The converted aim of every Christ-follower is "spiritual maturity." But what is it and how do we live it?
Hebrews 12:1-3New International Version (NIV)
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews offers the perfect motivation, and directive for growing in spiritual maturity.
1. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.
Other people see our faith. Our lives impact THEIR faith. And we are impacted by other's faith. Maturity grows as we grow faith relationships.
Q: How have you inspired and encouraged other's faith? How has other's faith inspired and encouraged you? Who is watching your faith?
2. Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
Just like we often choose sin, we also have the capacity to reject sin. We have the capacity to CHOOSE to aim for God instead of aiming for our own next desire. Maturity grows as we deny sin. Maturity also grows as we grow in humility acknowledging our struggle with sin.
Q: What is entangling you? What do you do that is self-indulgent?
3. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
We each have a faith-race with God. Ours will not exactly mirror other's. Ours requires perseverance - the ability to keep going through difficulty. Maturity grows as we struggle and still keep choosing faith.
Q: What is a struggle in faith for you? How is your faith challenged? How can you step INTO the struggle and lean on God?
4. Fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus holds the keys to joy, godliness, and maturity. He is the one we attempt to model. His peace and joy is our desire because it is so much greater than anything the world can offer -imagine that! Maturity believes God's plan is better in every way than the world's. Maturity leans into following God with every step.
Q: Where have you seen God improve your life? Give thanks! Do you believe God wants your best life? Where do you believe your life can be more full of joy, adventure, and peace? How can you listen and obediently follow God's authorship to get there?
5. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
You will deal with opposition. Immaturity allows spiritual opposition to steal joy and cause spiritual weariness and faltering. (Immaturity also CREATES opposition for others!) Maturity can endure opposition and stay focused on Jesus to keep growing in faith. Maturity can also distinguish between faithful challenges to raise the bar (to grow more like Jesus), and sinful (not scriptural, not Jesus based/ Holy Spirit-led) spiritual opposition.
Q: How are you experiencing opposition (taking it and giving it to others)? How is it stealing your joy and peace? Pray for God to protect your heart. Pray for those who discouraged you. Pray for forgiveness for any discouragement you may have given to others.
Hebrews 12:1-3, describes and empowers us in our journey towards increasing spiritual maturity. As Joyce Meyer says, "we may not be where we want to be, but thank God we aren't where we used to be!"
What a great Easter! I hope you were blessed by the time with God you invested. I hope your faith was encouraged. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the center of our faith and the center of our celebration each year. We saw more people than we ever have before in the history of our congregation. It took each and everyone of us being willing to pray, serve, invite, and worship to make this happen!
This week we are starting a new series that I hope will take your faith to the next level. We are going to be diving into some of the richest scriptures in the Bible, challenging one another to learn them, commit them to memory, and apply them to our daily lives. If you have ever wanted to know how to take simple truth from the Bible and put them into action in your life you will not want to miss these next several weeks.
I am fully aware of the Bible can be confusing, seemingly contradictory, as well as downright off-putting at times. What we plan to do in the next few weeks is focus on rich nuggets of scripture and teach them in a way that you will have God's goodness in your mind and your heart when you go to work and get home the other six days of the week.
We believe God has every intention to build on the momentum of this past weekend. The resurrection is not simply a day but a way of life. Will you join us this Sunday to live in the power of the resurrection?
We look forward to seeing you Sunday and want to encourage you to continue to be people of the invitation. Almost everyone who came to worship for the first time on Easter came because a friend invited. Why don't you be that friend this week? Follow up and offer to save them a seat Sunday.