Wednesday, September 21, 2005

# 82: Your Own Personal God

This post is truly serendipity in that it is sent down from Heaven, as it were, to inspire all who have an active desire to get as close to Jesus Christ as humanly possible. Read on and make this prediction come true in your life.

One of the most difficult things in the Christian life is to believe in an invisible God to the degree that such belief has a dramatic effect in one’s intellectual and emotional processes. This is even truer with respect to today’s modern, educated, technological human being. Consider with me for a moment the possible reasons for that difficulty. I think the old cliché "seeing is believing" is the biggest hindrance to faith, because we are asked to believe in the invisible. We are, to some extent, physical beings with physical needs. When these needs are met, we see and feel the effects. These effects are satisfying to the physical portion of our being. When these needs are met and no more is desired, we have raised ourselves no higher than those in the animal kingdom.

There is another part of us which the material world cannot satisfy. It is the invisible part of us. Some of us wonder if there even is an invisible part of us. Most religions, including Christianity, call that part the soul/spirit. The best way to enrich that part of us is to be loved and to love in return. When a person has a good measure of that love—which is invisible, though it has its physical effect—that person has one of the most valuable commodities there is. That love may come from a person or many people. Even the affection of a pet may be perceived as love. Either way, it gives a degree of fulfillment. What makes that invisible love real is that it comes from visible beings.

One advantage man has over all of God's other creatures is that he possesses the faculty to believe almost anything in his quest to find reality, and therefore feel complete or self-fulfilled. If this is true, then man has an innate ability to believe in the invisible as a source of completeness. Here is where Jehovah (the name of the Christian God) can make an entrance as a poignant figure in one's life. Why would anyone want to believe in the existence of an unseen God and accept Him as a source of love? How might such things be accomplished? These two questions, like many along the road to truth, are difficult on one level, yet simple on another. I truly believe that we need to take as much mystery out of this invisible-God business as possible. This is one of the main reasons I am writing this post. God will always be a complete mystery to anyone who does not truly believe that He exists, or who believes that He is indifferent to humanity’s struggles and its destiny.

Do we who have a desire to take a step forward in deepening our belief in God and raising the Christian standard to its highest level of excellence? The question of why one would choose to believe in such a God is answered simply: We desire and need more of a good thing. How to make that belief into a tangible source and an object of love is not easy, yet it is simple, and becomes more so to those who believe. In other words, it is a simple concept, but a difficult one to practice. The reason belief coupled with grace is used by our Lord is because human belief is the strongest, if not the only, avenue of access to God. The only requirement for that belief to be effective is that it must be genuine and real, without any doubt. When there is any doubt as to the reality of that object of belief, it is no more than a wishful thinking, “I hope so" situation.

You may agree with me that the main reason God is not really real, even for most Christians, is because God is not given top priority in our thinking process. That is one of the main reasons Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray continually." Why would he give a command that sounds nearly impossible for anyone to actualize? The reason is thus: He knew that what people think about the most are the things which are most real, tangible and valuable to them, whether or not one believes it or admits it. Many of us will say, "But there are so many things we must do and think on that have nothing to do with God in a direct way." I personally will admit that this seems true. So, how can we accomplish this difficult discipline and minimize the impact of these “seemingly important” things in our minds and our daily lives? First, we must admit that God is not yet real to us in a way that produces undoubting belief. Second, we must actively desire for Him to become real to us, so real that the material world is somewhat eliminated from our lives as a thing of great value to the highest degree possible. I am not advocating that we retreat into a little shell and hide away from this godless world. That would be the most devastating thing we could do. God wants us out there among the Lost, as He was.

Jesus had his Father's business on his mind at all times. How? Well, here comes the bombshell: Does the amoeba or common bacterium have something over our God? No. They have the ability to divide themselves, keep all their characteristics intact, and produce a clone of itself, except in the case of a mutation. In the right environment, this process will continue indefinitely. This is true of other single-celled critters. When God gives His Holy Spirit (the essence of His very life) to someone, that Holy Spirit is God in His completeness, lacking nothing of substance. Yes, God does divide (as it were) and yet, still remains one. Therefore, since Jesus had God's Holy Spirit, He had His own personal God to listen to His every thought, and to be with Him at every moment. The Father was still in Heaven, yet at the same time on Earth in Jesus. Jesus knew that God’s Holy Spirit had only one thing on His mind as He lived in Him, and that was to do the work of the Father.

