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Testing Our Spiritual Growth - Part 2

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
December 2, 2022 12:00 am

Testing Our Spiritual Growth - Part 2

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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December 2, 2022 12:00 am

God's goal for you is to be conformed to the likeness of Christ.

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In Touch
Charles Stanley
In Touch
Charles Stanley

Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Friday, December 2nd. Are you actively pursuing your relationship with God? Assess your spiritual journey in part two of Testing Our Spiritual Growth. God does not work in the very same way in everybody's life.

He does not work in the very same way at the very same time in everybody's life. But as we go along in the Christian life, one of the ways that I can evaluate whether I'm growing or not is by this list of things that I think God gave me to check up on myself. So I want to ask you to get a pen or a pencil and a piece of paper and write them down. And I'm going to say them very precisely so that there will be no commentary until the statement is made and then I may comment on each one of them. But what we're talking about now is how do I evaluate my spiritual growth?

And so I want to begin by making this statement at the beginning of each one of them. We know we are growing in our relationship to Christ when, and then I want to answer that when. We know that we're growing in our relationship to Christ when, and so if you have a pen and paper, let's begin. We know that we're growing in our relationship to Christ when we are becoming increasingly aware of our sinfulness and our weaknesses.

When we are becoming increasingly aware of our sinfulness and our weaknesses. Things that we think, well, I can handle that and I can handle this. One of the signs of our spiritual growth is God, I'm going to have to trust you.

I'm totally relying upon you. That is not a sign of weakness. It's ultimately a sign of strength. But it is an awareness of our weaknesses and our inadequacies.

So I want to encourage you to evaluate that one. Secondly, we are growing in our relationship with Christ when our response to sin is quick and followed by genuine repentance. When our response to sin in our life is quick and it is followed by genuine repentance. I don't mean by Lord, now you know we're not perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. God, I know I sin.

No. Genuine repentance. God, I genuinely repent of that. I turn away from that.

I don't want that in my life and I choose not to have that in my life. Genuine repentance means a turning about in my spirit, in my life, in my conduct that there will be a difference. Number three, we know that we're growing in our relationship with Christ when our spiritual battles are becoming more fierce and yet we're still rejoicing. As you and I grow in our relationship to Christ and become more and more conformed to Him, what does Satan do? He intensifies the battle.

He intensifies his attacks because he knows he can't do anything to your spirit, your soul, that is, you're going to heaven, that's a settled issue. But he can cause a lot of damage while you're living here, wreck and ruin your testimony, cause you a lot of heartache. But see, one of the ways that you and I know we're growing in our relationship to Him is when the battles become more and more fierce and yet you and I are able to rejoice even in the fierceness of those spiritual battles.

Well, let's move on. Number four, we know that we're growing in our relationship to Him when we begin to see trials and temptations as opportunities for growth. When we begin to see trials and temptations as opportunities for growth.

Because if you want to meet a real saint, if you want to meet somebody who's strong in the Lord, you want to meet somebody who has great faith, and you want to meet somebody who can stand the battles of life, you show me somebody who has been tried, tempted, tested, beaten up upon in every way possible. And I'll show you someone who has come through the difficulties and hardships and it is coming through those things that makes us strong and mighty in spirit. So if we're going to grow in our relationship to Him, then my friend, we'll begin to see these trials and temptations as opportunities for growth and not complain. Well, number five, we are growing in our relationship to Him when we begin to view service to Him as a high honor and not as a burden.

When we are able to view our service for Him as a high honor and not a burden. When I hear people say, oh, I've got to go to church and I've got to teach this and I've got to lead this group and I've got to usher, I've got to sing in the choir, I've got to do this, I've got to, got to, got to, got to, got to, then something's wrong. But thank God that you've been saved. Thank God that you have the wonderful privilege of serving the Lord God. Does that mean that sometimes you don't feel the weight and the heartache of it all?

No, it doesn't mean that. But it means that ultimately we count it an honor to serve God. And the burdens and the hardships that go with that, it's okay. It's okay because the Lord is worthy of our service and worthy of our honor. Well, we know that we are growing in the Lord again, growing in our relationship to Him when we are able to view everything that comes our way as being from God. When we are able to view everything that comes our way as being from God. And I think this is very important in a person's spiritual growth. I know I'm growing when I can view everything in my life as coming from God. That means the good and it means the bad. I went through a real difficult time in my own personal life when I could have ended up being bitter and resentful and hostile and angry and probably no longer used of God. But God just showed me on my face back in the prayer room one day, the key to walking through this victoriously and the key to triumphing over this is simply this, you look at every single thing that happens is coming from me. And I remember thinking, but God, it's not coming from you.

