Living Like Jesus
A Slave to Christ
Jesus: You had it all, gave it all, so that we'd have it all too. What a leader. What a Saviour. What a friend.
Mom, Dad (R.I.P.), and Step-Dad: without you, I simply wouldn't be here. Thank you.
Extended family: Thanks for the great memories.
College: Where I first struck out on my own, and learned the academic side of religion. Thank you.
Churches: Where I learned the value of following, questioning everything in the search for truth, and living with brothers and sisters for the first time. Thank you.
Jobs: Where I learned the value of hard work and commitment, even when only the Heavenly Father notices. Many thanks.
Friends / Colleagues: Where I learned about forgiveness. Thank you.
Girlfriends: Where I learned about communication, patience, and commitment. Thank you.
Let me first say that I do NOT have it all figured out. I am writing this merely out of obedience. I have been influenced in certain ways by C.S. Lewis and Joyce Meyer (as well as many others' writings), and am appreciative of the insights they have brought to bear on my understanding of who Christ is and how he intends believers to live today. Like anyone else, my understanding is being refined more each day as to what my unique calling is and how it is that I am to carry that out. What I do know for certain is that I have been bought at a very high price, the life of the Son of God, and that it is now my duty to give my life into His hands each moment of every day. I was a sinner in need of a Saviour, and Jesus came to meet my need. It wasn't the Jews who put Jesus on the cross, but truly my sin. I hope that as I obey Him I will make His ways known more distinctly here on earth. My life is no longer my own: I am a slave to Christ...and He's the sweetest slave master their ever was, for His commands yield only life and that more abundantly (My face was overtaken by a smile on that last sentiment).
I do not claim to be a perfect man, but I am perfectly wrapped in the love of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. When I sin, I take responsibility for it, abhor it, repent of it, and ask the Lord to empower me never to commit that same act again. Though I am not a rich man by the world's standards, I do have joy concerning wealth. I laugh to myself when I look at my bank account and know deep inside that it cannot come close to matching the feeling of God's riches that I have stored up within myself thanks to Jesus' riches in glory which he has bestowed (and continues to bestow) unto me by faith. I have come to understand that when the Bible speaks of prosperity, it is not talking about material goods in any ways. Although I do trust that the righteous will be provided for, as we are worth more than sparrows (see the Gospel of Matthew for more on that), I have come to understand that true prosperity is one's integrity. When one can stand fully accountable in front of one's creator at the end of the day and say that s/he has done each and every activity in the motivation of the love of God, I believe that person has done the best thing possible. My hope in writing this is for many to arrive at the complete peace and fulfillment that I have found as I have entrusted my life in the hands of the only one who is completely trustworthy.
I am attempting to follow the Lord as sincerely as I possibly can, as I am guessing that you are since you picked this up. This book is intended as a supplement to the Holy Bible, and in no way is an attempt to replace it. I believe that as it says in the Gospel of John, chapter one, Jesus is the Word who was made flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus is the Word of God just as much as the Scriptures themselves. The awesome part about this fact is that we can have a living, breathing, real-time relationship with the Word Himself once we accept what Jesus himself claims to be: the Son of God who came to take our sins away.
John the Baptist testified of Jesus of Nazareth as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and I've found that He still is today; just as much as He ever has been. If you have not yet accepted personal responsibility for sinning against God (disrespecting God's commands by way of violating the conscience that he put within you), please take a moment to do so now. Simply talk to God like you would talk to someone across the table from you at dinner. Explain to Him that you are sorry for sinning and that you would like to make it up to Him, but you know that you cannot. And this is the reason that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ, to earth: to live as an example to us of perfect servitude to Our Heavenly Father, and to die for the purpose of becoming restitution for our sins.
It says in the tenth chapter of Romans that if we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord (the One true God of the universe, Yahweh, come into the flesh) and that he was raised from the dead on the third day as was prophesied in the Scriptures, we will be saved. If you are reading this and believing this right now, you may well be saved from eternal damnation. I know you may have heard it preached that you are definitely saved if you have only uttered what many call “the sinner's prayer”, but I believe that the Scriptures (a.k.a. The word of God NOT made flesh) testify otherwise.
