Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny
Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin. For thus an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for you. 2 Peter 1.10-11
The path to the entrance to the eternal kingdom is not an easy one. It requires effort, energy, and constant growth. The gate that leads to life is narrow and few will find it, Matthew 7.13-14. You cannot sit back, do nothing except go with the flow or follow the crowd, and achieve it.
Jesus taught that the kingdom must have first place in your life, Matthew 6.33. You must pour your interest and energy into making it a priority. The necessities of this life, food and clothes, will be provided. But you must invest in the kingdom.
How can you know the procedure to grow in God’s kingdom? It is found in God’s word. Peter gave part of the answer in 2 Peter 1.5-8. You cannot remain still. You must be adding things to your faith. Excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly affection, and unselfish love will help you to be effective and productive in your pursuit to draw closer to Jesus.
#risingjoy #devotional #growth
Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love. Ephesians 4.15-16
Growth is important. If a newborn baby does not grow, the parents become worried and rightly so. If a plant does not grow, it indicates that there is a problem. It will not produce fruit if there is a problem. I need to grow up into Christ. As a small child grows, he learns to eat solid food, he learns to crawl, and then he learns to walk. He learns to do these things through practice. He does not one day start eating solid food. Nor does he suddenly crawl across the floor with a speed that surprises those watching. Nor does he suddenly walk as if it were the most natural thing in the world. It takes practice. Paul tells us that we will grow into Christ by practicing the truth in love. Christ is the head of the body, the church. He gives us gifts which are to be used to build up his body. We are to strive for maturity in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. When we are practicing the truth in love, the body grows strong. The church grows in love. The church grows strong. But, each one must do his part. Are you doing your part to help the body grow?
#risingjoy #Ephesians #growth
About a month remains until the new year. While the goals for this year get whittled down, run out, or end in a whimper, it’s not too early to think about new ones for the upcoming year.
- Are you thinking ahead? Or waiting for the year to catch you and then play catch up?
- How can we move forward even faster and better than we have before?
- What hasn’t worked for you, and why?
- Where are the failures located, in the will, in the heart, or in the mind?
- What limiting visions hold you back?
- What excuses are you offering for failures?
- What mechanisms do you have implanted for learning from failures?
- Have some gifts be strained by overuse and others untested by lack of use?
- What other questions can you provide will help other saints to evaluate their level of and progress in growth?
Year end always provides a good time for measuring. May God bless us with much fruit that remains.
#growth #evaluation #goals
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly
remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NRSV)
Всегда благодарим Бога за всех вас, вспоминая о вас в молитвах наших, непрестанно памятуя ваше дело веры и труд любви и терпение упования на Господа нашего Иисуса Христа пред Богом и Отцем нашим, (1-е Фессалоникийцам 1:2-3 Russian)
O LORD my God and dear Father in heaven ~ help me dear Lord on this new day as your child full of hope. Let this be the day that will usher in explosive growth for the regal Kingdom of Christ my Lord. May millions of souls around the world turn away from false and hopeless religions and obediently follow Jesus in love for Him and one another. Help everyone who shares their faith in Christ to never lose hope of persuading one more person to be saved by the blood of Christ Jesus. In his precious name, Amen.
David Binkley, Sr. Gospel Minister
Cedar Key Church of Christ
#david-binkley #hope #growth
You’ll probably like this:
At the last preacher’s meeting in Effingham, Stephen Bradd shared with us a remark to this effect: “The elders have determined they would not spend more time in meetings than they do in visiting.” I was impressed by that remark. This sentiment was expressed by elders of a congregation and how they were able to make a positive contribution to their local growth. I don’t know that I have it exactly correct, but the sense of it is rather clear just the same.
The elders of the congregation are to be men who “smell like sheep” (to borrow a phrase). They are men who are to know the flock in order to lead them spiritually and emotionally. When the elders spend more time in meetings than in leading and sharing can growth really occur? I wonder.
When James A. Garfield was president of Hiram College, a man brought his son for entrance as a student, for whom he wished a shorter course than the regular. “The boy can never take all that in,” said the father. “He wants to get through quicker. Can you arrange it for him?”
Mr. Garfield, a minister-educator said, “Oh, yes. He can take a short course; it all depends on what you want to make of him. When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but he takes only two months to make a squash.”
Many want instant spirituality-like instant coffee or potatoes! It doesn’t come that way! There are no short courses! No short-cuts! No gimmicks! It takes time to grow! Growth is a sequence-an orderly arrangement! “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again” was God’s indictment of the Hebrew Christians (Heb 5:12-14).
[Unfortunately, I do not have the source for this illustration listed in my files, or I would give proper credit. -ccd]
Beginning in Mark 4:26, there are two parables, or similitudes of the kingdom.
Of course, these teachings of Jesus are about the church and how it will grow. It provides a picture of the growth process for the apostles, and also for us.
There are four components of the first similitude.
- The farmer only sows. He does not grow the crop (1 Corinthians 3:6).
- The growth of the crop is imperceptible.
- The growth of the crop is a process.
- The harvest will come. Our contribution to this is patience and hope (James 5:7-8).
The second similitude describes the planting and growth of the mustard tree. As in the earlier lesson, the seed must be sown. Seed that remains in the sack does not germinate. Also in Mark 4 is the “Parable of the Sower” which teaches the seed is the word of God that must be sown.
The mustard seed is extremely small, yet the tree that comes from it is extremely large. In the same way so is the church. It starts out small, but can grow.
