Sermon notes from 1/21/18 – “Grow”

“GROW”                                       1 Peter 2:2-3

INTRO – “The Bible in 60 seconds” – These words caught my eye in an Internet article I was reading. Upon further investigation, found out it was an ad for the Mormon Church. Didn’t click on the ad, but it got me to thinking. Sounds a lot like how many Christians (&, by the way, Mormons aren’t Christians!) view their Bible. There are so many Christians who want about a minute’s worth of the Bible & think that’s enough for them to grow in their spiritual walk. Don’t want to have to spend too much time reading & studying the Bible. Just want a little bit & hope that’s enough to keep them in good standing w/ God & make them a good Christian.

There’s a simple question for those folks & for all of us today: Do you want to grow in your Christian life, yes or no? If you really don’t want to grow in your walk w/ the Lord, then just settle for the Bible in 60 seconds kind of mentality. But if you truly want to grow in your Christian life, if you really want to mature in your walk w/ the Lord Jesus, then you need to make a commitment or renew your commitment to the consistent, faithful intake of God’s Word in your life. Maybe you’ve made a new commitment here at the beginning of the New Year to grow more in your spiritual life. Then you need to listen closely today, take some good notes, & apply the truths of these 2 verses from 1 Peter.

Do you know what it takes to grow spiritually? It takes time. Are we willing to give the necessary time to our Bible intake to grow in our walk w/ Christ?

  • Lots of folks will give large amounts of time to their physical fitness. Work out every day for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour or more. But when it comes to reading & studying the Bible for the spiritual fitness, just can’t seem to fit it in our schedule.
  • Lots of folks will get up way before the sun comes up to get in the woods to hunt all day. But when it comes to getting up 30 minutes earlier to spend time in the Word, just can’t seem to make that happen.
  • Lots of folks will work overtime, take extra shifts at work, & stay way past closing time at their jobs in order to make some extra money. But when it comes to investing some extra time in the intake of the Word, we just don’t know how to fit that in.

 

Back to the simple question: Do you want to grow in your Christian life, yes or no? Then the intake of the Word of God into your life must take a priority place in your life & in your schedule. Spiritual growth doesn’t just happen. And it doesn’t happen when there is a hit-&-miss approach to reading & studying the Bible. Anemic Bible intake will produce anemic Christ-followers.

Here at CWBC, we don’t want to produce anemic Christ-followers. We want to develop devoted disciples. And our process for doing that is defined by these 4 words: Connect – Grow – Serve – Go.

  • Connect to God & to others through private & corporate worship
  • Grow through study of the Word
  • Serve God & others through the many opportunities of ministry offered through CWBC
  • Go & take the Gospel to the world, starting here at home & going to the ends of the earth.

 

So let’s talk about the GROW aspect of our spiritual lives.

 

Spiritual Growth is Gradual, but Steady – “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk…”

Reese – 9 lbs. 8 oz. when born

Rachel – 8 lbs. 7 oz.

Russ – 8 lbs. 9 oz.

Guess what? All 3 of them weigh more than that. But they didn’t immediately blossom up to their adult weight. It was a gradual, steady increase over the course of years.

Same is true in our spiritual growth – gradual & steady should be the norm for us. There will be times when we will grow faster or grow more than at others. But a gradual, steady growth rate for the Christ-follower is what we should strive for. As John Newton said, “I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be. But I thank God I am not what I once was, and I can say with the great apostle, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am.’”

This gradual, steady growth is what we call progressive sanctification. It’s the spiritual growth process in which the Holy Spirit works in us & we work with the Holy Spirit to grow spiritually. And, as Peter makes abundantly clear in v. 2, the importance of the Word of God cannot be overemphasized. We need to “long for the pure spiritual milk.” We need to crave the Word of God, desire it with a deep intensity, yearn for it.

I remember when our kids were just babies, crying for their bottle. We would get the bottle ready, take it to them, & as soon as they would see it & get that bottle to their mouth, they would begin to reach for it, kicking their feet, doing anything they could to get that bottle to their mouth & that milk into their body. The crying would cease, & all would be well.

