Grow in God
The choice is ours. Whether we are a Christ follower of many years or just yesterday decided to “know” Christ as Lord and Savior for the first time, this decision was the start of a new life! So, where do we go from here? What makes the decision to follow Christ more than just a prayer? Our response to the Lord’s call.
When Christ called his disciples, he called them to leave everything they knew and to follow him. In much the same way, Christ is still calling us to follow him with every part of our lives. The original 12 disciples gave up family, work, and friends. Their entire world literally changed for their relationship with Christ.
Our relationship with Jesus starts like a tree seedling that was recently planted. We must learn the areas where we can nurture our relationship like a gardener would nurture a new seedling. Sometimes it will be watering and feeding, other times pruning, but it will always require attention if the relationship is to continue to bud and produce fruit. To know Christ takes actions and, many times, hard work.
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”
We must choose today to fully follow Christ and live every day with him from this point forward. Like Trees our relationship with Christ needs a lot of help to grow! This growth process is impossible to complete alone. Christ understood we, his followers, would need help if we were to succeed in this world without him, so he made provision for us before returning to his father.
Christ provided us a helper that we can receive after accepting him as savior. This helper is the holy spirit, and he dwells within us to aid in our daily relationship with Christ. He is our conscience and our comfort. He is the source of supernatural power that we need to thrive in our growth.
Christ has also given us a family of believers in the local church that we can rely on and grow with daily. Just like trees in a forest provide shelter for seedlings, the church will provide shelter and knowledge for us.
Christ also gave us some key areas where he wants us to grow in: worship, prayer, understanding and community. Each one of these produces unique fruit to strengthen our overall relationship with Christ and his church. If we neglect these areas, we will find it hard to follow Christ in a true relationship. Subsequently, our walk with Christ will lack purpose and impact with little or no growth.
1. Growing in Worship
Worship is the soul bowing itself in adoring contemplation before the object worshipped. To worship God is to bow before God in adoring contemplation of him. We should worship the Lord our God and him alone. God does not want us to worship other people. We may admire men or look up to our pastor and teachers, but we must worship God alone. No holy man, saint nor angel should be worshiped. Even Jesus said this.
“Then said Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
In Matthew 4:10 the devil tries to tempt Jesus to worship him instead of God. Worship is what we owe to God, it is his due. We owe love to man and obedience to parents, but worship belongs to God. Notice in Acts 10:25, Peter would not allow Cornelius to worship him. Our worship should be solely centered toward God. This is how we grow in our worship to God.
“And when it came to pass that Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.”
For the one whose heart is cleansed by the blood of Christ, to worship God is a privilege. God does not need our worship to exist, all creation worships God continually, but we need to worship God so we can grow in appreciation for the one who cleansed us from our sin. True Biblical worship toward God is an extension of adoration from one whose heart is changed. This adoration comes naturally for the one whose heart is cleansed, and to worship God with a cleansed heart is pleasing to God himself. This pleases God because the one whose heart is toward God sends praise to him continually without effort. This kind of worship is a free-flowing stream of love produced by a pure heart all day long. It is important to grow in our worship.
2. Growing in Prayer
Are you ashamed to pray to God? God loves to hear the prayers of his children. Do you know you can pray anywhere and anytime? You can pray to God just like you are talking to him. You can pray for help from God during the day, pray for safety going to and from school, and pray for the salvation of your unsaved friends or family members.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Here James tells us that we need to pray, and that our prayers should be fervent, showing of great sincerity or emotion. James is also telling us that this effectual fervent prayer of God’s children gets things done. For us to grown in our prayer life means we need to water it. Everyday we need to set aside time to pray to God. One man said, “Show me a Christian that doesn’t pray, and I will show you a weak Christian.” God wants us to pray, he wants to hear our voice, hear us calling out to him! That is how we grow in prayer, we practice.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
“Pray without ceasing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17 is a very short scripture but also very important. The apostle is telling the Thessalonians they need to keep praying on a regular basis. God wants us to grow in our prayer life.
3. Growing in Understanding
We grow in understanding by studying our Bible, reading, or listening to God’s word. God wants us to understand the word he has given to us, and for us to understand we must read, study, and listen to God’s word. I remember back in school when I was required to write a book report, and to write a good book report meant I had to read the whole book. I needed to understand what the book was about. I needed to understand everything about the book and its whole topic.
2 Timothy 2:15
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Here, Paul was telling Timothy, studying God’s word is an important piece to your growth in Christ. We need to know the word of God. As a young Christian we should have a desire to know what the word says. Coming to the house of God to listen to God’s word is one way to grow. When we go to church, we sing and worship, and the other part is hearing the message, or the word of God. I remember as a young person listening to the God’s word was the hardest part of the service because it meant I had to sit still. I loved the singing, the testimonies, and the prayer but when it came to the preaching there was not a lot of interaction. But I learned as I became older that the message was actually the most important part of the service. The message is where I was learning how to grow in Christ. I was learning how to keep out those things that would try to destroy my relationship with Christ. There is a reason why God wants us to come to his house to worship him and listen to the message. God knows as humans we need to hear the word to help us grow in him. Attend your congregations church services whenever the opportunity presents itself. Do not neglect coming to the house of God if possible. Make it a plan in your life to attend. This is an important piece that will help us to grow more in God.
“23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
4. Growing in Community – We Need One Another
When we give our lives to God and know him, we become a part of the family of God. This family should be important to us because we are with other people believing in God. Spend time with good Godly people that love God. God’s church is on organism or living being not just an organization. Our spiritual life comes from Christ when we are saved but that is not the end. God places us in a living functioning body of Christ, and as a part of that body we also have a function. Just because you are young does not mean you have little importance to God and his family. Young people are very important to God and the body of Christ. I remember as a young person being a part of a group of young people who loved God and that was one of the most encouraging times of my life. As young people we are called to help each other. To teach and admonish one another. To encourage one another. To be kind and forgiving to one another. To confess our faults to one another to have compassion with one another, to host one another, or spend leisure time with each other. It is important for young people to be involved with the body of Christ. We are just like a family – the family of God!
“5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”
Finally, we are all one body and one family, and God wants us to spend time with the family of God. If we have given our hearts to God and started down the journey to know him, we must also start growing in him. To grow effectively, we should focus first on worshiping God, second prayer, third understanding, listening, and studying God’s word when we have an opportunity just like we are studying at school. Remember what Paul told timothy, “Study to show thyself approved”, and four is growing in being together with Gods body. If we practice growing in these four things, we will grow deeper and deeper in the things of God. Pray and ask God to show you where you need to grow. Ask the Holy Spirit to provide strength and power in your daily walk so you can continue and grow in your relationship with Christ. I think about how I love to see young people give their heart to Christ, and you can see their growth, in five years they are growing more for God and then suddenly after 10 years they are a huge tree of life, beautifully showing the glory of God. That is why God wants us to grow, so we can show his glory to a lost world. If you do not know God today, it is important that you give your heart to him so you can. But remember, we cannot stop at just knowing, we must also Grow.