“Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing. Discipleship–the process of becoming like Christ–always begins with a decision. Jesus calls us, and we respond: ‘Come, be my disciple,’ Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.”
Your chosen commitments shape your life. They will make you or they will break you, “but either way, they will define you.” Many just drift through life, unwanting or unwilling to commit to anything, especially God’s purpose for their lives.
It’s hard to change. Believe me, I know this all too well. When you have lived in darkness for so many years, you feel you are undeserving of good things, of love, of God’s love. You feel you deserve to be punished for every day for the rest of your life. God does not want this for you. He loves you, no matter what you have done or what you think of yourself. I finally got this. He wants for you to love yourself and to love him and to love others. To get to this place – that is actually a lot more simple than you might think. You simply start by asking his forgiveness, if you are truly sorry. This means that you want to forget your old ways of living and thinking, like an old, dirty, smelly, battered coat – throw it out, and put on his coat – a new, beautiful, clean, fresh, warm coat. This is a new way of living your life every day. It means change. I never said it would be easy. It won’t always be easy, but there will be many wonderful benefits from this life, once you make this commitment.
We get settled in old routines, old ways of thinking and living our lives. It’s what we know. That doesn’t make it right. We can break old routines. We can create new, healthier habits, better ways of living. After years of smoking, I gave it up. So did my best chum. After years of not reading for myself (was only making time to read kid’s books with Hallie), I started getting up earlier in the morning to make time. After years of living without God’s light, I finally found it and make an effort to please him daily. I mess up sometimes. We all mess up. We will have to struggle a bit, but God will help us. He wants to help you.
You have to do your part. He’s not going to serve it up on a silver platter. It’s like I tell Hallie – if there is something she needs or wants for her life, such as having a horse and a ranch, and/or being a veterinarian one day (and I know these are not spiritual things; they are just things she wishes for her life), she has to work hard. She has to save her money and not spend it all. She has to prove herself responsible to care for such needy animals and learn all that goes into caring for a horse. She has to prove she wants to care for a ranch by working hard outside, help work the land, be willing to do what needs to be done. She has to go to college to receive an education in the area of veterinary medicine she wishes to go into. She has to do her part – take action. God will do the rest. She has to have the want, the will, the drive, the commitment. You do your part. God will do the rest. I tell Hallie, “You have to meet him half way. He’s not going to do it all for you, but he will help you.” This is partly what I live by. I do my part. I take action. I do what I can and God meets me the rest of the way.
When you change the way you live (when you want to live for God/Jesus), you break old habits and create new healthier ones. You change the way you think. You “work out.” God “works in.” “Spiritual growth is a collaborative effort between you and the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit works with us, not just in us.”
“Farmers “work” the land, not to get land, but to develop what they already have. God has given you a new life; now you are responsible to develop it . . . ”
Taking off your own thinking cap and putting on God’s thinking cap means “adopting how God thinks – about yourself, sin, God, other people, life, your future, and everything else. You take on Christ’s outlook and perspective.”
“Today many assume that spiritual maturity is measured by the amount of biblical information and doctrine you know. While knowledge is one measurement of maturity, it isn’t the whole story. The Christian life is far more than creeds and convictions; it includes conduct and character. Our deeds must be consistent with our creeds, and our beliefs must be backed up with Christlike behavior.”
“Christianity is not a religion or a philosophy, but a relationship and a lifestyle. The core of that lifestyle is thinking of others, as Jesus did, instead of ourselves. The Bible says, “We should think of their good and try to help them by doing what pleases them. Even Christ did not try to please himself.”
I’ll admit, it’s not always easy to put others before yourself. I spent so many years putting myself first, always before others. That all changed when I became pregnant with Hallie. I tried to put my husband before me, but was unable to do this, for many reasons. I’ve always had a fighter’s spirit or stubborn, never submissive. A failed marriage is a failure on both parts, and I claim my wrongfulness. I was selfish. I was stubborn. When Hallie happened, how I saw everything – changed. I wanted to be the best parent I could possibly be for her. I wanted to become a better person. A kid really does change everything – at least it did for me. She’s great at putting others first. Who knew you could learn more from a kid than you could ever teach? The more often you practice putting others before yourself, the easier it becomes and it’s actually sort of freeing. It frees you from yourself and that’s a freedom I can enjoy and appreciate.
Mr. Warren’s “Question to Consider: What is one area where I need to stop thinking my way and start thinking God’s way?”
It’s gonna be a terrifical Tuesday! Go make it one! This rain makes me wanna go back to bed, though. I think I’ll run up and down the stairs when I get to work and go get me another cup of coffee, now. 😉 Love you! *smooch*