How to Grow as a Christian – Part 2

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At birth

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” -1 Peter 2:2-3 (NIV)

My son Joseph, now 4 ½ months old, is growing every day. Of course, we can’t actually see the growing when the growing is happening. It’s imperceptible to the human eye. What we can see is that he has gained over 10 pounds since birth.

This miracle of life amazes me. Our little guy started as a tiny seed in his mother’s womb that formed into cells and blood vessels and tissue and bones and organs and skin and into the beautiful boy we are so proud of today. His growth offers a great analogy for our growth in Christ.

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At 4.5 months

How did Joseph’s growth happen? It happened because he is constantly attached to Leslie’s breast, eating. He loves to eat. He craves the milk of momma. Likewise, if we will stay constantly attached to the Lord, we will grow.

I don’t expect Joseph to grow a foot a day or even an inch each day. I’m simply happy that he is growing a little bit every day and that he’s healthy. I’m happy when he gets a little stronger every day. Every day we can see his progress and we rejoice in it.

Likewise, God doesn’t expect us to grow by leaps and bounds every day. He simply rejoices when we grow a little bit, little by little, and get stronger and stronger in Him.

If we will stay constantly attached to the Lord, we will grow.

The fact that growth occurs is not a mystery, but, if we’re not careful, we can become discouraged because growth is often imperceptible to us. We can, in fact, be growing even when we feel like we are digressing rather than moving forward. When we abide in Christ, we may not feel like we are growing, but we are. We only stop growing when we do not submit ourselves to the process of growth.

The process of growth requires a commitment. Consistency is key to growth.

The best growth takes place when we make a daily commitment. If we stay in the Word and in God’s presence on a daily basis, we will see growth in our lives. If we will remain consistent, we will grow, even if we go through seasons where it feels like we are not growing.

As we walk with Jesus, we will be able to look back and see the growth that has taken place. And certainly those close to us will see that we have grown.

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” -1 Peter 2:2-3 (NIV)

We don’t have to remind Joseph to nurse. He craves his mother’s milk. It is, in fact, his source of life right now. Our problem is that we have to push ourselves to grow. Our flesh does not want to submit to the growth process.

God is our very source of life. We need to realize that we need God more than Joseph needs his mother’s milk. The problem is this: we grow accustomed to living apart from Him. Life apart from Him is actually a life lived in darkness. We can walk separated from our Creator and think we are doing okay when we are not!

So what are some practical things we can do to grow in the Lord? My encouragement is to establish some daily disciplines in your life regarding prayer and the Word and then intentionally live out your walk with the Lord in your every day life. I suggest the following:

  1. Have a daily place of prayer – be honest with God, love Him, worship Him, praise Him, seek Him with all your heart.
  2. Read, study and meditate on God’s Word – speak and declare God’s word over your life when you’re praying, when you’re driving, by your bed at night, or while you’re doing the dishes, or whenever.
  3. Make daily decisions that honor God.

Growth does take work. It may require that you rearrange some priorities in your life. It can be challenging to organize your days to prioritize your time with God. But it is a sacrifice that is worth it that will reward you now, in every area of your life, and into eternity.

Your Identity in Christ

 

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Have you ever felt overlooked or marginalized by others?

Even if not intentional, sometimes others fail to see our potential. One time, I requested a job promotion for a position I thought had opened up. After about four months of waiting and seeing the position had not been filled, I discovered that I needed to speak with the President of the company to find out why I had not been given the position. So, I requested a meeting with him.

In the meeting, I learned that although the supervisor of the department wanted me in the position, the President did not or was at least resistant to the idea. I had been with the company for over ten years, had worked hard and was excellent in my work, and felt that I deserved the promotion. I made my case and he gave me the promotion. It felt good that I got what I wanted, but I also felt a bit hurt and rejected. My supervisor believed in me a great deal and saw my potential, but the President did not. What I’ve learned is that some people, no matter how well I do or how hard I try, won’t believe in me or see my potential.

I’ve learned that what others think about me is not that important. I need to be open to listening to constructive criticism and be willing to receive correction, but what is most important is what God thinks about me. And thankfully God has placed other people in my life who do believe in me.

There’s no doubt that the words of others can hurt, but the most important words in our lives are the words of God. Even if everyone else says you don’t matter, God says you do. If God says you matter, then it doesn’t matter what other people think.

Once, after going through a long season of personal testing, the Lord told me that I had passed the test. Honestly, I did not feel like I had passed the test. But God clearly told me that I had passed. I have learned that if God says “yes” when I feel “no”, “yes” it is! So, in addition to placing God’s words above those of others, we also have to place God’s words over our own self-opinion.

Sometimes we can think of ourselves more highly than we ought (see Rom. 12:3). In this case, we need to temper our self-opinion with the truth of God’s word. Often, however, we think too low of ourselves and we need to elevate our self-thinking based on what God says about us.

Romans 14:4 says,

“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”

When you one day stand before God in heaven, what others have said about you will not matter. What will matter is what God says about you. This the way we should live our lives – with a humble estimation of ourselves and with a confidence in who we are in Christ. Jesus was wholly confident in who He was as God’s Son but also lived humbly, knowing He could do nothing without the Father (John 5:19).

As a new dad myself, I want to speak positive words over my son. I want to call forth his purpose and destiny in Christ. I want him to know that I believe in him and his potential. He’s just a little guy right now, but all of God’s potential is presently in him, it just needs to be developed. I don’t want to hold him back. I want to give him opportunities to grow and fulfill his purpose. I want to provide instruction and discipline to help guide him in the right direction. Most importantly, I want him to know that he is loved and that I am proud of him. Our Father in heaven feels the same way about you. He loves you and believes in you. Even if you feel poorly about yourself, He is proud of you!

I have found it helpful to declare out loud who I am in Christ. Declaring what God says about me in His Word increases my confidence in Him and reminds me that I am loved and accepted even if I feel unloved. I want to challenge you to take some time to declare God’s word over your life. Sit by your beside or sofa or pace the floor in your room and declare God’s promises over your life. Absorb the truth of God’s word deep into your soul, let your identity in Christ become ingrained in your soul and spirit.

Assignment:  Read Ephesians Chapter 1:1-14. Make a list regarding your identity in Christ (for example, “I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ” or “I am adopted as God’s son or daughter”, etc.). Also, make a list of qualities of God’s character (for example, “God is full of grace” or “God is full of wisdom”, etc.). Spend 30 minutes this evening, meditating on these truths and confessing them over your life.

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