Monday, March 12, 2012

Moving Forward with God

Do you ever feel like you're just not making any progress in life?  I'm not talking about the things the world considers progress like career, money, success, marriage, kids, retirement account.  I'm talking about progress on what matters, on your character, your morality, your temper, your kindness, love, generosity, self-sacrificing,   self-control--all those things that make a person a true success in life, a true hero.

I've met countless Christians who've known the Lord for years, yet they are still struggling with the same old problems. They still struggle with addictions, with anger, jealousy, gossip, etc. They try and try and try and yet it doesn't seem that God is changing them. He's not renewing their mind. In essence they keep sailing around the same old island, round and round, and they never make any progress.  But why?

Christian brothers, I could not speak to you as to full-grown Christians. I spoke to you as men who have not obeyed the things you have been taught. I spoke to you as if you were baby Christians. . .You still live as men who are not Christians. When you are jealous and fight with each other, you are still living in sin and acting like sinful men in the world.  1 Corinthians 3:1-3

Last week we talked about how we must have our mind renewed in order to discover God's path for our lives. In order to stop sailing around in circles!  But that's easier said than done, isn't it? That old sinful nature coupled with Satan's tricks can be a very powerful pull in our lives!  So, how does one have their mind renewed? How does one allow God to change our sinful character?

May I submit my theory from experience? It's really quite simple. Not easy, but simple. Obedience.

Ah, come on now.. I can hear some of you moaning, some of you rolling your eyes, and others shouting at me "But I am obedient!"  How do I know what your'e thinking? Because I thought the same thing. Then I asked, no I dared, God to show me any area of disobedience. (Note to self: Don't ask if you really don't want to know)

Unfortunately, He answered my challenge. Turns out there were lots of little areas in my life where I wasn't being truly obedient. I wasn't being disobedient, I just hadn't gotten around to doing what God asked me. :-)  You know the little things I'm talking about: things  like telling someone the truth about something, apologizing to someone, calling that person who needs a friend and showing love, disciplining a child, admitting a wrong, going out of my way to show someone I care, talking to a neighbor or friend about God, volunteering at the nursing home...  all those things that we know in our gut God has asked us to do. But we haven't done them yet. Why? Because they are HARD.  They are hard to do. They cause us pain. We flat out don't want to do them!

The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!  Matthew 25:21

The problem is, God's not going to change us, He's not going to just zap us and improve our character. The only way to change character is to go through tests and trials. God gives you a test and then He waits until you obey to promote you up a step, where he gives you another test, then He waits patiently for you to obey before He promotes you again. And so forth and so on!  Building the Christian character is a series of steps. It's just that some people are still on the bottom rung!

Want to know what the steps are:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins  2 Peter 1:5-9

So what do you say? Want to find stop sailing in circles? Want to find God's will for your life?  Trust and Obey. 


  1. Mon Mar 12th ....
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Oh wow !!! Or, should I say ... "Oh ouch" ! Yes, I believe I am 'sailing around the same island'. Truly, I have regressed backwards ... existing in my shell, and not stepping out of my 'comfort zone' to be obedient. I 'think' I am listening to the inside of my head ... and not to the voice I should be listening to ! But instead ... listening to the voice that says ... "who do you think you are", and ... "you can't do that task ... you're not good enough or smart enough" ... etc, etc.
    Not to be making excuses ... but I haven't been feeling well lately, and that really sets me back. It's then difficult to "rise to the occasion and get out there to do something useful" ... to be obedient. Lethargy and apathy have sunk some roots down in. And sadly ... I DO KNOW better !!!
    MaryLu ... thank-you, truly, for another 'timely Word in due season' ... I REALLY needed to hear this today !!!
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. Hey MaryLu! I agree with Brenda, thank you for posting such a relevant word during this time. It's an important reminder and something WE ALL relate to.

    The real "ouch" is continuing in our complacency and struggle (when we've gotten direction and confirmatin to be obedient to God in order to reach our new mindsets and destiny). No matter how painful obedience seems to be, it's necessary and God walks us through it and honors our efforts. Being closer to Him is worth any trials we go through.

    Thanks for being so real and honest in your postings, you have no idea how much you encourage and bless us :) I was utterly touched by this and it's such a great way to start the week. Hugs and blessings to you!

  3. Brenda,
    Yes, major ouch for me too! A couple of weeks ago, this was a huge wakeup call for me because there were a few things I wasn't doing that God had asked me to do a long time ago.
    And by the way, God doesn't expect you to do things if you're sick.. so rest up and get well!! Then ask for God's strength to do what pleases Him!!

    Kara, I'm so glad the post blessed you! I believe God gives me these for certain people who need to hear them as much as I do! You blessed me by just stopping by and being so kind in your comments!

  4. Hey MaryLu, great post. Yes, we've all been here and some of us are still there. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be very scary, but you have to do it in order to advance in God's Army against the enemy. We need to constantly be putting our foot forward as not to let Satan get a foothold.
    It be a bit cold here today in Anderson. How be it in yer area?

  5. Aye, it be a might cold here in San Jose too! An' the sun be hidin' its face.

  6. Woah! Makes so much more sense! And puts up quite a challenge....really makes a person think! Obedience is such a great message! And one I haven't really thought about until now! This post reminds me of the song, trust and obey.

    Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!

  7. WOW this was meant for me, Mary Lou.
    I struggled with knowing where God wants me to be.
    I am writing a book and hoping to get it published, but God likes moving me slower than I like.
    It is hard when we 'think' we know where WE should be.
    But always God is the best writer for my life than I am.
    Thanks for sharing this!

    Shelby Z.

  8. MaryLu, your post so incredibly merges with the things I am learning right now in Beth Moore's study of the Book of James. Major OUCH!. "Faith without works is dead." :-( Thanks for such a great post. I know I need this reminder every day. Blessings!

  9. I love that song, Emily.. brings back good memories from my childhood. :-)

    Shelby, Glad the post was a blessing to you! I know many writers like you struggling to get published. I have a friend who waited 20 years! It's all about God's timing and God's plan, which is best for us. It just doesn't seem so sometimes. I struggle with this too for something I've been praying for for years and years now.

    Elaine Very cool that this blends with your Beth Moore study! Of course (clearing throat) I planned it that way. LOL. Blessings back at ya!

  10. Ouch - what a challenge! Thank you for posting it. ;-)

  11. Obedience. Yes! Great post again, MaryLu! I needed it too - and I'll be pondering it for a little while I think. Like Brenda said, it's easy to listen to the wrong voices. We do need to keep our ears tuned into the right voice. And when he whispers a call into our hearts, we do need to obey. Trust Him, and obey.
    I too immediately thought of that old Sunday school song, Trust and Obey... We do our part, and let Him do His part. I'm still learning. Thanks for the reminder!

  12. Thanks for dropping by, Sapphire.
    And Caroline, we are all still learning. :-)