As I’ve never failed to share with you, it is never something I’d call simple, putting these little lessons together each week. I always look, or listen, for a message from God to help guide my path. We’ve talked about waiting on God before. It’s never something that comes as quickly as we’d like it to but, nonetheless, it always comes.
I have a friend at the office that sometimes helps me with ideas. She doesn’t come here but she does try and watch us on Facebook when time permits. She has never claimed to be “religious,” as some would say, but I truly believe she understands all about having a relationship with God.
Last week, she was going through a bit of a struggle herself as I could see she was clearly distracted at the office. She seemed upset, or worrying about something she was about to face. I didn’t really know if that was at the office or a personal matter.
I soon learned, she had an up-coming event where she was going to see a family member she hadn’t spoken with in years. A long time ago, she and her sister had a little run-in that apparently scarred her deep. She didn’t want to see or, worse yet, have to speak to her sister.
We talked about it a few times and Thursday, on my way home from the office, I prayed for her. I asked that God remove her anxiety, take away her fear and open her heart back up.
Friday morning, she came in early. She had a big smile on her face and seemed excited about something and wanted to talk. Knowing why this was, I looked upward and said, “Thank you Lord!”
She told me a story about a time shortly before her Father had passed. I won’t go through all the details, but I will tell you it involved leaking water in the house which her Dad had caused. Her family remembered that story dearly.
Well Thursday night, when she arrived home, she was welcomed by a minor little flood in her kitchen which later turned into a major fiasco that evening. All fixed though.
The bottom line, and her story, she thought immediately of her Father, the grudge against her Sister and she said, “I got it Dad, you’re still watching!”
My response to her, “You’re growing my friend, and beginning to understand.” Here, I had my topic.
What is Spiritual Growth
Okay, we come to church on Sunday. We socialize a little, pray together, listen to God’s word and go on our way. Do the messages, or verses from our Bible, stick in your heart? Do you remember them once you’ve left and try to put them into practice in your everyday lives?
It’s a great thing that we’ve accepted Jesus into our lives, believing in Him, The Holy Spirit and the Most-High God but are we letting ourselves grow spiritually every day? Are we allowing The Holy Spirit to fill us daily, so we may grow stronger in our beliefs and relationship with God?
This is very important to remember. God has given us these promises as written in 2 Peter.
2 Peter 1:3-4 – “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these, he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
I guess the easiest definition I can find for spiritual growth would be something like this:
Spiritual Growth is studying and learning the lessons from God. Understanding the sacrifice made by Christ Jesus for all of us, and completely absorbing His lessons. Knowing how kindness and compassion should rule our heart and soul if we are to receive the glorious gifts from God and putting into practice, every day, all of what we have learned.
So, putting it in easy terminology, what are some of the simplest ways we can better accomplish this and come to the realization we can, and will, be filled with The Holy Spirit?
- Increasing in your knowledge and understanding of God’s Word.
- Increasing in your practice of Christ-like qualities.
- Increasing in your faith and trust in God.
- Decreasing in your frequency and severity of sin.
Paul gave us the perfect example of how best to practice our spiritual growth.
1 Corinthians 11:1 – “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
Simple right? Paul tells us to follow his example as, all he does, follows the example of his teacher, Jesus.
Jesus Loved everyone and hated no one. No, not even His oppressors, or those against Him. Even for them, He sacrificed His own life that they too might live.
I know, in this world, how incredibly difficult this would be but, even still, I asked that you think about this fact as you try and increase your spiritual growth.
How Do We Grow
For our spiritual growth to occur, we first need to make sure we possess a true spiritual life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When you believe in Him, the Holy Spirit lives inside of you.
This, once again, was a promise from Jesus as He asked it for us from His Father.
John 14:16-17 – “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”
…and you are a new creation in Christ!
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!”
Your old nature, which is dominated by sin, is replaced with a new nature that is under the influence of God’s Spirit as told to us in Romans 6-7 – Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ!
Spiritual growth can only occur in a person who knows the Lord Jesus Christ as his or her Savior.
Learning how to grow spiritually is a life-long journey which occurs as you read and apply God’s Word to your life.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
For spiritual growth to occur, we must be taught, rebuked, corrected, and trained by God’s Word. Then we will be thoroughly equipped for every good work. This is the essence of spiritual growth.
Another key to Christian growth is “walking” in the Spirit. It is one thing to understand that we have been filled with The Holy Spirit, but another, to truly “walk” in The Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:16 – “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Walking in the Spirit is allowing Him to fill you and all the desires of the flesh, or the evil in this world, will be put behind you.
