Tag Archives: Maturity

Mark of Discipleship: Word Symbiosis

The original language word, translated continue, remain, abide, is a symbiotic word meaning to live in/with it while it lives in/with you.

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”” John‬ ‭8:31-32‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The Word is living and active because of God’s Spirit in us that enlivens our desire for God and empowers our comprehension of His ways. The Word given is our path to communication with God, and it’s His way of instructing us in the way we should go in serving His purpose for our days.

The Spirit draws the true disciple to desire God’s Word and seek out communion with Him. The more His Word is in us, the more prepared we are with wisdom to direct our steps through life as honors and glorifies God. Desire in us to honor and glorify God makes time in His Word a joy we run to every day – and often throughout the day.

If there is no desire for God’s Word, then truly we need to question our claim to discipleship.

It Is Time To Grow Up

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:1-3.

The theme of the thoughts God is giving of late to encourage those who read these blogs is focusing us on what we need to realize and walk out in these days we are living. More and more, people are watching the sky to the East, expecting Jesus’ soon return, wondering how bad things will get and how much tribulation will touch our lives before He arrives.

In our wait, life in this world grows ever more difficult for the child of God. Like Job, whose righteous heart-felt tormented by the evil of his day, it is difficult to see the ungodliness rising up all around us. The struggle we have in our own lives and the struggle we see in the lives of loved ones tempts our hearts to worry and fretting, robbing of faith to believe and trust God in all things. In our passage today, God reminds me that it is vitally important for us to seek the Lord for spiritual growth and maturity, so we have the wisdom needed to weather the storms that are coming our way.

HUG (2)Beloved, how often are you in the word of God, seeking Him for understanding, allowing Him to transform you by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1-3)? The symptoms Paul saw in the church in Corinth reveals their immaturity through the “jealousy and strife” they were walking out into life. When we seek the Lord for understanding of Him and His ways, He changes our way of thinking, drawing us to understand His purpose and plan, granting us realization of our unity with Him and our part in His work. When we focus on God, His will, way, purpose and priorities, we understand that we are one in Christ, each having our part, all of which works together to fulfill God’s plan. There is no need of jealousy and strife when we are one in Christ, with mind set on the things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of the Father (Colossians 3:1-17, AMP).

It is vital in this day, Beloved, that we grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:9-16). Galatians 4:1 tells us that, as children, we are not much better off than slaves until we grow up to full maturity. We are owners with Christ of everything, our inheritance as the children of God, but we cannot possess all we have available to us or use it wisely and rightly until we grow up into Him who is the head.

Beloved, if you are still a child in your understanding of the things of God because of lack of time in His word, seek Him for Jesus-Bride009understanding so that He may transform you into His image, granting you understanding through your possession of the mind of Christ in your way of thinking and being. It is time to grow up! The days ahead are troubled-waters. Our only hope to weather these storms is through understanding of God, His ways, His purposes, His plans and priorities.

~*~

“Sound the alarm! The enemy descends like an eagle on the people of the Lord, for they have broken my covenant and revolted against my law” ~ Hosea 8:1, NLT.

“But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths” ~ Ezekiel 33:6, NLT.

The Need of the Graphic

Since yesterday’s blog post, where I shared a peak into my youth and exposed a little of myself to you, I have been thinking about graphics.

I am sure you realize, Christian brothers and sisters, that we live in a terribly graphic society. Movies and even games get increasingly realistic. The more real the graphics appear, the better these do at the box office. The news shows us real life action of the storylines of our day. And our graphic society is made most evident in the live-action footage shared on U-Tube type sites where the day’s good and evil acts are posted for all to see: from beheadings, to our grandbaby’s birthday celebrations and their cute antics, all shone in brilliant, lively color.

We are a very graphic society, except where we most need to be.

jesus-stripes
Jesus died graphically that we might be saved. Fear not living graphically that others may know.

