We need to keep growing in our spiritual life, in our walk with the Lord. A lot of people think that if they get saved, or if they make a commitment to the Lord at some point in their lives, that they’ve got all Heaven has to offer. Well, as far as salvation goes, you won’t get any more saved than you did at that moment, but there is so much more growing to do, learning and moving forward that God wants to give you. So, I'm reading in First Corinthians thirteen, in verse 11, where it talks about moving beyond being a child, spiritually. Putting away the childish things and moving into spiritual maturity.
We can get satisfied that we’re Christians, that our sins are forgiven and all that, but get distracted by the things of this life, and lose sight of God. We might love our friends at church, but forget what church is truly about.
In 1st Corinthians 13, he talks about how we need to grow in our walking in love in this life. Even Christians seem to have different groups of people that they feel it’s OK to hate – well, they wouldn’t SAY they hate them, but in all practical sense of the word, that’s what they’re doing. So he’s reminding us what love really is as a Christian. He talks about love and how it acts and lives, in the early part of the chapter, and what he is describing is the life of Jesus, being lived out through us. We know Jesus, and know that he is love, in human form. We need to get out of the way and let Him live his life through us. It's not just a theological ideal, it’s a lifestyle we’re called to.
We get so easily distracted. We lose our focus on Jesus and what HE wants to do in our lives. And what he wants to do is to continue to conform us to his image, to live out his life again through each one of us. That’s in Romans 8 verse 29. And that means I need to continually allow him to move in my life and to bring the changes he wants.
I want to keep changing and growing. I don't want to be in the rut of not learning, not growing, not drawing any closer to the Lord. I am still growing and maturing in him and want to have that be happening as long as I am in this body!
Back at Christmas time, I was thinking about how many people only really know, or only really talk about the manger scene. With the three kings, and the baby Jesus and the cattle and donkeys and all that. That’s a great story, and is a great miracle. But for many people, it begins and ends there.
But that little baby didn't STAY a baby. The story of Jesus didn’t begin and end with the manger scene and Mary and Joseph and a little baby. That baby grew up! Jesus came to earth as a baby and then, he began to grow up. Luke 2, verse 52 says that he grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
He grew in his body, he grew in operating in God’s wisdom, he grew in his relationships with people and he grew in his relationship with the father, as his ministry developed and changed and was fulfilled on earth, as he was crucified, buried, and rose again. His relationship as the son of God who had not begun his public ministry was different as he became the son of God who was in public ministry, ministering to the multitudes.
His ministry, his relationship while dying on the cross for our sins was a different level than it had ever been. His relationship as a dead, buried, and then risen savior was different. His relationship as our eternal intercessor is different, than before he came to the earth. The relationship is different because the function is different, the experiences are different. As the eternally existent son of God, it never changed. The functions and carrying it out is what grew.
Jesus came to earth, and grew, matured as a man, and went about doing good to ALL who were afflicted and brought healing, deliverance, wisdom, hope, salvation – all of Heaven’s best blessings. He brought change to peoples’ lives, everywhere he went! In everything he spoke – it was designed to bring a change, a needed change, whether it was for faith, for hope, for healing, for salvation, for healing, for whatever God was wanting to do in their lives!
And because of that, you and I can say, “Lord I'm ready for a change. Do something in me today that will set me on a path of growth, favor and blessing for someone else, and for the kingdom of God.”
We can grow and change every day. God has the power through the Holy Spirit to bring change to our lives each and every day. His mercies, the Bible says, are new every morning. I might live in the same place tomorrow, and I might have to go to the same job or school tomorrow, but I'm gonna go with a new spirit, a new closeness to God when I go there.
We have to change if we’re going to BRING a change to our world, to our environment, to our friends and loved ones.
First of all, if I’m going to bring change I need to grow, and if I am going to grow, I need to be AWARE that I need to grow. And I have to I have to be intentional about it. I have to draw near to God if I want him to draw near to me.
So, Number one is, Draw Near to God. James 4 verse 8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” It’s too common for Christians to want both the Lord and this world. But we need to make a choice. Too many Christians settle for some kind of compromise between being sold-out to God, in love with the Lord Jesus and living the same worldly lifestyles that their friends are living who don’t even know the Lord at all.
