As Christians, there’s always something we can change in our lives to better serve God. But we don’t always want to give up the worldly things we’ve come to love. I struggle every day with letting go of things in this world that don’t glorify God or even just doing the simple every day things that I should be doing for God. I know it’s absolutely essential to do so because serving God is our sole purpose in this life. Throughout the bible, God instructs us to serve and glorify him. Here are a few verses from the King James Bible:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:58
“If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” John 12:26
“Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.” Deuteronomy 13:4
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24
“The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” Psalm 34:22
“But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Joshua 22:5
I set out with a goal this year to publish something every other Friday for the whole year. This isn’t a lot for a blogger but I just wanted to get in the habit of being consistent. However after three months I needed to take a break. I wasn’t struggling to come up with blog posts and I was really enjoying the schedule I had set. But life started to slip out of my control and challenges began to pile up. I then realized I it was time to take a step back from everything and refocus.
During this time that I realized, I’m never going to be at peace and content in this world without God. And He is not going to provide that if I continue to do what I want and not what He wants. Cue the life changes. Some of these changes may seem trivial but they are what has helped me keep my eyes on God. And I am still struggling with all of them. But I know that if I am faithful in small things, God will be faithful in much.
Put God at the center of your life ~
This is the only place God is willing to be. If you put something else at the center of your life then that is what you’re actually serving. He states clearly in Matthew 6:24 (included in the verses above^^) that “no man can serve two masters…” The scary part is you can be doing it without even realizing it. Your kids, your spouse, your work, even you yourself can slip in and take the place of God at the center of your life when you’re not paying attention.
God even admits numerous times throughout His word that he is a “consuming fire, even a jealous God.” Deuteronomy 4:24. So stop and think. Is God at the center of your life? Has something else drifted in and taken His place? What can you start doing now to right this wrong?
Our God may be a jealous, unyielding God, but He is also merciful and understanding. He does not expect us to be perfect. But He does expect us to come to Him and admit when we have done wrong. He expects us to give our heart to him and he “will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26.
Learn to pray well ~
I never thought I needed to pray better. We say the blessing every night before dinner, I pray with my son at bedtime, and when we remember my husband and I will pray together before bed. James 5:16 says “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” In the past few weeks I have continually heard the words “fervent prayer” in different places. I looked up the definition of fervent and google says that it is having or displaying a passionate intensity.
Think for a second about who you’re actually talking to when you pray. The Creator of heaven and earth. The Father who split the Red Sea for his children. The Savior who sacrificed himself for us. The Redeemer who gives us life so we can be born again. So the next time you mumbled a weak prayer for the sake of saying a prayer again, me being just as guilty as anyone, stop and think about who exactly you are praying to.
So let us drop to our knees, humbly bow our heads, go “boldly unto the throne of grace,” (Hebrews 4:16), and pray with that passionate intensity. Because those are the prayers that are going to change our hearts, and completely transform the dynamic of our relationship with God. The prayers that are going to provide that closeness and intimacy with him that we all long for.
One thing I’ve started doing to pray better is writing down my prayers. I got a little journal and every day I’ll sit and write out thought out, meaningful prayers. Then some time during the day when I manage to get some alone time I’ll get on my needs and pray through what I’ve written. This helps me remember everything I want to pray about and also helps me to prioritize and organize my thoughts. If you struggle with this, I would highly recommend trying to write down your prayers.
Read books that strengthen your faith ~
I have always loved to read. In high school I could get through a book every two days and I never wanted to stop. I would read anything but especially loved books from the literary canon. Now, I can’t bring myself to read anything that doesn’t have to do with Christian living. I don’t feel like reading anything from the Times Best Sellers list, I can’t pick up random books from the library, and I have no interest of even browsing for anything new. And it is nothing but a blessing. I still read whenever I can but every single book I read somehow strengthens my understanding and relationship with Jesus. Anything else would seem like a waste of time when I still have so much to learn about my faith.
Please don’t get the impression I am telling you never to read anything other than Christian books again. That is not what I’m getting at. Reading is a beautiful, enchanting thing and there are definitely worse things you could be doing with your time (which we’ll get to). But reading can be another distraction to keep your focus off of Him. Not to mention, reading books that strengthen your faith and understanding.
Count your blessings ~
A huge part of your role to serve God is remembering everything he has done and continues to do for us despite our human imperfections. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I Thessalonians 5:18. I will be the first to admit that I will complain about anything before I stop and think about everything I have been blessed with. But I’ve come to realize if I focus on all the negative things in my life, I will never truly be able to appreciate everything God has already given me. Things that I never deserved in the first place. That is the amazing part about about God’s grace, he will bless us even when we’re not worthy.
If you continually are thankful for the things that you have been blessed with you will have a much easier time keeping your eyes on Jesus. But I know it’s not always easy to be thankful first. An easy way to overcome this is to write down two or three things you’re thankful for everyday. A good place to do this is in that prayer journal we just talked about! That way not only will you be reminding yourself of everything you have but also be thanking God for it all as well!
Start listening to worship music ~
This one I struggle with, not because I don’t like worship music (okay I don’t like Christian rock) but because I like the music I’ve always listened to. Sometimes I just don’t feel like listening to worship music. Most of the time, my worldly side wins and I end up listening to what I want.
When I do guilt myself into listening to worship music it changes the whole atmosphere of my house. Troubles seem to disappear, a sense of peace and joy spreads through every room, and there’s a distinct calmness I can’t even begin to explain. Psalm 95:1 says, “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.” Now, I wouldn’t consider me bellowing an off pitch version of I Can Only Imagine a joyful noise but hopefully God does. Even if it’s only background music, it’s just another way to keep God at the center of your life.
Turn off the tv ~
This is a huge struggle for me. Not that I love watching tv but it has become a deadly habit over the years. Growing up we’d have dinner, take showers, get in our pajamas, and watch tv. And after all this time I still do the same thing every night. It is a habit that I am tired of and am ready to kick. But it is also a habit that I have done almost every night for probably over ten years. It’s going to take some time.
I have been able to accomplish so much more every night though since I’ve started this. I can read more, work on my blog, get some extra housework done, and even just hang out with my husband. Some nights I still give in and turn on the tv. The other day I was so drained from a long day that I just wanted to get into bed and watch reruns of Friends. But one night of this is a big improvement from seven.
It doesn’t seem like a big deal but this is a big distraction that weakens my motivation to serve God. Even if I use the time to do something that doesn’t directly glorify the Lord, I am still eliminating a toxic, worldly habit from my life. It’s one thing I am more than willing to give up in order to strengthen my relationship with God.