Issues of Life Archive 101-110

Issues of Life #101

Life at the Next Level #11

Personal Spiritual Growth

 

    As we move from one level to another spiritually there is the potential to learn a myriad of new things. I believe that we must show a measure of faithfulness where we are before God moves us to the next level. I also believe that we must be good stewards of the things of God or we will possibly stay where we are until we learn to handle the blessings of God with maturity. There’s always room for growth. And it’s important that we don’t compare ourselves with ourselves. Paul said that the Pharisees, “compare themselves, with themselves and by doing so, they are not wise”. The standard of measure is not our Christian brothers and sisters. No, much to the contrary, we are to measure ourselves with the ‘true’ standard of measure, Jesus! When we do that, it becomes very clear. We’ve still got a lot of growing to do.

    As we mature in the Lord we should become more focused in our quest for personal spiritual growth. And when talking about spiritual growth there is a number of different avenues to explore and consider. First there is the gaining of knowledge. Most would first think of reading the Bible more and that is a viable, and very important, factor to be considered, especially in the pursuit of knowledge. We must, however, remember that in the quest for knowledge, even the Bible warns us that, “knowledge puffs up”. The gaining of knowledge just for the sake of it is probably just a waste of time. If we’re trying to one-up or impress someone else in our use of Biblical knowledge we’re missing the point altogether. We should read the Word and make every effort to apply the Truth of It to our everyday lives in a practical manner. In doing so, the Word becomes Life in us! Biblical knowledge is a non-negotiable factor in the plan for spiritual growth. But there is also the knowledge that comes from engaging in relationship with the Father. This experiential knowledge is also a non-negotiable component of spiritual growth. In fact, Biblical knowledge, without the experience of relationship with the Father is missing God’s desired use of the Word in our lives. I believe that God wants us to use Biblical Truth to enhance our relationship with Him. I love the Bible! I love the Truth within….but it is not meant to be a substitute for relationship with Him.


 

Issues of Life #102

Life at the Next Level #12

Personal Spiritual Growth II

 

    Personal spiritual growth should be a priority at all times but when we’re talking about moving to the next level with the Father, it’s a non-negotiable issue. There are many things to consider when thinking of growing spiritually. As we have discussed, reading and studying the Bible is one of the most important. His Word is the owner’s manual for our lives. There are contained in His Word, “exceedingly great and precious promises that enable us to become partakers of the divine nature”, 1 Peter 2. God speaks to us through His Word. There is an innumerable number of benefits that come from the study and the meditation of His Word. But the study of His Word is not the only thing that one should undertake when planning for spiritual growth.

    The one-on-one personal relationship with the Father is one of the chief reasons that you and I were created. God so desired to have someone to be the object of His affection that He created Adam. And the Word records that, “the two of them walked together in the cool of the day”. God began His relationship with mankind at that point and the friendship that He shared with Adam is one that He wants desperately for you and I to engage in with Him. If we are indeed serious about our own personal spiritual growth there is no way that we can achieve it without deepening in our relationship with Him. It is sad but true that many a believer’s relationship is with the Book and not with the Father Himself. Jesus declared to the Pharisees, “you search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; but you are not willing to come to Me that you might have life”. The Pharisees’ relationship was with the Old Covenant writings; Writings that foretold of a Messiah, a Savior to come. But they were so steeped in their own religious tradition that they totally missed the Son of God walking in their midst.

    There’s no doubt about it, we need the written Word of God. It is vital! We must read It, study It and meditate on It. But let’s not be like the Pharisees. Let’s plunge headlong, by faith, into relationship with Him. It must happen if we’re to grow spiritually!


 

Issues of Life #103

Life at the Next Level #13

Personal Spiritual Growth III

 

    When discussing the issue of personal spiritual growth one might ask, “What’s the use”, “Why do I need to grow at all?” After all, the entire world is full of believers who have been born again but who have really never grown spiritually. We have placed so much emphasis on the salvation experience, and I totally agree that it is definitely the most important issue, but left the task of growing into spiritual maturity somewhere down the line in order of importance. The writer of Hebrews encourages the readers to ‘move on to perfection’ (maturity) from the ‘foundational’ things. Those six foundational things that are mentioned are: repentance from dead works, faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, the laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. In many cases there are people who don’t understand the deeper things of the Spirit because they have not had the ‘foundational’ things established in them. And, just as a building or a house must have a solid, true and stable foundation to be able to stand against the forces of nature that work against it, so must we, as believers, have a good sturdy foundation if we’re to stand under the mounting pressures of life.

