In the preceding blog we noted how important it is to regularly engage with God both individually and in community with others if we are to progress in our discovery of the magnitude of His love and experiencing it for ourselves. This we must continually do if we are to grow in love for God and neighbour, which in turn is expressed in our commitment to the cause of the kingdom and sacrificial love for one another. Only when we grow in the realisation and appreciation of the vastness of God’s unconditional love are we inspired to love Him back and freed to love others just as He loves us. This is also how we keep ourselves in God’s love while we await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ as exhorted in Jude verse 21 – keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
If we don’t make regular time to commune with God, if we don’t take time to discover and enjoy His love for ourselves regularly, we will neither grow in its knowledge nor its expression in and through us. It’s as simple as that.
It sometimes seems to me that we have reduced regular devotion and daily communion with God to a dead routine of bible reading and almost lifeless recital of prayer when these disciplines are not goals in themselves but means to achieving it. The goal is to walk with God, to commune with Him and enjoy the abundant life He gave us in Christ Jesus. Devotion consisting of prayer, worship and bible reading/study are but means of connecting with Him and means through which His love, grace and life are transmitted to us. They are not in themselves goals. He is.
The discipline of daily devotion consisting of scripture reading and prayer will only come alive and be truly productive when it is cemented with our obedience, with action on our part as practical demonstration of our faith in Christ and His word. Then and then only will it begin to be rewarding and exciting. It has to be; otherwise it is not worth our time or effort. We are communing with a living (not a dead or distant) God who is the same yesterday, today and forever and engaging with Him through His living (not dead) and active (not ineffective) word.
Hebrews 13:8 unequivocally states … Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
What a truth! What a comforting and reassuring statement to know and be certain that this Jesus who walked the earth in our body revealing the Father to us (John 1:18) is the same to this day, unchanged, caring, reaching out, healing, making whole and imparting abundant life. This Jesus is not only alive but He is the same person whom we encounter as we scan the pages of our bibles today, the same, hallelujah!
In the same token the word that we read and study to engage with Him is living and active not some lifeless, ineffective crap – living and active, sharp and piercing, i.e. able to produce result and be effective. Here is a powerful verse from Hebrew 4:12 attesting to that:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
We will, however, only get the bigger and more complete picture of God’s love in community – sharing and doing life together. Community, and not only church gatherings, is required if we are to get a more comprehensive, balanced and near complete understanding of God’s love. Our gatherings in smaller settings are focal points for sharing the love and life of God in our midst and at the same time represent our safety net where we are supported and support others to keep each other in God’s love.
So God is not only working in our lives individually but He is also putting something together with all of us too. And only when we embrace both these elements do we achieve spiritual growth and maturity that is balanced and effective. This truth of us being built together into a dwelling place for God – not only individual temples but one corporate dwelling place – is clearly communicated in Ephesians 2:20-22 and 1 Peter 2:4-5.
In him (Christ) you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
1 Peter 2:4-5
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
It is not a physical stone building that the apostle Peter is talking about but one made of people who alone are able to offer, in unison, spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ. This truth of God building us together is one that we need to truly take to heart early in our walk with the Lord and not resist it but submit to it. It is here that we also need to continually gird up the loins of our minds (prepare our minds for action) and be sober-minded, not being given to anything else that could potentially control and govern us or even affect our judgement.
1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
There is a need; in fact an urgency to prepare our minds for action like a worker who would gird up his loins when preparing for work. Our minds should be prepared for God’s working in our lives even in ways we have never imagined or previously thought possible.
God is at work in our lives not only through His word and Spirit but through our interactions with one another and all the ups and downs of life. His working is effected not only through His word and His Spirit but very much through our life and ministry interactions with one another with all the highs and lows that come with it and the storms and upheavals of life we routinely encounter. It is all these that the Lord skilfully combines and mashes together, like the master craftsman He is, to work us into the masterpiece He originally created us to be. That is why Romans 8:28 states that …for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose but only as long as we willingly submit to God’s hands and to His working in our lives through every conceivable channel.
Our minds should therefore be in a state of perpetual readiness for God’s working while our lives should be free from being over-attached to and controlled by anything that would interfere with or cause us to miss His active working in our lives.
It is a privilege and an honour to have God working in our lives for ours and the benefit of many others around us. Let us value and treasure it through our active cooperation and humble submission to His hand that is upon us for good in all areas of our lives.