In the beginning of the gospel of John, it says that Jesus gave us the right to become sons of God. So how does this take place? Later, in the same Gospel, Christ's command to the disciples in the garden on the night of his betrayal is that they “abide in [Him]”. So how do we abide? Submission and obedience – plain and simple.
Essentially, this book serves as a guide for those putting their hope in Jesus Christ Christ in order that they may be saved from eternal damnation. Many calling out, “Lord, Lord...,” will not be saved on judgment day. Let's be sure to use our free will to make the cut. Let's abide in Kingdom of Heaven now and forever more. Amen.
Table of Contents
Foreword: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
Chapter 1: The Sons of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Chapter 2: Abiding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Chapter 3: Submission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Chapter 4: Communication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Chapter 5: Circumstances. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Chapter 6: God's Love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Chapter 7: Obedience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Chapter 8: Being Still.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
Chapter 9: Patience. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Chapter 10: Perseverance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Chapter 11: Contentment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
The Sons of God
After whatever amount of study I have completed up until this point in my life, I have come to some conclusions about following Jesus:
1I think that the Gospel ought to be simple; so simple in fact, that persons with mental disabilities should be able to grasp it. I believe that God comes to meet us where we are, as evidenced by the fact that he came to earth in the likeness of mankind, lived a lifetime and ultimately offered his life as an offering for our sin in order to testify of His love for us. If we serve a God whose will it is that “none should perish”, and He creates human beings that we have since labelled as “mentally handicapped”, it stands to reason that the Gospel would be something that these persons could follow as well. I do believe that those with more aptitudes are given more responsibilities, as evidenced many times in the Scriptures, even in the words of Jesus Himself that, “much is expected from those to whom much is given”, however, that above all these things Jesus stands as THE way, THE truth, and THE life for all who will call out to Him, irrespective of culture, language, age, mental capacity, etc. For all these reasons, I am attempting to put these ideas out in a conversational, perhaps even crude way. Enjoy!
2God has high expectations. Good examples of earthly fathers want the best out of us, so why wouldn't our Heavenly Father? If we are going to go around calling ourselves the Sons of God, then we probably ought to act like it, eh? So this begs the question, “How would God act if He were here on Earth? “ And to answer that question: Jesus. Jesus is our example, our mentor, and our empowerment to act in a godly (god-like) way. In fact, without Jesus standing in the gap between our sins and the Father, we would be utterly alone in the world. Our Father God is so Holy (How Holy is He?, ha), that He cannot physically stand in the presence of sin. Because of this fact, attempting to communicate with God without the mercy afforded by Jesus' once-and-for-all act of forgiveness on the cross at Calvary would be utterly impossible. Thanks, Jesus! - indeed. So after we “put on” Christ and his life of perfect obedience to the Father (Righteousness) by confessing our faith in regards to His sinless life, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection, what next? In Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter eight, (probably my favorite chapter in the Bible, myself!) the Bible defines what I now call the end-goal for all believers: that we have been predestined to be conformed to the image and likeness of Christ. So how does this happen?
4We can't do it on our own. In the Gospel of John, chapter 3, Jesus makes it very clear that we are unable to get to Heaven on our own merits. While speaking to Nicodemus, he says that one “must be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God.” He continues that, “what is born of the flesh is flesh,” and , “what is born of the Spirit is Spirit.” Of ourselves, we cannot do good. The apostle Paul (one of the most effective evangelists and church-planters of all time) said of himself in his letter to the Romans that, “no good thing dwells in [himself]”. This also parallels his claim that, “all have fallen short of the Glory of God,” which is a reference he uses from the Old Testament book of Isaiah.