As I have considered this topic, I realize that we, the church, are too often muted. I am not just talking about being too quiet. Some of us shout well enough, but we fail to speak the language of the day. I am talking about failing to be clear and real enough to be noticed. We fail to tell people the details of our lives and how God has moved to deliver us, often out of shame, and sometimes because we believe people see enough evil in the world without seeing “mine”. I’m not talking about play by play, gory detail, but enough detail so they understand and see our experiential understanding of the world they live in and the difficulty they face. Beloved, if we cannot match the graphics of the day, not as hanging our dirty laundry out there, but showing the detail of the dirt and contrasting the work of God in delivering us from it, how will we catch the attention of those who are captivated by a very graphic world.

I have often wondered how much stuff my children might have been spared experiencing if I had been more graphic in my instructing and teaching them. It is one thing to tell them, “Save yourself for the marriage bed.” It is another still to say, “1 Here is the mistake I made. 2 Here is how it affected me. 3 This is God’s way that I learned too late. 4 You learn it now so you are spared the mistake. 5 God is faithful and gracious, and here is how He has restored me. 6 But I wish I would have had someone to tell me what I am telling you today so I could be spared the shame and regret and the struggle. 7 I am thankful that God used the struggle to reveal Himself to me in this way. He is gracious, and I am set free. Live the freedom I am teaching you today and spare yourself the need of the grace to heal the wounds of the sin and shame.”

By the way, that I just stated as example is the outline for a graphic testimony. Hang the dirty laundry with the cleaned up version right beside it. Let the contrast be used of God to catch the attention of those looking for help in a world that seems hopeless. People are asking us, “How do you know there is a God.” In a world of graphic evil, destruction, heartache, sorrow, and many whoas, they need to see very graphic proof of God’s work in us.

First Corinthians 14:6-9 fits here, brethren: “Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you SPEAKING IN AN UNKNOWN LANGUAGE, How Would That Help You? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, That Will Be Helpful. Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.”

Paul is talking about speaking in tongues, but the same can be applied to our too often religious speeches. We must learn to speak the language of the people so they can understand. In a graphic society, graphic truth is needed, spoken loud and clear above the roar of the world. People need to hear how we know there is a God. Shout it out above the roar, beloved, by speaking clearly and distinctly so as to be heard and understood, and be not ashamed to show graphic proof of how God has made a difference in you.

“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” ~ 1 Peter 3:15.

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Seeking to please man instead of God, our fear of being found out may well be the weapon used against us that is hindering our providing another with the graphic proof of God that will save them the trouble of sin.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 5

Delightful Obedience

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:3-6).

Jesus came to do the Father’s will. He made it clear in my perception of things that this was His greatest delight and ultimate goal, to please the Father and accomplish His purposes. When we come to this place in our walk with the Christ, we enter into His delight found in accomplishing the Father’s will and fulfilling His purpose.

Obedience is not a choice for the true believer. It is the ultimate sign, the proof of sincere and eternal relationship through Christ. When we receive Christ, He places His Spirit within us. His Spirit, like Father and Son, will not say one thing while doing another. That is the spirit of hypocrisy.

When we are in true relationship with the Father through the Christ, His Spirit comes to make us one with them in thought, intent and action. Though we may fall on occasion, we will quickly rise up as soon as we realize it, dust ourselves off with the brush of repentance and turn to walk in fellowship with Him through obedience again.

The amplified version can be a challenge to read, but remove the brackets and note the beauty of fellowship: “And this is how we may discern daily, by experience, that we are coming to know Him—to perceive, recognize, understand, and become better acquainted with Him: if we keep, bear in mind, observe, practice His teachings, His precepts, and His commandments.”

Can it be any clearer in showing the importance of our coming into agreement with His ways as sign-proof that we walk in relationship with Him? If that is not enough, look again at the next sentence, minus the brackets: “Whoever says, ‘I know Him, I perceive, recognize, understand, and am acquainted with Him,’ but fails to keep and obey His commandments and teachings is a liar, and the Truth of the Gospel is not in him.”

There are whole people groups that believe it does not matter what they do Monday through Saturday as long as they are set apart and sanctified to Him on Sunday. This passage blows that philosophy out of the water, as that old saying goes. It does not float. It does not flow with the stream of God’s righteousness. It sinks to the bottom with the sludge and slime.

