We read the Bible, begin to practice what it says to do, and then share with each other our experience. As we practice God's character, we can learn about ourselves and the world around. The following sets of scripture can provide some clear instructions on what to do. Listening to how others grow can also help answer some questions we may have while providing encouragement, support, and hope.
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The Great Commandment of God
Bible verses on God's character
Let go, let God
Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
Inward Experience Groups are designed to improve our participation toward fulfilling the first and great commandment of God, Mark 12:30 "'And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, withall your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. "
The Bible has a primary objective for us to "Love God with all," and we can fall way short of maximizing our potential with love. The yoke of Christ is easy, but choosing to be in that yoke can be complicated. We CAN grow in much better alignment with God's great command IF we choose to do more what the Bible says. This group is created for that very purpose.
We ought to grow increasingly into alignment with God's grace, goodness, righteousness, and character. Our attitude and desires can greatly affect this process. The willingness to learn new things and see where we are wrong will be needed. We ought to participate as curious explorers seeking to discover and sincerely know God. Our path is to do more what the Bible says. (See various pages on the website)
There will be conflict within each of us as part of the process. We may want to know God, yet not want to change our ways. For correction, we can humbly see where we are in error (thinking about self, fear, anger) within our minds and seek correction (love, faith, forgiveness). We can sometimes fail to recognize our own defects by focusing upon someone else's. Blaming, shaming, and faultfinding is to be avoided. Advice giving at the group level ought to be avoided. We can share from our own experience how we are living out the Bible's instructions. Therefore, we ought to keep our eyes upon our own growth to ensure we do grow and evaluate ourselves to see precisely how we are improving in God's character.
Each group facilitator ought to keep the focus of discussions upon personal experience with growth toward the great commandment of God. Theology is great, but experience is the best teacher. God wants us to have spiritual experiences. Demonstration is the best lesson. Facilitators ought to be truthful, gentle, patient, just/impartial and dedicated to growing with God. A facilitator can dictate the flow of the group and ought to have experience with God's love and truth. Discernment will sometimes be needed to help guide the group
There are many things that are good, but let's not sacrifice what is best for what is good. Let's stand firm and increase in grace.
Individuals within groups affect each other in different ways. Facilitators ought to be aware of these influences to reduce their effects.
Cognitive Bias (We ought to see our own)
(Fear of conflict, people pleasing can hurt the process)
Learning about our subconscious agenda can raise our self-awareness to improve our ability to make better choices. Although we all have shortcomings we ought to keep our focus upon how we are correcting our own.
Our thinking has errors. We ought to identify and keep a conscious awareness of such errors while correcting them. The best way to help others into correction can be through our own demonstration. Jesus demonstrated as did the Apostles how to live with God. Let's see how to follow in their thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
Frustrations, hurt, confusion, doubt, fear, and grieving can often be part of the process as we are letting go of our old habits and even identities. Putting on a yoke of Christ is to let go of selfish ambition. To live by a whole new set of principles and standards is to be very different. Our minds are programmed, wired, or trained how to live life. We have an understanding of how to behave in ways contrary to God. Some such ways can be justified, rationalized, and accepted as a normal way of life. Our minds and bodies will lean and seek to continue in such ways. We can't just wipe away all that understanding, training, and skill. We will need to undergo new learning, training, and practices. We will need to resist our old ways while practicing new ones. This will involve temptation. We ought to guard against decisions motivated by pride, resentment, fear, self-seeking, and deception. If we give attention to fear for direction we may not be following God. We are to follow faith, faith in God.
Examples where following fear and resentment can be destructive:
Resentment toward others in the group or at the group (we get impatient, prideful, want our way, see the wrongs in others instead of ourselves, we stop seeing how we can grow and focus more on how others are not).
We get tired, want a break from the work and struggle involved, we fear the accountability and vulnerability (distrust), we want to feel good our way, we are thinking about what we want instead of what God wants.
We feel different, perhaps alone, like others don't know us or understand us, we get afraid to share who we are, we resist the process, we convince ourselves it's not for us.