When we confess our faith in Jesus, the spiritual, eternal part of ourselves is “born again.” We become new creations. Essentially, our “old man” is put to death and our “new man” comes to life. In fulfillment of scriptures in both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, we are given a heart of flesh to replace the heart of stone, which means that we now want to obey God's instructions in each and every area of our lives. According to Genesis, we are essentially beings made of dirt that have been given the ability to make choices. Since we have a creator who has left us instructions as to how to live the life He gave us when He breathed into our lungs, why not look at the instruction manual to see how to operate this creation, eh?
Even though we are born again, we may still sin. Why is this? There is a war waging within our flesh. Paul describes this warfare in his letter to the Romans and explains that even though he has decided to do the right thing, his body and mind still have desires to do the wrong things. Ever since our first ancestors, Adam and Eve chose to eat that fruit in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis), sin has been passed down through the generations: the worst congenital disease ever!
And because of the fact of however many years of our own personal sinfulness before professing our faith in Jesus, we have some cleaning up to do! Our spirt man is perfect from the moment that we make our confession of faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and our Saviour, yet we still live on in the flesh after we make this confession. So what's next?
3We are God's co-workers. It says in the word that we are co-laborers with God and that we who have been called according to his purposes. We have “good works” that we are supposed to perform which God has ordained (written, commanded) since before time began. Sounds like heavy stuff, right? So how do I access this work that I have to do? First, it must be accessed by faith in Jesus. Secondly, it must be accessed by being baptized in the Holy Spirit.
5Jesus told his disciples that they would perform the works that He did and greater ones as well as they were making disciples of all nations and teaching them to obey what Christ had commanded. Jesus says that he came not to abolish the Old Testament (a.k.a. Old Instructions), but to fulfill them. In order for the disciples to carry out their commission, however, they were told to wait in Jerusalem for the power that would come from on high. Previously he had also told them that He must leave the earth (in His bodily form) so that He could send a helper. This helper is the Holy Spirit.
We can see how the lives of the believers changed after the day of Pentecost in the book of Acts. Since that fateful day in the upper room, the closest and most dedicated followers of Jesus, a.k.a. The disciples, were given power directly from God in order to heal the sick, give words of prophecy, raise the dead: in order to walk in the “Good works” that God had planned for each of them individually. Some were preachers, some were healers, some were evangelists, some were apostles, and some were only mentioned for a line or two in the New Testament, so we don't know much about them!
The one strand that ties all of these believers together along even with Jesus: abiding in Jesus via obeying the Holy Spirit.
Abiding is dwelling within. We are to dwell in the place of the Most High God. We are to be temples of the Holy Spirit. We are to be partakers of the New Covenant. We are to be emissaries of the Kingdom of God from Heaven to earth. We are to take dominion. We are to submit. Wait a second, all of that other stuff sounds powerful... how do we get there thru submission?
We can see the source of all of Jesus' power throughout the Gospels. For me, better understanding came specifically upon reading the Gospel of John. There was a time in my life when the Lord impressed it upon me to take in this Gospel over and over and afterwards I came away with some very enlightening ideas. Thanks for the revelation, Jesus! Essentially, Jesus' power came from complete submission to the Father God in each and every area of His life in each and every moment of His life.
Jesus says of Himself, “I can do nothing of Myself.” This sounds like the Apostle Paul, doesn't it? Jesus goes on to say that everything He does is only what He sees the Father doing in Heaven. He says elsewhere that His food is to do the will of the Father in Heaven and that He does not testify of Himself, but that the Father in Heaven testifies of Him. It sounds here like Jesus is awfully dependent upon his Daddy, doesn't it?
I think it sounds like Jesus is utterly dependent upon His Father because this is the case. The deceitfulness of our hearts is thorough and we need to have a solution that will cut through all of our inherited wickedness and allow the Goodness of God to show through. It appears that the only way to accomplish this perhaps seemingly impossible feat is to “die to one's self daily”. This can come only through complete and utter submission of my will to the Father's will. As we daily hold up our lives to the light of God's truth and His inner witness (the Holy Spirit), we are to being every thought captive to Christ and to renew our minds daily in the Word of God (both written and what God speaks to us individually). The effect of completely submitting to the Father's will in all situations is abiding. We are given the power to abide, dwell, in the shadow of Father's wings as we complete the works that He has for us to complete on this Earth. So how do I submit?
