“for it is God who works in you to will and
to act according to his good purpose.”
Philippians 2:13 NIV
Today the garden is chilly but my spirit is warm. Most of the summer flowers have faded and have been cut back. Only marigolds, mums, asters, and lantana grace the garden pathways. Pumpkins and gourds continue to add fall color as they wind their vines among the shrubs and trail out into open spaces looking for sunshine. Ornamental cabbages, one of my personal favorites, are scattered about. Red Nandina berries splash exclamation points of praise throughout the garden. The trees are beautiful as they parade their autumn fedoras and bonnets of red, yellow, burgundy, and gold splendor. I look up and through the parting of the trees I observe the cloudless blue autumn sky that is about as perfect as the sky can be! I wonder if perhaps, this feast of nature could be a glimpse of God’s shadowed holiness. Like Moses, I am far too frail to look into the face of his holiness! Nonetheless, this shadow of his holiness fills my heart and then spills over with the amazing pleasures that are poured out this day in the form of autumn glory. Oh that my life would in some way glorify the One who is holy!
I look up and there he is, the Master Gardner. He puts his loving arm around my shoulders and reminds me that sanctification is that divine process that changes me and replaces my imperfections with His holiness. These changes in my life are designed to bring glory to the Father. I remain quiet as I meditate on the fact that God in his infinite wisdom has chosen to move me along in my earthly faith walk little by little. I am quite confident that if God poured into me all of his holiness in one huge dose, this jar of clay would certainly explode! That may be exactly why a new heavenly body is required so that I might contain the whole of his holiness. “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown in a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NIV
God does not force holiness on me. He wants and desires my participation in the process of sanctification. If I refuse to participate I continue to walk in darkness. If I reject this deep satisfying relationship with God I also sit myself up for temptation and failure. In addition, I rob myself of spiritual blessings such as joy and peace as I face my everyday challenges and trials.
Walking with Jesus reminds me of the scenario of friendship. How far would I get in a new friendship if I refused to spend time with that person? How lonely would my life be if I continued to shut friendship out of my life? Who would be my sounding board as I face the challenges of life? Who would I experience laughter and happiness with as I celebrate the happy times in my life? We need people in our life, but God’s Word says that Jesus is a friend above all other friends. Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than any friend or brother. Proverbs 18:24 So why would I deliberately choose to ignore the presence of Jesus Christ in my life? Why would I hold his friendship at bay? My lack of interest in spiritual things and my Savior pushes him away. He doesn’t leave, but there is no relationship, no fellowship, no spiritual growth, and no chance for his holiness to develop and perfect my spirit. When this happens my character speaks loud and clear. Self-interest is the most important priority and that leaves very little time for the lover of my soul.
I wonder if a better understanding of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made when he willingly laid down his life for us would make a difference in the lives of believers. I wonder if becoming more aware of the huge price that Jesus paid for our sin could possibly move us to surrender, love, and obey him more. My clueless heart often leaves me responding outwardly but never bowing my heart in complete selfless submission to my selfless Lord. Worst of all, at times I find myself so busy and preoccupied with myself that I am unaffected, aloof, and desensitized to the enormeous price Jesus paid. I am embarrassed to admit that there have been times in my life that Jesus on the cross has been nothing more to me than a holy religious icon.
But the good news is that if we seek to know Jesus Christ more, there will be moments when we do get a greater glimpse of the lavish love that God has shown to you and me. For me these glimpses of Christ’s sacrificial love somehow starts to bring about more mental awareness of my need for additional changes to be made in my heart. It is in those brief moments of divine comprehension that God shows me his love, his mercy, and his grace. It is a fact that during those times of enlightenment I do find a greater need to be obedient to my Savior. It is my heart’s desire not to ever loose sight of what God has done for me. This world is full of distractions but I must stay focused on Jesus. This requires daily reflection as I ask this one simple question, “God, why are you so good to me?”
Jesus is always waiting for me in the garden but I must willingly choose to go to the garden and allow Jesus to help me correct, change, and remove the sinful behavior in my life. I must choose to give Him the pieces of my heart that cripple, paralyze and defeat me. I must choose to allow Jesus to mold me into His image. Someday I will meet Jesus face to face and when I do I want to hear him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Holiness is not a suggestion it is a command and it is necessary. In all honesty when I sought sanctification as a once and for all second work of grace that would make me perfect in word, thought, and deed I lived a troubled life. My spirit was void of joy because I was chasing a carrot that would never be within my grasp. The side effect of this misery was fear. I saw all of my efforts for godly perfection as nothing short of continual spiritual failure. But when God in his mercy showed me that sanctification was a life long process I was filled with hope and joy. It is during daily prayer time that I embrace my salvation and feel God's arms of love. Reading God’s Word daily allows the Holy Spirit to speak to my spirit. This daily time alone with God begins the sanctification process for that day. You see, God is changing me one day at a time and in this process I experience his peace and joy even in the midst of difficulty. When I take time to daily sit in the garden with Jesus my attitudes change, healing occurs, challenges are accepted, and burdens are lifted.
I love walking with God in a relationship that has provision for my failures, yet requires me to be accountable for my actions. I treasure God’s grace for me. God knows that I am dust and his grace in my life covers my human frailty and his blood covers my sin. I know that I am accountable for all of my choices but what personal joy it is to hear Jesus whisper in my ear, “Paula, get up, it’s OK, come higher, trust me, you can do it, take my power, accept my grace.”
Because of God’s grace and mercy I am falling deeper and deeper in love with Jesus everyday. Obedience and trust are always issues in my life that never seem to go away. But now I see those obstacles as opportunities to draw me closer to my Savior. Holiness was once a word that filled me with fear but now it is a word that is one of the sweetest words I know because God’s grace allows me to embrace holy living simply because I love Jesus and he loves me. It is no longer something that I must attain. It is no longer about me but totally about Him! It is God who works in me to develop my character for his glory. When each individual act of divine work is done, God pours into my life the type of holiness that glorifies only him, the One who IS holy.
1. Do you sense that God is changing you through the process of sanctification?
2. Have you noticed that you respond to life differently than you did before you knew Jesus Christ as your Savior?
3. Are you consciously making an effort to deepen you friendship with Jesus Christ through daily reading his Word and prayer?
4. Have you sensed that you are falling deeper in love with Jesus?
5. What are the fruits of your life that reflect this inward change?
6. Do you feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit calling you to come higher?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Oh how I desire to fall deeper and deeper in love with you! I pray that this love will cause spontaneous grace, love, and obedience to flow out of my life. Lord, I thank you that you are at work in my life and that all of your ways are designed according to your good purposes for my life. God, I confess that sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Many times I do not understand what you are doing in my life. Father, you already know that I am not always thankful for difficult circumstances in my life, but I am trying to be thankful for what you are helping me to become as a result of my trials. I pray that you will continue to do the work of sanctification in my life as walk in a close personal relationship with you everyday. I pray that through prayer and the reading of your Word I will learn how you think. How I desire to have the mind of Christ as I walk the path of holiness. I pray that my life will glorify you, the One who is holy.
In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.