Learn to Celebrate Each Stage of Your Journey
Believe it or not; God Does!
It doesn’t matter how well you’ve lived out your faith each day, with a little thought, you can always find something that isn’t measuring up to the standard of God’s word for believers.
Need a little convincing?
Did you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength today? With ALL of them? Every second today?
Could you have prayed more?
Could you have shared your faith with more people today?
Did you take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ today? Every single thought?
You get the point. With just a little thought we can always see how we have come up short in living the way God intends.
So what do we do with that realization? What do we do when we see how we’ve come up short?
First, let me share a couple of common responses that we need to avoid. Then I’ll share a much better way to go.
#1. CONDEMNATION LEADING TO HOPELESSNESS.
I once had a neighbor who used to be very committed to teaching Sunday school and being involved in his church.
He told me that he had stopped reading the Bible and going to church because he saw the teaching of the Bible, specifically the New Testament was impossible to follow. It was simply too hard and unattainable; so he just quit trying.
Though those who continue to study their Bible and sincerely desire to follow Jesus, have not taken things this far; some do live with regular feelings of hopelessness and condemnation. That’s a rough place to be; but sincere Christians are sometimes caught in that battle.
Because they really do care. They want to please God. They want to live the purposes and plans God has set in place.
And they see how they are falling short.
We have a very real spiritual enemy who is actually called “The Accuser” in Revelation 12:10.
Ephesians 6 tells us that this enemy has very real schemes and tactics he uses on sincere believers to try to bring them down, to separate them from the life and power God has made available to His followers.
He is an absolute expert, with thousands of years of experience, in sending thoughts our way that will be sure to magnify how much we fail, how those failures are signs of our lack of commitment or God’s lack of power to help, or some thought that leads to strong feelings of condemnation.
As Spurgeon once said, “It is impossible for a Christian to have faith when they are feeling condemned.”
The enemy knows this and uses the short-comings and failures of sincere believers to try and get us into the hopelessness and condemnation zone.
“You have failed so many times, you’ll never defeat this.”
“You have failed so often, God is sick of you.”
“If you really loved God, you wouldn’t do that. After all, people do what they really want.”
Receiving those types of thoughts leads to feelings of condemnation leading to helplessness. They are one of the most common and effective schemes of the Accuser..
Feeling hopeless and condemned is not God’s will for any Jesus follower; it is the desire of the Enemy.
#2: EXCUSE IT
On the other hand, insincere or nominal Christians often take the other side with words like this:
“We’re just human, so it’s no big deal.”
“If God doesn’t give me the power to defeat this temptation, it’s on Him, because I know sin is too strong for me.”
“We’re saved by God’s grace as a gift, so no matter what I do, I’m good with God.”
“It’s not my fault; the devil made me do it.”
Insincere or uncommitted church goers often have no trouble dealing with their faith failures because they don’t really care a whole lot about it.
Jesus is only a part of their lives, but not the center. Living a holy, God-pleasing life is not a priority. If it works out, great. If I mess up, it’s no big deal because we’re all just human, saved by grace, or the devil’s the one responsible, not me.”
None of these responses are the way to go.
What should we do when we mess up and see how we fall short?
- GRACE ZONE. Go back to the Grace Zone of the Gospel.
Anytime we start to feel condemned and hopeless in our journey with God, we are forgetting that we are always saved and made right with God ONLY by receiving eternal life as a gift received ONLY by faith in Jesus, not our work or effort. (Ephesians 2:8–9)
Because we do care, it is easy to slip into the trap of “how good we did today” as the basis of our relationship with Jesus. But as we talked about, trying to come to God or please God based on how good we have done is a recipe for the condemned, hopeless state..
It’s important to remind ourselves that we are made righteous, holy, and God’s children by receiving what only Jesus can give. We come to God based either on our good works, righteousness, and holiness or we come to Him in Jesus’ good works, righteousness, and holiness.
Those are the only options.
When we come to God and live in the “saved by grace through faith alone” zone; condemnation cannot control us or settle in on us. We know we never were or never will be good enough to meet God’s standard of holiness; our only option is to come in Jesus’ name and righteousness.
This, in turn, leads to the process of living with a heart-felt gratitude to God for His unconditional love and His saving grace.
2. GOD AND GROWTH. Remember, God is the One who set up this “growth” process , instead of immediate perfection.
One day we will be perfected; we will be just like Jesus in character and quality of life. (1 John 3:1–2). In a second, God will transform us. God can do it instantly.
God has the power to instantly make us perfect; but He chose not to do that.
God seems to love the process of growth.
When God created our world, He set it up so plants grow and reproduce. He didn’t just fill the whole earth with Eden. He created Eden in one spot and then told Adam and Eve to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue and govern the earth.
God’s plan was, and still is, over time to take the beauty and life of His kingdom, His Eden, and fill the earth with it.
The same is true in our lives. Jesus said the kingdom of God, including in us, is like a seed planted in the soil that progressively grows. Growth means moving from one degree of maturity to the next. A tree doesn’t start as a full-grown tree; it starts as a little seed.
Please embrace this
God knows you are not perfect, He knows you are growing, because He is the One who set things up to work this way.
As I write this I’m sitting in a public library. On the other side of the room there are a group of preschoolers with a parent or grandparent. A woman is leading these children in little songs and activities that are appropriate for them.
It’s kind of funny to look over and see adults, including those in their 70’s, singing goofy songs, and doing very simple movements with their children and grandchildren.
You know what? Those parents and grandparents are smiling with these little ones. They are celebrating them and happy with their actions and growth. A couple of years ago, all they could do was lay around, crow, laugh, eat, and poop in their diapers.
Now they can do so much more. These adults know they are 3 or 4 or 5 and are focusing on how much they’ve developed and what they can do right now; not on how much they cannot yet do..
They are not mad at them because they don’t pay attention the whole time. They don’t feel disappointed in them because they don’t know how to read or exercise much self-discipline or can’t write sentences.
They understand where they are in their growth journey and they celebrate them.
God Actually Celebrates Each Phase
Don’t you think our Heavenly Father understands that we too are growing? He’s the One who set up life to work this way, right?
Don’t you think He celebrates every step we take moving us forward? Don’t you think He wants to hug us, help us back up, and encourage us when we fall?
Romans 8:33–34 tells us, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
Sure, God will correct us because He loves us and knows that correction is a key part of growth. But He NEVER condemns any who have put their faith in Jesus alone for salvation. Never!
God celebrates each growth phase and He wants to celebrate it with you.
3. KEEP GOING. Keep Learning and Moving Forward
When we know that God is for us, that He is not condemning us but is interceding for us, is cheering us on, and is even using the circumstances of life to help us grow
We can look at our failures and sins as learning experiences. We take responsibility for them, we don’t blame someone else.
We run to God, not away from Him based on the cross of Jesus, knowing He loves us more than any earthly parent. We confess our sins, when we commit them, we give Him our shame, guilt, or hopeless feelings.
We receive His cleansing, His on-going forgiveness, we reflect and learn. As we keep focusing on Him, His word, His power, His love, His wisdom….we grow.
Celebrate where you are. Celebrate how far you’ve come and how far God is still going to take you.
Eventually, God is going to make you just like Jesus in character and quality of life. Celebrate each part of your journey with the One who is working out His plans in your life.
If you want more resources to help you grow and live out God’s purposes, I invite you to check out www.TruVineMission.com