It says in the Word of God that God is sovereign. This means that God is completely self- and universe-governing. He's in control. The Words also implies that man has choices to make in his life. From the start, Adam and Eve could have chosen not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Later in the Old Testament, we see prophets saying to people that IF they will repent then God will forgive them, but IF they do not then God's wrath will remain upon them. There are no IF's when people have no say over their lives, so it stands to reason that each of us can choose to obey God or not. Submission is deciding to obey God in every area of one's life and asking what His wisdom has to bear on the subject at hand.
Submitting is tough on our flesh. In fact, it kills it off entirely. Paul speaks of submission when he says that he “buffets his body” that when he is done preaching the gospel to others he will not himself be disapproved of by God. He also refers to it when he says that he must die to himself daily. Jesus speaks of this when he says that in order for one to follow Him he must hate his own life and pick up his cross daily. Picking up the cross forces us to walk very slowly, in measured steps. When we are walking in measured steps, asking the Father what He has for us in our particular situation and trusting that we will receive counsel, we can trust that the Father will give us wisdom. It says in James that if we ask and expect to receive wisdom from Our Father, we can expect to receive it: liberally! When we die to our flesh and its wisdom (see 1 Corinthians on the occasion of fleshly wisdom versus the wisdom that comes from God) we are open to receive God's ways of doing things. It says in the Word that the Spirit has come to lead us into all truth – revelation didn't stop with the 12 disciples!
I believe that the Gospels, more specifically the Gospel of John, paint a picture of Christ as completely reliant upon whatever commands would come out of God's mouth at any given point in time. Christ lives out the maxim that he speaks in the Gospel of Mark, “Man does not live on bread alone, but upon the very words from God's mouth,” even to the point of death on a cross. Jesus' heart-cry throughout His life on earth, even while He hung on the cross was, “Father, not my will but yours be done.” If we are willing to live as Jesus did and to give each and every one of our decisions to Father God and ask what His wisdom would bring to bear on the subject, we can guarantee that we will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Heaven, God's rule and reign, starts right from the moment we choose to submit to Him and will last forever into eternity as we continue to do His will.
I believe that God wants to communicate specifically and uniquely with each of his children. This is evidenced by the fact that God gave specific and explicit commands to many personalities of the Old Testament, Jesus himself, and many in the New Testament as well. Abraham was led by God to leave his father's house and his father's land in order to receive the land of milk and honey. Joshua was told when and how to fight battles in order to reign victorious, as was David. The prophets were each given specific instructions as to how to act in their specific situations and what words to deliver to what recipients. Jesus was given momentary commands as to when to perform miracles, preach, pray, go off into remote places, feast, flip merchants' tables, and when to allow Himself to be beaten and crucified, ultimately giving up His Spirit in obedience as well. The disciples were given specific instructions as to when and where to preach and perform miracles. Why would we be any different?
I believe the first thing God wants us to do is fall in love with Him. Once we're in love with him, we'll gladly go wherever He will lead us. Like in any relationship, our trust has to be earned and it must be tested time and time again. The best way I know on how to begin this process is to fellowship (hang out) with God. Ways that I know to hang out with Jesus are to: read the Word of God, pray (talk to God about every/anything and expect answers back), be still and allow God to minister to you, and to worship God in whatever art form or form of communication seems most natural for the personality God gave you.
God speaks to each of us quite directly by way of the Bible. Knowing the Bible is knowing the irrevocable word of God. Thru it, we can come to know many of God's commands, a.k.a. instructions, the general commands that apply to all of his children. Reading through the New Testament and taking heed of all of the instructions of Jesus and those of the Apostles that are specifically given as instructins from Jesus is a great foundation on which to build. This is how we begin to walk in obedience to God's commands.
