7 Safeguards For An Authentic Walk With God
Hold fast to your freedom in Christ with these 7 safeguards for an authentic walk with God. Our relationship with God is personal, thanks to Jesus' work on the cross. He gave his life to give us the freedom of having God's very presence living inside of us again. Wow! The freedom we live in is astounding!
Unfortunately, many of us do not live with that freedom. Instead, we have exchanged it for a lot of rules. Why? Why do we? Follow the Bible and.....rules? Yuck! Doesn't sound like freedom to me. Revelation 22:18-19 says,
"For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
With this in mind, here are 7 SAFEGUARDS FOR AN AUTHENTIC WALK WITH GOD:
AVOID DRINKING THE PUNCH:
The punch? Yes. That is a saying that I have borrowed from a friend. Let me explain it to you. You and I were created to be 'relational'- to interact with people. We also have a thing called ego, which is a constant to keep in check. It is the antithesis of humility.
Remember in your elementary and secondary school days when the strongest/bossiest/coolest person, who possessed the 'it' factor, got mad at someone? There could then be peer pressure exerted upon all the corresponding underlings who also wanted to be seen as the coolest, to go along with the flow and 'dislike' this person and become cool by association.
This phenomenon is also behind the gang mentality. It is peer pressure. There is another side to this process, however, and it would be wise for you and I to keep it in mind. In all walks of life this principle is employed, knowingly and unknowingly. It is capitalized upon in the most successful marketing campaigns. The juice, or punch, if you will, is using a person's inborn desire for relationship and feeling part of a 'group' to control their behavior.
In all walks of life, this principle is used. Sports teams, businesses, musical groups, religious organizations, etc., etc., etc. Jesus says, in John 8:32-36,
"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."
Truth frees us. Oops, that's not quite the truth. KNOWING THE TRUTH frees us. Not hearing about it from someone else, but knowing it for ourselves. This is the key to stop the vicious cycle of 'drinking the punch' and being controlled by someone, something or some organization. Again, knowing the truth for ourselves will set us free. The Holy Spirit is our teacher. Jesus said so. He called him the 'helper' and said that he would teach us all things and remind us of everything. He said that we should have his peace, not the peace of this world...i.e, the punch of this world. (John 15:26-27)
I want this peace - his peace - that won't be shaken every day of my life. I have experienced it too, and it is priceless! Reading his Word, and knowing it, has freed me to a whole new quality of life! You can experience this too. Now, lest you panic, I am NOT saying to quit listening to your pastor or religious leader. What I am saying is that you must know for yourself. Which brings up my next safeguard.
READ THE BIBLE FOR YOURSELF:
Let's not make this complicated. Imagine your child needed to get their driver's license. He/She could either read the driver's manuel themselves or ask you to just tell them what they need to know to pass the test. What are you going to advise him/her? Seems like a silly analogy, but yet thousands and thousands of believers do this every Sunday. If it doesn't work for the driver's license, why do we think it will work with our lives? It is important for every believer to read the Bible for themselves, and to then know firsthand the contents of our manual for living...the Word.
Read the Word, and form YOUR OWN convictions with the help of the Holy Spirit. This is not a great mystery, and you don't have to have some uber-weird out-of-body experience to accomplish this. Just read the Word, ask for help understanding it for yourself, and believe. God will not leave you out there without sending the Holy Spirit to assist. He says over and over in the Bible, " And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)
Just read it. Not with commentaries, not with some preacher's notes, not with anything BUT you and the Bible. Why? So you can listen to God tell you what is in the Word. So you can gain confidence in your ability to hear him. So you can learn to search with all your heart. So you can be free and know the truth.
KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN TO YOURSELF:
Once we have read the Bible, then what do we do with what we're learning? There are three choices. Do nothing. Apply what we learn to others so we can 'help' them. Apply what we now know to ourselves so we can grow.
You and I can take the principles we learn and use them to help ourselves grow by applying the truth to our lives. If we work on ourselves just a little, every day, the progress will encourage us to keep up the good work. Contrast that with taking what you have learned and using these truths to point out other's problems. You and I will save our egos, at other's expenses, and instead become arrogant, critical, and judgmental.
If we are on the aggressive, we can even disguise it by using the scripture, "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." (Proverbs 27:17) I don't think, personally, that God intends us to cut each other to pieces verbally as a means of 'helping' each other. The Christian church in America has a long history of crucifying our own and leaving a trail of ruined, guilt-ridden lives in it's wake. Let's stop being part of the problem and put the focus back on personal growth. We cannot be blessed by the Lord when we attempt to "be the Holy Spirit in someone else's life."
HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE GOD:
This is the first commandment of the 10 commandments listed in Exodus 20. God doesn't like it when we put other stuff before him. He told the Israelites that, several times, before they got to go in to the promised land. They didn't pay attention, but went in with the idols they brought with them from Egypt. Then they didn't vanquish the people who were in the promised land entirely, and ended up taking on worship of their gods, too. Don't believe me, or don't know the history? I refer you back up to safeguard #2.
The promised land ended up becoming a hot mess! Eventually, both Israel and Judah were taken captive. Ugh! You and I would do well to consider learning from their example. This isn't one lesson that I want to learn from experience....the experience of others will work just fine for me. You?
God is patient, gracious, merciful, kind, good, and did I mention patient? However, he is not slow to hold unaccountable forever. It is in my best interest to remember this. God always offers blessing for obedience, and consequences for disobedience. God's the perfect gentleman too. He gives us time and resources to make our choice, and then gives us what we asked for. So, what are you going to ask for?
PERIODICALLY CHECK TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE NOT MADE ANY IDOLS:
That's #2 of the commandments. Not my wording, God's. He has a really specific list there too. So, if you aren't sure about this one, consider going to Exodus 20 and reading it for yourself. If you are still unsure about something, then consider going to the Lord and seeking him about it. He says you will find him if you are searching wholeheartedly, so don't quit until you get an answer from him. That's part of learning to rely on him, and learning to forego the punch.
DO NOT MISUSE GOD'S NAME, OR JESUS' NAME:
God is really really big on this one. It is also in Exodus 20, and a lot of other places as well. He says he won't hold the person who misuses his name as guiltless. That is pretty well defined. Just saying.....
God's name is so very important, that devout Jewish people get squeamish about it still. They refer to God as 'THE NAME'. I think they are on to something personally. I get uneasy even with the text lettering OM_. I need all the help I can get on judgement day, so I don't want to add to anything like that one.
TAKE A SABBATH DAY OF REST EVERY WEEK:
Did you know that God told the Israelites that if they didn't give the land a sabbath year of rest, that he would kick them out and give it one himself? (Leviticus 25:1-7) Do the research, it is talked about several times before the Israelites entered the promised land. It makes me wonder if this is the root problem we have with food here in America, because we have not followed this. Just something to think about.
So, with this in mind, sabbath rest is rest from work. In the Jewish traditions, they have added to this all kinds of rules about the sabbath. Crazy! I think that goes back to the first scripture that I shared, Revelation 22:18-19. Do you see how easy it is to get off track? We can overcome, though, if we put our trust in God and what we know about his Word.
I like the sabbath rest day commandment, personally. I need a little encouragement to take a day off every week. Otherwise, I tend to burn myself out so fast. Then my work effort is good for nothing. It takes me way longer to accomplish anything. Contrast this with me when I take my sabbath day of rest.....it's a beautiful week. I get so much done, so much quicker. I LOVE God's work week schedule!
Here's to you for making it all the way to the end! Let's toast with a glass of ..... maybe not. But congratulations, just the same. Let's instead toast with a shared love of freedom in Christ!
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