4 Passages to Spark Your Spiritual Growth

Arrested development isn’t an option for followers of Christ. We have a sacred responsibility to mature continuously in our faith, to become more Christlike, to grow more attuned to God’s will. Maintaining a spiritual status quo does no one any good. The Lord urges us to dive deeply into Scripture so that we can become the disciples He intends us to be.

Here are four passages that will inspire you to grow in Christ or give you an accurate assessment of your spiritual maturity.

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

Chronological age has little to do with spiritual maturity. Paul urges his young protégé Timothy to embrace the role of leadership that had presented itself. Instead of looking to others for guidance, Paul encourages Timothy to blaze his own spiritual trail, using what he had learned from the godly examples of his mother and grandmother, from the mentoring he received from Paul, from his understanding of Scripture, and from the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

That same opportunity is available to you, regardless of your age. The more you understand about what it means to be a disciple and live for Christ, the more powerfully you can influence other people’s lives. You can serve as an example to other believers in the things you say and don’t say, the way you conduct your personal and public business, the love you show to friends and enemies alike, the spirit of joy you allow to shine through you regardless of circumstances, the strength of your faith in Christ, and the priority you place on purity.

 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

One of the best ways to gauge your spiritual growth is to look at yourself from the perspective of people who dislike you. Can they see Christ in you? Can they spot the difference He’s made in your life? Can they get a sense of God’s love from the way you treat them? If the answer is no, it’s time to reassess your discipleship and figure out what is preventing the love of Christ from flowing freely through you to others.

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3–4).

Spiritual growth sharpens your vision. It allows you to see the opportunities that are hidden in the tribulations, challenges, and suffering you face. Without that sharpened vision, you may be tempted to feel discouraged, frustrated, or even defeated by trying circumstances. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul reveals the positive impact that tribulations can have if you approach them with the right spirit.

Every time you endure a tribulation by turning to God and His Word, not only do you grow spiritually, but you also build a deeper understanding of perseverance. Perseverance gives you confidence when facing your next tribulation. It also builds character within you. You start to think of yourself as someone who can withstand tribulation with God’s help. Once you establish a godly character, you can carry a sense of hope into any situation.

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9–10).

You’re not the only person who has a vested interest in your spiritual growth. Think of the person (or persons) who led you to Christ. Think of your family members and friends who pray for you every day, as Paul prayed for the Colossian believers. Think of the people in your church—your fellow members in the body of Christ—who need you to pull your weight as you accomplish God’s work together.

These people aren’t just rooting for your spiritual growth; they’re also drawing strength from it. They’re eyewitnesses to the Lord’s maturing work in you. They’re finding new reasons to praise and glorify God because of you. Those who are struggling may take hope and inspiration from your spiritual growth. The final takeaway, then, is that your spiritual growth is important for reasons that extend far beyond yourself.

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How to Worship

TABLETALK SPROUL

John 4:1–45 “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (v. 24).

Worship is perhaps the most comprehensive of all the means of grace our Father has given to us. When we come together to praise our sovereign Lord, we have the privilege of engaging in Bible study by hearing the preached Word of God, praying as a corporate body, exercising stewardship as we give our tithes and offerings, and meeting with Christ as we partake in the sacraments.

Regrettably, too many churches today have forgotten the awesome privilege and sacred duty of worship, preferring to create “seeker-friendly” services that often cater more to our culture and its love of entertainment than to the adoration of our Creator. In the “seeker-sensitive” model, worship has become a means to attract the unchurched through the means of marketing with little regard as to whether such a model is proper for worshiping God. Yet Scripture is clear that the Lord does not view worship as something indifferent or subject to the fanciful whims of sinful men. God is the one who determines proper worship (Lev. 10:1–3). Our fallenness makes us all prone to idolatry (Rom. 1:18–32), and none of us is above disobeying His commands against worshiping other gods and crafting false images of Him (Ex. 20:3–6). Most of us do not construct deities of wood and stone; our idolatry is much more sophisticated. We tend to make increasing the size of the congregation our chief priority. We like to proclaim to the world how “hip” and “with it” we Christians really are. We love to deny those attributes of God that make us uncomfortable.

Today’s passage tells us that our Father desires those who will worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Worship in truth means worship that is structured according to His Word. We must praise the Lord revealed in Scripture, who is the embodiment of holiness and justice as well as love and mercy. The whole counsel of God must guide our worship of Him.

Worshiping the Lord in spirit means that we praise God with our whole being, taking delight in the opportunity to praise His name. Spending time preparing ourselves before we come to church will help us “enter his gates with thanksgiving” in our hearts and into “his courts with praise” (Ps. 100:4).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Do you find Sunday morning worship to be a delight or dull and dreary? Do you spend the service thinking about all the things you could be doing if you were not at church? Take time today to repent for those times you have not devoted proper attention to the Lord in worship. Remember that He is truly present among us when we gather together (Matt. 18:20) and let that be a compelling motivation to delight in Him in the presence of His people.

For further study:

Exodus 32

The Bible in a year:

Leviticus 17

REFUSING TO COMPROMISE

STANDING STRONG TROUGHT THE STORM

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28

When do you compromise and when do you refuse to? On the one hand, Jesus instructed us to make friends with our enemy before any court case can develop; and on the other, he teaches us to be true to the principles of the kingdom of God.

The history of Christian persecution is filled with inspiring stories featuring people of principle—those individuals who are immortalized for refusing to compromise their beliefs. John Bunyan was one of those.

In 1660, England’s experiment as a republic came to an abrupt end with the return to monarchist rule under Charles II. With this change, religious freedom also ended and Anglicanism was once again designated as the official state religion. It became illegal to conduct church services outside of the Church of England and unlicensed individuals were forbidden from addressing a religious gathering.

With these new laws, John Bunyan was arrested for preaching without a license. His growing popularity, though, prompted the judge to seek some sort of a compromise. Promising Bunyan immediate release if he only promised not to preach again, the judge’s leniency was met with the reply, “If you release me today, I shall preach tomorrow!”

Three times in his life Bunyan was arrested, convicted and jailed for preaching without a license. In the end, he spent over twelve years in prison. At any time during those years he could have secured his freedom by simply promising not to preach. But Bunyan knew God’s calling on his life and so he adamantly refused to compromise his convictions.

Those prison years were certainly not wasted. It was during this time that Bunyan wrote the book Pilgrim’s Progress. Its immediate success and ongoing popularity has made it a Christian classic, the second most read book in English literature next to the Bible.

Today Christians around the world still languish in prison because they will not compromise their faith and give in to government suggestions for release. Christians in Laos are accused of following an “American” religion and would be released from prison and left in peace if they would sign a document recanting their commitment to Christ. Most refuse.

Christians in “shipping container” prisons in Eritrea would be released if they also signed such a document but prefer to suffer indefinitely for the cause of Christ than deny Him.

Compromise is not always bad, but when it comes to issues of faith, we are expected to stand for Christ and His kingdom principles.

RESPONSE: Today I will stand strong and true to my convictions and faith in Jesus and His kingdom principles.

PRAYER: Pray for those Christians in prison today mentioned above, that they will not give in to Satan’s temptations to deny their faith.