Back in the days of my involvement with organized athletics, we were regularly reminded that were to give it our all. In fact, practice was usually equally as demanding as the real game; at times, even more so. I know that in my work as a Pastor, one of the highlights is that I get to teach the Word of God and share the inspiration given me by the Holy Spirit with people. However, it is virtually always true that the labor of preparation proves to be more demanding than the presentation itself.
Preparation is not all mental or physical. It is also very much spiritual. The Apostle Paul declared, “. . . . Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). There is more to that statement than a casual acknowledgement that he had a job to do. Paul knew that he had been charged with the duty to represent the heart of God and HIS divine expectations to his generation, with accuracy and clarity.
Unless your faith is merely a childhood tradition, you will soon discover, if you haven’t already, that the advantages of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ are exquisite. However, no personal relationship can deepen in levels of intimacy and significance if the giving and the investment is a one way proposition. The truth is that there is more impact upon your heart when you are on the giving as opposed to the receiving end of the equation. “Give and it will be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:37-38).
So many of us live a subpar spiritual life because we do not know this principle. Religion is often painted as an obligation to endure and get through. In other words, it is a “check list” obligation; hastily completed so we can get back to “real” life. Frankly, if that is our mindset it would be better just left alone. Faith is actually a gift that keeps on giving. The more we believe and place our trust in God, the greater revelation we receive of who He truly is, how much love He has for us and all that He longs to do in and through our lives.
True religion is fully relational and life giving. As we pursue a meaningful understanding of and passionate friendship with the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:7), we begin to meet other believers who are in a like-minded pursuit. With the companionship of others, we gain momentum in our passion for the Lord and His ways. Together we learn to hear God’s voice, perceive His presence and discern His will. As we share our experiences with each other, seeking to complete rather than compete with each other, we will experience a heightened awareness of the presence and the power of God’s Holy Spirit together.
Greater things are yet to come because He lives in us!