3 simple steps to combat the flesh and feed the spirit
In our Proverbs 31 online Bible study of Wendy Blight’s book, Living So That, we are learning many practical things about growing closer to God. For the blog hop this week, we could choose one of four topics. I’m choosing to share how we can combat the flesh and feed the spirit. If you haven’t heard the parable of the two dogs, I would encourage you to read it here.
We just finished celebrating Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection at Easter time. Why did Jesus endure betrayal, false accusations, excruciating physical pain, and unspeakable spiritual suffering? He did it so that you and I could accept His gift of salvation and be set free from the power of sin. If you’ve never taken this step of faith, and want more information, please read The Four Spiritual Laws.
Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Once we accept forgiveness for our sins and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we need to continually follow three steps. At first glance, they are simple. However, that doesn’t mean the steps happen without conscious effort on our part.
1. Choose to say yes to God. Wendy says:
“The more we say yes to spending time with God in His Word, the more we will recognize His voice. The more we recognize His voice, the more we will live in expectation of seeing Him at work. The more we see God at work, the more we will experience Him in our midst. And the more we experience Him, the more we will be able to trust Him in all things. It all starts with saying yes to God’s invitation to meet with Him.”
There are many things that can and will distract us from putting God first in our lives. We can be distracted by family responsibilities, our job, church activities, etc. Did you notice that these are all “good” things? Often we allow good things to crowd out the best. In Matthew 6, we are told we don’t need to worry about what we wear or what we’ll eat or anything else. Instead:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (vs. 33)
I find that I have to choose to spend time with God first thing in the morning or it doesn’t happen, because I get caught up in the daily activities of life. I would encourage you to find a consistent time when you’re alert to meet with God.
2. Saturate yourself in God’s Word
The Bible has been described as God’s love-letter to mankind. If we don’t read it, study it, and memorize it, we won’t be able to discover who God really is or what He wants us to do. Our memory verse for week two of the study was:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 (NIV)
“The key to establishing our faith is spending time in God’s Word. We can’t accomplish it by attending worship once a week, by periodically participating in Bible studies, or by watching a televangelist on Sunday mornings. We must commit to reading and studying God’s word for ourselves.”
“God’s Word is our contact with Him. It’s how we hear His voice, discover His direction, receive His correction, and obtain His hope.”
I have found all of these approaches helpful at different stages of my life:
- Read a verse and study it in depth. Check out Heather Bleier’s suggestions on verse mapping.
- Use a devotional such as Our Daily Bread, My Utmost for His Highest, or The Upper Room.
- Study a book of the Bible, such as John, looking for key words or the names used for Jesus
- Read through the Bible in a year. Our Daily Bread has a plan included with the daily devotional. There are many other plans people have put together. Find one that works for you.
Sylvia Gunter defines prayer as, “radically and gloriously encountering God, knowing Him better and loving Him more.”
Wendy reminds us that:
“Prayer is a gift.
Prayer is a privilege.
Prayer is two-way communication with God.
Prayer is a love relationship with the God who created us.
Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can ‘approach (God’s) throne of grace with confidence’ (Hebrews 4:16 NIV).”
Whole books have been written on the topic of prayer. At it’s simplest I would say that prayer is talking with God. I have found that if I start my day by focusing on God, it’s much easier to talk with Him throughout the day, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. (Rick Warren says, “Everything you do can be ‘spending time with God’ if he is invited to be a part of it and you stay aware of his presence.” In my last post I shared a call to prayer along with many quotes on prayer. Ask God to teach you how to pray more effectively and see what happens.
Three simple choices. Will you take the first step and choose to meet with God today?