Failure to rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance will result in a believer not living up to the calling that salvation provides. We might “miss the mark” so to speak as Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, warns us.
Ephesians 4:1 – “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
As much as we try grow in the Spirt, there are so many distractions here to cause us to stray.
Home/Family: You may be suffering from financial difficulties at home. You may be arguing with your spouse about bills, spending too much on things you do not need and not on the things you do.
You may also be at odds with siblings. After all, how many households can say they are alike in every way? We disagree sometimes. Arguments between siblings or spouses can be very distracting to you.
Work: You may be overwhelmed at work. Too many things to do and not enough time to do them. You may be, as a lot of could say, we’re over-worked and under-payed. Here, you feel of little worth and forget how much you mean to God.
Friends: Yes, even friends can cause distraction. Sometimes, when we forget what we really do have, we look at what our friends may have and become envious. Maybe their relationship seems better than yours; maybe they have more “worldly” possessions that you wish you had (nicer house, car, TV etc.) Even though, these things are of no matter to God, we’re human… and we would like the same.
Technology: This is a big one to me! How many can’t put their phones down for more than 30 minutes? You see it all the time… especially when you’re on your bike. Try and pass by a car while you’re riding or driving where the other driver is not looking at their phone!
Here is a challenge for you… this afternoon when you leave here (and you’re not on a bike), try and put your cell phone down for the rest of the afternoon. I’ll bet you can’t do it!
The Bible warns us about all these things. In 1 Peter, speaking about our envy or desire to have more than we do, we are urged…
1 Peter 2:11 – “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.”
So, what do we do? Stay Focused!
Colossians 3:2 – “Set your minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
Psalm 25:15 – “My eyes are continually toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net.”
Don’t get distracted by the things of this world. Keep yourself from envious or jealous thoughts. Remain patient and be kind to others… avoiding arguments and useless confrontations.
What Do We Gain?
This all seems like a lot of work. So, what do we gain? I mean, honestly, this life is no pleasure boat and trying to live in the Spirit isn’t necessarily an easy accomplishment.
We are sometimes alone on this journey and that, in itself, is a very difficult challenge. So again, what do we gain? After all, this is a life-time process.
Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
If you are becoming more loving, more joyful, more kind, more self-controlled, etc., then you can rest assured that spiritual growth is genuinely occurring in your life.
God works in different people in different ways. Some people grow rapidly, while others grow slowly, but steadily. Our focus should not be on comparing ourselves with others, but on comparing ourselves with God’s Word. The Scriptures are the mirror to show us what we are like spiritually and to shine light on the areas that need to experience and learn spiritual growth.
James 1:23-25 – “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
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How Are We Doing (In Conclusion)
How are we doing here at Sunrise Chapel? Do you feel we’re bringing you the right messages to help you grow in your faith? Let’s look back and ask a few simple questions in order to better understand that answer. Ten quick questions for you…
- Judgement – Have you stopped passing judgement based on the appearances or behavior of others as you try and look at everyone through Christ’s eyes?
- Removing our Masks – Have you taken off your masks and revealed your inner-self to others that they might see God’s Great Glory in you?
- Know what “We Got” – When someone challenges you, questions your integrity and asks you “What you got?” is it easy for you to say, “I Got God?”
- Don our Armor – Every morning when you wake-up and prepare yourself to face the day’s challenges, do you don the armor of God?
- Look Toward God – When life feels as though it’s crashing down around you and your days are filled with turmoil, in which direction do you look? Do you look-up?
- God is First – With all the relationships you have: friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances… Are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit first on your list?
- We are Protected – If you feel you’re in danger… whether it be in your car, on your bike or simply standing in the middle of a field… Do you know you are watched-over by a higher being that God has assigned to shield you?
- Living as Christ – When arguments arise, no matter where or with whom, are you: quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger?
- Our Friendship – Do you realize you have a friendship with Jesus that goes so far beyond any friendship you might have ever had or ever will have?
- Giving Thanks – Is the first thing you do in the morning, and the last thing you do at night, to give thanks to God for all you’ve been given and all you’ve yet to receive?
If you can honestly answer yes, to even a few of these questions, then yes… your faith is growing. Continue to live and grow in The Spirit. Remember the promises of God and how Christ reminded us of all God will offer to His Children.
Do not become “side-tracked” by this world, giving into temptation in any manner but, instead, stay focused on God; stay focused on Christ; be filled with the Holy Spirit and grow in His wisdom.
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless (Amen)