We may feel like a failure, like God won't help us, but we don't stick to the plan and give God's character a chance to develop within us to experience grace. We avoid embracing the opportunity due to our belief of not being able to have one. Our belief of being a failure materializes through our choices to prove it. (Self-fulfilling prophecy)
If any of these examples begin to develop we ought to see that we are seeking to maximize our usefulness to God and others. If our thinking begins to sabotage our development with God then we can pray for help and discuss it with a mentor. We all experience such distracting thoughts. To continue with the process involves some self-discipline, courage, and faith.
For more information and ways our choices can be sabotaged see Choice Empowerment
We ought to see problems long enough to find solutions. From that point forward growth can only come from moving toward the solutions. It's easy to discuss problems and such discussions can dominate the time in groups. Everyone ought to agree to focus more upon solutions which usually involves Godly activity. A good question at the end of a group may be, "If anyone is stuck upon finding a solution and desire to have one please see a mentor after the group. Would those how have a plan of action and a solution willing to mentor raise your hand." Then the person can get connected with a mentor.
Spiritual solutions are about spiritual productivity. Increasing love, peace, and truth will be decreasing fear, resentment, worry, and dishonesty. Such solutions often result in less stress and more comfort within ourselves and about our lives. Our reactions will need to change.
Romans 5:3-5 NKJV And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
"Glory in tribulations knowing that tribulations produce..." As we persevere through tribulations standing firm with God's will and good we can experience unseeable spiritual results only those who do the same understand.
1 John 4:8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (Experiencing love may begin with learning how to give it.)
Mark 12:24 Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? (We ought to increase our experience of knowing scripture and the power of living out inward righteousness by the spirit)
John 9:31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. (We ought to worship - bow down or humble ourselves to God, and we will need to do God's will)
1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. (We build righteousness in our minds, attitudes, and actions. As we build righteousness our pursuit of sin decreases. Shame is guilt, the sense within us we are doing evil which is to guide us to do good.)
1 Thessalonians 4:5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; (Chasing after lust makes lust is idolatry. God is not lust so if we chase after lust we leave God outside our minds and hearts.)
Over time as I continued to take 2 steps toward God, one step back, 2 steps toward God and so on, I learned through experience as I move toward God life is better and as I move away it gets worse. Experiential knowledge is the best understanding. Once I gained that experience and knew, I could then foresee how tribulations with perseverance produces Godly character and have glory in that tribulation. It's like getting excited about a promotion. We know that job means more work, but we foresee more income. Yet our reward with God is something far better than money, but we won't understand that until we immerse ourselves with good.
Shared experience can benefit everyone in the group. The Bible is full of examples using experience. Our stories ought to move in a similar direction as the characters within the Bible. Witnessing others grow in grace has profound affects upon us all. We can grow with God as we regularly apply our minds, hearts, attitudes, and actions toward Godly good.
Bad experience is also a teacher (shame). We ought to share the consequences of our poor choices. Someone else may be in the middle of such situations just beginning to learn from their decisions. Yet we ought to also share how we have transformed through better choices and describe our experiences from living out Godly good.
Character change usually is not an over night experience. Though it can happen. There are some scenarios we people have been able to completely give themselves to God. They are living their lives based upon a new understanding of love and peace and are excited about it. This is a very good thing. Reality can strike when they slowly realize others around them are not following the same love and peace. Such a person may soon realize very few people are living by such rules which can test their faith. We will need to stand firm through time and continue to trust God even though others may not.
God's rewards have often come to me much slower than I want. In fact, many blessings have come when I feel like the end is near. Perhaps that is when I get humbled enough to look. When I'm near the end of the rope I tend to stop thinking about what I want and instead speak boldly to God for direction ready to act because I'm desperate. Such reliance can be the mechanism to receive grace.
Applying God's will while looking at how the world behaves and considering what I want is not an easy task. It may be easier to stop wondering what is right for the world or myself and just do what is right from God.
Within groups each person is in their own unique experience of transformation. We ought to understand differences with application of love, forgiveness, mercy, and humility.
God is invisible and intangible, yet we have a sensing ability to know God. This sensing ability is a skill that requires development and self-discipline. We can build this skill through our seeking, following, obeying, and practicing God's ways. We will need to choose it. Regular introspection and discussion is required for improving our spiritual awareness. Each day we will need to give attention toward perceiving God's character traits as we apply them. We ought to see the reactions within ourselves and others. We have much to learn about God's love and can best learn that love through our continued participation and experience.
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NKJV used for most Bible verses
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