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Going to a New Level with God

It’s a new year. Time marches on. The world changes. What about us will change? What new level will we go to? Wherever we are at with God, it’s safe to assume that he wants us to go to another level. He has new horizons for us to view, more to share with us. He wants to partner with us to set pe…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

It’s a new year. Time marches on. The world changes. What about us will change? What new level will we go to?

Wherever we are at with God, it’s safe to assume that he wants us to go to another level. He has new horizons for us to view, more to share with us. He wants to partner with us to set people free around the world.

The Bible is full of admonitions that we go to another level:

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.” Rev. 3:16

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Heb. 12:1

“I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” 1 Cor. 3:2

God wants us to move toward intimacy and away from complacency. The problem is that growth requires work. Few of us like change. 

Look at Peter’s example after Jesus died and came back. For three years Jesus had taught Peter and the disciples how to live in the kingdom. Over time, they grew in authority and discernment. But they needed more – they hadn’t arrived yet.

Jesus was particularly interested that his disciples go from being consumers to providers. Being a consumer can be a comfortable place. Learning to provide for others takes work.

Look at the scene at the lake where Jesus spends one last morning with them (John 21). One more time, maybe for old-time sake, he meets their needs. There’s a big catch of fish and he prepares breakfast for them. He feeds them.

Then it’s time for a graduation ceremony. If there was a valedictorian in the class, it might have been Peter. The most gung-ho of the disciples, he’d most recently failed spectacularly when Jesus needed him most.

Peter couldn’t stay in that place of failure – he needed go to another level. For three years Peter had been a consumer, following Jesus around and expecting him to provide. Now it was time for Peter to do the same thing for others. Peter needed to graduate from being a consumer to being a provider. Jesus emphasized this by asking Peter three times to “Feed my sheep.”

Many of us need to graduate in this same way. If Jesus were to walk into your home and cook you breakfast and review your life, would he see you as a consumer or a provider? Would he encourage you to feed his sheep as he did Peter?

1. Four Levels

It helps to understand the level you’re at and what lies ahead. How do you know what level you’re at and what level God wants you to go to?

One way is to evaluate who you give life to and who they in turn help. Paul identified four different levels of growth for Timothy: “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”  2 Timothy 2:2 

Look at the four levels in this verse:

  • Level 4: Paul (his job is to cast vision for Timothy and to share stuff worth repeating)
  • Level 3: Timothy (his job is to find reliable people who have what it takes to keep imparting)
  • Level 2: Reliable, qualified people (their job is to teach others)
  • Level 1: Others (repeat the cycle)

2. We grow by feeding others 

So how do we actually go from one level to another? By doing what Jesus asked Peter to do: Feed his sheep. Paul said as much: “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” Hebrews 5:12

Initially we are fed, then we become self-feeding, then we feed others. We feed sheep by tending their hearts – helping them process life, encouraging them and challenging them. 

3. Look for reliable people to pour into

If you’re ready to grow in the new year, to go to another level, a good place to start is to identify your current level. Does anyone look to you for regular encouragement? Are you feeding sheep? Do they in turn do the same thing for others? Can you count on them to be good stewards of what you impart to them – are they reliable?

If you’re like Paul, you’ve been walking this out for a while now. You have Timothys who you are helping to grow. You feel responsible for them. And learning from you, they know that part of their life involves pouring into others and encouraging them in their growth.

Or, perhaps you’re more like Timothy. You’ve been at this for a few years. You are ready to pour into reliable people and to become a life source for others.

Or maybe you’ve been a spiritual consumer for a while now. Maybe church doesn’t meet your needs and you’re looking for more. If so, consider the possibility that God may want you to move up to another level, finding those whom you can encourage and help grow.

No better time to do it than in this new year. Let me encourage you to respond to God’s call to go to another level.

Comments (10)

  • Seth thank you for this insightful assessment of what it means to “walk in grace” and discern the things God has called each of us to. The irony is that while a Westernized Protestant work ethic seems to suggest spirituality is driven by “things we do” the fact is we are “human beings” not “human doings.”

    Time spent in meditation. Prayer. Mindfulness. That’s where kingdom battles are won and lost. Somethings the most vital spiritual gambit is to “do” nothing at all and remain in the sacred spaces.

    Much love this new year. See you soon.


    A new year is here
    A mystery to unfold
    Will I answer Gods call with a
    Here am I send me, Lord.
    And wait before His throne?

    Whether it be across the sea
    Or here at home to stay
    My life is Yours, O Lord
    To use in any way.

    Nothing in my hand to cling
    All I have is Yours
    Getting alone with You my God
    Speak to me within.

    Seek, knock, find
    I desire to know Your will
    I wait on You to open the door
    My life with You . . . . praise God . . . . forever more.

    Wisdom and knowledge only
    Can an idol be
    Pride puffs up
    Religion . . . . a stumbling block
    Union and communion with You
    Is what I seek for me.

    Many years of trying
    Thinking I could live life on my own
    Many holes to fall in
    Lessons learned and relearned
    Now . . . . humbled before Your throne.

    So yielded and still before You
    My strength and confidence in You
    To lead me and to guide me
    Your word is always true
    Loved forever
    My desire . . . . to serve You.
    Here am I . . . . send me.

    Shirley Wratten ~ 1/1/15

  • The Holy Spirit so faithfully opens up the eyes and ears of our understanding. How exciting to see three generations in your family serving the Lord! One plants, one waters and God brings the increase. What a privilege to see all that God has done in your life. Blessings and heart peace for the new year and beyond. Upward and onward…. Acts 29 is being written as we speak.

  • I’m still find my myself in awe when God speaks directly to me through others. Thank you Seth for your faithful heart to continue your diligence in putting down the words that God gives you. This is a timely and confirming word for Wanda and I today. See you soon.

  • God tells us to remember…everything. So in this new year He has helped me write down in several journals all the places He wants me to remember and proclaim.

    Blessings Seth.

  • I feel I have been a spiritual consumer in some respects, for awhile. I share the gospel but It seems I’m in a dead zone where I live. I do believe every effort we make is impacting in ways we cannot see though. There are so many strongholds here, in churches. Things do not last. Example: We had a House of Prayer that was almost an all nighter a rich luxurious season of renewal….then it went through a dry season now an even dryer season. Another example: A service at a church was having all this openness and spontaneous sharing then a pastor there shut it down because it went out of the time zone they wanted it to stop. So many more examples I could give. I just returned from a mission trip. I have a burning inside to be involved in a ministry with a team. Solo is just not what I desire. I love my church body but sense God is going to move me forward to something new. Somewhere new. A new town/state. Anyway this eternal love affair I am is wrecking me for more. I’m not settled where I am (inside), always wanting more yet always feeling Him near. He has done a measure of healing in my heart since I lost Angela. I’ll never forget your love as a brother Seth to me, no geographic bounds can stop Christ’s love.

    • Sandy, keep listening to that whisper that tells you there is more. There is an unseen kingdom and it is coming. This life can be so hard sometimes, but there is the promise of redemption as we step into kingdom life with others who are looking for the same thing.

  • Amen Seth. I am tuning my ear into His voice. That still small voice that you have to be quiet to hear. Yes God is moving all through this nation in different churches that are hungering. Different people. I am so grateful to be a child of the most high King.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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