Quite often, what makes God unreal to many is that they wonder how God can hear the prayers of so many all at one time. It is simple. Though God is one in the person of the Holy Spirit, He is also many, yet still with one mind and one purpose (Unity of the Spirit). When a person is born again in the Spirit world of God, God enters that person in the form of the Holy Spirit. At that time, ONE HAS HIS/HER OWN PERSONAL GOD to respond to his/her every spiritual NEED. Mind you, I didn't say “wants.”

With the nature of this transfer of essence, one now has all of God’s love—as being loved any less would not totally satisfy—and He/she is aware of this fact. By this love, God demonstrates that you are the most important person in the world. Love always makes a person feel important and complete. When you know for certain that you are totally loved in this fashion, then for the first time you are not inclined to seek that which the material world and human love offer. As you experience this love, the power produced by the Spirit of Christ will motivate (lovingly compel) you to love others selflessly, without need of love in return or fear of losing love or significance.

When this occurs, a human being becomes a god/goddess of love, Biblically speaking—a child of God. Though this concept may sound strange to some and even sacrilegious to others, it is very true. How can I qualify this type of teaching? Let me ask you this: Is anything too hard for God? Check Genesis 18:14 and Jeremiah 32:17. Our Lord does not make it hard for us to believe. In fact, He has spared nothing to make it as simple as Godly possible for us to believe in Him. But we complicate/destroy it because we don't obey. To obey His every command will put us on easy street in our quest to believe Him more completely. In fact, belief without obedience will not only hinder our belief, but will in time destroy it altogether. Another way we make it difficult to believe God is when our ego is geared toward things that don’t pertain to furthering Christ’s cause on earth.

In an attempt to measure God's love for you, let us use this analogy. Because you believe what God has done for you through Jesus Christ, you were given the same status of Jesus Christ in exchange for that belief. This means that you are now looked at not merely through rose-colored glasses, but through Christ-colored glasses, as perfect, pure, holy, and the most loving person on Earth. Speaking allegorically, suppose a vote was taken worldwide to discover the most important person in the world, and every living person unanimously voted for you. When you saw the results of that vote, how would you feel about yourself? What type of life would you now start to live? Would you go on as usual, affecting little or no change in your life? Of course not! You would quickly realize that you have the most awesome obligation in the world. It will take your every effort and then some to live up to your new status. God loves you for the same reason because of your new status of perfection, with only one exception: His love for you is greater than all human love put together. Your personal God voted you the most important person in the world. Although the following statement may sound selfish, the end result is selfless love for others: If you had a choice, would you desire a God that had many beloved, or a God that loved just you and was just concerned only about your need of making Him known? When we know we are loved to the utmost degree, we can then love others and not need or expect their love in return. Our personal God is the only source that can satisfy our soul’s need for love. He is at the same time the personal God of all other true Christians on Earth. This is without a doubt the greatest miracle that God continually performs. This is the kind of God we all truly need. We were made with an innate desire that only He can satisfy. The nice thing about the Holy Spirit as He becomes our own personal God is that He still is one with Himself; He is still aware of all things at all times.

Here is an added benefit, one that was touched on previously, but noteworthy enough to reiterate: The reason the Holy Spirit could not be given before our Lord's ascension to be with the Father is because the Holy Spirit that we were to receive would also be the Spirit of Jesus. For the first time, The Father could identify with man through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ. As a result, we now have a common denominator with God through His Son. For the first time, we can actually allow Jesus Christ to live His life through our bodies. To put it another way, we can tap into His life as he lived on Earth, and let Him live again and again in the present time through our lives because we have Him via His Spirit. That type of God can much more easily become real to us. He is much easier for me to believe in than a God who is sitting in Heaven trying to listen to millions of people, all with conflicting needs, at the same time.

Let’s get back to the topic at hand: the conflict between the world and the spirit. He, the Holy Spirit, is concerned about the things of God. We may be interested in things of the physical world. God, our great and wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, wants to become so real to you and me that the material world becomes but a mirage. Now, you might be saying, "that's a lot of high-sounding stuff, but it’s impossible." Jesus Christ gives us the formula in the Bible, but being as worldly as we are, we reject it as an unattainable goal. In fact, I can say this dogmatically: If and when Jesus Christ does become as real as the material world to us, for the first time, the world and the people in it will lose importance in giving our lives meaning.

You might be thinking, "Is this ‘making-God-real’ stuff absolutely necessary for salvation?" I can't answer that question, but I can say this: If you purposely and deliberately avoid this teaching because it might spoil your agenda of life’s aspirations, I personally wouldn't want to be in your shoes on Judgment Day. I will add, however, that we cannot simply choose to live this type of life (one free of materialism) in order to gain God's approval or for salvation. We live it as a result of our salvation and His gift of love to us, as a means for God to become real, so that He can use us to display His love to the fullest degree. Remember, we are dealing with a God that is our own personal God. He continually gives us His personal and undivided attention. With that type of God, what is there that He cannot do through us? To quote Jesus, He said, "All things are possible to him that believes," to which I add “to him that believes that God is real, displayed by a life of God-given holiness, love, purity, and power.”

