(Originally written on 12-12-13, but some minor details edited for today.)
I have grown up in church all my life.
I gave my life to God when I was very young, and was water baptized at the age of 8.
I have learned the “Christianeese” lingo, read the Bible through and through over 9 times since I’ve been in college till now. I have seen healing take place right before my eyes (one, God saw fit to use my hands). I have seen manifestations of demonic powers and deliverances right before my eyes. I’ve been on several missions trips with my hometown youth group. I led worship in my hometown youth group till I graduated and went off to college. I went to Christ For The Nations (in Dallas Tx.) for three years of the School Of Worship program. Lead worship for multiple churches since graduating, became a children’s pastor and have been one for almost 8 years now, and have spoken at multiple locations and services.
But through all of this… at times, I can’t help but shake the feeling that my relationship with God isn’t growing like it should at. In fact, there are many times I am feeling like I am at a complete standstill. It feels as though I have “seen and heard it all” so to speak (even though I KNOW that is not true.)
That leads me today’s Life Lesson:
Maybe you can relate with what I’m saying.
- My prayers feel like they hit the roof.
- I open the Bible and I don’t seem to be engaged.
- I try to read a daily devotional, but can’t help but feeling like I’m going through a ritual (because I’ve done that my whole life too)
Maybe you, just like me, have grown up in church and have “seen and heard it all” which is also resulting in a standstill relationship with the Heavenly Father.
Personally, in my life,—- I have finally pinpointed the result of this issue—–
I can’t help but notice I have a spark of jealousy in my heart.
Jealousy of others who did NOT grow up in church, OR if they did grow up in church, they turned away from their Christian beliefs and later in their adult lives returned to their Christian roots, and have become radically transformed by God’s Spirit.
These changed people know Bible scriptures in and out, love to worship, love to read the Word, and they seem to have a deeper relationship with God than I do in general, and I have known about Him longer.
What’s up with that?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
Have I become so familiar with God’s Spirt and His presence that I have lost the sense of respect and honor for Him?!?
I found this jealousy by praying what David prayed in Psalm 139:23-24 (and NO, an answer did not come right away. I had to continually think about this.)
“Search me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is anything in me that offends You, and lead me in the path of everlasting life.”
Once God opened my heart and eyes to see what has been holding me back I had to confess it to Him.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”John 1:9
I believe in the Bible and what it says. I believe that it is the whole, written Word of God. That there are no missing books, chapters or verses, and that it is 100% truth and fact.
And I also believe that even though God’s Word, the Bible, may be old, and even though I have read/heard certain scriptures countless times in my life, I still believe that God will use one of those verses to impact our lives in a time where you’re not expecting it, or in a time where you need it.
“For the word of God is alive and active…” Hebrews 4:12
I’ve been reading a book, by Dale Forhand called, “Often Told, Rarely Trained.” It’s a training guide to help men become the godly men, husbands, sons, brothers, and fathers they are always told to be from pastors, wives, ect., but are rarely trained to become that man.
In it, he reminded me that:
“Sin breaks our fellowship with Christ and binds us from freedom.”
Jealousy is a sin. Comparing my relationship with God to someones else’s relationship with God is wrong.
Just like a loving father has a special connection with each of his children, he never favors one above the other. At the same time, his relationship with his daughter is a different relationship than with his son. And the relationship with his first son, is different than his relationship with his other son. Again, he never favors a relationship above the others. The same is with our Heavenly Father.
So why am I comparing myself to others!?
I feel like the older brother in the Prodigal Son story. (Luke 15:11-32)
When his younger brother came back from living a wild life style, and lost all of his portion of his inheritance, his father forgave him and gave him a huge welcome home party. When the older brother found out about this he was furious and confused. For he had never left his father and lived a wild and crazy life, yet he told his father, “you never once gave me a party with my friends, yet you killed our fatted calf for a BBQ Party for your son who disgraced your name!?”
And I am reminded of the father’s response… GOD’S RESPONSE to how I have been feeling….
““My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.'”(verse 31)
So….. even though all this time I have felt at a standstill, my prayers feel like they bounce right back to me, and my heart seems heavy with jealousy like the older brother, God is saying, “You are always with Me, and everything I have is already yours too?”
Then the father said one last thing to wrap up the story, “But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”(verse 32)
I need to be glad and find joy in the knowledge of these changed people. For they have gone a way, but have turned back to God. OR, for those who have never known the gift of Salvation in God as a child, but now do. I should take pleasure in knowing that they are rocketing through life with a deep relationship and knowledge of their Savior.
So—– this is my conclusion about that…..
Dale Forhand (Author of the book earlier mentioned) says:
“Who doesn’t like new things? Who doesn’t want some new ways? Who wouldn’t want the newness of God in their life? Thats what you have right now– the chance to start over, to start NEW. As I write this, I am overcome with a sense that men will read this and become undone. There are men who feel so beat up, so beat down, so tired and worn out that the truth of being made NEW is truly uplifting to their spirits. Christ is offering you NEWNESS today. Claim the verses below for your life, and then live in their truth!
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a NEW song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.”
“See, I am doing a NEW thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
“I will give you a NEW heart and put a NEW spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a NEW life.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the NEW creation has come: The old has gone, the NEW is here!”
“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything NEW!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”————I am walking in this NEWNESS today! In-fact, I am having to walk in this NEWNESS everyday. “Transformation is a process, not a formula.” Dale Forhand says. It will take time. But if you are going through anything like what I am, I pray that you will be encouraged in God’s Word and claim this NEWNESS. Ask God for a fresh start.
I deeply desire for that fire of passion to burn in me once again. A passion for His name, His love, His Word, His people, His healing, His mercy, His grace, His love, and His relationship. I want to have the overwhelming sensation of Salvation that I felt when forgiveness washed over me for the first time.My heart’s cry is, “God….. make me NEW.” Christopher Meek