Kingdom Keys For Spiritual Growth
Having been a Christian for 46 years now, I am amazed at how the Holy Spirit has kept me persevering and moving forward, even when I often felt like I was just treading water to keep from going under. But God. He is faithful. In recent years, scripture promises that I had read many times are being highlighted. Philippians 1:6 says “ He who began a good work in us will continue it until Christ Jesus returns.” Wow! He is committed to work in us. We just need to surrender, trust and follow Him.
Early in my journey, I wasn’t taught about grace. I had believed that if I just obeyed every Word in the Bible, I would find joy and peace. Trying to do this, using sheer willpower, didn’t work. I didn’t understand that my Heavenly Father wanted a relationship with me. Ephesians 2:8 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God.” (NKJV) Because I was raised in an abusive home, I didn’t have a good relationship with my earthly father. Fear of punishment, rejection and failure dominated me. Many years later, I would come to understand that I needed to forgive my father for the abuses and renounce the lies I believed about myself and God. The punishment I deserved for my sins was placed on Jesus. Renouncing the lies I believed meant that I was coming out of agreement with them. The Holy Spirit continues to show me other lies I have believed that have kept me from an intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father. Our enemy is a legalist, so we need to “tear up” our legal agreement with him. Asking the Lord “ What is the Truth?” is the next step. We then come into agreement with what the Word says is the Truth and declare them often. We are replacing the lies with the Truth and this is how our mind is renewed. Romans 12:2 says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (NKJV)
I have collected lists of scripture verses over the years and declare many daily. The Word is becoming more real to me and I hear myself praying these promises over people in ministry. They are our foundation on which we stand and grow our faith. “ Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21” (NKJV) We need to speak words that bring life and not death. Discovering this powerful way of praying the Word, has changed my life significantly. I used to grow weary of asking God to do this and that over and over. Praying the Word over situations has helped me grow in faith as I partner with God to “speak the things that are not as if they are” Romans 4:17. As we decree and declare His Word, we are prophesying God’s will into the future. Holy Spirit is quickening my spirit to pay attention to any habitual negative, critical, judgemental, fearful or complaining thoughts before they come out of my mouth. Speaking the opposite, even when I don’t see the evidence of it yet, is a discipline that helps me speak words of faith. The enemy wants to take our negative words and fulfill them too. Let’s not give him any ammunition to use. Thanking God for the answers to our prayers is essential as we are receiving the answers by faith. “ Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mark 11:24 (NKJV) We are positioning ourselves to receive the answers in God’s timing. Faith pleases God.
Forgiveness is another key in our spiritual growth process. I had not heard much teaching on
this in my early years and possibly thought that is was only a nice gesture. Much later in my walk with the Lord, I discovered how vital it was for me to live in freedom. Holy Spirit revealed to me how I was wrapping myself in unforgiveness, bitterness and judgements as a form of self-protection , but it actually was a toxic prison. I was giving access to the enemy in my life by not giving the people who hurt me the very thing Jesus gave me at the cross. Unforgiveness keeps us tied to the past. It doesn’t mean that we trust the person, as trust is earned, but it essentially for our benefit. We put the person on “God’s hook” so He can take care of them and we are free to move forward. It has been said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. The bitterness causes us to defile relationships and is responsible for many physical sicknesses. Once I was aware of this, I was quickly motivated to forgive people from my past and I ask Holy Spirit to help me to keep short accounts with those in my present. It never ceases to amaze me how my relationships change as I forgive . My father and I became closer and he softened as time went on. Expecting an apology from them is not essential to this process as I am only responsible to God to obey Him. Asking others to forgive me when they or the Holy Spirit has convicted me brings healing and restoration. I see God molding me into His likeness and image as I humble myself in His sight. When I discovered that my husband was involved in adultery while I was going through cancer treatments was very devastating. Because I had been in the habit of forgiving others so quickly, it came naturally to tell him I forgave him. Having to do it over and over each time I had a painful memory, finally brought me to a place where I had peace. My prayer focus for about twenty-two years was my marriage and then the Lord released us to go our separate ways. I was keenly aware that this was not God’s best plan for us but He knew what was in our hearts . Now in my twenty-third year of singleness, I am grateful to God for all that He has been teaching me. My focus is on Him and all that He wants me to learn. I am being challenged to come out of my comfort zones and experience His faithfulness.
