Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians 4:13-15’

The Process of Progress

September 16th, 2014

“Old things have passed away; all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV.

Exchanging the expendable for the expedient is the process of progress.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the process of progress.”

Life is a process of perpetual change. It is a delusion that things can remain as they were or are. They never do, nor should they. Paul envisioned the boundless intention of God for your spiritual development while warning of the tragedy of stunted development, “Until we all come . . to a [maturing] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we be should no longer be children . . but may grow up in all things into Christ.” Ephesians 4:13-15. Anything less is inadequate and unworthy of the grace God has shown to your life. Progress is not at all sudden; it is deliberate and incremental.

SIGN 2 (3)

Growing is natural; remaining the same is not. Without necessary change there would be no process for progress. If your life remained static, you would be less than you could and should be. I often reflect on the unconstrained potential that redemption restores to any and everyone who comes to Christ in faith. “As many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the sons of God.” John 1:12 KJV. What expansive potential is held in those words, “given the power to become.” What you become in Christ has so much to do with your choices and desire. “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

John later wrote, “We are already God’s children, and we can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when Jesus comes, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is.” 1 John 3:2 NLT. Now the power of the Spirit is at work in you until the day the transformation into Christ-likeness is complete.

There are elements of your Christian life that are accomplished, finished works of grace. Yet there are also dimensions of Christian life that continue in the process of your becoming less of what you were and more than you had ever been. When you have done all that you are to do, God has not yet completed all that He will do. Read Philippians 3:12-14 NIV. You and I remain a glorious work in progress. “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV.

Paul wrote, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Wonderful, new things await you in Christ, being released as you willingly relinquish your old ways. Meditate on Ephesians 4:21-32.

Redemption occurs in a moment of transformation; Christ-likeness is a lifelong process of conformation. Read Romans 8:28-29 NIV. Writing about his Christian liberties, Paul said, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV. Exchanging the expendable for the expedient is the process of progress.

Today, my prayer for you is to never accept the good as a substitute for God’s best.

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March 27th, 2013

“I live in eager expectation . . that my life will honor Christ.” Philippians 1:20 NLT.

Good intentions alone do not rise to the level of intentionality.

My thoughts and comments today are about “intentionality.”

As a young teen, I “worked” a few summers in my grandfather’s Truck Stop in southern Illinois. Really, I just worked for a roll of nickels to play the pinball machine when not pumping gas. A pinball game is habit forming, a game of random occurrence with the whimsical fall of the metal ball, allowing minimal control by the player. For the small investment of coin and time, the game provides the amusement of flashing lights and blaring sounds as the ball progresses down the sloped surface, haphazardly hitting bumpers and accumulating points with the slim promise of a free replay. Life can be a lot of activity and commotion with no more than amusement in return for one’s expenditure of coin and time.

Some live accidentally, even randomly, ricocheting from one occurrence to another. A lifetime is too irreplaceable for that. Life should be lived deliberately, with careful thought, real convictions, and clear direction. Days without a plan become hours wasted; marriages or friendships without mutual definition and effort diminish; careers without goals are reduced to a succession of jobs without economic progress.

Recently, I have been captured by the Biblical concept of intentionality. Joshua was intentional; “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 NKJV. Daniel was intentional; “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV. And Jesus was intentional; “I must be about My Father’s business . . I do always those things that please [the Father].” Luke 2:49/John 8:29 NKJV.To succeed, you must learn to live with Godly intentionality.

Paul was intentional, “I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ . . for me . . that means fruitful service for Christ.” Philippians 1:20-22 NLT.Life responds to intentionality. A Law of Physics states that in a closed system “matter degrades from order to chaos.” That is evidenced in modern culture, broken marriages, poor habits, or careless spiritual disciplines. Without intentionality, the natural process is degeneration. With intentionality, the spiritual dynamic can be regeneration. You cannot risk casualness about matters with eternal consequence. See Hebrews 2:3/Mark 8:36 NLT. Spiritual life, like marriage, is one choice faithfully affirmed over a lifetime.

As I left our home to meet friends, I would hear my Dad’s frequent reminder, “Allen, be careful.” Under my breath, I usually protested, “Well, of course, I will be careful.” He knew what I have since learned: carelessness just happens while carefulness is the creation of intentionality.Good intentions alone do not rise to the level of intentionality; be intentional about things you intend.

