What is the point or purpose of accepting Christ beyond the future promise that some day we are going to be with the Father for eternity?  The point is to take God from the vague and distant, way-out-there-somewhere, place He is in your mind right now and make Him real, to make Him the central focus of everything you do and say and think.  The point is to have a relationship with God, to know Him, to love Him, to experience His love and power in your life today.

God asks one thing, and one thing only of us:  to seek Him first, to desire Him above all other people and things.  Everything else flows from that:  our relationship with others, our work, how we spend our time, the choices we make, the areas we serve.  Once we understand that our single purpose in life is to know God’s heart, the distractions and confusion begin to fall away.  We see that He gives us meaning and purpose, He is the source of our life, our identity and our being.  He gives us kingdom work to do and the strength to do it.  He sets our priorities and directs us in the way He wants us to go.  He gives us the treasures of His kingdom:  love, joy, peace, hope, the Spirit’s power, direction and comfort.

The following keys will prepare you to receive all that the Father wants you to know and experience.  These keys are frequently neglected or misunderstood by believers, causing many believers to live in discouragement and fear.  These keys are for all believers who are promised an abundant, joyful life but can’t seem to experience it or don’t know how.

Key #1: If you never read further than this key, this key will lead you to all the others.  As a starting point, God wants from us honesty and a genuine desire to learn, change and grow.  He does not want us to pretend with Him.  The first step to growth is to admit to him we are confused, or we are afraid, or we feel shame and guilt, or we are angry, or we feel betrayed, or we want to quit, or even that we doubt He is real or has any real power to change our lives.  The second step is to genuinely desire to be changed by Him.  It does not have to be a passionate desire.  Start by asking Him to give you a desire for Him.  Don’t wait for a feeling.  He will be building desire in you as you follow the rest of these keys.  In coming to Him honestly and with a genuine desire, we admit that we have come to the end of our efforts, we need help, we want more but don’t know how to get there.  When you reach this point, called brokenness, then He can begin to give you Himself.  Read Matthew 6:33; Hebrews 11:6; Psalm 63:1; Psalm 62:8

Key #2: Trust is vital in any relationship if it is to be anything more than a surface relationship.  Trust is hard because it requires us to risk.  God is worthy of our trust and without it we cannot receive all that He wants to give us.  Trust means believing that God is real, that He cares about our situation, that He is active in our lives, that He will make the way through every situation, that He is using every situation to bring us to a new level of maturity and closeness to Him, and that in becoming more mature and closer to Him, we will be more free, experience greater joy and peace, and have more assurance that we are His and we are on His path.  Fear and anxiety keep us from trusting.  Fear causes us to ask, “what if I trust Him and it doesn’t work out?”  Fear causes us to create nightmare scenarios in our minds and then convinces us we could never get through that nightmare.  Fear causes us to look for human ways out of our situation or dilemma.  There is no easy answer for this; only to choose to trust Him.  Go back to key #1 and admit that you are afraid and tell Him you desire to trust Him but that you are weak.  Our Father asks so little of us; He takes the smallest speck of trust, even the smallest speck of a desire to trust, and builds and strengthens the foundation of our trust and faith.

Start trusting God with small things.  Try saying these words:  “Will I trust you with this situation Father?"  And then say, “Yes, I will trust you”.  It may feel like you are just saying words at first but it is a choice you are making which does not depend on feelings.  You will soon find that He does give power to your choice to trust Him.  He is faithful and as you trust Him more, and bring bigger and bigger things in your life to Him, you begin to establish a history of His faithfulness which you can look back at and which will help you trust Him in the future.  Be honest with God about your fear in trusting Him.  Be honest with yourself and don’t make excuses or ignore a situation because of your fear.  Trust Him and He will respond to that trust in ways you can’t imagine.

Attached are more questions which may help you as you say, “Yes, I will trust You” to each question.  Read Romans 15:3; see Concordance for references to “trust” in the Psalms

Key #3: Time is an important part of every relationship.  If you spend focused, undistracted time with your spouse, friend, child, etc. you become close to them, you know them.  The same is true of our relationship with God.  If you only spend a hurried five minutes with God each day, in a place with many distractions, while your mind wanders, you will not know Him or His will, you will not hear Him.  This will greatly affect your ability to trust Him, to be open to let Him change you, and to experience His love and power.  The more time you spend with Him, the more you will experience an increasing intimacy with Him, a deeper heart connection; you will know His love, He will become real to you.  You will experience His Presence, His rest, His strength and His sufficiency.  You will learn to trust Him because you will know Him and know He is worthy of your trust.

