Are you growing as a Christian? Are you reading the Bible and learning more about it? Are you growing in Christian character? If you aren’t growing, you should be. The Bible tells us that our Lord grew. In Luke 2:52, the Bible says, “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.”
Now, someone may say, “Well of course Jesus grew! He was God!”
And yes, you are right.. He was God so it was expected He would grow. And He provides an example for every Christian that we too, should grow.
We should grow in wisdom. Wisdom enables us to be more discerning… it enables us to make better decisions…
We should grow in stature… that means physically. Are you an active person? Getting some exercise? Exercise is good for us. It can clear your mind and gives you energy.
We should grow in favor with God and all people. This refers to growing socially. Do you have good relationships with others? Do you have a few close friends?
Jesus was a well-rounded child… He grew in every aspect of life and we should do the same.
There is an old story told about a man who had been with a company for thirty years. An opportunity for advancement came open and he applied but a younger employee got the job instead. He was angry!
He went to talk with the supervisor and said, “That’s wrong! I have thirty years of experience with this company!” The supervisor said, “No you don’t. You have three years of experience ten times over.”
What he meant was, the man had stopped growing years ago. He wasn’t learning more about his job. He wasn’t becoming a better employee.
How long have you been a Christian? If more than a few months, then you have had plenty of time to read the Bible and learn more. Is your Bible knowledge limited? If so, that means you should study the Bible more.
So, maybe you haven’t grown like you should. Ok, you can fix that. Develop a plan to grow and start today! Grow in every aspect of life like Jesus did!
Years ago, I was Pastor of a small church in Mississippi. I started a Masterlife discipleship group. On the first night, an elderly man came in who was the men’s Sunday School teacher (we didn’t have but one men’s class). He was very well respected by the other men in the class as knowing His Bible.
I was surprised to see him. I said, “Mr. Ralph, I’m surprised to see you.”
He replied, “Well, you’re never too old to learn.”
You aren’t. So, get started today!
There is an old saying that “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” There are times when bad things have happened… at times, evil things… because good men have said nothing. But, there are also times when good men have spoken up and good things have happened. There is an example of this in the book of Numbers.
In Numbers 25 the people of Israel began to have sex with the Midianite women.
God became angry and told Moses He was going to punish Israel. So, let’s get the picture… Israel is about to be punished for having sex with Midianite women. So obviously, everyone needs to stay away from Midianite women, right?
Well, one guy evidently didn’t get the memo because one man got with a Midianite women and he was with her in full sight of Moses and the congregation of Israel. Seeing this, Phinehas, the son of Eleazer, the son of Aaron the priest, saw this and he got up, got a spear and went to this man’s tent and drove the spear through the man and the woman. When he did this, the plague was checked.
This guy was willing to take a stand. Other people saw the same thing he did but they did nothing. This man was moved… he was probably angry and took a spear and killed the man.
It can be a difficult thing for someone to speak up but, there are times when it must be done. Does it mean putting your job at risk? At times it does.
Does it mean possibly losing friends? At times it does.
But, it still must be done. Would you want a job that is contingent on you keeping your mouth shut even though you know something bad is going on? Would you want friends that are friends only if you agree with them? No, you wouldn’t.
Maybe God is calling you to speak up but you haven’t done it. You have reasoned that you don’t want to rock the boat, so to speak, so, you have kept your mouth shut.
There are times when we must speak. Again, there are times when the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do noting.
Martin Niemoller, a prominent Protestant Pastor once said of the Holocaust;
“They came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a socialist.
They came for the Trade Unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist.
They came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up for me.”
Today, maybe God is calling you to speak up.
Moving to a new town or going to a new school or church can be a little awkward. You don’t anyone so everyone is a stranger. When you are in this position, it sure helps if someone introduces themselves and makes you feel welcome.
That’s what Barnabas did for Saul. After Saul’s conversion he went to Jerusalem to meet the leaders of the church. Everyone was a little apprehensive about Saul because of his background.
But the Bible says, “Barnabas took hold of him.” Barnabas saw that others were apprehensive. Perhaps the tension was thick in the room. But underneath the tension, there was one man with a heart of encouragement and that was Barnabas. He stepped up when no one else would and welcomed Saul.
This wasn’t the only time Barnabas encouraged. In Acts 15, Barnabas and Saul are preparing to go on their second missionary journey. John Mark had gone with them on their first trip but, he bailed out on them.
Maybe Barnabas had been talking with John Mark and he felt John Mark was really repentant for what he had done. Barnabas, true to his nature, wanted to give Mark a second chance. But Paul would have none of it. He wouldn’t let Mark go with them. So Barnabas and Paul split. All because Barnabas felt so strongly about lifting someone (John Mark) who had made a mistake.
Sometimes, being a Barnabas means risking our friends. Someone may question you; “What you are doing standing with that person?” Or, “why are you giving them a second chance? They have already messed you over once.”
Being a Barnabas can mean taking some risky steps… to pick up someone with a questionable reputation. Today, someone you know needs a hand. Someone you know needs a phone call. Someone who has slipped needs someone to help them up. Be that person today. Be a Barnabas to someone today.
