A Mentor’s Guide for Continual Spiritual Growth #2

 

A Mentor’s Guide for Continual Spiritual Growth #2

 There is no one and done when it comes to spiritual growth.  There are key growth principles that are constantly in play.  The first principle is realizing continual spiritual growth in your life is that “you can’t do it.”  Left to yourself the task is overwhelming.  So you rely on the One who has the power to transform your life, you seek God to empower you to be an overcomer. We know that we are helpless when it comes to changing our lives. The advice of a mentor to me was “Don’t get frustrated when people don’t change, you can even change yourself.”  We know that God gives us the power to change.  In this session, we are going to learn that to access that power to change we must bend our knee to God.  Principle number two:  Bend the Knee.

 Recently in our culture, this gesture of bending the knee has been subverted to mean solidarity with BLM, the Black Lives Matter, movement.  I can no longer support BLM as it has proven not to help people of color at all but rather seeks to overthrow everything that the privileged white male has created, especially capitalism, and replace it with Marxist equity.  I detest racism, I detest racial profiling, I detest a system that keeps people dependent upon the government, and I detest the founders of BLM getting rich off the donations of people who think they are supporting efforts to bring social justice to the disenfranchised in these United States. Bending the knee during the National Anthem became I sign of disrespect for everything and I mean everything that the Stars and Stripes represent.  Unbelievable.  If it wasn’t for the freedom and liberty that we consider our birthright those protestors would have been arrested, sent to the reeducation camps like in China, the gulags like in the Soviet Union, or the work camps in North Korea. Destroying the system that allows you to protest for changing the system and replacing it with a system that won’t allow you to protest is a perfect example of what happens when a culture turns it's collective back to God.

 The culture may be beyond repair.  Still there remains equality in the Kingdom of God. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus makes it possible for the estrangement that sin created in our relationship with God to be reconciled.  This is the opportunity given to everyone, the invitation is extended to all, all are welcome.  We acknowledge our lives are unmanageable, we believe that Jesus empowers us to live the way God intends, we commit to learning to do life Jesus way.  We bend our knees.  If you have not, today I’ll explain what bending the knee entails so that you can make an informed decision.

 Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV)

Therefore God exalted [Jesus] to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Every knee bent to God.  “Throughout history, the bending of the knee has always been an act of great respect and humility. People have been kneeling and genuflecting … for centuries as a sign of homage and respect … a symbolic gesture of [loyalty] and allegiance.” [What taking a knee really means: A reflection on the power of prayerful protest - New York Daily News (nydailynews.com)  ]Taking a knee represents the decision to willingly obey.

Continual spiritual growth requires that we decide to turn our will, our lives, over to the care of God, to allow God to be in charge of our lives, to direct us, to guide us, to use us.  This is not a one and done, this is a continual attitude of the heart, and every day we affirm our allegiance to the God who saves.  With every decision, we do so.  When we bend the knee, this is what we are committing to, to do life the way Jesus demonstrated. When we bend the knee we are submitting our will to the will of the one who sets us free.  Consider what Jesus modeled:

 John 5:19 (NIV)

Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

Jesus is our example. When we bend the knee we see what God is doing and we hear what God is saying, and we answer the call to be used to accomplish what God wants.  When pride rules the heart we do what we want, disregarding God’s desires.  Every time a person says no to God, it is a detriment to their very lives. Disregarding God leads to pain.  Bending the knee leads to life.

 Psalms 25:9 (NIV)

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

Continual spiritual growth occurs when we bend the knee, laying down our imagined rights and humbly asking God what He has for us in any area of our lives.  To see and hear, the history of Christianity recommends 7 practices.  God communicates to us through the Bible.  Reading, studying the scripture and suddenly a verse stands out in your heart.  God communicates through prayer.  Take time to meet with God, go to the quiet place and your heart will be impressed with a new idea, a way you have not considered.  God communicates through spiritual friends, maybe even a preacher.  You come expecting and someone says something to you and it’s an epiphany for the situations you are living through. God also communicates as we do the things He has enabled us to do, using the gifts He has given in service to others.  There is a uniqueness about us that when we actualize our talents, our abilities, we become confident that God is at the heart of what we are doing.  When you are giving God His due, praising Him, singing praises to Him, while enjoying the blessing bestowed, inspiration touches us deep inside, that inspiration is God’s Spirit speaking to us.  Every obedience makes us even more receptive to see what God is doing, to hear what God is saying, to join God in what He is doing. Then there are times when we are so in need of God’s counsel that we bar every distraction so we can give our undivided attention to God, inviting Him to meet with us and discuss with us what troubles our hearts.

