Newsletter for Mar 2009
Last month I began a teaching about how diligence seems to be one of the most difficult character traits to develop when it comes to our relationship with God. So let’s briefly review that first part.
One reason it can be difficult to establish diligence in our pursuit of spiritual growth is because the devil fights us so hard when it comes to prayer, worship, reading and meditating in God’s word and so on. But he rarely fights us when we give in to those things which distract us from our time with God.
Another reason so many fail to be persistent in walking with the Lord is doubt that their persistence will cause anything to happen. Yet God tells us in His word that we will see results if we refuse to quit. He stresses this in Galatians 6:7-9, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Many Christians express great frustration with what could be called a roller-coaster life. One day they feel on fire for God; the next day they seem disinterested in moving forward with Him. I have prayed with many who have shared such discouragement. But God gives us the answers on how to get past all of this.
In Luke 5:1-11 Peter, John and their fishing partners had spent all night on the sea and didn’t catch a thing. But the next morning Jesus stepped into Peter’s boat and began teaching the multitudes that had followed Him. When Jesus had finished His teaching He told Peter to launch out into the deep to catch some fish.
To Peter, this made no sense whatsoever. But the anointing on Jesus’ life and teaching made such an impact on Peter that he said, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. Scripture then records, And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
Why did this happen? Why did Peter go fishing at a particular time when everything in him said it was a total waste of time? The answer is found in his response to Jesus, nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. When Jesus climbed into Peter’s boat and had him push off from shore, he had nothing to do but sit and listen to Jesus teach; no washing and mending of nets, just listening to the word of the Lord.
Romans 10:17 says, So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The words that Jesus spoke began producing faith in Peter; faith to the point that he did something which, to human reasoning, was a waste of time. Peter didn’t deny the conditions before him. Instead, he chose to place more value on the word of Jesus than on his empty fishing boat. The result was that he got exactly what the Lord told him he would get. If Peter had not made the choice to separate himself from all the things he “needed” to do (clean and mend the fishing nets) and focus his attention on nothing but Jesus, he would never have caught all those fish.
Many Christians are facing a life that resembles Peter’s empty fishing boat. They love the Lord and would never do anything on purpose to hurt Him. They give offerings, serve in their church, and are faithful to attend every time the doors open. Yet time goes by and nothing seems to change. There is only one thing that will help such a person break past their plateau, and that is diligence to the things of God.
Attending every church service and faithfully serving in church is a very needful thing for Believers. However, we can never truly go deeper in God unless we force ourselves to become diligent to the things of God. A person might ask, “What does it mean to give diligence to the things of God?” Once again, God’s word holds the answer.
Jesus said in John 5:39, Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. God’s word hold’s the key to everything we are in Christ, who Jesus really is to us, what we have in our salvation, and the fullness of all we can do for God. In Joshua 1:8 God promises us incredible results if we commit ourselves to His word, This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Preachers can tell us anything, but unless it comes from scripture it means nothing relative to growing spiritually. The only source we have that accurately portrays our genuine potential is God’s Holy Word.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18 the Apostle Paul wrote, But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Then, in John 1:1, 14 we read, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh (speaking of Jesus) and dwelt among us…” Thus, if we are conforming to the image of the glory of the Lord, then we are conforming to the image of the glory of the word.
Then, 1 Thessalonians 2:13 says, For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. It is impossible for the word to work in us to conform us to the image of Christ if we haven’t received it. It is impossible to receive the word if we do not spend time in the word. And it is impossible to believe the word if we have not spent time in it to receive it. Simply put, giving diligence to the word of God means:
If you want to move beyond a spiritual plateau, then you must make God’s word a priority in your life. Growing to the next level in God cannot be done absent of His word. Think about it: repeatedly in scripture we see account after account of how the power of God’s word changed people and circumstances. He has said that neither He nor His word will ever change. Therefore, if His word produced results in the past, it will do the same today.
“Brother Martin, is that all there is? Is that all I need to do to get past this spiritual sticking point in my life?” No, there is more.
A person’s attitude plays a major role in his or her spiritual success. I have heard many Christians say all the right things in church, but the fruit of their lives indicates that they really don’t care. It’s one thing to be able to quote lots of scripture; but it is something else for the life of scripture to govern your life. This is a mistake many have made, thinking that scripture memorized is scripture lived – this is simply not true.
We have to want spiritual change so badly that it becomes a priority. Some might complain that I am saying you can’t do anything else in life but pray and read the Bible. However, that is not at all what I am saying. When people put spiritual growth (their relationship with God) first, God will help them develop the proper balance between daily life and time with Him. Remember, Galatians 6:8 says, he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Stated differently; if you don’t sow, you don’t grow.
Consider it this way: we want a paycheck, so we go to work. We want to eat, so we cook or go to a restaurant. We want to be clean, so we take a shower. If we want to conform to the image of Christ, we have to choose to do what’s necessary.
Paul told Timothy to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Make no mistake, we are in a war. Satan cannot steal our salvation, so he tries to steal our time. Twice n scripture Paul admonished Christians to redeem their time (Ephesians 5:16, Colossian 4:5). To redeem our time means, in part, to use it wisely. I have found that many Christians have gotten in such a day-to-day rut that they honestly cannot seem to identify all the “time thieves” in their lives. This is where the Holy Spirit can help.
The Holy Spirit is God. He has known before time began that you would be born and all the struggles in life you would face. He also knows precisely where your time is being used wisely and where it is being wasted. By spending time praying in the Spirit you will be giving Him the opportunity to show you how to refocus your time so that you are redeeming every minute. He is able to reveal both things and people who are not as beneficial to you as you may think.
The Holy Spirit also plays a major role in helping you develop into the full capacity of your spiritual potential. In John 16:14 Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would glorify Him. As you pray in the Spirit He is able to glorify Jesus in your own life while revealing and teaching you all that you possess as a joint-heir with Christ. Along with this He is able to help you develop the diligence that is so needed as we pursue spiritual excellence.
I can also tell you that fasting and private worship will help you conquer those areas in your life which do not want to submit to diligence to spiritual growth. Private worship is when you are alone with the Lord and you simply begin to worship Him just because you love Him. His presence during such times becomes so sweet and refreshing that you can become lost in His love. You will begin to long for the manifestation of His glory that is released through those times of worship.
You know something; I wish spiritual change was automatic…but it isn’t. We all have to do our part to get the results God desires for us. But one thing is for sure: the results are guaranteed if we will press beyond the flesh and emotions to develop diligence to the things of God. Personally, I want that change; I want to conform more and more to the image of my Savior…don’t you?
Your servant in Christ,