    If we are to grow spiritually we must see it as a priority. Some growth just happens. For instance, if we are faithful to attend church and hear sound Biblical teaching we will grow, provided we submit ourselves to the teacher and allow the Word to settle into our spirit. Finding practical use of the Word will also insure that we will grow, at least to some extent. But, I believe that if we are to really experience growth spiritually we must make a point of it. We must plan for spiritual growth. The writer of Hebrews was speaking in pretty strong terms to the readers. He said to them, “By now you should be teachers, but you still need someone to teach you.” He spoke to them of their lackadaisical attitude that kept them in a childlike state rather than to grow into spiritual adulthood. We can do like the multitudes in modern Christianity and hope for the best when it comes to spiritual growth….or we can plan for growth and evolve into mature spiritual men and women who are responsible with the things of God.


 

Issues of Life #104

Life at the Next Level #14

Personal Spiritual Growth IV

 

Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

 

    There are a number of things to consider when discussing spiritual growth. One component that cannot be overlooked is the element of prayer. And while everyone knows how important that prayer really is, very few believers are committed to it. I believe that the joy and success of our spiritual lives follows our prayer life.

    Prayer is one of the greatest opportunities that we can experience during our lifetime. Being able to communicate with the Father is an incredible privilege indeed. Jesus gave many examples of how important prayer was to Him. Those Biblical examples are to show us also how important it should be to us. One of His disciples asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples.”  I believe that Jesus loved the question and also that He was eager to teach the twelve what prayer was really all about. He answered and told them to pray like this. “Our Father which is in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, your will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” Each of us has heard that particular prayer possibly hundreds of times. Here are what I believe to be ‘keys’ to the ‘model’ prayer, or Lords prayer as many call it. (1) Our Father which is in heaven – For the first time mankind is given the awesome opportunity to relate to God exactly like Jesus did…as Father! When we pray in this mode we enter into a very special relationship with Him. It is, incidentally, a relationship that God Himself has initiated. His desire is to lavishly bless us in all kinds of ways but especially to bless us with His presence. His guidance, counsel, provision and His extreme, genuine love and concern for us is unparalleled by any other thing that we could ever experience in this life. There’s more to prayer but our, coming to Him as Father, is the thing that brings the greatest blessings…….to us and to Him!


 

Issues of Life #105

Life at the Next Level #15

Personal Spiritual Growth V

 

“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy Name, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

 

    Prayer is one of the most important components to consider when discussing our own spiritual growth. When you think about it, prayer is one of the greatest opportunities that we can enjoy in this life. In its essence it is simply communicating with the Creator of the Universe! What a privilege we have been granted by the Father. We should humbly take full advantage of it.

    When looking closely at what we call the “Lord’s Prayer” there are many issues that come to mind as we look at prayer as an important element in our quest for spiritual growth. The model prayer can be viewed as a prayer in itself but it can also be viewed and studied as an outline of how we are to pray. We have discussed the importance of relating to, and addressing Him as Father. That sets the tone for the rest of our prayer. The second thing that Jesus says is, “hallowed by thy Name”. Hallowed is a word that is ‘worship’ oriented. Hallowing His name is to bring reverence and honor to Him. The Word is clear that He is worthy of our praise! I honestly believe that when we gain the correct perspective through relationship with Him that we will worship Him naturally without any outward encouragement from ourselves or anyone else. When we worship the Father we immediately take the attention off ourselves. Worship is a totally unselfish act. It gets us out of that, “it’s all about me”, mentality. And if we’re to grow spiritually this is an absolute priority!

    When we, in our time of prayer, give him the honor that is due Him and genuinely ‘hallow His Name”, we pave the way for effective and explosively powerful prayer!  It’s a requirement if we are to grow spiritually.


