Tag Archives: growing in christ

Open The Flow

During the drought this summer, my yard started to die. I began using the sprinkler in the evenings, and I moved it around every so often. Wherever I placed it, I would turn the water faucet on full blast in order to cover the most ground possible. Little by little, the grass began to turn green again. When I looked at my neighbor’s yards, many of them had started doing the same thing. I can honestly say that i didn’t see anyone watering their yards with the water barely turned on. Can you imagine how ineffective that would be? Yet some of us only open the flow of Jesus into our lives a little, and we wonder why we’re not growing.

When you accept Jesus as your savior, you are saved and begin your relationship with Him. However, you and I control the valve on how much we allow Him to influence our life. If we restrict the flow of Him into our life, not much is going to change in how we talk, act or live. We will remain in spiritual immaturity. Those who open the flow, will grow and be changed. The more of our life that we give Him access to, the more we become like Him. The more we move toward spiritual maturity. Our lives will bear the fruits of the Spirit as well. There are clear differences between those who restrict Jesus in their lives and those who don’t. Your spiritual life will always grow in proportion to the amount of influence you allow Jesus to have in it.

Colossians 1:10 says, “We pray that you would walk in the ways of true righteousness, pleasing God in every good thing you do. Then you’ll become fruit-bearing branches, yielding to his life, and maturing in the rich experience of knowing God in his fullness!” (TPT) God desires that each of us would yield all of our life to Him. When we do, we open ourselves up to His fullness. How much of your life have you yielded to Him? If you’re not bearing much fruit in your life or are not experiencing all He offers, surrender everything to Him. You’ve trusted Him with your eternity. Why wouldn’t you trust Him with this life? How He sees you has to become more important than how others see you. Open up the flow of His presence in your life and watch the growth take place.

Photo by Patrick Pahlke on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Completely Surrendered

Every one of us are somewhere in our walk with Jesus. The spectrum goes from rejecting Him to being completely surrendered to Him. On this journey, we need to be constantly moving towards being surrendered. However, all of us hit plateaus, get knocked backwards at times and go through valleys. The plateaus are dangerous. We can feel like we’re doing good enough, so we don’t keep trying to get closer to Him. We’ve known Him for a long time, learned the stories in the Bible and pray often. These plateaus can lead to complacency and keep us from knowing Him more.

In Mark 10, Jesus was headed out of Jerusalem when a young man ran up to Him and asked what He needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus recited the commandments to him. The man got excited and said he had followed those since he was young. Then Jesus added, “‘There is still one thing you haven’t done,’ He told him. ‘Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’” (NLT). The man went away sad because what Jesus was requiring was total surrender, and he wasn’t willing to do that.

Many Christians live on this plateau. We’ve served Him a long time and live the way the Bible teaches us to, but we’re missing that something more because we’re not willing to surrender all. God is calling each of us into a greater relationship with Him. The more of our life that we’re willing to surrender to Him, the greater our relationship will be. If you’ve been on a plateau for a while, and are ready to experience more of Jesus, ask Him to show you what more you need to do. Just like this man that encountered Jesus, the choice will be yours to either surrender or to stay on your plateau. My prayer is that you will have the courage to let go of what’s holding you back and live completely surrendered.

Photo by Ali Gooya on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Overcoming Obstacles

Some of my favorite shows to watch are obstacle course ones. I used to watch “Wipeout” pretty regularly. My new favorite is “Floor Is Lava”. I love watching the creativity and bravery the people use to take on the obstacles. However, there are a lot of people going through these courses who never make it to the end. The obstacles prove to be too much for them to handle, and they’re knocked out of contention for the grand prize. If we’re not careful, the same thing can happen to us as we follow Jesus. There are obstacles that are constantly trying to knock us off course and to interfere with our relationship with Him.

In Mark 11, Jesus was in His final week. He was facing obstacles that were trying to throw Him off course. At one point He was hungry and approached a fig tree, but it didn’t have fruit on it, so He cursed it. The next day, as they walked by, Peter noticed it was dead and pointed it out. In verse 23, Jesus responded, “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart” (NLT). Some scholars believe he was using a Hebrew colloquialism referring to obstacles that impede progress, and that we shouldn’t let any obstacles stand between us and our faith in God.