For most of my married life, I had a powerless, victim mindset. The childhood abuse taught me to believe many lies about myself. I thought that I wasn’t loveable, not smart, a failure, unattractive, unsuccessful, defective and I expected rejection. I lived with so much fear and anxiety, that I rarely experienced joy. Raising 2 daughters who had chronic illnesses that seemed incurable occupied much of my thought life. I constantly searched for ways to help them. As a nurse, I felt powerless, all the while working twelve hour shifts in my stress filled career. I felt overwhelmed and alone. The enemy reinforced my belief that I was a failure. Seemingly never-ending relationship conflicts with my teen aged daughter added to the daily stress. My husband just grew more distant. I wondered where God was in all of this. Then one day, at the age of forty-five, I hemorrhaged all night and knew this could be it. The nine months of heavy bleeding prior had been discounted by my doctor. I could quite possible die there alone on my bathroom floor. I called out to God in a panic, berating myself for not acting sooner. Suddenly, I heard God speak to me in such an assuring still small voice. “ Wendy, you have given me your life. Now let me manage this!” I was too weak to do anything to help myself as I was on the verge of passing out. My only choice was to surrender to Him and wait.
I couldn’t imagine what He would do, but I had to trust Him. He was right. Suddenly, my husband came running up from the downstairs bedroom and knocked on my daughter’s door, telling her to call an ambulance. Later, when I asked him how he knew to come to me, he said that God woke him up and told him to get to me as I was in trouble! Wow, God You are so amazing! I was taken by ambulance to the hospital and was told I lost half of my blood volume. Any more and I would have had to have a blood transfusion. I didn’t lose one more drop of blood all that day while I waited to have surgery. The doctors couldn’t believe what they saw when they checked me internally. They said “ How did you not bleed out? You have grape like suspended clumps of clotted blood in you!” I just said “It was God.” Two weeks later, I learned that I had aggressive cancer in my uterus and needed the whole works out, including the ovaries. This meant instant menopause, but I wasn’t concerned at all. I was blessed with a joy from God and so glad that the medical problem would be solved. The abdominal surgery was painful as was the six weeks of radiation that followed. My internal organs were burned quite badly causing me to have intestinal problems for years to come. Sadly, I had hoped that this crisis would bring my husband and I closer together, but the opposite occurred. I was puzzled as to why we never spoke about this cancer and how he felt. As always, I just carried on and tried not to be a bother or “rock the boat.”
This experience increased my faith to trust God in every area of my life. In several places in the Word it says that faith must be tested. “..knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:3. (NKJV) God uses the challenges in our lives to grow us in our knowledge of Him so we will trust Him more. 1Peter 1:7 says “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honour on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (NLT) He doesn’t just want us to know about Him but to really know Him. In Psalm 103:7 the verse says “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.”(NKJV) It seems to be a lifelong journey. During my single years, the Lord has given me many opportunities to step out, take risks and see that God is faithful. The more I overcome my fears and trust Him, the more I discover that I really “can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) I have travelled alone to many places in the world, gone on several mission trips to the Philippines, West Indies, Mexico, South Africa and Israel. I have had to overcome one of my worst fears of driving long distances on the highway. In 2006, I felt like the Lord was leading me to attend the two year ministry school at Bethel in Redding California but had no idea how I would get there from Canada. Strangely, I thought God would accommodate my fears. But no. He challenged me with going to the other side of my fear. And I did. I drove there back and forth four times. Praise You Jesus! This became the title of my book that God told me to write after finishing the school. I had to depend on Holy Spirit to lead me each step of the way, as I wrote. It wasn’t easy, but He wouldn’t let me quit. I knew my story would encourage and inspire others and so I continued for eleven long years. It would also be a spiritual legacy for my grandchildren and future generations. I recall being so very frustrated with God several times.