Your spiritual journey without guide or goal can easily become only emotional and intellectual meanderings. The Bible and Holy Spirit are to be your guide; Christ-likeness must be your goal.“Till we all come to the . . knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of Christ.” See Ephesians 4:13-15 NKJV. The practical application of one’s Christ-likeness is best expressed by spiritual maturity. A definition that works for me is: “Spiritual maturity is rightly responding to life’s situations according to Biblical patterns of behavior.” About that, be intentional.

My prayer for you this day is: live a Godly life with clear and resolute convictions.

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The Process of Progress

March 6th, 2013

“We . . are being transformed . . with ever increasing glory.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV.

Real changes are deliberate and progressive rather than immediate.

Since our first grandchildren, Gayle has stubbornly perpetuated an annual day when each child’s height is measured, marked, and dated on the same piece of door trim. Each kid hopes for a spectacular burst of growth; in reality, their growth is noticeable but seldom if ever as notable as they wish. They want growth that surpasses and amazes their siblings and cousins, and probably to reassure themselves. Good health, profitable habits, and time seem to be the things that propel growth, not yearning or extra effort.

Like me, do you always want your progress to be noticeable and notable in your life? I am usually in a hurry and have high expectations of my ability to grow and change. My desire usually exceeds my ability. But in my life, changes seem to be ordinary and incremental, hardly worth bragging about and seldom spectacular. But maybe that’s God plan. Maybe the right changes are meant to be more deliberate and progressive than immediate. Be patient and faithful.

Isaiah describes process as basic to growth, “For precept must be upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” Isaiah 28:10 NKJV. Everything God does rests on everything God has done. Kindergarten built on what you learned at home, and that laid the necessary, educational foundation for Elementary studies and learning, and the same for Junior High, High School, and College. And all of that was just to prepare you for life itself. Education is a process of progress.

Paul describes the process of spiritual growth this way, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV. God’s glory emanating from your life is a process, “from glory to glory.”

In the above verse, I see three practical steps in the process of spiritual maturity: (1) “Unveiled faces,” suggests that nothing or no one can be allowed to distract or compete with your singular focus and dependence upon the Holy One who works within you. See Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV. (2) “Reflect the Lord’s glory . . into His likeness,” are the direction and defined goals to which you must dedicate your efforts – His glory and His likeness. (3) “Being transformed . . with ever increasing glory,”describes the incremental process whereby God accomplishes effective and enduring change through your experience and expression of His own glory. “Ever increasing glory;” I like the sound of that!

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV. The longest journey begins with a single step and is completed by every succeeding step in the right direction. Real spiritual growth and development result from a process of progress. Read Zechariah 4:10 NKJV. You won’t become Christ-like all at once, but you can become a little more like Him each day. See Ephesians 4:13-15 NKJV. It isn’t how much of the Bible you know, but it is how much of the Bible you believe and obey every day. You will not impact a whole world all at once, but you can touch one life at every opportunity.

My prayer for you this day is that you learn to trust God’s process.

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Up Close and Personal

February 11th, 2013

“That which . . we have heard . . seen . . touched.” 1 John 1:1 NIV.

The spiritual experience of others is no adequate substitute for your own.

There are two things I notice about people’s lives today; most lives are busy, therefore isolated to varying degrees. I think the former is likely to be the origin of the latter. People don’t have enough time for much other than their crowded schedules, therefore lacking energy for meaningful fellowship or spiritual community. Tiredness and loneliness of soul are the effects. God created you for spiritual and personal community, establishing the Sabbath principle for its accommodation. The principle of Sabbath sustains a rhythm of pace and peace that allow your soul to discover refreshing and rest in God’s presence and others’ company.

You can’t really know anyone from a distance. You may have much information about them from what others know or report of them, but a real relationship requires personal interaction and first hand knowledge. Do not be content with a second-hand acquaintance with God. Your everyday experience with God must always be “up close and personal.” Settle for less at your own loss. John, the once fiery and competitive disciple of Jesus – once willing to call fire down from Heaven on an occasion and on another pressing Jesus for His promise of prominence at His right hand – changed incrementally as he walked alongside Jesus and received His teaching.