 One of the benefits of daily practicing these 7 habits, bible study, prayer, fellowship, service, worship, obedience, and contemplation is that you are taking inventory of your attitudes and actions.  In part, the practice is like looking in the mirror and seeing what needs to be done to make you effective in the kingdom. 

Lamentations 3:40 (MSG)

Let's take a good look at the way we're living and reorder our lives under God.

 When you see something you don’t like, you don’t break the mirror.  You present what you find as unacceptable for submission to God.  When you realize you have failed, you don’t quit. You present the failure for submission to God.  Another name for this presentation of our shortcomings, our habitual sins, our unruly attitudes, or inappropriate judgments is confession.  When we confess we are admitting to ourselves that we are not the way we know we should be.  When we confess we are bringing the matter before God.  Consider the promise of true, sincere, and honest confession:

 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Confession means that we agree with God that our lives need to change.  The promise is that what is out of sync with God will be rectified.  There will be a reordering of heart and life. Confession leads to reordering your life under God.  It’s taking what is keeping you stiff kneed and hauling it into the light where it can be addressed and dealt with.  Confession may be good for the soul, but to be effective it must also be accompanied by a partnership with God to overcome whatever stiff kneed thought or behavior you’re dealing with.  You ask for the desire to overcome, you ask for power to repent, to forsake your wrong, and never to return to it.  Here’s what I have discovered, often owning up and taking responsibility, confessing to self and to God is not enough to reorder my life.  I have to confess to another person. 

 James 5:16 (MSG)

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.

 When I bring a trusted spiritual friend into my confession, there is a special power of accountability that helps me to stay true to my desire to repent.  I am going to be held accountable, my friend will be asking for a report on how I am overcoming my stiff knee problem.  There is also a freedom in hearing a spiritual mentor tell you that God forgives you; that the Holy Spirit will empower you to change as you partner with Him; that this soul friend will be praying for your deliverance and checking in with you for victory reports.  To continually grow spiritually you need another person or small group of like-minded individuals to keep you accountable to your vows.

 Confession involves admitting to ourselves, to God, and a spiritual confidant the exact nature of our wrong while seeking the Holy Spirit’s partnership in reordering our lives so we no longer have a stiff knee but freely bend in submission to the God who loves us.

 James 4:10 (MSG)

Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet.

 Having taken personal inventory, inspecting your life in light of the scripture, you’ve discovered an area, an attitude, an action, that misses the mark.  The Holy Spirit has revealed it, shown you the error of your way.  You know a change is needed, you know a reorder of your life is necessary, you need a transformation.  You have tried to change, to repent on your own, but you’ve realized that you can’t do it.  So you confess your inability to overcome, you realize you can’t do it, but with God’s help you can, so you confess to God, calling out to the one with whom all things are possible.  The sincerity of your desire is demonstrated in confessing to a trusted soul friend, one who understands and extends the love of God to you, who holds you accountable for your part in partnering with God. You realize you can’t do it without the help of accountability.

All this is a prerequisite for asking for help. We cry out with the Psalmist--

 Psalms 51:10 (NKJV)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

 I have read of those who experienced an instantaneous deliverance.  I have heard testimony to the personal experience of meeting God and being set free from some habit, attachment, or addiction.  I have heard, more so I have witnessed, the fight to get free.  I know that God can give you a miracle; the smoker who never smokes again, the drinker than never touches a drop, the foul mouth never again uttering an expletive. I know that God can change the attitude of the heart in an instant, from vengeance to forgiveness, from stubbornness to willingness, from stingy to generous.  I know that God can transform in a moment, the negative disposition into positive, the hurt into healing, the mess into a masterpiece.  I know this, I ask God for this.  I also know that change takes intention, effort, and time. If a change happens instantly praise God, if not, praise God for the journey of progressive progress He has set you upon.    

 To bend the knee to God is to make a sacred vow that you are going to learn how to live in obedience.    To bend the knee to God is to acknowledge His right to rule.  You will be constantly submitting your will to the will of the One who facilitates the changes that you seek.  To bend the knee to God is the path to freedom.

 Bending your knee invites the transformation and purification of our lives that we realize we so desperately need.   Bending the knee you are partnering with the Holy Spirit to facilitate a change in thinking, a change in attitude, a change of character.  Bending the knee puts you in sync with God.  Now you can ask God to do what He is famous for.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NKJV)

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

 The first principle to continual spiritual growth is that you can’t do it. The second principle is that what you can do is bend your knee to God, earnestly seeking to do life righteously.


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