02 February 2011

God's Best Secrets, part 1

Dear Lissy,
I wanted to continue our conversation about growing in Christ today.  That relationship, precious, deep, and sweet will hopefully consume your life.  Every other relationship -- employers, your husband, children, friends, and even adversaries will be used to strengthen your relationship with Christ and will in turn be strengthened by your relationship with Him.

This begs the question, "How do I maintain a vital relationship with Jesus Christ?".  

Salvation is the obvious first step.  We can't have a relationship until we have exchanged our life of selfishness and sin for His.  You made that choice many years ago.

This is followed closely by maintaining the three attitudes of a committed follower of Jesus Christ:  obedience, humility, and surrender. 
Physical obedience demonstrates love for Christ and to others.  Love is an action, not a feeling!  Read the gospels.  There are only a handful of times that Christ says He loves a person or group, but His entire earthly ministry was a demonstration of His great love for His own.
Spiritual obedience produces  joy.   If you've lost your joy, check your obedience first!  Ask God to search and try you and see if there is any wickedness within your heart.
Obedience in the arena of our soul (intellect, emotions, and will) results in peace.  You have memorized dozens of verses on guarding your mind, praying instead of fretting, and choosing to obey and follow. All of these bring a tranquility that cannot be taken away.  "Great peace have they which love Thy law, and nothing shall offend them".

A humility of soul demonstrates longsuffering with others and with the process of sanctification.  The wisest man to ever live stated:  "...the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."  Pride and patience are opposites, dear one.
Physically, humility produces gentleness.  Gentleness demands strength.  We don't call a baby gentle, we say it is weak.
Spiritual humility produces goodness.   "Goodness in man is not a mere passive quality, but the deliberate preference of right to wrong, the firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following of all moral good."  Take a few moments to think how humility is key to that definition...it is a beautiful meditation!

Faith is the direct result of spiritual surrender.  We choose to believe what God has said is true and act on it rather than trusting our feelings, education, experience, or the circumstances surrounding us.
Meekness is a surrender of our intellect, emotions, and will to the Holy Spirit.  You have a strong intellect and will.  They can be a powerful source of good or evil depending on your level of surrender.
Last, but not least, temperance, or self-control, is the surrender of our physical desires to the Holy Spirit.  This is incredibly difficult living in an indulgent society, and a battle that will be hard fought.

As I'm sure you've already seen, these are the fruit of the Spirit.  We can't "try harder" to love someone, or be patient and gentle with them anymore than we can grow strawberries out our ears.  Our part is obedience, humility, and surrender.  The Holy Spirit's part is the beautiful harvest we saw above.

Now comes the hard part:  How do we even achieve obedience, humility, and surrender?  Those aren't easy either!  The answer is the fear of the Lord.  When we finally apprehend the power and the presence of the Lord every moment of every day we are humbled, and obedience and surrender are a natural response to Him.  The fear of the Lord comes as we saturate ourselves in his Word and meditate on His Word, works, and ways.

I'm afraid the mechanics of that are going to have to wait for another day.  My lunch break is over and duty calls.

Much love, and a long enough cuddle to fill that love tank right up,

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