When He would challenge me in my nursing career. I would pray lofty prayers about being an ambassador for Him in my workplace and feel very confident before my shift. Then, upon seeing my assignment of patients, many who I didn’t feel qualified to care for, I would panic and start to think of ways to get out of the situation. I would pray “why God is it so important to give me these patients to care for when I don’t feel qualified? Can’t You just let me look after the easy ones?“ And then I would remember my prayer. Ok, I would have to lean on Him and trust that He will help me. Anxiety and fear often remained with me but I experienced amazing opportunities to share my story and pray with patients. God wants us to overcome and experience freedom from all of our fears. He is our ever present help in times of trouble. Through these experiences, we are discovering who He has made us to be, destroying lies of incompetence and shows us His faithfulness. We must surrender every part of our lives to Him. Just like a butterfly must struggle to get out of the cocoon to gain the strength to fly, so too we need to struggle in our faith to get stronger. If we help the butterfly to get out, then it will not be able to fly and will die. God is there with us cheering us on like a good Father who wants His kids to succeed.
Knowing our identity, power and authority is another key to spiritual growth. We are God’s sons and daughters here on earth. We are royalty. How will we then think, act and express ourselves as ambassadors of Christ? We need to get a Kingdom mindset rather than a poverty, victim one. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2: 9 (NKJV) “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:8 (NKJV) Just like the enemy is trying to steal our identity in the natural, so too is he trying to steal it in the spiritual. Knowing who we are and whose we are is vital to walking in victory. Using the power and authority especially in our prayer life is essential. The enemy tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness but Jesus used the Word as His weapon and the enemy left Him. “Behold, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over ALL the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Luke 10:19 (NKJV) We don’t walk prideful but humbly knowing that our power, strength, wisdom, provision, authority and all that we have comes from God. My favorite life verse is Jeremiah 29:11 ”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV) He gave me this verse right after my marriage ended and I was sent to Youth with a Mission school. I thought He made a big mistake as I believed I was disqualified. I have heard a saying “God doesn’t call the qualified, but He qualifies the called.” Praise God! The mission trip had several challenges for me but God accomplished great things through it all. He wants us to live victoriously and partner with Him to impact the lives of those we meet.
God is our provider. I have seen and experienced many provision miracles which I share in my book “ The Other Side Of Fear. My Journey Into Perfect Love”( pen name W. Veronica Lisare) 3 John 2 says “ Beloved, I pray that you prosper in all things and be in health as your soul prospers.”(NKJV) Our soul is our mind, will and emotions. We need to feed on His Truth, guard our minds and hearts, so our souls will prosper.
Worship, praise and thanksgiving are essential. We need to develop a lifestyle of praising and thanking God no matter what. Philippians 4:4 tells us to “rejoice and again I say rejoice.” Worship is a strong weapon of warfare as the enemy can’t bear being near it. James 4:7 says “Therefore submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.”(NKJV) I have seen and experienced healing during worship. We are drawing near to His Presence. David was such a worshipper and we can learn much from him. He was honest with God about his thoughts and feelings, but he would always end with worship. The Bible calls him “a man after His own heart” 1 Samuel 13:14 (NKJV) We can worship Him in many ways as well as singing and reading the Word out loud. Some churches include other forms of active expressions like flagging, banner waving, art and dance. Some worship bands break out into spontaneous Holy Spirit led songs on their instruments. Psalm 100:4 says that “we enter His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” (NKJV) We seek His face and not just His hand. He is worthy of our praise.
Lastly I want to mention the power of taking communion often. I take it daily and pray a prayer acknowledging what the elements represent. I have especially noticed that my health issues have gradually improved since I started this practice over the past 2 years. Listening to teaching and hearing testimonies of healing inspired me.
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ. I pray that you are encouraged as I have shared some of the spiritual growth keys that the Holy Spirit has taught me. God bless you all.
Respectfully submitted July 3,2021
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