So yes, it is. You view it as coming from me. It couldn't happen unless I allowed it. Am I not sovereign? Do I not have the key to the gate of your life?

Am I not the one who unlocks it and locks it? Am I not your protector and the sovereign? Yes, you see everything from me. If you will see everything from me, no matter what happens and through whom and how it happens, you're going to be able to see it from me and you are knowing that I am going to turn it out to good. Romans 828 works all the time.

Lord, now here's what you said, and I believe it. I don't feel it today, but I'm going to take it to your word that all these things that are happening to me are turning out for my good and for your glory. I know that I'm growing in Him when I'm able to see everything is coming from Him. Well, number seven, we know that we're growing in our relationship with Him when we sense that our faith is growing stronger, when it takes more and more to ruffle us, when tests that come our way, we can face them confident and boldly, whereas six months ago or a year ago we could not have. When our faith level rises and we're getting stronger in our faith and we're able to trust Him for more and in more and in the midst of more, we're able to rest in Him. We're able to talk to Him with confidence and assurance and boldness. He has everything under control. We're not fretting and fuming over things we used to fret and fume over.

Why? Because we know that it is His schedule and our life is based upon what He's doing and not what we are doing for ourselves. Well, we know that we're growing in our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, number eight, when we desire to spend more time in genuine praise and worship. One of the ways that I know I'm growing in my relationship to Him is I want to praise Him. I want to love Him.

I want to express it. I'd love to put my arms around Him and hug Him close and tell Him that I love Him and thank Him for all the good things He sends in my life and even the bad that He's so sovereign He can turn them into something good. Number nine, we know that we're growing in our relationship with Him when our desire to obey Him is becoming more intense and sin is less and less attractive to us. One of the basic solid foundational evidences that you and I are growing in our relationship to Christ is the intensity with which we feel this desire to be obedient to Him, to follow Him, to do exactly what He wants us to do, no less and no more. And that our attraction to the world and the appeal of the world is becoming less and less and a desire to be obedient to Him becomes more and more. And so the more intense my desire to be obedient to Him and the less attraction that the world has to offer, that is a good sign that I know I'm growing in my relationship to Him. Well, number ten, we know that we're growing in our relationship to Him when we are eager to share with others what Christ is doing in our life. When we are eager to share with others what Christ is doing in our life.

You see, if I'm really growing in my relationship to Him, I want to talk about it at a drop of a hat. I'm ready to talk about it. And if a believer can be questioned about what's going on in their Christian life and they don't have something that's current, don't tell me, well, I got saved back on about 42 years ago and I've been just distrusting Lord all these years. Anything happened since then?

Not much. Well, then there's something wrong. You see, I don't mean you've got to look for a miracle and have some miracle. You've got to say, well, God worked this miracle yesterday and this one yesterday.

No. But my friend, if you and I are growing in the Lord Jesus Christ and our relationship to Him, something fresh is going on all the time. Something's going to be going on that you and I had to talk about. And if you're growing, you want to share what Christ is doing in your life with other people. Well, number eleven, we know that we're growing in our relationship to Him when we are experiencing an increasing awareness of His presence. When we are experiencing an increasing awareness of His presence.

You see, the Lord Jesus Christ, while we think in terms of His being in heaven, He made this so clear. He says, I am abiding in you and you're abiding in me. You and I are indwelt with the very presence of Christ through the minister in the presence of the Holy Spirit who abides in us. Jesus said, I'm in you through Him. You see, one of the ways we can know that we're growing in Him is that we're becoming more and more aware.

Now watch this. We're becoming more and more aware, not just when you're praying, not just when you're reading the Bible, not just when you're at church, but on your job, among your friends, when you're alone, when you're traveling, no matter what's going on, you are becoming more and more aware that you're under the umbrella of Christ, standing upon the rock of Christ, surrounded by the walls of Christ, immersed in Him, baptized in Him, filled with Him, overflowing with Him. Christ is everywhere in your life.

And so ask yourself this question. What has to go on in your life to make you aware of Christ? Do you get up in the morning thinking about Him before you get out of bed? You go to bed at night thinking about Him. You go to sleep thinking about Him. You say, well, you can't think about Jesus all the time.

Yes, you can. You say, how can I do my work and think about Him? Because listen, while you may not be on a conscious level, always thinking Jesus, Jesus, Jesus on a subconscious level just beneath the consciousness of what you happen to be doing at that moment is this awesome spiritual awareness of His presence. He's just there. Well, I also know that I'm growing in my relationship with Him.

Listen to this. We are growing in our relationship with Christ when we jealously guard our private time of prayer and Bible reading. When we jealously guard our private time of prayer and Bible reading, our devotional life, it has a priority. I know I am growing in my relationship to Him when I jealously guard the time I spend in His Word. When I want to read the Scriptures, I want to know what He has to say.

