How We Grow

God wants us to grow up. Our Heavenly Father’s goal is for us to mature and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ. Sadly, millions of Christians grow older but never grow up. They are stuck in perpetual spiritual infancy, remaining in diapers and booties and on milk. The reason is that they never intended to grow. 

Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing. Discipleship- the process of becoming like Christ- always begins with a decision. Jesus calls us, and we respond: “Come, be my disciple, ” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed Him”. -Matthew 9:9  When the first disciples chose to follow Jesus, they didn’t understand all the implications of their decision. They simply responded to Jesus invitation. That’s all you need to get started: Decide to become a disciple.

Nothing shapes your life more than the commitments you choose to make. Your commitments can develop you or they can destroy you, but either way, they will define you. Tell me what you are committed to, and I’ll tell you what you will be in twenty years. We become whatever we are committed to. It is at this point of commitment that most people miss God’s purpose for their lives. Many are afraid to commit to anything and just drift through life. Others make half-hearted commitments to competing values, which leads to frustration and mediocrity. 

Others make a full commitment to worldly goals, such as becoming wealthy or famous, and end up disappointed and bitter. Every choice has eternal consequences, so you had better choose wisely. Peter warns, “Since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy, godly lives you should be living”. 2 Peter 3:11 God’s part and your part. Christlikeness is the result of making Christlike choices and depending on His Spirit to help you fulfill those choices. Once you decide to get serious about becoming like Christ, you must begin to act in new ways.

You will need to let go of some old routines, develop some new habits, and intentionally change the way you think. You can be certain that the Holy Spirit will help you with these changes. The Bible says, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His purpose.”-Philippians 2:12   This verse shows the two parts of spiritual growth: “work out” and “work in”. The “work out” is your responsibility and the “work in” is God’s role. Spiritual growth is a collaborative effort between you and the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit works with us, not just in us. 

To change your life, you must change the way you think. Behind everything you do is a thought. Every behavior is motivated by a belief, and every action is prompted by an attitude. God revealed this thousands of years before psychologists understood it. To be like Christ you must develop the mind of Christ. The New Testament calls this mental shift repentance, which in Greek literally means, “to change your mind”. You repent whenever you change the way you think by adopting how God thinks- about yourself, sin, God, other people, life, your future, and everything else. You take on Christ outlook and perspective. 

We are commanded to “think the same way that Christ Jesus thought”. We have to stop thinking immature thoughts, which are self-centered and self-seeking. The Bible says, “Stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” – 1 Corinthians 14:20 Babies by nature are completely selfish. They think only of themselves and their own needs. They are incapable of giving; they can only receive. This is immature thinking. Unfortunately, many people never grow beyond that kind of thinking. The Bible says, “Those who live following their sinful selves think only about things that their sinful selves want”- Romans 8:5

Today many assume that spiritual maturity is measured by the amount of biblical information and doctrine you know. While knowledge is one measurement of maturity, it isn’t the whole story. The Christian life is far more than creeds, and our beliefs must be backed up with Christlike behavior. God Bless!!

http://www.lucretiacargill.com

imagesK5SI7N7S

Advertisements

Transformed by Trouble

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”- 2 Corinthians 4:17 

God has a purpose behind every problem. He uses circumstances to develop our character. In fact, He depends more on circumstances to make us like Jesus than He depends on our reading the Bible. The reason is obvious: You face circumstances 24 hrs. a day. Jesus warned us that we would have problems in the world. No one is immune to pain or insulated from suffering, and no one gets to skate through life problem free. 

Life is a series of problems. Every time you solve one, another is waiting to take its place. Not all of them are big, but all are significant in God’s growth process for you. Peter assures us that problems are normal saying, “Don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you”.-1 Peter 4:12 God uses problems to draw you closer to himself. The Bible says, The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit”-Psalms 34:18

Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days-when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great- and you turn to God alone. It is during suffering that we learn to pray our most authentic, heartfelt, honest-to-God prayers. When we’re in pain, we don’t have the energy for superficial prayers. We learn things about God in suffering that we can’t learn any other way. 

