Testing Positive for Growth
Dr. Charles Stanley
When it comes to spiritual maturity, we can’t simply take for granted that we’re growing. To evaluate personal progress, I’ve compiled a brief inventory of spiritual benchmarks. Check the list for an idea of how you’re doing. But remember, these items are just a place to start; see the Bible for a complete growth chart!
We know we’re growing spiritually when we become increasingly aware of our sinfulness and weakness. As I read biographies of godly saints, it’s clear that they don’t “get better” with age and spiritual maturity. Instead, they become ever more sensitive to their dependence upon the Lord. Moreover, progress is apparent when we respond to sin with quick repentance.Failure to deal with sin is rebellion against God. Growing believers turn away from wrongdoing and embrace righteousness. As we live with the good results of dependence and repentance, our desire to obey intensifies, and the attraction of sin lessens.
Growth is also marked by an increase in two things—joy and struggle. Faith is often developed through hardship because living out the principles of trust and endurance help us “get it.” So we’ll see maturity in our relationship with God when we view trials and temptations as opportunities for growth.
Paul, David, and Daniel prove that adversity can help form spiritual giants. These men recognized sovereign God as the gatekeeper of their lives. We are maturing when we perceive whatever comes our way as
being from Him, which also means that He’s working it for good (Rom. 8:28).
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit http://www.intouch.org/.
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman
"But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:18-19).
I was in another country and had just completed a teaching on how spiritual strongholds (2 Cor 10:4) can hinder us from fulfilling our destinies. A woman approached me at the end of the meeting and asked me if I could join her and her friend for lunch so that she could learn more. I just happened to be available, so I agree to join them. I noticed the woman was slightly overweight and exhibited extremely high energy and was aggressive.
Before she began asking me questions I asked her to tell me about her relationship she had with her father. "Why in the world would you ask me such a question? What does that have to do with spiritual strongholds?" I pressed her for the answer to my question.
"I have an awful relationship with my father. He says I'm fat and that I'll never amount to anything." I responded gently to her statement: "Jennifer, you have a generational stronghold of rejection. You try to mask it by trying to be successful in business. Your aggressive nature is rooted in a fear of failure because you've lived your whole life trying to win the approval of your father through performance. I want you to know you are totally loved and accepted by your Heavenly Father. You can stop trying to win his favor."
Immediately, she began to weep in the middle of the restaurant. Her friend was intrigued by what was I was saying. "No one has ever told me this but what you say is true." We prayed for God to destroy the stronghold of fear and rejection in her life through the blood of Jesus Christ.
She walked out of the restaurant that day with a new sense of love and acceptance.
God I pray that you take me out of my comfort zone. I pray that you break my heart to pieces for the poor and needy so that I will be driven beyond belief to look after them like you would. Father, forgive me for being so self centered. Forgive me for being all about me, myself and I. Forgive me for my sometimes stupid, ridiculous, religious opinions about absolute rubbish while people that you love and cherish suffer due to my inaction and selfish, consumer attitude. God forgive me and set me free from mammon and raise me up into a person of compassion and love like you are. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.
If Jesus returned today, would you be among those
who welcomed him or among those who
dread his coming?
Reconsider your priorties and stand
ready to go at a moment notice.
Exploration: Ready for Jesus Christ's Return --
Matthew 24:1-25; Luke 21:5-36; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.