We all face obstacles that sucker punch us and try to come between us and God though at some point in our lives. For me it was the untimely death of my mother and a divorce. For you, it will be different. The important thing is to identify the obstacles standing in your way so that you can remove them. It’s going to take some faith in order to move these obstacles. You’re going to have to trust God when you can’t see Him or feel Him because of the mountain in your way. Don’t give up, and don’t believe the lie that God doesn’t care about you or your situation. Speak to your mountain in faith. Cast it into the sea and begin growing in your faith once again. You don’t have to stay where you or or succumb to the obstacle. There is more life and growth ahead for you.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Deep Roots

Where I live, there are lots of trees. Two of the most common ones are pine trees and oak trees. Pine trees are evergreens and oaks are deciduous. When it comes to burning wood, lines are considered a soft wood and oaks are hard. Another important fact is that the roots of pine trees go down deep while the roots of the oak stay near the surface. It’s a common sight to see a large, strong oak tumbled on its side after a storm. It doesn’t matter how healthy it is, if it’s roots aren’t very deep, it can’t stand during a strong windstorm. Christians are a lot like these two trees.

There are a lot of believers who stay true to their profession of faith in all areas of life, while there are others who are good at it on Sundays, but change around non-believers. They haven’t yet reconciled their private faith with their public life. There are some believers that no matter what they go through, their hearts remain soft before God. Others go through difficult seasons and their hearts harden towards God blaming Him for their struggles. Some believers realize that Jesus is their source of righteousness. They learn to depend on Him for everything. Others feel like it’s their works that create righteousness. They spend more time focused on doing rather than learning and growing. This mentality creates a shallow root system.

In Colossians 2:7, Paul reminds us, “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” (NLT). We need to be like that first person who builds their life on Christ letting out roots dig deeper into Him. Our lives should be aiming for maturity in faith and a deeper relationship with Him. When that happens, our hearts will remain soft and no matter what storms come, we won’t be blown over. The depth of your roots in Him matters. Focus on building your faith and trust in Him and His grace will be sufficient for whatever you face.

Photo by Freddy Kearney on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Areas Of Improvement

James 1:19 says, “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]” (AMP). Chances are that you’re doing well in at least one of these areas, but struggle at being good in all three. I’m not always quick to listen. I like to guess where you’re going with something and get to your conclusion before you do. The problem with that is when we’re not quick to listen, we’re telling the other person that we don’t value them enough. Being quick to listen is important for us as believers because we need to listen to what God’s Word and the Holy Spirit have to say as well, and for the same reason.

Being slow to speak can be difficult, especially if we don’t have much of a filter between what we think and what we say. Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a [callous, arrogant] fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips he is regarded as sensible (prudent, discreet) and a man of understanding.” Being slow to speak changes how people perceive us. It’s tough to do, especially when we’re the type who listens in order to respond rather than to understand. Being slow to speak also gives us the opportunity to listen more. Before responding, ask yourself if that really needs to be said and if it edifies or builds up the listener.

Finally, being slow to get angry can be tough, especially when we view people through a filter of pains from our past. When we go from a 3 to a 10 quickly, we say and do things we later regret. This one can be difficult to learn, but it starts by getting better at the first two. When I listen well, and give the other person the opportunity to say everything and listen with the intent of understanding, with a patient, reflective and forgiving heart, anger slows down. The Holy Spirit is at work in each of working to produce these three things in each of us. If you’re not good at all three, don’t despair. Ask God to help you so that you can be a better representation of Him. We’re all under construction and have areas God is working on. Spiritual maturity comes from allowing the Holy Spirit to daily help us get a little bit better at following Him.

Photo by Etienne Boulanger on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Daily Bread

One of the things that writing every day has done for me is that it has improved my relationship with Christ. In the early days of writing, I would keep a list of topics in my phone that I could write on at a moment’s notice. Some days I would get up, look at that list and draw a blank. Panic would ensue. I began losing sleep because I was always trying to think of what to write about. I shared that with William Paul Young who encouraged me to go to God every day with an empty bucket asking Him to fill it. I learned to seek God in the process, to hear His voice, to study the Bible better and to find daily bread. It became less about what I could write about and more of what God could show me. I haven’t visited that topic list since.