God's grace is such that, much like a fair school teacher, He will not hold us accountable for what we don't know yet. If you are just reading the Word for the first time and you don't know, for example, that you shouldn't be having sexual relations out of wedlock, God will not hold you accountable until you know that in your heart. One of the Holy Spirit's jobs is to convict us of sin in our lives and to bring us from glory to glory, a.k.a. Higher levels of God's righteousness (right-relationship/right-living). Once you feel sorry about something you've done and you decide to purpose in your heart to never do that action again with the help of the Holy Spirit's empowerment, you can guarantee that you now have the power to avoid this particular sin. You may be tempted to act in such a way again by your old man, but you now have God's Holy Spirit, the same one that raised Jesus from the dead on the third day, living within you to empower you to not to sin in this way ever again. Praise God, indeed!
The Holy Spirit has been given to us as a deposit, a sign of things to come. Since we have the Holy Spirit in us communicating to us all the time as to what we ought to be and ought not to be doing and thinking, we know that we are on a path toward Heaven – the straight and narrow path Jesus spoke of in the Gospel of Matthew. We can remain on this path only by submitting to the Father, listening to the Holy Spirit, and remaining, ABIDING, in Jesus.
As we walk further down this path, we will see ourselves becoming outwardly more and more like the character of Jesus about which we read in the New Testament. As we are walking in honesty and integrity, we will begin to hear from God more and more. God will give us more and more jobs to do for Him while we are on the earth if we are faithful with the job He has put in front of us right now.
The current situation in which you find yourself is catered by your Heavenly Father just for you. Even the fact that you are reading this right now was known by the Father God since before He created time. And all these choices were made for you by the God who is simply defined as love itself. Kinda messes with your mind a bit, eh? God has put you into a particular family in a particular locale at a particular point in history. All of these things were out of your control, and I have come to realize that they are no accident. Where you went to elementary school, what classes you gravitated towards or away from and how you spent your time outside of school are no accident.
God gave you a particular personality and a particular set of gifts. I would strongly recommend taking some sort of inventory to find out what “type” you are. Personality inventories can be helpful (specifically the Myers-Briggs) as can spiritual gifts inventories. Some of us are meant to work with people, others meant to be problem solves, others to work with their hands, some to be managers and some to be managed? Where do you fall in the spectrum now? Where does God want you to end up in the long haul? There's only one way I know to find out – ask Him!
Once you have a good idea of who you are in Christ and what it is that He made you to be, it'll make life easier in that you'll know what your strengths and weaknesses are. God will have you work on some of your weaknesses for sure, but He will also, most likely, eventually have you working in an area or areas in which He has made you strong from the start. Before we can be of any service to the Lord, however, I have found it integral that we really attempt to wrap our mind, will and emotions around God's love for us.
After we come to know a smidgeon of the love that He has for us, we can then begin to marinate on the fact that nothing in this world can separate us from His love. Perfect love casts out all destructive fears. Nothing outside of our control can take us away from God. The only thing that I know of that we can do to stop receiving messages of God's love is to sin knowingly and refuse to repent. This will cut off the lines of communication between God and your Spirit man, because you will be rebuilding the wall that Jesus knocked down when He went to the cross for you. If we continue in this way long enough, we will grieve the Holy Spirit to the point where we will be saying to Him essentially, “You're not God and you have no right to try and guide me as to how to live my life.” This is the only unpardonable sin listed in the New Testament.
The way I see it flows like this: if you don't know how much the Father loves you, then you will likely not seek to hang out with or communicate with Him either. If you are not seeking to communicate with the Father, then you likely do not know the Father's will for your life. The fear (respect) of the Lord and His way is the beginning of wisdom. If you do not know the Father's will for your life, then you will likely live in disobedience. If you live in disobedience, then you are, in effect, a son of the devil and the Lord will refuse you entry into His kingdom, even if you cry, “Lord, Lord” at His judgment seat. That's how it reads in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke folks!
Knowing God's love for you will allow you to see more and more clearly the creature that He created you to be: a creature designed for spreading the Gospel, God's love and forgiveness in Christ, and walking in the Good works that God intended specifically for you since the start of time. So I say do yourself a favor and be at rest in the fact that your Heavenly Father loves you so much more than your earthly parents ever could, that He has nothing but your best interests in mind, and that He owns everything. Jesus said that following Him is supposed to be a light burden, easy rest for those desiring it. If your desire is to serve the Lord with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength, then you can trust that He has provided for you according to His riches in glory.
