Today’s guest post is from Tracie Johnson, founder of Response to Grace and…one of my very best friends. Enjoy!
Have you ever needed to ask a question, but you were fearful of the response and what it would require of you? Consider the questions below.
- “I know what I did was wrong, what can I do to make things right?”
- “I heard several Sunday school teachers were sick this morning, how can I fill in?”
- “Do you need help with the funeral dinner? What can I contribute?”
In addition to questions posed to family and friends, we are sometimes fearful of answers to questions we need to ask God. When was the last time you asked God a question similar to the one below?
- “Lord, I want to follow You more fully. What do I need to do?”
All true believers desire to ‘grow up’ in Christ. We long to be more like Him. We want to do what pleases Him. We long to be mature in our faith. But growing can be painful, and often scary.
Spiritual maturity requires a willingness to submit to the Lord in each and every area of your life. It requires unquestioning obedience. Many times, submission and obedience prompt uncomfortable feelings and a fear of where the process might lead. However, if you are willing to step out in trust, the process of growing closer to the Lord is always worth the work involved.
How does one embark on this spiritual journey of growth? The Bible is full of instructions to get you started. Reading through one of Paul’s letters to the New Testament churches is a good place to begin. However, glimpses of discipleship and lessons for spiritual growth are nestled deep in all the Scriptures.
I recently committed to reading the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament. The four brief chapters in Malachi contained a short list of questions that pricked my heart. While the questions were voiced by a rebellious and insincere people in response to a rebuke from Yahweh, these questions can serve as a starting point for spiritual growth when asked with a humble heart and a willingness to listen and obey.
I have listed the questions for you below. If you are willing, present them to God in a time of quiet reflection. Listen to His prompting as He reminds you of His great love and calls you to draw closer to him with all of your heart, mind, and strength.
1. ”How have You loved me?” – Malachi 1:2
This first question gives God a chance to remind you of His extravagant love. In light of His sacrifice, anything God asks of us seems insignificant and trivial. How can we not work to weed out sin and draw ever closer to Him when we remember the grace He has bestowed upon us?
2. “How have I despised Your Name?” – Malachi 1:6
This question focused on the people’s loss of respect for God and His authority. When you ask this question, listen for the Spirit to reveal where you have neglected to fully obey God’s commands or instruction.
3. “How have I defiled Your Altar?” – Malachi 1:7
The prophet Malachi told the people God was displeased because the sacrifices they brought to Him were defiled and imperfect. While God doesn’t expect perfection from us, He does desire our best efforts- especially in our relationship with Him and service for Him. Asking this question allows God to pinpoint areas where you fail to give Him and His Kingdom your best.
4. “How have I wearied You?” – Malachi 2:17
We weary God when we intentionally turn away from what He has planned for us. We also weary Him with disobedience that stems from ignorance. Through this question, will you give God an opportunity to lovingly point out your errors and/or actions that draw you away from Him rather than toward Him?
5. “How have I robbed You?” – Malachi 3:8
We can rob God with our time, resources, and talents. Everything God has gifted you with is intended to be used to further God’s kingdom. We can also rob God by withholding part of ourselves from Him. Allow the Spirit to speak direction into your life through this question.
6. “What have I spoken against You?” – Malachi 3:13
In Malachi, the Israelites complained and questioned God. They voiced the opinion that their obedience and worship was for not. They came to believe following God really didn’t profit them. While we may not be so bold, as humans we are prone to question- especially when we don’t understand God’s ways. In your time of reflection, allow God to reveal your doubts and fears. Then turn them over to Him, knowing that He is sovereign and He knows what is best.
7. “How can I return?” – Malachi 3:7
Finish your time of prayer and meditation by asking God how you can draw closer to Him. Maybe He will instruct you to spend more time in His Word. Maybe a commitment to increased prayer will help you put Him first every day. However God responds, be intentional in obeying. Your desire to grow in Christ, and the actions produced from your love for Him, will result in spiritual growth and maturity.
If you enjoyed the challenge to grow this devotional presented, Tracie invites you to join her at the Response to Grace online study site, where drawing closer to God is the purpose behind all she shares. The site (www.responsetogracestudy.org) makes available devotions, free bible studies, and bible study tools.