 

Issues of Life #106

Life at the Next Level #16

Personal Spiritual Growth VI

 

“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

 

    Growing in our knowledge, understanding and practice of personal prayer is a key element in spiritual growth. The model prayer holds great insight into strategic and effective communication with the Father. The third component of the prayer offers us the opportunity to usher the will of God from the spiritual realm into the natural. Jesus, in a very important discourse, teaches the disciples how to pray. It is important that we learn from Jesus, Himself, how we are to pray effectively.

    When you look closely to what Jesus is actually saying here, it is obvious that what He wants us to pray is that the Kingdom of God would be manifest here on the earth. We are major players in that process by God’s own design. We are to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to petition God the Father to bring His perfect will to pass here and now!

When we look at the prayer, the question might arise as to, “What is the Kingdom?”. The kingdom of God is both complex and simple at the same time. John the Baptizer declared to the rigid religious leaders of his day, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. The kingdom of God is easy access! We enter the kingdom of God when we are born again. It’s that simple decision and act of faith to receive Jesus as Savior that brings us into right standing with the Father. As we walk in the Spirit in obedience to the Lord and to His plan for our lives we are consistently advancing His kingdom.

    To pray, “Your kingdom come your will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” is to ask, “God, let what is happening in heaven happen here!” “Let what is not happening in heaven….not happen here!” There’s no sickness or disease in heaven. There’s no divorce and there are no addictive drugs there. Now, you may think that it is unreasonable to ask God to make things here like they are in heaven but it is not unreasonable at all. In fact that is exactly what Jesus is encouraging us to do. Will we be the generation that rises up and contends with the Father to bring His perfect will to pass here on earth? Lord, let your kingdom come!


 

Issues of Life #107

Life at the Next Level #17

Personal Spiritual Growth VII

 

“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

 

            The Lord’s Prayer, as we call it, has been memorized, spoken and quoted probably as much or more than any other passage in the whole Bible. When one takes a closer look at the prayer, an outline appears. It is an outline that gives us incredible insight into how the Lord Jesus, Himself, taught His disciples how to pray.

            Each of us has legitimate needs in this life. When we begin the process of understanding that God wants to relate to us as a Father would a son, or daughter, it quickly becomes apparent that He wants to meet those needs in our lives. When Jesus encouraged His disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”, I believe that He was telling them to petition the Father to supply the needs that they were encountering. You may ask, “If God is really our Father, then why do we have to ask”. Well, there are a few reasons why we need to ask. 1) The Bible says that, “we have not because we ask not”, indicating that we are to ask for the things that we legitimately need in life. God has promised to “meet all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” The supply for our need already exists but we must ask for it. 2) When we ask in prayer for our needs to be met we are releasing faith. It is impossible to please God apart from faith, the Bible says. The faith element is ‘built in’ to the whole prayer process. When you really look at prayer it is evident that, at least in part, it is “asking someone you can’t see to do something that you can’t do.” When God answers, our faith grows and that is extremely pleasing to Him.

            Another thing to think about when praying for your daily needs is to remember to pray in specifics. My experience is that when I pray in general terms, God answers in a general way. When I pray in specific terms, God answers in specifics!

            Prayer is incredibly important in our quest for spiritual growth. A deeper, more meaningful and more intimate prayer life supplies much of what is needed to succeed at ‘life at the next level.’


 

Issues of Life #108

Life at the Next Level #18

Personal Spiritual Growth VIII

 

“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

 

    Personal prayer is vital to the serious ‘kingdom resident’. Growing spiritually is anchored much in our willingness to pray. The Bible says that, “we have not because we ask not”. Personally, I believe that God wants us to ask Him to do impossible things. His Word states that, “with men there are things that are impossible, but with God nothing is impossible”. As born again believers and children of the King, we have God given permission to invade the impossible realm. We should get over trying to be conservative!

