Archive for the ‘Growth Points’ Category

If You Believe

April 3rd, 2018

Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

Faith in God changes how we see all of life. Nothing remains the same to the one who believes.

The one who believes sees challenges and difficulties as opportunities for God to display His strength. He sees obstacles as classrooms where he learns more about the ways of God. He even sees unanswered prayer as God’s voice urging him to trust in God no matter the circumstances. He enters into grief with comfort knowing that nothing shall separate him from the love of God.

Before faith opens a door of physical or material opportunity, it opens the mind of the believer. Doubt, on the other hand, can witness great miracles of God and still not see them. It was in doubt that the children of Israel, though they were eye witnesses to the miraculous deliverance of God and daily beneficiaries of the gracious provision of God, still murmured and complained. Doubt can stand in the midst of God’s provision and despair. Faith, on the other hand, can stand in the midst of suffering, pain, aloneness, deprivation, and opposition and say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not live in want” (Psa. 23:1).

The doubter begs God to give him what he thinks he needs. He prays in fear and worry, wanting to get his own way and afraid that God has forgotten him. The one who believes, however, bends his heart to God’s heart, and prays for God’s will to be done and for His name to be glorified. The one who believes rises above all things and prays based on what the Bible says.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)

Faith in an instant age

Most of us would admit that we grow in our faith more slowly than we need to. If we were honest we would say to ourselves, as the Author of Hebrews said to the original readers, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers” (Heb. 5:12). Yet even for those who grow quickly in grace, time is still an element.

The climate of today says that everything should happen immediately. And even some Christians will teach that if we only had true faith we would then instantly have all things that God desires us to have. Christ’s teaching, however, included the element of time implicitly as part of His meaning. Growth was assumed but growth takes time. Not all that God wishes us to have comes to us instantly in this life. Christ said:

But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. (Mark 7:20)

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 7:26-29)

We must be patient with ourselves, and know that God works for eternity. The greatest lessons are experienced in the midst of simple disciplines, taking one step at a time in the process of discipleship and spiritual growth. To be a growing disciple means to daily take His Word and read it and believe it. And we let God lead us step by step in Him, growing in strength and maturity.

Miles Stanford observed that we can push other believers into situations they are not prepared to handle, or teach them to expect God to give instantly what took us several years to learn.

So many of us, after having entered into some of the deeper realities of our Lord, seek to immediately pull or push others into this wonderful advancement; and then we wonder why they are so slow to learn and seemingly apathetic in their understanding and concern. We so easily forget the many years it took, and by what wandering wilderness ways our Lord had to traverse with us in order to bring us over Jordan and into Canaan. (“Cultivation” from Principles of Spiritual Growth)

And this also teaches us to be patient with others, to complain less and to encourage more.

Daily Devotions, Growth Points

Seeing Ourselves God’s Way

June 14th, 2013

Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7

At the Fall, the spiritual sensitivity of the human race was forfeited. What was originally the center of human life became not only peripheral but altogether dead, unable to function at all. Our direction every sense has not only been off a degree or two, but going in an entirely wrong direction.

In our evaluation of one another, we rely too heavily on our senses: how we appear, what we say, whether we are intelligent, clever, funny, exciting, or pleasant according to our misshapen senses. We cannot see one another as God sees, and thereby we get everything else wrong also. And in evaluating ourselves, we form our earliest impressions of who we are, of our true significance and value, based on how others have treated us, what they said about us – and therefore we get everything wrong about ourselves as well. It is misshapen at the best, and completely false or focusing on insignificant traits at the worst.

The physical world is, of course, real. What our senses detect is not non-existence. It is just misshapen in significance because we have omitted the most important factor: the mind and soul and spirit. We can detect some of these. We can observe some character traits of one another, but only to the slightest degree, and even then we can be easily fooled.

God, in contrast, sees us from the inside first. He makes His evaluation on the basis of whether we have faith in Him, and in the conversion of our hearts to Christ Jesus, our spirits come back to life. Our hearts how are not merely crowded by the physical realm. Our thoughts are now no longer bullied by the worldly opinions of others on our worth, or even our own ideas about who we are. Now we have an entirely new basis for evaluating ourselves and every other person on the planet – the spiritual basis of knowing God through Christ, of being a new creation in Him, made new by the power of His Spirit.

When Samuel came to the house of Jesse, he was naturally led to consider Jesse’s sons on the basis of physical traits alone. His eyes fell first on Eliab, the eldest, and his handsomeness, his height, and his seemingly regal features impressed the aging prophet. But God said to Samuel, “I have rejected him,” on the basis of his spiritual deficiency. God directed Samuel to young David, the youngest, the seemingly least of kingly material, the least significant. But what David did have was of the utmost importance to God – a heart that worshiped God, that sought to know Him, that sought to obey Him.

The heart that responds to God’s revelation of Himself with faith and obedience is the most precious asset that anyone of us can have in the all important estimate of the Almighty God. All spiritual growth begins here at this point, and by the inner workings of God we can be shaped into the right people, into the right person.

Growth Points