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The Pathway to Spiritual Growth - Part 2

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
February 16, 2024 12:00 am

The Pathway to Spiritual Growth - Part 2

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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February 16, 2024 12:00 am

Prioritize your spiritual growth by learning what it takes to mature in Christ.

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In Touch
Charles Stanley

Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Friday, February 16th. Becoming spiritually mature isn't always easy. It's a process that can often be painful, but today's podcast reminds you that the benefits of a closer walk with God always outweigh any sacrifice. Is it into wonder that so many people are saved and yet not growing? That so many of you are really unhappy about your Christian life.

You know that something's wrong, but you don't know quite what it is. You're trying not to sin against God. That's sort of the perspective and yet the joy that we talk about is not there and the happiness and the sense of contentment. And you don't really feel in your heart that you know any more about God today than you did 10 years ago, five years ago, or you listen to sermons and learn a few extra things and a few additional truths. But when it comes to feeling like you're growing in your Christian life, it's just not there. Spiritual growth is a command of God, and He also has provided for us the ways by which you and I could grow in Him. And so Peter says in the third chapter of the second epistle, but grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We're to grow. So that is the normal natural response and reaction of a believer. That is when God creates us.

Remember what He said. He said that you and I were born again. That speaks of a new spiritual life, that He gave us a new spirit.

He says that all things have become new, so we have a new beginning. Now, as He says, as newborn babes, we are to grow. And the question is, what shall I do in order to grow? You don't just naturally grow as a Christian.

You don't just sort of drift and grow. You grow as a result of some actions that you and I take. And so the person who feels like, well, you know, once I'm saved, I guess God's going to grow me up. No, God is not going to force Himself upon you to grow you up. But there are some steps that you and I can take. There are some things involved in growing as a Christian.

So what I'd like to ask you to do is with your pencil and paper, a pen and paper there, I want to give you at least seven of those. Seven things that are vital to a person growing in their walk. Now, remember He said that He predestined us to be shaped into His likeness. And so that a growing Christian is one who is being continuously, spiritually, emotionally and mentally shaped into the likeness of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. So what is the first one of those steps? Number one is the renewing of your mind.

Now, what in the world do we mean by that? Well, let me explain something that happened in the nation of Israel, which will give you a good picture of what I mean by the renewing of your mind. Probably the most valuable thing you and I do in our spiritual walk is to meditate upon the Holy Word of God.

By meditating, I don't mean just reading it, but absorbing it, thinking about it, letting it digest in our thinking and applying its truths. That is the renewing of the mind. And that is the most valuable step you and I can take in this whole matter of growing in our Christian life. If you're not growing, you're out of the will of God. If you're not growing in spiritual walk, you're not fulfilling the purpose of God. If you're not growing in spiritual walk, your life is not radiating the countenance of God.

If we are not growing, we are other than what God created us to be and to act out in our life. Second thing that is very valuable to our spiritual walk is this, and that is a readiness, listen, a readiness to admit our failures and assume responsibility for them. There is something about being open and honest and saying, God, I blew it.

Not going to blame it on anybody else, I blew it, God. Can't blame anybody else in the world, I'm acknowledging that, I'm confessing it, and Lord, I need to deal with it. There's something about being honest about our sins. Now, my friend, as long as you and I deny it and we deceive ourselves by refusing to face up to it, what happens is we delay our spiritual growth. There's a third thing that naturally follows this, and that is, if you'll turn to 1 Peter chapter 2, look at 1 Peter chapter 2 one more time.

Listen to what he says, because the third step in growing in our Christian walk is repentance of our sin, and listen how Peter places this. Therefore, verse 1, putting aside, that means to strip off of, putting aside all malice, that's wicked ill will. All guile, that's deliberate dishonesty. All hypocrisy, pretended piety and love. All envy, that is resentful discontent about our situation circumstances.

All slander, all backbiting and lies. He says, now, having put aside all these things as newborn babes, we are to grow by desiring the milk of the word. Repentance is not, well, Lord, I know that's not right. One of these days I'm going to deal with it. No, repentance says, God, it is a sin. I must deal with it, and so I make an about face and I head in the opposite direction. That is repentance.

That is a willingness to strip myself of anything and everything, even that hinders the walk. All right, the fourth thing is this, and that is receiving godly counsel. You see, everybody needs godly counsel.

I've seen some mighty good men and women and some mighty great men and women plunge to the depths because they were too proud to admit to somebody else, hey, I can't do it. All right, next, and that is reaching out to other people in service. You know, if you want to grow spiritually, you get to serving God.

