Grow in God
The choice is ours. Whether we are followers of Christ for 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? Our response to the Lord’s call is what makes our decision to follow Christ more than just a prayer.
Christ called his disciples to leave everything they knew to follow him. In much the same way, Christ still calls us to follow him with every part of our lives. The original twelve disciples gave up family, work, and their friends. Their entire worlds changed for their relationship with Christ.
Our relationship with Jesus starts like a newly planted tree seedling. We must learn how to nurture our relationship like a gardener would nurture a new seedling. Sometimes we’ll need to water and feed, and other times we’ll need to prune, but the new seedling always requires 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 lots of help to grow! This growth process is impossible to complete alone. Christ understood his followers would need help to succeed in this world without him, so he made provisions for us before returning to his father.
Christ provided us with 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 also gave 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 He wants us to grow in: worship, prayer, understanding, and community. Each one of these areas produces unique fruit to strengthen our overall relationship with Christ and His church. We will find it hard to follow Christ in a genuine relationship if we neglect these areas. 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 pastors and teachers, but we must worship God alone. Jesus told us we should not worship holy men, saints, or angels.
“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 tempted Jesus to worship him instead of God. Worship is what we owe to God, and 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. Keeping God centered in our lives is how we grow in our worship of 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 Jesus cleansed with His blood, worshiping 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 Jesus changed. This adoration comes naturally, and worshiping God with a cleansed heart is pleasing to God Himself because the one whose heart is toward God sends praise to Him continually and without effort. This kind of worship is a free-flowing stream of love produced by a pure heart all day long. Growing in our worship is vital to our Christian walk.
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 great sincerity or emotion. James also tells us that this effectual fervent prayer of God’s children gets things done. To grow in our prayer life means we need to water it. Every day we need to set aside time to pray to God. A man once 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 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 regularly. 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 His Word, and for us to understand, we must read, study, and listen to it. 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 entire topic. Likewise, we need to understand God’s Word.
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 told Timothy, studying God’s word is an essential piece to your growth in Christ. We need to know the word of God. As young Christians, we should 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. As a young person, listening to God’s Word was the most challenging part of the service because it meant I had to sit still! I loved the singing, testimonies, and prayer, but there was not a lot of interaction when it came to the preaching. As I became older, I learned that the message was 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 congregation’s church services whenever the opportunity presents itself. Do not neglect to come to the house of God if possible. Make it a plan in your life to attend. Attendance to the house of God is an important piece that will help you grow 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 who believe in God. Spend time with good Godly people that love God. God’s church is an organism or living being, not just an organization. Christ gives us our spiritual life when He saves us but receiving Salvation 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. God calls us to help, teach, admonish, and encourage each other as young people. He wants us to be kind, forgiving, and confess our faults to one another. We also need to have compassion spend time with and host each other. Young people need 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 gave our hearts to God and started down the journey to know Him, we must also begin to grow 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 studying at school. Remember what Paul told Timothy? “Study to show thyself approved,” and the fourth is growing together in God’s body by spending time with the body of Christ. 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 hearts to Christ, and you can visually watch their growth. In five years, they are growing more for God, and then suddenly, after ten years, they are a massive tree of life, beautifully showing the glory of God. That is why God wants us to grow so that we can show His glory to a lost world. If you do not know God today, give your heart to Him so you can. But remember, we cannot stop at just knowing. We must also Grow.