John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that you may have life and have it abundantly”.
Some quotes I came across….. “It’s one thing to grow old, it’s another thing to grow up! The trick is to grow up before you grow old”…. “Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be.” ”My age doesn’t bother me, it’s the side effects that do”…. “Old age is not partial, I turn my neck, I move my arms, I move my back and they all make the same noise. Maybe I’m not old, I’m just crispy”….
Ephesians 4:14 “We will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming. v15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow up in all things into Christ Himself, who is the head”. God intends for His children to never stop growing, developing and expanding in their God given kingdom rights and privileges!!! …
Paul in his writings, describes Christians as being one of 3 different levels, he called them Baby Christians, Carnal Christians, and Spiritual Christians…as a way to describe those who are saved, but have decided because of different influences and issues, that they would not continue to grow and develop in the things which the bible says we can be and that we can do in Christ….
Listen to what Paul says in 1Corinthians 3:12 “Now if any man build (oy-kod-om-ay'o) upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble v13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it…”?
The Greek word Oy-kod-om-ay’o or build, is in the Progressive Tense, which implies an ongoing process. Paul could say, if anyone builds and keeps on building… because once the foundation is laid, the building process starts and it never ends. With the believers at Corinth, the foundation had been laid, but they stopped building upon it! (tell someone, “relax, you’re not finished yet, just keep on building”)….
It was time for Corinth to pick up the hammer of truth and get back to building! There is more building to be done! There is more lumber to lay, line upon line and precept upon precept! There are more nails to nail by the power of agreement! This is no time to let up in building! In your devotional time, you are building! In your prayer time, you are building! In your church and bible study attendance, you are building! In witnessing to others, you are building! In your worship time, you are building!
It’s like our highway and road system, which allows us mobility, connectivity and ease of travel….it allows us to better explore and discover our great country from the mountains to the prairies, from the fruited plains to the oceans white with foam….. The building and expansion process never stops, and if it ever did, think of the problems it would cause. The congestion would be unbelievable and delays would be constant! We have to continue building and expanding our highway systems to accommodate present and future growth and needs. Paul is saying the same is true in our spiritual growth, what is OK now, will not be sufficient for the place you will be operating in at a future time. We will live withtomorrow, what we are building now…..we will be tomorrow, what we are building now!!!
Some folks listen to the sermon with a rake, and they receive the word as personal and applicable. Some folks listen with a shovel and shovel it over to all the folks around them…
A certain pastor was preaching on stewardship and he said “Malachi 3:10 tells us that tithing rebukes the destroyer from your life, if you’re a member of this church and you don’t tithe, Satan is eating your lunch”… He noticed that one man in front just smiled real big, even though he never tithed. The Pastor said, “The bible tells us that if you’re winning souls you are wise. If you’re a member of this church and you’re not winning souls, the bible says you are a foolish person. The man on the front, just smiled real big, and the pastor knew that he had never won a soul to Christ. The pastor said, “Scripture tells us to not forsake the assembling together with those of like faith, if you’re a member of this churchand you don’t attend every Sunday you can, you’re in a backslidden condition”… The man in the front just smiled even bigger, and he hardly ever attended. After the service, the pastor shook the man’s hand and greeted him. The pastor asked him why he was smiling so big, while he was preaching. He said, cause I’m just happy that I’m not a member of this church…
Doctor Martin Seligman, professor of Psychology at Penn State University, and the "father" of the Positive Psychology movement, has an equation for happiness, which he calls your "set range" – or your "biological" capacity for happiness. He says that happiness results from some key factors, which he calls “The Authentic Happiness Principles”.... and the conclusion is, that these are completely under our voluntary control and ability to change at any time…
George Eliot said it well, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
So, Dr. Seligman tells us First, to let go of the false belief that your past negative experiences, which were beyond your control, have to determine your present and future… these are things that were decided without your participation in the decision, such as the place you were born, your nationality, your color or race, the family you were born into, the social, economic, or religious environment you were born into….as well as your height or condition of health when you were born. These are all beyond our control and we had no part in deciding them…
We need to stay clear of the cycle of “destination addiction”…the preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job or with the next partner. If you don’t give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are right now!
Second, Increase your gratitude about the good things in your past…. How you see it is how you will experience it, over, and over, and over….We all encounter some people, who were not so pleasant, and had a negative effect on us, as well as some great folks, who were encouraging and uplifting, and the time will come, when we are able to see the bigger picture, that we will thank them both for their invaluable contribution to our Character, our value system and the strength and purpose they gave to our lives.
Learn to dance in the rain, and come to the place where you are able to say that what’s ahead is far, far better than everything we leave behind.
