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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 05/22/19

Growth Trajectory

I would rather be growing than groaning any day

STORY: Exercise What?

The discipline of exercise has impacted me in a big way. It’s exciting to look at my “before” photos to see how far I’ve come in my weight loss efforts. I still have a long way to go!

I cherish the time devoted for exercise. I can clear my mind and have “alone” time. It helps me refresh my focus. The benefits of exercise are vast. Not only does it tone me, there are health benefits, and it gives me a natural high. Whether you choose water exercise, walking, taking a class, working out to a video, or something else, you will be glad you made the time.

There is something more important than physical exercise, though. The Bible says physical exercise profits little (it does profit, though!). Then it goes on to say that godliness is profitable to all things, promising benefits in this life and the life to come.

How can someone strive for godliness? Since the Bible compares it to physical exercise, then I think it must take work! To be godly, we must choose to seek the things of God and the mind of God. Becoming godly is a process that grows as we have an active intimate relationship with God. Only when we involve him in every aspect of our lives, can we live a life devoted to him.

There is another form of exercise. 1 Peter 1:13 (NKJV) says, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

In other words, work hard so you don't have a flabby mind! We are to prepare our minds for action. The imagery here is that of personal discipline and outward conduct.

We can do this. None of us wants flabby minds, or flabby arms for that matter!

STUDY: Your Spiritual Growth Chart

Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT)

  • Paul is writing to believers in Corinth. What does that passage say he wants to grow in them?
  • Within this passage are several ways we can grow more mature in our faith life. List some.
  • Which of these growing points is the biggest struggle for you?
  • Why do you think it’s so important to live in harmony and peace with each other?

Asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. (Ephesians 1:17 NLT)

  • Paul wanted the believers in Ephesus to grow, too. (We’ll see that is a common theme in his letters.) In this passage, he prays to God for them. What is his prayer? When was the last time you prayed a prayer like that for yourself, or for someone you’re mentoring?
  • What two attributes mentioned in this verse lead to growing in knowledge of God?
  • How do you get spiritual wisdom and insight?

Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. (Ephesians 4:15 NLT)

  • In the context surrounding this verse, Paul gives the believers in Ephesus a vision for what it is like to build up a church where each individual is growing and maturing and helping others to mature as well. It not only creates unity, but it also helps believers not be tricked by people who try to lead them away from their faith.
  • The tricksters speak lies, but Paul promises to speak truth. How does he speak truth, according to this passage? Why is it so important to deliver truth this way?
  • The goal is to grow in what way?

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. (Philippians 1:9 NLT)

  • How can we allow our love to overflow more and more? What does this love accomplish in others? In ourselves?
  • What prayer does Paul have for the Philippians concerning growth?
  • How does knowledge and understanding help us mature as Christians?

Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. (Philippians 1:25 NLT)

  • What was Paul’s purpose for still being alive? What is your purpose for living?
  • Paul didn’t want them to merely grow in facts, but what did he want them to experience?
  • Why is joy so vital to having fresh faith?
  • Have you been able to approach your growth in Christ with joy, or is it a dry faith based on facts and traditions? What can you do to increase in joy?

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4 NLT)

  • It certainly seems like joy is a big part of growing as a Christ-follower, because James mentions it in his epistle, too. It’s not just a main theme from Paul.
  • How can troubles bring an opportunity to have great joy? Do you have an example of that from your life?
  • What grows (I’d even say flourishes) when our faith is tested? Why is this attribute so important?
  • What happens when endurance has fully developed in growth?

STEPS: Your Growth Kit

  1. Be joyful.
  2. Encourage others.
  3. Pray for discernment.
  4. Live in harmony and peace.
  5. Seek wisdom and understanding.
  6. Endure trials.
  7. Overflow with love.
  8. Become like Christ.

Copyright © 2019 Kathy Carlton Willis, used with permission.

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