Faith is at the heart of the Christian life. To be forgiven of our sins, Paul said, “For by grace you are saved through faith…”(Ephesians 2). Hebrews 12:1 says we must live by faith… “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”
We find an example of faith in Numbers 21.
Moses decided to change the route Israel was taking and the people began to complain. They asked, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in this wilderness?” Then the said, “..There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this terrible manna.”
Well, the Lord became angry with Israel and He sent poisonous snakes among the people and many of the people were bitten and died. The people cried out to Moses and Moses prayed to God. God told Moses to make a replica of a snake and put it on a pole. Then, the Israelites were told to look at the bronze snake and they would live.
What was it about looking at the bronze snake that saved the people? It was a look of faith. In John 3:14-15 Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”
So, Israel was told to look in faith at the brass snake and they would be healed. Man is spiritually healed by faith today. If man looks to Jesus, He can be forgiven of His sins.
Maybe you know these scriptures and you believe them but, you struggle with faith. You aren’t alone; the disciples struggled as well. On one occasion they told the Lord, “we do believe; help our unbelief.”
Maybe you have tried to find happiness or healing in other things. Maybe through travel or leisure. There is nothing wrong with those but, they won’t save you.
The people of Israel were healed by looking at the bronze snake. We are healed by looking to and receiving Jesus as our Savior.
In the book of Deuteronomy, the last chapter, Moses goes up on a mountain where God shows him the promised land. Moses has been leading the people of Israel for years and the goal has been to get into the Promised land. Now, they are almost there. From the top of the mountain, Moses looks. Maybe his eyes filled with tears of joy as he saw the beautiful land Israel was getting.
But Moses wasn’t going. That’s right; Moses, the great leader of Israel would not cross over into the land. Why? Moses’ was being punished for not believing that God could bring water from a rock. Back in the book of Numbers, there was a time when Israel came to a place called “Meribah.” God instructed Moses to strike the rock and water would come out. But the Bible says Moses struck the rock twice. God knew Moses’ heart and evidently Moses didn’t believe the rock would actually produce water. So, Moses was being punished.
It is sad to me that this great leader, who had put up with grumbling and complaining for years would not get into the Promised land. But, that’s what happened. Moses looked at the Promised Land but didn’t enter in.
This is a reminder to us to take God at His word. The truth is, we may have been just like Moses. I mean… come on… God says strike a rock… we are all human… we may have very well struck the rock thinking, “Ok, I will get this over with… I KNOW there is no water in this rock..” But there was.
Maybe God has told you to do something and you are struggling to believe God. Maybe God is encouraging you to tithe but… you question how you will pay your bills. Maybe you have been asked to give above and beyond the tithe to some special project but again, you are struggling to believe.
If we aren’t careful, we can make the same mistake as Moses and fail to believe. If God says there is water in a rock… there is water there. We simply must believe.
Although this world and the people of this world seem to be alive, the Bible says that those without Christ are spiritually dead. The Bible refers to the world with the word “darkness.” So, the world is dead and dark spiritually.
On the other hand, Christians and the things of God are referred to as “light.” So, we live in a world of darkness and light. And, it is our responsibility as Christians, to take the light into the darkness.
In the book of Numbers, there was a time when God became angry with the people of Israel. God told Moses and Aaron to get away from the people because they were about to be destroyed. But instead, Moses told Aaron to go out among the people and purify them. The Bible says, Aaron, “He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped” (Numbers 16:48).
Aaron stood “between the living and the dead.” I like that. And that’s exactly what we as Christians are called to do… we are to stand in this world, between the living and the dead.
How do we do it?
We do it by standing on God’s word.
We do it by reaching out in love to a lost and confused world.
We do it by loving like Jesus and helping and caring like Jesus.
Maybe you are in a work environment that is tough. Maybe you want to leave. You want another job. God may have called you there to stand between the living and the dead.
Maybe you are questioning if the church and the gospel are having much impact today? Maybe you are questioning if you are doing much good in your volunteer capacity in church. God has called us to stand between the living and the dead.
C.T. Studd once said, “Some want to live within sound of church or chapel bell. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”
Aaron took a stand between the living and the dead. That is exactly what God has called us to do as well.
Do you know someone who is hurting? Someone who is struggling? Someone who needs a little help or encouragement? Someone who needs help in carrying their cross?
In Mark 15, Jesus has been tried and flogged and sentenced to death by crucifixion. Now, in His weakened condition, He is forced to carry His cross up Golgotha’s hill. Along the way, Simon of Cyrene, a bystander in the crowd, was told to carry Jesus’ cross.
Maybe there is someone who needs you to carry their cross? Maybe you know someone who is going through a tough time. They need help. They need encouragement. Maybe God wants you to help them… to carry their cross.
Carrying their cross may mean buying them a meal or paying for their groceries or doing some repair work for them. Maybe it means just being their friend.
As far as we know, Simon had never met Jesus previously. But he was standing along the way where Jesus was carrying His cross and just happened to be in a spot where a Roman solider saw him and he was told to carry Jesus cross.
The same may be true of us. Maybe God causes our lives to cross paths with someone who needs help. Someone who needs encouragement.
Today and in the days ahead… be sensitive to the needs of people around you. Someone may need you to help them carry their cross.