After Jesus fed the 5,000+, He walked on the water to the disciples. The next day, the people He fed searched for Him and found Him. He told them that they on,y sought Him out because they were searching for another miracle, but He wasn’t happy with that. They then referred to Moses who gave the people manna in the desert, and asked Jesus for another miracle. He reminded them that the manna was from God and not Moses. They then asked Him for Heavenly bread to which He replied, “I am the Bread of Life. Come every day to me and you will never be hungry. Believe in me and you will never be thirsty” (TPT John 6:35). Just like the Israelites had to get fresh manna daily, Jesus was requiring us to get a fresh word from Him daily.

I grew up living Sunday to Sunday, sermon to sermon as my spiritual bread. It was good, but I wasn’t satisfied because we aren’t meant to only eat manna once a week. Jesus bids us to come to Him daily, to sit at His feet, to be still and to listen. We need to come with an empty plate, not seeking the spectacular, but the daily bread He offers. It’s difficult at times because of schedules and distractions, but I’ve learned to approach Jesus with the attitude that I’m not going to get up from the table until He’s given me fresh bread. Some days it comes right out of the oven hot and fresh. Other days I have to wait for hours. Christianity was not meant to be lived week to week. It’s a daily walk with God that you and I must be disciplined to do. I can promise you that if you will open His Word each and every day, asking Him to give you daily bread, He will do it.

Photo by Anton on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Fresh Oil

“Your anointing has made me strong and mighty. You’ve empowered my life for triumph by pouring fresh oil over me.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭92:10‬ ‭TPT‬‬

As I wait for my oil to get changed in my car, I can’t help but think of all the correlations between the routine maintenance work on my car and the need for routine maintenance of our walk with Christ. Someone was recently telling me a story about a guy who was never taught that his oil needed to be changed. He got a new car when he started college, but by the time he graduated, the engine broke down. His car wasn’t designed to go on forever with the original oil. It, like us, needed fresh oil.

Too many Christians try to live the life we are called to live without ever getting fresh oil. We try to survive our whole lives on the emotions of our initial salvation experience. When we try to do that, we break down, get tired and run out of energy. It gets hard to move when God says move because we haven’t done anything to grow the relationship. It becomes difficult to walk by faith because we haven’t done anything to improve our sight. We couldn’t stay in a romantic relationship based off of our initial feeling so why would we try to do that with God?

Imagine your first date with someone you love. There were butterflies in your stomach. Your palms were sweaty. Your voice might have even cracked. You were so enamored with the person across from you that you could just stare into their eyes forever. Now, many years later, life has happened. That initial feeling is gone. You’ve learned that to make that relationship work, you’ve got to do routine maintenance to the relationship. You can’t count on those initial feelings to keep the relationship going when times get tough. You’ve had to put fresh oil in the relationship if it’s going to survive.

For a Christian, we get fresh oil by spending time in prayer with God. I’m not talking about a one way prayer. I’m talking about dialogue where you sit and wait to hear back from God. You have to spend time reading and pouring through the Bible. Fresh oil doesn’t come from reading a chapter a day. It comes from digging through it, listening to the tone and finding how it applies to your life. You also get fresh oil from being around other believers. You can’t get that kind of oil just sitting in a pew next to someone for a few hours on Sunday. You have to break bread with them, hang out with them and have a relationship that stirs up each other’s gifts.

Fresh oil doesn’t come on its own. It’s something you have to take time out of your schedule for and will cost you something. If you’ve been trying to keep your relationship with God going on that initial feeling, you probably aren’t far from a break down. Spend time today getting back into your prayer closet. Take time to look deeper into His word than just the normal cursory look. I will also encourage you to connect with other believers who will challenge your faith and will push you beyond your comfort zone. When you do that, you’ll find a renewed love for God and an excitement that is deeper than your initial salvation experience.

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Your Potential Growth

To me, one of the coolest miracles is the miracle of a seed. I have packets of them sitting around. Some are for flowers, some are for vegetables and some are for trees. They can sit inside their packet for years and nothing will happen. However, when I plant them at the right time of year, the miracle begins. In the dark, wet earth, something in the seed wakes up and it begins to come apart as a small shoot makes its way out of it. That shoot pushes back the ground all around it and somehow knows to go upward in search for light. It continues growing in the proper conditions until it replicates in some form the plant or tree that produced it. Then, it produces its own seeds so that another generation can grow.

