Grow In Christ

If I were to ask you what God’s perfect will is for your life, what would be your answer? Monks have lived solitary lives to find out this answer. Theologians have searched and searched to find this answer. Have you ever wondered what God’s perfect will is for your life? I’m here to give you that answer!  It is not complex or unattainable, but very simple. God’s perfect will for your life is that He wants you to grow in Him. He wants you to be a flourishing plant that gives off much fruit and fragrance.

2Pe 3:18  (ASV) 

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

The word “grow” is also translated: “enlarge, increase, become greater” (Dictionary.com) This is what Christ wants for our lives. He wants us to grow, increase, enlarge, and become greater in our love and knowledge for Him. Not for knowledge sake, but to have the tools to become a mature Christian. He also wants to increase and bless us.

Psalm 115:14 – 15 (NKJV)

“May the Lord give you increase more and more. You and your children.”

CEV

“I pray that the LORD will let your family and your descendants always grow strong.”

There are some things we need to know that will help us grow straight and strong. One thing we need to remember is that it is natural to grow and increase. We all do it, even Jesus grew and increased with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (KJV)

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man..”

It is natural to increase…

Karissa, my youngest daughter, is growing up to be a lovely young lady and in time will become a beautiful woman of God. She is increasing. If we could take the time to watch a movie of her life we would see her as a baby in diapers and eventually toddling around on all fours. We would see pictures of when she started to walk, with her shoes untied, and hear her learn to talk, and grow into a young child. She would have school pics and vacation pictures showing the many stages through elementary school and through junior high and high school. She might go to college or grad school and find a wonderful job, maybe get married and have a family of her own.

It is natural to grow. It is healthy. It is not something Karissa tries hard to do, it just comes naturally. But….. what if she was still in diapers and toddling around on all fours at the age of fourteen? What if she still had her shoes untied and couldn’t talk like a fourteen year old? We would think something was wrong. We would see she was not growing correctly. It wouldn’t be natural to see Karissa sucking her thumb at the age of 30 or 40 would it? No, we see her increasing and growing in wisdom and stature, and in favor.

Lets look at Luke 2:52 again:

Luke 2:52 (KJV)

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man..”

The word “Increased” is translated in the Greek as: “to drive forward, to advance (in amount, to grow; in time, to be well along): – increase, proceed, profit, 

So to increase you are moving forward and advancing physically, spiritually, and emotionally in all areas of life. It literally means you are profiting by God’s mighty hand. He is bringing the increase.

Think for a moment at what God has given you. Think of how He has changed you from last year to this year. Think of all the changes you’ve gone through physically at the age you are now. It all came about naturally. You are not the same person you were last year at this time. You are different. If you are a Christian, and are growing in Christ, you will have matured since last year. If not, there is something wrong because it is natural to grow and increase. If not, you need to see what is causing your growth in Christ to be stunted.

1 Thess. 3:12 (Amplified Bible)

“And may the Lord make you to increase and excel and overflow in love for one another and for all people, just as we also do for you,”

This verse is asking the Lord to increase and excel and overflow in love for one another. His kindness will help us grow in the areas we need it.

You might say; “Pastor Kris, how do I grow? How do I increase? How do I know I Am growing?” The Lord is kind and is always watching out for us. His kindness brings growth in our life. You will see clearer and understand things in life better. I always check my growth in Christ with my love level for Him and others. We will also look back and see we don’t think like we use to, or talk like we use to. We believe God will answer our prayers instead of giving up so quickly. If not, God, and His wonderful kindness, will help us to grow and become more like Him.

2 Pe 3:18

“Let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help you to keep on growing. Praise Jesus now and forever! Amen.” 

It is the wonderful kindness and understanding of Jesus that helps us to grow. God knows what we need as individuals to bring about growth. He is constantly watching for weeds that might grow around the plant to make sure they are weeded out.

I like how the author from “A Friend’s Heart” wrote about character and growth: “Character is developed over time. It is an accumulation of choices. It’s like planting a garden. You decide what to put into it. You can plant seeds of patience, peace, love, and joy. You can tend the garden of your heart, uprooting the weeds of envy, anger, and fear. Whatever you cultivate will bear fruit. Whatever you weed out will make room for better things to grow. Character needs to be cultivated not only when the sun shines, but also in the rain. In all seasons, God is there to help you make the choices that build strong character; God is there to give you the strength to do your best no matter what the circumstances.”

“Character and gardens both reflect how much weeding was done in the growing season.”

(A Friend’s Heart,” Nelson Books  Copyright © 2006)

In the process of growth we have to be aware of:

1.  Growth blockers

a. Comparing yourself to others – Every plant grows at their own pace, that’s what makes it unique. You might think, “I should be further along than I am.” We don’t know the plan for our lives, only God does. Allow yourself to grow at the pace you are growing and not at someone else’s pace. Give yourself permission to relax and enjoy where you are in your growth. God will bring you through to be that wonderful creation He created.

b. Sin –This will stunt your growth and allow weeds (sin) to grow. When weeds grow they take away the nourishment from the soil around the flourishing plant and rob it of life. It literally chokes the life out of a plant. This is what sin does in our lives. It chokes any growth and dries up any nutrients, and leaves only dried up, brittle pieces that only God can restore.

c. Hanging around the wrong people – They will cause weeds to grow. The wrong people will influence you and stop you from growing. They will distract you from what God has called you to do. They will take away your destiny and stunt your growth. Hanging around with the wrong people, ungodly people, will change you to be more like them. If you want to be more like Jesus, you have to be strong in the people you choose to be close to you. You might think, “I can be a good influence on them!” But, if you are weak in character, and worried about what others think of you, you will be influenced by them instead. Be strong and cut off wrong relationships.

