Every Christian knows that believing in God requires a nomal spiritual life, namely spiritual devotion. It is the foundation of establishing a proper relationship with God and the way of practice that is absolutely necessary in the growth of our spiritual life. Then, how should we practice spiritual devotion to achieve good results? Today, let’s communicate this aspect of the truth together.
First, we should focus on quieting our hearts before God in our spiritual devotions, which is the precondition for obtaining the work of the Holy Spirit.
God says: “To build a good relationship with God is a top priority for anyone believing in God; everyone should treat it as the most important task and as their major life event” (“How Is Your Relationship With God?”). We can see from God’s words that establishing a normal relationship with God in one’s faith in God is a truth of the utmost importance. If we wish to pursue God’s commendation and serve God’s will, only through having a normal relationship with God can these things be achieved. If we do not have a normal relationship with God, then we do not deserve to be called believers—that is why establishing a normal relationship with God is so important. So how are we to establish a normal relationship with God? Below is a simple fellowship of the four principles.
Faced with trials and refinement, many brothers and sisters in the Lord would get bewildered, not knowing how to experience them to be after God’s heart. Thanks to God’s leadership, I’ve grasped some principles on this aspect through studying the Bible and fellowshiping with my brothers and sisters in the church. Now I’d like to share them with you, which I hope can help the brothers and sisters who are undergoing trials.
First, we should understand that all trials and refinement are God’s arrangements, and that contained within them is God’s love, God’s will, and God’s requirements.
The Bible says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). As believers in God, we all know that building a normal relationship with God in order to get closer to God and receive more of the Holy Spirit’s work is crucial. In the fast-paced modern life, however, busy jobs, complicated relationships and evil social trends draw us in and occupy our hearts more and more, and they prevent us from quieting ourselves before God. This causes our relationship with God to become ever more distant and causes us to often feel empty and agitated in the depths of our souls. So how exactly can we establish a proper relationship with God and become closer to God? This is a very important issue put in front of each believer. Actually, we need only to grasp the three aspects below, and our relationship with God will grow closer.
Every brother and sister in the Lord has their own different experiences of coming before God. However, so similar are most Christians’ experiences of faith in God after believing in the Lord: We read the Bible and pray to the Lord day after day, go to the church for gatherings regularly, spread the Lord Jesus’ salvation to our relatives and friends ardently, bear the cross, practice tolerance, patience, and loving others as ourselves and so on. In doing so, we think that we are believing in God. Moreover, we are envious of those brothers and sisters who know the Bible thoroughly, sacrifice and labor tirelessly for the Lord. Most of us think this kind of faith in God should be commended by Him. And we think if we believe in God this way, we will surely be raptured into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord Jesus returns.
God says, “Though many people believe in God, few understand what faith in God means, and what they must do to conform to God’s will. This is because, though people are familiar with the word ‘God’ and phrases such as ‘the work of God,’ they do not know God, and still less do they know His work. No wonder, then, that all those who do not know God are muddled in their belief of Him. People do not take belief in God seriously, and this is entirely because believing in God is too unfamiliar, too strange for them. In this way, they fall short of God’s demands. In other words, if people do not know God, and do not know His work, then they are not fit for God’s use, and still less are they able to satisfy His will. ‘Belief in God’ means believing that there is a God; this is the simplest concept as regards believing in God. What’s more, believing that there is a God is not the same as truly believing in God; rather, it is a kind of simple faith with strong religious overtones. True faith in God means the following: On the basis of the belief that God holds sovereignty over all things, one experiences His words and His work, purges one’s corrupt disposition, satisfies the will of God, and comes to know God. Only a journey of this kind may be called ‘faith in God.’ Yet people often see belief in God as a simple and frivolous matter. People who believe in God in this way have lost what it means to believe in God, and though they may continue to believe until the very end, they shall never gain God’s approval, because they tread upon the wrong path. There are still those today who believe in God according to letters and in hollow doctrine. They do not know that they lack the essence of belief in God, and they cannot receive God’s approval. Still they pray to God for blessings of safety and sufficient grace. Let us stop, quiet our hearts, and ask ourselves: Can it be that believing in God really is the easiest thing on earth? Can it be that believing in God means nothing more than receiving much grace from God? Are people who believe in God without knowing Him or who believe in God and yet oppose Him really able to satisfy the will of God?”
Believing in God, many people think belief in God means that when in trouble, we pray and rely on God, asking Him for help, and that we zealously sacrifice and work for the Lord. But they don’t know what true faith in God is, nor do they know God or His work. This kind of faith is a muddled faith that will never earn God’s praise! God clearly specifies the true meaning of belief: “True faith in God means the following: On the basis of the belief that God holds sovereignty over all things, one experiences His words and His work, purges one’s corrupt disposition, satisfies the will of God, and comes to know God. Only a journey of this kind may be called ‘faith in God.’” God’s these words make the truth of faith in God so clear! To believe in God is actually to believe in the word of God, that is, to experience God’s words and work. Only in this way can we understand the truth and have a true understanding of God. This is true belief in God. In religious circles, people only talk about how to work and suffer for the Lord, but they don’t preach how to practice and experience the Lord’s words. So, we can neither understand the truth nor even know God no matter how many years we believe in the Lord. If we believe in God like this, how can God acknowledge us! The Lord Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Mat 7:22-23). This shows that we believers in the Lord sacrifice and work for Him according to our own will, we do not practice or experience the Lord’s words; not only does this kind of faith not obtain God’s approval, it’s also condemned by God.
What is faith? Many brothers and sisters in the Lord think that as long as they acknowledge God’s name, persist in reading the Bible, meeting and praying, and furthermore are able to sacrifice everything and labor, they are believers who have faith in God. But, this understanding is one-sided. In fact, true faith means that when our mind and body endure great suffering during refinement or adversity, we still don’t misunderstand or complain about God, but instead can obey God and persevere in believing in and following God.
The Bible says, “But the end of all things is at hand: be you therefore sober, and watch to prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:7–10). As servants of the Lord, we should do the church’s work well, help and support brothers and sisters, and finally bring them before God so that they can all obey and worship God—this is what the Lord has entrusted to us. So, how exactly should we support and help brothers and sisters to be in harmony with the Lord’s will? There are three principles that all of us need to enter into.
Early one morning, I sat by the window reading the Bible: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). This verse tells us to entertain strangers with love, I thought. Since they are strangers, they must be people whom we don’t know, yet the pastor often tells us not to receive strangers by quoting the scriptures, “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6–7). He says that as our statures are too small and we cannot distinguish, we should never receive any stranger who preaches the gospel. Ah, what exactly is the Lord’s will? What should I do? Should I receive the strangers who preach the gospel or not?
Just when I was feeling very perplexed, Sister Li in the church came to visit me, so I eagerly asked her: “Sister Li, the pastor often preaches to us, ‘I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ’ (Galatians 1:6–7). He doesn’t let us receive strangers, much less hear or see what they are preaching. But today I came across this verse, ‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares’ (Hebrews 13:2), which teaches us to entertain strangers with love. So should we receive strangers or not? I’d like to hear your view on this matter.”
What is faith? Under comfortable environments, with our works going well and family lives being peaceful, many of us will have the faith to follow the Lord, actively reading the Bible and attending meetings; however, once something unpleasant happens, we will become weak immediately. For example, when we are facing living difficulties because of losing our jobs, when our families lose peace due to something against our wishes happening, or when we are always refused a new job in spite of our praying, we begin losing our faith in God. Then, in consideration of all these things, what is real faith exactly?