I want to be convicted of sin. I want to become aware of failures. I want to be aware of how He works and how He operates in His ways when I'm feasting upon the Word of God. And you see, when people say, well, I read the Bible once in a while, but I just don't understand it. My friend, if you stop reading it because you don't understand it, then you are not growing in your spiritual life.

And I can tell you, you're backslidden. You say, you're judging me. No, the Word of God is. This is the Word of God. He says, He says, desire the sincere milk of the Word that you make grow thereby. Friend, you absolutely cannot grow in your relationship to Christ with a closed Bible. It doesn't work. It doesn't make any difference if you got 20 degrees from 40 different seminaries.

It wouldn't make any difference. We grow in our relationship with Him as we open this book and as we begin to feast upon the Word. Because this is, these are God's personal letters written to you and to me in these epistles.

How do we grow? Desire the sincere milk of the Word. Now I want you to think about something and think about this carefully. If you have no real desire to read the Bible, if you have no real strong desire to understand it, if you have no real strong desire to follow it, mark this one down. You are not growing in your relationship to Christ.

Friend, I don't care how many Sunday School classes you teach or what you do and how much you give. If you do not have a desire for the Word of God, a desire to know the ways of God and getting in the Word, then you're not growing in your spiritual life and you're not stagnant, you're drifting backwards, away from the things of God. He says, listen to this, the entrance of thy Word giveth light. Light into what?

Light into the ways and the mind and the heart of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. If I'm going to develop a relationship with somebody, I've got to know them. You cannot develop an intimate relationship with anybody whom you don't know. And that relationship deepens and is strengthened as we know and understand the other person and are open and transparent to that person ourselves. That's what builds relationships.

Well, number thirteen and the last one. We know that we're growing in our relationship to Christ when we prefer to spend more time with Him above all others. That is, does that mean that I don't want or we don't want companionship with someone else?

No. It doesn't mean that we want to be recluses. But it means that our desire to know Him, to fellowship with Him, to be with Him, that our desire for Him exceeds our desire for all other human beings. That is no excuse for not serving God.

It is no excuse for not being a friend. Because you see, think about this. The more in love I am with Him and the more time I spend with Him, here's what happens. The more, listen to this, the more valuable I become to every single person I meet and the more valuable I become to everyone, all of my friends.

Because you see, the more time we spend with Him, the more like Him we become and the more like Him we become, the more valuable we become to His purpose for our life. Well, that's a pretty good long list and rather demanding, but the truth is, if I'm really going to grow in Him, those things are going to be true in my life. Now, I want to say again, that list does not mean that everybody should live up to my list.

I want you to get that down. But I can say this, I don't think there's anything on there that's unbiblical, nor wrong, nor would not be to your advantage to make that a part of yours. And I want to challenge you to do something. I want to challenge you to take that list and get by yourself and get on your knees with an open Bible, whatever scripture you want to turn to, maybe this one. And just say, now Lord, I want the Holy Spirit to enable me to be absolutely honest about this list.

You have a pencil or pen with you. And you put a check by the ones that you think are true of your life and a cross mark by the ones that are not. It doesn't mean, now listen here, it doesn't mean that you're wrong. It doesn't mean that you're less than. It doesn't mean that you're not growing if all of these things are not true. Because now I want to say this again, everybody is not in the same place in their spiritual growth. God is not working in the same way with everybody at the same time. This list is merely a suggestion.

This list is a starter list for you. You can add what you want to add. But I challenge you to get on your face and ask God to show you how many of these things are going on in your life. You may come up and say, Well, Lord, hallelujah, I'm doing better than I thought I was. Well, praise God, spend some time thanking Him. Or you may come up and say, Lord, I don't believe I just don't believe I could be so insensitive to you that so much of this is not even happening in my life. Or you may conclude, Lord, I'm a long ways from where I ought to be. But God, I commit myself that my priority in life is to grow in my understanding of who you are, and to fulfill your ultimate purpose, which is to be conformed to your likeness.

I can tell you this, you take that list, you began to let God work those things in your life. And I'm here to tell you, you're going to grow in your intimate relationship to Him. God is going to conform you to His likeness. He's going to work things in your life. And listen, you may, I want to warn you, you may have more trials, more heartaches, more burdens, more things you don't want, but boy, look at the end result. Because it's those things that polish us, sand us and sift us, and prune us that make us like Him.

So the ultimate question is this. Do I want to be like the Master? Then I need to measure how I'm doing every once in a while.

And I need to correct those things that are inadequacies. Thank you for listening to part two of Testing Our Spiritual Growth. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-02 03:16:24 / 2022-12-02 03:24:12 / 8

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