Third, learn the difference between pleasures and identity investments Pleasures are sensory experiences with a strong emotional component, but which don't require a lot of thinking or planning on our part. By contrast, identity investments come from applying your unique strengths, skills and virtues and have a longer lasting quality to them. Therefore, we need to spend more energy creating fulfilling, investment experiences, that will last beyond the moment. You’ve spent your entire life getting to the place you are now, why not be happy about getting here, and not filled with regret and loathing as if you got here by some huge cosmic mistake!!! When you’re building a life, you understand how each ingredient is part of the final outcome!
No one said life would be easy, but it can certainly be worth the effort!!!
Fourth, discover and uncover your natural strengths---what Seligman calls "signature strengths." We all have our own "top 4 or 5" signature strengths. The key is to learn what they are and do everything we can to express them, in all the areas of our lives! When we operate from our strengths, we discover that they indicate to us our calling, and direction in life….they become part of our mission statement and affect everything we do. Here’s a list of 24 “signature strengths” which should be considered in all of our long term decisions in life…they are your values in action motivations, and they are the difference between living a good and meaningful life instead of just surviving and making it through life…..
These 24 signature strengths are grouped in 6 areas of our life values…
1. Wisdom and Knowledge, are about creativity, curiosity, proper application of truth, love of learning, and healthy perspective…
2. Courage, is about bravery, perseverance, honesty, and willingness to fight for the under dog.
3. Human goodness, is about love, kindness, and social awareness and intelligence
4. Justice, is about teamwork, fairness, and concern for a good, just and equitable outcome…
5. Temperance, is about forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-regulation
6. Transcendence, is about (the ability to rise above and look down upon your circumstances and situations) these include appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, and spirituality…
You can go on the internet and take Doctor Martin Seligman’s“Values in Action Assessment” and get a personal evaluation and complimentary debriefing of your individual strengths and how they affect your choices in life. That’s “Values in Action Assessment” (type it in your browser) Having said this…. It is basically about being your best self, because everyone else is already taken!!!
1Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding (per-is-sos'…. exceeding, over and above, beyond your current measure) in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord”.
We can’t afford to ever stop growing in the Lord. Someone said that if you’re still fighting the same battles you were fighting a year ago, it’s time to get a new battle!!! (you’ve stopped growing)
Fighting the same battles too long means you’re stuck….you’re in a rut…that’s a groove that goes nowhere!!!!
Bob was sick of his job and was determined to find work elsewhere. But no matter how hard he tried, his reputation as someone who was not dedicated to the job, who was always late, and who had sloppy work habits, just seemed to follow him around like a shadow.
One day the phone rang at his office. Although Bob did not usually pick up the phone, he picked it up and said hello. “Hi” said the man on the line, “I have an unusual question to ask you, I’m looking into a fellow named Bob Smith for a position in my company. Do you know this fellow?”
“Sure I know him”, answered Bob with a smile. “Could you tell me,” asked the man. “Is he consistent with his work? Does he always show up on time?” Well, Bob, had a problem being late and he was inconsistent…but he didn’t lie!
“Well I’ll be honest with you” Bob truthfully replied, “I’m not so consistent myself, but whenever I’m here he’s always here!”
1Corinthians 3:9 &16 Paul refers to believers as God’s field, God’s building and God’s temple.
The purpose of a cultivated field, is for producing a harvest. As a farmer plants his crop each year it increases with each harvest, so that each year he is able to plant more because of the multiplication of the seed which he gets in return. We are likened to a field where God intends to produce a harvest. That happens by planting and watering, planting and watering, planting and watering.
The seed we plant is the word, and the water is prayer....
I grew up on a farm, and there’s one thing I know and that is this…. Just standing out in a field and watering it, where no seed has been sown, is not the way to produce a harvest. We need seed sowers and those who water the seed…It takes both planting the seed and watering the field!
If we’re going to have a harvest, we need to make sure that our field is not overrun with weeds. Weeds stifle, crowd out and choke the good plants which we need to grow! So diligence is required if our field is to be weed free! Weeding is hard work but the results are well worth it…
Pruning and weeding are a very similar processes. They both are about removing things that prevent growth and increase. The difference is that pruning focuses on the plant itself and weeding focuses on the stuff around the plant. It’s much the same in our lives of faith. Pruning focuses internally. Weeding focuses externally.
What are the weeds in the life of faith? Jesus names some when He says that the cares of life, riches and the pleasures of life can prevent God’s word from being fruitful in our lives. Weeds are things that capture our attention and get us so focused on the cares of the world, the stuff our money can buy us, and things that give us fleeting happiness that we fill up our lives with that, and tune God out so that we don’t give Him, his rightful place. What are the things in our own individual lives that take time, energy and resources away from us and prevent us from connecting more deeply with God? There are some people in our lives that can be like weeds. They can suck the spiritual life right out of you, if you let them. Their attitudes, opinions, and values, can be a negative influence and drain your spiritual passion. Anyone can grow weeds, but it takes discernment, skill, and dedication to grow a good profitable crop….
