Dear Kate: After quite some time away from church, and never really having a close enough walk with the Lord, I am ready to surrender to Him. This is both exciting and a little scary for me! I have been saved by grace since I was a little girl, but have never had the relationship with God that He deserves. I have always had periods of backsliding. How would you suggest that I move forward, now that I am ready to fully serve Him and build a solid relationship?
First and foremost, I believe surrendering your life to Christ is both exciting and fearful. It is exciting because, although we may not know all of God's promises as newly surrendered Christians, we know that they are there. We are willingly and eagerly trusting Him to lead and guide every area of our lives with the confidence that He will always have our best interests in mind. I believe a truly surrendered heart will have the faith like that of a child.
But, along with the excitement of a fully surrendered heart will also be an element of fear. Turning everything over to God is a necessary step into surrendering your life to Christ, but it can understandably be unnerving. Knowing that your life will change but not knowing exactly how it will happen or how long it will take. Realizing that allowing Him to mold the clay means who you are today may take a completely different form tomorrow. Accepting that, like any relationship, your walk with Christ will take commitment, it will require diligence and time. An understanding that you will always be a work in progress.
The beauty of combining excitement and fear is that together, if handled wisely, they will develop into reverential awe. Meaning that although you may fear Him because of who He is - an all knowing, all mighty, perfect, omnipresent God - as your relationship with Him begins to grow, you will desire to serve Him, glorify Him, and ultimately worship Him. You will fall in love with Christ and you will respect who He is.
It can be overwhelming when it comes to deciding where to start in building or renewing your relationship with Christ. Thankfully, several years ago, I heard a sermon that I have never forgotten. The preacher outlined five things that he always responded with to folks who would ask Him about God's will for their lives or how do they know where to begin when it comes to obedience. Even now, as a Christian that is backslidden and not at all where I should be in my walk with Christ or service to Him, I know this is where I need to start - the fundamentals.
1. Faithfulness to church. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God - Romans 10:17. Basically, we cannot expect our faith or our knowledge to grow and mature without being under the preaching of the Word. That is how you learn. Preaching is the chance for a particular truth of the Word to be explained by a man of God. If you look at each church service as an opportunity to learn one new truth and you consider just how many awesome truths there are, you really can't miss a service because you'll miss a truth. And even in the instance you happen to hear a truth that you think you know everything about already, God is likely to reveal something new to you if you're listening with an open heart. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together... - Hebrews 10:25. In addition to preaching, it's incredibly important for us to surround ourselves with other believers. Church is an opportunity for us to refuel on fellowship with those that are like-minded, a chance to be amongst brothers and sisters in Christ. It's an energy that can only be explained by the Holy Spirit working in and throughout the church body.
2. Read your Bible. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope - Romans 15:4. The Bible is how God speaks to us. In order for us to learn and understand how to live like Christ, we must read His Word. Knowledge, comfort, hope, peace, faith - all these things and more will come from "listening" to God. The more you read, the more He will reveal to you. The more you listen, the more you will hear and begin to understand.
3. Pray. Pray without ceasing - I Thessalonians 5:17. Just as the Bible is God's way of speaking to us, prayer is our way of talking with Him. And a personal relationship with Christ must have the specific ingredient of prayer. I've always loved the idea of "having breakfast with Jesus." A preacher once said that he talks with God all throughout the day as though they are having breakfast together - discussing the day, the needs of others, the needs of yourself, how awesome He is, and how thankful we are. Pray without ceasing doesn't mean we never stop praying - it means He's always there in the forefront of our minds, He becomes the best friend you share your every thought with first.
4. Tithe. Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings... Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it - Malachi 3:8,10. This can certainly be a touchy subject, but God commands us to give ten percent of all our increase to Him through our local church. The tithe is ten percent and the offering is anything above and beyond the tithe. In these verses alone, God is saying, trust me or prove me - almost like a challenge. He will bless you for your faithfulness in giving.
5. Soul win. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature - Mark 16:15. We are to share God's saving grace and love with others. Doing this can be intimidating, even for the most mature of Christians, but allowing God to use you to share Christ's love with others is a beautiful thing. God can use His children in so many different ways. As soul winners, we can participate in the soul winning ministries in our local church, we can tell our family, our friends, and even strangers about how good He is by sharing what God has done in our lives. Living by example is vital. I love the saying that "you may be the only Bible a person ever reads." And if that's true, what is your life telling the folks you interact with daily? What do you want them to read? Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven - Matthew 5:16.
I think it's incredibly important to note that building a relationship with Christ takes time. We should always be striving for perfection with the understanding that we will never actually reach it. We are sinful by nature and, although forgiven, we will continue to sin. God never moves - He is always the same. Draw nigh to god, and He will draw nigh to you - James 4:8. As you begin with the five items above, He will open your eyes to so much more. Living a life surrendered to God is not a bed of roses, but He has promised that He will never leave nor forsake you.
As always, thanks for reading.
August 15, 2013
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