Time to grow-up!
As for this sermon, it has, shall I say, given me much to think about and work toward. I’m still crawling along at a snail’s pace as far spiritual maturity goes. Even recently during the storms of winter, I’ve had to look in the mirror to see just how old I look – only to find out that my maturity level is not catching up with that mirrored image. You would think we would learn from our mistakes and immaturity. One would think that the little slips of the tongue would help us live with tongue in cheek. Sometimes the tongue behaves like it is still frozen from being at the dentist. When it is frozen you can bite your tongue right off and not even feel it. However, like in life, when the freezing comes out and the damage is done, it is hard to sew your tongue back on. Often times the hurt and damage is done and the dentist and care providers have left the building, leaving you to wipe up your own saliva. We have heard the sermons. We know how and what we are supposed to do as Christians. Speaking for myself, I always fall short. My human efforts are not enough. This morning I said something I should not have said. I made a judgement I should not have made. I realized this, too late. That being said, I believe the first step would be: getting on my face and praying, seeking God with all my heart, soul and mind. Knowing and behaving are two different things. There is a long distance from the head to the heart.
I just watched a video last night called “More than Dreams”. It was about five people at a crossroads in life – crying with all their heart for a deeper understanding of God. It is said that in every person’s heart there exists a void only God can fill. For these five Muslims their cry to God brought them new discovery and a relationship with Christ Jesus. The found the truth they were seeking to find. They discovered more than superstition… more than magic… more than ritual… more than religion… more than dreams… They discovered Jesus. Their lives were radically transformed. God can change their lives. He can change all of our lives. I couldn’t help but notice that within each person’s story, they had one thing in common. They each had a desperate desire for God and His truth. Desperate seeking of God, is the best place to start in our pursuit of Spiritual Maturity. Start on our knees before the God of the Universe. Allow His transforming power to work. He is the heart transformer. He can change a heart full of hatred, jealousy, anger, addiction, pain, judgment, depression into a heart of Christ-like love and Spiritual Maturity. When we receive Jesus in the truest sense – it is like being born again. Being changed to a new creation. God becomes the rudder of our ship. We will not go anywhere if don’t get on board, all the way. We can’t have one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat.
It struck me – a lightbulb moment as I watched that DVD. It occurred to me that I seem to want to protect certain areas of my heart; fill that void with other things or people, rather than give all my heart to the Lord to fill. No wonder I struggle with Spiritual maturity. After examining my own heart, I repented, prayed and ask Jesus to fill that area of my heart that I had not given over to him.
Maybe you have a void in your heart and you feel that desperation, but you don’t know what to do with it? Think about what Jesus did on the cross and ask Him to fill that void in your heart. This Friday we will remember what Christ did for each of us who call on the name of The Lord. On this Friday remember: It was after Jesus endured much persecution, rejection, suffering. It was about sixth hour (3 o’clock) in the afternoon when Jesus – God’s Son, the prophesied Messiah, gave up His Spirit to the Father God and finished the work of the cross. Through his shed blood and death on a cross, Jesus took our place. In doing this He became the bridge between us and God the Father bringing the redemption and forgiveness of sins for those who choose to believe, repent and follow him. We are not little children anymore. Skip the Easter eggs and chocolate. They won’t save you. Receive Jesus the Saviour and live for eternal life. He may be returning soon. I love you. Please don’t put it off. This is for real.
Sermon notes by Associate Pastor Colyn Rogers:
Christian…Time to grow-up!
Did you know that it is God’s will that every Christian become spiritually mature? It’s true!
God wants us all to grow to spiritual maturity. Paul scolds the Corinthian church for their lack of maturity. He treats them as if they are babes in Christ. Let’s look at a few scripture verses on the topic:
”I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the ﬂesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the ﬂesh and behaving only in a human way?”(1 Corinthians 3:2-3)
One of the biggest problems that we face today is that of spiritual maturity. We get ourselves into all kinds of problems by saying immature things, by acting in immature ways, by making immature decisions. Sometimes pride can elevate a person’s thinking to being a Superior Christian. This is a person that has elevated themselves above others; they haven’t matured beyond keeping up appearances. You will recognize these people as they have a superior arrogance about themselves. They would say things like, “I can’t help you, I’m a CHRISTIAN!!! That may be a harsh statement, but we probably all know at least one person who has veered away from the church or fellowship, saying I don’t want any part of that Holier than thou attitude. Many hurting people are just not seeing the love in the church!
