November 2018

Faith hungers for maturity

While maturity may not be a welcomed subject in today’s world, it is however of great interest to God. Just as the natural order of all living things is that following birth, growth continues until full development is attained. So it is with God’s children.

Upon spiritual rebirth, the indwelling Holy Spirit begins His work of growth. In fact, “because of him (God) you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). From before salvation, it was God’s intention for His Spirit to work Christ’s salvation in you so that you would grow in righteousness and sanctification. Spiritual childhood should not last long, because “this is the will of God, your sanctification…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

The high cost of would-be faith

Sadly, many appear to begin the life of faith with great promise, yet end their test drive of Jesus quickly. In Jesus parable of the sower and the seed, He explains this sad phenomenon. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:14). The problem was this; the person initiating faith in Christ never chose to prioritise the Lord Jesus over this world’s cares, riches and pleasures.

Consequently, surrender to worldly stresses and fleshly desires not only prevents maturing in faith, it takes the would-be believer away from Christ altogether. Had they surrendered to Christ with a greater degree of commitment than to worldliness, their lives would be fruitful and unwavering for Christ as Lord. Therefore, eternal life slips through their fingers and the opportunity for maturing in sanctification for the Lord is lost.

Paul explained to the Colossian believers that “Epaphras, who is one of you… is always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12). Epaphras knew the key areas for personal growth which required the intervention of the King of Kings. The fact is, without the Lord’s strength, we saved sinners would never grow to any degree of maturity in Christ at all.

Epaphras also realised that spiritual adulthood equips the believer to stand firm in Christian faith. Likewise, it’s the mature that experience full assurance of realising the will of God. These are intrinsic desires within genuine believers of Christ; to stand firm, to mature, and to experience assurance. This is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

Intended from the start

As the foundation builders of the New Testament Church, the apostles taught with the goal of spiritual development for their listeners. They never intended Christians to remain infant-like in their faith.

“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away” (1 Corinthians 2:6). The apostles were deliberate in training God’s people for growing maturity that would produce wise, Christ-like, God honouring lives.

This breath-taking design for Christians leaves little room for mixed loyalties, little time for wasted opportunities to serve the Saviour. Your regenerated life in Jesus Christ is not some random hit and miss, give it a go thing. No, it’s God’s intension for you and I to “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Authentic Christ-like character, grown through the Word of God in the energy of His Spirit is the maturity the Lord desires.

I encourage you to focus your faith so that it hungers for maturity in Christ.


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Faith learns to be a learner for Christ

Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ involves learning a whole new set of values. King Solomon instructed; “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance…” (Proverbs 1:5). From the moment you turned to Christ as Lord, He began your new life of training in Christ-centred values, beliefs, behaviours and responses. This is the path of sanctification, leading to wisdom and Christ-like glory (2Co 3:18).

About 605 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar besieged, then concurred Jerusalem. Amongst other things, Nebuchadnezzar searched within the royal family of Israel for “youths …skilful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning…” (Daniel 1:4). Under God’s sovereign hand, Nebuchadnezzar recognised the value of having people who were interested in learning. These youths needed to understand the learning process, while placing a high value on wisdom attained from their knowledge.

Obviously, Jesus Christ is our supreme example in all things. Being God’s “son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). In His humanity, Jesus grew and learned obedience to fulfil all righteousness (Mat 3:15), proving Himself to be the perfect sacrifice, “that he might bring us to God” (1Pe 3:18).

Application is personal

For you and I, the point of learning is to put the lessons into practice, just as Paul instructed the Philippian believers. “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). The blessing that accompanies biblical learning with obedience is God’s peace. That rich inner affirmation that God is at rest with you is one of the ways the Holy Spirit rewards obedience.

Spiritual learning has little to do with theory only; rather, it’s practical and visible for all to see as your development touches other’s lives.  This is why Paul instructed Titus to “let people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). As your biblical knowledge increases, the Holy Spirit matures you to “be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). What a sobering thought. However, this kind of self-deception which fails to transition biblical knowledge to behaviour is identifiable, and can be remedied.

The challenge for all of us is to examine ourselves, testing if we are those who are “always learning (yet) never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Sadly; our hearts can deceive us into becoming comfortable with biblical naivety and spiritual immaturity which fails to fulfil God’s design just as it fails to impact others for Christ.

God’s way is different

As a believer in Christ; to learn is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity” (2 Peter 3:18). This is the path for glorifying Christ in your daily living, and for eternity to come.

