JESUS TEACHES US HOW TO GROW IN HIM

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JESUS TEACHES US HOW TO GROW IN HIM

As believers, one of the constant charges that we receive from our leaders, peers and indeed, the world, is this phrase ‘grow in Christ’. Some say that if we do not grow, then we are stagnating, we are perhaps even backsliding; and for some, that points to us being bad Christians, fallen out of favor with our God. But wait a minute, it is fine and well to mouth the word ‘grow’, but what does ‘grow’ mean? How do we know we have grown? How do we grow?

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in every respect grow up into him who is the head, the Messiah.” Ephesians 4:15 [CJB]

How does a child grow up? Have we ever stopped to think about that? There really are three facets; nutrition, education and experience.

Physiologically, children need food. They need to eat right, consume the right nutrients; then only will they grow in health and stature.

Psychologically, children need learning. They learn languages to communicate, arithmetic and other skills to prepare them to be useful later on. They gain knowledge of the sciences, so that they know how to relate to the world around them.

Practically, children need exposure. They need to experience, to have a platform on which to try out all the theory which they have gleaned; a means to see how and why their learning is relevant and how they should move forward and learn even more.

So what about us? The apostle Paul says that for us to grow up into Him, we need to speak the truth in love. How do we do that? The first thing we need to do is to establish ourselves in the truth, so that

“We will then no longer be infants tossed about by the waves and blown along by every wind of teaching, at the mercy of people clever in devising ways to deceive.” Ephesians 4:14 [CJB]

So how do we do that?

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”” John 8:31-32

The truth lies in His word. And what is in His word? His promises of protection, His promises of provision, His declaration of love. Here is a sample.

His protection,

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

“You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.” Psalm 91:5-7

His provision,

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14

His love for you,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17

So once you are firmly established in the truth that Jesus and our Father have for you, you will never be swayed, as an infant is; and you will ‘grow up’.

But how do we establish ourselves if we do not understand? How will we understand if we do not know? How will we know if we do not encounter? So therefore beloved, we see that for us, our process of growing is very much like that of a child.

We need to feed, we need to consume, we need to encounter the word, so that we will know what it is that He wants to tell us. If reading is not quite your thing, then listen to sermons. If you are a visual person, then watch videos. There are plenty of good preachers out there who preach the true word of God. Find one and constantly encounter the word through that channel.

But how do we choose from all that is out there? Jesus Himself tells us,

“You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:16-20

But what is this fruit that we are talking about?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Simply put,

“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.” Matthew 7:15-20 [MSG]

So once we have found, through His leading, a good source of teaching, a good pasture for feeding, then consume His word, and be filled with it. Because once you are filled with it, it will naturally take root in your life and grow into intellectual understanding, for remember,

“He who has ears [to hear], let him be listening and let him consider and perceive and comprehend by hearing.” Matthew 13:9 [AMPC]

“For whoever has [spiritual knowledge], to him will more be given and he will be furnished richly so that he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Matthew 13:12 [AMPC]

So as you are feeding, as you are consuming, Jesus is faithful and He will be adding.

And once you have understood, stay in His word, for our Father has promised that He will let you experience Him working mightily in your life, as He has said,

“‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” Leviticus 26:3-4

And what is His commandments that you should perform them?

“Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:28-29

So then, when we believe in Jesus, we are said to be abiding in Him, and

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:7-8

For

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

So how then shall we know that we are living God’s way?

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” Galatians 5:22-23 [MSG]

Beloved, one final thing we need to understand. How does a child grow? Does he toil to make his bones extend? Does he labor to make his flesh multiply? No, he feeds and waits. The growth takes place naturally.

So then look at how growth comes in our spiritual life? When we abide and believe, our Father gives the rain, our Father supplies the stream, ask what you will and it shall be done for you. He brings gifts into your life, we develop virtues, we find ourselves involved, never needing to force our way in life. Yes, beloved, we just feed and He will grow.

Growth is not about effort on our part. Growth is not about us being in or out of favor. We are always in His favor. Growth is all about staying, feeding and resting; and He will effect the growth.

“Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest” Hebrews 4:11 [KJV]

“For he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors peculiarly His own.” Hebrews 4:10 [AMPC]
And watch Him make us grow.

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