Spiritual Growth Made Simple
Col. 2: 1-7
Are you stuck in your current spiritual condition?
Would you describe yourself as a babe in Christ, a teenager, or an adult and if so how long have you been there? It is God’s desire that just as your mature in life, you mature in your Christian faith.
The book of Colossians tells us the story of Christ. He is the centerpiece of the Bible. All the fullness of God dwells in Him. His desire is that we accept him as our Savior who forgives our sins and gives us eternal life. He then fills us with the knowledge of His will.
In Christ are found all of the riches of wisdom and understanding. So what next? After we receive Christ?
Every Christian needs to continue to grow in their faith.
He tells us that in 1:23. . If you continue in the faith. Christianity has a beginning point when we come to Christ but then it is a life long process of growing in our faith.
How do we do that? Chapter 2 answers that question.
Col. 2: 1-7
1 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. 6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
I am struggling for you. Struggle of a mentor for his students; struggle of a pastor for his congregation; the struggle of a teacher for her students. You want them to succeed so badly – you are devastated when they get off track. Paul tells his followers:
I. We must have a goal vs. 2
The goal: know the mystery of God in Christ
He wants them to be encouraged and united so they can reach that goal. Nationalism, denominationalism, and unscriptural theological assumptions derail spiritual growth. They can become more important than Christ. Spiritual growth comes through a deeper understanding of Christ. Put your roots down in Christ.
What do you really want in life?
If you are willing to work hard enough and sacrifice long enough you can have most anything you want in life within reason. It all starts with discovering what we want out of life then striving toward achieving that goal.
Psalm 37:4 says: delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
While it is true that often God gives us many wonderful gifts that is primarily a verse about spiritual growth. If our desire is to be mature in Christ, he can make it happen – if our desire is to just get along – that will also happen.
If we want to reach our goal of spiritual maturity in life we need to have a sense of direction.
Do you have a good sense of direction? Can you imagine getting in your car and not knowing where you are going?
Some of my directionally challenged friends think the GPS is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century.
Being a macho male, I pride myself in a good sense of direction. I don’t need a map. I’m not going to stop anybody and ask directions.
Story of Indianapolis dead end street along a coal yard
Parking lot in Ft. Pierce somebody stole our car and moved it
What are your spiritual goals? We often set physical, financial and personal goals but what would you like to see happen in your spiritual life. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?
Maybe your spiritual goal is
. . . to have a deeper intimacy with God
. . . learn more of his word
. . . become more peaceful in midst of storms
. . . pray more and worry less
. . .begin to tithe
The goal needs to be something that will impact your life because if it isn’t you will never stay with it. Little dinky goals don’t do much.
Paul’s goal for his people is that he wanted them to be complete in Christ.
Elsewhere in scripture I Cor. 2:2 he says: For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you but to know Christ and Him crucified.”
If our goal is to know Christ in a deeper way, we need to know how to reach that goal. Not enough to say I want to lose 20 pounds – have to have a game plan. That starts with a teacher, a mentor, a coach.
II. We need a teacher vs.7 as you were taught
Who will guide our way. You will be the same person next year that you are now except for the books you read and the people you meet. We are all in the process of gathering information. Lot of information available to us. Not all of it is productive . . . in fact some of it is toxic. Since we have a limited amount of time, we have to filter the information we receive or we will be inundated with useless data. Be careful who you listen to and what you read or expose yourself to because it will influence your life.
Nearly everything I have learned in life, I have learned from someone else. Your teacher can make or break the subject matter.
Story of Mrs. Kuenzli - Latin
I learned how to play sports from coaches
I learned how to read from a teacher
I learned how to love your wife from my dad
I learned how to tie my shoes from my mom
I learned how to speak in public from professors
I learned what not to do from . . . .
We need people to sharpen us – mentors to guide us – peers to discuss our ideas with - it’s easy to get off track when we become lone rangers in our quest for spiritual development.
Without discounting the importance of human teachers, we need to look to another teacher. Our greatest spiritual teacher is the Holy Spirit.
John 16: 13 says: but when he the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.”
Many of you know about me, but only the holy spirit knows me completely – he knows my thoughts, values, attitudes, desires of my heart
Just as human teachers have guidelines and restrictions so also does the Holy Spirit. He is bound by a code to only advise us of that which is pleasing to God – even when its uncomfortable for us to hear. He is the ultimate teacher – he speaks to us through his word, through prayer, through circumstances and through that inaudible quiet voice deep within us.
If you are trying to determine the mind of God without listening to the voice of his spirit, you are getting second hand information.
If you have some clear spiritual goals in mind, and you are willing to listen to the voice of the Spirit for advice then you need to do one more thing to insure your spiritual growth.
III. You must discipline yourself to follow through
Vs. 5 see how orderly you are. Military word meaning a rank or a line of soldiers prepared for battle - if you are going to succeed in the military you better be disciplined to obey orders.
Without this step of orderliness or discipline, all spiritual growth programs fail – without discipline you will never change
Ever read a great book – heard a challenging message – an inspirational story – said it’s going to be different – it is for a few days and then things settle back into the same routine unless you follow through with discipline
I’d like to make two assumptions:
Most of you want to mature in your Christian faith walk with the Lord
I believe most of you know what it takes to get there
So what’s the problem – lack the discipline to carry through
Spiritual discipline is simply the process of developing Godly habits. We are a product of our habits.
Even if you are the most undisciplined person in the world, you have developed habits over the years.
Some good habits: brush your teeth every day, come to church consistently, eat three meals a day; you don’t yell out in the middle of a service when the pastor is speaking. Good habits.
Some bad habits: consistently late, use bad language, worry too much, see things in a negative light
Those are bad habits you have done them for so long that they are second nature – have a grip on you.
Want to be rooted, built up and strengthened in the faith we have to weed out those habits that are harmful and develop those habits that are positive.
When you came to Christ, you became a new person but you brought with you years of habits – some that need to be changed and some that are very difficult to break. Some which hinder your spiritual growth.
One bad habit that many people have is: if it feels good, do it. We don’t think about whether or not this is beneficial or what the consequences are; we simply rely on our feelings and emotions which are sometimes right and sometimes wrong. You learned that habit in childhood; it was reinforced as a teenager and sometimes it is carried with you into adulthood.
Children make decisions based on emotions. What feels good – what do I want? But Paul tells us in I Cor. 13 that when we became adults we put away childish things.
Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always fun, or doesn’t always feel good at the moment or doesn’t always produce immediate results but eventually when we do the right thing over a sustained period of time, we see great results and spiritual growth.
If you want to develop a new habit or stop an old way, it takes 21 consecutive days to make that happen. If you miss a day, start all over and most people quit before the habit is changed. All of us are controlled by our habits – the secret of growing in Christ is to develop Godly habits.
Ross Perot says: “anything that is excellent or praiseworthy stands moment by moment on the cutting edge and must be constantly fought for.” Goal of spiritual growth is worth fighting for.
Paul in Phil. 4: puts it this way: “Whatever you have learned, or received or heard from me or seen in me, put it into practice.” We need a teacher, a coach, a mentor
“So just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
William Randolph Hearst – looking through a book of famous artwork. Saw a painting that caught his eye. Want that painting associates unable to find it. Value your jobs you’ll find it - 3 ½ months later found it
Buy it no its in your warehouse.