We need to live as Christ, see as Christ and feel as Christ. We need to become spiritually mature. We need to grow up. We need to stop playing church, but instead be the church body God expects us to be.
Paul tells Corinthians to grow up! God wants them and all of us to grow up – because spiritual immaturity causes all kinds of problems. God’s will for your life is spiritual maturity. One of the purposes of this Fellowship is to help you grow to spiritual maturity. What is spiritual maturity? Let me start by telling you what it is not:
Spiritual maturity is not a matter of AGE. Spiritual maturity takes effort, energy and a whole lot of discipline…Turn of those distractions, TV, Radio or whatever it is that keeps you from connecting with the King of the Universe. No one becomes spiritually mature overnight. Even Jesus grew – as he grew up. Look at what the Bible says in Luke chapter two:
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)
One can get older and not grow to spiritual maturity. Some Christians refuse to grow up. I’ve seen 50 and 60 year old spiritual babies. Spiritual maturity involves much more than just aging.
Spiritual maturity is not a matter of APPEARANCE.
Some people look and sound spiritually mature. They know how to talk the talk – but the question is – do they know how to walk the walk? Some people look holy – they seem to have heaven hovering around them – but that may just be appearance and not reality. Appearances can be deceiving. Spiritual maturity is not a matter of what a person looks or sounds like on the outside.
Spiritual maturity is not a matter of ACHIEVEMENT.
You know you can be recognized by all kinds of organizations but that does not make you spiritually mature. You can have all kinds of degrees and diplomas hanging on your wall, but that is not spiritually mature either. Achievements are not a sure sign of spiritual maturity.
Spiritual maturity is a matter of ATTITUDE and CHARACTER.
Attitude and character make a difference. It’s attitude and character that count. D. L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark.” Recognition is what people say about you. Character is what God knows about you. God says it’s your attitude and your character that determines who you are. The book of James is manual on spiritual maturity. This morning we’re going to look at six things on spiritual maturity.
A spiritual mature person is positive under PRESSURE.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
All of us have problems – all of us have trials – all of us have situations that are not good. How do you handle them? How do you deal with things gone wrong? Do your problems blow you out of the water? Do you get up-tight? Do you grumble? Do you get negative or nervous, depressed? The ﬁrst test of spiritual maturity is – do you act positive under pressure? Remember the Bible says: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds”
Life is full of problems and a big part of life is – problem solving. The question to ask is, “Do I have the right attitude as I approach the problems of life?” Remember the Bible tells us to, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” You can know the Bible cover to cover – just don’t be rude and obnoxious when sharing. What is your attitude toward life? A spiritual mature person is positive under pressure. Think on that and if you are still not getting it, ponder it, verify it against the Word of God. A spiritual mature person is sensitive to the needs of OTHERS!
If you really obey the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” James 2:8 (ESV) A spiritually mature person is sensitive to the needs of those who are around them. A spiritually mature person doesn’t just see their own needs, they are also aware of the needs of others. They understand that there are many around them that are hurting and have needs. When children are young they say, “I want this or I want that. I don’t care about what you want – I want … I want … I want … and I should get my way.” (Some people are still children in their thinking.) Spiritually immaturity says, “It’s my way or the highway. I want it all – give it to me.”
God tells us that love – being concerned about other people – is a sign of spiritual maturity. James tells us not to show favouritism, don’t be a snob, don’t be rude, don’t ever, ever look down on other people, don’t judge by appearances and don’t insult people. Spiritual maturity is how I treat other people.
Paul implies – “I can build cathedrals, I can write theological articles, I can put out Christian CDs, I can give all my money to international missions work – but if I don’t have love – all I’m doing is tooting my own horn. It really doesn’t amount to much – in fact it is worth nothing.”
A spiritual mature person is master of his MOUTH.