When I look at an acorn next to an oak, I can’t help but look up and ask God, “How do you fit an entire tree in this little nut?” When I think about it, He does the same thing with us. Each of us have an incredible potential inside of us waiting for the right conditions in order to grow and develop into something incredible. We all have hidden potential that is waiting to be discovered, but it needs the right conditions in order to start growing. Those conditions are usually dark times in our lives where we’re in over our heads and aren’t quite sure which way is up. The world around us seems to be pressing in on ever side, yet out of that, God births things in us that we didn’t know were there.

2 Peter 1:3 says, “Everything we could ever need for life and godliness has already been deposited in us by his divine power” (TPT). Just like every sin lives in you waiting for the right conditions to come out, every good thing lives in you waiting on the right conditions to come out. Don’t run from the pressures of hard times in your life because those are the places where God grows these deposits in your life. You have an incredible potential beyond what you can imagine. Just like a giant tree begins with a small seed, there is a giant in you waiting to come out. As you mature and grow, you will begin to reproduce other people in the faith. You will provide shade for them to grow in, when you have roots that go down deep into God’s Word. Isaiah 61:3 says, “In their righteousness, they (you) will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory” (NLT). There is a tree inside of you waiting to grow.
‭‭

Photo by Caleb Lucas on Unsplash

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Owning Your Maturity

When my son was a new born, my wife and I decided we didn’t want him to learn the behavior of crying for what he wanted. That started with the very first thing that babies learn to cry for – milk. We began to pay attention to his movements and sounds around feeding times so we could anticipate when he was hungry. As we noticed them, we would begin to warm up some milk and feed him. However, there were times when we were busy and missed his cues. In those moments, he would let us know he was hungry and ready for milk through his only means of communication- crying. The best part was when he began to hold his own bottle. Later, we was able to crawl to the bottle when he was hungry and began the maturation process of feeding himself.

As Christians, we go through a maturity process as well. When we first accept Jesus as our savior, we are merely spiritual infants. We need the milk of God’s Word to help us grow. We need to learn simple concepts that are easily digestible. As we mature, we should graduate to more difficult concepts and spiritual disciplines. Just like a baby, there is a transformation that takes place in our lives. Our inner faith should grow as we mature and learn how to reconcile our inward faith with our public life. As we drink the milk of God’s Word, it begins to change how we live so that our lives become more Christ like.

1 Peter 2:2 says, “In the same way that nursing infants cry for milk, you must intensely crave the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word. For this “milk” will cause you to grow into maturity, fully nourished and strong for life” (TPT). Each of us need to own our own maturation process. It’s not the responsibility of the church to grow us. We must intensely crave spiritual food Monday through Saturday and learn to feed ourselves. Reading God’s Word daily puts food into our spirit. Meditating on verses is like the chewing process. It breaks it down and releases nutrients that are vital to your growth. Wherever you are in your maturation process, there’s always room for more growth that fully nourishes your soul and leads you into a stronger spiritual life.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Maturing In Faith

Years ago I had an early childhood development center. One of the things that was always confusing for me was when there were parents who didn’t want their children to mature and grow up. Sometimes they struggled with weaning their child. Sometimes they would break down and cry when it was time to move from the baby room to the toddler room. One of the biggest struggles, especially if it was their last child, was to get them to potty train their child. That’s the final stage of babyhood into childhood to many. After that, their child would be more independent of them, but that’s what growing up is. The more you mature, the more you can do things on your own and take responsibility.

Let’s translate that into our Christian walk. Many of us have been saved for years, but we haven’t weaned ourselves off of milk and onto meat. Some of us are still crawling when we should be running. The Church’s responsibility is to grow you into maturity so you can take responsibility for your relationship with Christ. As we mature, it’s up to us to feed ourselves daily through reading the Bible. We have to grow our relationship through prayer and seeking God. Maturity in Christ should be the goal each of us have. The great news is there’s always room for every one of us to grow more. There’s always a deeper relationship to be had with God. There’s more to learn too, but it falls on us to want to mature and then to do the things necessary to grow.

Here are some Bible verses on maturing in the faith.

1. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Romans 12:2 AMP

2. Now, those who are mature in their faith can easily be recognized, for they don’t live to please themselves but have learned to patiently embrace others in their immaturity.

Romans 15:1 TPT

3. I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you.

Philippians 3:14-15 AMP

4. So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.

1 Peter 2:1-3 MSG

5. Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13 NLT

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized