As someone who is Type A and loves organization, having a clear target is essential to me. I thrive on the structure of a good To-Do List, where tasks are clearly outlined and achievable. It's so much easier to hit the bullseye when I can see what needs to be done right in front of me. No more shooting in the dark at non-existent targets! With a solid plan in place, I know that I can accomplish anything on my list with ease. Last week, we explored the experience of walking with Jesus on a general spiritual level. I'd like to now delve into some practical ways to deepen our relationship with God, give us a To Do list if you will. These methods may seem obvious, but it's often helpful to hear them expressed in a new light so that we can reignite our commitment in our hearts and bring our minds up to speed.
While it's important not to reduce this list to a mere checklist of tasks to be completed, having goals to strive towards can be beneficial. Following Jesus is fueled by relationship, not rules or religion. To truly follow Jesus, we must take the time to study His Word, model His actions, and foster a personal connection with Him through prayer and other spiritual practices. This involves an ongoing commitment to growth and self-improvement as we seek to embody his values and principles in our daily lives.
Take this list and find a way to incorporate these practices into your daily life.
Read the Bible: The Bible is the primary source of knowledge about Jesus and his teachings. Reading the Bible regularly can help you understand what Jesus taught and how he lived his life. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about getting a fresh word from God. You have to read His word with an open heart and mind to receive revelation from Him. Pastor Chris Hodges says that if you haven't gotten a revelation in 3-5 days then you need to reevaluate where you are in your relationship with Jesus. He is constantly bringing new words and fresh revelation if we are willing to receive it.
Pray: Prayer is an effective means of establishing a connection with Jesus, seeking his guidance, and drawing strength from Him. Whether you choose to pray using your own words or scripture, the power of prayer cannot be underestimated. As exemplified by Jesus himself, who utilized scripture to resist satan's temptation in the wilderness, praying with scripture can be particularly impactful. The beauty of prayer lies in its simplicity; there is no need to try to fit your words together perfectly, just talk to God as if you are conversing with a friend. Being genuine, authentic and transparent is the best way to communicate with God. Since He knows you intimately already, opening up to Him will make it easier for you to hear His voice in response. A very important part of prayer is taking time to listen and ask questions. Sometimes I will start off a prayer complaining about someone or something, but I will ask God if I am wrong in my attitude or if something needs to change. Inevitably, by the end of the prayer, I have changed how I was praying about that situation because God was guiding me and changing me.
Attend church: Going to church can provide opportunities for worship, community, and learning about Jesus with other believers. 1 Corinthians 1:21 says, "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe." We need to be hearing the preached word of God on a consistent basis. Hebrews 10:25 states "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." We need to be with God's people as much as possible! There is so much wisdom in the Bible about being with other believers in a setting of prayer and worship. God's intention for His church is for us to be in consistent community with other believers.
Serve others: As a Christian, Jesus taught that serving others is a crucial part of following him. It's essential to seek out opportunities to assist those in need and demonstrate kindness and compassion towards others. Focusing too much on ourselves can result in becoming selfish, depressed, anxious, and insecure. One of the most fulfilling things you can do is serve others. You can do this through your local church, be it on Sundays, mid-week, small groups or other outreach opportunities. There are many different ways that you can serve others as well. We should be looking for opportunities every where we go to serve people in need.
Live a moral life: Jesus taught that living a moral life is important, including being honest, kind, and forgiving. We were born into sin and our flesh is weak, so the only way we can live in obedience to God's word is to have God's spirit active in our lives. Acts 1:8 says "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you." Many times in the New Testament when the baptism of the Holy Spirit is talked about it is associated with power. If you want the power to overcome in this world, then pray that God will baptize you with His spirit. This experience is transformational in the life of a Christian. You can read more about this and how it first happened in the church in Acts chapter 2.
Seek to grow spiritually: Following Jesus is an ongoing process of growth and transformation. We must not become stagnant in our walk with God. We have to continue to grow and learn. The more we walk with Him, the more we become like Him. Let it be said of us after a conversation with someone that we obviously spend a lot of time with the Lord.
Remember that following Jesus is a personal journey, and there is no one "right" way to do it. The most important thing is to approach the journey with an open heart and a desire to learn and grow. Your relationship with God will not look like every one else's, that's why God always encourages us to focus on our growth areas and not others and not to compare ourselves amongst ourselves. I encourage you to start pursuing these things and see how God shows out in your life. Keep walking, sister. Keep pushing, brother. The journey is the destination.
Lean in to Life. It’s messy, but beautiful.