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.

How to Grow as a Christian – Part I

IMG_2119Have you ever felt frustrated, feeling like you are not growing spiritually? At times in my life, I have felt like I am either not growing at all or I’m actually getting worse. The reality is this: there is a way to grow in the Lord every day without feeling frustrated, condemned or constantly discouraged.

First of all, growth rarely happens quickly. It is usually a slow and steady process. It’s easy to get discouraged when we look at ourselves and lament what appears to be a lack of growth. The first thing we need to do is be patient with ourselves and with God. We grow in grace, not by placing upon ourselves unreasonable demands and expectations that only lead to frustration and condemnation.

II Peter 3:18 (NIV) says, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

If you are prone to introspection, like me, you may tend to spend a lot of time gazing internally and finding things wrong with yourself. Then, you become frantic, trying to put out numerous fires at one time – I need to change this, that, and this, and that, and this, and that. This leads to feeling overwhelmed. When I feel overwhelmed like this, I get discouraged and want to give up.

A better plan of action is to implement disciplines in your life that will facilitate daily growth while, at the same time, understanding that you live under the covering of God’s love and grace. This covering gives us the freedom to be honest with ourselves about our sins and flaws and also the freedom to fail. God’s grace permits us to enjoy our lives while we are growing, even though we are not perfect. Discipline keeps us from using our freedom in Christ as an excuse for sin or unrighteous living.

Titus 2:11-12 (NIV) says, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”

Grace is not the enemy of discipline. Discipline is not the enemy of grace. The two are not opposites. Grace is not only God’s kindness to sinners, it is God’s empowerment to live righteously and victoriously. When we discipline ourselves, humbly depending on God every day, we position ourselves under His grace and His grace empowers us to live holy.

James 4:6 (NKJV) says, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.'”

The narrow road with Christ is both a road of discipline and a road of grace, which leads to abundant life. Perfectionism is an enemy of discipline. Condemnation and accusation are enemies of grace. The narrow road is not a road without stumbling, setbacks or mistakes. The narrow road is walked by imperfect people who enter through the gate of Christ and press on with Him in their earnest quest to be like Him.

Abraham provides an excellent example to illustrate my point. Through faith, Abraham received God’s grace. God’s grace to Abraham came through a promise, a promise that he would have a son and be the father of many nations through which all people would be blessed. But Abraham made some real mistakes. He messed up, but none of his sins cancelled out the grace of God.

God said of Abraham that he “obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions” (Genesis 26:5, NIV).

Despite Abraham’s mistakes, he obeyed the Lord. Abraham lived a life of both grace and discipline. The result was that he walked in the blessing of God while he stretched out in faith to inherit the promise of God. Likewise, by God’s grace, when commit ourselves to a life of discipline in the Lord, we will continue to grow in His grace.

Stay tuned for Part 2. In my next article, we’ll get more practical about how we can grow every day in Christ, by His grace! Blessings!