Are you growing in Christ? While we don’t earn God’s love through good works or stay in His graces because of them, a life that has truly been changed will produce different fruit. In fact, Jesus said, you will know a tree by its fruit (Lk. 6.44). The amount and quality of our fruit is often a good indication of our spiritual maturity. Today’s New Testament reading talks about some of that fruit. Continue reading →
Does salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity? If not, where does it come from? From years of church membership? From learning how to use Bible software or getting 10 devotionals in your inbox? Does it come with a degree in theology? Or from attending Bible studies week after week? If not, what does it take? Continue reading →
Take the test: look into the mirror of God’s Word and ask yourself, “Which of these characteristics describe me and which don’t?” What do your answers tell you about your walk with God, your trust in Him, and your level of spiritual maturity?
In chapter 1 of James’ epistle, he compares the Word of God to a mirror (Jas. 1.23) and goes on to say that “if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it” (Jas. 1.25).
Here in Colossians, Paul commands us to “set our mind on things above, not on the things on the earth” (v. 2).
This chapter gives us a great summary of what a mature Christian life should look like—kind of a composite mirror image of Christlike character. Read back through Colossians 3 and take the test. Ask yourself what you are reflecting to the world.
□ Are you putting sinful desires to death? Do you repent when you recognize them (v. 5)?
□ Do you covet what others have, either relationships, material things, or prestige (v. 5)?
□ Are you worshiping anything besides God alone (v. 5)?
□ Do you allow yourself to get angry or malicious (v. 8)?
□ Do you use unwholesome or filthy language (v. 8)?
□ Do you use the Lord’s name in vain, even those OMGs (v. 8)?
□ Do you lie to avoid conflict or problems, cover sin, or mislead (v. 9)?
□ Are you seeking to become more like Christ (v. 10)?
□ Are you merciful and compassionate (v. 12)?
□ Are you kind to friends, family, co-workers and strangers (v. 12)?
□ Are you proud (defensive, self-righteous, demanding, selfish …) (v. 12)?
□ Are you patient (longsuffering) (v. 12)?
□ Are you willing to bear with (put up with, be inconvenienced by) others (v. 13)?
□ Are you forgiving (v. 13)?
□ Do you demonstrate the love of Christ (v. 14, 1 Cor. 13.4-7)?
□ Do you have God’s peace (v.15)?
□ Are you thankful (v. 15)?
□ Are you growing in your knowledge of God’s Word (v. 16)?
□ Are you growing in the wisdom of God (v. 16)?
□ Are you sharing God’s Word with others (v. 16)?
□ Are you willing to speak the truth in love to others (admonish) (v. 16)?
□ Do you have a worshipful heart (v. 16)?
□ Do you do all things in the name of the Lord (is what characterizes your life pleasing to Him) (v. 17)?
□ Wives, are you submissive to your husband (v. 18)?
□ Husbands, do you love your wife biblically or are you bitter toward her (v. 19)?
□ Children, do you obey your parents in all things (v. 20)?
□ Parents, do you provoke your children to anger through your ungodly attitudes and behavior (v. 21)?
□ Employees, do you obey and submit to your boss or supervisor (v. 22)?
□ Are you a man-pleaser, instead of a God-pleaser (v. 22)?
□ Do you fear God (worship, respect Him and His Word) (v. 22)?
□ Do you do all things heartily (v. 23)?
None of us will do all these things perfectly. In fact, that’s why Christ died, because we can’t … and certainly not in our own strength. But as we learn to rely on the Holy Spirit working through us, we should see growth in these areas. When we read prayerfully through passages like Colossians 3, we allow the Holy Spirit to convict our hearts and show us areas where we may need to repent and seek God’s help to change.
What do your answers reveal to you? What do they say about your relationship with God, your trust in Him, and your level of spiritual maturity?
“But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it” (Jas. 1.25 NLT).
True worship is more than a time of music and singing. True worship involves how we live our lives, whether we obey God or respond by hardening our hearts to His commands.
Also, God is a God of order and He has ordained authority as part of that order. No matter what we think, we are not living obediently if we aren’t fully submitted to the authority He has placed in our lives.