How awesome it would be to have a church full of folks that would desire the Word of God that intensely! There’s no limit to what God would do in us, what God would do for us, & what God would do through us if we would desire the Word of God with that kind of passion, that kind of fervency, that kind of zeal.

And the “pure spiritual milk” it the TOTAL Word of God! It’s not just picking & choosing the verses we like or just the ones that are easy to understand. We need the whole Word of God in order to grow. It’s not like going through the Country Fisherman buffet line & taking some fried chicken, but skipping the meat loaf – taking some black-eyed peas, but skipping the cabbage – taking some banana pudding, but skipping the coconut pie. To “long for the pure spiritual milk” of the Word means going from one end of the line to the other & taking everything that’s there, whether we like it or not. We need ALL of the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, the OT & the NT

 

Spiritual Growth is God’s design & will for our lives

God’s plan for us as His children is that we grow in our walk w/ Him. We don’t have to wonder about whether or not this is God’s will for our lives. There is clear Scriptural evidence that this is God’s design & will for our lives:

  • Ephesians 4:15 – “…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ…”
  • Colossians 1:9-10 – “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom & understanding,so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work & increasing in the knowledge of God.”
  • Hebrews 6:1 (AMP) – “Therefore let us get past the elementary stage in the teachings about the Christ, advancing on to maturity & perfection & spiritual completeness”
  • 2 Peter 1:5-8 – “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement [add to] your faith w/ virtue, & virtue w/ knowledge,& knowledge w/ self-control, & self-control w/ steadfastness, & steadfastness w/ godliness, & godliness w/ brotherly affection, & brotherly affection w/ love. For if these qualities are yours & are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God has a plan for your life. It’s a plan for growth, maturity, & usefulness. Jer. 29:11 – “For I know the plan I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you & not to harm you, plans to give you a future & to give you hope.” But it’s not enough for us to just to KNOW that God has those plans for us. We need to do what Jer. 29:12-13 tell us to do: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Do you hear the hints of spiritual growth there? “you will call upon me” – “come & pray to me” – “seek me & find me WHEN you seek me w/ all your heart.” All of those are God’s design for our lives, His will for our lives.

Leonard Ravenhill tells about a group of tourists visiting a picturesque village who walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked, “Were any great men born in this village?” The old man replied, “Nope, only babies.” Do you understand the profundity of his answer? There are no instant heroes–whether in this world or in the kingdom of God. Growth takes time, & God’s will is that you & I persevere in spiritual maturity & become the great men & women of God that He desires for us to be!

 

Spiritual Growth is Good for you

Why is spiritual growth good for you? B/c our God is good! The psalmist said, “O, taste & see that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8) Have you tasted the goodness of the Lord in your life?

Interesting how, although we all have taste buds in our mouths, we like & dislike certain things.

  • I love coffee. Vicki hates coffee.
  • Vicki loves English peas. I hate English peas.

But when it comes to our spiritual taste buds, all of us as Christ-followers have tasted the goodness of our Lord!

  • Tasted the goodness of His salvation, freely given to us as a gift.
  • Tasted the goodness of His strength when we grow weak going through the tough times in life.
  • Tasted the goodness of His forgiveness when we’ve wandered away from Him.
  • Tasted the goodness of His patience when we stumble & falter in our spiritual growth.
  • Tasted the goodness of His mercy & grace when realize how unworthy & undeserving we are of His work in our lives.
  • Tasted the goodness of His provision for every need we have in our times of lack.

His goodness leads us to grow in Him. It leads us to believe more, to trust Him more, to yield to Him more, to serve Him more, to long to know Him more, to love Him more. Even in the dark days we will go trhough, we can rest in the goodness of our God. The enemy will try to convince us otherwise, but we’ve tasted & seen that our God is GOOD! He doesn’t just DO good; He IS Good!

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About Jon Daniels

Senior Pastor - Country Woods Baptist Church, Byram, MS
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