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20 January, 2013

Spiritual Plateau and Service

When you read Oswald Chambers's devotion for January 19 what you find is that God never changes. God still works in our lives the same way today. I know I use the word wilderness a lot in most of my posts. Some people do not like it and feels the wilderness is only for some of us. Who am I to try and convince them they are wrong and perhaps they will realize it when it is too late?

In Genesis 15, after the lavish promises where Abraham trusted God to the point where God was pleased because of his faith in Him, it is significant to see what happen to Abraham in verse 12.

After that God remained silent and did not appear to Abraham for over a decade. Unlike us, Abraham had no Bible and was not swamped with Biblical materials. Some people interpret verse 12 as if it was just an isolated incident. But, it was not. Nor that it is something we should dismiss in our walk with God. Abraham was going to be tested, grow in his faith, die to self, and learned obedience to the one and only God. 

Abraham went from being a coward to slowly becoming the father of faith. Abraham went through a wilderness time of his own, where he had to learn to get to know God at a much deeper level where he could become totally devoted to Him. While He made a lot of mistakes along the way, but he kept growing according to God’s standards. We see that in him because he did not hesitate a second to give up Isaac the son that he cherished more than anything in the world. In him, there was no more double mindedness like he showed before. There was no compromising, and nothing else in his life was competing with the life he had in Him.

You say what does this have to do with spiritual plateau?

It has everything to do with our spiritual plateau. When we have been Christian for so many years and yet, we do not know what it means inwardly to live wholeheartedly for Him. We have no idea how sweet it tastes, to reach the place where you know you truly belong to Him,  because He has set you apart for Himself. I am going to clarify this further by saying, belonging to God, being set apart for His service are not the things we say just because they are in the Bible, but rather something you become inwardly. It is not elusive or assumed. All of us Christians, as we keep moving forward with Him, we apprehend those things. Furthermore, these things that we are suppose to apprehend, are not activities for Him or just desires in the heart anymore. No, we go beyond that, and like Paul not only we have been apprehended by Him, we know that we keep apprehending the spiritual life inside, and we also know we are ploughing “full steam ahead” toward the goal. IT IS THE REAL THING! –

Failing to allow God to do His work in us through the wilderness process, a process where He hides from us and the pain of the separation is utterly distressful to the soul. Yet, you have to keep going, keep trusting, keep loving and living for Him. Through the process we become, holy, we are sanctified and set apart for Him as we lose the self.

We cannot live with some sort of half commitment to Him and expect to get there. How do we know we are not fully committed? Well, we know because we do not like the idea of Him having full control and the unknown that it brings into our lives. So we make the decision not to turn our will over to Him!

Anyone who has ever been honest will tell you exactly that. I have someone very dear to me who would say, “I don’t mind telling God that I surrender to Him, in fact I say it to Him all the time, but when push comes to shove I chose my path.”  Throughout the discussion he said to me, every time God brings him to a place where he is forced to chose God’s path and the more certain one that allow him to provide for his family, he always chose to go with what he knows. This is someone on the outside who appears so well put together that he is sought after by pastors to become a pastor. He is involved in service, very well educated, eloquent, great knowledge of the Bible, and so on, yet he is living a spiritual plateau because it has been two decades now since he has been a Christian.

 When we fail the full surrender process, two things for sure take place. The first one is that we have to learn to live within the limit of our spiritual plateau. We look like people who reached the highest post they can reach in their jobs because of their bosses or their education and skills would allow them to go. Yet, they cannot leave their jobs. So, they learn to compensate.  So when we reach this kind of spiritual plateau, service to God becomes a crutch.

The second thing you can be sure of is that through the spiritual plateau, you violate His doctrines left right and center. Perhaps you do not agree with that. Once again I would tell you if you knew God personally and understood His standards according to the Holy Spirit’s teaching, you would agree.

What are doctrines?
Doctrines are simply the basic theology of the Christian faith according to God’s teaching and standards.  Through your spiritual plateau, righteousness, holiness, and thing like obedience escape you. I do not have to list more, but, living the Christian life in the confinement of spiritual plateau, we violate three big doctrines right there. Not only that in God’s eyes we are in no better place than someone who belongs to a church where his or her denomination does not teach about certain doctrines. If anything, God holds us more accountable to the fact that we are aware of His doctrines yet, we chose to ignore them in our assumptions and disobedience to Him.

God does not hold against us the fact that we belong to the wrong denomination, but He does hold against us the fact that in our stubbornness and disobedience our pride and ego stopped us from finding Him and enjoying intimacy with Him and He holds against us the fact that we are not allowing the Holy Spirit to move freely in our hearts to get us where we need to be with Him. We do not get to the spiritual plateau by mistake. We get there through disobedience, an unwillingness to be righteous in His sight. Unwillingness to find out about His standards as we convince ourselves that what we have is good enough. The very fact that we are not propelled to go forward to make His standards, ours, says that we do not have a personal relationship with Him and we do not know Him.  We have bought into the doctrine of cheap grace and a lot of us have become accustomed to comparing ourselves to the next Christian, instead of Him.

The remedy to spiritual plateau is obedience to its fullest in total surrender. Once we do that, the Holy Spirit brings the gift of holy repentance in our hearts, takes away the callousness of our consciences and open our spiritual eyes to see.
Oswald Chambers said: “Jealously guard your relationship with God. Jesus prayed “that they may be one just as We are one”-with nothing in between (John 17:22). Keep your whole life continually open to Jesus Christ. Don’t pretend to be open with Him. Are you drawing your life from any source other than God Himself? If you are depending on something else as your source of freshness and strength, you will not realize when His power is gone.
Being born of the Spirit means much more than we usually think. It gives us a new vision and keeps us absolutely fresh for everything through the never-ending supply of the life of God.”