2.  Keep Your Soil Healthy:

a. Forgiving others quicklyUnforgiveness will block growth! The more you think about what others have done to you, the more it grows in you like a weed. If you want to grow, you must forgive others.

b. Give Love often – Eph 4:15 (KJV)  “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” Learn to love people right where they are in their growth. Love always builds people up, it never tears down. Anger always tears down and nothing good comes from being angry. It only puts people in bondage, including yourself.

c. Be teachableRemember that you don’t know everything, nor have you experienced everything.  If you think and act like you know everything people will think you are arrogant and not want to be around you. Being teachable will allow you to learn and experience more in life. Being teachable will open the door for more. More of God’s favor! More opportunities! More open doors.

3.  Allow growth to happen

a. Let go of the past and reach for the future – Holding onto our past never brings growth, only torment. Your past is just that; “past!” Your past does not dictate your future. Allow God to heal your past and prepare you for your future, all at the same time during the present.

b. Let God pull the weeds out – Weeds are gathered and burned and that is what happens to the sin in our lives when we ask forgiveness. Christ’s blood takes it all away. It can be a painful process, but well worth it as time goes by. Getting rid of the “junk” in our life will make room for new growth. Too much clutter will prevent growth. If God is pricking your heart to get rid of some “garbage” you have been holding onto like sin, un-forgiveness, past regrets, shame, pain and hurt from people, allow Him to rake all the weeds out to clear up the good soil for new growth! It is well worth any pain the process might bring.

4.  Feed your spiritual body

We need to take care of ourselves.

a. Power Bars/Protein drinks – Body builders want to increase their muscle strength and growth. Muscles are made of protein and they need extra protein to grow bigger. A spiritual protein drink is spending time in prayer and Bible study. This will increase your spiritual muscle strength.

b. Eat right – Watch what you put into your spiritual body. Watch what you listen to, what you watch on TV, what you hear in conversations, and anything that will go into your body. Remember “Garbage in – Garbage out!” It is the same spiritually.

c. Get plenty of rest – Spend time resting in the Lord. Spend time fellowshipping with other Christians. Don’t get caught up in perfectionism, just relax and be. “Be still and know that I am God…” Be yourself and enjoy who you are. God did not create junk when He created you. He created potential and you have value.

d. Exercise often – Spend time worshipping the Lord. Listen to Praise and Worship music on a regular basis. The words will penetrate your spirit and you will benefit from it greatly. This allows your mind to focus on God and Who He is, and not your problems.

How to bear fruit

2 Peter gives us insight into what we are to add to our faith to bring fruitfulness from our growth.

2 Peter 1:5 – 8 (NKJV)

“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren (useless) nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Add to Faith:

  1. Virtue
  2. Knowledge
  3. Self-control
  4. Perseverance
  5. Godliness
  6. Brotherly kindness
  7. Love

It is not enough to just have faith to grow in Christ. Virtue means: “Moral excellence; goodness; righteousness” (Dictionary.com) and a Synonym is integrity. To produce good fruit in your life, be a person of virtue and add to virtue “knowledge” of Who God is and what His word says. Follow it. Obey it. Ask God for wisdom to live your life right and to make good choices in all that you do. Add to knowledge; Self-control. We can have all the wisdom and virtue but if we lack self-control, it is all for nothing. Being able to control your desires and what you say or feel is important. Overindulging in anything is not good. We have to have self-control in what we eat, drink, how we talk to others, what we buy and how we spend our money. If we don’t, we will end up being morbidly obese, a drunkard, a person with no friends because of freely talking smack to others, and being in great debt with no money to pay our bills. Self-control takes discipline. It is dying to our flesh and walking in the Spirit of God. Add to self-control; perseverance. If we can’t persevere in life, we will never experience the reward of endurance. We will bolt at any that looks hard or uncomfortable. We need to add to perseverance; godliness. Some synonyms of godliness is “Holy, righteous, good” (Dictionary.com) Seriously, just focus on being like Jesus. We are all imperfect people. But striving to me more like Christ is the best role model and example there is. Don’t be a hypocrite and act godly but in your heart, and when you are by yourself, you do what you please. Pursue good things. To godliness add; brotherly kindness. It is easy to pursue being good and lack in kindness to others. God loved the world (people) so much that He gave His only Son to save the world (John 3:16). If God put people as a high priority, we should too. Be kind to others, even when they are being mean to you. God sees your heart and their heart all at the same time. Kindness goes a long way over being mean and harsh with people. Stay at peace with people and show kindness. Treat others as you would like to be treated, and add to kindness; love. This is what the world will know us by; love. They will know we are Christians by our love. Loving people will give you a more peace-filled life. You will not be in strife. Allow the love God has loved you with to pour out and love others. You will grow and be fruitful if you add all these wonderful character traits to you life.

Let us be a people who take care of ourselves, who show love towards one another, and strive to live a godly life. Allow yourself to grow in Christ. Let him mature your character, even if it is painful.

This is God’s perfect will for your life; To Grow In Christ!

From one growing plant to another,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.krisbelfils.com

www.hopefellowshipspokane.com

www.krisbelfils.wordpress.com

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