Sown all around the hem of Aaron’s robe were “blue and scarlet pomegranates, with gold bells between them.” The tinkling of the bells accentuated the duties he was performing, just as the gifts of the Spirit tend to draw attention to God’s power through us today. But what about the pomegranates? If the bells represent spiritual gifts, maybe the pomegranates speak of the fruit of the Spirit.
Makes sense. But why pomegranates? Why not apples or oranges? Well, the answer jumps out when we break the pomegranate open. Inside are hundreds of tiny fruits, each with its own seed. It makes me think about the little things I’m able to do, and what impact each of those small good works might have on those around me. Often what seems somewhat insignificant is what’s actually vitally important. And planting godly seed in in this way is easily within our grasp.
Helping people pleases God, and it matures us. Serving God this way sets the stage for solid growth in our life, because focusing on the needs of others helps us lay aside our own desires. And we need not worry about serving in our own strength. Why? Because helping others opens wide the floodgates of God’s power. Do you ever wonder why spiritual gifts are not more evident in your life? Serve, and you will quickly begin to experience them.
God wants to use you in the lives of those around you. And He is ready to equip you to do so by a mighty flow of His power. He wants not only to live His life in you, but through you. Yet because God often works in subtle ways, you may not experience a dramatic display of His power. On the other hand, He may very well surprise you!
The sense of destiny God has placed in our life can easily be misread. Pride rooted in self-will can lead us to think that we must be set apart for some highly esteemed task. But God may have something entirely different in mind. Without question, God wants us to start at the bottom and work our way up, rather than the other way around. Jesus said: “He who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much.” Luke 16:10
There isn’t a job in God’s kingdom that He doesn’t consider really important. What you might think of as insignificant may actually be your calling in Christ. What’s important is being faithful in whatever He gives you to do. Your obedience will earn you a reward equal to anything the more highly acclaimed might receive. God plays no favorites! Whatever stands the test of eternity is what will be rewarded.
We must aim at two critical targets in our lives as believers: We need to serve God, and at the same time pursue personal transformation. Both need to be in play if we are ever to be effective. Jesus Himself is the prime example of self-sacrificing service to others: “I did not come to be served, but to serve, and give my life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
We must recognize that serving God always includes serving others. It’s vital to the process of personal transformation. Why is serving others such an indispensable source of change in our character? For at least two reasons. First, extending a hand both benefits them and helps us, since it steers us away from the self-centeredness of our nature. Secondly, it provides a conduit for the flow of spiritual gifts in our life. Who wouldn’t benefit from a little motivation in this area?
God has set us free from the power of sin by causing us to die to law. His purpose is to make us alive to Him in spite of our weaknesses. Only through His provision could such intimacy ever be possible. The Christian life is so much more than being content with our initial salvation experience. God never intended for us to settle for a life of mediocrity. “I’m just not able to overcome the weakness of my flesh,” is no excuse!
In Christ, God has lifted us out of the pit of human frailty and set us in a place of unbelievable exaltation. The stage for such a powerful relationship couldn’t have been set in any other way. Have you given up because of your sin? Have you settled for the mundane? Don’t give up! Seek God with aggressive and persistent determination. He has something wonderful in store for you.
From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself
Communing with God was never meant to be strictly a solitary experience. Personal time spent with the Lord is critically important. That’s a given! But our pursuit of God must also include consistent interaction with other believers through worship, fellowship and study. We need both! Sadly, some Christians believe that their faith is a matter between them and God alone. But are we not the Body of Christ?
Just as one member of our physical body is not complete without the others, we need one another if we are ever to walk in the fullness of God’s purpose for our lives. Going it alone will never produce the kind of fruitful relationship God intended for us. We’re just not wired that way. Jesus taught that abiding in Him includes loving one another. How can we ever hope to accomplish this if we are not intentionally involved in each other’s lives?
If you could see your life from the perspective of eternity—the beginning, middle and end all at once—what do you think would be the most important part? Would it be a past achievement? Or might some future event carry the most weight.
Actually, it’s what we do right now that’s most important! Why? Because now we have the chance to pursue God with all our heart. Now there’s opportunity to prepare for all He has planned for us. Scripture says we’ve been “created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand.” This brings whole new meaning to life!
God transcends time, and the now of God allows us to join with Him in all He has for us. So forget the triumphs and failures of the past. And rise above any fear of the future. It will help you reach forward in hope to what lies ahead.
From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself
Do you ever feel like your path is blocked by a whole mountain range of challenges? When confronted by a trial, we immediately wonder how to get around it. Skirting the issue just seems a whole lot easier, since working through the problem appears to be impossible.
But what if engineers constructed our roads around the far ends of the mountains, instead of investing the effort and resources needed to build them right through the middle? We would clearly be faced with hundreds of extra miles each time we made a trip, wasting precious time and expense.
When we’re faced with suffering, the same question arises: how to get from here to there, not only now but also in the future. Will we skirt the difficulty time and again, or cut a pathway right through the heart of the problem? Will we let God build the character we need to succeed?
One rainy winter day, I noticed how dusty our houseplant was. So I set it out to rinse it off a little. Not a bad idea—except that I forgot about to bring it in. The next morning I was horrified to see the pitiful thing had lost all its leaves. Sheepishly, I put it right back in its favorite corner, Later, I was overjoyed to see hundreds of tiny shoots reappearing on its barren branches.
Right then God spoke clearly to my heart: “This is what I’m doing to you!” I’d been going through some difficulties, so immediately I understood what God was saying. He’d been exposing me to extreme circumstances, using suffering so that fresh life could sprout. That lesson taught me to embrace trials whenever they come my way. They’re there for my good—to transform my character. For God, suffering is a much lesser evil than a mediocre heart.
God wants you! And He wants you to want Him. He desires the kind of relationship rooted in our need to be with Him. Can we survive spiritually in a halfhearted relationship with God? Sure we can. But merely going through the motions doesn’t carry a whole lot of weight with Him. Nobody likes indifference! What we do for God is important, certainly. But if our efforts are not coupled with intimacy, they have little value.
How can we alter our tendency toward doing stuff, as opposed to being what God wants? First recognize it as a problem. Then ask God to change the motivation of your heart. He’ll answer that prayer! Then practice it! Few things succeed in life without a lot of practice. Granted, employing this discipline doesn’t come easy. What’s encouraging, though, is that reaching toward greater intimacy with God just naturally increases our appetite for it.