Monday, January 30, 2017

Don't Stop Growing!

     Whenever I have discussions with co-workers and friends, the topic of our current world situation comes up.   We do live in challenging times with many unanswered questions and it does seem that more and more our world is beginning to resemble the days of Noah where every man did what was right in his own eyes.  Inevitably, the question always comes up:  "Why are people so bad today?  Who would do such a thing?"  The answer to that question is the same today as it was since the Garden of Eden:  sin.  Though God created us in His image, we are marred by the sin nature which we inherited from Adam.  This means we are self-centered wanting to be our own gods.  Oh, we don't go around saying it like that, but ultimately, we look to please ourselves.  As a result, we have a society that very much looks like this description in the Apostle Paul's letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:1-5a):  "1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power..." So, we see that some things never change do they?        
     This is why God sent His Son into the world to redeem us from the captivity of sin.  His life, death and resurrection paid the debt we owed to a holy God.  The reason behind this was because God loved us (John 3:16).  When we come to Christ as our Lord and Savior repenting of our sins, we come into relationship with God.  This does not mean we will never sin again because we will always do battle with our old nature, but it does mean that we are now free to choose whether to do the right thing or the wrong thing.  However, God gives to us the gift of His Holy Spirit to guide us daily and a new heart that can respond to the Lord.  Yet, things do not stop with salvation.  This is just the beginning of an entirely different life and relationship to our Creator.  Often, we miss the second step which is our growth in relationship to God.
     What our Heavenly Father wants the most is to have a close, intimate relationship with us that we might know Him, His character and His love for us.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed for His disciples and all believers who would follow them.  John 17:3 Jesus prayed, "This is the life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent."  The Lord wants us to go on growing and not stay as babes in Christ.  Our Savior wants us to hunger and thirst after righteousness and not be satisfied with knowing the basics.
     Our Sunday School class has been studying the sermons of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Ephesians and today, we discussed Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in which he says:  "...the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17).  We know that the Ephesians were believers, filled with the Spirit and sealed in the Spirit, but Paul saw that they needed to grow in their knowledge of God just as Jesus had prayed.  He repeats this same prayer in his letter to the Philippians and to the Colossians ( Phil. 1:9-11; Cols. 1:9-10).  His desire was to see these new Christians grow in their relationship to God and not remain stagnant in any way.
     According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "Man's troubles are always due to his ignorance of God" (God's Ultimate Purpose, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, pg 342).   Let that soak in for a moment.  Our lack of knowing God as our Creator, Judge and Savior who loves us causes us to miss the blessings that God has for us.  Do we hunger and thirst to know God?  Are we really willing to spend time with Him or do we want a superficial relationship only?  So how do we do that?
     Yesterday, our pastor spoke on the Word of God and a study which Barna did on Christians spending time in the Bible.  The average amount of time spent reading the Bible came out to 9 minutes a day.  Is it any wonder that we lack an intimate relationship with God?  We must spend quality time with God in prayer, Bible reading and meditating on what we have read.  Most of our days are filled with busy activities in the world so that is where our greatest input comes from.  Do you want to know God?  Then we have to get into His Word to us to understand who He is and who we are.  We need to talk with Him all day long.  I find myself praying at work...not out loud but to myself throughout the day.  He is with us all day long, and we need to cultivate the sense of His presence in all that we do.  Then, we need fellowship with other believers who can encourage us and correct us in love.  This will help us to grow in Christ.
     Our culture is sin sick.  If we want to be the salt and light in this world to bring about change, we have to work on ourselves first.   As we grow closer to God, we will have a greater love for others, a more forgiving heart, and a willingness to share the truth of Christ with others.  May we all grow in the knowledge, wisdom and revelation of our Lord day by day just as Paul prayed.  Selah!

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