Episode 1. Deciding What’s Important
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So many people wish that they could say they’re living their lives by walking in the Spirit. But that’s not really how their life works at all. In fact God often seems a million miles away. …
So many people wish that they could say they’re living their lives by walking in the Spirit. But that’s not really how their life works at all. In fact God often seems a million miles away. Well, there’s a reason for that – it comes down, as it turns out, to a question of priorities.
Life is full of fresh beginnings and every few weeks here on ‘A Different Perspective’ we have a fresh beginning as we kick off a new series of messages. Today is one of those and it’s a time that I always enjoy. Today we’re kicking off a new series called ‘Walking in the Spirit’.
It’s a phrase that might get some mixed reactions. Many Christians would have heard it and it speaks of walking along the path of life with the Spirit of God – the Holy Spirit – guiding us, encouraging us, comforting us. But equally many have fallen into that group who call themselves Christians, and as much as they’ve heard this phrase ‘walking in the Spirit’ they really haven’t experienced it in their own lives.
It’s like, well other people may well walk in the spirit, maybe it’s for Mr and Mrs Super Christian over yonder there but it seems that it’s never going to happen in my life. And to those who perhaps haven’t yet given their lives over to Jesus, well maybe it sounds a little bit weird. Walking in the Spirit, really?
So over the next few weeks I’m hoping that you and I will be able to spend some time together each day just unpacking this idea of ‘Walking in the Spirit’ because as I’m discovering day by day in my life it is a fantastic way to live life.
And life is something we live breath by breath, minute by minute, hour by hour. Not on some super spiritual plane, not kind of riding around on cloud nine with all the angels, but down here on the dusty roads of this earth, along the highways and the byways of life, over hill and over dale. And the thing people often find difficult is actually living out their relationship with God amidst the reality of their lives. It’s not easy sometimes.
This idea of walking in the Spirit might sound wonderful but how do you actually live your life like that, your day to day life? Immersed in the Spirit of God, guided by Him, knowing His healing touch and His love in the middle of conflict, in the middle of strife and busyness and all the stuff we go through in life. I guess it’s that very thing that I’d like to explore with you over these coming days and weeks.
Interesting, just over the last few weeks in my life things have been so incredibly busy. I’ve been travelling a lot all over the country speaking at events and meeting with people, planes, airports, taxis or staying at people’s homes. It’s been a fantastic time but incredibly hectic.
And then of course I get home and there’s a mountain of work waiting for me. Hundreds of emails to answer, people needing this, people needing that and on it goes. And so what’s been happening in my walk with the Lord is that, well my quiet times with Him instead of being unhurried in the still of the morning as they usually are with time to pray and think and read the Bible and listen to what God’s saying to me, well I hadn’t had those times.
My times of prayer had been short and fragmented often because I’m up early in the morning ready to speak at a men’s breakfast or whatever and whilst it’s been a season of just a few weeks here’s what I find. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of doing life, doing things for God, doing this, doing that and what happens then is I lose sight of the God who loves me, the Spirit of God who dwells in me and I get all caught up in busyness.
Do you find that too? My hunch is most of us do and the sad thing is that when that way becomes a whole lifestyle. The sad thing is when people who love Jesus, believe in Him, allow themselves to get so busy they find that their time with God is somehow squeezed out of their schedule and before you know it God seems like He’s a million miles away.
Of course He’s not really but our fellowship with Him is interrupted, our relationship with Him becomes fragmented and that’s why He feels as though He’s a million miles away. Now the knock on effect of that in our lives is that we start imagining that all the stuff we’re doing, all the things we have to do, all the striving to achieve the things that we’re involved in, that those are the most important things in our lives. We pedal harder and harder and we start to feel exhausted, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
It’s a great time for the devil to start attacking us; it’s a great time for us to start worrying about things and getting depressed about things. It’s like this downwards spiral and many, many a person who loves Jesus is living their life way down somewhere in that deep, dark hole.
So the other morning as I finally arrived back home I went back to my usual pattern of spending time with the Lord in the still of the morning when everyone else is still in bed. And so many issues were playing on my mind, so many pressures, so many things to pray about, so many things to distract me in my quiet time. And I opened my Bible to pick up where I’d left off the last time and I found myself in Philippians chapter 3 and as is so often the case I found the salve to soothe my battered soul.
It’s the Apostle Paul writing about this very issue about where we put our confidence, about deciding what’s really important in life. He writes a stern warning about putting our confidence in who we are and what we do making the point that if anyone has a right to be confident in themselves actually he does. A Jew, one of Gods chosen people, he’s of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised according to the law, a Pharisee one of the strictest of all the sects in Judaism in the first century.
Paul it seems had every right to be full of himself, to be busy, busy, busy in doing stuff for God but have a listen to what he says. Philippians chapter 3 beginning at verse 7:
Whatever gain that I had these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I’ve suffered the loss of all things and I regard them as rubbish in order that I might gain Christ and to be found in him not having righteousness of my own that comes from the law but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death.
In other words the thing that was really important to Paul wasn’t who he was and all the things he could do. No! The most important thing of all was the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord. Next to that everything else was rubbish in order that he would find Jesus and be found in Him, and to know His power amidst the sufferings of life.
Friend, walking in the Spirit, as we’re going to be seeing over the coming days and weeks, is an awesome way to live our lives, truly it is. But it begins with a decision, it begins by deciding what’s the most important thing. All the busyness and the stuff I’m involved in, all that I am and all that I want to be OR knowing Jesus, I mean knowing Him first hand, being found in Him, knowing His power.
Because truly if we’re all wrapped up in who we are and what we do in the busyness of our lives then as close as God might be, as affective as the sacrifice of Jesus is and was to save us from eternal punishment, as much as we may yearn to be close to Him, our eyes will be dull, our ears will be deaf, our heart will be closed to His presence because we’ve taken Him and put Him on a shelf and just left Him there.
Friend, walking in the Spirit begins with getting our priorities right. It begins with setting aside some quiet, unhurried time to be with our Lord each day. To rest in Him, to hear from Him, to worship Him. Walking in the Spirit begins with this, making God our first priority, our very first priority in our lives.