HOW TO GROW UP
GOD INTENDS TO MAKE US MATURE
God's purpose is to make us mature men and women in Christ Jesus. His
heart' s desire is to have sons and daughters who are full-grown. Having
placed us into Christ in His death, God has raised us up as new creatures
in Christ Jesus that we might become like Him.
This is the reason for God's present activity in our lives. Romans 8:28 says, "We know that in everything God works for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose."
In Hebrews 12:10, 11, we read, "For they (earthly fathers) disciplined us for
a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that
we may share His holiness. For the moment, all discipline seems painful
rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who have been trained by it. " Finally, in Ephesians 1:11 we
read that God "accomplishes all things to work things according to the
counsel of His will."
LET US SEE HIS HAND IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES
If we are going to reach maturity as God desires and designs, we must be able to see His hand in all our circumstances. In Philippians 1:12-14, we read the testimony of a man who had come to maturity in Christ. Paul writes, "I want you to know, brethren, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel." He was in jail when he wrote this letter, with a Roman guard stationed on either side of him.
Paul noted, "It had become known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brethren have been made confident in the Lord because of my imprisonment and are much more bold to speak the word of God without fear."
Rather than complain, Paul saw the hand of God in his circumstances.
He didn't volunteer to go to jail, but when he was imprisoned, he recognized
God's hand in his circumstances and made the most of them.
LET US HAVE THE ATTITUDE OF JOSEPH
If we are to mature, we must have the attitude Joseph had. When he confronted his brothers who had hated him, sold him, and told his fathers he had been killed, he held no vengeance. Instead he wept before them and said, " I am your brother. Don't be afraid. You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. " He saw the hand of God in the worst of circumstances.
How could Paul, Joseph, and other men and women of God endure such difficult circumstances? Why instead of becoming embittered, could they become strong in God and mature in Christ? There are al least two reasons:
One was their confidence in God's sovereignty. Some people understand the sovereignty of God to mean that everything, whether the falling of a leaf or the growing of a grass, the falling of rain, or even death itself, is the will of God. They assume that every thought and every action in the physical and moral realm are the direct result of the activity of God. This is not a biblical concept of God's sovereignty.
God does not cause everything to happen, but He rules over everything. His sovereignty is such that He is able to use whatever occurs. He weaves each event into His great purpose for us, no matter what anyone else may intend.
When our trust is in God, everything is filtered through His love, and if we will trust him, it will produce good.
Satan is frustrated by the lives of those who trust God. Not only is he unable to harm them, but everything negative he does toward them becomes positive in their lives.
WHAT IS SOVEREIGNTY
Charles Finney describes sovereignty as "infinite love, directed by infinite
knowledge." Knowing what is best for us, God, directs everything that
happens through the channel of His love so that even the most horrendous
problems become good in the final analysis. Though He did not cause them
to happen, He can bring those things to ultimate good in our lives. Change
takes place in us; growth occurs and maturity develops.
Some Christians chafe under the dealings of God and complain about their circumstances. God works in the difficult circumstances because He cannot produce moral character in easy ways. Moral character can be tried and tested only in the midst of difficulties and real temptations. As we are tried by God and as we trust in His sovereignty, our character is molded, strengthened, and matured.
PURPOSE OF OUR LIFE
If you have lost sight of the hand of God in your circumstances, you
have lost sight of the purpose of God for your life. Those who are growing
are those who have confidence in God's sovereignty.
The second reason we are able to have this kind of confidence
in God is because of God's sufficiency. In Romans 8, as Paul talks to
people about suffering and the difficulties they are facing, he says,
"In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved
us." And in 2 Cor. 12:9, he writes, "MY grace is sufficient for you, for
my power is made perfect in weakness." I will al the more gladly boast
of my weaknesses, that they power of Christ may rest upon me. Fort he
sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships,
persecutions, calamities, for when I am weak then I am strong."
Paul had confidence not only in the sovereignty of God but in the sufficiency of God. In effect, he said, "You can dump me in the Mediterranean, put me in prison, beat me, leave me for dead, insult me and starve me, but there is one thing that you cannot do- you cannot separate me form the love of God in Christ. At my weakest moment, I am at my strongest in Christ."
GOD WILL USE ALL OUR CIRCUMSTANCES
No matter what we go through, God will be with us and strengthen us.
No matter how difficult our circumstances, God will use them. He will
bring us to maturity, to completeness according to His standard, though
we may want it according to our standard.
In Hebrews 12:10, 11, we read that He disciplines us that we might partake of His holiness. There are often two problems that we have at this point: First, we fail to see how much we need His discipline. We beg, "Don't make it too hard, Lord, and don't take me too far." God says, "I have to go deeper than you realize because I want to take you higher than you have ever known."
He is working form an eternal perspective while we work from a very limited
perspective. We may cry, "Lord, take it away. I cannot endure it!: God
says, "You don't understand what I am after. There are no short cuts."
GOD WILL MAKE US FIRST-CLASS CHRISTIANS
God doesn't make defective merchandise. There are no second-class Christians. Those who will rule and reign with Christ are those who have trusted Him and allowed Him to work His character into their lives, no matter what the circumstances. Even Christ Himself learned obedience through the things that He suffered. Obedience came in the midst of difficulties and testing.
James says, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete and lacking in nothing." Do you want to be complete like Christ? Then you are going to face difficult circumstances. You are going to be tested.
Once we begin to catch sight of God's purpose, we know that our lives are in the hands of a sovereign God who is preparing us for the great things that lie ahead.
LET US GIVE UP OUR POISONED SPIRITUAL SYSTEMS
Many of us are chafing and bitter. We harbor an unforgiving spirit because
if real or imagined hurts. No one goes through life without getting hurt,
but if we allow hurts to fester, we will become bitter. Our bitterness
will bind us and keep us form growing.
There are Christians who are living with poisoned spiritual systems, they cannot grow because they have never forgiven fathers, and mothers, brothers and sisters, friends or other Christians. They are poisoned by bitterness, anger, and resentment, which are ultimately directed toward God. We must forgive those who have hurt us and receive God's grace for healing.
Two people can go through the same kind of circumstances and one emerge embittered and ruined while the other emerges rejoicing and pure. Your character depends not on your circumstances but on your response to them.
Where is your confidence? Is it in the sovereignty and sufficiency of God? If it is, He will make you like His Son to do His work on earth and then to rule and reign with Him forever.
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