Tuesday, 2 June 2009

HOW I NEED TO GROW

How do I need to grow?

Have you ever asked this question? Do you know the answer to the question if you were to ask?

Perhaps we need to ask another question before we ask this one. What has God called me to do for Him? Some of us can answer this without hesitation- a father, a mother, a friend, a helper, a student. With a little hesitation we might further answer that in addition to these important and primary callings, we are to serve the Lord by using the particular gifts that He has given us. The Bible lists some of these possible gifts in Romans 12, First Corinthians 12, 14 and First Peter 4:10-11. Perhaps your gift from God is to serve, or to encourage, or to teach, or to lead or to give? Where we might really hesitate after this stage of the process is when we answer the "Where?"part of the equation. For all of us, the answer to this question is two-part: within a local church and then in a mission-field.

Once these questions have been answered, we can now begin to answer the question: How do I need to grow? Of course we all need to grow in the same way when it comes to the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), the character and likeness of Christ (Ephesians 4:15), and the ability to share the love of God (Romans 14:15). Upon these foundations of constant growth, we need to grow in ways that best steward the gifts God has given us. This involves several aspects-

PEOPLE
Ephesians 4:1b-3 walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Whatever gift has given you, it will always be channelled toward helping and loving others.

How well do you know those God has called you to share your gifts with?

Do you know who in your church or mission-field needs encouraging?

Can you tell when you have deprived a person for being responsible of their own actions?

Do you know when to give someone space and when to give them company?

People are not pains. People are Christ's Blood-bought treasure! These same people will let us down, offend us, and even disappoint us- but they are still treasured by Christ. Perhaps some of us need to grow in how we treat people-especially those who are not just people, but brothers and sisters. Please pray for me that I can better help people with the gifts that Christ has invested in me. I'm going to be praying for you today that God will help you to better help your brothers and sisters in our church and those in your mission-field.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

NEWNESS
You know you are growing when the Lord takes you into new arenas, has you do new things, and has you encounter new challenges. When we allow Christ to stretch us where we might currently feel inadequate we are bound to grow. When was the last time you did something for the first time? Newness is the air the growing person breathes. Rather than dismissing a challenge as "I can't do that!" the growing person says, "How do I do this - because I'd like to have a go!"

2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.


PATIENCE
Growth takes time. God's lessons are learned over a passage of time. Walking with Christ is a persistent walk. It requires patience. But sometimes growth comes from practicing something, like memorising Scripture, or learning a new song, or being able to play an instrument. Sometimes growth into something looks like walking a path that seems to bear no resemblance to where we think the Lord is taking us. Perhaps this is how Moses felt as he tended sheep for 40 years all the while knowing that God had called him to be the deliverer of Israel from Egyptian bondage (Acts 7:25)?

Romans 2:7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.


LISTENING
God has given us one mouth and two ears. This might be a clue as to what we should do more. We grow as we learn to listen better. There is a world of difference between hearing people's words and really listening to them. As I grow in my relationship to Kim this is probably the single biggest growth area I've had to learn. Good listening is an art form. Listening well doesn't mean agreeing but it does mean clarity. As we allow God to grow us into the people He wants us to be, it means that we will learn to listen more, and listen more clearly.


SUBMISSION
It seems to me that more Christ grew as a man, the more submissive He became. One of His final acts was to wash the smelly, dirty, naked, feet of his disciples as they argued over who was greatest. He submitted Himself to them. He could therefore instruct His apostles to write that we should all be submitted to one another (Ephesians 5:21), that wives should be submitted to their husbands (Eph. 5:22), that a church should be submitted to Christ (Eph. 5:24), and that believers should be submitted to their leaders (Hebrews 13:17). Growth comes from submission. A child must submit to their parents for their own growth's sake and it seems that in the spiritual sense there is growth that takes place when allow someone to care for us in a way that we can be submitted to them. This might involve counsel, correction,

ATTITUDE
I conclude these thoughts with what is probably the single most important factor in how we need to grow: our attitude. Our attitude is the window to the core of our souls. When we are growing into Christ our attitudes are the first evidence of that growth.

Am I thankful?

Do I rejoice for others when they succeed at something I have failed at?

Will I encourage someone else even when I feel particularly discouraged?

Can I help another when I feel unsociable and worn-out?

How do I respond to someone who irritates me and doesn't even realise it?

Why do I serve people?

All of these questions address our attitude.

Ephesians 4:23 Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. (NLT)


"Oh God, please help me to grow in the foundations of a Christ-follower. Please help me to grow in my love and care of others. Please help me to grow into the likeness of Christ for my life. And Lord, make clear to me who I am to minister with and to. Father, I also pray that I can understand what the gifts are that you have given me. Help me to grow in their use. May I be a blessing to people. Help me not to shirk away from doing new or first time things. Oh God, help me to listen better. I want to hear You. I want to really hear what others are saying as well. And Lord, when I want Your trials and tests to be over before You do, help me not to run away. Instead, Lord, help me to submit to your timing and to those You place over and into my life. Father, as I seek to grow I pray that my attitude will become transformed into a humble, servant-spirited, gentle, loving, kind, child of Yours. All this I ask Father, in Jesus' Name, and for Your glory.

Amen.

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