Paul also says that we are God’s Building. A strong, solid building, starts with a good foundation. The only foundation with real security, strength and staying power is the foundation of Jesus Christ. We also need to have the right framing and superstructure and Paul talks about building with gold, silver and precious stones or with wood, hay and straw. When you build with gold, silver and precious stones, you will have something that stands the tests of time and the assaults of the enemy. Are we investing our lives in things that are durable and permanent, or things that are perishable and temporary. Are you building on the right foundation? Are you building a good superstructure and proper framing? Are you building with the right materials and values? Recently on the news they reported that a wedding reception was being held on a large second floor deck area, and it collapsed killing many people underneath and injuring many others….The builder is being tried for involuntary manslaughter, because it was found that he built with inferior materials which were not up to code…….Others are depending on us to build our lives with the best materials available, because it’s not just about us!
Paul also tells us that we are God’s Temple.
1 Corinthians 3:17 “For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” When Israel was in the wilderness, the tabernacle was identified with the glory, and the glory was identified with the tabernacle. When the glory moved, the tabernacle moved….and all could behold the glory resting upon it! Once they built the temple, the glory was stationary and residential. That should tell us that we can have the abiding glory of God. What’s so incredible is that Haggai 2:9 says that “The glory of the latter house (that’s us) shall be greater than of the former, says the LORD of hosts…”
When God’s glory moved into our lives, it was and is His intention to stay resident in our lives! In fact, the Holy Spirit in us, is God’s guarantee that He is going to finish in us what He has started!
2 Corinthians 5:5 “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as His guarantee.”?
When you purchase a house, you first put money down which is a pledge or a deposit which guarantees that there is more to come. The Holy Spirit dwelling within you is God’s guarantee, His pledge, His first installment, that there is much more to come! You ain’t seen nothing yet! He is leading you into greater works, greater victories, and greater demonstrations of His glory in your life!!
So, Let the weak say, "I am strong" Let the poor say, "I am rich" Let the blind say, "I can see" Let the sick say “I am healed” with words of faith confess it and in the name of Jesus claim, because what you say is what you get!!!!
You cannot understand the intent of God’s word apart from supernatural illumination. You can read truth and even hear truth, but only the Holy Spirit can impart truth.
1 Corinthians 2:12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”? With His word as our constant guide and rule of life, with His Spirit in us, with Kingdom Authority backing and empowering us, and with the people of God around us, we can know a life of increase, expansion and victory!
You are God’s Field…You are God’s Building….You are God’s Temple. Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers v12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ v13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ v14 That we are no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive v15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. v23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind v24 And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness”.
I would like to conclude by declaring together now….personalownership of the growth possibilities that are within our grasp and the options we have been given to be the very best version of ourselves, that we can be….
Lord Jesus, may I come to understand, that blessings are everywhere, if I will choose to look for them. May I know that my attitude will affect the outcomes which I expect and that challenges are often gifts that You have sent to me in disguise. May I trust that most things will get better and improve with time, because I will not be the person then, that I am right now. Because of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in me, I can trust that my instincts & gut feelings have value, and are an extension of Your stirrings within me. Your word gives me assurance that a positive attitude based on Your character of mercy, grace and love, will always cause everything to go smoother because You are working things out for my good and Your glory, every moment in my life. Lord, may I come to See that you have placed me in Your body with skills & talents that You can use, to be a positive influence on many people. May I come to value each moment of every day because each is a blessing to be enjoyed and may I value each person as unique & important to You. Lord, thank you that each moment of my life has meaning and purpose, far beyond what I can see and understand at any given time. May my spirit be open and accepting, of those things which I might not otherwise understand or accept. Renew my spirit with each opportunity and challenge that expands my skills and awareness, opening up areas and abilities in me as I move through each new experience.
Jesus, I seek to walk in Your blessing and favor as I move into the future You have chosen for me. Allow me see and grasp the possibilities which arise each day. I greet whatever awaits with vibrant faith and unending joy. I realize that at times I must forsake the comfortable and familiar, in my quest for the best, for you have made my life, an adventure of discovery and you have gone before me to prepare all my tomorrows with the blessing of new places, new things, new friends, new opportunities, and new challenges..
Lord I declare that as I’m getting older, I am also growing up in all things in Christ. I am becoming what you designed and planned for me to be. Thank you for a right perspective and right priorities today and every day, in Jesus name, Amen.