Monday, July 6, 2009

Straight from the heart

Some things only come with time. Getting to know God and growing up in Him as a Christian is most certainly one of them. It is very important to remember that God knows exactly where you're at; where e-a-c-h person is. He knows how strong you are at any point and what you can handle extra so that you can grow beyond. He knows your desire, or lack thereof, to grow in Him, and He knows you in your and His personal relationship. He knows your weaknesses, and He knows what needs work, and when you are ready to deal with it.

He knows the pace you can handle, and He keeps up with you, and at the same time knowing when you have to arrive where. How amazingly is He aware of us; each individual in his own? NO PRESSURE.

We are forever on this journey. We will only arrive the day Jesus comes back. Each person's race is unique, and most of us are in different places at any given time. But He doesn't grab the guy who's behind by the neck and demand why he is not further forward at any particular time. He has the patience for us to progress as is best for us. Joyce always said: I'm not yet where I should be, but, thank God, I'm not where I used to be. This has often encouraged her, and me, to keep going gradually. The walk with God is not a sprint. It's an endurance race.

I think some important principles that apply to everyone, is:

• sincerely loving God with all your heart.
• getting over your 'sweet little self' (as Joyce puts it.... her book: I was always on my mind), and realizing that it's about God, not any ONE of us.
• God honors obedience, no matter who says what! It will not always be at the time we want/demand, but it is His choice.
• You can NEVER out give God.
• His Word is TRUE, and will work for anyone who believes and applies it!
• The righteous shall live by faith. Without it, it is impossible to please God. (Heb 11:6 But without faith is it impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists, and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].
• He knows you inside out. You can't hide or pretend, so you might as well be real, and let Him clean up and make you who He knows you can be.
• Submit to His authority. You can only have one ruler in a kingdom.
• God is a God of grace, but that does not give us the right to do as we please, thinking that we'll be exempt from consequences. God is gracious, not a wizard, and He knows the heart of man better than we know ourselves. If you're not sincere, He is not fooled, and He doesn't let Himself be taken for a ride, no matter how much He loves us.
• He is the Creator and we are the creation. Know your place in the food chain.
• Worship wins the war; lifting Him up, lifts you up. (A very precious weapon in difficult times, when wars rage in your head.)
• He NEVER lets anyone down who puts their trust in Him.
• When you've done wrong, run back to Him as fast as you can! That is the best (and fastest) way back to a strong place. Own up and take responsibility for yourself, your actions and your choices. This is what made David a man after God's own heart: running back, repenting, and owning up.

I think this matter, no matter who you are, or what your personality is - so being 'unique' makes no difference.

Never compare yourself with other people, or Christians. You are not running a race against anyone, but yourself. Make sure that YOU are committed to move with, obey, and grow with God.

I believe that, submitting to God's authority in your life, is a key secret to living victoriously. Contrary to the way some appear to believe, we do not call the shots. And when God speak, we can speak to Him, but ultimately what He says, goes. Often, obeying God will be painful. That is the process of 'dying to self', as Jesus describes for someone who chooses to follow Him. It will not be easy. It takes a 'MAN' to serve God, not a mouse. This does not mean that we'll have a hard time all the time, but if you're serious about God, you will feel it.

One of the secrets to enjoying much of God's great promises, is p-e-r-s-e-v-e-r-a-n-c-e. He is not an instant God, and He is more concerned for our character before Him, than stopping us from feeling any upset or discomfort. Sometimes you move, and sometimes (it could feel like a lifetime) you feel still, while you travel in a less visible way. I often think of it like a child of 5 growing up, and when he's 18 he is going to drive a Ferrari. Even though the promise is there, he is not going to grow up from 5 to 18 any faster than he would have anyway: Ferrari, or no Ferrari. It could be hard, and frustrating a lot of the time, but you might as well focus on the things that are relevant to the journey at 5,6,7,8......13,14,15,16.... Certainly you don't want to choose to not mature along the way. You want to meet the requirement for driving the Ferrari at 18, don't you? Certainly you don't want to miss out? Realize that God will never bless you with things that are too big for you to handle. It won't bless you, it will destroy you. That is not what a loving God does. We have to be willing to travel and grow up into being ready for our inheritance that God has dreamt for us. Faithful in little, trusted in much. No one gets it any different. It just depend on your commitment to God, to achieve what needs to be achieved, that determines how fast or slow you will get there, and whether you'll get there at all.

