These First Things

This is a wonderful and exciting time to be alive and witnessing some fantastic things God is doing! Many of the clouds that have kept His plans secret are being blown away, revealing the grace, freedom and wholeness that is our inheritance. As we begin to explore some of the practical ways we can enter into His rest, we need to keep a few basic guidelines in mind:

1) Truth is a Person — Jesus Christ Himself. Though we will be referring to the scriptures, we will not be looking to the Bible as our primary source for truth. Our goal is to encourage the reader to hear from the Living Word directly and internally. Most of us realize that you can make the scriptures say whatever you want, which is one of the reasons there are so many denominations and translations today. The scriptures have been translated into over a thousand languages, each with their own subtleties and emphasis necessitated by the language. So our goal is to become acquainted with that witness, that “a-ha” within that testifies that what we have heard or read is Truth.

2) None of us has all the truth. Therefore some of what we believe must not be true. We must be willing to admit and let go of the misconceptions we have about God, ourselves, others and what He’s doing in our lives, and let Him change our hearts, minds and behaviors to line up with what He says is True.

3) Most of us don’t know what we believe. Much of what we believe has been passed down; it’s okay to question it. That which is truth, from God for us at this time, will stand the light of day. That which doesn’t, well, it wasn’t bringing us life anyway. So let it go!

4) We need to be practical — God is! There are things we can do, and stop doing, by which we can cooperate with what God is doing. God wants us involved in what He is doing in our lives, in this world, and in His plans for this time frame.

5) Wholeness, freedom and life are God’s provision for us — NOW! God wants us whole, complete and entire, and will not cease his efforts until we enter His rest.

6) We are often fighting the wrong battles. We’ve been distracted by battles that have already been won, yet are not taking up the sword where we need to.

7) A lot of what we have chosen to believe is because it fits our temperament, how we feel, our history, and how we perceive our identity. As our perceptions change, our beliefs will also change.

8) We are all dealing with the same basic problems. There are only two kinds of people in the world; those that are spiritually dead, and those that are spiritually alive. Once we get beyond this, we can look at what is really keeping us from entering into life: the flesh.

9) How Do You Spell “Success”? Let’s face it, this is really the bottom line. And we’re not talking about what organized religion calls success: achieving our goals, not “sinning,” fulfilling our calling, perfecting our gifts or being in full-time ministry. Our true calling is to “live in the spirit,” yet we often don’t even know what that means. For our purposes, living, moving, walking and having our being in the spirit will be referred to as depending on God, for our very life, for the meeting of our needs, and for guidance, direction, assurance, etc. For most of us, we have no idea what it would look like to truly live the Christian life. What would it feel like? Would we think differently, act differently? We need to discover how God defines success.

10) Is what you’re learning practical? Can you apply what you’re being taught to your daily life? We want to be able to stop going ’round the mountain, from one crisis to another, and finally learn how to walk daily as the overcomers God says we are. Sure, there will be times when we don’t feel happy, or our circumstances are bad, but is there something we can actually do to live in that promised peace and rest today? YES! And it’s simpler than you might think.

11) Man likes to make complex what God has made simple. One of the things we will be doing is to unravel and bring into the light some of the things being taught in organized religion that are contrary to what God says is Truth. So keep your ears open for what the Spirit is saying to you, the church, and when He bids you to come up hither, Come!

12) Accept what God reveals, even if it doesn’t answer all your questions or doesn’t seem to fit in with your other beliefs. We like to understand everything before we accept it, and will try to carry to logical conclusions that which God has only revealed in part. God has the right to teach us on His timetable; He operates strictly on a need-to-know basis. If and when we need to know something, He’ll teach and reveal it to us. Rest in what He is in you today!

13) Is what you’re believing working for you? Or are you counting the days until you can be whisked away to your reward, that place of perfect peace where you can finally rest and enjoy freedom, confidence and the acknowledgement of God; “Well done, good and faithful steward. Here is your reward”? This is not what God intended for us — He has a purpose for our time here, and it is my firm conviction that if we don’t fulfill it here we will have to fulfill it in the next age to come, along with the purpose for that age.

14) Religious Jargon. One of the first things we’re going to do is to try as much as possible to stay away from religious terms, and instead re-phrase the concepts into something that will hopefully mean something to all of us. So though we will occasionally refer specifically to a scripture verse, in order to encourage the Spirit making these things real on a personal level we will not be trying to “prove” these things by the written word. We trust that the Lord will witness to you personally what He wants you to know; that which is not from Him will be washed down the drain anyway, so even if you find you can’t accept some of what is written here, we hope you enjoy and are challenged by some differing perspectives.

Adapted from Practical Christianity by Dianne Thomas