“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” James 3:2 (ESV)
There’s a saying – ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’. Loose lips not only sink ships, they destroy lives.
As kids we would say “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” I guess we know differently now, names will and do hurt you, and your feelings. So what we say is very important. Some people tell me not to be so sensitive. That doesn’t always help. Some words can really tear you down. That is what James tells us. We should be very careful in what we say and if we can control what comes out of our mouths – we can control the whole body. I will repeat that – IF WE CAN CONTROL WHAT COMES OUT OF OUR MOUTHS – WE CAN CONTROL THE WHOLE BODY!
We get ourselves into much trouble by what we say. James gives us several illustrations of how much the tongue can get us in trouble. He says the tongue is like a rudder, a horse’s bit, a spark, a wild animal, and a spring. He says that when you put a small bit in a horse’s mouth – you can control the direction that the horse goes. A small rudder on a boat is designed to control the direction of a boat. Your tongue is small – but it has a huge impact on your life. What you say can destroy your life. You can use your mouth for words of encouragement – or you can use your mouth to spread words of discouragement.
The tongue is small but mighty.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I just say what’s on my mind”? As if they are proud of it. But what if there mind is in the gutter. What if there is not very much in their mind or on their mind? What if what they’re thinking is mean and nasty? It is better to say nothing than to say something stupid, rude or crude.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as ﬁts the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
Each word you speak should be uplifting to someone else. If it doesn’t build someone else up – don’t say it – even if it’s true – don’t say it. That’s a sign of maturity. You are learning to manage your mouth.
A spiritual mature person is a peacemaker not a troublemaker.
“What causes quarrels and what causes ﬁghts among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” James 4:1 (ESV)
The Message commentary interprets it this way:
“Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way and ﬁght for it deep inside yourselves.” James 4:1 (MSG)
James is talking about conﬂicts and quarrels. He says that we fuss, ﬁght, and fume because of our own inner desires. You want something and you don’t get it – so you get mad instead. When you get mad you take it out on others. You kill and covet but you still don’t get what you want.
The real questions to ask here are: ‘Am I a peacemaker or am I a troublemaker? Do I like to argue? Do I like to debate? Do I like to stir up trouble? Do I intentionally hurt other people’s feelings? Am I a peacemaker or am I a troublemaker?’ The sign of a spiritually mature person is the lack of conﬂict in their life.
A spiritual mature person is PATIENT.
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:7-8 (ESV)
Patience is another sign of spiritual maturity. The word ‘patient’ is used three times in these two verses – that tells me that being patient is important. Being patient is an excellent character trait.
James gives an illustration of a farmer who plants his ﬁelds and now has to wait for the harvest. If there is anyone who has patience, it’s a farmer. He plants the seed, he cultivates, he sprays, he hopes, he expects… he waits. There are no overnight crops. Just like a farmer – sometimes we have to wait. We wait on God to answer our prayers. We wait for a miracle. We wait for God to move in our lives. We wait. Patience is a sign of maturity. The only way to learn patience is by waiting. Many times God says, “Not yet.” That does not mean no – it means not yet. We need to wait. We need to be patient.
A spiritual mature person is PRAYERFUL.
“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16
Prayer is talking to God. It is bringing Him your requests. It is praising Him. When we pray we acknowledge that He has control in our lives. James uses the story of Elijah to show us that there is – Power in Prayer. Elijah prayed that it would not rain and God stopped the rain for three years. Elijah prayed again and the heavens opened up. Elijah did not manipulate God – but he acknowledged Him and believed that God controlled the elements of nature.
How do you handle your problems?
- Are you positive under pressure? Are you sensitive to the needs of others around you? Are you mastering your mouth – keeping control of what you say?
- Are you a peacemaker rather than a troublemaker? Are you patient and are you prayerful?
These are all signs of a spiritually mature Christian. Commit yourself today – to grow into maturity as a Christian.
Ok, I’m done. Let’s pack up our Bibles, put away our crossword puzzles and texting devices. I’m going to pray, speak with the King of Kings,
Inspired by – Sermon by: Associate Pastor Colyn Rogers
Hope For Today Fellowship – http://www.hopefortoday.ca