Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Growth

08
Jan
18

What’s Next: Looking Forward

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana. This message is based on Philippians 3:12-21 and is about the future of our church family in 2018.

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21
Nov
16

4 Keys To Pleasing God

The ancient city of Colossae was located on the south bank of the Lycus river.  It was an important city first mentioned in writings in 480 BC.  There is evidence, according to scholar F.F. Bruce, that the Colossae was still a major city in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.  There was a large Jewish population in Colossae.  Perhaps this is why Paul wrote so much about who Jesus was and what He did in this letter.  Paul did not start the church in Colossae, but had heard about what was going on there from Epaphras who had visited Paul while he was imprisoned.
Here in chapter 1, Paul and his young scribe, Timothy, tell the Colossians that they are praying for them.  They are asking God to fill them with knowledge and understanding that comes by the Holy Spirit (verse 9).  What was the goal of this prayer?  Look at verse 10:

“…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way.” – Colossians 1:10 (NIV)

Paul then goes on to tell how they could live a life worthy of the Lord Jesus and how to please Him.  There are four keys to living this kind of life:

  1. Bearing fruit in every good work (verse 10)
  2. Growing in the knowledge of God (verse 10)
  3. Being strengthened in all power by God’s might so that they will have patience and endurance (verse 11)
  4. Giving thanks to the Father (verse 12)

This is what being a Christian is all about.  This is how we please God – bear fruit, grow in faith, patiently endure trials and suffering, and be thankful.  Which of these four areas do you need to work on today?  Are you bearing spiritual fruit by doing good works or are you living to please  and serve yourself?  Are you growing in your faith or are you stagnating?  Are you patiently enduring the trials and tests of life or are you bitterly complaining about them?  Are you a thankful person or do you take God’s blessings for granted?

It is so vital that we strive to please God.  After all, as verses 13-14 say:

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV)”

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for Your Word. I want to be a thankful person today, giving You thanks for all You have done. Thank You for all that You are doing in my life and for all of Your promises still yet to be fulfilled. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Colossians 1:1-14 (NIV)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

20
Oct
15

Are You Who You Were A Year Ago?

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.

29
Oct
13

The Hard Work Of Spiritual Growth

The Apostle Paul wrote about the need for self-discipline toward the end of 1 Corinthians 9:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

 ​ – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)​
We are a nation that is obsessed with sports.  Sports Illustrated magazine called this country “NFL Nation” a few years back.  Billions of dollars are spent on our sports teams.  From tickets to merchandise to television programming to advertising.  That doesn’t even include the outrageous salaries for some of our athletes!  I am a HUGE Green Bay Packers’ fan and I am a big fan of Aaron Rodgers.  He signed a contract in the off season for over $100 million!  Why?  Because he throws an oblong shaped ball better than pretty much anyone in the NFL (although some might argue that Peyton Manning is the best.  I disagree.  Peyton is nearing 40 and Rodgers is not yet 30 – more upside.  But here I am arguing with you about something so trivial!  Thus proving my point about our nation’s obsession with sports!).
How does a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers keep his job?  He has to train hard!  He has to work out all year long.  He has to study the film of opposing teams.  He has to practice for hours on end.  If he were to sit around lazily and not train, he would not win the prize!
Of course, the glory of a Super Bowl ring only lasts so long.  Fans get impatient and start wondering when the next championship will come (of course, Cubs fans are wondering if the next championship will come!).
For Christians, we are called to go into strict spiritual training.  Not for temporary glory, but for an eternal crown!  1 Peter 5:4 (NIV) says:

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

So what can you do to train yourself to win an eternal crown?  We have to practice self-control and self-discipline.  We need to spend time in God’s Word and in fellowship with other Christians.  We need to fast and pray and meditate on Scripture.  We cannot sit around lazily waiting to grow and mature in our faith.  Spiritual maturity requires hard work and dedication.  In the end, it will all be worth it.

1 Corinthians 9

New International Version (NIV)

Paul’s Rights as an Apostle

9 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2 Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? 8 Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

Paul’s Use of His Freedom

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

The Need for Self-Discipline

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

16
Oct
13

Pick Up A Spoon

There are three instances in the New Testament where the author refers to his audience as babies who are in need of spiritual milk.  One of those instances is here in 1 Corinthians 3.

