They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3
One of my friends from college frequently says to people, “Get your life together!” This line has stayed with me since my undergraduate years at Eastern University, and I frequently find myself thinking the same thing as I interact with people of various walks of life. In a society of so much dysfunction it is logical to assume that people need to get their lives together, but many times they just do not know how to change things. They know something needs to change, but they do not know “what” and they do not know “how.” What is more disturbing to me is the number of “Christians” that are in this same predicament. In this letter to you, I hope to address this serious predicament that we find ourselves in as the Church.
We need to understand the characteristics that should define a follower of Jesus Christ. A follower of Jesus Christ should progressively become more like Jesus and do the things that Jesus did during His three-year ministry (John 14:12; Galatians 2:20). In Acts 10:38, we are given a good summation of Jesus’ life and ministry, “And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (NLT). Jesus’ life was characterized by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which basically means He was saturated with the Holy Spirit, and the result was POWER to DO GOOD. The Bible tells us that the very Holy Spirit that saturated Jesus will saturate our lives if we will make the decision to WALK IN THE SPIRIT and not gratify our carnal desires (Galatians 5:16). The Spirit has been given to every follower of Jesus, but it is up to us to operate our lives in the Spirit. If we operate our lives in the spirit, the result will be lives characterized by power & sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Is your life progressively becoming more and more characterized by these attributes of the Spirit?
The Spirit-filled life is the birthright of every child of God; however, very few exercise their kingdom rights in this world. In Genesis 25:29-34, we read the story of Esau who sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for stew because he was hungry. The birthright during Biblical times belonged to the firstborn and allowed for him to receive the chief portion of the inheritance, as well as hold the position of spiritual leadership in the family. Esau sold the prized birthright for a bowl of stew, and we could look at him and think how foolish he was, but are we that much different from him? The awesome promises in the Bible are for us and we have been given the birthright of children of God, but we sell it for the cheap and temporary things of this world which do not have the ability to truly satisfy our deepest needs. Are you ready to take back your birthright and live as a child of the King?
Getting our lives together is actually easier then it appears. In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells us of the Prodigal Son who tells his father to give him his share of the inheritance (v. 12), and then he leaves the father and proceeds to squander his riches in “wild living” (v. 13). However, the son does not immediately go back to the father. Instead he spends some time living with the pigs (v. 15). We are given a dramatic picture of the prodigal’s fall from being a son of a wealthy man to a peasant eating the slop of pigs. The story changes in verse 17 when we are told that the son “came to his senses” and decides to go back to his father and tell His father “make me like one of your hired servants” (v. 19). When he returns to the father, he is embraced and reestablished as a son. He still lost his inheritance in wild living, but he is restored as a son. What do we learn from this story about getting our lives together? First, we must “come to our senses” and realize that what needs to change is “ME.” We need to stop going to the Father and demanding “give me,” and instead ask Him to “make me.” God wants to make us like Jesus! This is what the Apostle Paul writes about how God changes us and what the result is:
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (Ephesians 3:20 Message)
Are you willing to let God make you into a new creation and to change your life?
We must stop excusing our behavior by the dysfunction around us or even within us, for in the midst of all these things we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37). God has given us the spirit of self-control, and we must set our minds on the things above (Colossians 3:2) and keep our eyes focused on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) believing that all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). We must seek first our relationship with God and the things of God (Matthew 6:33), and then He will progressively change us through His spirit abiding in us (John 15:5).
Are you ready to come to your senses and get your life together? Then get up and go to our loving Father and say, “Make me” and He will change you into an “oak of righteousness” displaying His splendor (Isaiah 61:3).
Dr. Rob Weinstein is an Associate Professor of Business Studies/ Chair of Human Resource Management Studies. He is the Founder and President of the M25 Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness in Cumberland County, NJ. He is also the Founding Pastor of Bethany Grace Community Church in Bridgeton, NJ.
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