Moving towards God

Well, we come to the last day of this issue on ‘The Nature of the Spiritual Journey’.

Selwyn has spent the last two months covering eight spiritual experiences and lessons. He says: “There are unquestionably more, but certainly not less than eight.”

His summary of the eight spiritual lessons, follows: “In our movement towards God we will encounter a holy God; through suffering, our sensitivity to the needs of others is deepened and widened. In close relationships we learn the art of loving others more than we love ourselves. … Jesus always kept eternity in view. Do you? Can we live with mystery, trusting in God and not dreaming up our own solutions, even if we have to wait until eternity? Can our lives be characterised by a lifestyle of repentance (changing our mind to match His will) as we continuously return to Him through the door of repentance? Do we rejoice that throughout our entire journey we are accompanied by a passionate God who desires an intimate, vibrant relationship with us? And lastly, do we recall that we are all involved in a rescue mission? Do we share what God has so graciously shared with us?”

These thought provoking question are worth dwelling upon during this day. February 29th is a day that we don’t often see – it’s like an extra day that we have to catch up on the things, left undone – it’s a day, we can spend taking stock of our spiritual life. We can treat it as a day during which we can sit down next to God, and in prayer, go through our present situation asking for His help to highlight those areas of our lives; where an ‘answer’ to any of the above questions, was hard to find.

It’s important to keep in mind that we cannot explore these spiritual issues using only our own resources and strengths. These are areas that require God’s involvement – only the Holy Spirit and an honest searching heart, can find and identify the essential next steps in our spiritual journey. If we don’t spend some time with God exploring these issues, we don’t simply stand still; but as time progresses we are actually moving away from God. Do you agree?

I also liked Selwyn’s final comments, (I’ve changed the order of his words and some of the content, to place more emphasis on the higher priorities, as I see them): Do we realise that what God wants, first and foremost is our worship – our works follow; He first – seeks our love; and then, our servant-hood will grow out of this loving relationship? Our eyes should be focused on Jesus, our Shepherd, He will lead us along the narrow path towards home. God is committed to saving us – He seeks out the lost; can we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him? He died on a cross to save you - will you agree to the death of your old, self-centred life – to follow Him?

In summary, we can take hold of the words in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 3, verse 18 (NIV): “And we, who … all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory …

These words tell us that God is doing the transformation (we don’t initiate the spiritual experiences), He is showing us the way – all we need to do – is to take hold of His hand, and follow! How great is that!

[What did you learn over the last two months while going through this study?]

Words and deeds

Selwyn makes a good case for using both words and deeds to testify about our faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit will help us to make the right blend of words and deeds  – we read in the Bible that God will give us the right words when asked about our faith, but we do need to place our trust in God and have the confidence that He will look after the detail.

Selwyn says: “Those who call for words alone and those who call for deeds alone are both wrong. We belong to Him who had words and deeds in a living blend. Though it is not necessary to constantly preach at people, we must be ready to take advantage of every opportunity to share Christ …

It’s our faith and love of God that drives us to provide a glass of water to those who are thirsty, to feed those who are hungry and to clothe those who are naked. Yet, it’s important, as Selwyn mentions, to ensure that the various social issues ‘never become a substitute for direct evangelism – for sharing our faith.

The activities we may do regarding social issues can only be used to progress God’s kingdom if people know; why, we are doing the work!  That these activities are outward expressions of our love for others – this love being a reflection of God’s love for us. Do you agree?

One of Selwyn’s earlier comments I think sums up this area well: “Words and deeds are the two wings of the Christian as he or she soars and sings.” This suggests that we need to keep the two in balance, and we do that by following the prompts of the Holy Spirit. We are not left alone to make these decisions – God is always with us – we need to live the truth of this fact.

Finally, the main verse for today, is really worth a lot of our time to think about (1 Peter 3:15, NIV): “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Sharing Jesus with others should become second-nature for us – as part of our new life.

{Let’s hope, a light inside shines today!}

‘Let me commend my Saviour’

I just simply love the title of today’s study.

It’s the one sentence which my heart constantly sings when I meet anyone, my issue is that I can’t seem to weave these words into the conversation of the moment.  My next endeavor is to try and say these words by my actions; and again I’m not very good at doing that either – so, overall – I know what I want to do but often seem to miss the opportunity.

