Sunday, January 2, 2022

4 Key Points for Christian Growth in 2022

“Elizabeth Elliot tells of two adventurers who stopped by to see her, all loaded with equipment for the rain forest east of the Andes. They sought no advice, just a few phrases to converse with the Indians. She writes: "Sometimes we come to God as the two adventurers came to me -- confident and, we think, well-informed and well equipped. But has it occurred to us that with all our accumulation of stuff, something is missing?

She suggests that we often ask God for too little. We know what we need--a yes or no answer, please, to a simple question. Or perhaps a road sign. Something quick and easy to point the way. What we really ought to have is the Guide himself. Maps, road signs, a few useful phrases are things, but infinitely better is someone who has been there before and knows the way.”

Elizabeth Elliot tells, A Slow and Certain Light.

Today we’re talking about the topic of Christian growth. What does it look like? How do we go about practically growing? Growth is all about becoming all we’re called to be in Christ. God has changed us into new people. He’s declared us holy in Christ, yet there is also this process of sanctification we go through, where slowly over our lives we become more and more like the character of Christ. And we learn to live like Christ did on the Earth, as we prepare for his return.

The first scripture I’d like to point you to today is 2nd Peter 1:2-4 ESV which says,

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

When we talk about growth we quick to want to focus on ourselves, aren’t we? We think alright, I gotta make sure I have all my gear, like the two adventurers headed into the rainforest. Do I have my self help book, my to do list, my fad-diet, my determination, my self will, my abilities. And so on and so forth. We look to ourselves to grow.

But that is not what it means for a Christian to grow. A Christian instead of looking to self, or self-taught ideas, or dragging ourselves ahead by our own bootstraps, instead we look to Christ. We learn about Christ. We turn the focus off of ourselves and onto Christ, and helping others.

We seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. And as a result, all of our needs are cared for by Him.

But what we do, as our footwork, is follow the Leader. We allow the Holy Spirit to lead us through the wilderness. We allow Jesus to lead us through the wilderness. We seek answers in prayer. We go to the guide. How do we do that? By praying. By reading our Bibles daily. By doing morning devotionals. By attending Bible study, and church services. There we encounter the Lord, and are filled, and guided in the right direction through our journey in the wilderness.

So that’s my first point for you today, follow Jesus as you live out Christian growth. Let Christ be the leader of your growth process. He brings us from one issue to another, as he shapes us and molds us into His likeness.

As Christians we often start small, just very basic changes in our lives, but over time those changes become great, and our journey becomes great.

Job 8:7 ESV says, “And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.”

Then again, also, as a Christian, we can start well, but sometimes starting well is the easy part, and the hard part is continuing well. We see many who start well, but they never finish. They end up drifting away. Perhaps they didn’t count the cost of being a disciple? It will cost us everything.

Galatian 5:7 says, “You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?”

The Galatians had started off so well, but they quickly became led astray by false teachers. Let’s make sure we start well, but also continue well. And let’s make sure know that though our beginning may be small, often our latter days will be very great.

So let’s take a look at 4 key points about Christian growth. What does Christian growth look like?

1. It’s messy. Yes, growth is a messy process - Often time we mess up and stumble again and again and again. And we have to keep returning to Christ, seeking His grace. But eventually we find our break through. So we have to be patient in growth. Have you ever felt stuck in your walk with Christ? Stuck on a sin? Stuck in a negative place? Then perhaps something needs to change. Something big. The Bible says it’s better to cut off our hand and throw it away, than with two hands be found in sin, and cast into the lake of fire.

Matthew 5:30 “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

Failure does happen, persistence is required. Keep going. Keep praying. Keep seeking God. Keep repenting. Turn away from sin, and toward Christ. He will help us.

2. It’s stressful, involves pressure, taking risk - Change can be very stressful. And it involves pressure. We often wonder, why am I going through this fiery trial right now? And the answer is Christian growth.

It says in the word, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, 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. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” -Romans 5:2-6 ESV

3. It’s Putting the Flesh to Death – Colossians 3:5 ESV “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

We must put the flesh to death by the Spirit’s power, in christ. And we have the promise that says the power of the blood of Christ will do this in us.

It says in Hebrews 9:14 ESV “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

We know that our flesh was crucified with Christ, but sometimes our flesh wants to pop back up and have it’s way right. I want pleasure. I want this. I want that. Selfishness pops up, that’s why I have to repeat to myself the word from

Galatians 2:20 ESV I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

This is all a process. It’s not just one and done. We often have to keep putting the flesh to death and living for the Spirit. It starts over for me everyday. Every 24 hours, new day, live by the Spirit, not the flesh.

4. It’s Living by Faith not by sight – We see mountains often in front of us, and our call is to live by faith not by sight. We have prayer requests and hopes, but we see the same old thing day by day, our job is to live by faith not by sight. Living by faith is believing and understanding and knowing the reality of God’s sovereignty his total control and ability to affect change, and also believing that He will. That is faith. And we live by faith, not by sight. Because we’ve seen the evidence time and again, in our lives, that God moves mountains, they disappear into thin air, our minds can’t comprehend it, our cynical pessimistic attitudes burst into flames and can’t believe what they’re seeing when God makes the way, and we walk on dry ground where there was once a flood. And it’s incredible. And it happens. Our job is to keep believing.

In conclusion today, my prayer for you today is this:

2 Peter 3:18 ESV But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.