In most churches, there are some older folk around the place who have been walking with Jesus longer than most of us have been alive. Older people whose faith lasts the distance all seem to have things in common that they all know. They are also all fairly quiet — they have learnt not to meddle and not to give endless advice (there are busybodies who never stop talking and they aren’t the people I mean).
Most of these things, your pastor won’t tell you either, for various reasons. Don’t use these things to judge someone else’s relationship with God. These are things I have learnt the hard way over the last 20 years. Ignoring them won’t make you “not saved”.
1. Worship God on your own time. God actually wants us to tell Him how good He is, because He really is that good. Not just on Sundays, but the rest of the week too. You know how to sit and look into the eyes of someone you love… do that for God, too. It’s commandment #1 of the 10 commandments and the 2 commandments because it’s important to Him.
2. Read or listen to the Bible every day. If a pastor gets up and says “You have to read the Bible every day” the response is usually either, “Who are you to tell me what to do!” or “that’s salvation by works!” Your salvation doesn’t depend on reading the Bible every single day. Reading your Bible is much like eating food. You can eat no food for a week and be fine, but if you pretty much never eat it won’t change you for the better. While reading the Bible, you will come across things that don’t make sense — no matter how long you’ve been a Christian. Go and find someone whose faith you respect and ask them what they make of it, and keep asking people you respect until someone can explain it to you.
3. Pray until you pray, but don’t brag about it. Your pastor probably wants to know you have been praying because it’s an encouragement to them. When you have been praying through things until you have peace — and it can take days, it really can — it is discernible. Just like when you’ve been working at a petrol station you smell like petrol, when you’ve been praying it shows. Go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father in Heaven, who sees what is done in secret, (Matt 6:6) and rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb 11:6).
4. What your obvious sins are. There are probably a few busybodies who will tell you what they think you are doing wrong, but the spiritual giants around you usually won’t. Your pastor probably won’t, as criticism is a great way to offend people and have them leave the church. It’s important to sit quietly, maybe as you read your Bible, and ask God to show you what things in your life He isn’t happy with and wants to be changed. He’ll bring them to your attention and help you change. It’s also much better to ask Him in private than have Him get someone else to tell you in public.
5. Shut up and stop complaining. I’m a millennial and we’re great at venting, complaining and letting off steam about everything, online and off. However, while the Bible does say to carry each other’s burdens, it also says to do everything without complaining or arguing (Phil 2:14). While it’s wise to let a couple of people know if you’re having a rough time, that’s not the same as having something to complain about every time you talk to someone.
6. You only need to do what God has asked YOU to do. Jesus didn’t heal everyone in Israel. In Luke 4.23-27 he refuses to heal people in Capernaum, and explains Elijah and Elisha were only sent to certain people too. At church, someone needs to be on the morning tea roster etc. to have the formal service run smoothly, but it’s important not to worship the formal meeting itself. God has things He wants you to do and if you are too busy doing jobs that aren’t your calling, you won’t be able to do things you ARE called to do.
7. Faith is when you know what God has said and you believe Him. Trusting He will do something He hasn’t actually said He will, isn’t faith, it’s presumption. Sometimes God uses scripture out of exegetical context to explain to someone what He wants to do through them, but that’s not a good reason to claim Bible verses that sound good and start trying to use them to make God do things that He hasn’t promised. Faith is being certain of what you do not see — and if you know God has said it, you can be certain that sooner or later it will happen. In order to know what God has said and trust Him, you need to be in the word, reading, studying and memorising it until it starts coming out of you as you go about your life day to day.
8. Beware operating under someone else’s anointing. There’s an effect that sometimes happens with ministries which I have noticed over the years. When Jesus sent out His disciples in Luke Chapter 10, they hadn’t received the Holy Spirit yet — but were operating under Jesus’ ministry and anointing. In Numbers 22 God, by His power, even spoke through a donkey! Sometimes when you are in a church, you will see God working in your life, but you have been neglecting your own walk with God. Don’t. A hundred times over, don’t! It’s so important to not be fooled by the things you’ve seen and done. It is so important to be seen and known by your heavenly Father, on your own time. Don’t be one of the ones who on the last day stands and says “but I did so many things in Your name!” and hears, ‘depart from me, I never knew you.’
Anyway, enough from me – What have you learnt that you could add to this list?