<<first hand knowledge>>
We all have our own unique experience prior to salvation, of coming to Christ, and the subsequent Christian walk. However, there will be common threads – we were lost in sin and under the control of Satan, when under the Holy Spirit's conviction of repenting and handing our lives over to a new master, and then the ongoing outworking of His life in us as we deal with the baggage of the past and the current everyday challenges of living.
Genuine salvation starts with a heart ‘moment’ that continues as a vital unending relationship with Jesus, resulting in a total life transformation, not just the accumulation of head knowledge or facts (2 Cor 5:17; Phil 1:6). It’s only as we truly experience Him that we can make a valid recommendation to others, telling what the Lord has done for us (Ps 34:8; Mk 5:19). Throughout life observe and learn from the good and bad experiences of others (as well as of your own) both in the natural and spiritual realms – what to do, what not to do, how and when. Keeping a journal, through mentoring and being accountable to and in close fellowship with others assists in this. We need wisdom and help to live God honouring lives, so meditate much in the Bible especially the book of Proverbs where the writer says, “Do not let what I say [the words of life] out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body” (Josh 1:8; Ps 1:1-6: Prov 4:20-22).
Pass on to others sound advice, guidance and how God has led you for we all have a testimony (Ex 10:2; Deut 6:20-22).
Experiences help shape who we become
While past experiences have an effect on the decisions we make today and in the future, they are not to dictate our response. Confront anddeal with areas that prevent you entering more fully into what God has for you. The hard times in our lives make us better and stronger Christians if we respond with the right attitude, and we can learn more by losing than winning. By honestly evaluating our experiences of the past, we can benefit from them and become better prepared for the future. Don’t allow the experiences of life to be wasted events. Why be content to live so far below God’s expectations and our privilege as His children?
However, do not seek spiritual experiences for themselves, as they are but a manifestation that point to Jesus. Having a greater awareness and love relationship with Him should be our highest goal rather than any sign or physical expression that would draw attention to us and away from the Lord. Christianity is not about feelings and experiences – it is about being born again, having a deepening relationship with the Lord, reaching the lost and developing Godly character as we make Jesus Lord of all. From the rock-solid and unchangeable foundation of being with Jesus we are able to go and affect our world for Him (Act 4:13, 17:6).
Just because our experience doesn’t match those in His Word, or the results spoken of, don’t stop pursuing or engaging in it – be it praying for the sick and seeing little result, or praying for the lost or any other God directed activity for we are to “Do what the Word says” (Mk 16:15-18; Jas 1:22). We are to faithfully do what He has told us and leave the outcome to Him. Do not bring God and His Word down to what we experience, rather use the Bible's standard by which our lives and results should be measured and aspired to. It is generally healthy to experiment with doing things in different ways, trying a different or more contemporary approach, except we are not to experiment with sin or evil practices.
Don’t be satisfied with the theory, reach for reality
you have overcome the evil one” (1 Jn 2:13,14). Has your personal history and spiritual experience been one of defeat and shame? With God’s help, you can change from being overcome by Satan to being an over-comer, from being crushed by the power of sin to being a conqueror, from knowing the theory to living in the reality of the power of God. Isn’t this the life you want? Determine to enter into the victory that Jesus died to provide. Making every effort to grow in your knowledge of God and the resources available, and through obedience to the Holy Spirit apply this to your everyday life (2 Pet 3:18).
Jesus experienced temptations so He could relate to us, yet He did not yield to the pressure to sin (Mt 4:1-10; Heb 2:18, 4:15). He died not just to get us to heaven; He conquered Satan on our behalf so that we might walk in victory – the reality of what His blood accomplished – and bring His Kingdom into reality in the lives of others too (1 Jn 3:8). “They overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony” (Rev 12:11). Am I walking in increasing wholeness and liberation from the power of sin?
Our faith is not dependent on skewed, particular or questionable experiences but the consistent truth of God's Word. It is to be the standard and umpire, not the fickle, and random happenings of life. We should not resort to fabricated claims of experiencing His dealings in our lives or emotional manifestations to impress others of our spirituality. What He requires is our loving faithful obedience (Jn 14:15).
It’s as we experience God our faith grows. Unless we are being transformed continually into the likeness of Christ, we are not allowing the truth and His potential to be outworked in our lives – this should extend beyond what happens to us, to what we do with what happens to us.
The victory that Christ gained for us on the cross needs to be demonstrated in our experience as we say ‘no’ to the carnal flesh and ‘yes’ to Him. God sees us as righteous through the blood of Christ; it is our responsibility to make this a reality experientially. It is as we know, and outwork the truth in our daily lives we are set free from the negative influences of the old life and move into what Jesus died for to provide for us as heirs of eternal life (Jn 8:32,36; Rom 8:2).
Become living proof Jesus changes lives
limitations of the past behind, steadily coming into glorious liberty in Christ. Many people set themselves up for defeat through self-fulfilling prophecies, ‘I feel a cold coming on…life is difficult…the kids are so unruly and disobedient…’ These may be true but don’t speak them out, rather bring these matters to God in prayer and claim His help and intervention. By accentuating the uplifting, positive things while reducing or eliminating the negative, energy-sapping comments a change will come in your outlook on life. So focus on and speak of the victories that are your in Christ.
Our encounter with Jesus should be getting richer each day – expectantly pray, look for and thank Him for His involvement in your life, continually reaching higher levels of intimacy and usefulness. We can never exhaust the resources and outflow of life He has to display through us to bless humanity in a multitude of ways. Be thirsty for Him. Don’t go to the dry wells of the world, instead “Whoever is thirsty, let him come and take the free gift of the water of life” (Isa 55:1,2; Jer 2:13; Jn 4:4-14; Rev 22:17).
See also: application, emotions, encounter, feelings, focus, lessons, manifestations, outworking, pursuing God, put off/put on, reality, results, self-fulfilling prophesy, testimony, theory, transformation.