As a believer sheds their self and moves away from worldly comfort and emotionally based happiness, they enter an environment where the Spirit can grow in them and replace the flesh that has dominated their existence. While growth sounds exciting at its initial thought, it can be very painful as faith becomes the basis for movement and not sight. Not many people have complete trust in many people around them. The concept of being able to completely trust God takes effort. He seeks that all things are for our good as we walk in His will. He does not change and cannot lie. All the truth of His word should become as comforting as a warm blanket on a cold day. Growth as we walk in faith reveals how true this is. Growing in faith is as difficult as it is satisfying to our spirit. As the Holy Spirit matures us we begin to bear its fruit: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23a). Growing in Christ-likeness as we walk in the Spirit allows these qualities to show through in increasing measure. This is one of the ways that we are able to shine the light of God into this darkened world. This growth and maturity is a lifelong process. It is even more satisfying when we get closer to God and our perspective of things change and grow with us. His Word is alive and matures us as its depths are revealed to us. It then becomes clear that the depth of our God is infinite and we can never know enough. We are beginning a lifelong commitment that never decreases in the joy and peace that it provides to us as we go deeper into the arms of our Heavenly Father.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9b-10)
4) Shedding of Self
As the believer learns what it looks like to walk with Christ they see that the process involves a new heart. This new heart is made new by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit functions at full capacity in a heart made pure as sinfulness is pushed out. The darkness is replaced by the light of God. We see this in the power exercised by the only sinless heart to ever walk the earth: Jesus. He was perfectly connected to the Father and the full power of the Spirit healed and raised the dead. The same Spirit indwells in believer when they accept Christ as a sacrifice for their sin and allows that Spirit to enter their heart. It is at this point that that we have to shed ourselves, let go of our flesh and allow our spirits to grow. We have to decrease so that God’s power in us can increase. We are called to a purpose that exceeds our expectations and a joy that surpasses the best this world has to offer. The process of shedding requires humility and a trust that God must give us the strength to accomplish. Ask God to give you a new strength and ability to walk with Him. Your Heavenly Father seeks to guide you into rightly walking with Him. He sent His only Son to die so that you could be reconciled to Him, of course He’s willing to show you your purpose in your new family. Let go of what you hold on to for comfort and step into the embrace that fits you perfectly and last for eternity.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you (Ezekiel 36:26a)
Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 18:31)
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. (Romans 8:9)
Being awakened to the love of God and the sacrifice of His Son creates a vacuum in our spirit that wants to take in all that has been missing. The void left from earthy provision leaves the believer famished and desperate to fill themselves with the goodness of God and the love of Jesus. Then begins the stage of learning. Attending church and reading the bible become exciting and the spike in curiosity feels like an unquenchable thirst. Nothing can fill all of the places that have been left empty fast enough. They are now aware that God is able to meet the needs that nothing else could. They delight in the possibilities in this unknown love and grace. They are accepted in their brokenness and the world is bright because their focus now includes the light in Jesus Christ. What does it look like to fall deeper into God? What can I do to get closer? There is a hunger for substance and a thirst for more.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. (Psalm 81:10)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)
Those who God calls are awakened to their fallenness and desperate need for a Savior. Their pride falls away and they become aware of their depravity. They stop believing they are good by comparing themselves to the fallen world and realize in the eyes of a holy and perfect God all have fallen short. I love to share with people that even their curiosity about God is a gift from Him. If you are looking to reconnect with your Creator it is because He has gifted that desire to you. Praise the God who actively seeks you and offers His only Son so that you can be reconciled to Him and begin a new life with possibilities that far exceed the worldly imagination that has held you captive. We are called to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and to let the sacrifice of His life for us cover our sin debt. If we were to truly look at the sin of our lives we would realize the debt we are in is too great to overcome. It would compare to a credit card that we have no chance of paying of the balance. God loves you in your fallen state enough to erase that debt. He refuses to let you stay a slave to sin and debt that piles up with it. When even one spirit is awakened to Jesus all of heaven rejoices. Another child of God has come home to the Father and they are now on a path that allows them to fulfill the purpose for which they were created. The can take their place in the Kingdom of God for all eternity and will never taste death but have eternal life in reconciliation with their Eternal Heavenly Father.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (Romans 9:18)
We are all aware that there is something more. It may get shoved down to a place where it can be temporarily ignored but it resurfaces when the panic arises. Our desire to fall into God is at its greatest when we are at the end of ourselves and realize that our need/ desperation just outgrew our pride. God puts eternity in the hearts of all men. Some come to the One who transcends time and is larger than eternity. Others fall into the snares of this world be trying to fill the void of their lives with things that will perish. They don’t see that only the eternal God can fill the void He made for Him to rest. How many people do you know that are lost in the darkness of this sinful world? They need the light of Jesus to brighten their life but are in too much turmoil to turn and seek the light. It’s comparable to a child who is in fighting to keep their head above water. The fear of drowning causes panic and they flail about trying anything to sooth that panic and find comfort. All of the terror of their heart keeps them from seeing that the water is only four foot deep and they can stand up at any time. The light of Jesus is always within reach. God and the Son are only a submitted prayer away. Your Heavenly Father is seeking to deliver you from the darkness. Jesus has overcome this world and He seeks for the lost to join Him. Being aware He exists and calls to you is the first step to beginning a walk that leads to things so great only God knows what He has for those you love Him.