God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace-but He didn’t. He let those problems happen, and every one of those persons was drawn closer to God as a result. Problems force us to look to God and depend on Him instead of ourselves. Paul testified to this benefit: ” We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us”- 2 Corinthians 1:9 

God is all you need until God is all you’ve got. Regardless of the cause, none of your problems could happen without God’s permission. Everything happens to a child of God is Father-filtered, and He intends to use it for good even when Satan and others meant it for bad. Because God is sovereignly in control, accidents are just incidents in God’s good plan for you. Because every day of your life was written on God’s calendar before you were born, everything that happens to you as spiritual significance. Everything! Romans 8:28 explains why: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, wo have been called according to His purpose”

We live in a fallen world. Only in heaven is everything done perfectly the way God intends. That is why we are told to pray, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Our hope in difficult times is not based on positive thinking, wishful thinking, or natural optimism. It is certainty based on the truths that God is in complete control of our universe and that He loves us.

http://www.lucretiacargill.com

transformed

 

Defeating Temptation

“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart”- 2 Timothy 2:22

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”1 Corinthians 10:13 

There is always a way out. You may sometimes feel that a temptation is too overpowering for you to bear, but that’s a lie from Satan. God has promised never to allow more on you than He puts within you to handle it. He will not permit any temptation that you could not overcome. However, you must do your part too by practicing four biblical keys to defeating temptation: 

  • Refocus your attention on something else. It may surprise you that nowhere in the Bible are we told to “resist temptation”. We are told to ” resist the devil”, but that is very different. Instead, we are advised to refocus our attention because resisting a thought doesn’t work. It only intensifies our focus on the wrong thing and strengthens its allure. Every time you try to block a thought out of your mind, you drive it deeper into your memory. By resisting it, you actually reinforce it. This is especially true with temptation. You don’t defeat temptation by fighting the feeling of it. The more you fight the feeling, the more it consumes and controls you. You strengthen it every time you think it. Since temptation always begins with a thought, the quickest way to neutralize its allure is to turn your attention to something else. Don’t fight the thought, just change the channel of your mind and get interested in another idea. This is the first step in defeating temptation. 

 

  • Reveal your struggle to a Godly friend or support group. You don’t have to broadcast it  to the whole world, but you need at least one person you can honestly share your struggles with. If you’re losing the battle against a persistent bad habit, an addiction, or a temptation, and you’re stuck in a repeating cycle of good intention- failure-guilt, you will not get better on your own! You need the help of other people. Some temptations are only overcome with the help of a partner who prays for you, encourages you, and holds you accountable. God’s plan for your growth and freedom includes other Christians. Satan wants you to think that your sin and temptation are unique so you must keep them a secret. The truth is, we’re all in the same boat. We all fight the same temptations, and “all of us have sinned”

 

  • Resist the Devil. After we have humbled ourselves and submitted to God, we are then told to defy the Devil. The rest of James 4:7 says, “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you”. We don’t passively resign ourselves to his attacks. We are to fight back. Remember this: If you are a believer, Satan cannot force you to do anything. We must use the Word of God as your weapon against Satan. Jesus modeled this when He was tempted in the wilderness. Don’t ever try to argue with the Devil. Christians are often compared to soldiers serving in the enemy’s territory. If you don’t have any Bible verses memorized, you’ve got no bullets in your gun!

 

  • Realize Vulnerability.  God warns us never to get cocky and overconfident; that is the recipe for disaster. Given the right circumstances, any of us are capable of any sin. We must never let down our guard and think we’re beyond temptation. Don’t carelessly place yourself in tempting situations. Avoid them. Remember that is easier to stay out of temptation than to get out of it. 

 

Spiritually, your mind is your most vulnerable organ. To reduce temptation, keep your mind occupied with God’s Word and other good thoughts.  You defeat bad thoughts by thinking something better. Satan can’t get your attention when your mind is preoccupied with something else.!!!! 

jealousy3