I am challenged by the standard the Bible gives for Christian living. To come close to this standard, or to attain it, requires a changed heart and an ongoing renewal of the mind. A person who does not know God cannot sustain these kinds of attitudes and practices in their life. When one is born again of the Spirit of God the foundation is put in place to begin to live a life according to these commands and exhortations from the Scripture.
1. In everything GIVE thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
There is never a time when we are not supposed to be thankful. Do you want to know the will of God for your life? It is to be thankful! Always! THIS is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
A correct perspective will enable us to be grateful. We need to realize that whatever we have that is good, it is there because of God the Father. It is therefore right to be thankful. The Bible says:
"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Colossians 3:17)
Your life and mine will be transformed if we truly put this into practice. There is never a time when we are not supposed to be thankful and to be giving thanks to God the Father.
2. Abounding in Hope
In the Bible, hope is a positive unwavering expectation of GOOD. It is what happens when you believe that something good is going to happen.
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Hope is something that God can fill you with. It is a wonderful gift from God. Faith, hope and love remain eternally, according to 1 Corinthians 13:13.
We can also tell ourselves to hope – and we can choose to hope continually.
The Psalmist said:
"But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more."
He could do this because as he said earlier in the same psalm
"For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth."
As long as God is with us, we have hope with us, and we ought therefore to hope continually.
3. Praising God with our Lips
"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."
Praise is sometimes a sacrifice, because there are times when things don't seem to be going too well for us, or we don't feel so upbeat. At those times we can MAKE OURSELVES praise God. Praising God is to speak out or sing out about the goodness of God. We can make ourselves do this. Its a choice. King David vowed to praise God seven times a day.
Observation of people and movements has revealed to me that God indeed does truly BLESS those who are devoted to praising Him with song.
We may feel we have reason to be sad, but if we are in Christ, we have greater reasons to praise God, to rejoice and to be happy. God has done a lot for us, we may not feel all these things to be true as yet, but they ARE true, and PRAISING GOD will greatly help us to start to believe the way we should, and also to feel the way that God would like us to!
4. Rejoicing Always
"Rejoice always" instructs 1 Thessalonians 5:16.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!"
If these Scriptures mean anything, they mean that we cannot put pre-conditions on our rejoicing. God does not say: "If you don't have something you want yet, I understand that you may not wish to rejoice, and I respect that".
We are not instructed to rejoice in temporal things – a payrise, a new job, a good deal, a new friendship – though we are instructed to give THANKS for these things.
We are instructed to rejoice IN THE LORD. That is, our rejoicing is an act of faith that is rooted in something of eternal stability – GOD HIMSELF – not in the changing fortunes and circumstances of life.
We can choose to rejoice.
Its amazing how our emotions can change in line with bodily actions.
Train yourself to smile, to sing, to dance and you'll be amazed how much better you feel. Why do these things? As a psychological exercise merely? NO, we do them as an expression of faith in an eternal God whom we hold to be our good Father.
5. Pray Without Ceasing
We are to keep a divine connection going with heaven, no matter what it takes. It may not be easy. It is work, it is a fight, it is a struggle, and I can prove that from Scripture. It can only be done with the help of the Holy Spirit. So get baptized in the Holy Spirit if you are not already, because you will need to be in order to fulfil this command in these days.
"praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints"
It is no accident that this verse comes at the end of a passage about spiritual warfare and putting on the whole armour of God. Prayer is the battle we are called to.
Praying in tongues is a real godsend for those who wish to take this command seriously.
But we are also to pray with our understanding, and when we do so, we are called to
6. Be in Faith
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
This is a negative way of putting it, but it is in the Scripture, so its OK to mention it. This verse implies that FAITH is a standard of life. Everything we do must be done in faith. Our thoughts should be in line with FAITH IN GOD.
Our prayers should be prayers of faith.
"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
Our prayers ought to be prayers of faith. We are supposed to really believe that we receive what we ask for. That is God's will and God's standard.
Jesus was always in faith, and He is our model.
The just shall live by faith.
Faith attracts God and causes to manifest the promises of God to manifest over time in our lives.
7. Walk in Love
Paul said, "Let all that you do be done in love". 1 Corinthians 16:14
Without divine love, nothing will ultimately profit us. We are called to be like God, who gave Himself and gave His Son for us.
Love is giving. I don't mean to say that all giving is love. But the nature of love is to give, to bless, to help, to make sacrifices for others.
All of our faith and hope, and spiritual warfare, is for the purpose of helping people and blessing God's heart.
We are called to be this way as descrived above. It can only be done by entering into the death and resurrection of Christ by faith – by dying to old ways and by rising up again in the new life of the Spirit of God.
Why not devote some time to really considering these Scriptures and thoughts above. Many others could be added in support of these themes, because the Bible is full of them. Don't allow these things to touch you only very superficially. Let the Lord do a work in your heart by His Spirit, that you may be ever more conformed to the image of Christ.