Keys to Spiritual Growth
Developing Your Love Affair With God
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Never Ďflirtí with others
We must love other people, but if ever there is a conflict of loyalties between God and anyone else, we must willingly choose God.
Those who are united to Christ should avoid romantic involvement with anyone who is not fully committed to him. According to Scripture, for a Christian to marry a non-Christian is a spiritual perversion. If you are already married to such a person, however, God hates divorce and he wants you to do all you can to maintain that union.
Naturally, we must continue to love, respect and, where appropriate, look after non-Christian relatives. The ideal is to be close enough to non-Christians to influence them for Christ, without being so close that they begin to adversely affect our spiritual life.
2. Spiritual Powers
Since the only way to God is through Jesus, any spiritual experiences that occur without complete reliance upon Jesus Christ, cannot be from God. Such psychic phenomena must therefore be due to the activities of evil spirits.
Most of us have had some association in the past with one or more practices like these. Many of us thought they were quite harmless, but it is necessary that we confess to God that we have sinned by becoming involved with them. Ask your Lordís forgiveness and have nothing more to do with such things.
Almighty God is far more powerful than anything in the occult. When Jesus returns to earth all evil powers will be totally destroyed.
Fun ways to grow spiritually
Christian music is a great way to learn and be reminded of wonderful spiritual truths. It obviously adds a whole dimension of beauty and power to church praise and worship, but modern technology means we do not have to leave this precious experience locked up in a church. We can take it with us driving or relaxing at home. Hunt around and youíll find Christian music catering for virtually every conceivable taste.
There are many thrilling and inspiring Christian books that you wonít be able to put down, such as books detailing Christiansí spiritual adventures. Ask at church and friends about their favorite Christian books. (And maybe place a hint or two about borrowing some!) Visit some Christian bookshops, explain roughly where you are spiritually and what interests you (maybe humor, for example) and see what they come up with. Good books are an entertaining way of fostering spiritual growth.
Audio tapes, videos, websites, Christian television and radio, are other possibilities.
Another easy but valuable help is simply chatting about spiritual things to Christian friends.
ĎAny friend of his, is a friend of mineí
Your Lord loved you while you were still his enemy. You are therefore obligated to love your enemies.
Beyond this, you have a special obligation to love those who are your true brothers and sisters in Christ Ė all Christians.
Even if you donít feel that great love is being expressed by believers that you know, that is no reason for allowing your love to diminish. Try not to allow the failings of others to influence you.
Those of Godís children who are in fellowship with each other, enjoy greater security and satisfaction than those who are isolated from other believers. They are also more likely to experience (in a special way) Jesusí presence and answered prayer. Yet another advantage is that each individual has greater power than if he/she were alone.
Praying aloud with other believers can be a wonderful experience.
Your choice of church is very important. If you really love Jesus and yet still find it quite a chore to go to church, it might be that you need to change churches.
Donít take God for granted
God is so wonderful that he far surpasses any other lover, or anything else in existence. Of course, there can be no sexual aspect in your love affair with God, but your relationship can, and should be, far more intimate than would ever be possible between two humans.
This is not just wishful thinking. We were, quite literally, made for this relationship.
So realize the uniqueness of your relationship with God and never fall into the trap of accepting substitutes or be bluffed into thinking the Ďhoneymooní is over!
Enjoy your Loverís wealth
As explained in You Can Find Love, making everything that is yours (your time, abilities, possessions, etc.) available to God, makes everything that is Godís Ė his time, abilities, possessions, etc. Ė available to you.
So there is now a huge collection of gifts your King wants you to enjoy. All you need do is accept each of them by faith and start using them. These gifts cost God dearly Ė they can be ours only because of Jesusí death. So endeavor to accept, appreciate and use all his gifts. One of the precious gifts we should immediately begin cutting our teeth on is the divine power to break free from the hold that sin once had in our lives.
Ask for one of his gifts (itís probably best to concentrate on one at a time), believe that it is now yours, and then act as if you have it.
Boast about your Lord. Appreciate his gifts. Grumbling and complaining breaks Godís heart.
Praise is powerful because:
It is the language of love
It honors your Lord
It increases your faith, building spiritual muscle like nothing else can
It is a weapon that defeats evil forces
It is Godís anti-depressant.
It liberates us to become God-centered, instead of self-centered
Praising God when things look bleak is an act of love and trust that particularly touches Godís heart and gains you eternal honor. Youíll praise your Lord forever, but when this world ends youíll never again have the opportunity to praise God in difficult circumstances. So make the most of the opportunities that come your way!
You will be eternally grateful for every time you have thanked and praised God, and particularly for those times you persevered in praise, even though it seemed hard. When all is revealed, it will be proved that, in every perplexing situation, our Lord was not only right in what he did, but he deserved our thunderous praise.
In Scripture, God rarely performed a miracle for people who were not in serious difficulty. So rejoice when things seem absolutely disastrous and you can see no way out! A miracle is almost certainly just around the corner!
Love him fervently
It is important to work hard for Jesus, but he wants your love far more than your labors.
One of your new abilities, due to your union with Christ, is that you no longer need be controlled by your emotions. You can rule your emotions.
So, literally stir up your emotions and get excited about God. Stop thinking you would be happier with more money or more friends or some such thing. Realize that what you really need to satisfy that emptiness within is an even closer relationship with your Perfect Lover.
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Donít be seduced
Sincerity of belief is not enough: we must believe the right things.
The Bible teaches that even if a true apostle or angel from Heaven preaches a gospel contrary to the Bible, that Ďgospelí must be rejected. False teaching is to be spurned, even if itís accompanied by supernatural manifestations such as visions, or even miracles.