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. 7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you will hear His voice: 8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work.
True worship is more than merely showing up at church to sing and raise our hands. It is submitting our hearts and lives to God in obedience and realizing that “He is God.” It’s then that we “will hear His voice.”
No matter how often we attend church or what kind of outward religious activity we perform, if we’re not submitted to God in our hearts, which is demonstrated by our obedience, we are no different from those who hardened their hearts, rebelled, and tested God.
In spite of all his miseries, Job could still say, “For I know that my Redeemer lives …” That should put most of us to shame! He went on to say, “… I shall see God.” So no matter what, he was sure of his eternal destiny. Continue reading →
“Mirror, mirror …” How many times a day do you look in the mirror? What do you think about more often: how you look to others or how you look to God? Do you spend more time looking at yourself, your life, your world or are you looking intently at God and His Word?
Bezelel and the others God had blessed with the talent and ability to craft the furniture and implements for this magnificent temple continued with their work. God was using all this beauty to give His people a little glimpse of His beauty and creativity and glory.
But one little verse jumped out at me as I read this passage.
“He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (v. 38.8).
He made them from the mirrors of the serving women. Think about it. These were nomadic people living in a desert environment. But they were also women … women who experienced love and marriage and jealousy and a desire to look attractive to their husbands, or perhaps potential husbands.
We walk into our homes and there is a mirror in the entryway, a mirror in the bedroom, a mirror in the bathroom. We go to work or church and … more mirrors. Even in our cars, we flip down the mirror for a last minute look. But in the desert, if a woman had a brass hand mirror, I imagine that was really something … possibly a luxury … but they gave them up!
I have to ask myself, what would I be willing to give up for the glory of God? What is really more important to me, people seeing the beauty of Christ or how I look to others?
And I wonder, on what is my own gaze fixed? Is it more on myself or God and His Word? Am I focused on my life and wants or is my desire to use whatever I have to point others to Christ?
As I have said over and over in the last couple of commentaries, God is not withholding His wisdom. It is here in His Word, but we must look for it. It’s not about being smart … or memorizing half the Bible … or sitting in Bible studies week after week and filling our heads with knowledge. It’s about faithfully seeking to know Him better through His Word and time spent with Him. And it’s about having a heart to please Him by choosing to obey what we know to do.
Hebrew 5.14 says, “… solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
It is by knowing and obeying that we grow in wisdom and maturity. On the other hand, James 1.22 says if we are hearers, readers, or sitters in Bible study without applying it, we deceive ourselves. We may think we’re mature. We may even be able to quote a lot of Scripture, even stand up and teach a Bible study ourselves, but we are spiritual lightweights! Continue reading →
Philippians 1.6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
What a great promise! We can be confident, not in ourselves that we’ll somehow make it to the end, but if we belong to Him, He will finish the work He has started in us. God Himself is the guarantor of His promises.
It would be nice if He just sprinkled some pixy dust over us and we were instantly changed. But that’s not the way God usually does His work in us.
And … We often wish He would do that in other people’s lives, too.
When we’ve been unequally yoked and a husband comes to know the Lord, we want them to immediately be where we are. When someone close to us surrenders his or her life to God, especially if it has been a difficult relationship, we can be unrealistic in our expectations.
There is immediate change in our lives and the lives of others. Our eternal destiny has been changed. 2 Cor. 5.17 says we are new creations; we were born again by the Spirit of God, but it takes time for those changes to work themselves out in our daily living.
That’s not an excuse. In fact, as God shows us areas where we need to change and grow we need to respond to those promptings.
Heb. 5.12-14 says:
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use (the NASB says PRACTICE) have their senses exercised (TRAINED) to discern both good and evil.
Some of us are still babies sucking on milk because we don’t do the things God has told us to do. AMEN … or OH MY.
Even then, God doesn’t stop doing His work in us, but it’s going to take longer and probably involve more pain and hardship.
What processes does He use to complete the work He started in us? I like to talk about five major ways.
God changes us as we learn to do 5 things:
1. Count it all joy (James 1.2-8).
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually feel like being joyful when I’m in the midst of a trial. How can we count it all joy when we’re in a trial? Continue reading →