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Sermon #77: Take Me to a Higher Level, O Lord!

“Lord, please take me to the next and higher level!”

I am acquainted with this prayer. I have heard it from various believers, and at various forums. It’s a desire that so many Christians have. I too am ever dying for higher levels in my Christian life.

This is a noble desire and request, honestly. Every Christian ought to ever be yearning for, and walking towards, higher and higher levels in their journey with the Lord. We need to grow; God expects it of us.

However, looking at it, one may conclude that some believers ask God to take them to higher levels without really knowing or taking time to understand either what this higher level is or what it would take or mean to get there.
I view ‘going to a higher level’ as a choice that one has to deliberately make for themselves.  It’s not just like “I want to go to a higher level.” It’s more than that.
Let us assume that you are the Head of a primary school. One morning you hear a light knock on your door - tap, tap, tap. “Come in!” you respond, and in comes a Grade Zero pupil and says, “Head, please take me from Grade Zero to Grade Five immediately!”

What would your reaction be?
As the Head, you surely would first want to understand the basis of such a petition. Depending on the reasons given by the pupil, you would proceed to make a decision. Let us assume that the pupil goes on to say, “Look Head, I am far above Grade Zero stuff. Not only that, but no Grade Four pupil can stand shoulder to shoulder with me on school work.”
Assume also that the pupil goes to demonstrate his claims by calculating all the Maths problems in a Grade Four textbook without any problem at all. “I get the point; your request is hereby granted,” I guess this is how you would reply.
Now assume that you conclude that this pupil has not mastered even 40% of Grade Zero stuff. In that case, I suppose you would reply, “Look, you are not yet even ready for Grade One; how could you ask me to take you to an even higher grade?”
So it’s not just in the asking. God can take to a higher level only those who are ‘takable’ - those who are ripe and ready for it - those who can properly handle the higher level. The higher level is not a forced position. By our mouths we may express the desire to go, or to be taken to a higher level - but by our conduct, by our grade, by our quality, we may be sending an exactly opposite message. That’s my view.
A higher level is not like the present level. It means more responsibility. It means improved conduct. It means more polished interactions. It means being higher. Remember, to whom much is given, more will be required.
I think that one needs to meditate on these issues. One needs to ask themselves this question: “Have I fully exhausted what I should do and be in the level that I currently am?” This is why, I suppose, that one does not just get into university straight from home! One has to first sit for an examination at Advanced Level, to prove that they indeed are worthy to get into university.
So my advice is as follows: Before we talk about a higher level, let’s fully consider the present level, because it is what happens in the present level that will determine our readiness for the next level. Seriously! This is exactly what I do. I know that it will be very easy for me to get to the next level if I excel in the current level...and as I contemplate the next level, I am not under any illusion at all.
Let me give you an example. Many believers, including me, ask God for more money. Somebody once said to me, “For a long time I have been asking God for more money, but I haven’t received it up to now. What do you think could be the problem?”
If God gives you more money, He would have taken you to the next level in your finances. Essentially, the question was something like, “What does it take for me to get to the next level in my finances?”
To be honest with you, there are many factors that delay or even permanently block the next level in finances and as far as I am concerned, they all have to do with the individual's circumstances. God is always ready...but are we? Are you?
I believe that one’s attitude towards money is the greatest factor that may delay one getting to the next level in finances. One needs to ask themselves why they seek more money, what kind of person they think they would turn out to be after they receive the money, the nature of their fellowship with God after they become rich, etc. Honest answers would help...and it is such answers that will give a true picture of why things might be turning out the way they are.
God wants us to ask from the standpoint of selflessness, not selfishness. God wants to give us more money so that we might be built up, not destroyed. He wants us rich so that we can fellowship better with Him, with us being rich not merely for ourselves, but primarily for the gospel and other people who might be in genuine need. So God is asking you, “My child, what do you intend to use the money for?”
After considering these issues I concluded that God does not necessarily act in the manner that we want and ask Him to; He acts only in our best interest. 

He is our Father; He wants the best for you and me. As a child, you might not know whether it is honey or poison that you seek at any particular moment.  Over the years that I have worshiped God, I have seen some Christians getting into a sorry state after getting just a few more dollars. Some actually ran into the forest, never to be seen! It's called 'abandoning the faith.'
So, in all things, the Word of God has already been established. What God has planned for us is known and clear. So the question of why certain things might not be happening in your life has nothing to do with God. It is all to do with you. It is all to do with me.
These are just observations. We may differ. We may agree. But even if we differ, we still come to a helpful conclusion, you and me together. So please share your views.