A simple recipe to love well | Pathways to God's presence

Feb 27, 2023

Today we are tackling some big topics in our Pathways to God’s Presence series. Our focus is on what God calls us to do, and specifically how we are called to do it. We are not going to emphasize trying harder or striving deeper or hustling a bit longer. These are not pathways to the presence of God. These are the counterfeit ways of the world to trick you into exhaustion, dryness and uselessness and then defeat when we finally realize it was a dead end.

We are free to choose – God’s way of patience, waiting, praying, trusting, or the world’s way of hustling. It is truly our choice. We have that much freedom and power.  And the truly wise will choose the pathways of God. Love and humility and surrender in joyful obedience are the hallmarks of the believer’s fullness of life.  Now, If love requires freewill then humility requires freewill too. Love is a choice, and in the same way humility is a choice. Jesus role-modeled both for us when He left heaven for earth.

Listen here: https://www.podcastics.com/episode/222197/link/ 

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The Last act of the will is surrender to God. Humility is surrender of our will to God. As you have probably heard us say before here on GSP, the voluntary loss of our freewill and our free choice to the will of God is our ultimate act of love and the proof of our growing humility.

You can’t measure your growth in humility but you can measure your growth in genuinely other-centered love and it’s connected. Genuine Love is the visible manifestation of authentic humility. We know that Love is one of God’s most essential characteristics, which means God is the most humble Being. We are made in His image and are never happier than when we are behaving from the identity He created us to have. It follows that love and humility go hand in hand in our very being too.

We are looking at Prayer in the form of intercession and supplication in this episode. We ponder the prayers of Paul and of Jesus as inspiration to pray for others and for ourselves. That is the power of Scripture at your fingertips to alter eternity and change the course of people’s lives for their good and the glory of God!

We ponder Bible intake in the context of community. Finally, we look at service as an act of worship today. Humility and service go hand in hand, and the Apostle Paul role-models these in poignant ways. He is our example today.

Paul’s prayers have it all. They are intercession and supplication. They show deep intimacy with the Father and exhibit profound Christlikeness. They are rooted in Scripture and have become Scripture – this is Bible intake to the next level. Paul’s prayers are rooted in serving and loving the people he is praying for. Often, the deepest service we can give someone is to pray for them the words of Scripture over them. Paul’s prayers are true, Christ-focused worship of the highest order.

This is fellowship. This is community. This is love.

This is worship.

Paul shows us that service – which in his case was pastoring the churches – that service that feels like sacrifice, because it is sacrifice, is worship. We don’t hear any overtones of bitterness from Paul. He is sacrificing a lot, and he is doing it gladly.

We are called to grow IN grace. We are already fully walking the path of grace because we are IN Christ. So we are called to keep taking the next step on our journey in grace and towards deeper experience of grace. Not find another pathway into grace. You cannot walk into something you are already fully immersed in. That’s the thing. Many Christians seem to believe that we have to find this grace. That we have received salvation, but that it is now up to us to grow in sanctification. That we are to grow into the grace we have already received. That sounds exhausting. But that’s the thing about being IN Christ and growing IN grace. You are already in. But many of us forget. We let the toils of this life and the care of this world choke the seed of faith and belief that has been planted. We add works to grace. We know better than to call it that, and yet that is what we do.

Stephanie says, “Again, no striving. All abiding. I promise you it is the most practical advice I could tell you. I cannot walk this path for you. I am trying to give you practical tips on where to plant your feet next, but at the end of the day you have to commit to trying. And you will find that the slow process of God transforming you looks a lot more like rest and sabbath than it does striving and hustling.”

A good practice is to consider your Spiritual gifts for the sake of others. How can you put your spiritual gifts to work for others, with a goal to sincere love and humility? This is very practical, and it can be a real challenge when we are addicted to striving and performing. Here’s a challenge if you are accustomed to performing and achieving for others – how can you serve out of rest and out of a deep sense of abiding in Christ? Not to perform, not to check something off your life, not to impress anyone (God, others or yourself). But a generous, selfless act of service to another. It is simpler and harder than it sounds.

Have you noticed how we tend to become like the people we spend most of our time with? There is the joke that pet owners start looking like their pets. And I have noticed that couples who have been married many decades have the same mannerisms and can finish each other’s sentences. In other words, spend enough time with Jesus and you will not be able to help becoming more and more like him. Christlikeness is the fruit of abiding with Him. So of course Paul tells us that the fruit of the spirit is love joy peace patience kindness, etc. – because when you abide in Christ, you end up increasingly growing in his likeness.

You become the person God created you to be – literally created in his likeness.

The secret is to KNOW that you are abiding. Scripture informs you of the reality of the promise of His abiding in you – and then it challenges you to realize that Jesus cannot abide in you without you abiding in Him! If he is living inside your house, then you are living with him! It is inevitable.

It means you invite him in – and you invite him to transform you. You don’t do the transforming. You cannot strive to grow. Spend time with Jesus and it will just happen. You will grow to become like him. It is a slow process, and that is a good thing. The spiritual life as a lessening of the striving and a growing of the resting, abiding. Doing less. Accomplishing more.

We end this episode with a focus on the role of suffering and pain. There comes a point in our spiritual path where we prefer to have Christ and a taste of his suffering, a splinter from his cross, a thorn in our flesh – rather than to lose him altogether.

The splinter from the cross cleanses and purifies us more than any worldly delight ever could. It takes deep intimacy with Christ for his cross to rub against our flesh so closely, that a splinter lodges under our spiritual skin.

Love God, love others, love yourself. Delight in obeying the only Will that will always result in your fruitfulness and utmost happiness.

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