God intends to keep His promises. We, however, have to keep our end of the bargain. Belief requires both faith and action. This is where obedience comes in.
Knowing the commands of Christ takes some time. Being raised in a Christian home can give one a head start on knowing how to behave like a Son of God, but we must take initiative to always be learning more on how to be more and more like Jesus. As long as there is breath in our lungs, there are chances to become more Christlike. Also, once we know the gospel pretty well ourselves, it's our job to spread it along to others. God's plan is that his family keeps on extending further and further outward until eventually we are surrounded by our brothers and sisters wherever we go!
My recommendation is spending time each day reading from the New Testament at least. I also recommend understanding the wisdom books as well, specifically the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes. Once one feels that s/he can hear from God pretty directly, this person can ask the Lord himself what to read for the day!
I am a firm believer in a practice known as 'soaking prayer'. This is where a believer puts on some Christian, inspirational, instrumental, soothing music/sounds, or sits in silence and asks God to come and hang out with them. During times of soaking prayer, I've received visions from the Lord of things that were to come to pass in my life, I've had words of knowledge and wisdom for myself and others, and I've also gotten more detailed revelations of who I am in Christ.
Since God knows the beginning from the end and time is a restriction that He created, I believe that every believer can ask and expect God to reveal one's heavenly name, heavenly occupation, and detailed descriptions of what one is in heaven. Jesus described the Kingdom of God as being not made with human hands and that it dwells within, so that tells me that Heaven is present right now, within those who choose to abide in the Lord through submission and obedience.
Being still in the Lord for me has produced faith imagery that one can return to when circumstances may appear tough in the physical realm. Many a time when being attacked by another or when circumstances came my way which felt distressing, I returned to the heavenly places in my mind and entered back into the visions I have received from the Lord in order to maintain my peace and behave like the authoritative Son of God that I am. We are to live by faith, and not by sight, but this does not mean we are to live blind; Jesus himself said he did nothing other than what He saw the Father doing in Heaven. Since we now have Jesus Christ living in us, we now have access to that same level of revelation for our lives as well.
Patience is a nice word for waiting a long, long time. It means that long after you think something might have happened, or should have happened, and it still hasn't happened yet, you'll believe in it and work towards it anyway. There's a lot of patience in the Kingdom of God. I think that's why the New Testament is filled with earthy references to farming. Seeds take time to sprout. Oftentimes, it looks like nothing's happening in the field. Thanks to time-elapsed footage, we can now watch what takes weeks and months to develop in the soil in a matter of moments. Here in real life, though, God has a lot of things to accomplish, both in us individually and in the world at large. The world, after all, is made up of many individuals. If each of these people has a unique set of gifts and talents and a particular personality, and God wants to fit us all together into one family, there's a lot of work to be done! All this work takes a lot of time.
I've noticed in the different seasons of my life that oftentimes the hardest thing for me to do is simply wait. There are seasons where much activity is needed in order to get a particular task done, but then are long stretches of time where it seems that life goes on and on and on and on and on and on in a sun-up sun-down repeat cycle of monotony. In these seasons of life, it is tempting to run ahead of God and to try and make things happen for one's self. In fact, as I sit here and write this, there are other things my flesh man would rather be trying to make happen right now!
Just like in a farmer's field, there's a time for lots of hard work: readying soil, fertilizing, watering, planting, harvesting, etc. There is also a time of just waiting. If one attempts to transplant a seedling while it is in its most delicate stage, it will most likely not withstand the activity. One must wait until the proper time, until a certain amount of rugged strength has been cultivated within the plant, in order to ensure that its transition will be a successful one. Father God loves us in a similar way. He wants us to move from glory to glory, ever more increasing in wisdom, faith, and the shining of His love onto others. In order for Him to accomplish this, however, we are to withstand the environment we're in right now and learn how to gather God's strength here first and wait for the appropriate time for the next move.
