In the last article on the issue of growth, it was noted that every child grows and it is an offence not to grow. Who to grow into, namely the Lord Jesus Christ, was also discussed. It was said that He is the pattern Son that God uses to measure our growth.
In every home, it is the responsibility of the parents to provide food for the growth of the child. In the family of God, He as the Father has graciously made provision for the growth of each of His children. The consideration of what provision the Father has made for our growth is the focus of these meditations.
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” 1 Pet. 2:2
The word of God, the bible, is God’s great provision for our spiritual growth. The scripture above is clear: like a newborn baby desires milk that is how you should desire the word. To what end? “That you may grow thereby.” Anyone who wants to grow up in all things into Christ must feast regularly on the word. It is God’s milk for growth. The children of Israel were craving for bread in the wilderness but God was clear that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3). There is no work that God wants to do in your life that he doesn’t use His word. Is it healing? “He sent out his word and healed them.” (Ps. 107:20). Is it to keep you from sinning? “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Ps. 119: 9, 11). When God wants to sanctify you, he applies His word: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (Jn. 17:17). If He wants to instruct or teach you, His word is the tool: “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16). In fact, the Bible says He “sustains all things by his powerful word.” (Heb. 1:3).
So what should be your attitude to the word? Firstly, like a newborn baby craves and cries for milk, desire the word. Secondly, “Let the word of Christ dwell in richly.” (Col. 3:16). We love to be rich in many things, like money, but that verse commands us to be rich in the word. Are you rich in the word? Next, believe the word. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb. 11:6). Next, obey the word because obedience unlocks the power of God. At the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee, Mary told the servants concerning Jesus: “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (Jn. 2:5). Whatever! It doesn’t have to make sense to you. Provided it is His word, do it. That day, water jettisoned all the ingredients and processes of wine production and became wine in an instant. All the other ingredients for your growth that we will consider are actually found in the word that is why the word is very important. When you see two lives that came to know Christ at the same time, but one seems to have grown more than the other, it is a function of their response to the word of God. He who responds correctly grows correctly. He who fails to respond correctly is stunted in his growth in Christ. If you want to grow into Christ in all things, engage the word.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (Jam. 5:16).
In prayer, we connect to God and His divine resources flow into our lives. Our lives are fed through communion with God in prayer. “Pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17). “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Matt. 26:41). For more on prayer, the words of the Easton Bible Dictionary will suffice: Prayer is converse with God; the intercourse of the soul with God, not in contemplation or meditation, but in direct address to him. Prayer may be oral or mental, occasional or constant, ejaculatory or formal. It is a “beseeching the Lord” (Ex. 32:11); “pouring out the soul before the Lord” (1 Sam. 1:15); “praying and crying to heaven” (2 Chr. 32:20); “seeking unto God and making supplication” (Job 8:5); “drawing near to God” (Ps.73:28); “bowing the knees” (Eph. 3:14).
Prayer presupposes a belief in the personality of God, his ability and willingness to hold intercourse with us, his personal control of all things and of all his creatures and all their actions.
Acceptable prayer must be sincere (Heb. 10:22), offered with reverence and godly fear, with a humble sense of our own insignificance as creatures and of our own unworthiness as sinners, with earnest importunity, and with unhesitating submission to the divine will. Prayer must also be offered in the faith that God is, and is the hearer and answerer of prayer, and that he will fulfil his word, “Ask, and ye shall receive” (Matt. 7:7,8; 21:22; Mark 11:24; John 14:13, 14), and in the name of Christ (John 16:23, 24; 15:16; Eph. 2:18; 5:20; Col. 3:17; 1 Pet. 2:5).
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:42, 47.
In addition to the other things mentioned in that scripture, the believers “devoted” themselves to fellowship too. That must also be your attitude to whatever fellowship that God has placed you in for your growth. Be devoted to it. It is in fellowship with other believers that the many “each other” commands in scripture such as to love each other; encourage each other; show equal concern for each other; carry each other’s burden’s; do not lie to each other; bear with each other; forgive each other; build each other up; confess your sins to each other and pray for each other; and the like, are fulfilled. The bible clearly commands that we do not give up “meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Heb. 10:25). When you abstain from fellowship, you deny both yourself and other believers the opportunity of fulfilling the “each other” commands. You also deny yourself of vital nutrition for your growth in all things into Christ.
“To Timothy my true son in the faith.” – 1 Tim. 1:2
Discipleship is a process of reproducing or imparting the life of a teacher to a pupil. It is a life-long process, a systematic and cumulative way of making someone ( a student, a pupil, a trainee, an apprentice, a raw material, a disciple) to be conformed or transformed into the image, the stature and the full personality of the Master (in this case, the Lord Jesus Christ).
In discipleship, God carefully brings a new believer into a life-long relationship with a more mature believer so that the new believer can be helped to grow. Whereas Christ is our primal example for all things, God knows that it is easier for us as humans to follow an example that we can see and touch and ask questions. This is one of the reasons why Christ came in the flesh. He too had disciples that he worked with and on, while he was on earth. It was while he was here in the flesh that “He suffered for us leaving us an example that we should follow in his steps.” In the bible, we can see examples of such relationships between Moses and Jethro, his father-in-law; Eli and Samuel; Elijah and Elisha; Daniel and his three Hebrew friends (peer discipleship); John the Baptist and his disciples, Barnabas and Paul; Paul and Silas and Paul and Timothy. Has God placed a more mature believer in your life? Cherish and make the most of that relationship. It is God’s provision for your growth. Is there no one like that in your life? Pray and ask God for one.
“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” – Deut. 8:3
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For which son is not disciplined by his father? Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our own good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” – Heb. 12: 7, 10, 11
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope.” – Rom. 5:3-4
“Jesus was the Son of God, but he still suffered, and through his sufferings he learned to obey whatever God says.” – Heb. 5:8 (ERV)
Good or bad, God doesn’t waste the daily experiences of our lives on this earth. He uses/works through them to mould our lives. Cherish them as His provision for your growth.
God in His faithfulness has and does His part. As even a donkey forced to the river cannot be forced to take a drink, so is the ball now in your court. It is your choice to maximize God’s provision for your growth. I counsel you to “Get up and eat, or the trip will be too much for you.”