Have you ever wondered why some Christians grow super fast in their relationship with God and others seem to stagnate? Just like our food pyramid to keep us healthy and growing, God also set up certain elements that would help us grow strong and healthy in our relationship with Him. And when just one of the elements is missing, it will affect our growth just as if not having protein or vegetables in your diet would.
5 Factors that will enhance your relationship with the Lord
1. Prayer- Prayer, spending time talking to God can easily become the thing we turn to last in situations thinking, "Well, what else can I do but pray?" But there is an amazing thing about prayer that is so often overlooked. It changes our hearts and minds.
Years ago I had some pretty major conflict with someone in the church I served at. This other person also served there and one Sunday morning the first words spoken to me after walking in the door were crushing and mean. It had actually taken me quite awhile talking myself into going because I had been so hurt by this person and a handful of other people but I finally convinced my self with, "I go to serve, not to be served" and I laid down my right's of being treated well. But when those words struck my heart I couldn't take it, I walked out.
For the next two hours I went on a giant walk and prayed, "God, you tell them what you think of me!!" (Not in the a sweet gracious tone, but a, sick em God! tone). My heart was angry and bitter and I wanted them to get it from God. I wanted them to hurt like I was. But as I continued praying the Lord told me to pray for him. To really pray for him, to pray the hardest thing for me to pray. It took what seemed like an eternity to get to a place I was even willing to pray the best for him but with the Lord's help, I did. Not that I actually wanted the best for him, but I was willing to pray it. So I did. I prayed for God to bless his ministry someday. For me that was the hardest thing to pray because in my mind he didn't deserve to get to serve the Lord (as if anyone does! Silly Laura). But the craziest thing happened when I prayed for him for real. My heart changed. My hate and bitterness and anger toward him began to dissolve. The following week, this guy who had never said sorry to anyone in his entire life came up to me and apologized and gave me a hug. Prayer helped me yield to the Lord and gave room for Him to do the impossible.
2. God's Word-The other thing that changes our hearts and minds is God's Word. The more we are around someone the more we become like them. And the more we spend time we someone we know them more and can recognize things they would say and do easily. When we read God's Word, our daily bread (our grain and carbs), it gives Him room to make us more like Him-loving what He loves and hating what He hates. I would dare even say that spending significant amounts of time in God's Word will cause the fastest lasting growth as I have seen this over and over in peoples lives.
And a beautiful thing about God's Word is growth is not the only benefit. Each of the following comes from a specific verse in Scripture:
God’s Word gives us freedom, strength, and purity, it leads us to obedience, produces fruit, gives us health, guidance, confidence, comfort, revival, understanding, discernment, insight, and restoration, it makes us wise, enlightens our eyes, warns us, leads us to trust God, motivates us to worship, gives us an eternal perspective, it is the best light for the past, present, and future, it reveals the origin, nature and purpose of man, it sets straight, clarifies right and wrong, directs, encourages, reveals God’s heart and handiwork, shows us what pleases Him, makes us complete, provides spiritual nourishment, teaches us patience, courage, perseverance and joy, it gives us hope, how to forgive and how to be forgiven, how to find relief, how to love and be loved, it reveals God’s goodness and His justice, His standards and His mind, without it we are deceived, it keeps us from sin, it sanctifies us, gives us instruction, success, prosperity and provides us with all our needs in the spiritual realm, reveals what is to be learned, taught and obeyed, gives us adequacy and makes us equipped for doing good, it convicts, and convinces, and is the standard by which we will be judged.
3. Community/Fellowship- To be honest, the word fellowship always makes me cringe a little inside because I think it carries with it something far from what the Lord intends "fellowship" to be. It seems "fellowship" often translates into eating or hanging out together and sometimes completely void of anything having to do with God. So I like to use the word community since I think it is more accurate of a description of the Acts 2 church. But that's just semantics and I'm not going to make it a major issue when it's not.
Hebrews 3:13 and 10:24 are such clear explainations for us on what fellowship (do you mind if I use the word community? Thanks!) community really is. It's encouraging, spurring, prodding, pushing each other to run after the Lord and use our gifts for building His kingdom rather than our own. It's speaking truth in grace. It's coming alongside each other and helping each other through temptation, exposing lies and it's calling out greatness in each other. It's serving alongside each other for God's glory.
When this kind of community exists, it's beautiful. There's authenticity and vulnerability. Iron is sharpening iron and the world can see that Jesus is Lord.
4. Evangelism It's kind of weird to think that we grow by sharing the Gospel, but get this, "I pray that you will be active in sharing your faith that you might know every good thing you have in Christ." Philemon 6 When we step out of our comfort zone and trust the Lord to do what only He can do in changing hearts we get to see Him use our faith. The more we trust God, the more we trust God. When we step out and do scary things for God's glory He comes through and we get to be wow-ed by Him. Evangelism is pretty much one of the scariest things we can do on a regular basis. And ironically it's one of the easiest disciplines to justify our way out of doing, "share with actions and if necessary use words", "I don't know enough", "I don't want to push people further away", "I need to befriend someone first". All these are contrary to Scripture but can be so easy to hold on to.
Reality is, we can't really grow much in our relationship with God if we aren't willing to talk about the most important thing in our life with people. If we are disobedient in this thing, it spreads like gangrene to other parts of our heart and mind and poisons our faith and feeds our doubt.
5. Reliance on the Holy Spirit- And I saved the most important for last. This one is the crucks to all the above. Without this one, the rest quite honestly are worthless. We can do a lot of things that look great on the outside but "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." Psalm 127:1 We can do nothing of eternal significance, including manufacturing our own growth without remaining dependent and yielded to the Lord.
The way we depend on/rely on the Lord is really pretty simple. It take a giant formula or doing a bunch of things to earn the Holy Spirit living through us. It's also not a feeling or experience we have with the Holy Spirit, rather it's a choice. A simple heart act of confess and surrender, the same way you surrendered your life to Christ in the first place. A simple, "I know I need you, please do this through me" or "I can't do this without you, help Lord." I just love how blatant Paul is in describing the Spirit-filled life, "Oh foolish Galatians who has bewitched you? Having begun in the Spirit are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" Galatians 3:3 Here's a helpful diagram that talks more about the Spirit-filled life and can help you explain it to others.
When we allow the Holy Spirit to empower us and intentionally give time to these four essential growth elements the Lord brings about beautiful life transformation.
Here's a helpful diagram that can help you explain this to others watch below.
Laura, the founder of Missional Women is married and has six kids, two of whom are adopted. Laura and her husband have been missionaries to college students for 14 years serving with Master Plan Ministries where she is the Women's Development Coordinator. Laura has authored 5 books, including an award winning 12 week Bible Study on First Samuel, Beholding Him, Becoming Missional, Reach; How to Use Your Social Media Influence for the Glory of God, A Devotional Journey through Judges, and Discover God's Calling for Your Life. Most recently her resource for Bible studies, The Connect Cards was released by Cru Press. You can find her on facebook, twitter, pinterest, youtube, instagram, periscope, blab and her author site.
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