What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9)
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)
"Practice makes perfect" they say. Exercise builds endurance. Sometimes we need to stop and ask ourselves if we are practicing what we have read in the Word and exercising those things. Are we reading it and walking away and forgetting it? How are we applying it to our lives. We don't grow in grace and knowledge of God just by reading it. We need to take it in to our hearts and minds and apply all of it to our lives. We need to actually do it! Simple right? Well, I guess not because the Lord seems to have to remind us again and again, and sometimes, in my life, it seems I've had to learn and relearn and relearn again, the same things over and over through various trials or circumstances. I have to be reminded many times over of something the Lord showed me very clearly in His Word, and then be reminded that yet another time, I must apply that Word to my walk, and not quit applying it.
We wonder why our lives get all messed up sometimes and why we are going through something in particular (Proverbs 19:3). Sometimes things happen beyond our control or anything we've done, but there are many times our own lack of applying the Word and walking in the Spirit has caused us to end up in a situation we do not want to be in. Many times we don't see or understand why or what we did or did not do that brought us to where we are at. Maybe we were just going about our business, doing things the way we wanted to do them, then everything fell apart. But in those things God allowed in our lives that are painful, we are forced to take a look and ask, and as we spend time in His Word He reveals to us what our flesh is and what led us to where we ended up. "Why did God let this happen to me?" We may cry out, not understanding or seeing. We don't see anything we did "wrong" or could have done differently. But maybe God saw fit to give us a little "practice" in putting our faith in Him in ways we have not even seen yet, forcing us to get up and exercise some godliness. He won't just do it for us. He wants us to get up, take what He's given us, by faith, and act on it, not just once, but as many times as necessary, until our walk is no longer feeble, but sure and steady and confident in Him.
It's a time that we need, more than ever, to sit at His feet, and let Him teach us. We need to let Him instruct us in His Word, and then we need to take that Word and act on it. If we don't act on it in faith, it won't have any benefit to us. We can't get by just seeking to do our own thing reading a few comfy verses each day to give us a lift, and expect God to just bless everything we do. He has a different plan. His purposes are higher than our purposes. He has given us His Word to be our light to our path, to be our guide, our counsel, and our very life. Are we practicing what we are reading? Are we taking it to heart? Are we applying faith to it? Are we making it our own and walking in it?
For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. (Hebrews 4:2)
If we forget to, God has a way of reminding us again and again. I know I have needed that reminder often and I still do, and my Abba never fails to give it to me! We take it lightly if we are neglecting His Word in a certain area of our lives, overlooking it easily, but God does not. He never overlooks or fails to make sure to accomplish His Word in us and bring us to the place of seeing where we are neglecting Him, and drawing us back to His Word of life for instruction and counsel, giving us opportunity to benefit from it once again.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22-25)
If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:17)
In contrast, if you "know these things"... the things Scripture teaches us how to live by faith and how we are to conduct ourselves, and then we don't do them, how miserable we'll be! How much we'll miss! How little of Christ we'll really know and how little His life with benefit us. Of course, if we are not even reading the Word, we won't "know these things!" And then we are not practicing them either, but just living life our own way, pursuing our own interests. He's given us the greatest treasure and there is nothing on earth that can compare. There is nothing in this life we could gain for ourselves that could even minutely compare with what riches He has for us here and for eternity in Him, in knowing Him, in having His life flowing through us, in seeing His fruit produced in us and in seeing the life that comes forth to others we love because of it. There is nothing in this life that we could pursue that compares to the eternal rewards He has for us. If we really get a glimpse of it, we would pursue that life with all our hearts, not just casually, or half-heartedly, or as it suits us. This wonderful blessed Word of God, so full of true treasure and riches, so full of all we need to live life to the fullest in Christ, if we apply it and walk by faith in it, trusting in Him, rather than ourselves, can be of no benefit to us if we do not put our faith in it and practice and apply what it says. What a loss! It's one I know I don't want.
I know many times I have failed to apply it or remember to. But recently, I am made more aware than ever that every breath I am given the grace to breathe in this world, I want not to be wasted, but to be for eternal purpose in Him. As the world grows more evil, my view becomes more and more clear of what is important to me. What is important to God is what is becoming more and more important to me in this world. I want to make sure I am not neglecting that most important thing letting daily life crowd it out. I want to make sure that I am putting into practice all He gives me. I want to hold fast to that which matters, and live for Him.
"Practice these things"...that is the things that matter. Practice the things that matter.
Practice walking by faith daily, whatever the situation, from the smallest to the greatest things that come your way. Practice "putting on Christ" each day and walking by faith in Him. Practice love to others. Practice hope that doesn't give up. Practice being His light however He calls you to be. Practice denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Him. Practice prayer and thanksgiving in every circumstance. We may not feel it, and it may not come natural, and we may be tempted, tossed, and oppressed, but practice godliness to all people anyway...put on Christ! Put off the flesh. It's by faith in His living Word, taking that Word into our spirits and trusting it is true as it says. He is good to His Word. We can count on it, walk in it, and practice it daily, trusting His power in us to live in and through us. We are not "obligated to the flesh to cater to its demands."
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12-13)
You do not have to let the flesh have its way in you. You have the Spirit of God, if you are born of that Spirit and have come to saving faith in Christ. If so, you do not have to give in to the demands of your flesh no matter how loud or strong they are.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
"I can't help how I feel." No but you can help how you act, and can choose to trust and rely on all God has given you to stand and walk in and practice His Word. Tell yourself what His Word says, when your flesh or the enemy is telling you something contrary. Tell yourself what God's promise to you is, and what His command to you is, and then by faith, practice it, even if everything inside of you "feels" differently. Feelings follow faith. Faith does not follow feelings. Never will. Don't let your feelings control you. By faith, present yourself to God, and trust His Spirit in you to overcome the flesh (Romans 6:11-18).
The Christian life is more than feelings, it's more than experience, it's more than getting blessed. The Christian life is Christ in you, your hope of glory, and it is that, as we practice walking according to that life in us and all He is to us and has provided for us. If we lack wisdom He says to just ask for it, and He will give it, for every circumstance (James 1:2-6).
Abba, Father, enable us to see where we are lacking in our practicing daily all the things Your Word gives us, and in practicing faith instead of doubt, hope instead of despair, and trust that where You lead us, You will provide all for us and continue to bring us through. Help us to see when we lose our way or when we get onto a wrong path what brought us there. Help us to understand more and more the life that You would want us to practice and do daily, for Your glory, in Jesus name, amen.
If you are not sure you have eternal life, if you want to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ, and how you can be sure, you can read more about it here.