Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Richard Blackaby's book, Unlimiting God: Increasing Your Capacity to Experience the Divine, (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, 20087).
Has it been a long time since you’ve experienced a fresh and exciting encounter with God? Are you satisfied with the current level of your relationship with Him, or do you want to keep growing closer every day?
There’s no limit to the amazing work God wants to do in and through you. But your own choices can limit your relationship with God. Breaking free of self-imposed limits will empower you to enjoy spiritual growth beyond you’ve dreamed is possible.
Here’s how you can remove the limits from your relationship with God:
Don’t settle for mediocrity. Shake up your soul by breaking out of the status quo in your life and pursuing God with a passion every day. God doesn’t intend for you to become comfortable or complacent in your walk with Him. Look forward to the new adventures He has for you. Invite Him to transform you into the person He knows you can become. Make your relationship with God your top priority, above all else. Expect God to constantly do something extraordinary in and through your life.
Dive from the surface down into the depths. Do more than just hanging out on the surface of faith, believing the basics but not truly living what you believe. Go deeper spiritually. Don’t just claim to believe in God’s power – actually experience it. Remember that God is always present with you; ask Him to make you aware of His presence. Read the promises God makes in the Bible, and trust Him to fulfill those promises in your own life. Every day, make decisions that reflect a real trust in God to help you with the situations you face.
Expect victory. Instead of letting life’s struggles defeat you, fight back with the spiritual power that’s available to you as a Christian. Broken dreams and relationships aren’t God’s will for you. Do something about the challenges you face by praying about each one, and obey God whenever He leads you to speak redemptive words or take redemptive action in a situation. Trust God to accomplish good purposes through even the worst circumstances. Expect that, through God’s power, you can emerge victorious from every struggle you face.
Stop limiting what you hear from God. God won’t reveal more truth to you than you’re capable of receiving. If you want to hear deep revelations from God, you need to move from a shallow to a deep relationship with Him. Read the Bible often, and make a habit of writing down what God says to you when you read it. Listen for more than just general devotional thoughts. Ask God to speak to you in specific ways about your own life right now, and apply what He says. Don’t stop reading your Bible just because you’re familiar with what it says. Expect God to use familiar passages in new ways in your life every day. Whenever you sense God leading you to say or do something, obey Him. Often, God will withhold more revelations from you until you respond to what He has already told you. But once you obey, He’ll speak to you in fresh ways. Ask God to do whatever is necessary in your life for you to hear Him speaking clearly.
Stop limiting God’s work through you. God will match His assignments with your character and your walk with Him. If you want God to entrust you with big jobs, you’ve got to have a big relationship with Him. Expect that, as you faithfully fulfill each small assignment God gives you, He’ll gradually increase the scope of each assignment. Be faithful with each little thing, and expect to see God expand the work He does through you. Each assignment you complete prepares you for the next one. Ask God to build your character and faith. Then be prepared for growing pains, because spiritual growth most often comes through overcoming adversity. Be willing to sacrifice your comfort in order to grow in significant ways. Ask God to remove obstacles that are hindering your service to Him (such as pride, fear, and greed) and replace them with qualities that will empower you to serve Him better (like humility, faith, and forgiveness). Pray for God to develop you in all the best ways as you work for Him. Whenever you’re frustrated by a lack of progress in your ministry, don’t make excuses or blame others. Instead, take a hard look at your life and be honest about what God is calling you to change so you’re not blocking the work He wants to do through you.
Stop limiting what you know of God. God will disclose to you only as much of Himself as you have the capacity to receive. There’s always something new and exciting to learn about God, since He’s infinite. One way to measure how well you know God is to look at your prayer life. During your prayer times, don’t just talk to God, but listen to Him as well. Don’t rush your prayer times with God; give Him plenty of time to say everything He wants to say to you. Ask God to conform your will to His as you abide in His presence. Another way to measure how well you know God is to evaluate your obedience to His commands. Trust God completely with every part of your life and be willing to obey when He leads you to make changes. Yet another way to measure how well you know God is the degree to which you’re becoming like Christ. Consider whether or not you hate sin as He does, whether or not you love others as He does, whether or not you forgive as He does, etc. Think about how much you live in fear and how much you trust in Christ’s power to live in faith. The better you know Christ, the more the truth about Him will set you free.
Stop limiting God’s power in your life. God gives to you according to your faith. Don’t set limits on what you believe God can do in your life, such as by giving up on someone you think will never change or giving up on yourself when you’re stuck in a bad habit. Realize that God’s power can make a positive difference in any situation. Whenever you encounter a difficult situation, pray about it immediately rather than trying lesser approaches and using prayer as a last resort. Be willing to fast (set aside your normal routines to focus on God and His answer for the situation). Ask God to help you leave small thoughts behind and think big about the challenges you face. Choose to trust God to bring real hope out of situations that seem hopeless. Expect God to do great and mighty things in your life, and prepare yourself for them as much as possible. Use your doubts to draw closer to God and discover a deeper faith in the process. Ask God to increase your faith in every aspect of your life; don’t withhold any part of your life from His transforming power. Take the risks God leads you take, so your life reflects the truth that everything is possible with God.
Stop limiting God’s joy in your life. You determine the amount of joy you experience from God. Don’t allow difficult circumstances – no matter how challenging – to steal the joy God wants you to experience every day. Remember what God has done for you in the past, and what He’s promised to do for you now and in the future. Look beyond your circumstances to God, and keep your focus on Him, trusting that He will guide you through anything you face. Rather than seeking happiness (which depends on positive circumstances), seek the joy that comes from knowing God (which transcends your circumstances). Instead of living by your feelings that constantly change, live by the unchanging truth that God loves you, and rejoice in that truth. Ask God to increase your capacity for joy so you aren’t vulnerable to losing it whenever you encounter difficult circumstances. Seek to experience joy all the time, not just while you’re engaged in a spiritual activity like praying or singing praise songs. Ask God to give you a sense of joy in all you do – at work, at home, and elsewhere.
Determine whether or not God’s power is flowing into your spiritual life. Ask yourself: “When was the last time I became excited about something God showed me in His Word?”, “Have I recently overcome a sinful habit or attitude?”, “When did I last encounter Christ so powerfully that I didn’t want the experience to end?”, “When was the last time God used my life to bless someone in a manner God has never worked through me before?”, “Is my trust and confidence in the Lord growing? If so, what is the evidence?”and “How’s my prayer life? Am I spending more time in prayer than I did before, or less? What have I been hearing God saying to me in prayer? What kind of answers to my prayers am I receiving?” Ask God to help you incorporate His promises into your life so His power will start to flow through you. Ask Him to help you overcome whatever is blocking the flow of His power in your life, such as sin, lack of faith, and lack of love. Remember that the effort and sacrifice you must make to draw closer to God are more than worthwhile. Be willing to pay whatever price is necessary to pursue God with all your heart, and expect amazing adventures when you do so.
Adapted from Unlimiting God: Increasing Your Capacity to Experience the Divine, copyright 2008 by Richard Blackaby. Published by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., Colorado Springs, Co., www.randomhouse.com/waterbrook/.
Richard Blackaby is president of Blackaby Ministries International as well as the Chancellor of the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. He’s the author of Putting a Face on Grace and coauthor of numerous books with his father, Henry Blackaby, including Spiritual Leadership, Hearing God’s Voice and Experiencing God Day by Day. A former senior pastor, he served as president of the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary from 1993 to 2006. He was also managing editor and contributing author for The Blackaby Study Bible. He and his wife, Lisa, are the parents of three children, and live in Cochrane, Alberta.