Sunday, March 28, 2010

self help vs spiritual growth

It is possible that I am allowing this subject to take up to much of my thinking these days.

Do we get determined to end a certain habit, or motivated to begin a new habit, and that in turn creates our behavior?

Or is Christ's work being performed in us the reason for all of our good days?

I am leaning towards thinking it could be both.

I have all too often decided it was time time to make a change only to end up feeling as though I've failed when I don't stick with it.

I have felt conviction over areas in my life that needed turned over to God and then almost miraculously found that I was able to conquer them with little of my own effort.

I have also read God's word and seen the truth in it that spread light on very dark areas of my flesh that I've still yet to crucify, and somehow I tried to turn off that light to keep them shadowed for a bit longer.
What I think I am learning is that grace is at work in my life. Whether I succeed or fail, in my eyes, for the day, grace is there. With lots of discussion on parenting these last few weeks, I am constantly reminded we can train up our children with true passion and conviction for God's truth, and it is still by His grace that they will walk in that truth. We can also be parents who lack drive, or even knowledge, as to how to parent, and the Lord could use our children for the building of His kingdom. How? Through works of grace.
During church tonight, our pastor was speaking on the prayer of Jabez. He was instructing us to pray for ourselves. To pray for God's blessings on our lives in such a way that we could be more for His glory. I was jotting down notes as I listened.

One line I wrote down was, it takes prayer.

Well, what takes prayer?

A relationship with our Father takes prayer.

Well, if something takes something, then someone must give something.

I jotted down this, it takes discipline.

Well, what takes discipline?

A daily prayer life to build a relationship with our Father.

As I've said, if it takes that, then something must be given. Are you with me?

We have heard, and probably advised, in conversation, "Oh, it takes drive, it takes will-power, it takes commitment, it takes submission".

So, then, WHO is giving these things?

Some of us are maybe giving some devotion time through the day. Some of us may not even be there yet. Some of us are giving our service to a local place of worship, and some of us may be struggling with feeling worthy of serving.

My point would be this, our spiritual growth takes time with God, in prayer, in service, in brokenness, in victory, in maturity, in immaturity, in praise, and in doubt. But if we are only giving when it is on our terms, and trying to do the rest on our own, we're focusing on self help that will ultimately fail us.

I believe that God's word will grow us, the Holy Spirit will lead us, and our Father can use us, but first we must choose to give Him the time to do so.

I pray that tomorrow, with it being a fresh new Monday, you and I will choose to spend time with Him. I guarantee we'll not be disappointed.


  1. one of my pastors growing up said something that has always stayed with me. (concerning quiet time...something i struggle with to this day!) he said we shouldn't do a quiet time or read our bibles with the mindset of "what am i going to get out of this?" or even get discouraged because, "i'm not getting anything out of this." we should spend time with him because we love him, as an act of worship. that's my goal...but i'm SO thankful for grace in this area, as well as every other aspect of my life.

  2. Great insight Jamie.
    I too am wrestling with self-motivation vs. being empowered by the Holy Spirit.
    I have once again taken up a vice in my life that has consequences to my health (not meth) and I have to trust God to help me lay it down. Tomorrow, I will have to trust Him again. Even though I think I can not be mastered by anything, I see that I am so wrong! I read this morning in Ephesians, which I turn to frequently, "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might."
    It's so good to dialogue about this!

  3. OK girls, both of these comments being written around 5am and you call me the annoyingly productive one? ha, I am betting Micah may have been the joyous reason Gina would be up at that time, but Amanda, if you were up preparing to do Wii Fit, then you're one up on me already! Monday mornings have become my resting time, which is funny to me because it is typically when you're supposed to get back to the grind? I tend to stay pretty busy, or we're gone, on the weekends. So I'm enjoying cozy Monday mornings where nothing is rushed, and I don't feel pressured to be ON until after lunch. anywho -

    Thank you both for your comments. Gina, your pastor was so right. It should be an intimate time of worship, a time to thank Him for being at work in us and to praise Him for the truths found in His word. I guess maybe that is why I had to start thinking about it as a way to give vs to receive. And although I may not walk away with aha moments everytime, I am walking away having invested time in my walk with Him, and that should never disappoint.

    Amanda, having been changed in many ways over the last few years, I have found self-confidence to be an enemy for me on more than one occasion. I have learned that sin is so strong inside of me, I can be mastered by it over and over again. I am often reminded that but for God's grace, I'd be right back where I was. I love the Casting Crowns song that says, "Jesus can you show me
    Just how far the East is from the West
    Cause I can't bear to see the man I've been
    Come rising up in me again
    In the arms of your mercy I find rest
    Cause you know just how far the East is from the West
    From one scarred hand to the other".