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Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Growth’

I am not a big fan of “church signs.”  I put that in quotations because of course I don’t have a problem with signs that inform people of church services or church locations etc.  What I do have a problem with is the trivializing of serious biblical truths that can be found on church billboard such as “Hell is hot, come on in we are prayer-conditioned.”  Despite my disdain for some of the sillier signs, every once in a while, I will come across one that I really like, this happened to me recently on the way home from running. The sign that I saw said this, “COMING SOON:  Jesus!”  I read that and I thought, “YES, my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ is coming again and he is going to raise me up to be with Him forever!”

Are you excited about the Lord’s return?  This is how the Bible ends:

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (Revelation 22:20-21).

When John received the promise and vision of Christ’s glorious return to finally and fully redeem his children, he got excited.  He said, “Amen” which literally means “truly” or in more modern terms, “YES!”  “Come, Lord Jesus!”  Paul was excited about it too, when Paul wrote the Philippians, he was in prison and wasn’t sure if and when he would be executed, he said, “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.  Yet which shall I choose I cannot tell.  I am hard pressed between the two.  My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:22-23).  In other words, Paul is saying, if I got what I wanted, I would go to be with Christ.  Paul is saying here, “I want to be with Jesus, I long to be with Him for eternity!”  If you read on, Paul admits that it seems that God has more ministry in mind for Paul (thus he indeed live on in the flesh) and he submits himself to God’s will in that regard—there is no morbid longing to die in Paul, just a longing to be with Christ in a fuller way than he currently is.

This is a great question to ask yourself to gauge where you are spiritually—“do you long for Jesus to return?”  If not, what is keeping you from longing for that?  What is it that you want in this life that is keeping you from longing for Christ?  What do you want to experience this side of eternity that is keeping you from longing for Christ supremely?

When I was in high school and newly converted, I started dating a girl (neither of us were mature enough in our faith to be dating but that is another story) who from time to time would make comments like, “I hope Christ doesn’t come back before I have the opportunity to get married and have a family.”  At the time I suppose I sympathized with the sentiment, but I was also devouring the Bible at the time and Paul’s words, to “be with Christ is far better” seemed to contradict her sentiments.  So from time to time, I ask myself—is there anything keeping me from longing for Jesus to come back?  Are there things I think I would miss if Jesus came back now?  Those questions have helped me to identify idols in my life that are keeping me from delighting supremely in Christ.

If your heart’s desire is not, “come Lord Jesus,” why not?  Answering that question could be key in removing tremendous road blocks to growth in your walk with Christ.

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wwjdYou have seen the WWJD braclets and you have heard the mantra, “What would Jesus do?” and if you are a Christian you have probably asked yourself that question a few times. But should we ask ourselves that question? Is it the best question to ask ourselves in a given situation? Is there something misleading about asking ourselves that question. I think we should seek to imitate our savior but doing so is an endeavor at which we will surely fail. None of us can truly imitate Jesus–otherwise we could attain perfection on our own.

I see 2 obvious problems with asking ourselves “What would Jesus do?” Furthermore, I would argue that Jesus isn’t the only person we should be imitating *gasp* (read the rest of the post and I will explain).

First, this question fails to take into account the fact that we are sinners and ultimately incapable of answering that question correctly. At every moment of our lives, you and I are sinners. There is nothing that we do that isn’t affected by sin. Even the good and God-glorifying decisions we make are decisions made by sinners because though saved and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, there is never a moment of our lives when we are not sinners (until Christ returns–then we will be like Him). So until we are free from sin, we will never know exactly just what Jesus would do in a given situation.

Secondly, asking “What would Jesus do?” is an exercise in speculation. As the good people at Way of the Master have pointed out in the past, there is a much better question we can ask ourselves than “What would Jesus do?” and that is “What DID Jesus do?” That question is answered for us in the Bible–in which we have 4 reliable and inspired accounts of what Jesus actually did during his earthly ministry–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. So we can guess at what Jesus might do in a given situation or we can open up the Bible and learn from what Jesus actually did. We can learn about Him from the divinely inspired Word He left for us!

Furthermore, Jesus isn’t the only person we should imitate. The Bible is chock-full of excellent examples of what it looks like to faithfully follow Christ. You have guys like Daniel who was told he could no longer pray to Yahweh and he went up to his room, opened the window for all to see and prayed aloud to Yahweh–then he was thrown in a lion’s den! You have guys like Peter and John who were beaten for preaching the gospel and responded by saying, “we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). And you have guys like Paul who was shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, run out of cities, mocked, and imprisoned and responded to all of it by saying, “I count all things loss compared to surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).

In fact, Paul even told the Philippians to imitate him! Check it:

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Paul was confident enough in his Christian walk to tell the Philippians, “join in imitating me.” But more than that he encourages them to imitate “those who walk according to the example you have in us.” You have to read Philippians 4:12-16 to understand exactly what he means by that, but here is the skinny: In Philippians 4:12-16, Paul argues that those who are mature in Christ are those who understand that they are not perfect but are setting their eyes continually on Christ and constantly seeking to grow in their relationship with Him. So Paul encourages us here, to imitate those Christians in our lives, who though imperfect are seeking to faithfully and consistently follow Christ.

In many ways, that is discipleship. Growing in relationship with other believers more mature than yourself. Seeking them out, praying with them, eating with them, talking with them, asking them questions and imitating them in-so-far as they imitate Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).

So here are 2 questions to replace “What would Jesus do?”:

1. What did Jesus do? Or more specifically, what does the Bible say?

2. What do my brothers in Christ think? What do those I look up to in the faith have to say? (then actually ask them!)

And finally, here are 2 challenges for you:

1. Have you ever sought out someone to personally disciple you? Are you seeking out brothers in Christ that will help you grow?

2. Are you investing time in discipling others? Discipleship is a two-way street!

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