The time to grow
By Andy Zoppelt
Some time ago a phrase was coined: “the eternal childhood of the believer.” Much is attributed to the way we see things like faith. Faith and love are not the results of standing on scripture so we can get something for ourselves from God. Faith is rooted in resurrected life out of a death to our old life; it grows when we learn to give up everything to God.
We may all come to a place in our lifetime when we find no reason to live, when everything around us is disappointing and discouraging, when nothing is working out or going our way, where nothing seems to makes sense and our emotions have reached an uncontrollable level, and, finally, it may seem that even God doesn’t care. That, my brothers and sisters is the time for love and is a stepping stone for experiencing living faith. Not a faith that delivers us from the situation which too often has driven us into self-pity, but a faith that God is in control and we will walk through this situation acknowledging Him for who He is. He, in His wisdom has allowed this to happen, He is challenging us to a greater peace than what comes from everything going our way, and that is a peace in our relationship with Him.
When we doubt God and do not experience the life that should be drawn from these experiences, we become His enemy, the very opposite of the peace we should be experiencing in a relationship with the Lord. It is the peace in the relationship and not in the emotions that defines the peace that causes us to enter into His life. When the carnal man is not put to death, it expresses self-centered motivations which lead us to become the enemy of God… thus leading to death… separation from God.
A Romans 8 makes this point clear: “to be carnally minded is death.”…”the carnal mind is enmity against God”…“those in the carnal nature cannot please God.” How can we change if we don’t deal with this carnal mind bent on living for self?
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear.”
Paul calls the carnal nature, the carnal mind, the spirit of bondage that leads to fear. We become insecure and out of control, our understanding becomes darkened, our emotions get out of control and we become fearful, depressed, frustrated and angry. We are experiencing death, a separation from the life of Jesus. We are living in doubt, our situation has taken over our life and we are now living by the circumstances and not walking in the Spirit.
“But you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” Our relationship with God must be a Father son relationship, He knows what He is doing with His children, and as children, we must keep ourselves in His arms through faith. We must allow the truth to persuade us and not the situation
Here is our victory as sons who walk in the Spirit: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,” Ok, here comes the condition, “if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
We need to make this comparison during the time of our suffering, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
If we don’t readjust our focus and see things from the truth and what is real, we will be dominated by our carnal nature and live in doubt being His enemy. Real faith maintains a relationship with Jesus in truth; it suffers with Jesus, not apart from Jesus. Sadly, when suffering comes, most abandon their relationship as sons and their inheritance for the reasonings of their carnal mind and they put all their faith in selfish reasoning. How can we ever expect to grow or even be disciples who follow Jesus?
When does the cross and death to our own lives become a real and living experience to us? When does being seated with Christ in heavenly places become real and a living experience? Only true disciples and followers of Jesus will find it. All of this will only become real to us when we put our faith in the cross (the fact we are dead, when He died, we died) and when we put our faith in our position with Him in heavenly places. We must draw our hearts away from the things of this earth and the sin and weight that so easily besets us. Faith persuades us to put His word into practice and to focus our attention away from ourselves and to Him alone.
I still remember the day in my bedroom as a young convert, I felt everything was falling around me and I could not see any way clear from the constant bombardment of trial after trial with the overpowering emotions that I experienced. I remember that day so clearly. I knelt at the side of my bed telling the Lord, “Now Lord is the time I want to tell You that I love You, now that everything is going wrong. It is easy to say that when everything is going right, but Lord I want to tell you now.” That confession and stand on faith gripped my life in a way that I cannot express. It has become a growing revelation in me and has brought forth a revelation of His life in me. Since that time the Lord has given me a revelation of the cross and I have added to that profession, “Now Lord is the time I want to tell You that I am dead, that I am seated with You in heavenly places, that I love You and lean on Your wisdom and strength. Lord You are my hiding place and You are my life, I give it all to You. My joy is following You and fellowshipping in Your suffering. Lord, You are my life and Your Life is mine. Everything is in Your hands and I reserve nothing for the benefit of self, I give all my life to You without reservation. Every thought I think, every word I speak, I want to please You. I want to say what You want me to say, I want to say it in the way You want me to say it and I want my life to be pleasing to You alone… I want to be Your servant. ” Truly In death I found life. There cannot be resurrected life until there is a real death to our lives. I am constantly changing and growing. I find things daily that need to change. I love Him and enjoy His presence and fellowship and could never live without Him.
Have you died yet? Have you finally and completely settled the issue of your death?
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” John 12:24-26, NKJV
If the cross is not a part of our daily experience (dying to self daily) and if we are not living out of His resurrected life seated with Him in heavenly places, it is doubtful that we have ever repented or understood repentance when we “got saved.” The beauty of the Lord and the worship of Jesus in Spirit and in truth will never become our common experience until we have reserved nothing for ourselves and we have given our all to Him alone. He must be the reason for our living. True worship and adoration is not what we experience during the time when the music is playing and our emotions have reached the sky. It happens when we become His and He is both our Lord and bridegroom… it is our time of love.
"When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine," Ezekiel 16:8, NKJV
Jesus purposely and knowingly allowed situation to occur that challenged His disciple’s faith. When Jesus’ disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee with Him aboard, for a time everything was ok… the water was calm and Jesus was fast asleep. Jesus left the ship in the hands of the “expert” fishermen as He slept. They were in their element, the place of their greatest strength, experience and understanding. Suddenly, out of nowhere, came a cool breeze indicating a coming storm; the winds began to increase and they blew stronger and stronger lifting the waves higher and higher…their trained eyes didn’t miss a thing. Water began to enter the boat and their expert reasoning told them that they were about to drown…shore was too far away to swim for safety. Fear and carnal reasoning began to take over. In the natural their reasoning seemed right, but they forgot about Jesus being on board and that they were sons. They failed to understand the purpose of the storm, so in their panic they woke Jesus out of His restful sleep: they were seeking deliverance from death and they failed to learn faith because of Jesus being aboard. They walked in their carnal reasoning…this is sin. The purpose of the storm was not about awakening Jesus for deliverance; it was about seeing and trusting Him in the midst of the storm. Truly, perfect love cast out all fear…even the fear of being on a sinking ship.
Their sin was doubt and if we live in doubt we will never live in the Spirit and we will never overcome sin and this world. They failed to understand God’s purpose in the storm and the whole reason why they were there. All that was happening was to prove and establish their faith in Him and in Him alone. The storm was also there to expose their doubts and the reasoning behind their doubts.
It is true that the water from the storms in our life may fill our boat and it may well shake our stability in this world. Our anchor is not in the depth of the sea, but our anchor is an anchor of hope that is within the veil.
That “we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the [our] forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become [our] High Priest forever…” Hebrews 6:18-20, NKJV
Scripture means nothing if all we can do is quote them, study them and hear sermons about them. Most have failed to understand the real purpose of the scriptures. Religion makes the wrong use of scriptures; it focuses on it philosophically and intellectually and derives all kinds of methods and revelations of beliefs (doctrine). The true believer lives by the word in faith that works by love.
“You search [and study] the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40, NKJV
“You do not know [experience, see] the Scriptures nor the power of God?” Mark 12:24, NKJV
In the boat the disciples saw the powers of the wind and waves while denying the power of God that was within them. Our hope is in Jesus alone and the life and love He imparts to us through faith in the midst of our darkest trials. Until we truly lose our life for His sake, we will never find it.
Our greatest experience of faith and love comes out of our sinking ship. He is there, even in His sleep the ship will never sink. This is our time to grow.