We cannot grow if we do not know Him.  The three ways we get to know Him are studying His Word, prayer, and observing and listening to others who are more mature in Christ.  All three require wise choices about what you do with your time.  The next two keys explain in more detail that these choices have to do with, not only what you do with your time, but also what you do not do with your time.  Read Psalm 27:14; Isaiah 30:18; Psalm 5:3

Key #4: Prayer is two way communication with God in which we speak and listen.  God wants intimacy with us.  He knows each of us and every detail of our lives very well and wants us to know Him very well.  He wants us to surrender everything to Him.  He wants us to know how much He loves us, that He will withhold no good thing from us, that He is working in and through us, that He will make the way through each trial in our lives.  We must go to Him and listen to Him and hear His heart for us.  Enter into prayer with the desire to know God, to know His heart, to be obedient to Him and to listen to Him.  Go to a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and take the time, first, to clear away the distractions.  It takes about 10 minutes just to calm down enough to get into an attitude of listening to and being with Him.  It may be intimidating at first to think about spending a half hour or more with God.   Work up to it if you need to.  Spend time praising Him and worshiping Him for who He is.  Spend time thanking Him for all He has done for you and for who you are in Christ.  Spend time asking God to reveal your sins and then confess your sins to Him.  Pour out your heart to Him.  Ask Him to teach you how to pray.  And then listen to Him.  Let Him draw you near to Him.  It is so easy to hurry through your prayer time, to say the same old words, to become distracted, to run through a list of the things you need.  The main point of prayer is to get to know your Father.  He does care about your needs and the desires of your heart.  But He promises that if your focus is on Him, He will give you what you need and you will find that, more and more, the desire of your heart is for Him. Read Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18

Key #5: God wants us to make wise choices about how we spend our time, all day, every day.  Since all sin starts in the mind, it is critical that we make wise choices about what we put in our minds.  The world is increasingly hostile to the things of God.  The images that the world bombards us with are at war with the images of beauty, truth and purity that God wants us to focus on.  TV, movies, music, the internet, magazines, books and billboards all compete for our attention.  The images and words we expose our minds to directly affect what we think about and what we say and do.  Sexual fantasy, criticizing others, profanity, being dissatisfied with what you have, and having an affair all flow from what you put in your mind.  Your beliefs and values are all shaped by what you put in your mind.  All day long we make choices about what we look at, what we listen to, what activities we do.  It is so easy to convince yourself that you are too tired to do anything but flip on the TV, or that you deserve to pop in a movie after a hard day, or that casually paging through certain magazines won’t do any harm.  But if the words and images of the world are at war with God, then these things can and do separate us from God and His love and knowing His heart.  Unless you are intentional about how you choose to spend your time, you will without fail become lazy and let yourself be drawn into the many distractions around you.  Beware of making excuses.  And make no mistake:  Satan wants control of your mind.  Because, if he has your mind, he has all of you.  God wants us to think about and do things that reflect His glory and truth and goodness.  A pure mind is the doorway to experiencing His love, joy and peace, to having the quiet assurance that we are His, and to trusting Him.  This is a growth process so do not become discouraged when you fall short; keep persevering by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Read Romans 8:6; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8

Key #6: Suffering is the primary way God builds character into His people.  To develop character simply means that Jesus is revealed in and through us more and more.  We are transformed into the image of our Father as He transfers His glory, His substance, into us.  This process of becoming more Christ-like is the path to lasting hope, unshakable joy and a deep peace.  If it is true that in suffering we find hope, joy and peace, then we must change our expectations in life to reflect this truth.  Whether they recognize it or not, many believers live with an expectation, almost a demand, that God smooth the path before them.  But suffering in this life is unavoidable.  It comes in many forms:  it may be relationship conflict, it may be chronic pain or disease, it may be a tragic loss, it may come from within in the form of loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, shame, or guilt.  When trials and difficulties come, the reaction usually is to become overwhelmed, to become fearful and anxious, and to desperately plead with God to make it end, to take it away.  Many go to great lengths to avoid trials, fearing all sorts of imagined possibilities.  Fear robs our future of hope, swallows up our joy, and strips away our peace, usually leaving us worse off than if we expected suffering and used it to stretch our faith and deepen our trust in God.  This is a huge stumbling block for many believers; some stop growing altogether, others become bitter and resentful toward God.  If we serve a God who loves perfectly, who is all powerful and who knows us and cares for us intimately, then our choices are either to trust that suffering is a door to something better or change our view of who God is.  Those who fear and avoid suffering and whose only thought is when will it end make God either small and insignificant or ruthless and uncaring.  Our Father is good and His promise to us is that He will give us what we need and make the way through the suffering; He will teach us to trust Him in ways we never dreamed possible; He will draw us to Him.  He will lead us to a peace that passes all human understanding, an inexpressible joy and a hope built on a rock solid foundation. Read Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-6; 1 Peter 1:3-7; 1 Peter 4:12-13