I don't think enough emphasis is placed on timing. Timing is extremely important in the things of God. Although God Himself is outside of time, I believe that He gave us time because our brains are too tiny to handle everything happening all at once. I think He made it for our benefit. Time gives us the chance to adapt and grow with our ever-changing circumstances.
It appears to me that time is one of the most important factors in the Bible. There was a particular time that God had for Jesus to grow up, learn lessons, be baptized, preach, teach, do miracles, be persecuted, be crucified, die, be buried, be resurrected, send His Holy Spirit, and everything else He has done and is yet to do. I believe that we are to be ever concerned in the timing of God, ever pressing Him with questions as to what to do, how to do it, and also when to do it. This, I believe is one of the primary meanings of “waiting on God”. It does not mean a passive, do-nothing approach, but a time of faith- and expectancy-building. At the appropriate moment, there will be a command to move. Going before or after could prove less fruitful.
Long after many have given up, we believers are to be the ones who are still going strong. This is only possible because of the energy provided by the One who has created and continues to sustain the universe: the Almighty God. It is said in the final book of the Bible, Revelations, that believers in Jesus Christ will overcome Satan, God's chief rebellious son, by way of the blood of the lamb, the word of their testimony, and by not loving their lives unto death. With this verse in mind, I have come to believe that Christ's act of saving grace performed on the Cross is to be met with faith and with perseverance.
We are to place our faith in Jesus, of course, but Jesus is still active in the world today. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” on the cross at Calvary, he modeled perseverance for us. We each have a role to play in the constantly unfolding drama of human history. We each have a job to do. We must show up for work each day and report to our boss, Jesus Christ, seeking his orders for the day. If we will continue in our tasks until they are completed, not allowing ourselves to return to being in charge of our lives, I believe we will see Heaven come to earth: specifically in our individual life.
As we come to see God's rule and reign in our life, others in our sphere of influence will see the difference in us and will likely be brought to the crossroads of making a decision to follow Christ or deny Him. By following Christ each day, day in and day out, no matter what the weather looks like, no matter what our finances or relationships look like, and no matter what we are feeling or thinking, we will cause others to question what they are living for. When we cause others to ask this life-altering question, we have preached a successful sermon, perhaps without ever saying a word. Of course, if the Lord leads you to share with someone about how Jesus has served you in the course of your life, by all means, do so, but my personal conviction is that we are not to do anything without the consent of our Father in Heaven.
If we will persevere on this road of self-denial, the Lord will reform our hearts strand by strand and He will eventually give us the desires of our heart. Perhaps you've always had a dream to have a family, start your own business, run for a governmental position, or to be a missionary to a foreign country. In my experience, it is no mistake that you have this dream. My word of advice is this: commit it into the Father's hands. This may mean taking highly indirect pathways toward your dream, perhaps even entirely abandoning it for awhile, but the Lord will always bring it back around. And if your aim is to glorify God in whatever you're doing, then He will bless it, perfect it, and use it: in His way and in His timing. Submit your heart's desires to the Lord and He will make your dreams come true above what you could ever hope or imagine. Don't take my word for it – it's in the Word!
Are you content? The word says Contentment with godliness is great gain. When we are at peace about who we are, where we are, what we are doing, and where we're headed we can't help but be joyful. I have found that the secret to joy is this: commit all of your ways to the Lord. The joy of the Lord is our strength is a quote found in the Old Testament that needs some unpacking, but once it is unfurled – what a punch! The Joy of the Lord is found in serving. We are committed to serving the Lord by way of Christ's buying us on the cross. Once we accept this fact, we can gladly accept our job to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We don't need to worry about the logistics, the overhead, or any such things. He's the boss and we are simply to follow. That takes a lot of the load of our shoulders, doesn't it. Very freeing, I'd say. The only way I know to be content is to celebrate the fact that I am on my way to Heaven, living in as much of it as I can right now, and that I am going to take as many people there with me as I can! Will you be content?
You will if you'll choose to abide.