In Partnership with God—Part 1
From the Roadmap series
Relevance. That’s a word we hear frequently. Relevance is often described as the information you have and the skills you have acquired, measured against the need or the market for that information and skills. In order to remain relevant and increase our chance for success in today’s rapidly changing world, we need to continually be learning, improving, and progressing.
The definition of “success” for a Christian is not limited to practical matters, such as advancement, position, efficiency, skill, discipline, wealth, and reaching our practical goals. Those are, of course, important elements to success in any walk of life, but for a Christian, those things are not the whole picture.
Other aspects of a well-balanced life for a Christian would include such things as:
- Having a deep, growing, alive relationship with the Lord that results in the manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
- Being a faithful witness and a consistent representation of Jesus’ love to those we come in contact with.
- Manifesting honesty, integrity, generosity, and reliability.
- Raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
- Being a loving husband, wife, coworker, friend, and individual.
It’s worth taking the time to reflect on these points and to consider how strong these elements are in our lives. It’s also worth considering any additional values the Lord would lead us to focus on that would contribute to our personal “success factor” as a Christian.
These qualities cannot be developed and maintained through willpower and discipline alone. Our relationship with the Lord, and our personal connection with Him through His Word, prayer, hearing His voice, and resting in Him, play a vital part in how we live our lives. Like most good things in life, a close relationship with God doesn’t come easily.
Just because things move faster in today’s society does not mean that achieving excellence is easier or requires less work or time. The saying “anything that’s worth something costs something” is just as true today as ever. Developing our relationship with the Lord is of enormous value to our lives, but it also costs a lot. We can’t expect a deep closeness with God to grow out of a few shallow, unplanned minutes here and there, or even a solid block of time that is full of distractions.
As Christians, we’ve entered into a life partnership with God. There are a few key habits or attitudes that will ensure that this partnership blossoms into its full potential.
To begin with, if we are to truly love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind, we need to put the Lord in first place in our lives, and make a conscious effort to keep Him there. Jesus wants us to love Him, hunger for His truth, and be willing to fulfill His plan for our lives. We can tell whether He has first place in our lives by looking at such things as how much time we spend with Him, how much we care about what He says and what He thinks about things, and where He and His will stand in our priorities.
The Lord doesn’t force us to love Him or spend time with Him. He doesn’t make us obey Him. He wants our love, time, and devotion to be a freewill offering, given from our hearts, not out of obligation. Devotional plans, schedules that facilitate progress in our spiritual lives, and a disciplined approach to our spirituality can be helpful for us to ensure our time with Him is quality time. In fact, He will assist us in coming up with effective plans for our spiritual growth, but He still wants our efforts to be done out of love for Him and because we sincerely want to be close to Him.
Another important aspect of our partnership with God is to walk in the fear of Him. We know that the Lord loves us unconditionally and He forgives us for our sins. At times we feel the Lord’s presence intimately and are keenly aware of His love, grace, and mercy. This doesn’t mean, however, that He’s so chummy with us that He will turn a blind eye if we repeatedly, intentionally, and on an ongoing basis, step outside His will, disobey His Word, ignore His still, small voice speaking to our hearts, and disregard the principles He’s put forth in His Word.
We need to maintain a healthy fear of the Lord in our lives. We should be afraid to do things we know are wrong and displeasing to Him and contrary to His Word, knowing that the blessings we receive from the Lord—which include physical protection, provision, health, and happiness—depend on our obedience to Him.
Part of having the fear of the Lord is keeping our hearts free of unconfessed sin. If we have sinned, we need to ask the Lord to forgive us, and sometimes we also need to ask others to forgive us. Striving to keep our hearts and spirits right with the Lord can strengthen our faith to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence” in prayer to receive His mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (See Hebrews 4:16 NIV)
In order to have spiritual success, we also need to have humility. Growing in our relationship with the Lord requires genuine humility. We have to realize that no matter how smart we might be, how much fruit we bear or the success we enjoy, how fit and healthy we are, or how wonderful a family we have, we still need the Lord’s help and the infilling of the Holy Spirit to help us fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. Understanding our need for the Lord is a lifelong process, and we grow in our humility before Him as we endure the battles, setbacks, and difficulties of life. The more we cling to and depend on the Lord through a sincere awareness of our weaknesses and limitations, the more we’ll be able to recognize His anointing in our lives and in the lives of others. The more we acknowledge the Lord working in our lives, the more we’ll glorify Him.
To have this kind of humility might not be the first thing on our priority list, but as we grow in the Lord and mature, we’ll realize how true it is that we’re all pretty weak and fallible without the Lord’s miraculous anointing.
Start your day with time with Me, and then let that time and My presence linger throughout the day. Before your day begins, commune with Me in quietness and confidence. There, in those quiet moments with Me, you will find your strength, your peace, your power and love and anointing for the day. (See Isaiah 30:15)
—Jesus, speaking in prophecy
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to the Lord. That’s the only thing that’s really necessary: listening to the Lord, sitting at His feet and hearing Him and hearing His Word. Help us to remember, Lord, that Your Word comes first, that Your love comes first, and Your love is manifested in Your Word, Your loving Word on which our lives and work for You stand. This is our whole duty and our whole obligation and our whole job: to love You and to love others, to love Your Word and love others with Your Word.
—David Brandt Berg
Continue reading here. In Partnership with God—Part 2
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