Drawing near to God involves coming close to him. Just like we do when we want to be with the people and friends that we care about, we love. God says in Jeremiah chapter 29 and verse 13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
We need to draw closer to God. Jesus taught that drawing close to God is our number one priority. He said in Matthew chapter 6 verse 33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
In James 4, it lets us now that God is ready with open His arms to restore and be close to anyone who seeks him out, who draws near to him. those who return to Him. God is never far away. And experiencing His presence, his nearness isn’t something that’s far off. He is present right here and right now, ready to draw near in our hearts and lives, as we draw near to him.
Number two is get out of his way and let him be Lord in your life. We can get in his way, when we set our own priorities and boundaries, deciding what needs changing and what doesn’t. Guess what? He doesn’t need our advice! What we think is perfectly fine, he might say, yes, but you don’t know what this will lead to. I do, so let me change that now. And we need to get out of his way and let him bring the changes he wants.
It’s that transforming love of Jesus in our lives that shines so bright that even the people who know us the best can tell. They see us, hear us, notice how we live, how we respond, and cannot deny that there might just be a God. Because if God can do that in you, I want to know a bit more – what can he do for me?
It’s not about being perfect. It’s about us saying, “Jesus work on me, and then getting out of his way. When God is doing his work in us, he absolutely can and will use us to help the people who know us.
Number three is to put away the childish things. Childish thinking and responding. We don’t have to be right all the time. In fact we AREN’T right all the time! If somebody disagrees with us, we don’t need to argue, insult them, or get mad and pout. They are allowed to have a different belief or ideas or whatever than we have, and God is able to love them and also love us! He’s that big! And we need to put away that childish thinking and get bigger. To grow. In wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.
To grow beyond, “if I don’t get my way, I’m outta here.” I had to find out that I couldn’t always get my way! But I still need to draw near to God and have Him draw near to me. I had to put away that childish demand that I have to always be right ad everyone needs to agree with me.
Another childish thing is to constantly compare myself with other people, to know how I’m doing. The bible says in Galatians chapter six, verses 4 and 5, “Don’t compare yourself with others. Just look at your own work to see if you have done anything to be proud of. You must each accept the responsibilities that are yours.”
Children want the same toys and candy and all that, that the other kids have. And if you don’t give that to them, they get mad, they cry, they whine they say you don’t love them. And God says, put that kind of behaving behind you.
How others are doing has absolutely nothing to do with what God is wanting to do in my life. I need to grow up, and examine my own life and find out of that is where I ought to be by now. And I need to accept what God has laid at my feet to do and to become.
I need to resist the devil, and know that if I do, God says then the devil will run from me. James 4, verse 7 says that. I need to stop acting like a helpless child and grow up in God and become all that He had planned for me to become all those years back.
We can’t always tell when we’re growing, but the people around us, our families, those who know us best can tell if we are growing and maturing or not. It’s harder to see it when it's in our own lives, when God is moving on us. But I can assure you, that he’s working in your life, day in and day out and even at night when you’re asleep, he is at work in you.
He gives us a love for ourselves that we never had before – we used to just think of ourselves and our needs and interests, that is the childish way of thinking, but the we put that away, and we have a different kind of love. Where we love our neighbor even as we live ourselves. We want to be all that God desires for us, and we want other people to experience that, too.
The good news of the gospel. Even though we are all sinners, we’ve all messed up, God loved humanity so much that He sent Jesus, and because of Jesus everybody deserves a chance to hear about this and everybody can hear this gospel and be saved, and receive God’s best in life and in eternity.
God's so determined to reach people that he'll even use us. I am definitely not the most talented or capable Pastor or speaker or Christian, but I DO know that if I will yield to the Holy Spirit and be obedient, God will do His work. He will do it in His way and He will accomplish the purposes that He sends His word for.
As we grow in him, God will give us ideas, words, skills, things we never had any idea for. He will give us inspired ideas from heaven we didn't even ask for. I have to tell you that God isn’t looking for perfect people. He is looking for anyone who is available, willing and obedient, who will say, Lord whatever you want.
We’re not praying to a far-off distant God. We’re praying to a God who came to earth and gave us His all, and faced the hatred, the rejection and who willingly died naked on a cross, for nothing he did wrong, and for people who didn’t even care about Him. All so we could be saved, born again, and bring this message to a lost, hurting and miserable world. They are searching, and they will listen when you live your life out in front of them, and they can see how God can used regular, ordinary, broken and flawed people to do his work, and bring Heaven’s best to them