The produce of the tree has one predominant use: to provide seasoning. The church also has one predominant purpose: to glorify God by bringing forth sons and daughters (Hebrews 2:10).
The mustard tree’s branches house birds and animals. The church houses and protects all who obey the gospel and live faithful lives.
Acts 2:41 and Acts 4:4 would be good examples of ecclesiological hypertrophy.
As Ron pointed out in his post, the principle for spiritual growth in the body of Christ is found in Ephesians 4:11-16. The key verses being vs. 15 & 16. We can only “grow up” into Christ when we “speak the truth in love” (vs. 15) and by the “effective working by which every part does its share” (vs. 16 – NKJV). The key word is the word “work” (vs. 12) and “working” (vs. 16). Note Nehemiah 4:6.
Bottom line: No work, no growth.
I always knew Randal to be smart. I had no idea of the existence of the terminology, much less its meaning, until I grabbed my dictionary.
Where is there exaggerated growth (or emphasis) in the church (at least this is how I understand the terminology)? The only way I would know how to answer this question is in numerical associations. I hear (or have heard) such things as the following:
-Let us build a building, and then people will come.
-Let us meet in homes Sunday evening rather than the building, and then people will come.
-Let us not preach on negative things, and then people will come.
-Let us emphasize love, and then people will come.
-Let us use power point (visual) presentations, and then people will come.
An unfair exaggeration? Probably, but it is something I have noticed. Consequently, I have been putting a great deal of emphasis on the “duty” of the preacher as revealed in Scripture in my own personal reading; am I insecure in doing this? I do not feel that I am, but I sure want to place the right priority on that which the Lord places priority.
In my local effort, I have put emphasis upon the sentiment of Ephesians 4:11-16. As I judge the development of my effort (coupled with that of others), I would like to think progress is being made.
What is distinctive about our congregation? Well, I think the most noticeable from first glance is that we have different races loving, hugging and worshiping in harmony. Most of our congregation is Black, with Whites and Hispanics in the mix.
Another unique aspect is that we have a high number of men. It is extraordinary in that many of them will preach and some could easily step into full-time ministry, if they chose. Almost all of our men will lead singing and serve in worship. They are a joy to serve with.
We also have a group of Sisters who are growing and working together. We are proud of their efforts.
The Lord is blessing us in Allenhurst, Georgia.
From BeliefNet News, comes some interesting stats regarding the slow growth (or the lack thereof) of several listed denominations. I’m wondering what the churches of Christ stats might be?
When I have to lean on and depend on Him the most. There have been times in my life when I have had to put Prov. 3:5-6 into practice. When I have struggled to understand myself when I was younger. When we lost our first grandchild within 24 hrs. after he was born due to reversed heart valves. When no human could answer or help. Like Randal, there have been moments in my life when I was at the end of my rope. Time and space would not allow me to relate the number of times in my life when I have had to put all, and I mean all my trust and faith in Him. I certainly do not want to grow spiritually that way, but I did. My growth today comes from Bible study and prayer which I look forward to every morning.
We’ve talked before what spirituality is, so maybe because of that nobody has given attention on this question to define spiritual growth. But before I add my two bits to the question, “When do you grow the most spiritually?”, I’d like to put in a short description of spiritual growth as growing closer to God. I think it was Richard who touched on it in his response.
Mountain-top experiences have been wonderful, but few and far between. In those, I’ve felt close to God, but I’m not sure the emotion actually corresponded to a greater proximity to the Lord. May have, but can’t say.
Two other moments, and some of these have already been touched on in the excellent replies already given by the Fellows.
One, is when I was at the end of my rope. There have been in my life several moments of rope-ends. One was a deep depression I went through many years ago. I have some of my journal and prayers from that period, and I see the despair of a man who throws himself upon the Lord.
Another is the imperceptible day-to-day routine of going about my business and working for the Lord. It’s stone upon stone, brick on brick, that raises the walls and builds the house. Yes, there are the peaks and the valleys that we all walk through. But the routine of getting up in the morning, doing my task, for better or for worse, going through those seemingly mindless and repetitive motions that so many despise, these are the stuff of life, these are the tiny movements that inch me closer to the Lord. Be it the reading from Scripture, the morning prayer, the word with wife and children, the task of writing, visiting, edifying or teaching, the hidden preparation for ministry, the teaching of yet another Bible class to a pagan, the greeting today that shows me to be the same person I was yesterday and the day before — these are the steps that bring me ever closer to the image of Christ, the face of God and the fellowship of the Spirit.
I was once made very angry and I had to grow to learn patience and forgiveness.
I was once slandered and I had to grow to learn that living right and doing right is the best answer to the lies of others.
I occasionally find myself ignored or forgotten and I have to grow in my humility.
From time to time I fail, and I have to grow beyond my failures to try again. As often as I sin, I am reminded I still need to repent. I still marvel at the grace of God.
Like Paul I have times of abundance and times of suffering need, and I am learning to depend upon the mercy of One greater than myself to provide what I cannot do for myself. I grow most when I lean upon the Lord’s strength. He strengthens me. What a treasure to have the power of God available for the asking!
I am often so ignorant, but the Word informs me and enlightens me to see what I have never seen before.
God molds and shapes us positively in wonderful ways through friends, through the Word, and through prayer. God also uses the events of our lives, both positive and negative, to help us understand the practical messages of the Word. He grows us from the inside and from without. He shapes and molds us, equips us, and prepares us for great things. God is so good to us, even when our growth comes with pain.