Have you ever said things like:
"God isn't doing anything." "I have tried to "do right" and it hasn't worked out for me."
Have you heard "Christians" use sayings like "God will take you from glory to glory" or "just trust the Lord." Well you and I know that it isn't so easy and often my "glory to glory" seems more like trench to trenches. So how do we get there? How do we get to a life where God IS doing things, "it" is working out for you, and you are going from this foreign "glory to glory."
Im here to tell you that it is possible. But it doesn't come easy. Any form of success doesn't come easy. Bill Gates didn't become the billionaire entrepreneur he is by taking it easy. Michael Phelps didn't win 22 Olympic Medals by taking it easy. Tyler Perry did not become one of the greatest actors/directors by taking it easy. You want to become stronger in your walk with God? Here are 8 tips to become spiritually stronger.
1. Determine in your heart now, that you are going to run this race. Get it in your mind that this is not an easy task, but you will not give up. Do you think that Michael Phelps woke up one morning and decided he was going to be an Olympic swimmer? Or did he wake up early every morning and practice? Did he work out and lift weights and run to get stronger and prepare his lungs? Did he go hang out with friends after school or did he put in extra hours getting his body and mind in shape? He determined in his heart that he was going to put in the extra work, the hard work and set his site on running this race (or in his case, swimming it).
When was the last time you woke up early and got in prayer or your word before your family woke up? When was the last time you turned down a get together and instead when to an extra prayer group or special speaker at church or sacrificed your Friday nights to join a home group? Determine in your heart and mind now, that you will put in the extra work that it will take to get stronger spiritually. God uses the analogy of races and getting weary throughout the Bible because we can learn a lot from the determination of athletes.
2. Pass the tests. Have you ever wanted to respond unfavorably to the rude airline ticket agent, or how about the road rage from the last guy that cut you off? Recently, I went to a park where you are suppose to put $4 in an envelope, in the parking box. The stub of the envelope you put in the dash board. One Sunday I went to the park and no attendant was at the stand. I only had a $5. Does that mean I got free parking, I mean it was only $4, right? Or was this a test of integrity? I put the money in to say the least, but have you ever had a similar test?
These tests show us exactly how much stronger we have gotten. What use to not bother us, now pricks our conscience. When we use to go off on that rude ticket agent for messing up your flight plans, we now bite our tongue and trust God's plan. God forgives us when we don't pass our tests. He knows we are human and His grace and love covers us. Being a Christian doesn't mean we are perfect, it just means that we are trying to pass the tests.
Think of it like Donkey Kong and pass this level in order to make it to the next one. No one wants to be stuck on level three forever.
3. Follow Through. We cant just read the Bible... we have to do it. It is one thing for us to get up early and read His Word, to feel His promptings and the prick in our conscience and disregard it; to read it and walk away forgetting about self-control and gentleness. It is a whole different story to try to remember what we read and live it out daily.
When I lived in London, although I was fighting human trafficking, I lived with a man at the time, who was not a believer. I knew I was living in sin, I knew I was unevenly yoked, I loved God and wanted to serve Him but I wanted to stay in the anti-trafficking movement. I wanted to live comfortably, not having to work. I began getting prompted to move "home." I knew that meant back to my small town in Oregon and I just couldn't fathom sleeping on the floor of my aunts, going on welfare and being alone. The more the Lord prompted, the more I knew I had to, but choosing the unknown, choosing to be poor and start over was so difficult. Then I had a thought go through my mind: "read Psalms 34."
"Those that seek the Lord shall never lack any good thing. Depart from evil and do good." Psalm 34:10
Was it hard to pack up and move? That would be an understatement. One of the hardest choices I had to make. Do I regret it now? Not for a second. Even when decisions are hard, getting stronger in Christ means following through with what you know is right, even when it brings tough choices.
4. Measure Yourself. Self-Inventory is HUGE in the "self help" arena and it isn't any different with God. He wants us to examine our hearts... that is what He looks at. Ask God to show you areas you need to work on. Areas that need improvement.
When was the last time you knew that you were failing test after test? For me it was being impulsive. God wanted to give me more words to share with others, but I couldn't be trusted. I'd blurt out and immediately "DO" the first thing that came to mind without spending time seeking the Lord. The vision was always there, I was just trying to make it happen sooner than God's timing. Eventually, after many failed tests the Lord showed me that I kept failing and that He was not going to increase if I couldn't be faithful with the little.
Introspection is hard, but so needed to assess what level we are still on.
5. Commitment & Dedication. Are you in this? Are you in this fight for Christ, this fight for your salvation and those important to you? Are you committed, come hell or high water to find this "glory to glory" that people talk about? If you are then buckle up, dig in your heels and prove yourself worthy of the high calling in Christ. God will gradually increase your weight, He will prepare you for the fights and heart ahead. Glory to Glory is about going from victory to victory. Conquering a mountain top or winning the final championship is empowering and victorious. When you are faced with battles and you respond the way you want to respond, the way God wants you to respond, it is the same feeling of victory! That is glory to glory.
6. Zeal. The same amount of energy you use to use to go after worldly things: the new car, the new job, the fix, the drug, the alcohol... whatever it was, you MUST go after Jesus with that same sort of zeal. Tyler Perry said it best "The amount of energy that was used to get through trauma, needs to be the same amount of energy used to find forgiveness and move forward." It takes passion and energy and enthusiasm to stay committed and determined and dedicated; to look at self and make changes and pass tests. It is this fervor that will get you through and take you from glory to glory.
7. Humble Yourself. You will use "muscles" that rarely get tapped into when you can humble yourself, apologize for being too loud, too rude, too impatient. Admit your wrongdoings, admit that you have a long way to go and that you don't get everything perfect, and ask forgiveness. In this self centered world, it is rare to see this. People are impacted by humility. Strengthen that muscle by trying it- what's the worse that could happen?
8. Serve. Serve someone else, someone else's mission. Show that you can be faithful and use those situations to learn. Learn how to have patience, kindness, long suffering and more! Take each situation on as an opportunity to learn and grow, an exercise that strengthens you.
Are you ready Rocky? Let's do this....