“But he who keeps and treasures His Word, who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety, truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected, completed, and reached maturity” (vs. 5, AMP). This verse instructs our obedience. Here we see that true obedience:

† Keeps His word as a treasure: Oh what joy it is to read and study God’s word as a treasure hunt and, finding nuggets of great worth, to hide it in one’s heart as resource for life and living; bounty that dictates and directs one’s path. Those who truly know Him are not afraid of His discipline, realizing that is what proves them to be His chosen child and it is what He does to make us more like Himself, the spitting image of our Father. These rejoice with understanding that His word is used by Him in the power of His Spirit to teach us, for “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What joy it is to know that God cares how we think and that even the littlest of choices that direct our path with Him is important to Him. Treasure it and let that treasure supply and equip your adequacy as His beloved child. In doing so, we…

† Bear in mind His precepts: Every decision in life is brought under the microscope of His word. It is what we use in choosing life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse. His word is truth and will lead us to the truth of His will for us even in this day and age. It is not obsolete. It is a guiding light, a lamp to the feet of those who know how to treasure it and rightly use it.

† Who observes His message in its entirety: God can and does use a verse to give us direction, especially in situations that are not clearly defined in Holy text; but that one or two verse message from Him will always stand in agreement with the whole of His word. It will never lead us contrary to Him and His ways. This is why it is important that we know the whole.

I.e.: if you want to know what God’s word says about giving, you don’t just look at one verse and say, “That is it!” You look at all places in scripture that speak of giving and, reading it in context, pull it all together to get the full picture. Someone just looking at one verse may believe that they are required of God to give to their own harm and the harm of their family. A little digging and we find that God’s word says to give according to our means and what we are able to do without harming self and those we are tasked to care for.

Does that mean we never have to give sacrificially? No, but it does mean that God does not put us on the street while using our means to put another in a mansion. That is the world’s way, not Gods. God’s way uses the surplus of those who have to help those in any true, proven need and it does it in a way that does not keep the needy dependent on us, but that helps and even requires them to come up higher. God’s way requires all to grow to a place of no longer being needy, but being able to give.

“…truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected, completed, and reached maturity.”

When we get to the point in our walk with God that reading His word is no longer a chore, but a joy; coming to a place where even His words of discipline are a treasure to us that we hide in our hearts for use in directing our path, we come to a place of maturity in Him. Those who are mature in Him hear His voice calling us to dig deep and find the whole of His truth on the subjects of life.

“By this we may perceive, know, recognize, and be sure that we are in Him: Whoever says he abides in Him ought, as a personal debt to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.”

We can have full assurance of our relationship with God and our eternal destination by the growth we have in us in this area of our Christian walk and faith.

Jesus knew the whole of the Word of God and how to use it. And He has given us His Spirit to teach us. What does John say at the God-breathed inspiration of His Spirit: “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him” (1 John 2:27).

It is good to have teachers. They are tasked with and help our spiritual growth and understanding. But the greatest joy of any teacher is when the student becomes the teacher, surpassing even them in their growth and understanding. That only happens as we realize that Jesus gave us His Spirit to be our teacher in His stead.

We can trust the Spirit to instruct us, and He often will use others to confirm our hearing Him. It is exciting when God teaches me something new to me, and then I hear that same teaching from behind the pulpit or out of the mouth of some teacher of His word that I know to be trustworthy.

Really, unless the Spirit helps us to learn, even understanding what is said to us by others who teach is impossible without Him. We should never go into an instructional setting without seeking the Spirit to teach us and help us discern truth.

Jesus, at the age of 12, sat with the teachers of His day and learned from them. Of course, He astounded them with the level of His understanding, but nonetheless, we know He had to grow His childlike mind in preparation for His glorious ministry as Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

We too are charged with growing and showing ourselves to be of Him through our growing wisdom and understanding and wise use of His precepts and commands. Child of God, if you are not growing in the power of His Spirit, you are not abiding with Him.

(Have a great weekend. See you back here next week.)