When John’s experience with Jesus became “up close and personal,” his natural temperament altered as a result, as yours can be. John described this process for himself and others as: “That which . . we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” 1 John 1:1 NIV. Hearing, seeing, touching – no one does that for you; that’s personal, even individual. Peter was witness to the same, “We did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”  2 Peter 1:16-19 NKJV. Imagine; eyewitnesses of His majesty! Today, will you open your heart to be enraptured by His unrivaled majesty?

The spiritual experience of others can never be an adequate substitute for your own. You can learn from theirs, even be inspired by theirs, but your experience of God must be personal in order to be life-changing. “We all . . beholding the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image [in ever increasing shades of splendor], by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV/JBPhillips. God has even more for you than salvation.

As glorious and transformative as forgiveness and redemption is, your primary encounter with the Savior is the bare minimum of spiritual experience, permitting your initial entrance into fellowship with God. Without that introduction, you remain outside the Kingdom of God, apart from relationship with Him or His Son. Only then can your new life develop to maturity. “Now we are the children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:1-2 NIV. You will be like Him! Every day, you can experience more of God, a growing fullness, “new every morning!” The process may seem incremental to you, but the spiritual maturity that results is fundamental. See Ephesians 4:13-15 NKJV. Now, off together on the adventure of a lifetime!

My prayer for you today is that you will experience God for yourself and know Him more fully.

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Growing in Grace

May 4th, 2012

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior.” 2 Peter 3:18 NKJV

“Nothing fosters spiritual growth like a healthy grasp of grace.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “growing in grace.”

I think we take growth for granted; we simply expect that to happen. And to a small measure that would be true, but not completely so. You are designed by God to grow – to get taller and stronger, smarter, and more mature. But growth is not altogether automatic. There are things you need for healthy growth. For instance, proper nutrition and diet are contributors, and both adequate rest and exercise are necessary, as well as healthy habits that contribute to one’s growth and development.

And growth is not single faceted. Beyond the normal processes of growing physically, there are also very real dimensions of growing emotionally, mentally, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. We all have seen instances of obvious imbalances in people’s development, growing in some areas but stunted in others. Growth is natural; lack of growth is not.

It should be no surprise that Jesus is the perfect example of healthy, well-rounded growth. “The child [Jesus] grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom beyond His years, and God placed His special favor upon Him . . Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:40/52 NLT/NKJV. In those verses, you can see the diverse areas of growth and development Jesus experienced. As you examine your life presently, where are you growing and where are you not?

Of course, my attention here is with yours and my spiritual growth, which is also the Bible’s primary concern. “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and Godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming . . since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him . . be on your guard . . grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior.” 2 Peter 3:11-18 NIV.

Peter asks a rather probing question – in light of the impermanence and ungodliness of this world, “What kind of people ought you to be?” In your heart you know the answer – becoming better than you have been! How do you do that? Peter’s answer is rather simple, and altogether doable; “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior.” The right answers are always found in the same place, “our Lord and Savior.” See 1 Peter 2:1-3 NLT.

The first thing is obvious: you have to deal with your past and God’s grace is the only way to do that. Your past is full of mistakes made and wrongs done, some ignorantly, most foolishly, but a few deliberately. The past pursues you tirelessly until you bring it kicking and screaming to Jesus. Nothing fosters spiritual growth like a healthy grasp of grace. See Ephesians 2:4-9/4:13-15 NKJV.

You have forgiven others, and people have forgiven you; why then would you doubt God’s willingness to forgive you? Your past is not the worst He’s ever seen. Grow in grace! Day by day, let grace wash your soul, cleanse your mind, heal your spirit, release your joy, and draw you closer to the Savior.

For some, grace is embraced all at once; for others, grace happens day by day. But for all, grace is ultimately and absolutely sufficient. Read Titus 2:11-15 NLT. How will you know when you are growing in grace? You become a little more like Jesus in your conversations, attitudes, conduct, relationships, and lifestyle. Others notice the change; you know the Source.

My prayer for you today is that you will grow in grace and know the Savior fully.

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