In our PS Time discussion group, one thought came out that we need to keep in front of us: our motivations for spiritual growth can be the benefits of growth and the blessings of a relationship with God, but the primary motivation to spiritual growth is God Himself. Enjoying and glorifying God Himself are what make life meaningful and full. Sometimes we approach our Bible reading, prayer time, church participation, and service to others with the goal of getting some feeling or wisdom to help us reach our ultimate goal of personal fulfillment, a sense of purpose, or an inner peace. But if we are using God to reach some other goal, then we are missing out on the fact that enjoying God is our highest goal unto itself.
Last week's blog post relayed the foundation for that thought: The most beautiful thing you can ever see, read about, or think about is...God! So here's the key question for today: how are you enjoying God everyday?
God invites us to know Him. Reading the Bible brings us into a deeper knowledge of God. Knowing God intimately brings us into the presence of our Creator, the God of the Universe, our Holy God, a just God, and a righteous judge. Coming into God's presence highlights our unworthiness to be in a relationship with Him - when was the last time that feeling struck you! We need God. Our sense of unworthiness magnifies His graciousness and His great love for us through Jesus Christ. The beauty of the cross and the power of the open grave come full into our minds and hearts, and nothing else in this world or in this life can compare. Nothing else in this world saves us. Nothing else satisfies us and makes us whole again.
We respond by living out our relationship with Him. We respond by praising God. We respond by serving God, and spending time growing and enjoying our relationship with Him. The means of grace which He provides for us are basic: read your Bible, pray deeply, fellowship with others with whom we can share His love (including worship services, communion, and serving others), and honor the relationship with how we live. They're basic tools, but this is how we grow any relationship: marriage, family, friendships, etc. Walk with God every moment. Find strength in Him. Find rest in Him. Find peace in Him. Find Him!
We must check our hearts. Someone told me that it is my job (as pastor) to motivate him. On one hand that can be true (especially because of my position), but on another hand it can be a misrepresentation. For anyone who is not a Christian or perhaps a young Christian, the joy and character and vision that a person of faith can demonstrate can surely be attractive. But someone who is Christian understands that we are each accountable for our own actions. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 gives a great illustration of faithful and unfaithful members of God's household. The servants that are faithful do so to please their master, but the unfaithful one is called a "wicked and slothful servant" by his master. These harsh words are unwelcome in a culture like ours where we have less accountability, relativistic standards, and an ultimate value of personal freedom. We are our own masters and prefer for others, even God, to serve us. We numb ourselves into contentment to binge watch shows and play games rather than seek God. The Bible cautions us to check our hearts and our own motivations and to confess any sins to Him. After all, these were Jesus' words, and they've been delivered to us.
God invites us with love to inspect ourselves while prayerfully asking God to search our hearts (see below), to invite us to come back to Him, to let go of any hindrance or distraction, and to have our hearts renewed in His glorious and gracious presence. His love captures us so let us turn to Him again and go where He is leading us to grow in our relationships with Him.
Let's go to God today and everyday! And let's encourage one another to build a culture that promotes growing deeply and more mature in our relationship with God! This is the goal that God has for us, that we must have for ourselves, and that we must encourage in one another.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!