Now, here's the reason why it happens. In order to serve the Lord, we must get involved in other people's lives. When you get involved in other people's lives, you run into all kinds of people.

Some of them, there's conflict. And what happens is we learn to be patient with each other. We learn to accept each other just the way we are. And in the process of learning that patience and acceptance and learning how the people operate and what's going on in their life, we learn to love them.

And what did Jesus say? By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have loved one toward another. Listen, in serving the living God, the only way to do that is to serve Him by serving other people. In the process of serving God by serving other people, what happens is that we gain so much of the benefit in return. God begins to teach us things.

We get stretched, for example. Let's say that some of you have to work with somebody in your vocation who really tries your patience. What happens? Well, week after week, you go to your work and you think, boy, if I could just get them out of this office. And what happens is you can't get them out. I mean, you know, and after a while, what happens? After a while, you say, hey, that's the way they are. And you stop being critical and you start seeing where they came from. They can't do any better.

They just lost as they can be. They're not going to think the way you think. And then all of a sudden, all of this begins to be reaching out, loving and accepting and forgiving, and to begin to draw that person to Christ. As a believer, as you and I reach out to serve other people, giving of ourselves, sending people by giving our money, whatever we are doing, God uses that to grow us up. He teaches us faith. He teaches us patience. He teaches us love. All of this is part of the growing process because every one of those qualities, the qualities that Jesus Christ exhibited while he was on earth. And you see, he says, God's goal is to shape us into the likeness of the Son of God. So he says, the fruit of the Spirit is love.

Is that overflowing in your life? Joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, humility, self-control, all of these, God is in the process of working. Where do we learn those the most? Is it not in our relationship to other people? So serving Him is a vital part of growing in the Lord. And then there is the reflecting upon God's working ways in the lives of other people. You see, when you and I reflect upon the Godly qualities and characters of other people, and we are willing to apply that to our life, that is one of the finest steps you and I can ever take in spiritual growth. As a young pastor, I read every biography I can read because I wanted to find out what made Charles Spurgeon what he was and Charles Finney.

Why did God use him the way he did? You see, you can't do your children any final favor than to just shove great biographies into their life, not just of preachers, but other people, Godly men and women. It's to put the biographies there because here's what that does. That gives them the opportunity of experiencing vicariously, listen to me now, second-handedly what these men and women suffered firsthand. And it brings the surface, it's like God puts a frame around those people and they begin to look at the qualities in their life and there's something about reading a person's life or watching a person's life over a period of time. And you see the consistency there and you begin to say, what makes her tick? What makes him tick?

How is he so consistent? That is, you begin to look into a person's life and if you can point that out to your children, it gives them a living visual, not to be like them, but to pluck those qualities out of that person's life. And friend, that helps that child take a very big leap spiritually in their walk very early in life.

Now all of us had enough bad examples, God knows we don't need any more of those. And I want to tell you parents, if you don't pick out the Godly examples and if you don't focus your children upon the Godly examples, there are enough so-called stars in the world who are ungodly, wicked, vile examples of everything Satan stands for and your child will be drawn to that if you don't say, son, look at the quality in that man's life. Reflecting upon the Godly qualities, the ways, the way God works and operates in a person's life. There are people that you know that you could say to your children, son, I want you to watch that man, there's something about him, I want you to watch his life. You don't copy them but here's what you do, you look into your life and think, ask yourself the question, God, how can you work that in my life? And you see, you've got to study that person and listen to them and watch them, you're around them. And when you do that, before you know what's happening, have a profound influence on your life.

So I want to ask you, the children who know you, what do they think about when they think about you? One of the most profitable ways to take giant leaps in your spiritual walk is reflecting upon the lives of Godly men and women. And then, let me give you one last one.

There are others but I just have to stop with this one. And that is, we grow in our spiritual walk by responding properly to test, trials, suffering. When we respond properly, not just respond but respond properly. Now, in 2 Corinthians chapter 12, look there for just a moment, you recall when Paul is giving his account of how the Lord God had given him this great revelation and now he was being buffeted by Satan. Listen to what he says, verse 7 of 2 Corinthians chapter 12, And because the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, to keep me from exalting myself.

Concerning this, I entreated, I pleaded with God, with the Lord, three times that it might depart from me. And he has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Paul said, Therefore, most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I have learned something. I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties for Christ's sake, for here's what I've learned.

