Our perception results from what we know and what we know results from what we have learned which is limited by our experiences. To grow in knowledge and change our hearts we will need new experiences.
If when we hear about God we perceive discomfort then that will affect our response. If we perceive comfort we will have a different response.
We must become willing to give ourselves over to new experiences. Change is often uncomfortable, but can bring afterward great comfort.
We can respond best toward change perceiving the good that can come and keeping our focus there.
"For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
The scribes and Pharisees did not have great love. They followed the letter of the law.
2 Corinthians 3:6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Love is the central ingredient. We must experience it through giving and receiving.
1 Corinthians 13"1-3 "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing."
1 John 4:7-8 "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love."
Love increases and decreases
Matthew 24:12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Growth rate & depth = amount of time (soul) + amount of diligence (strength) + amount of heart (passion) + amount of thought (mind) + amount of adjusting to Bible content + amount of spiritual focus
To grow by the Bible we will need to study what it says and practice it. We will need to check our process and ensure we are understanding things correctly. The mind can be easily tricked in many ways. We must humble ourselves with an active readiness to learn new things and find ways to move into correction. Growth involves change. The level of our change can often describe the level of our growth. As we become different we will feel different.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
In the above description on how to respond to the commandments it is clear that we are to be continuously reading, thinking, and discussing them. Jesus emphasized the first commandment which is based upon love, but love toward God. Yet many of us can define love, God, heart, mind, soul, and strength in differently than the Bible. If our definitions of God are different than the Bible's our responses will more likely be different than God instructs. Inward Authority is about looking straight at the Bible and discussing together exactly what it says. When our understanding of God aligns more accurately with the Bible's descriptions, our responses can become more in line with God's intentions for us. As our responses become more aligned with God's intentions for us, our experiences with saving grace can improve. That's good, right?
Teaching is one of the best ways we can learn. As we learn we can share that learning with others to enhance our own learning. As we describe our understanding to others we can go deeper and look at it from new angles. We can organize our ideas into sentences so that it makes sense to others. We can make minor adjustments to our understanding that can enrich it further. Teaching, explaining, presenting, and talking are powerful tools to help us grow our understanding about the Bible and God. This method of learning is applied in seminary schools everywhere. Why wouldn't we all do it?
The Choice of Life or Death
“For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor isit far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."
The above description involves three main points:
1. We are clean because of Christ, "you are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you." (Also, see parable of the sower)
2. We are to abide in Christ and bear fruit. We cannot do it of ourselves, but only through abiding in Christ who abides in God.
3. If we do not abide in Christ and bear fruit we will be cast out. (Even if we are broken off, we can be grafted in again, see Romans 11:23)
Read Matthew 7:15 - 20 "Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
Better yet, read all of Matthew 7.
"Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
The Spirit guides, prompts, and urges us through our spiritual senses. If we wait for motivation, to feel like doing it, we may never really fully abide as we ought to. Waiting for an inward motivation to get us to act could be futile. To get inspired by God often times develops after we participate in some experience, not before. Feeling good about exercise often comes after we are doing it for a while. Therefore, it may be best to practice regular participation despite our feelings to see what results can be produced. And we taking such action can produce the results we are seeking. Willingness and humility are key inward ingredients.
"And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil."
Our Growth Rate = Amount of (Mind + Heart + Time + Diligence + Spiritual Focus + Biblical Alignment)
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