Of necessity, any parts of the teaching of false cults have to be true in order to seduce people, but the false parts are deadly. They usually donít mention their false doctrines until you are beginning to let your defenses down. It is therefore important to specifically and politely question people concerning the following things. If they differ from the following beliefs, donít listen to them. Politely ask them to leave and have nothing to do with them. That sounds harsh, but unless you normally disarm nuclear bombs before breakfast, leave spiritual poison to the experts.
We can expect false teachers to quote freely from the Bible. The more familiar you are with Godís Word, the easier it will be for you to recognize any distortion of it.
1. The Bible is 100% Godís Word. It is therefore completely reliable and unique. Over and over in his teachings Jesus revealed his high regard for Scripture. If itís good enough for him, itís good enough for me. Be cautious about those who teach doctrines that are based wholly or partly upon traditions, writings or visions that are not part of Scripture. Be particularly wary of those who belittle the mighty Word of God by implying that it has Ďerrors.í
2. The doctrine of the trinity
We must not allow our conception of God to be distorted by our puny intellect and experience.
When we examine all the biblical evidence (too vast to mention here), we are forced to conclude that, in one sense, God is three Persons: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but, in another sense, God is one.
Jesus is unique. Steadfastly refuse to attribute to anyone any honor that belongs solely to Jesus. He is divine, the eternal (uncreated) Son of God.
The Holy Spirit is clearly revealed in Scripture as a person. He also has the attributes of God.
3. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty our sins deserved
The only way to God is through Jesus. No matter how much good we try to do, it will never remove our past. Only genuinely wanting to be free from sin and placing our faith in Jesusí forgiveness can cause us to be united to God.
After we are united to our Holy Lord (the only Source of moral goodness) we are then able to do good, but only because it is God working in us. Any true good comes from God, not us, and so we canít get any credit for any good we do. All the honor and praise belongs to the Almighty alone.
4. Jesus rose from the dead and is now seated with God, interceding on our behalf.
5. Our standards of morality must match those of the Bible.
6. The dead spend forever in only one of two places Ė Heaven (a place of honor and joy in Godís presence) or Hell (a place of shame and misery banished from Godís presence).
7. No single church, or group, has a monopoly upon truth.
Be wary of groups that seem to think their group is almost the only one whom God approves of.
8. The true God is a supernatural God. He performed healings and miracles in biblical times and he has, of course, lost none of his power.
Be eager to have his children
The spiritual destinies (eternity in Heaven or Hell) of billions of people are at stake. It seems impossible to think of anything more important. Because the Almighty has purposely limited himself, he needs you to help save people from Hell. You are entrusted with this great responsibility because your all-powerful God has faith in you and loves you so much that he wants you to share in his great work. Donít let God down. Heís depending upon you.
How to have spiritual children
1. The essentials
Maintain an intimate union with Jesus.
Live a life that radiates Godís beauty Ė love, joy, peace, kindness, purity, etc.
Explain to other people the Christian message
Tell others what Jesus has personally done for you
Give them Christian tracts
Invite them to Church meetings, etc
Contribute to the financial support of those who are spreading the Gospel
Have many grandchildren!
After being used of God to bring a new Christian into this world, you then have the exciting responsibility of helping that person grow spiritually.
Do all you can to encourage your spiritual children to spiritually reproduce. By this means, even if you are only a teenager, you can be a spiritual grand-parent or even great-grand-parent!
Give your Lover gifts
It is a great privilege to give gifts to the Lord. Only because of his great love for us does the Owner of the universe accept and appreciate our gifts. And the greatest thing you can give your Lover is your love.
Give joyfully, liberally and out of love, because this is the way in which your Creator has given to you.
It is quite unscriptural to think that we have fulfilled our financial obligation to our Lord once we have given one tenth of our income.
On the basis of biblical principles we could conclude that if God really wanted to bless the church, he would create within it an unequal distribution of wealth. An immense flood of prayer, praise, love, joy, prosperity, and blessing would then result from the equalization of this wealth.
A great, world-wide inequality does indeed exist. It is up to you and me in the rich countries to create such a flow of finance to our needy brothers and sisters that God will be glorified and the whole world will sit up and take notice.
Perhaps you are thinking that you can hardly Ďmake ends meetí now. But God has promised to take care of all your financial needs when you give sacrificially to him.
Of course, there is nothing basically wrong with money or material possessions, but we must face up to the realities of life. There are people dying of physical and spiritual starvation who could be saved if we gave them some of our money instead of spending it on ourselves.
The really Ďrichí people are those who have discovered the joy of giving.
Look forward to your wedding day
In one sense, your relationship with Jesus is, at present, more like an engagement than a marriage. Your marriage to Jesus will occur at the culmination of this age when Jesus fulfills his promise to return to earth.
We long for our union with Christ to be consummated.
Life with Jesus, right now, is great, but itís only a vague shadow of the tremendous things that God has in store for you when his Son returns.
When the King of kings returns to earth, you will become perfect, just as he is.
The next step
Great! You have now completed the outline (unless youíve cheated and looked ahead!). You have skimmed the surface of a book about humanity's greatest adventure. If you are a new Christian, it will surely seem rather hazy at present, assuming youíre not a super-genius! Donít worry, your Lord will sort it out for you, but it takes a little time. Iíve condensed into a few words concepts that usually take Christians years to discover. I wanted you to gain an overview before plunging into greater depths. After youíve had a break (you deserve one!) your head will stop spinning and youíll be eager to commence the full web book. This should be more gripping and easier to understand than the bare outline.
Not to be sold. © Copyright, Grantley Morris, 1980, 1999.
For much more by the same author, see www.net-burst.net
No part of these writings may be copied without citing this entire paragraph. No part may be sold.
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