In my last post, I introduced a new series we’ll be going through called Be Transformed, and I talked about the nine areas in our lives we’re going to look at and how we can grow in each area. If you haven’t read that post yet, you can do it here.
So this week, we’re going to dive into the first area: spiritual growth. We’ll look at why it’s important to spend time with God daily, how to make it a priority in your life and ditch the excuses, and one barrier you might not have thought of that can keep you from growing closer to Him.
The Importance of Father/Daughter Time
Imagine if you neglected your relationship with your dad when you were growing up. What if the only time you talked to your dad was to ask for your allowance or when you had a crisis and needed him to bail you out? How would your relationship look like? How well would you know your dad? How would you know his hopes and dreams for your life?
As ridiculous as this relationship sounds, it’s how some of us treat God. It’s how I treated Him before I got saved (and even for some time after). I was terrible about prayer and reading the Bible—and in full transparency, I have to admit, I still have not read the entire Bible cover to cover.
I use to think parts of the Bible were ok, some parts were even cool, but most of it—really most of the old testament—were just so boring. Though now I think, it’s just cause I had a hard time understanding it which is why I thought it was boring. Listening to sermons that explain those verses in the Bible helped a lot—I mean a lot. It also helped to read a different translation of it, such as the message version.
As I began to read the Bible daily, I started seeing where God wanted to speak to different areas of my life. I started learning more about His character and seeing where I believed lies rather than His truth.
Now if you’re thinking, “of course, I want a relationship with God, and I want to grow closer to Him but how the heck do I do that?” Then keep reading, this next section is for you.
Spending Time with God Daily
Make A Date With Him & Schedule It Into Your Calendar
Most of us schedule important events or appointments into our planner. Doctor’s appointments, work meetings, kids soccer games, anniversary dinners, etc. but when was the last time you scheduled a date with God?
We need to make this a priority. We need to ditch the excuses! Most people will say things like “I just don’t have time” or “my life is so busy/hectic right now.”
Well, friend, let me share this with you: you’ll never be less busy than you are right now. Life only seems to get busier as we get older.
But let me ask you this and answer honestly: how much time do you spend scrolling FB, Instagram, Twitter, or pinning on Pinterest a day? Could you spend some of that time reading your Bible instead?
Most of the time when we stop to think about what we actually do in a day and how much time we waste on little things like social media, it’s easy to see where we can use our time more wisely to connect with God.
But this will never happen unless we first make time with God a priority. This is why I suggest scheduling it into your calendar. You’ll know you have a set date and time to meet with God.
If you still think you’re short on time, take a week and track everything you do for that week. From the moment you wake up till the moment you close your eyes for bed, write down everything. Then at the end of the week, evaluate how you spent your time. What are your time wasters? What can you cut down on or eliminate from your schedule? What do you need to say no to?
Many of us have trouble saying no to others or no to certain activities or opportunities that come our way.
If you want to know more about learning to say no or set boundaries, I recommend The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst (you know I had to throw in a book rec somewhere). 🙂
Come Into His Presence
When do you feel the presence of God around you? Is it when you’re outside in nature admiring his creation? Is it while you’re dancing and singing along to Hillsong? Do you feel it most when you’re meditating, praying, or journaling?
All of us are different, and all of us experience God’s presence in different ways. For me, it’s worshipping and sometimes going outside for a walk. Whatever you do to get into His presence, make that a priority. The more we do this, the more He’ll speak into our lives, and the more we get closer to Him.
One way I’ve heard suggested to hear from God and get closer to Him is by journaling about your desires and then writing out God’s response; what you hear Him speaking to you.
I just started doing this, and I’m not consistent with it yet, but just from the few times I did it, it’s been amazing to see what God has said and done.
One of the things I wrote down that God said to me…twice, was “be ready.” I wrote that about a month ago and right now I’m in the middle of a major transition (career-wise) and it’s stretching my faith and helping me to learn to lean on Him for everything.
Maybe once I’ve gotten through this transition phase, I’ll write a post about my journey and what God has shown me.
Connect With God’s People
Another way to hear God speak into your life is to get around His people. Join a small group at your church, connect with other Christians. God uses others to speak to us at times.
