Editor's note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Greg Laurie's book, Let God Change Your Life: How to Know and Follow Jesus (David C. Cook, 2011).
If your Christian life is boring or unfulfilling, you’re not living the life Jesus is calling you to live. Your faith should challenge you to keep learning and growing in exciting ways that change your life for the better.
Jesus loves you just as you are, but He loves you too much to want you to stay that way. His will is for you to move beyond passively believing in Him but not really changing, to actively living for Him in ways that will change your life significantly. Here’s how you can do that:
Make a commitment to Jesus. You can’t follow Jesus halfheartedly; He asks you to either walk away from Him or commit to Him completely. Pray to begin an eternal relationship with Jesus by repenting of your sin and accepting His sacrifice for it on the cross. Make your relationship with Jesus your top priority in life. Devote more time and energy to growing closer to Jesus than you do to any other pursuit.
Decide to follow Jesus in every part of your life. Rather than limiting your faith only to the times you spend praying or worshiping in church, extend it to every aspect of your life – from your family life to your job. Seek Jesus’ guidance for everything that you say and do, and choose to follow His guidance.
Claim the joy that is yours as a Christian. Remind yourself often of the incredible truth that, as a Christian, you have eternal life in heaven awaiting you. Let the knowledge of that wonderful gift from Jesus give you joy every day.
Become a true disciple. If you’re really going to be a disciple of Jesus, you’ll love Him more than anyone or anything else. Be willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary for you to follow where Jesus leads you. When what Jesus wants you to do conflicts with what other people want you to do, choose to follow Jesus. Don’t hesitate to step out to do something that God is clearly leading you to do, since God will always empower you to do what He asks you to do. Keep in mind that investing time and energy into serving Jesus is the best investment you can ever make, since it has eternal value. Expect to see results of discipleship in your life if you’re truly following Jesus, such as a growing love for His Word (the Bible) and for other people, a desire to share the Gospel message with others, a longing to spend time with Jesus in prayer, and the courage to endure persecution or other hardships in order stand by your convictions.
Grow closer to Jesus through the Bible. Make a habit of reading, studying, memorizing, meditating on, and applying the Bible’s words to your life regularly. Pray that God will speak to you in fresh ways through the Bible whenever you read it. Ask yourself thoughtful questions about what you read in the Bible, such as: “Is there a sin mentioned that I need to confess or forsake?”, “Is there a command given that I should obey?”, “Is there a promise made that I can look to in my current circumstances?” and “Is there a prayer given that I could pray?”
Grow closer to Jesus through prayer. Rather than worrying about whether or not you’re using the right technique when praying or how eloquent your prayers sound to Jesus, simply be honest with Him in prayer. Jesus is concerned only with how genuine your prayers are. So express your deepest thoughts and feelings to Him with the confidence that He hears you and cares. Whenever you have a concern weighing on your mind, turn to Jesus in prayer and ask Him to intervene to help. Beyond talking to Jesus in prayer, spend time listening to Jesus talking to you through His Spirit when you pray.
Grow closer to Jesus through the church. Find and participate in a Bible-believing church where you can grow spiritually through teachings and make use of your God-given gifts to serve others. As you grow closer to Jesus in church, keep reaching outward beyond the church to share your faith and resources with people who Jesus wants to draw to Himself through you.
Reach out to others who need relationships with Jesus. The Great Commission (Jesus’ command to communicate the Gospel message to all people) is for all Christians, not just some. Be faithful to do your part to evangelize and disciple others. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you, and you can count on help every step of the way. Keep in mind that you just need to faithfully follow what Jesus wants you to do, and He will do the work of actually converting people. So just do your best, and trust Jesus with the results. Model a Christian life for people by living with integrity and love. Make time to listen to people, pray for them, and help them with practical needs. Then, when you’ve built genuine friendships with them, share the Gospel’s simple message with them: Jesus died for people’s sins, was buried, and then resurrected so that everyone who trusts in Him can live forever with God. Share your personal testimony of faith with people, keeping the focus on how Jesus has changed your life, so people can think more about how He can change their lives. After people begin relationships with Jesus, help them mature in their faith. Get them connected to a healthy church, continue your friendship with them, and encourage them to continue the cycle of faith by evangelizing and discipling others.
Adapted from Let God Change Your Life: How to Know and Follow Jesus copyright 2011 by Greg Laurie. Published by David C. Cook, Colorado Springs, Co., www.davidccook.com.
Greg Laurie, the best-selling author of The Upside DownChurch (a Gold Medallion winner) and Lost Boy, is senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, one of the largest churches in America. His syndicated radio program, A New Beginning, is broadcast around the world.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: [email protected] to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience.
Publication date: May 1, 2012