Several years ago, I read the Bible along with the book, 66 Love Letters by Dr. Larry Crabb. I spent 2 1/2 years reading through the Bible and reading this book. It taught me a lot. Here are some things I learned from my journey.
God created us to commune with Him. He created us to share in His beautiful home and in His abundant blessings. There was a problem. He also created us with a will of our own. And we messed everything up—big time! We still mess things up today. We are all sinners. I may not have been arrested for a crime, but I’m still a sinner. But all is not lost! God had a plan. It cost Him the death of His Son. There is no “big” sin or “little” sin with God, and we can never sin more than what His love and forgiveness can cover.
Here are some things that I have learned about walking through this life with God.
- You won’t find heaven by following the crowd. You also need to be very careful whom you listen to as a biblical teacher. Even those who say they are teaching and preaching God’s word may not be.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT)
“Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away, the things you did were unauthorized.’” Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)
2. The Christian life is hard, and don’t listen to those who try to tell you that it is easy or should be easy. The problem with our world is that we want everything to be fast, easy, and cost us as little effort as possible. The Christian life will also not feel good most of the time. I want to go deeper than just happiness, which I consider to be a mostly surface emotion, and dig for the deepest joy and peace that is found when I totally cast myself on God. Even in my darkest times, I have the joy of knowing God and living in His care and with His blessings. You need to go past the happiness and look for the joy! Paul found joy in all of his sufferings. There are many verses about suffering in the Bible. Christians will suffer. That is the penalty of living in a fallen world.
“Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)
“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)
“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NLT)
3. God is a holy God, and we need to approach Him in awe and reverence. I believe many forget this.
4. God wants our obedience.
“But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah put out his hand to steady the Ark of God. Then the Lord’s anger blazed out against Uzzah for doing this, and God struck him dead beside the Ark of God.” 2 Samuel 6:6-7 (NLT)
This passage of scripture always bothered me. Why did God kill Uzzah? Uzzah was just trying to keep the Ark from falling. But Uzzah also didn’t obey God. It was clear that NO ONE was to touch the Ark. Uzzah was just trying to help, but he disobeyed. He didn’t remember that God wants our obedience. Sometimes in our eagerness to serve we may do things that are not what God wants us to do. We need to follow God’s personal plans for each one of us. My prayer life has changed drastically. I pray more for others than for myself. For myself, I mainly pray that I will know and faithfully follow God’s will for my life.
5. God wants our trust and love. We can only do this the more we get to know Him on a personal level. The more we know about God, the more we can trust and love Him. And real trust is best learned in the darkness. God also wants us to love others as He loves them. That means anyone. God loves even the worst of criminals who kill countless innocent victims.
6. We need to not be satisfied with a shallow, feel-good, relationship with God. This is not a real relationship. We need to cut out apathy toward the sin and evil in our world today. We need real worship. We need to be real about our sins and shortcomings. Real worship will bring about real change. We need to be honest about what is wrong with ourselves. We need to be broken and cleanse ourselves of every trace of self-interest.
7. We need to be patient and stay on the narrow road. We need to be filled with hope. We need to give God EVERYTHING. We need to remember that things are not always as they seem. God is in control. He always has been, He is now, and He always will be. God’s son is coming back. We will go to God’s party, and we will dance.