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9)
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33b)
God equips each of us in a unique way to serve Him and to glorify Him. In His infinite wisdom He molds us through our troubles in order to strengthen us for our journey. When troubles come into our lives, our first instinct is to run to our friends and family for counsel or consoling. That can be useful some of the time but we must use discernment with their advice. The important thing is that we give God’s Word precedence over all other counsel. This all became clear when I was reminded of the story of David fighting Goliath.
David came to the army camp to bring lunch to his brothers. They were not accommodating to him when he came to them. He then hears the army’s trouble with a giant Philistine named Goliath. David approaches King Saul while all of the other soldiers are afraid to fight. The king reluctantly says ok to this undersized minor fighting the giant. Saul then proceeds to give David his armor and weapon to fight. The problem was David could not use Saul’s weapon or armor (advice) to approach the battle God had for him. He had to use the skills of a shepherd to fight the way God had equipped him. He approached the Philistine with the power of the God of Israel made whole in David’s faith and weakness. David trusted God and ignored the advice of his brothers to return home and his king to use a sword. In his obedience to God he glorified the Lord and solidified his own place as the future king.
Listen to the wisdom of those around you and accept their love. But in those moments of weakness give the highest position to God and let His power be made complete in your weakness. Discern the counsel of the people around you and lean always on God’s word always faithful to His word made flesh in Christ.
For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. (Job 33:14)
“Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life. (Job 33:29-30)
I had a concept put on my spirit and could not find the verse until a friend opened his bible randomly and felt compelled to share with me that verse. It happened to be the one I needed to confirm God’s word to my spirit with His written Word. The two-edged sword that cuts through the snares that seek to keep believers from walking in peace and joy with the Savior. Praise God for His Word and its confirmation in my spirit which brings an overflowing joy to my heart.
As we walk in the guidance of God through His Spirit we have to remain open to, not only His Will at all times, but His correction during the process of sanctification. Our human nature attempts to draw us away from God’s path and convince us that we can walk alone at times. We tend to try and walk in our own understanding or at our pace. God has to correct His children as they run ahead of His leading. The passages above speak to a God that provides correction, not once, but multiple times in different ways so that we might receive it. This shows the love of a God who seeks for us to understand His plan. He seeks after those who seek Him. The second piece of scripture shows a God that loves His children so much that He is willing to take the time to repeat a lesson multiple time as He seeks to grow His Spirit in their hearts. I see times where God has given me a lesson to learn and then as I continue to move forward my fallen nature pulls me out of alignment with Him. He then stops me and repeats the lesson because He cares enough to take the time to make sure I walk rightly as I grow to fulfill the purpose He created for me. I found a journal that had notes of a time God had given me a lesson, I see that He has brought me back to repeat that lesson. I was floored at His patience, steadfastness, and faithfulness in correction of my sin of independence.
