Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Next Level

One of the trending topics on Twitter today is "The Next Level", and it made me think about all the ways we try to reach the next level. 

My peonies, pictured above, are a lush mass of flowers and heavenly fragrance. This fall, I'll take my peonies to the next level by dividing them and having two masses of flowers next spring.

When I ordered green coffee beans and a coffee roaster and learned to roast my own coffee beans, I took my coffee-drinking experience to the next level. There's no better coffee than that made with beans that have just been roasted and freshly ground. 

When I surrendered my life to follow Jesus, it took my fledgling faith to the next level, as well. Not instantly, of course, but over time, with one surrender after another, I've relinquished the ways of my old (and horridly sinful) life and placed myself in His loving hands. (Matthew 16:24)

That may sound like quite a sacrifice, but in exchange, I lost the regret and fear of my old life and gained the peace, love, joy, gentleness, patience, self-control that come as fruits of the Spirit. Although I am not yet the woman of God I'd like to be, I praise God I'm not the woman of the world I used to be. (Galatians 5:22 and 23)

How do we take our faith to the next level? We meet God where we are and begin to follow Him. We read the Bible to learn more about this God we serve, to understand what He requires of His people. We study the Bible as a text so that we can be the kind of follower that pleases God. (2 Timothy 2:15)

When we learn that He teaches us to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, we attempt to do it. When we learn that He requires us to love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves, we try to do it. (Matthew 22:34-40)

When we see in Scripture that we are to live a life of peace with all men, we make an effort to live in harmony. (Romans 12:18)

Of course, all those noble aspirations are more than one merely-human person can accomplish, so we must allow the Holy Spirit to change our heart, our desires, to more nearly match that of God. (John 14:16)

Moving to the next level in our faith presumes that we are willing to change, to get the sin out of our lives. We cannot maintain our judgmental spirit, anger, unforgiveness, pride, or sense of entitlement (or any of the other sins we enjoy) and enjoy the closeness to God we desire. (1 John 3:9)

Intimacy with God depends on our willingness to be changed in His image, and the understanding that it is only the blood of Jesus that can truly make us clean. (Hebrews 10:22)

Do you long to take faith to the next level? Begin by opening your Bible and reading. If you've never read the Bible before, the gospel of John is a good starting place. 

Read. Study. Follow. Obey. 

There's a song I learned as a child, "Trust and Obey", that sums up the way to the next level. "Trust and obey. For there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

It's as true now as when the songwriter penned those words. Trust and obey. There's no other way to reach the next level but to trust and obey.
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Delay Does Not Always Mean Denial

#thenextlevel #Scripture #linesfromleanna #JesusChrist