Monday, February 11, 2013

Spiritual Growth

I took the following notes word for word from a sermon by Greg Koukl entitled, “No Pixie Dust, Truths of Spiritual Growth”:

“God doesn’t give us patience, He teaches us patience.”

“This is the kind of Christian that can’t be defeated.  The Christian that is committed to follow Christ regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the hardships, even if they seem, even if it seems like they’ve been stopped dead in their spiritual tracks and they can grow no more.  The victor, after all, in any battle, is the one who is still standing when the dust settles.  No, there’s no spiritual pixie dust that will transform us instantly into spiritual giants, but that’s okay because time is a factor in real genuine change and God redeems us in that waiting period.”

“Spiritual growth hurts.  “What?”  Yes, it’s painful.  That is not a popular message by the way, but it’s the truth.  And I will have to say, my Christian life has been punctuated by seasons of extreme difficulty, emotional pain, and turmoil.  I’m not saying that so you’ll feel sorry for me, I’m much like just about every other mature Christian that I know who has to go through the valleys…and God sometimes will bring you through many, many of them and sometimes it seems like they never end.  Because God has chosen the tool of difficulty and pain as the surgical tool that will do the most good in changing you and transforming you into the kind of person that He wants you to be.”

“…You see, our view folks, is that if God was in our life, He would solve all our problems.  And God help us, but we preach this to people to bring them into the Kingdom.  “Try Jesus, you’ll like Him.  Jesus will save your marriage.  He’ll repair your relationship.  He’ll bring back the estranged sweetheart.  He’ll solve your business problems.  He’ll put joy and peace and wonderful feelings in your life.  Just walk down the aisle and we’ll pray for you, everything will be fine after that.”  Bologna!  We cannot promise to people what Jesus Himself does not promise.  And He doesn’t promise any of those things.  “What about abundant life?”  Well, He promises that but it’s a different definition than Americans have.  I’ll tell you that, right now!  When I became a Christian, my problems just began!  Because I had spent twenty three years trying to screw my life up, then God, now, was finally getting in there, beginning to change it.  And change does happen in people’s lives.  Make no mistake about it.  But it happens generally when it’s more painful to stay where you’re at than it is to change.  It’s painful to change, God knows that.  So we just sit where we’re at, and He heats up the kettle.  He heats up the furnace three times as hot, until finally we say, “OKAY, I’m moving forward.”  And sometimes we run from suffering instead of seeing it as something good and instead of embracing the very thing that God has ordained for our transformation and for our spiritual growth.  There is nothing like pain and heartache to drive us into Jesus’ arms.  In fact, I heard one person say that a Christian is someone who comes to the end of their rope.  Well, a mature Christian then is a person who stays at the end of their rope.  And sometimes God greases the grapevine, doesn’t He?  Let me give you a secret that I have learned that has helped me through a lot of difficult times.  If you’re taking notes, I would like you to write this down.  It’s very important.  Actually, if you don’t write it down, it’s pretty easy to remember.  And I think about this when I face difficult times that God has brought me into.  And that encouraging thought is this, “Life is hard and then you die.”  That’s the truth, ladies and gentlemen.  Only children want it to be wonderful all the time.  I should say, only children demand that.  Adults know better.  Adults know that a full life, even a full Christian life is a mixture of joy and pain.  And there is no pixie dust to rescue you from the painful contingencies of living in a fallen world.  But, that’s okay.  Because pain is redeemed by God and it’s a precious part of your growth.  Jesus did not promise you pixie dust, He promised you His presence. …”

“… So if you’re reflecting now on what I’ve said and you say, “Well, my life is perplexing.  My life is going a lot slower in my growth than I expected.  There’s a lot of pain at different times that I didn’t count on that is not ultimately satisfying.”  Join the club!  That’s what I feel much of the time.  Now it may be that you’re a flaky Christian, I’ll grant you that, and if you are, you probably know it and you should get with the program.  But it may be you’re having an ordinary Christian life, walking with the Savior, growing and going through the kinds of things that the Savior brings everybody who walks with Him consistently through.  He is not the bridge over troubled waters.  He will bring you through the troubled waters if you can stand the toll. …If you want a vacation for the rest of your life, don’t become a Christian!  Join Club Med!  But, if you want to know God, roll up your sleeves.  You won’t be lying on the beach in Antiguan getting a tan, but you’ll be doing life with the Author of life.  You’ll be getting to know God, and that’s all that really matters. …”


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