Faithlife Sermons

How God Helps Us to Grow

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When I became a Believer, I was told that I needed to grow in my walk with Jesus. You hear about people who give their lives to God and BAM, they are like one of the disciples or something. People say that Jesus changed them, but how?
For me, it seemed that there was a long list of things that I had to quit doing if I was going to be a follower of Jesus…
The worst thing you can do is ask someone who is confused themselves… what to do.
I have heard people at the altar saying… let it go… let it go and then someone else saying hold on … press in. Do we let go or press in.
If you have ever felt like this, I have good news for you. Paul deals with it.
Philippians 2:12–13 NLT
12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
That’s good news in that I always thought it would be so hard to give up stuff to follow God. Paul says here that God actually changes my “want to’s” so that I can follow him.
I have heard this from so many people… I don’t want to follow Jesus because he will make me quit … and I don’t want to quit. This verse has good news.

God changes our want too’s

I can do anything I want to do, but I don’t want to do the things I once wanted to do. As you press into your relationship with the Lord, he will change what you want in life and give you the ability to do it.
Our Christian life is made up of a lot of steps. Over the last few weeks we have talked about the Salvation Step, the Baptism Step and being filled with the Holy Spirit step. Today we want to look at the process of growing from a little baby in Christ to a mature believer in Christ. This is called Sanctification.
Crying babies are cute… I guess, but a crying 40 year old is definitely not cute.
We all need to change some things in our lives. Changing and growing is the Christian Walk.
How many of you want to change something in your life?
You are probably more like me than you think… wondering how these changes are supposed to take place.

When it comes to change, God has a part and you have a part.

Philippians 2:12–13 NIV
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Work Out - when you work out, you work out what you already have … muscle. talk about working out
Work Out your Own Salvation - You are making your salvation stronger as you work out. You don’t work out someone else’s salvation, you work out your own. You take ownership for yourself.
Each of us are unique so we will look somewhat different … that’s why he says work out your own salvation.
You add things to your life that make your salvation stronger - fellowship, Bible reading and study, Prayer, Witnessing, tithing and giving, witnessing to others.
Work Out your Own Salvation with Fear and Trembling - God is our friend, but he is also the Holy God set apart who does not look at sin. We need to fear disappointing God. We don’t have to be afraid of him trating us mean or wrongly. He loves us so I don’t want to dishonor him.
Jim Baker - I never stopped loving God, I stopped fearing God.
Nothing in life is more important than your relationship with Jesus Christ and growing in that relationship
It is God who is working in you - God has a part and he is working in you. Working - is the word we get energizer from. God energizes you. He gives you the desire to follow him and he gives you the power to do what he wants you to do.
You may be thinking, I have tried and tried to change and I just can’t. I have been there too. You are right. You can’t change in your own, but God will give you the power to change.
There are three tools that God uses to help us change. There are three choices we can make that allow us to change.

Gods’s Part in Changing Us

1. God uses the Bible to grow your relationship.

2 Timothy 3:16–17 NLT
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
This Bible is God’s Word. It’s inspired and it teaches us what to do and not do.
The Bible will change the way we think which will change us. If you want to be serious about growth and change, get into this book.
Hebrews 4:12 NLT
12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
WOG will change your life. It will change your thoughts, your words and your actions.
Read it… Study it… Memorize it … Meditate on it.
The more of the WOG you put into your mind, the better.
Example
Proverbs 15:1 NIV
1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Some of you feel like your faith is weak… like your relationship with the Lord is weak - Get the WOG in you! Get Worded up!

2. God uses the Holy Spirit to grow your relationship.

WOG is awesome, but we need more.
God actually puts his Spirit in us and this is where our power comes from.
Romans 8:11 NLT
11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead comes to live in you and when we invited Jesus to be our Savior and Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT
18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
The HS changes us into the image of Jesus. IOW,
God’s purpose for your life is to become more like Jesus.
God’s #1 purpose is not to make me happy, but to make me more like Jesus.
He will do this by filling you with his Spirit.
Acts 2:2–4 NLT
2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
The Spirit Filled Life should be the norm in the Christian Life.
Ephesians 5:18 NLT
18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,
Acts 1:8 NLT
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
God wants you & me to grow more and more like Jesus and we need to be indwelt and filled with the HS to do that.
If we still don’t listen,

3. God will use circumstances to grow your relationship.

Sometimes we need a little pain to make changes. So when we are not doing what God wants us to do… we have stepped out of his will and his protection, his blessing, His provision … so problems, trials and difficulties begin to pile up in our lives.
Romans 8:28–29 NLT
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Nothing comes into the life of a believer without God’s Permission.
The difficulties are not good, but God will bring good out of them. examples...
The devil had to give an account of where he had been and what he had been doing in the book of Job. It doesn’t matter where the trials come from (yourself, the devil or the culture), God will bring good out of them.
God will change you through your circumstances.
If Jesus had to learn through suffering, why do you think we would be different?
Proverbs 20:30 TEV
30 Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.
We rarely change until we get desperate. Trials cleanse us and make us into he people God wants us to be.
So, we know that God will use the Bible, the HS and circumstances to change us … to grow us.
So here is what you need to do…

My Part in Changing Me

Here we haver 3 choices we have to make in our spiritual journey.

