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"Typical lessons presented during a worship service of this congregation"

 Continuing To Grow

INTRODUCTION
1. Growth is necessary in all areas of life: business, science, industry, etc.

2. This is especially true in our lives as Christians -
Eph 4:14, 15 "14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ --"
1Pe 2:2 "as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,"

3. WE ARE TO GROW UP ...
2Pe 3:18 "..grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. .."
2Th 1:3 "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,"

4. But spiritual growth must be well-rounded, balanced growth
a. The Christian must grow in knowledge, in zeal, in faith, in Christ-like character, in good works
b. The Christian must not (CAN NOT) be full of knowledge while his disposition remains un-Christlike

5. We must continue growing ever closer to God and more productive in our service to Jesus Christ


I. HINDRANCES TO GROWTH
A. LACK OF EFFORT...
1. Growing in Christ is not automatic

2. One may still be a "babe" after many years -
He 5:13 "For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe."
1Co 3:1,2 "1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;"

3. Growth requires effort, but those who are spiritually lazy will simply follow the course of least resistance; such will forever remain "babes" , if they do not fall away altogether

        B. DISCOURAGEMENT...
1. Some people make a good beginning, but get discouraged and quit

2. Reasons may vary: church troubles, personal problems, lack of encouragement

3. But consider the example of the apostle Paul:
a. Few of us will ever have the problems he had - 2Co 11:24-29 "24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness -- 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?"

b. Yet he did not "lose heart" (become discouraged) -
2Co 4:8, 9 "8 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed --"

c. Why? Because he knew his labor was not in vain -
2Co 4:16-5:1 "16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. Chapter 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
2Co 12:5-10 "5 ... yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. 6 For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

4. And so he encourages us not to grow weary in doing good - Gal 6:9 "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."; 1Co 15:58 "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

C. THE LAW OF DISUSE...
1. A knife stays bright when used, but unused it becomes rusty

2. So it is with Christians, we lose what knowledge, ability, and opportunity we have when we do not use them!
3. Unless we are earnest in our endeavor, we will simply "drift away" from the Lord - He 2:1 "Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away."

D. THE LAW OF INTERFERENCE...
1. Crops, trees and flowers do not grow well when crowded

2. So our spiritual growth will be hindered if we allow others to crowd out our spiritual life
a. Businessmen may become to busy to attend to God's business
b. A woman may get so occupied with housekeeping that she has little time for God
c. Young people may be so busy with school activities than prayer, worship, good works and Bible studies are crowded out
d. Preachers might get so tied down with meetings, administrative duties, etc., that they too do not have time to spend alone with God

3. Jesus warned about the danger of interference - Mk 4:18, 19 "18 "Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 "and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful."

II. SUGGESTIONS FOR CONTINUING YOUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
A. BECOME ACTIVE IN THE WORK OF THE CONGREGATION...
1. Begin immediately!
a. It is important not to delay
b. There is work for everyone, and it is best to start with something you are able to handle
c. Even the most humble service can be a source of joy for those who are doing it to please God - Ps 84:10 "For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness."; Joh 13:12-17 "12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13 "You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 "Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them."

2. Offer your services to the elders, or be part of "the men" that lead the congregation
                     a. These men will be glad to find work for you to do in keeping with your ability
b. Sometimes they hesitate to call on people for work if they are not sure the people are willing - Let them know!
c. But let them know that you have the attitude of Isaiah: "Here am I! Send me." - Isa 6:8 "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."
3. Look for work needing to be done! Don't just wait to be told.
a. The best servant is one who can see things to be done and does them without having to be told every step to take
b. Most of us are good critics; here is how we can put "that" ability to good use:
1) Whenever we see something we want to criticize, take that as an opportunity to SHOW (not tell) how it should be done
2) Someone else's failure is often our opportunity to be of service
3) In other words, "Don't criticize, energize!"
B. START A PROGRAM OF REGULAR PRIVATE DEVOTIONS...
1. Spend time each day alone with God, engaged in prayer, Bible study, singing praises - I can not find anyone (FIND YOURSELF! - FIRST)
2. Such time consistently spent will supply the spiritual nourishment necessary for spiritual growth
3. Many Christians do not grow because they try to exist on a "spiritual starvation diet"! DON'T LOOSE WEIGHT "LOOSE WAIT"

C. PARTICIPATE IN AN INFORMAL BIBLE STUDY GROUP...
1. Meet weekly with other Christians in an informal setting to study the Bible together
2. This provides opportunity for mutual sharing and encouragement which leads to even more knowledge and spiritual growth

D. BECOME INVOLVED IN LEADING PEOPLE TO CHRIST...
1. Begin implementing the suggestions in the lesson on increasing opportunities to share the gospel
2. Even if you don't do the actual teaching, you can do what Andrew and Philip did: lead a friend to Christ! - Joh 1:40-46 "40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas" (which is translated, A Stone). 43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me." 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote -- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 46 And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see.""
3. Those involved in leading others to Christ rarely ever stop growing in Christ themselves!

E. PRACTICE CONSTANT SELF-EXAMINATION...
1. The Scriptures call us to examine ourselves in our relation to Christ - 2Co 13:5 "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you are disqualified."
2. Here are some questions we should often ask ourselves:
a. Do I have a better Bible knowledge than one year ago?
b. Am I as interested in Jesus Christ today as when I was baptized?
c. Have I helped someone else to become a Christian? Besides my own children!
d. Am I enjoying life; or am I enjoying life as a child of God?
e. Am I improving my life, my disposition, and becoming more like Christ?
f. Do I set a good example for other Christians? --  I Christ eyes or my eyes?
g. Am I growing in such activities as Bible study, prayer, worship?
3. Self-examination is not an easy process, but true spiritual growth is impossible without it!

CONCLUSION
1. It is sad, but true, that many Christians are often just religious enough to be miserable; but the life of the Christian is intended to be one filled with love, joy, peace, and so much more! - Gal 5:22, 23 "22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."
2. Enjoy the Christian ABUNDANT LIFE as an ADULT CHRISTIAN! Joh 10:10 "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
1Th 5:23, 24 "23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it."

Will you DO IT    !!!!!


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