Pastor, Tim Douglass
Westland Baptist Church
Each year at this time I like to set out a plan and theme for spiritual growth in our Arts Ministry teams. One of the most important things that Christian leaders can do for those who volunteer or work alongside them is to help them grow in their relationship to God. We need to be about prodding greatness out of our families, our co-workers, our selves and everyone else God places under our leadership. Last year our challenge was to “Renew and be renewed,” an effort to stoke the fire of God working in us, sharing that with others and challenging each other to grow as disciples.
What is it that God wants from me, from us, this year? This is a humbling question to think about and decide. What if God is not speaking to you and me in the same way or about the same things? What if someone doesn’t want to be challenged in the same way as you or me? What if nobody likes the theme or the plan or both?
None of these questions should even come into play, because God is always at work in us individually no matter what. We must trust the Holy Spirit to do His job of convicting, convincing, comforting, helping and empowering each individual. This truth of the Holy Spirit’s work frees us to ask the question. So, what does God want from us in 2008 – He wants each of us to go “Deeper.”
“Deeper” – This word means a lot of things. Sometimes it is used by the spiritual elite to indicate where they are versus where the rest of us are. Sometimes it is used to indicate a level of experience or sensation in our spiritual life that makes us more than or less than others. But, at its’ core, in its’ finality, all it really means is “deeper” – further into God than we already are, or borrowing from the online www.dictionary.com #13. – “immersed or submerged in or heavily covered with… 26. immersed or involved; enveloped…27. absorbed; engrossed: deep in thought.” Who doesn’t want and need this in their relationship with God? What a great goal for the year!
How can we practically execute such a thing as being deeper? Let’s answer that in light of God’s Word.
46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built. “ NLT
Our first step in growing deeper in God is to have a solid foundation. Do you ever wonder why making the right choice is so hard? Usually it’s because we are out of practice or out of touch with God. Some of us are out of touch because we do not have a relationship with God through receiving His forgiveness in Jesus Christ. But for those who are genuine Christians it is probably that we have not developed a habit of following the right path, and so it becomes commonplace to choose the wrong one. The Christian life is not living as if we have already arrived on spiritual scene as the expert. It should be the life of humility that looks to God for every day answers. We find those answers in the Bible.
God’s Word contains what every person needs to know in order to make the right decision. Even when a situation is so modern that we think the Bible could not cover it, say like buying a car or something like that, the principles of God’s Word guide us with a biblical worldview and practical understanding. The biggest issue is that we have not come and listened to God’s teachings and followed them. We may have listen to sermons, gone to Small Group studies and even taught a few. But that does not guarantee us that we are anything but recipients of knowledge. Our learning from the Bible comes with time, effort and a decision to follow what it says. We must set aside quiet times and study the Word of God often, daily is best, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the truths and principles of God’s Word. Disciplined listening to the Holy Spirit while reading God’s Word is the only way to have a deep foundation. Since Jesus Christ studied the Bible while on earth, how much more should we. Here’s another scripture that can help us in going deeper in our relationship to God:
1 Cor 2:9-11
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.”
10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit.
For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. NLT
Many of us want to know the deep secrets of God. It seems mysterious and alluring. We wonder what it will be like to know such information and be privy to those details of things eternal. And indeed God fully intends that each of us, at the right place and right time, is given the ability to see, hear and fathom what He has prepared for us. But few, if any of us, seem prepared to focus hard on the steps that can get us there – the first was a firm foundation through the Word of God. The second is prayer.
Prayer is the spiritual drill that pierces deep into our spirits and into spiritual places that the human eye cannot see, and it releases the greatest amount of God’s power in our life and in the world today. Prayer allows us to share ourselves with God and to receive knowledge of Him. Prayer asks God to execute His will and plan in our life and in the lives of those around us. There is no substitute for finding the depths of God other than prayer. What is the practicality of taking time each day in prayer?
R.A. Torrey, a great man of God and of prayer once wrote, “Prayer will promote our personal holiness…” and “prayer will bring the power of God into our work.” (The Power of Prayer and the Prayer of Power – Fleming H. Revell Company, copyright 1924)
If our desire is to know the depths of God and to grow deeper in that relationship with Him we must give ourselves to prayer.
The greatest component of prayer is reliance on the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that even when we do not know how to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans that cannot be spoken. We communicate honestly with God and, when we are at a loss for words of praise or cries of our hearts, the Holy Spirit groans to express what we cannot.
Getting deeper with God through prayer is not a sensation, it is not a tactile experience, it is not a magic formula. You don’t need any secret formulas or special words to say. You don’t have to have a degree in theology or be 80+ years old. You don’t have lay down or stand up or sit a certain way to pray! You only need to take the time.
You should tell God what’s on your mind, and ask Him to show you what is on His mind for you. Confess your sins and weaknesses then accept the comfort of the Holy Spirit as He washes your guilt away. Pray for yourself and others then expect God will do it. The faith of a righteous person, and if you have accepted Christ you are righteous in God’s eyes, works great wonders.
I hope this encourages you to go deeper with God this year in prayer and study of His Word.
Pastor Tim Douglas, Minister of Music Arts
Westland Baptist Church