I do agree with Selwyn when he writes: “Someone has defined a Christian as one who says by word or deed, ‘Let me commend my Saviour to you’. What a wonderful definition.”

A similar prayer to what Selwyn used yesterday  is especially relevant for me – what about you?

O Father – I ask for the courage to share my experiences of You with others at the appropriate times. Please give me some seed – and help me sow it in prepared hearts. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

What comes in must go out

We now come to Selwyn’s final requirement that we need to experience while on our spiritual journey.

He says: “On this journey it is essential that we do not simply take in, absorb and assimilate, but also that we share – share what we have received from God. … It is important for us to take time to share with others the things that God has shared with us.”

In general, I agree with what Selwyn has to say – with one qualification – sometimes, your experiences of God are so ‘out of the normal’ that many ‘cultural’ Christians may find it difficult to accept the truth of these events. For example, I’ve encountered many Christians who don’t fully believe my conversion account (see my history) – even a Minister, who I know well, has suggested that it may have just been my imagination – something that happened inside my head.

Well, I don’t try to defend my account of what happened – I know that that they will discover the truth after their death – and, it’s better not to be a stumbling block to their faith. We are all on different stages of our spiritual journey – those who are spiritually mature can test what they hear and see; and, by the power of the Holy Spirit will be able to discern the truth of any matter. The main point is that we should be prepared to share with anyone at anytime the reason for our faith. Do you agree?

Not personal but intimate

I fully agree with what Selwyn has to say; and I really liked the bit ‘the perfume of our Lord’s sacrifice still fills the air’.

Perhaps, the lack of energy and vitality seen in today’s church has more to do with our general lack of zeal in seeking an intimate relationship with God. Compared to the the Christian communities, that we read about in Acts, we are but a pale shadow of their obvious enthusiasm for serving our Lord.

It’s worth thinking about Selwyn’s answer to the question: “What are the most important lessons the Lord has taught you during your (many) years of ministry?”

His answer: “The realisation that Jesus is not simply seeking a personal relationship with me but an intimate one.”

The question to all of us, is: “What are we doing in response to God’s invitation to enter into a deeper relationship with Him?” Or, are we just too busy to even think about it? 

An act of beauty

To believe in Jesus in not only an intellectual exercise – our faith, is not based in a knowledge of God gained from studying the Bible. Our belief, our faith is based on a relationship with a loving God – it is not solely based on a belief in an intelligent design of our created world. That is, our walk with Jesus is not part of a scientific theory which we accept to allow us to infuse meaning into our lives. We don’t pour expensive perfume over a very nice idea – but, we can give everything to a person who loves us with all of His life!

As Selwyn observes in today’s study: “The Pharisees and teachers of the law were the most biblically-educated people in the world at the time of Jesus. They believed the Scriptures, taught them zealously, prided themselves on their keeping of the law, and yet Jesus said, ‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’ (Matthew 15:8)

Likewise (today), we have many people in the various churches, who call themselves Christians with their lips, but their hearts are far from God.

Our urgent response perhaps is – ‘Please come back – soon, very soon!’ Do you agree?

Worship first – work second

Selwyn continues his discussion on the important issue that our relationship with God must be passionate, that is, by using all our strength we must direct; all, of who we are – heart, mind and soul, towards Jesus.

He starts today’s study by saying: “A few days ago we commented that sadly some Christians are more taken up with the cause of Christ than with Christ whose cause they represent …

It is a great tragedy that people think of the quiet time, of Bible study and prayer as being solely about spiritual growth – our growth. Our times of devotion are primarily not about us but about God. …

The point is that our activity for our heavenly Father should grow out of intimacy with Him.”

Many people study the Bible to find out what Jesus did or what Jesus taught. Yet, the important aspect of Bible study is to take hold of Jesus’ hand and to get to know Him. The Bible is a long, love letter from God to us; our response, to reading the Bible, is to fall-deeper-in-love with God. We can only do this when we realise who Jesus is, and worship Him as God – then, and only then, can the ‘what‘ make sense. Do you agree?