Saturday, May 28, 2011

Growing Up Quick in Christ

by Donna L. Watkins

I continue to realize that I've known a lot about Jesus and the Scriptures, but I have not been totally dead to self. Life is a daily battle for all of us and if we choose to fight it in the soul and body without the spirit ruling, we will more likely feel beat up and bent out of shape each night as we lay down to a restless sleep.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Bronze Sculpture by
W. Stanley Proctor - Brookgreen Gardens, SC
We must realize how crucial it is that we place that cross before us to make the right choices. Christ has already won the victory for us, all we have to do is to stand with the armor and victory He's given. We are to be "strong in the Lord and in HIS mighty power" (Eph. 6:10). We don't do this in our own strength. He's already given the ability and desire to live by the spirit.

That's what grace is! We put on our armor daily and stand in the victory (Eph. 6:11-17). When Christ said, "It is finished," it was finished. The spiritual work was done and the physical death was atoned for; now we maintain our position in Christ by walking according to the desires of the spirit and not the desires of the flesh.

Our minds are so used to running the show. We are used to going with what feels good and sometimes we attribute that to "walking in the spirit" but does it match the Word of God. The only way to give the spirit rule is to use the only tool that divides soul and spirit: The Word. "For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).

Only the Word of God can do it. Why do you think it's such a battle to spend time in the Word? We read a multitude of books, listen to CDs, watch videos, do small groups on topic issues, attend sermons, and read devotional books each morning. Yet we still struggle with making life work. I'm not against books. God can use them to impart revelation when somebody speaks to us in a manner that allows more understanding while we are learning to allow the Holy Spirit to be our teacher in everything (John 14:26).

As I write this we are still in winter and winter is a time when I love to spend more time snuggling up with the Lord and good books. I've learned to qualify a good book by seeing how much of the actual Word is in it. One that I am finishing up now by Dutch Sheets: Becoming Who You Are - Embracing the Power of Your Identity in Christ. Let me share a few excerpts from the next to last chapter:

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Sleeping Red Fox
Brookgreen Gardens, SC
"For some reason we think completing a course on inner healing or finishing a study on forgiveness should somehow immediately result in our emergence as masters of those areas .... we frequently want results without embracing the process that will yield them .... perhaps something deep in you continues to whisper, 'This is it! This is finally the answer to my soul problem.' In the same way that we long for the 'finished product,' we also need to undertake and embrace a passion for the path, the journey, to our completion.

Faith is believing that what God says is true; obedience is conforming to His means just as much as to His ends .... if you keep on abiding and abiding and abiding, it will happen. The Truth will make you free. Why? Because God's Word has a perfect track record (Is. 55:11)."

After attending a service that really had Dutch's hopes real high, he left knowing that life would never be the same. Finally he saw the way to be free from the strongholds and have permanent change. Well, a few days later ... you know the rest of the story because we've all been part of the story many times. What God said to him when he cried out asking why this isn't working was this: "Because all Truth comes to you in seed form."

Do you get it? All the real stuff we may see in other people's lives that we want is the fruit of their discipleship without tending to the seed like they did to get it. We obviously expect an impartation without any sacrifice, but Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. I used to think that it meant I was to do good works until my body felt as if it was going to die. Yep, that was when we were in a church filled with a lot of legalism many years ago. I like the way John McArthur, Jr. says it.

"You say, 'What is a living sacrifice?' Well, I’ll tell you -- give you an illustration, one that I always think of: Abraham. God said to Abraham, 'You’re going to have a child;' he had a child … Isaac. Abraham loved Isaac, didn’t he? Oh, he loved him. The child of all his promise, the child of his dreams! The hope of all the fulfillment of God’s plan! God said to Abraham, 'Take him up in a mountain and kill him. 'Take him up in a mountain and kill him? After all we went through to get him? Wasn’t born until I was 100 … Only son I have, legitimately by Sarah.' But he obeyed -- took all the sticks and tied them on Isaac’s back. Isaac is like a picture of Christ carrying his own cross. Isaac goes up the mountain. Abraham goes with him. He gets up on the mountain, lays Isaac out on the altar, and Isaac’s probably saying, 'Gee, you know, I’m not sure what’s going on here…' Abraham lifts his dagger.

Isaac was about to be a dead sacrifice, right? But do you know who was making a living sacrifice? Abraham. You know why? He was about to kill all his hopes, all his dreams, everything he ever wanted because that’s what God told him to do, right? Do you know what a living sacrifice is? Not somebody who dies for God, but somebody who submits to God’s will whatever the cost. That’s a living sacrifice. He [Paul] says, 'Because of all that God has done for you, present your bodies a living sacrifice. Listen; you’re already holy, you’re already acceptable -- who made you holy and who made you acceptable? Who did? Christ! So will you just present yourself? That is your required spiritual worship! God wants you! He doesn’t want bulls and goats and He doesn’t want dead animals … He wants you. And He wants you to be a living sacrifice; that is, willing to pay the supreme price for Him.'"

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Bronze Sculpture by
W. Stanley Proctor - Brookgreen Gardens, SC
Not an easy concept to absorb into the soul structure, especially in our generation of having it our way and right now. Maybe that's why Jesus said "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven' (Matt. 7:21).

There's some Scriptures that my soul really doesn't like and that's one of them since it challenges the "once saved, always saved" theology that I set my earthly flesh on for a long time. Jesus is laying out what it means to be a follower of Christ in these chapters of Matthew. He also says in verse 14 of the same chapter, "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

When you take the statistics of how much of the world claims to be Christian, that "few that find it" doesn't make sense, does it? There is much to ponder against some of the beliefs that have been instilled in us as children, or by churches that may not have had a sound foundation of grace and discipleship? We'd like to just grow up in Christ instantly at salvation, but that's not the way it was laid out for us. While on earth, we still have this earthly war between the spirit and soul on who's going to be in charge.

As for me and my house, we have chosen to serve the Lord and in that choice, we must determine and choose to abide in the Word of God and die daily as a living sacrifice to our own desires, wants and dreams, so that we can be all that God created us to be. And in the end, what we get is so much more than anything we ever dreamed or desired to have. Our Creator who designed us on purpose for Himself (Col. 1:16)) knows a lot more about what will bring us true joy and peace. Think about it ... aren't all of those desires we create in our minds related to wanting joy and peace? Why not take the narrow path and find it!

It almost sounds too simple? Maybe you don't know where to start in reading the Bible and it overwhelms you, so you choose spiritual books and workbooks. The Spirit will direct you to what you need. If you've never read the book of John through, do so and keep doing it because it in itself has a lot to chew on. Meditate on a small portion each day. This is not about getting through the entire book as quickly as possible.

Growing up takes a bit of time and work. We want it quick, but it's not how the world was made. Everything begins as a seed of some sort and seeds need to be nurtured to grow into what they are to be. Stay in the good soil and grow the seed of the Word within your soul so your mind, will and emotions will agree with your spirit and life will be made a lot less confusing and frustrating. It's truly the quick way to grow up in Christ ... because you can spend your entire life in many books without going anywhere. I spent a good portion of mine that way.

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1 comment:

Seeker said...

Wonderful Article Donna!
I agree completely!
Have a beautiful day, blessed by God, my friend!
Love & Peace through Jesus,

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