We're all a work in progress. But remember it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Phil 2:13. God's not in a hurry. He's on "God time." He isn't bound by the world's time table. In today's public school system, some people are promoted without meeting the standards of having satisfactorily completed their course work. The system doesn't want to "damage their self-esteem" by failing them if they don't measure up. So some people skate through the school system without really becoming competent. This is not so with God. He's not going to promote you until you really learn the lessons you need to learn at your current level. Someone once said, God just keeps giving you the same test over until you pass. The good news is He gives open book tests. The Bible is all you need to know and do. So, it looks like we will be in the school of the Holy Spirit until we get promoted to heaven. In that case we better learn some patience. We just keep going from faith to faith. We're tested at one faith level only to move us to another faith level which will also be tested.
If we resist, God has a process called Chastening (Heb. 12:5-11). It's like when I was in the 5th grade. Fifth graders can be a menace if they are not kept in tow and Mrs. Lancaster, my teacher, knew how to deal with 5th graders. She had a paddle she kept in the supply room. It was a big flat 1X 6 that had been fashioned with a handle and rounded edges and corners with holes drilled in it. The holes were for added "sting effect" It was painted red and it had blue letters running the length of it. Written on the paddle were three small Words: "El Whacko Boom." Everyone had a healthy respect for Mrs. Lester and "El Whacko Boom." When the class got rowdy, she would brandish "El Whacko" and the class room would take on a very solemn mood. Occasionally some foolish child, most often a boy, would push the limits. Big old Mrs. Lancaster would be down that aisle in a flash. She would grab that kid by the ear and lead him into the supply closet. The door would close. Then we would hear "El Whacko Boom" in action. Three swats is all it took. The child would come back to his seat and never a peep, at least for a day or two. The old timers had such wisdom. Needless to say, we all had the "fear" of Mrs. Lancaster. She had one of the most orderly classes in the school. Most of the boys and girls who had the blessing of visiting Mrs. Lancaster's supply closet, didn't choose a return visit. However there were a few forgetful souls. Their inner tendency toward mischief was simply too strong. They forgot the lesson "El Whacko Boom" had tried to teach them. They need another trip around Mt. Sinai , if you will. The second trip to the supply closet was met with a few more whacks than before. The second chastening might be a little harder than the first. (These were the days when prayer and the pledge of allegiance were still allowed. I mean the pledge with "One Nation Under God" not the new godless version.)
So it is with God's children. Just as Mrs. Lancaster knew the right amount of pressure to apply with each successive trip to the supply closet, God knows just how much reaping we need in the school of hard knocks to bring about a desire to change.
II. Cooperate with God's Process.
The first thing we can do to cooperate with the process is develop a healthy reverence for the Lord. We will never change if we don't revere and respect the Lord with a heart of love. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Believe me, it is wisdom to respect the Lord. He can leave us to be chastened in the school of hard knocks, or we can let His Word correct us and immediately turn at the revelation of His word. The Word way is easier. It's similar to when we were children. We could obey mom and dad's word, or we could get some chastening. Usually we had to stand with our nose in the corner, or we received a spanking, or lose a privilege for a while. I quickly learned I liked the Word way. I still like the Word way better.
1. God uses the humble, so stay humble.
James 4:6 says, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. So we need to stay in humility. This means we must not only be willing to repent and change but must consider ourselves in a state of total dependency on the Lord. Humble people fear God. Humble people receive grace. Therefore humble people; those who recognize they are totally dependent on the Lord, receive the divine enablement of the Lord (grace) to change, and because they revere the Lord and love the Lord they want to change. People who do not change their ways are neither humble, nor do they fear the Lord.
Ps. 55:19 God will hear, and afflict them, Even He who abides from of old. Selah, because they do not change, therefore they do not fear God.
2. God uses the weak, so admit your weaknesses and overcome them with His grace.
The Lord said to the apostle Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
The way to approach our weakness is not from a "miserable worm" perspective. We will develop an inferiority complex if we continually focus on our weaknesses or short comings and use them as an excuse to never serve the Lord. People who continually focus on their weaknesses develop an "inferiority complex." People with an inferiority complex are preoccupied with self. People who know their dominant weaknesses and then turn from focusing on them look to God for grace to help them overcome those weaknesses. They are called "over comers" in the Bible. Be an overcomer. With the Lord's help we can overcome anything.
I'll write more on this topic next week.
Be blessed of God,
Bishop Darrell Ellis
Anointed Word International Fellowship