Christ desires maturity. Are you growing?

Colossians 1:28-29 finishes this first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Colossian Christians. He is seeking to explain his earnest motivation for calling them to be the most that they can be in Christ. He wants for them to honor Christ in their lives and seek to grow in faith. “So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

How concerned are your church leaders about growth in your church body? How concerned are you about growing your faith? I’m not talking about numbers in your church congregation or hours spent serving but growing in faith. This is a growth that stretches and moves you to be more like Jesus. Are they teaching from the Word and encouraging you to spend time in God’s Word and prayer? Do you hunger after God’s Word and crave to spend time with God in prayer? This was Paul’s passion. He wanted those who came to know Jesus as savior to be mature Christians who would be able to stand steadfast in troubled times, lean on and serve each other in love and be mission minded desiring to bring others to faith. Ephesians 4:13 “This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ”. Christ’s standard is high and calls for us to be mature and wise in our daily walk with Him so as to not to be tempted and fall away. Hebrews 5:14 “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong”. Being mature aids in one’s perception of the world and enables one to view things from a godly perspective. This allows one to make godly choices and not fall into sin.

Today as you mediate on these verses, test yourself? How much do you see yourself growing? Are you more like Jesus now than you were 1,2,5 years ago? I don’t mean more religious or more involved. I mean more like Jesus in character. James puts it this way in James 1:2-4 our experiences in life should be growing and producing more godly character in us. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” In Romans 5:3-6 Paul says this about character development. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” None of us likes to suffer but in the trials of life we grow and move either closer to Jesus or away. Which is it for you?

My latest book, Strategic Living, is about growing more and more like Jesus, I chose 1 John 2:15-17 from the Message translation as my motivating verses. Let the words speak to your heart today. “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can grow to be more and more like Jesus in character through the power of His Holy Spirit within me. Praise God! He is changing me to be more like Him. See Galatians 5:22-23 for specific examples of ways God the Holy Spirit changes us. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” In Him, He has promised we are new creations! 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Linda

Don’t be a victim of the winds, going to and fro!

In Ephesians 4:14-16 Paul expands on the truth from yesterday, we can trust God’s Word to grow and mature us so we can be fully and completely equipped to live for Him.   But what do we do if new ideas come along that seem to contradict what we know about God?   We are reminded in James to look out for doctrines that would sway us away from the truth of the gospel and lead us astray.  James compares our vacillating on truth to the effect of the wind, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”  James 1:6   Likewise, Paul concludes in Ephesians 4:14-16 that being grounded and rooted in God’s Word will keep us stable and lead us to lives that contribute to the body of believers. 

ephesians 4 14Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

If we desire to move towards maturity in Christ, we need to be grounded in the truth of the gospel, knowledgeable about what scripture teaches  for righteous living and willing to stand firm on God’s Word of truth.  Paul says that this grounding in truth will lead to fuller, richer lives that ephesians 4 16will build up the body of believers and help the whole body of Christ (the church) be stronger.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can mature into Christians that support and love one another.

What are you doing to grow in maturity?  Do you attend church regularly and mediate on what your pastor is preaching on?  Are you in a Bible Study group at your church or elsewhere?  Growing and maturing in Christ does not happen by chance but requires attention to the Word and study.  Be growing in Christ and open to the Holy Spirit’s leading when He presents you with an opportunity for growth.

Linda

Here are two International Bible Study organizations that have classes throughout the world.  Check them out and see if they are near you.  Right now all classes are on-line due to the virus, but they are still going strong as our God is unstoppable.

Bible Study Fellowshiphttp://www.bsf.org

Community Bible Studyhttp://www.cbs.org