Change in rarely easy or comfortable, and even though you may see the benefits of it, the flesh often resists without understanding why it resists. Great humility is always needed as we grow in the Lord. Therefore, I want to encourage you to continue changing for Jesus Christ which is a high calling from the Lord. God wishes to continue engaging your life in intimate ways which fulfil His purposes and bring Him glorifying pleasure. He strongly desires to synchronise His character with yours, to increasingly produce Christ-likeness.

I encourage you to have a faith that increasingly learns to be a learner for Christ.


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Faith is triumphant in Christ

God and the world view success quite differently. For God, human success reaches its highest when Jesus Christ is believed in, and surrendered to as Lord. Consequently, the Bible speaks of Christian life with triumphant words which spell out the believer’s success in Christ. Paul celebrated that sin and death were conquered by the resurrected Christ, giving “thanks to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Like Paul, the apostle John knew the triumph of dependent belief in Christ as Saviour. 1 John 5:4-5 says; “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 

Faith unlocks security

For the Christian, Christ is your security, with God’s love permanently attached to you. Christ’s certainty means “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us… neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39). Now that’s unparalleled commitment from God which has no earthly equal.

No matter what life throws at you, in Christ you are safe and secure for eternity. Old Testament Job had this single minded faith. Even though he was a righteous man, he lost everything earthly. Abandoned to the local rubbish tip because of his sore infested body, Job found no comfort from anything or anyone earthly. Yet Job declared by faith; “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another…” (Job 19:25-27).

Remember, God’s arch enemy wants you to feel abandoned and fearful. Part of his mission is to rob you of all joy and certainty. Don’t allow him any foothold. Stand firm, hold tightly to and proclaim the truths of God’s Word.

Faith never lets go

By its very nature, faith clings to God; knowing that the victory Christ achieved on the Cross of Calvary is what purchased pardon for sinners who believe. Nothing, and no one can undo, reverse, or diminish your redemption which was paid for by the life-blood of Jesus. God’s forgiveness is irreversible. Likewise, “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). Believe God’s Word; “it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged” (Hebrews 6:18). Victory in Christ is not only inevitable but guaranteed by Christ.

Asaph testified in Psalm 73:25-26;“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Christ Jesus is sufficient to carry you through the deepest pains and bring you to absolute triumph. Lean into Him with all your weight. Trust His victory over sin and death to be yours by faith (Rom 3:21-25).

Today I encourage you; live the faith which is triumphant in Christ. Share these truths with someone who may be feeling weak or discouraged. You and they will be uplifted, and Christ will be glorified.


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Christ is your strength to overcome

At various times everyone feels exhausted of all strength to continue whatever it is they are passionate about. The Christian life can be the same; when circumstances, opposition from others, or personal disappointments wear you down to exhaustion. Big pains require a big God; and Jesus Christ is that God. He will never abandon or fail you.

The apostle Paul tells of his fatigue and the reasons God permitted that to happen. Paul explains; “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely NOT on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). Since God can raise the dead, He shall have no problems caring for you and I.

The extraordinary difficulties of life and ministry had taken Paul past his abilities, and exhausted all his personal resources. Feeling overwhelmed by the bombardment of pain, the threats on his life, and the sense of inability to carry on, Paul realised the necessity for his suffering. God knew that for Paul this was necessary in order for him to depend on God. God’s love was willing to go to those extremes to accomplish this critical realisation within Paul.

Dependence is faith

You see, dependence is the central key component of genuine faith. By surrounding ourselves with the luxuries of modern living, we increase our struggle to understand this intrinsic part of Christian belief. Worldly influence has diluted our idea of belief so that it seeks comfort, ease, and self-fulfilment instead of dependency upon God.

While God is the author of your faith and strength, the responsibility to employ His resources is yours. Jesus still calls you and I to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

Believe Christ and His Word to supply the strength needed to take the next step. That’s all you need, strength to take the next step. Pray as Paul did; “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16).

Make Christ your inspiration, your motivation, and your determination to walk the life of dependant faith. Choose to centre your total belief on Jesus as your Lord. Choose to desire “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love” would be the person He wants you to be (Ephesians 3:17).

Invite the Lord to infuse you with His “strength to comprehend… what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19). God uses this filling of known love to accomplish His purpose, for His glory, and His pleasure. It is always Christ centred, selfless, and loving.

Christ is your strength

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). Holy Spirit energised life is resilient, and strives when fleshly motivation gives up. Despair that weakens can be turned to strength which deepens to become an unmovable resolve when Jesus Christ controls. This happens when God’s Word permeates your mind with truth, and His love rules.

I encourage you to exercise faith in Christ who is your strength to overcome.


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