Christian music

Monday, July 20, 2009

I grew up in church and learned at an early age that I didn't enjoy it all that much—but I knew that I was supposed to do my best to live a good Christian life, and at various times I gave it a good effort.

At youth rallies, we would have emotional experiences and I would think, OK, this time I mean it. I'm going to be a Christian. Each time my resolve lasted a few days before fading away. A few months later, there would be another rally and I would try again.

When I tried to live out what I knew about Christianity, it just seemed incredibly dull. I kept thinking there must be something more to Christianity than what I'm doing, because this is far too difficult to be fun. I want something more!

At 16, I discovered the something more. It's a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I learned that God wants us to experience a life-changing, life-empowering connection with Jesus Christ that puts your Christian life in overdrive. In order to experience the fullness of the Christian life, you have to die.

Galatians 2:20-21— 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

Three truths in this passage have helped me get a handle on it. I think they'll help you, too.

The first thing is...I live through Christ. (v. 20) I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

This is an "in the moment" experience. It's a decision we make minute-by-minute to allow Christ to live through us. It happens, first of all, in the way that we think. When we change the way we think, we can change the way we live. We have to adopt this mindset. We have to remind ourselves on a daily basis—I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Our daily prayer must become, "Jesus, live through me."

There is no magic formula to making this happen, other than applying the principle day-by-day, minute-by-minute. You have to put to death the things you want—your dreams, your hopes, your aspirations, and surrender to what God wants for you.

When you face temptation, say "Christ, live through me.” When life becomes impossible, say "Christ, live in me.” When you need the strength to continue, say "Christ, live through me.” As you say these words, yield to his strength.

The next thing is...I live by faith. (v. 20) The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.

When you pray the prayer, "Christ live through me" you probably won't feel a wave of confirming emotions. Maybe you will, but most likely not—so don't look for them.

Here's why. God wants you to learn to live by faith and to move in faith. When you say, "Christ live through me, you yield yourself to his lordship in your life. The next step is to move forward as if that prayer has been answered—because it has been, whether you can feel it or not. Moving forward is a step of faith.

When you die to yourself and yield to him, he lives through you. When he lives through you, you are capable of doing more than you ever could have on your own. You're capable of overcoming temptations that you cannot overcome on your own. You're capable living more holy than you ever could have on your own. You're capable of being more loving, more forgiving, more merciful, and more patient than you could be on your own. You activate this power in your life through faith.

The third truth is…I live in grace. (v. 21) I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

You'll never earn salvation. Forget about batting a thousand—it'll never happen. Your relationship with God is based on mercy. You've been given something that you don't deserve. If you're thinking that someday you'll become so good that your relationship with God is no longer based on mercy, you need to give up on that idea. You can't earn God's salvation by good works. Mercy earned is not really mercy—it's a reward. Salvation earned is not a gift—it's a paycheck.

There is something more in your relationship with God, to experience it you’ve got to die. You have to be crucified with Christ, and you have to let him live through you, minute-by-minute of every waking day. You do this by faith, not by feelings and you get there by grace.

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