Sometimes we wait a long time because we don't want to co-operate with the painful process of character building that needs to happen. We want to find the easy way, or the shortcut, or to see if we can achieve the end result by avoiding the process all together. Spending time on this, is extending the waiting period to receive what's on the other end. Sometimes you must close your eyes tightly and do 'Nike'..... just do it!!

I heard a preacher say once that when a parent dies, and the children are under age, they cannot receive their inheritance of millions. It would go to a trust, or a guardian, and when you come of age, you can receive your inheritance. That is when the law deem you mature enough. The prodigal son demanded his inheritance too early; he didn't have the character to support it, so he wasted it away, and soon, he was in trouble. (Prodigal means somebody who, after leaving home, behaves wastefully and disgracefully, but repents and is forgiven and warmly welcomed on returning.) God doesn't want us to first waste, and then recover. He loves us too much.

Part of having faith is not just for what God can do for us and give us, but also believing that He knows best, and that He knows it all. He knows better than we do. Realize that, and accept it when He does it differently to what we want or think. We always see/realize the benefits of His involvement in hindsight. We should always remember, in the first instance, to seek His FACE, and NOT his HAND.

God is not a back-up plan, a first aid kit, a time pass when we have nothing else going on. He is a person. If He's made us in His image, then He must also feel used when this happens. He deserves only our very best in every way!

The weird thing is that this sounds like a whole long list of do's and don'ts, and it could easily feel overwhelming, but in essence it is loving God in action, and not just doing lip service. I mean, if you love someone, why would you want to hurt them, or make them sad, or disappoint them, or not spend time with them, or be dishonest with them, or not involve them in everything that concerns you, or do something that would upset them, or be to their disadvantage, or to the disadvantage of your relationship, think they lie when they tell you things or make promises, not keep your side of a commitment, take something of theirs that does not belong to you, tell lies about them, etc. etc. etc. The way we are and live is really an expression (to Him) of our love for Him. It really shows us our own hearts. And all God wants is that we love Him with all our hearts! He gives us everything we need for the journey the moment we accept Him as Lord and Saviour. We must just pull on it by f-a-i-t-h.

And then we're right back where we started... faith...

I guess, what I'm trying to say, is to encourage you to take this time that you have - not knowing what God has in store - to get to know Him. When you read your bible, learn about who God is, and how He ticks. (We will never fully understand Him, but we can learn what is in His character to do, and what He wouldn't do. That way, at least we can recognize Him.) When you seek GOD, it warms His heart. It makes Him want to come even closer to meet with you, and when He delights in you, then He becomes more willing to give more to you. Just like an earthly father wants to give more to a child who behaves, loves him, says thank you and show gratefulness and do his chores. A child who acts like a spoiled brat, misbehaving, screaming, being disrespectful, making demands, etc. does not exactly make a dad's heart warm and fuzzy, stirring up a desire to pour more great things out to them. No, it makes him want to close his hand instead.
However, when we're too busy spending time with God, He becomes our focus, and what He gives us become a by product - a 'by-the-way'... And then we sometimes don't even realize how long we waited for it, because weren't watching the clock.

Also, getting to know God makes it easier to believe Him. When He says, "I love you, and only have your best interest at heart. Trust me! I've gotcha!" it makes it easier to believe, because that is how you know Him. He will do what He said, because that is how I know Him to be. Then, when the devil try to lie to you, telling you that God's going to let you down, you'll tell him to push off, because you and God have talked it over, and He said He's got me! And if God said it, HE SAID IT! That's just who He is! (and no one will convince you otherwise.) And so you become stronger and stronger. It is only when you don't know for real how much He loves you and who He is, that you are afraid that He will let you down. It is only natural that one would feel that way about a stranger. So be determined that that would not be what God is to you: a stranger. 1 John 4:18 says (Amp) there is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment and [so] he who is afraid had not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love's complete perfection]. And in the NLT is says Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

So what is the answer: make it your mission to really get to know Him, and His love for you. And while you're seeking the kingdom, all these other things will be taken care of. Matthew 6:33 in the Message says it very well for me: If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers - most of which are never even seen - don't you think He'll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

I don't think I can say it any better than that! I think I should stop writing, and just quote the Bible (ha-ha).

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