Every child of God should desire to grow spiritually, as our key verse today tells us.
Let's continue to look at ways that we as Christians can grow in our faith and our relationship with our Lord in this new year.
7. Have lots of Christian fellowship! Our closest friendships should be with other Christians. Christian friendships help us
grow in faith in many ways: They provide accountability, and help to keep us from temptations that worldly friends may embrace. We gain strength from other believers
to live Godly lives and avoid pitfalls that can ensnare us. Visit your Christian friends' homes, and invite them into yours. Ask them to pray for you and your struggles,
and pray for them as well. Enjoy Christian activities and outings together. Christian fellowship was vital to the early church, and is vital to us as well.
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love
and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of
ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but
exhorting one another: and so much the more, as
you see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Two are better than one; because they have a good
reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift
up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he
falls; for he has not another to help him up. Again,
if two lie together, then they have heat: but how
can one be warm alone? And if one prevails against
him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord
is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
8. Separate yourself from wordly things that can hinder you. Remember we are called to be in the world, but not of it. Therefore, examine the things in your life that can be stumbling blocks to you and
hinder your Christian growth. What kind of movies do you watch? What books do you read? Is it possible you may need to do some house-cleaning, throwing out things that do not fit a Christian
lifestyle? What activities do you enjoy - do they involve things that may cause you or a Christian brother or sister to stumble?
Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in reveling and
drunkenness, not in debauchery and wantonness, not
in strife and envying. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts
thereof. (Romans 13:13-14)
If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by
him, as the truth is in Jesus: That you put off concerning the
former way of life the old man, which is corrupt according to
the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
And that you put on the new man, which after God is created
in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:21-24)
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.
If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in
him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the
Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:15-16)
9. Be a Christian who tithes. What do you spend your money on? One of the hardest things to do is
decide to give God a tithe of our money, but one of the greatest areas of Christian growth is learning to give back to God.
We always seem to think we cannot afford to tithe. Yet isn't it funny how we can almost always manage to find money for tickets to a
concert or sporting event? Please realize that all we have
is given to us by God, and giving is a privilege and a blessing, not a chore or a burden. Tithing is the one area where God tells us to test Him, and promises blesssings when we do!
As Christians, we cannot afford NOT to tithe!
Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you
say,How have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. You
are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed me, even this
whole nation. Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse,
that there may be food in my house, and test me now in
this, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the
windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there
shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:8-10)
10. Use your talents in service to the Lord. Every one of us has unique, God-given talents and abilities, and the church needs everyone's gifts to function fully as God intended.
God does not give us any talent. ability, or gift just for our own benefit, but that we may benefit the body of Christ as well. We are not supposed to just sit in a pew week after week, but
find our talents, develop our abilities, and use them to serve God by serving others.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of ministries, but the same
Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but it is the
same God who works all in all. But the manifestation
of the Spirit is given to every man for profit. For to one
is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another
the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another
faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing
by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles;
to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits;
to another various kinds of tongues; to another the
interpretation of tongues: But in all these works that
one and same Spirit, dividing to every man individually
as he will. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)
11. Exercise control over your emotions. Too many people allow their emotions to control their actions, and it seldom turns out well. Jealousy, anger, outbursts
of temper, selfishness, greed, and bitterness have destroyed many lives and many churches. These emotions should never be allowed to rule our lives. Self-control is part of the fruit of the Holy
Spirit, and every Christian can develop it. We can easily fall into sin when we allow strong feelings or emotions to guide us; such is not the way to wise, Godly choices. It has rightly been said, we will either
learn to control our emotions or they will control us!
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these;
Adultery, fornication, impurity, licentiousness, Idolatry,
witchcraft, hatred, strife, jealousy, wrath, selfishness,
divisions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness,
revellings, and such like: of which I tell you beforehand,
as I have also told you in time past, that they who do
such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, self-control:
against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:19-23)
12. Share the Gospel! The greatest work we can ever do is winning others to Jesus! This is the most satisfying and rewarding experience we will ever have as a
Christian! Your faith grows as you share the Gospel with others and answer their questions; you never realize how much you know until you begin teaching it to someone else.
It's not just a job for the preacher, or the Sunday School teacher, or someone else - we are ALL called to share the gospel and lead others to Christ. The Great Commission
instructs us all to share the gospel message and teach others:
And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, All power
is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore,
and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching
them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded
you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of
the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)
Learning these twelve things and putting them into practice in our daily lives will help us develop a stronger, more powerful faith in the coming year, faith that benefits us and glorifies God. Faith
that will carry us through the storms of life and give us the strength to rise above them.
Just reading them will do us no good at all, however, if we don't put them into practice. James tells us:
But be you doers of the word, and not hearers
only, deceiving your own selves. (James 1:22)
I pray that 2021 will be a great year for all of us! May we all grow in our faith and share the gospel, to bring others into the kingdom of God too! God bless you all!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!