Also, pay attention to things that came up over and over. God has used different people to speak the same verses to me over and over. So if you find yourself saying something like “Oh my gosh, I’ve been hearing that everywhere” pay attention. God is speaking to you in those moments.
Sermons, Podcasts, Books, & Devotionals
God speaks to us in multiple ways. Aside from using His people to speak to us, He can do it through church sermons, podcasts, spiritual development books, and daily devotionals. I’m sometimes amazed at how God will speak to me through these methods.
If you want a recommended list of books and podcasts to check out, be sure to sign up for my email list in the sidebar. You’ll gain access to my entire resource library, including some of my favorite recommendations.
And, if you want recommendations for sermon series that will help you grow in your relationship with God, check out these two churches.
Gateway: More Than Words Series
CCV: Antennae Series
Barrier To Growing With God
So now that we’ve looked at ways to grow closer to God and fuel your spiritual growth, we need to talk about one major barrier that can stand in your way.
God calls us to forgive others. Jesus taught this in the Lord’s prayer, and in Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus says “for if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (NASB).The Christian life is one of forgiveness and love; you can’t change that. Click To Tweet
And you can’t put a condition to your forgiveness. You can’t say “I’ll never forgive this person cause what they did was worse than what anyone’s ever done to me.”
God didn’t say forgive them only if they deserve it, or they’re sorry, or their actions weren’t “that bad.”
He just says to forgive.
I get it; it’s not easy. And if we’re honest, sometimes we may think “I know the Bible says vengeance is the Lord’s, but can’t I just help you out, God. I mean I do have an idea… or two… or twenty of what we can do. It can be a father/daughter bonding activity, getting vengeance together.”
No? So this is just me then? Well, either way, He did tell us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (easier said than done, I agree).
But here’s the thing: forgiveness is a journey. It’s not a one-time action, and you’re done. It does take time, and that’s ok. I think another problem that holds people back is that they don’t truly understand what forgiveness is and isn’t.
At my job, we have a packet we go through with clients on the topic of forgiveness. So I’m taking part of that packet and breaking it down for you.
- A process that involves a change in emotion and attitude towards the person who hurt/wronged you whether they “deserve” it or not
- Letting go of certain emotions (anger, resentment, bitterness, etc.)
- Forgiveness can be directed towards others and yourself
Forgiveness is not:
- A pardon
- Condoning or excusing
- Reconciliation (coming together)
- Forgetting (the whole “forgive and forget” is a bunch of crap; for some things, there’s no forgetting no matter how much time has passed)
- A quick fix
- Accepting what happened
I know the topic of forgiveness is not an easy one and I want to give you some extra resources to help you. So below is a link to a podcast and Ted Talk video that I think are a huge help when it comes to talking about forgiveness.
God-Centered Success by Mia Renee: Forgiveness Series
Ted Talk: What comes after tragedy? Forgiveness
On Mia’s podcast, one of her monthly themes was forgiveness, so she has a few episodes talking about this. Episodes 123-126 are all on forgiveness. These episodes are at the top of the Apple Itunes page. In the Ted Talk, Azim Khamisa talks about his journey of forgiving the man who murdered his son and what came of that.
Now before you start thinking “wow, he’s strong. I don’t think I could ever forgive someone who murdered my child,” remember that you murdered God’s son.
We ALL did.
Jesus came to die for our sins. If we were perfect people or even “good people” like the world would have us believe we are, then he would never have needed to come to earth, take our place, be crucified, die and be resurrected 3 days later. But He loves us enough to go through all of that for us.
And if He can go through all of that for us, then my hope is that we would love Him enough to forgive others when He asks us to.
So we covered a lot in this post: the importance of spending time with God daily, how to make Him a priority and ways to grow closer to Him, and one barrier that could get in your way—unforgiveness.
I’ve given you several resources—which I really hope you check out cause they’re amazing—and now I’ll leave you with one more resource.
I told you in my previous post that I would be creating worksheets for you that go along with each blog post in this series. Sign up below to grab your free download of the spiritual growth worksheets!
And don’t forget to leave me a comment below telling me how you plan to grow closer to God and make Him a priority.