Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Woman After God's Own Heart ~ Chapter 17

A Heart Strengthened by Spiritual Growth

Our spiritual growth in Jesus Christ -- growing to be more like Him strengthens our hearts, fill them, and empowers us to open His commands.

Spiritual Growth Begins in Jesus Christ
  • You and I have two options for how we live.  We can live our lives with Jesus Christ or without Him.
  • 1 John 5:11-12 ~ And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
  • Without Jesus Christ there is no life!
  • What did I find in Jesus, my Savior?
    • A new beginning - When you and I come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are given a new beginning, a fresh start, forgiveness for the past, wisdom for handling life, and power for doing what's right.
      • 2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
    • God's love and acceptance - Whenever I am down, discouraged, doubting, depressed, defeated, or dismayed, I stop and remind myself, "No matter what has happened, no matter what life looks like, no matter what you're feeling, you are accepted in the Beloved - and nothing else matters!"
      • Ephesians 1:6 ~ to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
    • God's power in the Holy Spirit - Can you imagine having the power of God at work in your life?  When Christ is your Savior that's what happens.  God empowers you through His Holy Spirit to do good, to effect change in your life, to make your life fulfilling and meaningful, to help others, and to minister for Christ.
      • Acts 1:8 ~ But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
    • God's total sufficiency - No matter what the problem, the hurdle the struggle, the suffering you face, God promises, "My grace is sufficient for you" 2 Corinthians 12:9
Spiritual Growth Involves the Pursuit of Knowledge
  • Jesus is our model for how to live a life that pleases God.  When we look at His life, we see that "Jesus increased in wisdom" Luke 2:52
  • Proverbs 15:14 ~ The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.
  • What are you and I feeding our minds?  Are we heeding this biblical warning about the danger of "garbage in, garbage out"?
  • May we purposefully seek knowledge and guard against spending precious time on things that have no value.
  • Create five fat files
    • Aim at expertise - select five areas you'd like to become an expert in and label a file for each of them.  A word of caution: choose areas from the spiritual realm.  Remember the proverb?  You don't want to feed on pursuits that have no value.  Instead choose topics of eternal value.
    • Fill the files - start putting information into your files.  They'll get fat as you follow the exhortation to "read everything on [your] subject...articles, books, specialized magazines, and news clippings...attend seminars...teach on the subject(s)...spend time with those who are the best in these areas, picking their brains...seek and sharpen your expertise."
      • Most importantly, read your Bible to see firsthand what God says about your areas of interest.  
    • Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last.
    • 2 Timothy 1:9 ~ He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time
    • "Nothing going in equals nothing going out!"
Spiritual Growth Includes Stewardship of Your Body
  • 1 Corinthians 9:27 ~ But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
  • The goal in the physical realm is discipline, the self-control that is a gift of God's grace (Galations 5:23)
  • His spirit in us gives us strength to resist temptation, to control our appetite rather than allowing it to control us, and to train our body into obedience.
Spiritual Growth Means Becoming Like Jesus
Luke 2:52 ~ And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
  • Increase in knowledge
    • Colossians 1:10 ~ so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God
    • 2 Peter 3:18 ~ But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
    • Philippians 1:9 ~ And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight
    • James 1:22 ~ Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
  • Have a plan
    • When it comes to increasing your knowledge of God, you have to do a certain thing (sit down) in a certain place (your place) with certain items (pen, paper, reading schedule, study guide, whatever you need) at a specific time (your time).
    • When you do, you'll enjoy a feast from God and His Word!
  • So something
    • Develop a plan, remembering that something is better than nothing.
Spiritual Growth Blesses Others
Three ways to improve my relationships with people.
  • Mind your mind
    • Your actions will reveal your attitude toward people.
    • Proverbs 23:7 ~ For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you.
    • Thoughts that are critical, negative, harmful, and jealous not only go against God's Word (Philippians 4:8), but they spawn actions that are critical, negative, harmful, and jealous.
    • Train yourself to think loving, positive, sweet thoughts when it comes to other people.
  • Mind your mouth
    • Proverbs 31:26 ~She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
    • If her thoughts weren't wise or kind, her mouth was shut!
  • Mind your manners
    • Romans 12:10 ~ Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
    • Philippians 2:4-5 ~ Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus
    • We are to become other-oriented.
    • 1 Corinthians 13:5 ~ It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
    • Are you a "There you are" person, looking around for how you can encourage someone with God's love?
Am I purposefully filling my mind with knowledge from God's Word, knowledge I can give away to others?

Does my body belong to God, to be groomed, card for, and disciplined for maximum usefulness and His glory?

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