How grateful I am to have the chance to serve a God with such love and patience. How grateful I am to have the opportunity to return to a lesson God finds important enough to repeat for me in order for me to live complete in Him. How humble I am to my Heavenly Father as He puts His word in my heart and then uses a friend to hand me a piece of His written Word, bringing fullness and confidence that my faith is placed in a God worthy of all glory and praise for all eternity. Praise the God of Heaven!
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11)
God is impossible to fully understand or fathom with our limited minds. We are asked to walk with faith in the things we don’t understand. If we are honest with ourselves. We don’t fully understand anything. The depth of God’s creation is too vast. The best that can be done is to establish scientific theory and then watch it evolve over time to try and explain its unknowing position. If we can’t fully comprehend God’s creation, how much more incomprehensible is the Creator? I begin this way to make a point that came to mind during my studies today.
I think back to all of the pagan gods of time past and the practices of those followers. The scripture for Ecclesiastes above tells us that God puts eternity on all men’s hearts. He creates a missing piece in all man’s spirit that can only be filled by Him. This explains the way all men seek to fill that void with other gods and practices to fulfill a need they cannot explain. The problem arises when they can’t comprehend anything larger than what they see and feel. They can’t understand the scripture from Isaiah above. That is, God is larger than our feeble attempts to explain Him. To this day even Christians are guilty of putting God in a box that suits their understanding. That understanding creates comfort, but confines God’s work in them as they can’t believe His prompting outside of their standard for Him. They struggle to let ‘God be God.’ Pagans suffer the same way in that they attach human qualities to the gods which leaves them in a perpetual state of uncertainty of how to relate to or please those gods. They live life sacrificing larger and larger things hoping to find favor. Some cultures even looked to human sacrifice to accomplish such things.
As I sit and think about how terrifying that must be to hope that you have done enough and lived up to a god’s changing standard and emotion. I fall deeper into praise that I was called to be the child of a God that doesn’t change. He is the same forever. He took on human flesh to come save me. I don’t have to sacrifice anything accept my flesh, but in return He gives me a new heart and a clean spirit that far surpasses what was given up. I would not seek to serve a God that needed fulfillment from His people, or a God that has variation based of situation and emotion. The Heavenly Father I speak of is above all things and stands steadfast and faithful in His love and mercy. How anyone might miss the superiority of what the true God looks like is beyond my comprehension too. If you know Jesus consider yourself blessed to have been called to Him. Now let that blessing overflow to the lost world around you as they find idols to fill the void that God desires to be filled only by Him.
“From Him (Christ) we learn how God acts toward people. The hypo-critical, the basically insincere, will find Him cold and aloof, as they once found Jesus; but the penitent will find Him merciful; the self-condemned will find Him generous and kind. To the frightened He is friendly, to the poor in spirit He is forgiving, to the ignorant, considerate; to the weak, gentle; to the stranger, hospitable.” -A.W. Tozer
The bible leads us to approach God in submission, in humility, in meekness, in gratitude, in love, etc. For the longest time I loved this idea. We ask the Holy Spirit to move in our lives as we grow in faith. The Spirit allows us to achieve the for mentioned attributes as we relate to a God that is greater than our minds and hearts can comprehend. The Creator of the universe, the God that has no beginning and no end, the God that has a love that is incomprehensible to our fallen hearts is worthy of all we are called to grow into. My thoughts were always to give my savior all of my heart and to submit all of my ways to the God that knows what is best for me. He designed me for a purpose and allowing Him to guide my steps leads me to a life that will far surpass my greatest dreams.
It is in this submission that I had a revelation as I read the passage above. Not only are we giving to God what is due Him as our Creator and Heavenly Father, in this position of growing sanctification we gain a perspective of God that allows us to move closer to Him in praise, worship, and love. When we take the position the Spirit leads us to we allow God to show us more of His infinitude and to move freely in our lives growing us in holiness and Christ-likeness.
In this same thought we should have compassion for those who are lost in the darkness of sin. How can they know what God can do through Jesus if they don’t have a heart to submit and allow Him to show His power in their lives? We must lead them through example and not just words that they cannot comprehend in their fallen state. Refuse to be frustrated as the stumble for perspective. Show the unfailing love of God that you know because God called you out of the darkness to reflect His light. Help others find perspective as you grow yourself.