Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Up the Spiral Staircase

If you've read many of my entries, you may have noticed my struggles aren't especially varied.  Like you, I go around and around with the same things, time after time.  It's the way God made each of  us, with weaknesses He's allowed.  I have mine. You have yours. On the positive side, Proverbs 22:6 counsels parents to train each child according to his bent, "in the way he should go." Each person, even as a child, has a natural bent, a specific design. On the negative side, Isaiah 53:6 says "each one has turned to his own way."  My way is what I would choose, left to my own devices.  I am apt to choose my way, not yours--or God's.  Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death."  Thank God, He can change all that--and He has!

Although the same areas of sin hound me, they come around on a different level each time--or they should. This process of growth reminds me an upward spiral. We struggle with our selves, our way, our bent over and over, but as God does His faithful work, we experience it to a different degree, moving upward and onward, with each trip around the circle bringing us closer to Christ-likeness.

Years ago as I prayed over controlling my weight, 2 Peter 1:5-7 struck me with its practicality :
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love."

1) Add to your faith.... I believe in Jesus (if you're unsure about this for yourself, check out the panel to the right side). I believe God works all things together for my good and His glory.  This is my faith.
2) Add to your faith, goodness.... As the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin, I desire God's good for my life; I want to imitate His goodness. 
3) Add to goodness, knowledge... What does God's Word say?  I add knowledge as I read, memorize and meditate on the Bible.
4)  Add to knowledge, self-control.... By God's grace and with His help, I will obey God's Word and do His will instead of my own. 
5) Add to self-control, perseverance.... I may be able to do what is right once or even twice, but God wants me to change.  Through prayer (dependence on Him), accountability (dependence on others), and meditation on His Word (renewing of my mind), I will practice and learn to do what is right more often than what is wrong. 
6) Add to perseverance, godliness... Once this behavior or thinking or speaking is more consistently Christlike, I need God's help to change my attitude of victory--it is God's work, not mine.  It should reflect God, not me.  Godliness, not selfness.
7) Add to godliness brotherly kindness.... As God works change in my life, I am more aware of others who struggle with the same thing.  My initial reaction is criticism, comparison and judgment. Instead, God says to extend brotherly kindness and grace. 
8)  Add to brotherly kindness, love.... Not only am I to act with kindness, I am to love sincerely, from the heart.  Love covers a multitude of sin.  When this is the case, God's work in my life is just that--His work, not my own.

The Christian walk is one of continuous victory, but it leads upward and onward toward our Savior. "In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being  having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:11-12).

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