certainly not least, the spiritual aspect can remind you that prayer really isn't about you at all but about God.

Why should we pray? Prayer strengthens your relationship with God.
God wants His children to spend time with Him so that a closer bond can form. What happens if you don't spend much time with a friend, a relative, or perhaps even your spouse for a while? You start to drift apart because you aren't in each other's lives as much. It's no different with God. As the old saying goes, if you don't feel as close to God as you used to, who moved? We know the answer to that one because God never moves. You don't have to spend all of your prayer time asking for things. I enjoy spending some time each day just talking to God about something that happened that day or about something that's just been on my mind. I think He enjoys that, too.

How should we pray? Reasonably.
Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you pray. When I pray, I try to take into consideration what God wants for me. I believe God honors prayers that are fair and reasonable. For example, I am prone to getting migraines periodically. For whatever reason, my body seems to need to have one of those every so often, which I have accepted (and I'm thankful I don't get them nearly as often as I used to). If I get one on a day in which I have a lot to do and really can't handle it, I will pray that God will take it away, and He has always been faithful to do that for me. Sometimes it comes back the next day, but He takes it away from me when I really need Him to. By the same token, if I get one on a day when I don't have much going on and can deal with it, I generally don't pray that it will go away. I believe God honors how reasonable I try to be with those types of prayers.

How should we pray? Unselfishly.
James 4:3 attests to this point. James writes, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." Don't pray for yourself apart from any true needs that you may have; don't pray for "wants" or fleshly desires. God already knows what you need and He communicates that to you through the Holy Spirit. He wants you to trust Him enough to ask Him for those needs. But don't ask Him for things you don't really need, which includes the vast majority of material objects. If your car is 20 years old and you're never quite sure if it will start up from day to day, then perhaps you should pray that God will help you find another one that you can afford--but if your car is still in good working condition, even if it's old, you don't need to pray for a new one! That's just one example of a mistake that a lot of people make when praying--letting material desires get in the way of what really matters. Focus your prayers more on others and only pray for yourself when you have a true need, not simply a want.

How should we pray? From an eternal perspective.
When praying for a fellow Christian who is very sick, I generally don't believe in praying that the person will not die. That may sound strange, and in no way am I saying that I think it's wrong if you do pray in that way, but I would like to share my viewpoint with you. Heaven is an infinitely better place than earth. I think all Christians would agree with that without a doubt. So, why would I say a prayer that, if answered, would keep that person away from heaven and apart from God even longer, perhaps even extending his or her suffering in this life? The only possible reason, then, to pray such a prayer, is because I want that person to stay alive. Even a noble reason, such as being concerned about how that person's spouse would deal with the death, is still coming from a worldly perspective. Besides, if it is that person's time to go, God will still look after the family as long as they trust in Him. Instead of specifically praying that a person will remain alive and in this world, I prefer to pray for other things. I may pray that the person won't have to suffer too much whether (s)he lives or dies and that God will take care of the family regardless of what happens. I encourage you to not be short-sighted in your prayers and to try to pray from an eternal perspective.

How should we pray? Guided by the Holy Spirit.
Above all, let the Holy Spirit guide you as you pray. Don't let worldly things lead you astray in your prayers. Listen to what He is trying to convey to you because He knows what you (or others) need. If you do this, you won't ask amiss as James warns about in the verse quoted earlier in this article. Prayer is the most important tool God gave us for communicating with each other. Spending time in quality prayer with God will help to pull you away from the evils of this world and steadily closer to Him.
Question of the Month:

Why do you go to church?

A. I feel obligated to go.
B. To be with my church family.
C. To participate in church programs.
D. To learn more about God.
E. To worship God.


Take a moment to consider your answer, then read my response to the answer you selected.


A. I suppose going to church out of obligation is better than not going at all, but it clearly shows that your heart is not quite right with God. If you truly love God and want to serve Him, you should have a strong desire to want to go to church and not feel obligated to go.

B. It's important to be with your church family. Christians need fellowship with other Christians and for most of us, church is the best place to get that fellowship. However, it is also important to keep God as your main focus. You may enjoy the fellowship at church, but it shouldn't be your primary reason for going.

C. Participating in church programs is a wonderful way to get involved. Many people who attend church need to be more involved than they are. However, similar to B, this should not be your main focus. Sometimes it can be easy to get so busy helping with different church activities that God Himself can almost get lost in the shuffle. Be careful not to let that happen.

D. Wanting to learn more about God is a great reason to attend church. I look forward to learning as much as I can each week in Sunday School and during the Worship Service, both for my own benefit and to hopefully pick up a few new things that I can pass along to you through my website. But once again, if this is your main focus, then you are still going to church for you and not for Him.

E. This choice has one distinct difference from all the others: It's about Him and not about "me." The other options, especially C and D, reflect things that you are doing but do not quite have that God-centered attitude that He wants us to have. Going to church first and foremost to worship God because of all that He has done and will do for you should be our main focus each time we walk through those doors.