Monday, August 8, 2011

Growing in God

 2 Peter 3:18 says, "But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." Easier said than done, right? After all, as a busy mom, who has time to invest in growing?

Most of us have been there to some extent. Maybe we've never said those words, but we've lived them. We've let other things crowd out the things we know are necessary for growth. We've regretted the fact that we don't have more time available for cultivating a relationship with God, but we haven't really determined to make the necessary time.

Or maybe it's just that we don't really know what to do, so we don't do much of anything. How do we do it right? What exactly is it that we're supposed to be doing, anyway?

There are four things that are absolutely vital for our spiritual growth. If we really care about growing, we will make time for these things.  Let me say, however, that these are not things whereby, if we do them, we can earn brownie points with God. They are not practices which, if engaged in, will earn us stars on our heavenly chart. Nor are they things only educated people can do, or only the "truly spiritual" (whoever they are); they are things that every Christian can and must do.

First is prayer. Talking with God is absolutely vital to a relationship with Him. How can we expect to have a relationship with someone we never or rarely talk to, or someone we only talk to in order to deliver requests? Prayer is not something that has to be done "right". If you approach prayer with a sincere heart, truly desiring to know God better, that is "right enough". There aren't special words to say. There is no formula to tell you what you must pray about first. So just jump in. Talk to God as you would your most intimate companion, because that is what He is. And don't forget to listen. True prayer is not merely a monologue delivered heavenward with your eyes closed. Prayer should involve listening, too. It is a two-way conversation between you and God. You can pray anytime, anywhere, in any posture, and about anything. In fact, we are commanded to pray "on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests". (Ephesians 6:18)) If you want to find out more about prayer, there are many excellent books out there on the subject. However, your most excellent textbook is the Bible. There, you will find examples of many different kinds of prayers. Study them. But most of all, just do it. Just pray.

Second is reading your Bible. God has spoken vividly and at length to us in His Word. Why would we neglect to read it? Again, there is no one right way to read the Bible. There are many different Bible reading plans out there. There are also many different suggestions regarding how you should read the Bible, or how much you should read at a time. I suggest that you ask God how He wants you to read it. Maybe you will read the Bible through in a year. Maybe you will concentrate on one verse each day. What matters is that you are reading and meditating on God's Word, listening to what He has to tell you, and applying these things to your life. Make the intake of God's Word a regular part of your spiritual life.

Third is fellowshipping with other believers. We need each other for encouragement. In fact, we are commanded to encourage one another, "and all the more as [we] see the Day (of Christ's return) approaching." (Hebrews 10:25) We also need the support and accountability of other believers so that we continue walking in Jesus rather than becoming "hardened by the deceitfulness of sin". (Hebrews 3:13) Together, we can build each other up in Christ. 

Fourth is to fill our minds with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. (Philippians 4:8).  If we allow things into our minds that will tear us down spiritually, that will obviously impact our spiritual growth. Instead, we should fill our minds with things that encourage us in our walk with God. One such thing would be Christian literature and programming. Another would be devotional materials like the ones on this site. Another might be Christian music. Your spirit can be either polluted and weakened or encouraged and strengthened by what you put into your mind. So choose those things that will encourage you and help you in your desire to walk in holiness before the Lord.

One final word: remember that spiritual growth comes from the Lord. No matter how many times you go to church or how many chapters you read in your Bible, spiritual growth, maturity, and insight are granted only by God. Our reason for doing these things is not so that we can accomplish growth on our own. Instead, we practice spiritual disciplines because they are things that God honors with spiritual blessings. Our part is to put ourselves in a position to hear from the Lord. It is God Who will bring the increase.

If you desire to grow spiritually, lay your desire before the Lord. Ask Him what you need to do. Then, prepare to do it…and to grow.

Author:  Megan Breedlove
Website:   Mana for Moms
"My husband, Phillip, and I have been married since December 1995. I am a stay-at-home mom to our four children (with one more on the way in 2012!): Ellie, age 8; Kenny, age 6; Lindsey, age 5; and Jessica, age 3. We are members of Southfield Christian Fellowship in Arlington, Texas, and we live in Fort Worth, Texas.   I graduated from Baylor University in 1993 with a University Scholar's degree in foreign languages and from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1996 with a master's degree in marriage and family counseling and a master's in religious education. I enjoy family activities, studying biblical languages, writing, piano, racquetball, reading, and fitness."

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