God longs to grow me up spiritually but He must have my full cooperation - Part 2
by David Leach
...growth will be thwarted if my heart is not first right with Him – no spiritual growth will be possible.
Ps 24:3-4 Who may stand before the Lord? Only those with pure hands and hearts, who do not practice dishonesty and lying. TLB
But If I’ve allowed my heart to get dirty through sin it can be instantly washed clean by the blood of Christ, if I obey His Spirit and receive forgiveness of my sin because I believe Jesus bore it on the cross. Or if I receive, by faith, a fresh living word which being God’s righteousness will wash my sin away. But so many Christians once dirty won’t be washed:
1 Cor 6:11 Such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified ...in the name (the Word) of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
John 15:3 (Jesus) You are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. KJV
Some practical things I can do to increase the effectiveness with which I study my Bible:
1. Take the decision to go to the Bible study with others, and to get alone with God, and then do it. This is the only way I will ever grow spiritually and for my Christian life to mean something. Without this growth in God, I will not know how to live in Christ, I will not therefore bear any fruit, the world, my own flesh and the devil will continue to defeat me and my life cannot glorify God. And all of this will have an eternal consequence. Do I always want to be an infant and just play at Christianity, or do I seriously want to grow?
2. Own a Bible that I’m willing to write notes in, and preferably one that has a limited concordance (index of words used in the Bible) at the back. My recommendation is for the New King James Version of the Bible as the most authentic translation with modern language, or a New American Standard Version, Updated. A King James Version, an Amplified Version and a Living Bible paraphrase are good to have handy as aides.
3 Own and know how to use an exhaustive concordance (a complete index of the words used in the Bible) either in book form (I use Strong’s Concordance) or in electronic form as a hand held Bible computer (I use a Franklin KJV Bible) or software for a notebook or desktop computer (I use PC Study Bible Version 4 software). Or an app for a smartphone but I would advise against using your phone with its distractions as your main study tool.
4. If I am attending a group study or catch a broadcast that I know God used to speak some of His words personally to my heart, and the teaching is recorded then I would be wise to stock up on their CD’s or DVD’s and begin listening to them daily with my full attention, in the car and at home. When I know of a way that God has used to feed me, how potentially ruinous to me if I don’t keep coming back to that same spiritual food table.
5. Own and read daily an inspired daily devotional (a book that for each day highlights a specific scripture and/or a passage of scripture which the author, guided by the Holy Spirit, then breaks down into morsels of truth that are more easily assimilatable into my heart). Reading a good devotional (I use those by Andrew Murray, A B Simpson, Smith Wigglesworth and Oswald Chambers) makes the start of any Bible study that much easier, because my thoughts are already centered on God.
But if the devotional is not inspired by God nor written by someone who really knew God well, it could be a great hindrance. The purpose of it is to see if God, by His Spirit might speak to my heart through the featured scriptures or other scriptures contained in the narrative. Inspired writers always use bits of many scriptures in their comments and explanations, if one of them should speak to me, a concordance will enable me to locate the full scripture.
6. Quickly establish a procedure in which you know for certain, without any doubt, that it is the living God Himself who is bringing you these words of His and giving you understanding of what they mean and how they apply currently to your life – and that it is not you yourself by prejudice, by reason or by assumption selecting your own words from the Bible, interpreting them yourself and determining how to apply them.
All Christians know what it’s like for God’s written words to jump off the page and His spoken words to pierce the heart. We know when God speaks to us. He wants to do this on a daily basis, to give me my daily spiritual bread, and He wants me to know for sure that He has. He may speak His word to me through a CD, a devotional, an inspired book or teaching, as I slowly read a passage in my Bible or check a cross reference, by reminding me of a past scripture or as I chase down a scripture using a concordance, through a promise box, off a scripture calendar or simply by giving me in my heart a specific chapter and verse reference for me to look up and ponder.
Even when I know the verse or portion of a verse that God is speaking to me through I must avoid grabbing at the understanding of it with my intellect and reasoning its application. No, let me wait on God further in meditation so that the Holy Spirit can give me God’s understanding and God’s application of His words.
Recall in Acts 16:14, it was only as God opened Lydia’s heart could she understand and do the words of God spoken to her by Paul – He could do this because she worshipped Him.
7. Always have pens, highlighters, flags and scratch pads available to mark scriptures, inspired teachings and to record the date, the words and God’s application of the words, so that you can easily return to them or locate them in a file. Develop a simple and easy to use system for organizing your notes, inspired teachings and CD’s for example by alphabetically arranged subject titles. In a clutch situation we need to have a way to quickly retrieve what God has said personally to us in the past – what He says to you is the most important words of your life, with victory or defeat often hanging in the balance.
8. Hearing directly from God, during my quiet time can be relatively quick or take longer if I first need to be cleaned up and made righteous or I need to overcome a lot of thought noise and become quiet of heart. God’s eyes are on the righteous and the result of being right with Him is quietness. It is best not to put a time limit on God.
I can always get up a little bit earlier. Early evening also can be a good time to be alone with God without time constraint. When God speaks to me I should never leave until I’m certain I know what He meant and have peace about it. I will have to get used to saying no to anything and anyone that would interrupt or distract me from this single most important part of my day.
Jer 29:13 You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Ps 62:5 My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.