When I am weak, then am I strong. When do you and I take our greatest leap forward in our spiritual walk? Is it when everything is going our way and we just sort of floating along and God's just blessing us and answering our prayers and everything is just sweet and rosy? No, that's not when you and I grow. You know, when you and I grow, all of a sudden we run into something. All of a sudden life tumbles in upon us. All of a sudden we don't have it together.

Everything starts unraveling at the seams and we can't put all the pieces back together and we can't control it. And we're driven to dependence upon God. Is that not the time when our faith grows the most because we have to be so dependent? When we don't understand what and why it's going on, one of the primary reasons that God allows suffering and trial and heartache and pain is to grow us up.

Now, we don't like it. Most of us say, Lord, if you'll give it to me in the book, just tell me what chapter I'll read it and everything will be all right. The truth is you and I have read it and read it and read it and read it and sometime we still don't grow. But it's through suffering that we grow the most.

Now, notice I didn't just say suffering. I said the right response, responding properly, responding the right way. How do you respond the right way?

So I want to give you the whole key to responding properly. You see it coming. Here comes the suffering. I mean, it's coming head on.

It's going to hit you broadside. Now, I can either focus on the thing that's causing me suffering. And if I focus on it, I'm going to be discontent. I'm probably going to look for somebody to blame. I'm going to ask God why doesn't He love me enough to get rid of this and why is He waiting so long?

A lot of things may run through my mind. Here is the key to responding properly to suffering and trial and pain and heartache. The key is that you do not focus on the source of the suffering. You focus on the God who's allowed it. And when you look at the source, you always see it. Listen, you always see it as that which God has allowed into your life in order to make you more like Him. So if you can, I can always look at suffering in a triangle. God, I know that you know where I am.

I know that you know what the cause of this is. I know that you're in absolute control and therefore if you are allowing this into my life, it must be because you want me to be more like you. And so instead of looking at something to blame and to accuse and run away from, I'm going to focus upon Him. Friend, if you can see the source of your pain and your suffering as from God, I may not understand why it's from Him. If I can see it as coming originally from Him, somehow when I look at it, it doesn't have the same effect as if I only see it, the pain versus myself. So if I view these things from the perspective of a triangle, knowing that God is at the pinnacle and is in control of both the painful origin and myself, my friend, God takes the sting and God takes the brutality out of all the suffering that comes into our life. One of the primary ways God has chosen to grow us up to make us strong is to put us in the fiery furnace, not to burn us up, but to consume the dross out of us so that there will be less, listen, there will be less and less in us to deflect and to hinder the glow of the countenance of Jesus Christ upon us.

So here's the ultimate question. Do you really want to grow in your spiritual walk? If you've listened to these seven points, you'll realize it takes time, it takes concentration, it takes getting into the Word, building relationships with other people, being willing to acknowledge that those periods of suffering could be from God as from God.

Listen, it doesn't make any difference who they come from. By the time they get to you, the only way they get through is God must open the door and let them in. And when they come in, they're then from God. And now I can see them as an avenue and an opportunity of growing in the Lord. The question is, do I want to grow? Am I willing to grow God's way? Am I willing to suffer if that's essential to growth? And my friend, if your answer is yes, this I can assure you that all the days of your life, you and I will be growing into more and more Christlikeness.

And here's what happens. Listen, the most intimate relationship in all the world is a man's relationship with his wife. That relationship, which involves spirit, soul, mind, and body. There is a relationship that is more powerful than that. There is a relationship that's more intimate than that. There's a relationship that has more power than that. There's a relationship that brings a greater sense of inner quietness and peace and joy, even than that. And that's where God has every one of us headed. And that is, His goal for us is that all the days of our life we would be growing more and more intimate in our understanding, in our submission, in our yielding, in our daily walk with Him, so that with that in mind He wants us to grow into oneness with Him. When I say that your intimate relationship with Him is more intimate than with your husband or your wife, you say, well, how can that be?

Here's the reason. Because God, our Heavenly Father, in His relationship penetrates the body, the soul, the mind, the emotions, and goes to the very heart of His Spirit, which is the presence of the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us. That's His goal. And so that your goal in mind in the Christian life, listen, is to be growing, growing in understanding, but growing in a warm, intimate relationship with Him. That's God's goal. And I want to say one last time, and I want you to listen very carefully.

God has already targeted everything in your life that would jam that relationship. Thank you for listening to part two of The Pathway to Spiritual Growth. For more inspirational messages like this, visit our online 24-7 station. And 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 / 2024-02-16 02:39:16 / 2024-02-16 02:47:11 / 8

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