Growing in Christ
Before a person learns to walk, they must first learn to crawl. It’s the same with your spiritual pilgrimage: Birth (receiving Christ) comes first. Then comes crawling, walking, and finally running. Growing requires energy, and just as we gain physical strength through eating physical food, we gain spiritual strength through eating spiritual food. In 1 Peter 2:2, the apostle says, “Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow…”
When you were born, the first thing you needed was nourishment. A child needs milk. You don’t have to instruct them to want it – they desire it naturally. There is an excitement and beautiful satisfaction when that need is met. On a spiritual level, the desire to know God’s Word corresponds to a baby’s natural hunger for milk. For this reason, the Word of God is often referred to as “the milk of the word.” As you grow both physically and spiritually, who move to more solid foods.
Growing in Christ is a long-term step-by-step process that requires personal discipline. Paul the apostle wrote to Timothy, his trainee, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” (2 Timothy 4:7) In order to excel at just about anything, you have to have self-discipline. Let’s say that you wanted to become a marathon runner and approached a coach to help train you. The first thing they would say is, “You’re going to have to discipline yourself to start running every day.” Would you be surprised? Should you be surprised that spiritual growth also requires daily personal discipline?
Many churches now have members (spiritual coaches) who have been trained through the small group course, Becoming A Disciple-Maker, to help existing church members learn to grow spiritually by developing specific spiritual growth skills. This seven week course is entitled A Call to Joy and is immediately followed by the eleven week course entitled, A Call to Growth.
Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators developed an easy way to remember the five ways to develop spiritual growth skills:
First Step: Hear God’s Word by attending church services and small group Bible studies.
Second Step: Read God’s Word and pray by spending 10-15 minutes each morning before going to school or work (known as a quiet time). Spiritual Journals are available at this website and explain the step by step process.
Third Step: Study God’s Word. The following is a simple Bible study method that you may enjoy:
- Obtain a Wide Margin Bible – so you can write notes in the margins of your Bible.
- The best selling Bible study series in the United States is the Be Series by Warren Wiersbe. He has written a Bible study on every book of the Bible.
- After you have obtained your two tools, decide on a specific time each day or night to study the Bible. If you say to yourself, “I’ll study when I have time” you probably won’t do it! Bible study cannot be viewed as an optional discipline. You must realize that it is necessary for your spiritual growth.
Bible Study Steps:
- Begin by praying to the Lord:
- I am ready to obey any truth You reveal to me
- I want to become a man or woman of God
- Please show me spiritual truths that will help me grow spiritually so I can minister to others and advance Your Kingdom
- Begin by reading the first chapter of the book you are studying and write insights that the Lord gives you in the margins of your Bible.
- Next, read the chapter written by your Bible teacher, Warren Wiersbe. Look for truths you can apply to your personal life and write them in the margins of your Bible:
- Lord help me to…(Petition)
- Lord, I thank you so much for…(Thanksgiving)
- Lord, You are…(Adoration)
- Lord, forgive me for…(Confession)
Your Bible margins now contain insights you have written.
- The 4th and last step is the most important one. It’s application. We must be ready to yield and obey His will. This step is where the real growth occurs. Slowly and prayerfully read each insight and ask God to apply the truths to your life.
Fourth Step: Memorize God’s Word. There are Scripture Memory Packs available at this website which will help you memorize one verse per week so you can treasure God’s Word in your heart.
Fifth Step: Meditate on God’s Word. Christian meditation involves prayerfully considering, reflecting, and focusing on all the aspects of a truth, then seeking to apply that truth to your life. True meditation leads to godly thoughts and actions!
In 2 Timothy 2:7, Paul tells Timothy to meditate on the Scriptural truths that he is sharing with him. “Consider, reflect, think about, ponder these things I am saying (the Scriptures) understand them and grasp their application – for the Lord will grant you full insight and understanding into all this.”
Let’s look at an example of how you would meditate upon a verse.
Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may about in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Slowly read the verse and focus on key words that speak to you. Consider what God wants to say to you personally.
(Sample prayer) “Lord, I am open to any truth that you want to teach me.”
Prayerfully focus on a key word like “hope.” You can pray something like…
“You are truly a God of hope. Without You, there is no hope! No matter what my negative circumstances may be, I can always find hope in You. You are not only a God of hope, You give me something that no one else can give – You provide supernatural joy and peace as I place my faith and trust in You! You not only give me hope – but you enable me to abound in hope! There is never a reason for me to ever be hopeless, because I belong to you – I am Your child. All of these things are only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in me and enables me to live a victorious Christian life!”
There is no single moment when you suddenly become mature. Spiritual growth involves wonderful years of growing and fellowshipping with God. The apostle Paul speaks of Christian maturity as disciplining yourself to run and finish life’s race with excellence!
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24
“Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” – 2 Timothy 4:7