Just as there are essential elements in order to build a house, the same is true in our ever growning relationship with God. Yet, many people go through life without a strong foundation or forgetting a roof spiritually so to speak and then look back to see little growth.
If you want to have a deeply personally, thriving relationship with God, there are four elements, or disciples you'll need to incorporate into your life.
1. Connecting with God through Prayer
Prayer, spending time communicating with 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.
Back up a couple hours. I had been so hurt by this person and a handful of other people that I didn't want to go to church and have to see them. But I clung to, "I go to serve, not to be served." and I laid down my right's of being treated well.
So 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.
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).
The craziest thing happened when I really prayed for him. 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.
Ideas for incorporating Prayer into your everyday busy life: (Please don't see this as a you have to do it all list. Ask God if there is one of these that you can incorporate into your everyday life.)
* Write out your prayers to keep you from being distracted.
* Pray the Scripture you're memorizing.
* Have "markers" that remind you to pray; people walking on the road, when you hear a ring or text.
* Seize the moment and pray right then when you're talking about prayer.
* Hang up a cute little chalkboard with prayer requests on it in the dining room for meal times.
* When someone says something that offends you or someone else, pray for them right then.
* Pray when you hear and ambulance.
2. Connecting with God through Scripture
The more we are around someone the more we become like them and can recognize things they would say and do. When we read God's Word, our daily bread, it gives Him room to make us more like Him, loving what He loves and hating what He hates.
And a beautiful thing about God's Word is that 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, 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, reveals the origin, nature and purpose of man, it 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, shows us how to forgive and be forgiven, how to find relief and 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 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, convicts, and convinces and is the standard by which we will be judged.
Ways to Incorporate God's Word into your busy life:
* Read a story Bible to your kids before bed.
* Listen to Bible while doing chores.
* Get up early and use a quiet time journal or another resource to help you read through the Bible.
* Read out loud at the table.
* Write it out.
Here's a couple helpful resources to cast vision of the importance of spending time with God and some practical tips on how.
* How I Still Have a Quiet Time with 5 Kids.
* How to have a quiet time video.
3. Connecting with God through Encouraging Believers
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 explanations for us on what fellowship/community really is. It's encouraging, spurring, prodding, pushing each other to run after the Lord, use our gifts for building His kingdom rather than our own and speaking up to talk about Christ. 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.
Ideas of how to Connect with other believers with a busy schedule:
* text a friend a prayer request
* Text a friend a question to encourage them.
* Join a Bible study (and get a babysitter)
* Invite people over for a meal and make a point to pray for them and ask God to show you what to make sure to say to them.
4. Connecting with God through Sharing the Gospel.
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.
Ideas of places to start spiritual conversations and share the Gospel in your everyday busy life:
* Have a few questions ready. i.e. What has been your experience with Jesus? Have you ever wondered about eternity? Would you consider yourself a good person?
* Invite non-believers over for a meal.
* Start a conversation with other moms at kids sports/activities.
* Message someone on facebook rather than scroll your feed.
* Make a Facebook Ad for the Jesus film or other evangelistic video and point it to other countries.
* Invite people you meet (even at Wal-mart or a restaurant) to church and ask them what they thought and then use your questions to get to the Gospel.
If you are not trained in sharing the Gospel, I highly recommend The Way of the Master as it will build your courage and confidence in stepping out in faith.
The Main Thing: Reliance on the Holy Spirit
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 diagram to help you be able to understand it more clearly as well as explain it to others.
Laura, the creator and host of Missional Women is married and has four kids, two of _whom are adopted. Laura and her husband have been missionaries to college students for 11 years serving with Master Plan Ministries. Laura is the Staff Women's Development Coordinator and has discipled over 150 girls, led over 30 Bible studies and speaks to college and women's groups. 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, and A Devotional Journey through Judges, a devotional to accompany the free online Bible study at TheBookofJudges.com. You can find her on facebook,twitter, pinterest, youtube, instagram and her author site
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