DISCLAIMER: This post is full of Scripture and references the Bible and God more than anything I have ever written before, but if you are currently looking for “MORE” in your life, whatever that is, I encourage you to read the entire post, just “try it on” and cease your judgement of it until the end.
Over the weekend per a recommendation of a friend I went and checked out Rick Warren‘s Church (Saddleback – in Lake Forrest, CA) He did a sermon on “How to Get Closer to God” and besides being incredibly moving, the sermon was like a biblical explanation for an experience I had about a year ago that hit so close to home I just had to share it with you all.
Now I must admit that at the time last year when I had the experience I not only would never have referred to myself as a Christian but I would definitely not be found quoting scripture or attempting to paraphrase any sermon as I’m about to, but I know without any shadow of a doubt that these steps Pastor Rick outlined (the exact same of which I took about this time last year without the Biblical explanation or understanding at the time) can make an immediate and profound impact on your life, so I hope you take the time to read and implement.
“And do not conform to the pattern of this world, but BE TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2
The further away you get from God, the more your life is TROUBLED. The closer you get to God, the more your life is TRANSFORMED.
They referred to the story of the Lost Son & Loving Father or the Story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24) I won’t post here – but please read for reference if you aren’t familiar by clicking the link.
The sermon outlined 4 simple steps to get closer to God & therefor radically transform your life.
1. FED UP: We must get completely fed up and discontent with our life first before things can change. Until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change we will never change.
“You’ll find me when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else.” – Jeremiah 29:13
2. OWN UP: We must own up to our sins (or mistakes & failures) We must have the courage to tell the truth about ourselves and accept full responsibility for the mess we are in. The thinking and way of being we used to get ourselves into that mess isn’t the same thinking and way of being we can use to get ourselves out of it.
“Your sins have separated you from God, and have hidden his face from you…” – Isaiah 59:2
“The Lord says, ‘No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.” – Isaiah 1:18
3. OFFER UP: We must move into a place of surrender – and submit to God’s will and thus allow for God’s help.
“Because God is merciful to you, OFFER YOURSELVES as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. And do not conform to the pattern of this world, but BE TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:1-2
4. LIFT UP: We must lift up God in praise, expressing gratitude and love and joy for life and all of God’s gifts.
“I will sing to the Lord because he has been so good to me!” – Psalm 13:6
Many of you have heard me tell my story of hitting a point of such extreme frustration that after an urging of a strong Christian friend I broke down for the first time in my life and passionately and emotionally prayed and asked God for help. I have always believed in God (though more in the Universal sense than in the Biblical one), but never sought to have a relationship with him. However about a year ago I was desperate. The say if you wanna get something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.
I had never heard any of the scripture I just quoted, and honestly I had never really believed much of the Bible, in fact I was very negative about organized religion and religious dogma in general. All I can say as that I got FED UP (I couldn’t take one more day of where I was at), then I OWNED UP (I admitted my mistakes and started taking actions to try to mend the relationships, people and situations I had hurt and wronged in the past), then I OFFERED UP (I broke down and prayed and asked God to help, admitting I couldn’t do it alone), then I LIFTED UP (my prayer was answered in such a quick, powerful and profound way that I was so overcome by gratitude, joy and happiness that I couldn’t do anything but give God the glory. There was no logical explanation for the surge of inspiration, hyper activity and events that followed other than that God had come to my aid.) I realized that the best things in life are free and we ALL have so much to be grateful for, but we also can so easily lose sight of it.
For someone who had never been religious I all of a sudden became very drawn to Christian music, started going to Church, reading the Bible and I even end up getting Baptized on Easter last year. I don’t have much of an explanation for this other than that I had lots of Christian friends telling me that I had been “saved” and I for the first time became open to seeing the purity whereas before all I saw was the negative. I’m learning and growing every day, and just like pressure turns diamonds to coal, my faith has been put in the fire and is refining me to shine brighter than before. This hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows, in fact there has been some extreme opposition to the new-found purpose and direction that I was given in my life as a result of taking a step closer to God, but I wouldn’t change any of it for the World.
Pastor Rick said had something very profound during that sermon;
“If you feel far away from God, guess who moved?”
You know how they say before you die that life passes before your eyes? Well after I broke down and prayed, along with the purging of a lot of the negative energy and emotion I had kept bottled up inside, I was shown my life in all of its perfection from start to finish. I very powerfully saw the truth as it says in the picture at the top of this post that God had been with me during my storms and my peace. What was most profound of all is that I saw that no matter how many steps I had taken away from God; no matter how fast or far I ran or how long I moved away without even bothering to look back; I only had to stop and turn around and take one step back toward him before he rushed back to me, wrapped me in his loving embrace and welcomed me home. I didn’t come home to CONDEMNATION I came home to CELEBRATION. What an amazing revelation.
St. Irenaeus has been quoted as saying that “The Glory of God is a human being fully alive.”
Are you ready to give God that Glory and started to live the way you are intended? A human being fully alive, fully expressed and fully exuding all of the happiness, joy, love and greatness from which you came?
Give these steps a try and watch what happens, it will be glorious!
Realize you are Blessed so you can be a Blessing,
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