Our modern version of Christianity has been watered down to fit our lifestyles of convenience and comfort. Anyone who does not conform to fundamental evangelical dogma is labeled as a heretic. I have heard leading Christian speakers say on several occasions, "I have never been persecuted for the cross of Christ. . .” They contend that the reason for the existence of this type of Christianity (where persecution is nonexistent) is because they live in a country of religious freedom. I disagree. If only one of those big-shot big mouths preached a message that rubbed fundamental doctrine the wrong way, they would get persecution of the kind that Jesus got, believe you me! Jesus rubbed the outwardly upright the wrong way and willingly and knowingly paid the price. That scenario could be duplicated in modern times, right here in the good-old U.S.A., if one of your prominent evangelicals took to preaching God’s real Word. But why should they preach against the deadly sin of spiritual lethargy? Why rock the boat? They figure “We have our Salvation. It's not our business to dig deeply into why some things in the church smell like holy bull. Besides, we have it made in the shade here in America. We can have our Kay and Edith too.”

Now we get to the core of the matter: why God must be real beyond words in order to be effective in our lives. When He becomes real, then His love for us becomes real, and love from God is the tool that we need to love our fellow man. In fact, without that all-consuming love, all our effort to love the world will only be an outward show, something we don't really possess. Let's get to some practical applications of appropriating that Godly love so that it has an effect on how we feel about and treat others. If you remember when The Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments, the first four pertained to love for God, and the next six told how we must regard our fellow man. What was being said was that we cannot love others until we receive that love from God. And how can we love and be loved by a God who is little more than a vague, far-off Pa-Pa The Friendly Ghost? He must be more real than some shadowy figure whose love we occasionally acknowledge. When He does become real to us, only then will we will start to be and act like Children of God.

His love for us will not become real and effective until He himself becomes real. Our attitude toward others will in every case demonstrate whether we are accepting God's love as an active and potent substance in our life. Without that love, it is totally impossible to have the right motive, if any motive at all, to truly care for others. It's like asking a dog to act like a cat. But asking man to act like God. . . . His love for us can do just that. His love makes us His children, and when we appropriate that love, Christ walks the Earth again in human form. It may be all well and good to say that God's love for us can satisfy our every spiritual need and emotion, but how does this actually happen? I’ll give you a powerful example; then you may get the picture.

One of the strongest and most destructive emotions we harbor is envy. We try not to display it openly, but it cannot be hidden. When we have all we desire because we have God's love, who would we envy? With God’s love, we want others to have what we have in Christ and more. We consider others better than ourselves. We don't desire the things the rest of the world pursues. And when one of our own is gifted with something more than we have, we rejoice and bless them. Where did the envy go? Out the window for the rest of the world to enjoy! When we are loved by God in the true sense, we know that we (all true Christians) are the most valuable and important people in the world. When we feel that way because it is true, what harmful attitudes and emotions can we harbor? None!

God's love makes us feel safe because our lives are in His control. Fear is a thing of the past. This love is so dynamically strong that we not only want to tell and show it off, we want the world to have it also. We now have the best motive for outreach; the more love we experience, the more active our Christian lives will be. That love has such force and is so compelling that it can be no other way. I write these words with tears in my eyes.

God's love for us is the powerhouse that makes our life pleasing to Him. Any other motive will fall short and fail in a misguided attempt to live the Christian life. All of the above words are null and void until God ( our personal God, The Holy Spirit) becomes real, more real and valuable than the world we perceive around us now. I could mention a dozen Bible verses that have real meaning when one’s life is lived in this fashion, but not until then. To most, they sound like pie-in-the-sky aspirations, unreachable goals. This is worth repeating: The Bible, God's Holy Word, can never be understood in its full meaning apart from good moral teachings until God's love and life get into the picture. God Himself is the switch that will activate those words into a holy life.

Yes, Salvation is received by grace, but when we start to experience His love, then the old life—however good it may seem now—will be totally shattered. Christ is the disturber and disrupter of all our human devices for security and contentment. But we must make a choice. Why don't you give your personal God a chance to give you new life? If you truly do, watch out! You are the one God has been waiting for. Yes, He has been waiting almost 2,000 years for you to give Him the go-ahead sign, and He guarantees that the world will not be the same because of you. I know God will bless you beyond what you can hold. God is speaking to you. Go for it. Amen, Amen, and Amen!

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