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Today is Saturday, April 30, 2016

The struggles we all share, pt. 2

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My nephew was about two years old when his baby sister came along.  By her second birthday, she had outgrown her brother and his parents knew there was a problem.  He was not growing.  After consulting several doctors and having numerous tests, the diagnosis was confirmed.  With special medication, he began to start growing and now as an adult, he is considerably taller than his sister.  When one has a problem growing physically, it is readily apparent and no stone is left unturned to correct the abnormality.  I wish it were the same when we do not grow spiritually.
The second struggle we all face is growing spiritually.  This problem is often hard to detect because it is not visible from the outside.  It is a problem within, often centered around one’s (spiritual) “heart”.  To our friends and family, there may not even appear to be a problem at all.
To grow spiritually requires effort on our part.  Too often we are content to do little or nothing in the Lord’s kingdom.  Our objective is to let someone else do it.  The scariest verse in the Bible to me is James 4:17.  Sometimes I think we think we have to do something horrible to go to hell or to be extremely evil.  James 4:17 shows just how easy it is to be lost.  James 4; 17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.  Any sin (and all sin) carries the same punishment.  Rom. 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Remember the parable of the talents. (Mat. 25:14-30)  The one talent man was not an evil man, at least, in man’s eyes.  What did he do?  He took the one talent he was given and safeguarded it by burying it.  He did not use it wickedly or waste it.  He returned it intact to his master.  Basically, he did nothing with the talent either good or bad.  From man’s viewpoint, we may fail to see the wrong but listen to his master. The words of condemnation are some of the most severe to be found in the Bible.  Mat. 25: 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:   27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.  28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.  29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.   30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Laodicieans were a church that was not growing.  They were just staying afloat, treading water if you will. Rev. 3: 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.   16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  Basically, they made the Lord sick to his stomach.
As Christians, we cannot be content with the status quo.  If we are not growing, we are dying.   2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  1Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.
Like my nephew, there should come a time when we grow and mature spiritually.  We ought to be concerned about ourselves if that is not occurring.  Our spiritual leaders such as ministers and elders should be concerned about the “flock” if certain ones are not growing.  Paul was very concerned about the lack of maturity of the Corinthians.  I Co. 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.   2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.  Even after three years of teaching the twelve, they were not mature enough for Jesus to share some truth with them.  John 16: 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.  The Hebrews’ writer was frustrated with his audience because they had been Christians long enough to grasp the truth he was trying to present but they were content with “baby food” and had not grown spiritually to the point they could understand.  Heb. 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.   13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.   14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.   The audience of Hebrews was like those that Paul wrote to Timothy about.   2Ti 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  Many do not want to learn because they do not want to do.  Lu 12:48b For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
How about us?   Are we concerned about where we are spiritually?  Many are obsessed about their physical body, making it stronger, keeping it healthy and making it attractive.  Would to God, we were as concerned with our spiritual body.  Despite all efforts, the demise of our physical busy is inevitable, not so with our soul.  2Co 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.   Let us all strive to grow spiritually!

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