Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Gods will is- His good, pleasing, perfect will.
As I explained before I grew up in the church. I joined the church and was baptized when I was about 5 or 6. I was in the choir, dance ministry and girl scouts in my church from about age 6 until about 11. I enjoyed doing these things but the real reason I was involved is because my mom was super involved at our church. She was a Deacon and she was chairperson on so many other ministries. By middle school my mom answered her own calling from God to go to seminary and become a minister. So the majority of my involvement in church was more about her decision to get me and my younger sister involved, than us understanding why that involvement is important.
Although church was never an option in our house (we were always required to go), as I got older the less involved I was in church. I became more involved with my social life and my self-centered teenage and young adult world. I believed in God. I always believed in God. But I was not living for God. The only time I cracked my bible was when instructed to by our minister. The only time I prayed consistently was over my meals or going through a ‘hard’ time (I use that term loosely because I had a extremely easy childhood into my adult life). And as far as me actually following Gods instructions for my life, that was absolutely nonexistent. I was not a bad teenager/young adult. I was actually a really good by the worlds standards. I had good grades. I finished High school on time, went straight to college. Graduated College on time with Honors. I had no kids. No trouble with the law. No addictions. I never got in any real trouble. But even with doing those things right, I was not living for God. As I stated before I believed in God but I did not live for God because God was not my priority. He was kind of an after thought and a last resort. If everything else I tried did not work I would finally turn to him to clean up the mess I created by being disobedient in the first place. I was living a life of the culture, the world and of my flesh (meaning my own agenda) and thinking that just believing in God was all I had to do to be blessed and to get to heaven. I thought it was ok to have sex without being married, drink, dress provocatively, lie here and there, and countless other 'harmless' behaviors because God would forgive me. And I was having a good time and God would want me to enjoy my life right? He wants me to be happy and these things would momentarily make me happy. WRONG!
It took me until 26 (Yes that was last year) to understand that there is a huge difference between BELIEVING in God and LIVING for God. Believing in God is doing exactly what I did most of my life. I was acknowledging that God does exist and occassionally throwing him a little of my time when I felt like it. That’s all. But I was still living my life the way my peers around me were living. I was following the trends of the culture. I was taught about God growing up so I did understand right from wrong. But I was more concerned with living and being accepted by my friends and peers that I ignored my home training and church background. I did, however, learn how to hide my behavior and still look like a saint in Church on Sundays. Like most Christians, I became an expert at hiding my dirt from anyone who would disapprove. Appearances were more important than being authentic in any area of my life. I wanted to appear to be the same as all my friends who lived thier lives however they wanted. But deep down I knew what I was doing was wrong and I was not happy with myself. I also wanted to appear in church as if my life was in order when in fact I was just acting saved on Sundays as if I wasnt acting a fool the rest of the week. I was one heck of an actor. And because at that point I just believed in God and did not live for him I did not understand two extremely important things. 1) You can NOT hide anything from God and 2) You can’t expect to get to heaven by just believing in God. God requires us to also live for him. Heck even the devil believes in God.
Deuteronomy 30:16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
Living For God is deciding that you no longer want to do anything without having Gods input. Everything from your career, marriage, friendships, parenting, hobbies, finances, home life, schedule, ministry, tithing, bible study, etc. will include God. You will bring everything in your life to him and see if they are aligned with the way God expects us to handle things. We do that through prayer, bible study, and then finally actions.
When you live for God, prayer won’t be something that you do just to over a meal and before bed. Prayer will become as necessary as eating. You can’t function very long if you don’t replenish your body with food. The same goes with prayer. When you are living for God you can’t function properly without talking to God everyday about pretty much everything. Keep in mind prayer is not all about asking God for what we want. It is about praising God for his blessings. Asking God to forgive you when you fall short. Talking to God about your needs. Asking God to show you what he wants from you. And last but not least (because I know I used to always forget about this part) LISTENING for a response from God. The listening part is the hardest in my oppinion. We love to tell God a whole list of what we want him to do but we sometimes forget that God has things he wants from us. And if we never sit still and listen we wont know what those things are.
Another important part of living for God is studying Gods word. How can you possibly live for God if you never open the book that he gave us with the instructions? Think about this; If you are trying to put together a shelf that came with the instructions, it would be allot easier to do if you ACTUALLY read the instruction. That’s what they are there for. But most of us just toss our instruction manual to the side and say ‘I don’t need any help, I got this!’ or ‘I don’t have time to read all of this’ or better yet ‘I don’t like to read.’ Those are excuses. When we do not read his word we have no way of finding out the things that God has commanded us to do. How can you possibly live for him if you don’t even know what he wants from you? The bible is full of stories of people just like us who went through every different kind of problem you can imagine. I guarentee whatever you are dealing with in your life, the bible has a story for you. And with that story comes Gods instructions on how to handle each and every situation his way. Your problems and situations are not new to God. He wrote out an instruction manual to help guide you through them. Do you think you know better than the greatest author there ever was or will be?
One of the final things I’m going to write about today, that you must do to BEGIN to live for God, is to put the things you are learning through prayer and studying Gods word to use in your life. When you first make the choice to live for God you will find that many things in your life do not line up with Gods will (instructions for your life). That means its time to let it go. Eliminate everything in your life (actions, people, thoughts, etc) that you know God would not be pleased with. It’s different for every person. Maybe for you its premarital sex or shacking up. Or it could be putting people, things, or money ahead of God. Sometimes it could even be your job or hobbies. For me this included excessive drinking, selfishness, manipulative behavior, and giving god my leftovers (time, money energy, etc.). But the two biggest things I had to change was living my life like everyone in our culture and also giving up the idea that I was in control. But whatever it is you have to let it go. Even if it will make you feel lonely, uncomfortable, and maybe even unsure of where your next paycheck will come from that’s ok, just let it go TODAY! God will replace whatever you loose with the things, people, careers, and purpose he has for your life. But you have to get rid of the things and people that are keeping God from being able to enter your heart, mind, and spirit. Once you do, it gives God the space to give you the blessings he has waiting for you. He is just waiting for you to choose him. It is time to live for him!