Growing Up (2)
1 Peter 2:2 NKJV
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”
Hebrews 5:13,14 NKJV
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of USE have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (emphasis added)
Romans 10:17 NKJV
“So then faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
Matthew 4:4 NKJV
“But He answered him and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone,” but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”’”
James 1:2-4 NKJV
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be PERFECT and COMPLETE, lacking nothing.”
I threw a lot of scriptures at you at once, I know. I am operating as a lawyer building a case, precept upon precept. In the last blog, we discussed that it is Jesus and His leaders in the church that cause the growth for believers. (Really it is Jesus, He just uses us as vessels.) He desires us to be productive, to multiply and to have dominion. He desires us to grow into nothing less than Himself. We are created in God’s image, His children and born of His Spirit. We are His disciples and when fully trained, we shall be as Him. He is perfecting us. Not that perfection means mistake-free, but perfection means “fully mature”.
We also discussed that just because Jesus has given us so much, it is up to us to grow! We must make the initiative. We must make the decision to die to ourselves and chase Him. This blog will be about exactly how to do this. The promise of James is powerful, we can be perfect and complete. He repeats the same principle for effect. To be complete is the same as perfect. Fully trained, fully mature. A tree that bears fruit in its season. Psalm 1:3
What many believers fail to realize is that we will not be perfected once we enter the next age. How would that work? A babe doesn’t become a 30 year old overnight. Many people that have failed to grow in this life will have to grow in in the next. We start the process here and depending how much we grow will determine on our employment in the next age (see the blog on the parable of the talents). It is our responsibility and God is a good father that wants to see His children grow and be successful.
There is no growth without faith and patience. There is no way around that here on earth. I do not know about the next age. I only know about this age. James says, let patience have its work that you may be perfect. There is no patience without faith. There is no faith without the word of God. Without faith there is no growth. So let’s talk about the word first.
Peter tells us to crave the word. The first step is to build a hunger for the word. Read it day and night. Memorize it. Get it deep in your heart. Confess it. Become a student of it. Psalms 1:1-3 (https://www.bible.com/bible/114/PSA.1.1-3), contains beautiful promises for the person who delights in the word of God.
Let’s talk about the word of God. The written word is powerful but it is the spoken word that contains the life. Jesus said in the above scripture Matthew 4:4, that man is to live by the word that proceeds from the mouth of God. When you start to hunger for the written word He begins to teach you and the word starts to come alive. That is when the word is sharper than a two-edged sword. It acts as a mirror and we begin to see ourselves. We are in a new covenant. This is the covenant of life not death. When the word gets in you, it produces life. Joy, peace, love begin to flow from the pages. That is when the word becomes the Word, when it takes on some flesh. Jesus said that man lives by the word that proceeds. He speaks to you.
When you start to HEAR the word (notice it doesn’t say: read), faith comes. Faith comes as He begins to teach you and speak to your heart. He won’t speak audibly; He speaks softly to your heart. You will know it. It brings life and boldness and confidence. He bears witness with your heart. Faith starts to build. As you begin to USE the word as the Hebrews writer states, growth begins to happen.
Not too much longer, life happens and the word goes on trial in your life. Your circumstances around you start trying to tell you that the word is not real. The very word He has spoken to you. What begins to happen is that you begin to grow and like a molting crab your insides become bigger than your outer shell. Change is coming. You are growing. How you handle the circumstance, determines if you will grow into a new shell or if you will shrink back.
James says, let patience have its work. The Word that the holy Spirit begins to share with us, causes us to walk by faith. To walk by faith, you must give up control. You must walk by faith and not by sight. You must take a leap. The circumstances come as waves to frighten you from walking on the proverbial water.
Stand on the Word that He has spoken to you. Do not be like me, who so many times have shrunk back. I have failed so many times. I have allowed fear to keep me in the boat. I am not alone in this. It is a part of growing up. God gives us an infinite amount of chances. Stand on the Word, confess it and believe it. Your circumstances will change. The temporary will make way for the eternal. Don’t take the control back and try to figure it out on your own. This is where the church comes in. Find your pastor, your home church and have them stand around you. They are given to us by God to help us. Stay in faith and your mountains will move. Use your imagination to see Jesus walking in your circumstance with you. Build in your mind an image of the Word working for you not the fears coming to pass. You will see that He was in control the whole time as long as you let patience work. If you step back, things will unravel.
I have to end this teaching, it is getting too long. I will continue in the next blog on growth. To summarize, it is our responsibility to grow. Growth happens by faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word proceeding from His mouth. Circumstances are like a shell that is being molted so the new can come forth. Don’t step back but let patience have its perfect work.