The Key To Receiving A Promise From God

The Key To Receiving A Promise From God

What did David do to earn God’s attention? What was it about that the shepherd from Bethlehem that garnered God’s attention to the point that he was the one chosen to be the future king of Israel? That is the question, and it is the starting point of our look into the process of New Beginnings and how God can take us from a promise all the way up to its manifestation in reality.

To get a good look at this process and how we can work along side God to see it come to pass we will be looking at the lives of two people in the coming weeks. Later we will look at the transformation of Saul into Paul but today I wish to begin taking a look at the life of David. Before David became a king and received the fulfillment of God’s promise he first had to receive that promise in the first place.

All the way back to the beginning at we find this teenager out among the sheep living a normal quiet life. The son of Jesse and the grandson of Boaz and Ruth, David was just ordinary, he as the youngest of eight sons took care of the family’s heard of sheep. He would have spent long lonely nights out in the wilderness as he completed his yearly grazing circuit (see Psalms 23) throughout the region. During this time it is evident that David used that isolation to build his relationship with God.

At this point in his life he was mostly sheltered from the controversy unfolding in the life of Saul, Samuel’s prophetic ministry tour between Ramah, Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpah, and the Philistines encroaching on his tribe’s territory. Those were problems outside of the realm of control for a simple shepherd boy, but it seems that David did not waste his time outside of all that was going on. David sought God, he learned how to worship through music, he meditated on the scriptures (Psalms 63:6) and he learned the lessons of protecting his flock with God’s help (1 Samuel 17:34-35).

Earning The Promise

Eventually the day came when Saul took things too far, he disobeyed the words of Samuel the Prophet/Judge and took his place as priest so that the people would be appeased and the battle could commence. Following the rebuke God gave through Samuel it was clear that in God’s eyes that it was time to appoint a new king. Samuel was then sent by God to seek out Jesse of Bethlehem to find this new king. However, God wasn’t looking for another man that was literally head and shoulders above the rest like Saul was, a man the people assumed would make a good king. Instead God lead Samuel to appoint someone whose heart was worthy to lead the people, more as a shepherd and less as a warlord (1 Samuel 16:7). Eventually after turning down Jesse’s seven other sons it was revealed that an eighth son was out in the field, so David was sent for and appeared before the prophet.

1 Samuel 16:12-13 12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah. (NKJV)

Just like that, in an instant David went from being the lowest of his family to being commissioned to become king, of not just his family or tribe but of the entire nation. This is the kind of calling many Christians dream about, especially those who aspire to be in ministry. The idea that one day a prophet, or preacher or denominational leader will be commanded by God to come to your house and hand you the keys to the kingdom. This is something many people want and desire but very few ever encounter, and for good reason as we will soon see.

You see David didn’t do what He did to become King or hope someone would notice what he was doing. He wasn’t playing his harp to impress the tabernacle’s band-director, David wasn’t at the hunting lodge showing off the bear and lion pelts and David wasn’t in the gate of city advertising himself as the next great leader in the tribe of Judah. David was just living his life for God and in relationship with Him, it wasn’t about impressing other people, but it was about drawing closer to God out in the field where no one saw him.

David didn’t do what He did to become King or hope someone would notice what he was doing.

I fear that today we often try to earn God’s commission through our works and actions and miss the point entirely. We do volunteer work, attend bible studies and do a host of other things to try and impress the right people and hope that they notice enough that they play the role of Samuel in our own lives. It’s about impressing everyone else other than God, because we convince ourselves that if the people are happy and impressed that God must be as well. Especially when we use the results of whatever we are doing to justify it as helping to build the kingdom.

Using Work As Currency

I find it hard to believe that David would have developed his relationship with God because he was hoping to convert those hours, songs and prayers into some sort of currency or rewards points which he could exchange for a blessing or commission. I don’t think for a second that David ever expected anything like this to happen to him and that is why God was able to choose him and say that he had a heart like his own.

It’s because David wasn’t working towards receiving a calling, rather he was just loving and worshiping God simply to love and worship God. So much of what came later in David’s life is rooted and grounded in those early years alone with the sheep, when no one was looking. It’s becoming more and more common today that we base everything we do in relationship with God and what we do in and around the church around what the “net benefit will be for ourselves.”

I’m not immune to this either I was led into this trap as well where I volunteered and oversaw ministries not only because of the impact it could have on people but I saw them as stepping stones to something better than what was in front of me. When you have a heart that is corrupted (or at the very least flavored) by this lie eventually we learn how to do life, ministry and relationship without God being involved. That’s because we are serving the system instead and prayer, worship and devotion are just seen as necessities that need to be done to keep the machine running.

We have it all backwards and the life of David confronts us with that truth.

God Is Looking For Those Who Love Him More Than His Benefits

We don’t serve God to become superstars, or to get popular among people, or even to get a promotion at work/ministry. The end result or our life and actions isn’t to reap the rewards our benefits (be it financially or in any other arena) for ourselves, but it’s in becoming closer to God. Then and only then do we progress and succeed because that kind of promotion in life comes out of the overflow of our relationship with God, not the other way around.

My prayer life is not about advancing my ministry or career, my ministry or career is advanced because I regularly spend time with God.

My prayer life is not about advancing my ministry or career, rather those things are advanced because I regularly spend time with God. I think we have everything backwards. It is like we see ministry, or whatever our calling is as being like a boat on the water, pushing forward and leaving waves and ripples behind. We them assume that those waves and ripples represent our relationship with God. However, the opposite is true our relationship with God is that boat, while our life and calling is represented by those ripples. Everything else is supposed to come afterwards and like ripples and waves they remain as the evidence to other people that we were there while God was moving across the water.

Our attention must be placed solely on what is happening inside that boat which is our relationship with God. We pray, we study we communicate with God and we set our face towards His then as that happens our boat continues to push forward faster and faster leaving behind a greater wake behind us.

That is how ministry works, that is how we live out our callings (no matter which arena of life your day is spent in) and that is how we change this world. Not buy serving some ideal or mission that we think will please God and change the world but by loving and serving God. This is the lesson from David he worshipped in the wilderness not because He as trying out for Israel’s Got Talent but because he loved God. Doesn’t the phrase about David having a heart (1 Samuel 13:13-14, Acts 13:22) after God’s make so much more sense now?

We see this lifestyle of David’s demonstrated in his psalms:

Psalm 13:5-6 “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (NKJV)

Psalms 18:1-2 “I will love You, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. (NKJV)

Psalm 25:12-15 12 Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.13 He himself shall dwell in prosperity, And his descendants shall inherit the earth. 14 The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. 15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net. (NKJV)

Psalm 63:3 “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You.” (NKJV)

These aren’t the words of someone putting on a show for God or people, but they are the declarations of a person who knows God and is seeking Him out. That kind of knowledge and wisdom only comes out of relationship, true relationship with God. Not because you deserve it, or your think it will benefit you in the long run or because God’s owes it to you as payment for previous services rendered.

David in these verses is talking about trust, love and reverence towards God, they are the foundation stones to a real relationship with God. As opposed to the false foundation stones of obligation, duty and tradition which lead us not into a relationship with God but into a business arrangement where we exchange service for blessings. This is another example of why God could trust David to no just be a king but also a person declared to have a heart like His own (1 Kings 9:4, Acts 13:22).

Having a heart after God’s also means being obedient to His words (Acts 13:22) and that is one of the missing links in all of this. How is it any different than what Jesus said in John 15:14 “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” David was faithful to the covenant between God and Israel and used those words to ensure that his heart was following after not just the idea of God but the standards he commanded through Moses.

What’s The Great Key?

What is “The Key To Receiving A Promise From God” the key is relationship, and it is relationship that is not self-serving but is based out of a desire to be with God just for the sake of being with God. Is it any different in the natural, do you have friendships or even a spouse that you only spend time with just to get something tangible out of it? Did you marry that person to impress their parents enough to hire you (this applies to business and at times even more so in the church!), or do you use friendships to advance your career (even if you’re not even qualified for that promotion)? We take these ideas and try and use them against God but He can see through our façade and that is why we never seem to get what we want out of a relationship with Him.

We could also picture our relationship as a great key and upon that key of are ridges of faithfulness, obedience, hope and love which are used to unlock our purpose in life. Now we begin to understand the heart of David and why he was chosen by God to become king. Simply because David as a boy was not trying to become a king but was rather focused on pleasing and following after God. As David loved and followed God he found himself in the place where God elevated him to the place of being a king. We need to keep the order correct, serving and loving God results in destiny being unlocked, and we do not chase after our destiny in the hopes that it will lead us to serve and love God.

Hebrews 11:6 “… for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (NKJV)

Even with me personally my biggest “advancements” in ministry didn’t come because I was advertising myself or trying to outwork or out maneuver others around me. Rather those opportunities came because someone else in prayer heard God say to give me an opportunity, or to help them out in what they were doing. While on the other hand whenever I have tried to “play the game” so to speak it never resulted in anything beneficial and usually brought me to places of burden, frustration and hopelessness.

I can’t base my prayer and devotion time around trying to impress God or other people. Those times are for me and God and what I’ve found is from those times of relationship is that ideas, books, concepts, and articles just naturally flow out of those times. To a much higher degree than when I “set aside time to get a word to talk about.”

Ministry is supposed to be an overflow of your relationship with God. Your relationship with God is not supposed to be a by-product of your ministry.

Ministry is supposed to be an overflow of your relationship with God, and your relationship with God is not supposed to be a by-product of your ministry. I am not just talking about full-time ministry here I am talking about whatever place or opportunity God has placed you in to either spread the gospel or to strengthen/support existing believers. This also applies to every arena outside of the church as well along with your job/career, everything you do should be an extension of your relationship with God and God is looking to use you in a variety of different ways beyond just preaching about the great commission.

David’s heart made him a king in God’s eyes and we must never forget that being a king didn’t make David’s heart like God’s. This is the beginning, David’s life, devotion and relationship with God paved the way for everything that happened in his life afterwards. It propelled him into a life of twists and turns and when David backed away from that relationship or he silenced his heart that is when trouble arose in his life. It is that heart of devotion, worship and closeness to God that set him apart and when he drifted away from that is when things went wrong.

Now David has gone from a live of sheltered devotion to receiving a grand promise from God and next week we will learn how David started to live a life that would cultivate the promise into a reality.

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

Creative Commons LicenseThe Key To Receiving A Promise From God Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Do You Qualify For Ministry?

Do You Qualify For Ministry?

What are the qualifications in our day for pastors, deacons, elders and leaders in general?  Is it the ownership of several freshly pressed suits and ties?  Is it pieces of paper with a signed by someone most people wouldn’t recognize?  Is it the personal collection of books filled to the brim with other people’s personal opinions of Christ and the church?  Is it in masterful trickery of the tongue upon tickled ears? Have we ever really asked ourselves the question, “what qualifies us for ministry?”  What plumb line, or bar are we measured against that allows us the privilege of open ministry (both corporate and individual)? Or on a personal level, what qualifies us to openly display the gospel to the unbeliever?

My desire is to know what the scriptures say on this matter, of qualification.  Ever in my searching I have yet to find the verses commanding the attendance of and accredited university for 4 to 7 years.  Nor do I find the doctrine of, the issuance of golden sealed papers to be rewarded for the regurgitation of cold information.  No, in my ventures across the scripture I have found something, yes something somewhere which hints, no, declares the qualities of true leaders and servants. Now I am not discrediting the usefulness of proper education, I’m speaking as one who earned a Bachelor of Theology with highest honors (the Canadian equivalent to summa cum laude.)

However, that bachelors may be recognized by the people around me and those reading, watching and listening to my words but in God’s eyes it’s not a permit to be part of the ministry. That bachelors did not force God to place a call of ministry on my life and neither did that degree replace or cancel out 16 years of informal self-study and previous ministry experience. To be honest my years of personal experience and previous studies made getting my bachelors much easier and allowed me to complete it in record time.

I’m a huge advocate for learning the scriptures, theology, hermeneutics, doctrine and the like but possessing information, books or degrees does not equal a call to the ministry. There are a great many people who have attended Bible Colleges and Universities who were not called into ministry. On the other hand there are many who are called and are active in the ministry who have never been to school at all. Perhaps I am just jaded about this subject because I have been on both sides of the fence. I have been called and active in ministry without a degree (including teaching people with Bible school degrees) and now I have a degree and am still living out my calling.

I feel that people treat me “better” now than before, but my heart has not changed. I remember one encounter with a church I used to attend in Winnipeg, I was having a deep theological conversation with a man who was an elder in the church and a high-ranking member of the denomination. At one point he asked me where I went to school and how I became so insightful for my age. I told him that I didn’t actually have a degree and he looked at me turned his back and walked away and refused to talk with me any longer. (I should probably mention that at this time I was also the church’s volunteer youth pastor.)

Paying an institution thousands of dollars and writing theses and book reports did not stir up or validate a call on my life. Rather it merely encourages people to trust me more as I live out that calling

Paying an institution thousands of dollars and writing theses and book reports did not stir up or validate a call on my life. Rather it merely encourages people to trust me more as I live out that calling, because honestly would you rather buy a book written by some guy from Canada called Cam, or from Cameron D. Conway B.Th? We must go beyond the sights and sounds of paper and ink and begin to look at the qualities of the heart, the experience of trials, testimonies unwavering faith and a devotion to build the Kingdom as the true signs of a call to ministry in a person. The education which comes later (either formal, through discipleship or self-taught) then acts as a foundation to maintain a person in ministry. It provides the scaffolding for a heart to witness the gospel to the world. We must always remember that a heart will always cry out louder than an idea, our heart motivates us and leads us to God while knowledge and information ensure that we are correctly sharing the truths of the gospel.

How many times have we had information presented to us that was either not believed by the person speaking, flat out incorrect or focuses on the wrong things. I’ve seen fiery evangelists who have known next to nothing about the scriptures or discipleship and I have seen experts on the scriptures who have never lifted a finger to spread the gospel. We need both, we need a heart of fire and mind of raw fuel to sustain those flames and give them purpose.

We need both, we need a heart of fire and mind of raw fuel to sustain those flames and give them purpose

Paul’s Standard

Paul was an apostle in the truest sense; he built churches, raised up disciples, and provided the framework for churches to flourish without his direct supervision. Later in his life Paul approached the twilight of his mortal journey wrote to his spiritual sons Timothy and Titus what the true heart of a leader must look like.  It is a message I fear is often overlooked throughout the church. It is not a message that has to do with externals but matters of the heart. Now I ask you to gaze upon yourself in a mirror as you read the words of Paul and see his qualifications for ministry.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 “1 The saying is true and irrefutable: If any man [eagerly] seeks the office of bishop (superintendent, overseer), he desires an excellent task (work).  2 Now a bishop (superintendent, overseer) must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, circumspect and temperate and self-controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life; [he must be] hospitable [showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners, and be] a capable and qualified teacher,  3 Not given to wine, not combative but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money [insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means].  4 He must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control, with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful.  5 For if a man does not know how to rule his own household, how is he to take care of the church of God?  6 He must not be a new convert, or he may [develop a beclouded and stupid state of mind] as the result of pride [be blinded by conceit, and] fall into the condemnation that the devil [once] did. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside [the church], lest he become involved in slander and incur reproach and fall into the devil’s trap.” (AMPC, emphasis mine)

This is not merely a bullet point thesis of a Christian leader, this should be the calling card of everyone in the church.  This entire list is grounded upon matters of the heart and is directed towards those that have been called by God and can prove their character to not just those inside the church but to those outside as well (1 Timothy 3:7). The fruits of our inner soul is to be one third of our ministry foundation along with knowledge of the scriptures and a living encounter with Jesus. That foundation is not built upon puffed up poster boards of self-righteousness, empty actions, clever words or selfish motives.  The eyes of God see far beyond the masks we wear to our very core being and nature. Thankfully in His grace He sent Holy Spirit to recreate our core in His image and likeness.

We are called to be children of wisdom, holiness and Christ-likeness no matter our age (in the flesh or in the spirit).  We are called to be diligent within our own home before we attempt to gain authority within the translucent walls of the church.  We are forbidden to covet what is not our own and we are commanded to teach with humility and honestly the mysteries of God. We are called to be holy, not for the rewards or to maintain a public show, but because it is the desire of God’s heart.

What Applies To Ministry Applies To All

We can also look to the epistle to Titus and one again see Paul repeat and reaffirmed his view on those who are qualified for ministry.

Titus 1:7-9 For a bishop (overseer, local leader, pastor) must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. (NKJV)

This is the heart of all those who carry the banner of servant, helper, teacher, pastor, evangelist, prophet and apostle.  It is not merely the collecting of knowledge, though we are not to be ignorant or ill-informed.  But our personal conduct and love will shine brighter than any thesis or quote ever will.  We are to be wise as serpents and as gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16).  For within us is wisdom, knowledge and understanding revealed by the Holy Spirit. Revelation which goes far beyond anything found in books, CD’s, blogs, podcasts, or videos because it is from the spirit of the living God within. Yet these words of mine fail to compare with the words of Paul.

Titus 2:7-8 “in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”

Have we forgotten that we cannot have the gifts of the spirit spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12 until we have learned to walk in the fruit of the spirit found in Galatians 5:22-24? We cannot have one without the other, one cannot be a helper without love, a teacher without faithfulness, a pastor without longsuffering, or an evangelist without peace.  No prophet is without self-control, and one cannot be an apostle without kindness.  Always remember that the fruit is the “horse” which pulls the cart of “gifts”.  I cannot refrain from repeating the notion that these truths are not exclusively for those in ministry but for all within the Body of Christ.

Those who reject this truth will never qualify for ministry in God’s eyes and will forever remain vessels of dishonor at the masters table.  Yet for those who wish to attain honor at the table must live the life spoke of by Paul to Timothy

2 Timothy 2:20-26 “20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, [h]sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (NKJV)

A Pattern Of Commission Combined With Servanthood And Relationship

When we search the scriptures we begin to see a pattern emerge of those whom God chose for ministry roles (leaders, prophets and so on). In most of these cases a call or a commission was first given, then the life of that person would be then marked by servanthood and continual relationship with God. A relationship which included an abundance of time learning God’s nature through the scriptures and revelation.

A call or a commission was first given, then the life of that person would be then marked by servanthood and continual relationship with God. A relationship which included an abundance of time learning God’s nature through the scriptures and revelation.

We see that Jeremiah wasn’t called because he went to the right school, but rather through the sovereignty of God. Moses wasn’t commissioned because he excelled in his Egyptian homeschooling but because God saw a heart which could carry the burden of the nation. Isaiah didn’t have a Doctor of Divinity but saw the throne and God’s glory. Elisha didn’t become Elijah’s servant because he impressed the school of the prophets during their summer internship program. Joshua didn’t emerge from a great military academy, Ezekiel didn’t receive his visions because he scored better than his fellow Levites in standardized testing. John didn’t witness the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ because of faithful tithing, and on and on we go.

What we do see is that when God commissions a person, it is the person’s responsibility to act upon that commission. To get up and go where God has commanded them to go, to live a life according to God’s standards and to make it so the words and voice of God were more familiar than their own voices. The things we associate with a person receiving a call to ministry are in reality the things people are supposed to do after they are called, commissioned or released into ministry. Education is good, oversight is good, certification is good but all of those things cannot transform a person into a pastor, prophet, teacher, evangelist or apostle. All they can do is reinforce the platform which God has appointed them to and to bring comfort to those that the person in ministry will guide, teach, encourage, disciple, train, and equip.

Paul was perhaps one of the most educated writers of the Bible but that information was irrelevant until his encounter with Jesus. Paul went to the best rabbinical school of the day and sat under the most respected teacher in Jerusalem but that didn’t produce a call to ministry or a revelation of who Jesus is. Even after the encounter on the road to Damascus Paul spent another decade back in Tarsus preparing for his launch into ministry. Paul had an experience, a commission and the knowledge to not only be in the ministry but to have success. He had the heart, mind and feet of one called by Jesus to not just witness to the message of the cross but to build the church as well. But even he needed letters form the Jerusalem Church and the accompaniment of Barnabas in those early missionary journeys to give people reasons trust him and to listen to his words.

Ministry is For All

In a frail attempt to craft a conclusion I ask that you examine your own hearts and ask God if you are lacking in any area, or if there is any place in you life that He is excluded.  Then ask if there is any place where He may use you as a vessel of honor to enlarge the boundaries of His kingdom.  For it is not by gilded golden paper that you are called, but by His spirit.  For “many are called yet few are chosen” are the immortal words of our King. The revelation of this mystery is this, that those who are chosen are merely the ones who appear when called. They are the ones who hear the call to preach, teach, encourage, pray, prophecy, disciple, write, create, support and evangelize.

To receive the call to the ministry is only the first step you must then take those steps into that new land where your life reflects that of Christ. Don’t limit this truth to thinking that I’m not called to full time ministry, these words apply to all of us because at our heart every Christian is a minister. We are all called to preach, teach and disciple so our lives, intentions, faith and time should reflect the words Jesus commanded in the great commission.

In closing may we never forget these words:

Titus 3:2-7 “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (NKJV)

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but learn how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth.

Creative Commons License
Do You Qualify For Ministry? Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Key Ingredient Forgotten By Many Christians

The Key Ingredient Forgotten By Many Christians

Today it feels like there’s something missing in the lives of many Christians, we go to church, and occasionally read our Bibles but it feels if that it isn’t enough. As Christians we are good at listening, pondering, and absorbing information, revelation and insights but what do we do with all of that knowledge? Do we write it down, store it away in our minds for a rainy day, or do we replace it with whatever is heard the following week?

These are the questions we must begin to ask ourselves if we want to fully reflect Christ into this world, these are the questions we must ask if we are serious about growing and developing the Kingdom here on earth. However, being able to grow personally and corporately hinges on the fact that we must begin to practice what we preach and to apply what we have learned. It is as if many churches and Christians have become drunk on knowledge but are starving for wisdom and application.

Being able to grow personally and corporately hinges on the fact that we must begin to practice what we preach and to apply what we have learned. 

Knowledge is the accumulation of information, while wisdom is knowing what to do with that knowledge and how to apply it in real world situations and in your own life. I believe this is where many Christians get tripped up, we are good at hearing a sermon or reading a passage but we lack the ability (or discernment) to apply those truths in our own lives (or for more than a week). It is easy to sit and listen but it is much harder to act out what was heard.

Look at it this way would you invest time and money to go to a trade school (carpenter, electrician, mechanic) and never do anything except the book work. Imagine getting a master’s degree in carpentry but you’ve never picked up a hammer during the entire experience. It sounds ridiculous but this is how many of us approach church and the Bible. Each year we sit through at least 52 sermons plus all of our personal reading but rarely does a real lasting change, refinement, course correction, or new type of action materialize in our lives. What is happening here?

Christians Must Do the Do

The Christian life is based on more than just attendance and homework, it is based on action, belief and trust. You can have knowledge about Jesus and not be saved (member of the New Covenant), you can have an understanding of Paul’s writings and not be a contributing Christian and you can have insights about God and still be without a relationship with Him.

The Christian life is based on more than just attendance and homework, it is based on action, belief and trust.

What is the tipping point between knowledge about Christ and relationship with Him? James the half-brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15) wrote about how to bridge this gap.

James 1:22-25 “22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (NKJV)

You see it is not enough to read the scriptures, we must learn how to apply them to our lives and how to live them out. Paul in Romans 10:9-10 talks about believing in your heart AND confessing with your mouths, to receive salvation both must happen not just one or the other. My own salvation experience reflects this. I believed in my heart in April of 2000 but I didn’t make a verbal confession until July 2000. Jesus revealed Himself to me and gave me a choice, from that day I believed in Him but I didn’t speak it out until just over three months later. For those three and a half months I had knowledge of who Jesus really was but my actions to back that up were delayed.

We can take this truth in James 1 and apply it to more than just salvation, we can apply it to the entirety of the scriptures and especially the words Jesus spoke of in the Gospels. Jesus went and did, Jesus didn’t sit at home in Capernaum and revel in the knowledge of who He was. No, He went out and demonstrated the reality of His life and calling. Jesus didn’t just mentally frame the words of the magi, Simeon, Anna or His cousin John and look over them when He was frazzled with a His carpentry work. Jesus brought life to the words, promises, proclamations and call on His life.

We have to get over the trap of thinking that collecting popular scriptures, Christian catchphrases, dank-Christian memes, or simple pleasantries is enough to sustain our faith and life. We can squirrel away all of the quotes and verses that we can, but it is irrelevant if we don’t do something with them. Just think of a squirrel, what is the point of gathering all of those acorns if you never intend on eating them, or you constantly forget where you left them. You’re just running around from yard to yard hunting down acorns just for the reason of collecting them. You won’t benefit from eating them and depending where you are stuffing them they will never fulfill their own potential of becoming a tree themselves.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, What Did the Pastor Say Two Weeks Ago?

It is that forgetfulness which is the great trap James is trying to warn us about, often we don’t act on scriptures, revelations or insights because we get busy or distracted or enamored by the next revelation, insight, prophecy, interpretation or whatever else gets our attention. When we read James 1:23 we take for granted the word “mirror.” For the people James was originally writing to a mirror was not a common household item. They didn’t have a bathroom with one, they didn’t have one in their purse or on their phone. No, to them a mirror was something rare, and in that culture it would have not been a clear glass mirror but a slab of polished bronze.

No matter how much it was polished it would always give a distorted view of the subject, so it is easy to see how someone could forget what they looked like. Even though we have high quality mirrors today, in our minds we are still prone to looking at ourselves through warped reflections. We are still prone to forgetfulness, we lose sight of who we are in God’s eyes and we disconnect our hands from our heart. What we read and study must influence what we do and say, it must all somehow contribute to the development of first our own lives and second the development of your church.

What we read and study must influence what we do and say, it must all somehow contribute to the development of first our own lives and second the development of your church.

Look at it this way, each insight, revelation, prophecy, scripture, interpretation, or nugget of wisdom is like a piece of Lego. Over time you gather enough pieces to build something, the more time goes on the more you can build, at times you will build only one thing, other times you will tear down and rebuild, then there are those who will build multiple things. But that is only if you use what you have received, many people on the other hand have lives that are nothing but giant plastic buckets full of unused pieces. The pile gets bigger but nothing gets built, or worse still the bucket of pieces gets periodically thrown away because there is only so much room in the bucket.

This is what our life as Christians looks like, God gives us these pieces to build with, first to build and develop ourselves and then to build and develop others. We take our pieces and develop not just our own creations but those of others as well. Yet far to often people are content with only collecting and have no foresight to at least give away what they have to people that are building and developing. We forget that we will be judged by what we do (Romans 2:13) along with what we think. We forget the price paid by the unfaithful servant in Luke 19 who had knowledge of the type of person his master was but failed to do anything despite that knowledge.

Finish the Circuit

Here is another way to understand the connection between Believing and Doing. Take a look at how electricity works in your house, you plug something into the wall and it does as it is designed to do. I plug in a blender and I can make a smoothie, I plug in a laptop and I can write a blog post. Now that electricity has a negative side and a positive side (not bad and good) both are necessary for the current to flow through the cables into the device and out again. Now we can look at the concept of believing and doing in the same way, but are necessary to get the power out of the wall, through the device and back into the current.

The Holy Spirit is the power and electricity of our lives He is looking to move through people to develop them, to fulfil the Great Commission and to strengthen the church. He like the power in your wall is ready, willing and able to jump into action if we connect to Him. But we must have the + side of belief, the – side of action and we must be grounded in Christ. Then He can move in our lives and bring about change, power, glory, transformation, giftings, wisdom and so on. If we only have belief, we can’t complete the circuit, if we only have action we can’t complete the circuit, and if we have both and are not grounded then we’re not protected if something fails or overloads in our lives.

When we look through the Gospel’s we see that Jesus didn’t bless the people who simply heard Him speak, but He blessed and healed those who had the truth of those words become real to them. It was one thing for people to see Jesus heal but it was a totally different level for those who saw Him as the Messiah and publicly declared that truth (Matthew 9:27, 15:22, 20:30).

With Jesus He proclaimed parables for the crowds but gave interpretation to the disciples. However, because of this the disciples where expected to live out what Jesus preached when He was gone. Jesus taught the disciples because He expected them to follow the words He spoke and to bring them to life in their own lives.

The Miracle of Doing

This concept of combining belief and action is not limited to the New Testament alone we see this all throughout the Bible. Abraham believed God and moved away from Haran, Joshua and the people believed God for victory and marched around Jericho, David believed that God appointed Him as the next king so he left the farm. We see over and over that you can’t please God or fulfill your purpose in life if you don’t have both of theses facets working together equally. If we only have one then we will never progress, or if we do have both but are inconsistent in one we will never reach our full potential.

Consider the story about elderly Elisha and Joash the King of Israel (1 Kings 13:14-19), in this story the king goes to the prophet to receive a word about dealing with the Syrians. Elisha tells the king to take an arrow and shoot it out the window, the king does so. Then Elisha tells the king to take some more arrows and to hit the ground with them, so the king does as he is told, but something happens that he was not expecting. In verse 19 we see that “the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.” King Joash believed Elisha to be a prophet, so he acted in going to see him and to do as he said. But his heart was not in it, I can imagine the king gingerly tapping the ground 3 times and thinking that was enough to satisfy the prophet.

There was a disconnect in the king between his belief, his action and his relationship with God. God was wanting the king to act out his trust and to go to town on the floor with those arrows to show an expectation for God’s help.

There was a disconnect in the king between his belief, his action and his relationship with God. God was wanting the king to act out his trust and to go to town on the floor with those arrows to show an expectation for God’s help through the simple act of hitting some arrows on the ground. Because of this attitude the king was only promised a partial victory and the king’s son had to endure the consequences of that partial victory.

How much different is it with us today, we take in the words of pastors, prophets, teachers, apostles and evangelists but have a heart similar to King Joash where we take what is said and just tap the ground with our arrows. That is if we even go that far, at least King Joash went to the prophet, which is more than many of us do.

Getting Involved In What God Is Revealing To You

Jesus has an expectation for us to follow His words and put them to work in our lives and world, Jesus wants us to get involved in what God is doing and that happens through the unity of belief and action in our lives. Jesus makes it clear that those who follow them will be able to be recognized not my the amount of scriptures they have memorized or how good their church attendance record is but by their faithfulness to both believe His words and to act on them.

John 15:12-14 “12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (NKJV, emphasis mine)

Our actions confirm our beliefs, what we say and do is rooted in our heart and in what we really believe about God, ourselves and the world at large. If we claim to love, honor and serve Jesus then our lives must testify about that. A bird does not have to show off its feathers to prove it can fly it simply leaps from the tree and soars in the air. This should be how we live we don’t have to boast about our relationship with God or the wealth of knowledge and wisdom in our hearts, rather we simply walk as Jesus walked and the world will watch us soar. Yet those of us who have failed to combine their beliefs with actions are no different than a chicken or ostrich, those who have wings to fly but are forever trapped on the earth.

The Apostle Jesus loved reminds us of Jesus’s expectation in his epistle.

1 John 2:3-6 “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God [a]is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (NKJV, emphasis mine)

John combined proof of our love for God with us following His commandments, how is this different from what James 1:22 and Romans 2:23 say? It is the same truth in action? I can’t actually love Jesus if I don’t follow Him and His words. I can follow Him, I can admire Him but I can’t love Him if I don’t follow His words. Following His words entails honor, respect, trust and seeing Him as being worth listening to. It is not just a blind love based on obedience, no it is a love which is exemplified in our actions, we do as He says because of our relationship with Him, because of our faith in Him and out of our gratitude of what He has lovingly done for us.

Following His words entails honor, respect, trust and seeing Him as being worth listening to.

John again in The Revelation of Jesus Christ records a life altering statement which should force all fo us to re-evaluate our own lives, motivations, and relationship with God.

Revelation 22:14 “14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (NKJV, emphasis mine)

Now ask yourself “what will I do with this blog,” what will I pray about (personal and intercession), what will I change, what action (action, intervention, support, evangelism, ministry, service, fellowship, talking) will I take? Honestly ask yourself “what will I do with this handful of arrows?” Then challenge yourself to ask that question again every week for the next month, bookmark this post if you need to, just don’t allow what you see here to become another unused brick in your life.

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The Key Ingredient Forgotten By Many Christians Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 1: Our High Priest and Brother

A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 1: Our High Priest and Brother

Right now you need a revelation that Jesus is just as alive today as He was during His ministry in Judea. Often, we tend to separate the two stages of Jesus’s life (divine and Son of Man), we see them as two different books on our shelves. One speaks of who Jesus was for those three and a half years, and the second one about what Jesus could be like one day.

We look at Jesus as the lamb of sacrifice, or the humble servant during the time of His ministry and assume that nothing has changed. But what does Jesus actually look like now in terms of his nature, power, authority and existence? Then we have the second question of how do we engage and relate to Him today?

From Reading To Revelation

First we must go beyond just reading or hearing the words from the Gospels and Paul, because unless these words become a revelation they will pass away from our minds and never reach our heart. Paul says emphatically in Romans 10:9-10 that we are to “believe in our hearts and confess with our mouth” who Jesus is.

We must go beyond simply hearing and understanding and arrive at a place where we become fully aware that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of the world.  We must come to a place where we know and believe, then we find ourselves in a place where Jesus Himself confirms who He is to us in our spirit through the Holy Spirit.

We must go beyond just reading or hearing the words from the Gospels and Paul, because unless these words become a revelation they will pass away from our minds and never reach our heart.

Galatians 1:11-12 11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.  NKJV

Galatians 1:11-12 11 For I want you to know, brethren, that the Gospel which was proclaimed and made known by me is not man’s gospel [a human invention, according to or patterned after any human standard].  12 For indeed I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but [it came to me] through a [direct] revelation [given] by Jesus Christ (the Messiah).  AMPC

Not all of us get to have an experience like Paul did on the road to Damascus, but through the indwelling and communion of the Holy Spirit we can become just as aware of His presence, character and identity right now. Even if we did have an experience like that it does not excuse us from holding on in faith to who Jesus is right now despite what may be happening around us. Paul’s experience did not preclude him from persecution but it did give him faith to continue believing and preaching.

Paul’s ministry was birthed out of a revelation that Jesus is alive, right here and right now.

Paul’s ministry was birthed out of a revelation that Jesus is alive, right here and right now. Jesus was not just a story some drunk fisherman came up with, but was alive and beyond the confines of death. Paul saw Jesus and that encounter produced an awakening in his heart to follow Him no matter the cost. Many thousands of people saw Jesus during those thirty years He walked around the earth but only a couple of hundred had a revelation of who He was before Pentecost. That is the tipping point in our hearts, it is one thing for me to say that “I acknowledge Jesus existed” and it is an entirely different thing for me to believe that He exists right now!

All of this is based in the victory Jesus reaped from the cross, a victory which defied the wisdom of men and brought about His eternal plan to redeem those created in His image. Jesus through his death and resurrection has become our high priest, our covenant brother and finally our King (more next week). How we view each aspect of Christ will determine not only how we answer the Two Questions I asked last week of “who is Jesus” and “what shall I do with him”.

How we understand Jesus also determines how we will live out our own lives.

How we understand Jesus also determines how we will live out our own lives.Our faith and belief shapes our identity and what we worship and follow will decide whether we rely on our own personal strength or on Jesus’s  power and wisdom which is rooted in His eternal existence. Whichever power we choose to live by in this world will reflect back to the unsaved world around us. Those outside of the church look to us to see if what we claim to believe is true and they gauge that according to how they see us live, act, believe, speak and focus our time on.

A true witness for Christ does not come from regular church attendance, it comes from a life that reflects the reality of His existence, not just in the past but right now. A true witness for Christ is rooted in demonstrating that Jesus is real, Jesus is alive, and Jesus is King.

Our High Priest

The first way we encounter Jesus is through the His duties as our high priest. The high priests of the Old Testament were responsible for taking the offerings and sacrifices of the people and presenting them before God. These gifts were given to honor God and in the hope of continued blessing and a substitution for the penalty of sin on their lives. The highest honor for one of these Levitical high priests before the Babylonian exile was to be able to enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. Here on this annual festival the high priesst would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice endued with the nations sins upon the Ark of the Covenant.

Interestingly the top of the ark was referred to as the mercy seat, which represented redemption along with God’s throne. Those priests stood before the LORD to offer sacrifice then immediately left the room, however when Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice in teh Heavenly Holy of Holies He was able to sit down and remain (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus was not just another adherent to the order of Levi/Aaron, His is a more ancient order one that traces back to before the covenant of Moses was ever cut. The writer of Hebrews compares Jesus to Melchezedek (king of righteousness) the King of Salem (king of peace). This is seen as a higher order beyond the capabilities and responsibilities of the priesthood of Aaron.  For a more detailed account of Jesus as our high priest we can turn to Hebrews 10:1-18. In this section we see that the sacrifices of old were only temporary, like plastering over holes in drywall but when Jesus came He metaphorically tore down the house and rebuilt it.

The old system under the natural high priests were only a band-aid solution to sin, it provided a stop-gap remedy until the true healing of the heart could come. The Old Testament system would take a person who figuratively lost a limb and stitch up the stump and provide a crutch to continue on, but Jesus came to restore and replace that lost limb. From the beginning God had no desire for a crutch to be the answer for sin, He knew that the day was coming when the great Healer would come.

He would not just come for one generation, one nation, one people, or one city, no Jesus came so all nations and peoples could experience His forgiveness and restoration. A gift which exists not just because Jesus died so many years ago but because He lives right now and continues to be our high priest who restores us and cleanses us from sin and works to make our hearts look like His.

Our Covenant Brother

Through Jesus we have forgiveness, remission and annulment of sins.  The wall of separation had been torn down, the veil of the temple had split and the Holy of Holies now lives in those who receive and believe in Christ.

Hebrews 9:15 [Christ, the Messiah] is therefore the Negotiator and Mediator of an [entirely] new agreement (testament, covenant), so that those who are called and   offered it may receive the fulfillment of the promised everlasting inheritance — since a death has taken place which rescues and delivers and redeems them from the transgressions committed under the [old] first agreement.  AMPC

God did not stop with redemption alone, when we accept Christ we go beyond merely just believing in what He did.  No, rather we are adopted through Christ into the New Covenant.  Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born again, not of flesh but of spirit.  This is what happens we when we are brought under the new covenant we are re-born spiritual and adopted as a child of God (1 John 3:1, Galatians 3:26-29).

We are born anew to a greater Father, our true father, we as sons/daughters of God become alive and awaken to a more abundant life (this goes beyond just prosperity). Yet at the same time through the cross we die to sin, to the curse and to the power of the enemy.  Now being dead to these matters we are free from their judgments (Galatians 3:13-14, Deuteronomy 28:15).

In John 17:2 and Romans 10:10 we are assured that whoever believes and confesses in the name, authority and actions of Jesus will be saved.  None of this is by our own works, but by the works already done by Jesus.  We have simply been grafted like a vine (John 15:1-5) into His reward, and now we have access to God through Him. You could say that we have been added into Jesus’s rewards plan and have full access to it because of grace and our faith. Not only that but the Holy Spirit has access to come into us to lead us into our lives partnered with Jesus, so we can follow Him and He insures that our lives reflect His heart and nature.

1 John 2:1-2 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not   sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  NKJV

Galatians 2:20-21 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  NKJV

Jesus then is not just a far off God hiding in eternity but He is a living part of our lives, He is not just Supreme God but our brother and friend. He bridged the gap between us and the Father so we could have relationship with them. That is a key piece of covenant, to bring two people, families, tribes or nations together in a way which would be impossible otherwise.

We live our lives to try and please not just a divine judge but a loving father and faithful brother that is duty sworn to be there for us in our times of need.

We live our lives to try and please not just a divine judge but a loving father and faithful brother that is duty sworn to be there for us in our times of need. In return we turn away from our old sinful ways and demonstrate to others the great things that have happened in our lives since the day God entered it. In covenant what is God’s is now available for us and through grace Jesus takes the brokenness, vanity, and emptiness we bring to the table and exchanges it for healing, purpose and love.

But this is only half of the story next week we will take the next step in this journey of revelation and a look at Jesus as our King!

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but learn how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth.

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Playing With Shadows

Shadow in dogwood park
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AS CHRISTIANS AT TIMES WE CAN TAKE FOR GRANTED who we are and what we were like before we encountered Jesus. We sing the songs about being changed and redeemed but those just become words and it is easy to lose sight of the journey we have taken from where we once were to where we are today. You see before we were redeemed our lives could be compared to a shadow cast upon the ground. People could see us and there was some trace of us but it was only a faint outline of who we really are. Shadows can interact with each other, overlap and give the impression of life, but its life is based on something else, something real.

You can look at shadows and recognize people talking, walking, running, or sitting, but shadows are not limited only to people, anything exposed to light casts a shadow. The object is real but you can’t do anything with its shadow, I can’t drive around in the shadow of my car, I can’t walk into the shadow of a grocery store and come out with a snack. A shadow is only a projection of what is real and the shadow is revealed only when light is shone upon it.

Before we were redeemed, forgiven, restored and born again we were nothing but shadows of the person God created us to be. We were hollow and like a vapor, we were fully formed on the outside but missing a vital piece within us. We were like a vapor which had lifted off from a lake, and was slowly drifting away until we becomes completely dispersed in the air around us.

But God came into our lives (Mt 4:16, Lk 1:79) and we no longer live as a shadow cast upon the ground. We now through atonement and the New Covenant have taken our place as the person we truly are and have been created to be. None of this is because of our own goodness, hard work or devotion, we have been changed from shadow to person only because of Jesus.

Paul lays this out clearly in 2 Corinthians 3:18-21 but I want to emphasize what he said in verses 5 to 6: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (NKJV).

The Shadow Remains

Despite the light and new life Jesus has given to us we still cast a shadow, the shadow of what we once were, the shadow of what remains from our old life (Rom 7:21-25). The struggles, the weaknesses, the sins, the old ways, selfishness, greed, pride and so on. That shadow is still there and not only that but through the light of Christ it appears even more detailed and richer than it had before. This is true for two reasons first your perspective has changed from that as a shadow cast upon the ground in a dark two-dimensional world to one standing above the ground in a fully lit three-dimensional world where you can see yourself and the shadow (Mt 6:22-23).

Secondly when there is more light a shadow stands out so much more because there is a contrast between the two. It’s hard to pick apart two shades of grey but very easy to see the difference between white and black. The more of the light of Jesus we have in and around us the greater amount of contrast there is between His nature and the one we had when we were still lost in sin and unforgiveness (Jn 1:5).

The more of the light of Jesus we have in and around us the greater amount of contrast there is between His nature and the one we had when we were still lost in sin and unforgiveness

How Do We Cast Off This Shadow?

Now what are we to do with the shadow of our old life that still clings to our feet and follows us around in our daily lives? It’s simple, get more light. Don’t misunderstand me I’m not getting metaphysical I am just painting a picture of what is happening within us, and it’s a picture which God uses frequently throughout the Bible (Jn 1:9, Jam 1:17). When I say get more light I am talking about things such as building our relationship with the Trinity, I am talking about prayer, faith, holy living, reading and understanding the scriptures, worship, thanksgiving and everything things else Jesus has called us to be and do in this world.

The more light we can have shining upon us from different angles makes it so there is less room in our lives for shadows to find a place to rest. This is all no different than how it is in film making or photography. In these industries they use multiple sources of light to get rid of any unwanted shadows in a shot. Sometimes two, three, four or more lights, types of bulbs, diffusions, soft-boxes and so on are needed to cancel out any unwanted shadows that another light source could be casting.

We have to look at our lives the same way, when we come to Christ and receive His gift of atonement and forgiveness whereby a great purifying light is shone upon us (Jn 8:12). That light makes our old shadow look so much more evident that we need more light to surround and radiate from us (Mt 5:16) us so that there is no more shadow, or at the very least one that is barely noticeable.

All of this takes not just work but more importantly relationship building between us and God, we must go beyond a Sunday morning only Christianity and move into one where God is a living part of our daily lives. Then and only then can those shadows of our old ways, the world and the flesh can be drowned out buy God’s light, love, holiness, justice, forgiveness and covenant goodness. The first step though is looking behind yourself and recognizing that shadow behind you and then we look forward towards Jesus and invite Him to shine even brighter in our own lives.

John 3:18-21” 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (NKJV)

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