    As we have looked at the various elements of the Lord’s Prayer we begin to see that an outline emerges. The next component of this familiar prayer involves forgiveness. Forgiveness is of the utmost importance to the Father and it should be equally important to each of us. We are encouraged to ask for God’s forgiveness. Without forgiveness we would be doomed to hell without any chance, whatsoever, of pardon. But the Word says that, “God demonstrates His own love for us in that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners”. We were born with a ‘sin nature’, and the wages of sin is death. The death that the Bible talks about is not just physical death, but spiritual death….eternal separation from God! So, we must have His forgiveness if we’re to live eternally with Him. Forgiveness reveals God’s nature. He’s a ‘forgiver’ and He wants us to be ‘forgivers’ too.

    In this part of the prayer, we ask forgiveness for the specific areas and specific sins where we have fallen short. Repentance is necessary for forgiveness. The next verse (not shown) after the Lord’s Prayer returns again to forgiveness: “For if you forgive those who have trespassed against you, so will your Heavenly Father forgive you; but if you don’t forgive those who have wronged you, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you.” Pretty plain isn’t it! Here we are to also forgive those who have wronged us. I believe that there is much to be said about forgiving by declaring it verbally and vocally. Forgiveness is not a feeling that we have….it is a choice that we make. The feelings of true forgiveness will come somewhere down the line. Effective prayer is dependent upon our willingness to forgive. Prayer and forgiveness are vital elements in life at the next level.


 

Issues of Life #109

Life at the Next Level #19

Personal Spiritual Growth IX

 

“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

 

    It is in this part of our prayer that we ask the Lord for His protection. “We have an adversary, the devil, who walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” His deception began in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve and it continues today. A regular part of our prayer life should be spent in ‘spiritual warfare’. The spiritual battle that rages in us and around us is a very real phenomenon. “The ‘thief’ comes to steal, to kill and to destroy.” The devil and his cohorts plot to steal from us the blessings that God has freely given to us. But the good news is that he is already defeated. Yes, it’s true. The battle has already been waged and won by the Lord Jesus Christ, Who through His death, burial and resurrection defeated all the works of the enemy. And while that is a reality, we must engage with the enemy and his demons on a regular basis. It is a requirement that we exercise the authority that has been delegated to us by the Father to daily claim what is ours. The Bible is full of verses that encourage us in our battle with the enemy. “No weapon formed against us shall prosper”, “We are not ignorant of the devil’s devices”. There are plenty more but the point is clear. There is a battle, we’re entrenched in it, and we have already been declared the winner!

    When we pray through the Lord’s Prayer and the apparent outline that is given there, we should declare the will and the Word of God in all our circumstances. Those areas of spiritual attack and oppression that we are going through need to be addressed specifically. We need for God to speak to us concerning our circumstances. Regular and diligent prayer causes our faith to ‘rise up’. Looking at our circumstances without faith can cause discouragement. We are to walk by faith and not by sight.


 

Issues of Life #110

Life at the Next Level #20

Personal Spiritual Growth X

 

“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

 

    The kingdom is His! In this part of the prayer we declare it. The kingdom of God is a vast subject to discuss. In some ways it is so complex that it almost defies definition. In other ways it is so simple that even a child can understand it. But at any rate the Kingdom belongs to the Father. The good news is that His deepest desire is to give that kingdom to us. “Rejoice little flock for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” When we begin to understand the kingdom of God everything else comes into perspective.

    The kingdom of God is a hot topic. I have noticed over the past few months, and from some unexpected sources, that the kingdom is definitely being talked about and debated on a more brisk level than I have ever seen it before. I believe that this attention to the kingdom has been brought about by the Father Himself. We should make it a priority to understand the kingdom of God and endeavor to know what it means to us, individually, to be citizens of His incredible kingdom.

    In His kingdom there is a different way of doing business, so to speak. In His kingdom, He rules! The rule of God in and through the lives of believers worldwide is the one single thing that will, and is, changing the world for the better. As we live our lives according to His will and by the leadership of His Spirit we are ‘infecting’ our culture in a very profound way. The kingdom of God brings into reality how God wants the world to be. No sickness, no disease, no broken relationships, no divorce or broken families; this is in part of what the kingdom of God coming and advancing in the world brings.

    In this part of our prayer we are to declare the coming of the kingdom of God We are to pray for ourselves that we would be willing and eager participants in the advancement of God’s kingdom here on Earth. His kingdom is an ‘everlasting kingdom’!

 

 

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