Inner and Outer Workings - October 5, 2019
We do not have to look very far to see that the Lord is at work in the lives of others, but why do we struggle to see His marvelous workings inside our own lives? First off, we should celebrate the working in our hearts upon salvation when we are made a new creation through Jesus Christ, but we should desire to be more like Him. Salvation is the beginning of that new life, that new creation, as stated in 2 Corinthians 5:17. But, once we are saved, are we stopping there? Becoming complacent, without desiring a continuous transformation in our minds through abiding and seeking more of Him? Where is our priority in becoming more Christ-like? Are we pressing on and intentionally pressing forward as Paul states in Philippians 3:14? That pressing on is not about activity, but rather pressing into the heart of the Lord, and in case you were wondering, yes, that means in the quiet times. In the culture, specifically the Christian culture, we live in today there is this focus on reading the newest and greatest devotional, keeping up with reading plans, and overloading into what should be set aside as quiet time with the Lord. We are in desperate need of a youth that pursues the heart of the Lord behind closed doors; us and God. When something is pressed on our heart, do we frantically look for a podcast or sermon or devotional relating to that, or do we start by siting and just talking with the Lord? We are capable of sitting and engaging the transformation of our minds.
How in the world can we do this? Some tips I can give that help me are this: shut the tv off, set screen time on your phone, have a journal next to you when you read His word, read SLOWLY, get a study Bible, ask Him what He thinks and what He wants to show you, and spend time in devoted prayer before reading His word. In addition, when you read, if the Lord grips your heart on one verse, STOP. Countless times I have planned on reading a chapter or two and I get stuck on the first or second verse. Press into what the Lord presses on you. Press on in the quietness of your heart.
Second, what are we surrounding ourselves with to enable God to work in us from the outside in, and what are we holding onto that is preventing Him from working from the inside out? Another way I would like to ask this question is, are you participating in a holy lifestyle? A passage that has been on my heart the past week or so is in 1 Peter 1:13-16, where Peter is addressing that we should live a holy lifestyle because He is holy as Peter references Leviticus 11:44, which states to, “consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” Living a holy lifestyle should filter each area of our life including the friends we surround ourselves with (1 Corinthians 15:33), what activities we participate in, and what we feed our brains and hearts with. Should we engage the culture and spread the gospel to the areas that need it? Absolutely! However, we are called to be in this world, not of it. Are you saying you’re a Christian, but participating in over drinking each weekend, watching pornography, being sexually immoral with your significant other, or anything of the sort? Or, are you surrounding yourself with those who build you up and challenge you in His word? Are you participating in seeking solitude with Him? Are you feeding yourself spiritually, or are you expecting to be spoon-fed? I challenge you to evaluate the conduct in which you live your life.
The second part of this question may be a bit challenging if not already. Are we holding onto anything that is making us bitter and resentful and unforgiving that is hindering us from seeing what the Lord is trying to do in and through our lives? I would also like to encourage you to press in with the Lord about your deepest struggles, insecurities, and hurts, and bring them before the feet of Jesus. For when we fall short, there is GRACE.
As Talia stated in her sermon, it is human nature for us to run from God sometimes and to fall into sin. There is much to dig into with that, as much is stated in Romans 6-8 and I encourage you to press into that as well. However, we need to combat that sinful nature with the daily choice to be renewed by the transforming of our minds as Romans 12:1-2 states. We can do this by pressing into and evaluating what the Lord is trying to do within us from the outside in and from the inside out.