Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Growing Spiritually

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.

fullsizeoutput_ffeI greet you in the name of Jesus – my Lord – my Savior – and my dear friend. I write to encourage you this day in your walk with Jesus. We’ve often encouraged the congregation (and myself with the mirror before me) – about building our spiritual lives (realizing our need for Jesus). We want to encourage those who would hear to take the time to build their spiritual lives and to develop a deeper walk with Jesus. We want to urge people to take advantage of the many opportunities to eat spiritual food and to grow stronger.

I write to encourage us to NOT rely on our pastor(s) to have knowledge of the Word and a relationship with Jesus! I write to encourage us to regularly search the Word and to pray on every occasion. Our faith cannot be based on our parent’s – our grandparent’s – our pastor’s – or anyone else’s faith. Each of us must develop our own walk with Jesus. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians that we are to always have joy and to test everything.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 – 16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.

Remember the saying I use so much? Happiness is circumstantially driven – but Joy is spiritually derived.

Joy comes from our relationship with Jesus. Spiritual maturity comes from a deepening of our relationship with Jesus. That relationship must be the foundation in our daily lives. Our joy is not driven or changed by the circumstances of the day. It is derived from our relationship with the One who is consistent (Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever). It is from this consistent growing relationship that we find joy and peace. Philippians 4:4-7 – 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding , will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. We can have joy and rejoice in the Lord and receive a peace that transcends human understanding if we develop our relationship with Jesus!

In an ever-changing world – if our foundation is our emotions – our happiness – or sadness – we will be ever-changing with the wind of circumstance. We will have highs and lows in our emotions (extreme at times) if our foundation is how we feel. Happiness is driven by the circumstances of the day.

The world thrives on and measures success by how much happiness you have in your life. The belief is that the more toys – the bigger your home – the more expensive your vehicle – the fancier your clothes – or the bigger your diamond ring – the happier you will be! Yet I know many rich people who are miserable in life.

On the other hand – some of the people with the greatest joy – or peace in life – are those Christians I have met with very little of life’s toys. When I go to Appalachia and see believers with very little and see the joy in their lives – I am blessed. I am not suggesting that we need to sell everything in order to have joy – but – we might have a harder road to hoe because of the wealth of the western civilization we live in today.

Read the following scripture story and hear the truth from God’s Word.

Matthew 19:16-24 – 16 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'” 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Even though the rich young man had done many good things – his love for the circumstances – his wealth – was more important than his relationship with God. I urge us to set our eyes on Jesus and keep them fixed there no matter the winds that blow and we will be saved!

Matthew 14:25-33 – 25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

We can have joy and rejoice in the Lord and receive a peace that transcends human understanding – if we develop our relationship with Jesus! I could spend another two pages suggesting ways we could develop our relationship with Jesus – such as reading the Bible – joining study groups – being regular in worship – and so many more. The following Scripture sums it up.

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

As we develop our relationship with Jesus – by keeping our eyes on Him rather than the winds of circumstance around us – may we have joy today that overflows in our lives so that others see Jesus in us!  Spiritual maturity comes from deepening our relationship with Jesus!

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

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November 9, 2018 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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