15. I’m Growing
Please remember to pray before reading!
Illustrations in Nature
The Bible uses illustrations taken from nature to help us understand the spiritual life. The change that takes place when we become children of God is called the "new birth." So new Christians are called "newborn babies." The way plants grow is also used to describe the growth of a new Christian.
The life found in a plant is placed there by God. We can't put life into an object no matter how hard we may try. It's the same way with the spiritual life. God is the One who puts spiritual life into us. He is the only Source.
And just as God causes the plants to grow and produce, He is the only One who can help us to grow spiritually. No plant grows by its own effort. A child can't grow taller and stronger by worrying and trying. And we can't grow spiritually by our own efforts. Both plants and children grow by receiving what God has provided for them—air, sunshine, and food. And we grow spiritually by accepting Christ, because He is our spiritual food.
God has given Jesus to this world so that we can have spiritual life and grow up into His image. The grace, or power of God is all around us, just as the air. If we choose to breathe in the life-giving atmosphere that Jesus provides, we will grow spiritually. Just as the flower turns to the sun, so we should turn to Jesus.
How Can We Grow Fruit?
Jesus also uses the illustration of the vine and the branches. Jesus is the stock and we are the branches. We are just as dependent upon Jesus for our spiritual life as the branches are upon the vine. If we are not connected to Jesus by trusting in Him, we have no spiritual life in us. We can't grow and bear fruit without a connection to Him. We don't have any power to resist temptation. But when we are connected, all the life that is in Jesus flows to us to give us power to flourish spiritually.
Many people think that they need to grow by their own power. They trusted Christ to forgive them for their past sins, but they think that they are supposed to do what's right without His help. This is impossible. Our spiritual growth and our happiness depend upon our connection with Him. To be connected with Christ means that we are depending upon Him, turning our thoughts toward Him, asking for His guidance, and following His will.
Faith Connects Us to Jesus
Maybe you are wondering, How am I to be connected to Christ? What is my part? The Bible tells us that we are to live the Christian life the same way we started it, by trusting in Jesus. We believed that He would forgive us for our sins and trusted Him to save us. We gave Him our hearts and accepted His pardon. Now we must trust Him to keep us close to Him. We are to continue to give ourselves to Him and continue to receive the power that He gives us.
Give yourself to God the first thing every morning. Pray this prayer: "Take over my life completely. Lord. I want You to show me what I should do today. I want to be used by You. Stay with me all through the day, and may everything that I do be according to Your will." Every morning we should give ourselves to God. We should take our plans to Him and ask for His guidance and wisdom. We should be willing to give up our plans or change them if He wants us to. And as we continue to do this, we will grow stronger as Christians and become more like Jesus every day.
Peace Comes in Trusting Jesus
When Christ is in control of our lives, we will have true peace. This is not simply an ecstatic feeling but a continued sense of hope and assurance. That's because you are not trusting in yourself but in Christ. He takes your weakness and makes you strong. He takes your ignorance and gives you wisdom. Let Him become the focus of your attention. Think about His loving character and the wonderful selfless life He lived. By turning away from ourselves and meditating upon His goodness, we will become like Him.
Jesus says, "Abide in Me." We can safely rest in Him with confidence. He invites us, "Come to Me," and He promises to give us rest. This rest doesn't mean that we're inactive. We are at peace because we trust that He's taking care of us and providing for all our needs. Out of appreciation for His care, we will be eager to share with others the love He has given us.
It is Satan's goal to try to keep us focused upon ourselves so we don't have the new life Jesus wants us to have. He tries to keep us diverted so we don't spend the time to develop a relationship with Jesus. Satan uses many things to try to get our attention: worldly pleasures, the problems and sorrows we face, the faults of others, or even our own faults. He's trying to trick you into looking away from Jesus. But don't let him mislead you. We find our life and hope in Jesus, not in others or in ourselves.
If you're concerned about your spiritual condition, spend more time talking to Jesus and reading His Word, not in worrying whether or not you're going to go to heaven. Thinking about ourselves just makes us more discouraged. But when we trust in Jesus' power to save us, we can rejoice with confidence.
Let's Always Choose Jesus
When Jesus took human nature upon Him, He connected Himself to humanity with a very strong bond. The only thing that can break this bond of love is our own choice. Satan is constantly trying to get us to choose to separate ourselves from Christ. And this is why we need the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need to pray earnestly that we will never choose another master. God has given us the freedom of choice. But Jesus will keep us safe if we will continue to put Him first in our lives. Nothing can separate us from His love.
When we keep an awareness of His presence with us, we will experience a wonderful transformation of character. This was how His disciples were changed. They walked with Jesus every day, listened to His voice, and watched His every move. They were like students learning how to live. They had the same struggles that we have, but it was by being constantly with Jesus that they learned how to live like Him.
We can walk with Jesus the same way day by day. We learn about His life from His Word. We hear His voice by the Holy Spirit's speaking to us. We are connected to Him by prayer and meditation. When we have this connection, our thoughts will be lifted up toward Him. As we admire His beautiful character, we will be empowered to live the same way He lived.
Becoming One With Jesus
We may wish that we had the physical presence of Jesus with us today. But the disciples discovered that they were actually closer to Jesus after He had ascended to heaven than when He was here on earth. That's because He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell inside them. In a special way, Jesus put His thoughts and feelings inside them, so they could think and feel the same way He does. This is a wonderful miracle.
And Jesus will do the same for us today. Jesus prayed for each one of us that we might be one with Him. He wants us to be as close to Him as He is to the Father. What a wonderful experience this is! Jesus will dwell in our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit if we let Him. And then we will grow more and more like Him every day.