Living the Christian Life (a 16-part study)

How should we who are Christians live our daily lives? "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1).

We can maintain good health by having a regular physical check-up. We can keep our car performing at a high level of efficiency by having a regular diagnostic check-up. We have a spiritual life that also requires a frequent check-up. Here are some tests to give your spiritual life. We hope they prove helpful. (If you need help, seek the counsel of the Great Physician.)

A Study of Philippians 2:1-8

The church, the community of believers in Philippi, came into existence when God opened their hearts and they believed and responded to the message Paul preached. (Acts 16:13-15) From the beginning this church supported Paul in his ministry. (Philippians 4:14-16) And his correspondence shows the loving relationship they enjoyed. However, all was not well within the community. Tension existed, bad attitudes had surfaced and humility was in short supply. The spirit of servanthood needed to be restored.

Recent polls conducted by Gallup and Barna in America do not present a healthy image of the lifestyle of many who follow Christ. Divorce among Christians is now the same as the rest of the population, promiscuity among teenage Christians is marginally better than that of their peers who make no profession of the Christian faith and the average financial contribution of church-going Christians is a paltry 2.6%. The type of movies Christians attend, the programmes they watch on television, the type of literature they read, the views they hold on a variety of moral issues are improper for God's holy people. (see Ephesians 5:3) The emerging picture is that Christians are not very different from the world. So what is going wrong?

"Do not judge," Jesus said, "or you too will be judged." (Matthew 7:1) What did Jesus mean?

The efforts of good workers in the kingdom of God can be hindered by ingratitude. The enthusiasm to serve can be dampened by a lack of appreciation and the absence of a "thank you" can wear down the most diligent saint. Let's apply this to your congregation. Much is done within your church family: the building is kept clean; the communion emblems are prepared; the hymns are chosen; committed people teach Bible classes to infants, teenagers and adults every week moulding their lives for the future; there are people who watch out for your spiritual life; there are special people in your church who are always doing lovely things for others in the name of Jesus; someone takes care of the finances, buys the presentations, the greeting cards, arranges menus for church functions, maintains the church web site, visits sick members, phones to check on an absent member, provides hospitality, etc. The list is endless. Do you ever thank these people or are they just taken for granted?

The church should not have to look to the business world to see how we ought to conduct ourselves. But occasionally an example comes our way that serves to remind us of what we ought to be.

There is no doubt that, through the power of the gospel, God can save us. (Romans 1:16) A crucified Christ is God's declaration that a free and full pardon is available. (1 Corinthians 1:18) And that message of hope is for everyone; no one is outside the scope of God's divine love and mercy.

The number of people seeking counselling today is increasing and a variety of types of counselling are on offer. The secular counselling some receive is unhelpful and, at worst, positively dangerous. Some secular counsellors are openly opposed to the Christian faith and others are avowed atheists; their counselling will not produce what God desires for people in need.

Can God be trusted? Do you have your doubts about his faithfulness? Since we are all going to die can we be certain that what we have believed is in fact true?