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? – 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NIV)

The other instances are found in Hebrews 5:12-13 and 1 Peter 2:2.  In today’s passage, we see that Paul is frustrated with the Corinthian Christians because they were not maturing in their faith.  Obviously, when a baby is born, he or she needs milk.  Their digestive systems cannot handle steak!  As they grow and mature, they can begin to handle foods that are more difficult to digest.  First, there is cereal and Goldfish crackers.  Then there is the introduction of more solid foods.  A baby nurses for a while and then is fed with a spoon by his or her parents.  Then, one day, they are expected to pick up a spoon and feed themselves.
Spiritually, we are to be growing and maturing so that we are able to handle more difficult aspects of faith and doctrine.  We begin to handle tougher passages of Scripture as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us and helps us grow.  We pick up a spoon and start to feed ourselves on a diet of Scripture reading and Bible study.  There are too many Christians who have been going to church for 20 years or more and they still don’t know how to pick up a fork and spoon!
Paul’s complaint against the Corinthians was that they were “worldly” because there was “jealousy and quarreling” in the church (1 Corinthians 3:3, NIV).  There was no difference between the behavior of these Christians and those who were outside of Christ.  Jesus didn’t die so that we could be merely human!  He died to transform our lives and make us more like Him!  How do we become more like Jesus?  We grow and mature in our faith by a steady diet of His Word.
Sitting under the teaching of a pastor or preacher for 25-35 minutes a week is not enough.  Read your Bible!  Get a devotional book like My Utmost for His Highest or Streams In The Desert or Everyday Blessings by Max Lucado.  Subscribe to a blog such as Max Lucado’s Daily Devotional or Rick Warren’s Daily Hope.  Get in a good Bible study at your church.  Learn more from God’s Word by doing a reading plan at www.bible.com.  God’s Word is a smorgasbord of delicacies from which we can feed ourselves.  It’s hard work, but as we grow and mature in our faith we will discover that it is very much worth the effort.

1 Corinthians 3

New International Version (NIV)

The Church and Its Leaders

3 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?

5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age,you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”;20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

10
May
13

Maturing In Christ

Here as we wrap up Colossians 1, we see that Paul describes his labor on behalf of the church.  He talks about the mission that Christ had given to him – to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ fully.  He speaks of a mystery and that mystery was how God had taken the Gentiles – those outside of the family of faith – and made them part of His family.  How was this possible?  Through the sacrifice of Jesus.  He gave up His life, once for all, so that everyone could have a relationship with God.
What is the goal of all of this?  Maturity in Christ.  To grow in our faith.  To become better disciples each and every day.  If you are not growing in your faith, then there is something wrong.  If your child stopped growing at 2 years of age, you would assume that something was wrong, correct?  If you have stopped maturing as a Christian, there is something wrong!  We are to keep growing in our relationship with Christ until we reach full maturity.  Have you reached it yet?  Me neither.  I’m still struggling and growing and striving for maturity.  I have a long way to go and so do you.  I believe that the number one inhibitor of growth is a lack of nourishment.  If you’re not growing in your faith, ask yourself how are you feeding yourself?  Do you have a steady diet of the good food of God’s Word?  Or are you filling yourself with the junk food of pop culture?  I’m not saying to go live in a monastery and read the Bible all day.  I’m not saying to bury your head in the sand and pretend like the world around you doesn’t exist.  I’m saying that we need to keep a good balance.  There are good and wholesome parts of pop culture to be sure.  But there are some very dangerous things out there, too.  If we are not careful, we can become addicted to junk food and things that are bad for us.  We need to cut out the junk food and learn to devour the good food of God’s Word.  Then we will be more spiritually healthy and we’ll be growing to maturity in Christ.
Colossians 1:24-29 (NIV)

24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

08
May
13

4 Keys To Pleasing God

The ancient city of Colossae was located on the south bank of the Lycus river.  It was an important city first mentioned in writings in 480 BC.  There is evidence, according to scholar F.F. Bruce, that the Colossae was still a major city in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.  There was a large Jewish population in Colossae.  Perhaps this is why Paul wrote so much about who Jesus was and what He did in this letter.  Paul did not start the church in Colossae, but had heard about what was going on there from Epaphras who had visited Paul while he was imprisoned.
Here in chapter 1, Paul and his young scribe, Timothy, tell the Colossians that they are praying for them.  They are asking God to fill them with knowledge and understanding that comes by the Holy Spirit (verse 9).  What was the goal of this prayer?  Look at verse 10:

so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way – Colossians 1:10 (NIV)

Paul then goes on to tell how they could live a life worthy of the Lord Jesus and how to please Him.  There are four keys to living this kind of life:
  1. Bearing fruit in every good work (verse 10)
  2. Growing in the knowledge of God (verse 10)
  3. Being strengthened in all power by God’s might so that they will have patience and endurance (verse 11)
  4. Giving thanks to the Father (verse 12)

This is what being a Christian is all about.  This is how we please God – bear fruit, grow in faith, patiently endure trials and suffering, and be thankful.  Which of these four areas do you need to work on today?  Are you bearing spiritual fruit by doing good works or are you living to please  and serve yourself?  Are you growing in your faith or are you stagnating?  Are you patiently enduring the trials and tests of life or are you bitterly complaining about them?  Are you a thankful person or do you take God’s blessings for granted?

It is so vital that we strive to please God.  After all, as verses 13-14 say:

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV)

Colossians 1

New International Version (NIV)

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.




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