Have you ever entered a race, a rigorous competition, and won? Oh how sweet the taste of victory, such unparalleled satisfaction. In your mind’s eye, the hours of training, the planning, mental and physical exercises, all fall away… you are on the victory stand. You have won … and the crowd goes crazy!
See, we have talked about happiness and come to understand that happiness in this life is found in walking with God, who assures us of a home in Heaven with him forever…victory! We will soon revisit the empty tomb of our risen Savior, remember that He won the battle for us--it is ours to align ourselves with Him. Huh, it is like making the elite soccer/futbol team, then going to the championship and winning, without even having to try out! In Jesus, you are a victor!
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15.57
I could almost hear the wheels turning in her head, ‘Yeah, Christine, I kinda get it--but I do not have the years of background you do… sometimes when I hear you teaching, I know what you’re saying is right, but I do not understand some of what you are saying, and I do not even know how to get there!’ Now that I am physically far away from a community of ‘God wanters’ I have led for years, I sometimes have the benefit of real out-takes (on the phone) that I likely would not have gotten face to face.
‘So, Linda, victory is yours, it’s true, but concerning living with God in the here and now--daily victory--let’s talk about that.’ ‘Oh--yeah, that’s what I need, almost one step at a time,’ she responded.
Here goes ~ There has to be growth. I’m a gardener and what I have noticed--whether roses or herbs or fruit trees: if not growing, the plants are failing to thrive, on their way to dying. If we aren’t growing, we are dying away. How do we grow?
1) There is the Work of God* - God moved first. Created, loved, pursued us for relationship with Him. Even when pride and arrogance, the root of all sin, put separation between us and Him, God provided Jesus for our salvation from ourselves/our sinful nature -> eternal life with Him. First, there is the work of God.
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4.19
2) There is our Personal Commitment - God did not create us as robots, but in love, invited us to be his children, through choosing a relationship with Jesus, the Savior. Calls for a commitment … stop. Not just a one-time raising of the hand, not just a one-time, weak moment, but a daily commitment. Second, Linda, there is your personal commitment; I cannot do it for you as much as I would like to!
Choose this day whom you will serve…Joshua 24.15
3) There is the Bible - The Bible is our guide--it is a light for our path in this life, but it does not light up anything if the book remains closed, her pages unexplored, her truths unapplied. Third component of growing in God is reading and understanding the Bible.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true
and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.
It corrects us when we are wrong and
teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3.16
4) Other Believers - We are meant to live in community with other people who desire to walk with God . . . people who will cheer us and support us when times are rough, and be there to celebrate when they are good. [The hardest thing about my cross-country move has been leaving my community behind, an unbelievably difficult adjustment.] The fourth component of spiritual growth is being in relationship with other believers.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some,
but encouraging one another, and all the more
as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10.24-25; Romans 12.10
5) The stuff of life…time and trials - We do not grow as people or as believers without both--the passage of time and learning to thrive in times of trial, trusting our ever-present God to be with us. Difficult times come to everyone - it is part of living and the human condition; both make us stronger. The fifth component of growing in God is the combination of time and weathering of storms.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character… Romans 5.3
While I hope this information helps my friend, Linda, I hope it helps others too. Because I believe so strongly in the value of a learning Christian community, our Winter quarter of THRIVE has just begun and you are invited to join us on Facebook, THRIVEOC. Live on Thursdays - 1 pm EST, 10 am PST, etc., You can watch live or at your convenience. [I know, I know, I do not care for Facebook either but it is the most accessible platform for our international community and it is of course, free.] Join THRIVEOC and gather! I am teaching on the very things I have been writing about--Heaven, happiness and growing our faith, using three different resources in addition to the Bible: 30 Days to Growing in Your Faith, Max Anders; The Case for Heaven, Lee Strobel; Reflections on the Existence of God, Richard E. Simmons. These are masterful writings. You are welcome in our community
While we have the victory in Christ forever, it is ours to walk in it daily by making good and godly choices. With me, Linda?
Brand new song from the Passion Conference two days ago:
WHAT HE’S DONE - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5lcadt8D2o
- 30 Days to Growing in Your Faith