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INTENTIONAL LIVING

One thing I learned earlier in my career as a teacher is always to be conscious of time. We have to make sure that we put aside time to plan for our lessons, gauge how long it would take to complete the instructions or activity, and the time we need to transition to the next lesson. However, in my personal life, staying focused is a challenge. After a long day of teaching and tackling various tasks at work, my natural response is to relax and mindlessly scroll through my Instagram feed.

It may seem harmless to be on my phone, but I realize now that so much of my precious time is taken away on temporary and trivial things. Similarly, in our spiritual walk, we must remember that we are on borrowed time here on Earth. As Christ’s beloved, how can we live our lives to the fullest potential?

In Ephesians 5:1-20, Apostle Paul emphasizes to the church that we need to“ follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

When Paul says, “follow God’s example” and “walk in the way if love”, I perceive it as a lifetime process of submitting to God’s Word and will. This is a huge relief because it releases so much pressure on striving to be perfect and relying on my strength. It is Jesus who has made me right before God because He paid the penalty. And praise be to God that He sends us the Holy Spirit to help us become more like Him and our job is simply to follow Him. This reminds me of when we experienced our first snow in Canada. The snow was up to our knees, and my dad had to shovel a pathway for my family to walk to the driveway without slipping and falling onto the thick layers of snow. Church, we must follow Christ one step at a time, and it requires trust.

It’s a daily surrender and commitment to follow His guidance. This means we must be intentional with talking, behaving, thinking, and using our time. We ought to ask ourselves, how am I spending my time? What are my time robbers, or what are my biggest distractions? Or what are the things that I am consuming in my life? What contents from the internet or TV? Is there anything in your life that is becoming an idol in our lives?

When we orient ourselves to resting in His presence, it is easier for us to fully comprehend God’s purpose in our lives, which is to be a living sacrifice. While Jesus was here on Earth, He knew His purpose was to obey the Father’s will and lay down His life for humankind. From my understanding, Paul reiterates that we belong to God so that we may operate out of our identity in Christ. It is so that we let go of our selfish desires and place our focus on becoming selfless like Jesus.

It is imperative that we have uninterrupted time with the Lord to acknowledge our Heavenly Father for who He is and receive today’s blessings. To realign our focus on His character and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us on the areas where we need to change. Church, knowing that we are God’s children and set apart, it imperative that we constantly keep our hearts in check. We are called to reflect His light in this broken world through our attitudes, actions, and words. It’s a constant work of letting go our old self and putting on the new self, living as God’s ambassadors.

Following to For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The one thing that stood out to me from this passage is Paul’s emphasis on making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. As Christ followers, we are constantly being tempted and distracted. We are not immune to the trials of life or challenges that encumber our faith. However, Jesus offered us Himself so that we can overcome any schemes of the evil one. From the time I’m awake, my mind is filled with the long list of things I need to do. It takes a certain discipline for me to start my day by praying and being hidden in God’s Word.

We’ve often heard that our habits and choices determine the direction of our lives. One of the decisions I made for this year was to make healthier choices daily. I set a goal to at least get my body moving for 45 minutes, whether going for a walk, running, or going to the gym. It has helped regulate my emotions, and I’m finding that my body needs that consistency.

Similarly, with our walk of faith, it is important that we take care of ourselves to maintain our spiritual growth. One of the ways that we can grow in our faith is by laying our lives down for others. No matter the task’s size, we learn more about Jesus when we set aside our ego and replace it with a heart that longs to serve others. I think that’s why the apostle Paul mentions to be filled with the spirit, and speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs.

Just as our faith is built through community, it is imperative that we grow to serve others through His Agape love. Instead of engaging ourselves in gossiping or unwholesome talk, intentional living would choose to lift others instead by using the Word of God, which is life giving and true. As a body of Christ, we can show God’s love in our area of influence, but it’s a matter of meekness. Are we allowing Christ to work in and through us?

When Paul mentions the importance of exposing darkness, I believe that we need to grow into the habit of confessing our sins and growing with fellow believers to become more like Jesus in the fruits of the spirits, as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23. Church, we can only be alive in character if we live a daily life of surrender to God. Surrendering our past, future, hopes, and dreams. I pray that this becomes an invitation to embrace each day, knowing that it is a gift from God. It’s a new day for us to know Him personally and make Him known through our lives.


Blessings,
Jennifer Wijaya
Global Women Coordinator

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