Key #7: Pick an accountability partner.  Make a decision that you are not going to withhold any part of your life from this person.  Since all sin starts in the mind, you must not withhold even your thoughts from this person.  Much sin can be prevented if we never develop a secret thought life known only to ourselves.  Your accountability partner must be a person whom you can trust, to whom you can safely share intimate thoughts and details of your life, to whom you can confess sin, who can give you wise counsel, and who will commit to praying for you regularly.  Above all, it must be someone whom you insist ask you hard questions whenever you meet:  questions about your thoughts, your attitudes, your relationships with others, what you do when you are alone, what you do when you are not around other believers.  This person should ask you each time you get together:  “Have you done or said or thought anything since the last time we met that you know would not be pleasing to Jesus?”.  And after you have answered this question, the person should ask you:  “Is what you just told me the whole truth?” Read 2 Samuel 12:1-13 (Nathan holds David accountable); 1 & 2 Timothy (Paul holds Timothy accountable and encourages him)

Key #8: Maintain an eternal perspective.  Though it runs contrary to everything the world tells you, you must remember that this world is enemy territory, that you do not belong here, that you are a citizen of heaven waiting for your Savior to return and bring you home.  Until that day, remember that you are on a mission as an ambassador of Christ.  As you follow the previous keys, the light and life of Jesus Christ will be revealed through you to this dark and lost world.  Failure to follow these keys will cause you to lose perspective.  Fear, confusion and doubt will begin to creep in.  Perhaps not immediately, but slowly your desire will turn to the things of this world.  Old habits and ways of thinking will re-emerge.  You will start to experience separation from the Source of truth, power and life. To help you maintain eternal perspective, God has given us imagination so that we can “see” His kingdom with the eyes of our heart.  As you learn to submit control of your mind to the Spirit, ask our Father to open the eyes of your heart to see the majesty and splendor of His kingdom.  Attached are a couple of suggestions that may be helpful to you as you start.  Read Hebrews 11:13-16; Revelation 21:1-7; Ephesians 1:18-19; 2 Corinthians 5:20; John 14:1-4

If you follow these keys, you will begin to see change in your life almost immediately.  Consistency is so important so make the following priorities in your life:

  1. Daily time in God’s Word and in prayer (morning works best).
  2. Weekly time with your accountability partner.
  3. Weekly Sunday worship at a church that (a) emphasizes God’s Word and prayer; (b) has leadership that plainly exhibits humility and a servant’s heart; and (c) is a safe place to be vulnerable.

As you follow these keys, expect that God will bring people and circumstances into your life which reveal areas of woundedness within you and areas in which the enemy is building or has built strongholds within you.  You may find that you are depressed or angry or that you are having difficulty breaking free from old sin habits and unhealthy patterns of behavior and ways of thinking.  Do not be surprised or alarmed:  the path that God leads you on in healing these areas of woundedness and tearing down these demonic strongholds is not an easy one. Woundedness will produce pain as you seek the Healer’s touch. Resist the tendency to either avoid the pain and its cause altogether or to make it an idol which controls much of what you do, say and think.  Expect that Satan will not easily or willingly break his hold on your life.  He has many deceptions and will bring many accusations against you to keep you in slavery and bondage to fear, guilt, shame, anger, lust, a critical heart, self hatred, etc.

The roots of such woundedness and bondage are unconfessed sin, failure or inability to forgive others who have hurt you and the sin of self hatred which is a rejection of who you are in Christ. As you trust the Father, you will also begin to trust in His power and desire to heal and deliver you. Ask Him to reveal unconfessed sin, those who have wounded you whom you have not forgiven and your damaged view of who you are.  Then trust that He will give you the strength to allow pain and woundedness to come to the surface so it can be released to the Cross of Christ.  Trust that He will teach you, through His word and through the counsel of mature Christians, to claim your authority in Christ over the enemy and to demolish Satan’s strongholds in your life.

As you put these keys into practice, it is God’s promise that you will experience Him more and more.  You will experience His love and power.  You will see Him and His truth more clearly.  You will hear Him and know His will.  You will understand His purpose for your life.  He will give you His heart to love and serve others out of the strength He gives you.  It is His promise that fear and discouragement will begin to give way to joy, hope and peace.  Exhaustion will begin to give way to patient perseverance and endurance.  Shame and guilt will begin to give way to a confident assurance that we are His beloved.  There will always be struggle in this life.  But with these keys, and by the grace and power of our King, together we can struggle well.

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