Article # nine: How-to (Part one)
We have all read more than one how-to book: How-to be successful at marriage, how-to raise kids, how-to build a healthy church, how-to overcome depression, loneliness, stress, addictions, etc., how-to pray, fast, study the Bible, how-to handle finances, how-to make and keep friends, how-to be successful in business, how-to cope with past traumas, how-to, how-to, how-to.
Many (most?) how-to’s circumnavigate “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” and are therefore false gospels offering generic solutions equally acceptable in non-christian circles. (Be suspicious of teachings acceptable in non-christian circles.)
This article regarding how-to abide in Christ is a how-to that de-necessitates most other how-tos. Let’s examine Psalm 91.
This psalm begins with, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High” and is followed by several promises including protection from the enemy, diseases, fear, evil, and plagues. More, such a person will be given authority over the enemy, have prayers answered, live a long life, and experience deliverance in times of trouble. You can see that a book entitled, “How To Dwell In the Secret Place” would negate the need for most how-to literary works and, further, prove such works untrue.
“He who dwells in the secret place” in Psalm 91 is the same person as “He who abides in Me” in John 15, and the many promises of the psalm are for all who abide in Christ.
If you are truly intent on drawing relationally closer to Jesus, willing to suffer whatever consequences including isolation, misunderstanding and tarnished reputation, know that all resources of heaven are on your side.
Jesus taught us the world loves its own. Similarly the lukewarm loves their own, the church-centered loves their own, man-gazers love their own. Know that those who refuse Christ’s call into intimacy will not want relationship with those who accept. You will lose friends.
But you know all that, you have counted the cost, and Jesus is worth it all. This article is for you.
The one determined to seek Christ must think trekking, not arrival. To go in the right direction, that is the goal. One doesn’t fly, one walks. True, the pace of some is quicker than others, but no one arrives. A spaceship headed toward the sun will never reach the sun, it’s too far away. But every day it gets a little warmer. So it is for the seeker of the Son….. she gets consistently warmer.
Not to say there are not bad days, even bad weeks. There are dry times when it’s tough slugging and you seem to be losing ground. But the trend is upward while most are trending down.
Because everyone is different….. each has his distinct history and personality….. the path to fervency will be distinct. The Potter is the same, the consistency of the clay varies. You cannot walk the path of another. Your guide must be the Holy Spirit, not man.
The Holy Spirit. You must know you are going nowhere good without the Holy Spirit. If you are dissatisfied with the fruit in your life you will continue to be so until your relationship with the Holy Spirit is adjusted. Have you heard this one?….. “Insanity is doing the same thing expecting a different result.”
Embrace the Holy Spirit as lord and pastor and guide and helper. (This necessitates renouncing man as lord and pastor and guide and helper.) Again, embrace Him! Like this: “Holy Spirit, I hereby accept and embrace You as my lord and teacher. I acknowledge my dependence on You to take me into fervency for Jesus Christ. I partner myself with You. From now on it’s You and me.” There.
And you must identify the enemy in your life that has kept you from being satisfactorily fruitful….. yourself (your self).
Self. Self is a selfish, controlling, self-centered, self-reliant person who sits on the throne of the infertile life. This person must be dethroned. For most, to do so will take persistence and time, perhaps years.
P a u l : For the flesh sets its desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another. (Gal. 5:17 NAS)
Self is a survivor who knows how to play the game quite well. Self will convince you Christ is lord of your life while he/she makes the decisions. He insists on being pampered and flattered. He won’t vacate the throne voluntarily, he must be removed. To remove him he must be out-strategized. That’s part two.
C h a l l e n g e : Is your relationship with the Holy Spirit as it should be? Look into yourself for the answer. Your life is the measure of that relationship.
P r a y e r : Jesus, to gain You we must gain the Holy Spirit. More of Him, Lord Jesus! More of Him! And….. Your blessing on this message, Lord. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)