Monday, January 13, 2014

From Here To Maturity

When you think of maturity, you think of being complete.  Our goal and God's goal for us is Christ-like maturity.  It helps if we understand that we can't pull this off on our own.  We are not and never can be Christ.  But we can(and believers do) contain Him.  He lives in us.  "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power might be from God and from ourselves."

One of Satan's lies in the garden was that we could be like God.  He tempted Eve and Adam to live out of their own strength and thus be their own gods.  Up until that point they weren't even human.  To be human they had to make a choice.  God allowed Satan to tempt them in order to help them become human.  By  offering them the opposite of God, he was making them aware of the possibilities and they had to make a choice.  Unfortunately they chose the non-God way.  but there is a sense which making the wrong choice make them even more human.  Now they discovered first-hand the consequences of going against God.  They experienced God's wrath which included pain, guilt, and separation.  And Satan got a curse.

"Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all because all sinned."  Rom. 5:12   So now all of humanity has made the fateful choice and is living with pain, guilt, and separation from God.  Even for those of us who have been redeemed by accepting what Christ has done for us on the cross and receiving the risen Lord Jesus as our savior often make the mistake of being our own god by living by our own self-effort. 

God's desire for Adam and for us is that we allow Christ is live His life in and through us.  We are containers of Him.  A container gets none of the glory, does none of the work, and has only one function--to contain the treasure.  We now, as humans who have make many wrong choices now have the chance to choose life by choosing His life.  And the amazing thing is that, when we do so, we actually become what we are meant to be--like God.  Except that this time it is through union with Christ(the Tree of Life)as we allow Him to express His divinity through us.

The more we let Him be Himself in and through us the more fruit we bear and the more others see Him in us.  And we become spiritual parents.  We head toward maturity.

Friday, January 10, 2014

From Here To Maturity

Can there be little doubt that God wants Christians to be mature believers?  "...until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of god, to a mature person to stature that belongs to the fullness of Christ."  Ephesians 4:12  Clearly this does not happen all at once.  Just as physical maturity takes a while, so does spiritual maturity.  But it is supposed to happen!

I John 2:12-14 lists three types of believers which can represent the major stages of  Christian development: 
Little children; young adults; and parents.  Believers who are children understand that Christ died for them and has forgiven them of their sins.  They know that Jesus is part of the Triune God but they tend to see Him as up in heaven or "out there".  Sometimes He gets close to us and he does things for us when we pray but He is not really in me.  Young Adults are beginning to see that they have the power of God in them through Christ and the Holy Spirit.  They have some victory over sin and Satan and they know the power of prayer.  They may even experience miracles.  They are beginning to understand that Christ actually indwells them.  Parents have found that Christ is their life and that He lives in them, as them.  They have a deep relationship with God which leads to an eternal perspective.  They are far less self-centered and more Christ-centerd.
They are called parents because of their maturity and because they reproduce other Christians.  Their great love for God leads to babies and the process starts all over again.

And important verse in reaching maturity is Galatians 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ, never the less I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me.  And the life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me."  We will be spending the next few weeks expanding on the truth and implications of this  verse.  Ultimately I hope you will grasp that it is impossible to live the Christian life but that Christ can and will live it through you.  A mature believer lives by the life of God.

Here are some other examples of the three stages of growth:

       Children                                          Young Adults                                  Parents

     forgiveness                                      spiritual power                               knowing God
   Christ for me                                       Christ in me                                   Christ as me
       Jesus                                                   Christ                                             Lord
    crucifixion                                            resurrection                                  ascension
    sacrifice                                             empowerment                               fruitfulness
      Romans 3                                            Romans 6                                   Romans 8
     Moses                                                     Joshua                                     Melchizedek 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wonderful things

In 1923 a team of archeologists entered into the passageway to King Tut's Tomb.   They came to what they thought was the entrance. Gradually they removed the rubble that blocked the entrance into the main room.  Howard Carter, the leader of the expedition held his lantern into the room.   Standing behind him, Lord Caravan asked, "Can you see anything?"  Carter's reply was, "Yes, wonderful things."

As I think about 2014, I see wonderful things.  There are many things that could give us fear, but I choose hope.  The circumstances of our world are not good.  But we know that God is in charge.  In the west, the time is right for revival.  I am praying that it will come in 2014.

Think with me about fear and hope.  Fear paralyzes hope excites. Fear keeps people from seeking and enjoying God's purposes for them.  Hope encourages us to trust the Lord and to walk in His ways.  "Fear Not."  "Hope does not disappoint."  Let's make 2014 the year of hope.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13