1. I can choose what I think about.

Growth in Christ is not automatic, it requires making a decision. One of the choices we have to make is what we think about.
Proverbs 4:23 TEV
23 Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.
We are what is on our heart. Out of our heart flow our thoughts, our words and our actions.
You might not be all you think you are, but you are what you think. Your thoughts direct your life.
Ephesians 4:23–25 NLT
23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. 25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.
Change lives always begin with changed thoughts.
The Bible word for change is…
Repentance - it means to change your mind.
Romans 12:1–2 NLT
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Think --- Feel --- Act
If you want to change, start renewing your mind.
2,000 years after Paul wrote this, Psy found it to be true. There are no actions without a thought and a feeling behind it.
Depressed - thinking depressing thoughts
Angry - thinking angry thoughts...
How do we change our our thoughts?
Fill your mind with the Word of God.
Psalm 1:1–3 NLT
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. 2 But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. 3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
When we delight and meditate on WOG, it changes us.
Philippians 4:8 NLT
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
We can choose our thoughts.
Colossians 3:16 NLT
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
Psalm 119:11 NLT
11 I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
If you are not having a daily time in the WOG, you are not growing in your walk with Jesus.
Joshua 1:8 NLT
8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

2. I can choose to depend on the Holy Spirit.

John 15:4–5 NLT
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
A branch is totally dependent on the Vine.
When a branch is cut off from the vine or tree, it dies. It cannot grow anything or sustain life… it’s dead. A branch has to be connected to the tree.
Jesus is sayin… it’s the same with you and I… we have to be plugged into the Lord to live. He has the power not us.
God’s power is always there, but we have to stay plugged in to have it in our lives. When you are plugged into the HS, his power will flow through you like the Mississippi River.
God wants to produce fruit in you and I…
Fruit of the Spirit
Fruit of New Believers
Fruit of Miracles
But fruit is an inside job. You have to be connected to grow fruit.
How do you know if you are depending on God or not?
You pray all the time
You pray about everything
You pray the WOG
You are aware that He is always with you.
You practice his presence and keep a running conversation with Him.

3. I can choose my response to circumstances.

There is a parallel between God's resources and your choice. God has the resource of His Word; you have to choose to read it. God has the resource of the Holy Spirit; you have to choose to depend on him. God uses circumstances; you have to choose your response to those circumstances.
James 1:2–4 The Living Bible
2 Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, 3 for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.
You can choose your response.
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond.
vs: 4 - when your endurance (patience) is fully developed. The Christian life is not a one-time event, it’s a process of growth over time. You are Born Again, then you have to grow, develop... work out YOUR salvation. You exercise your faith so that it strengthens.
God is more interested in what happens in you rather than to you.
We have a choice how we respond. One person goes through something horrible and does well and another does not. You cannot control what will happen this afternoon, tomorrow or the coming days, but you can choose how you will respond. You can let things make you bitter or better. Difficulties can become a stepping stone to maturity or a stumbling block to failure.
Romans 5:3–4 NLT
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
HS is working in us to develop character.
What is
Mature Character: Character that has passed the test and proven reliable.
Character is the goal. God wants you and I to become like Jesus.
ILL - It’s kind of like the old luggage commercials where the gorilla throws the suitcase against the wall off the cliff and it stands the test
We choose the way we respond and it produces fruit and character. How does God produce that fruit in our lives?
God produces fruit in your life by putting you in the opposite situations.
· You want to learn to love... he will have you around the unlovable people.
· Joy – You will go through tragedies and troubles and learn that joy is different than happiness.
· Peace – Peace is learned in chaos...
· Goodness – He will allow you to be tempted to do bad things
Self-Control – He’ll take you to a church pot-luck, open a Cold Stone Creamery close by
God Promises to give you both the desire to change and the power and ability to make those changes.
Imagine what could happen if we all…
Word - Spirit - Circumstances
Choose what you think… Depend on the HS … Response to difficulties
What do you need to change in your life?
God will work miracles in your life when you
immerse yourself in WOG
Depend on the HS
Choose my responses to circumstances
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