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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 06/26/19

Growing Pains

As we grow close to God, we grow closer to others. As we grow closer to others, they grow closer to God.

STORY: Growth Chart

When I was growing up, we kept track of “reaching new heights” by marking our height on the doorframe in the kitchen. When my nephew went to visit Mom every other year or so, they’d mark his height, albeit in different houses from our childhood home. When my husband and I moved into our Midcentury Modern home, one of the doorframes contained a similar growth chart from the former owner’s daughter. I can’t bring myself to paint over it! Growth is a big deal. And so is our spiritual growth. The day we stop growing is the day we start dying. The day we stop helping others to grow is the day we stop living.

STUDY: Growth Spurts

Love

And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. (1 Thessalonians 3:12 NLT)

  • How can the Lord make our love for others improve?
  • What do you think the difference is between loving one another and loving all people?
  • When you think of love for others growing to the point of it overflowing, how will that impact life in us and around us?
  • It all starts with someone loving us first. In this verse, it was Paul having overflowing love toward the Thessalonian believers. Who is someone who has shown you overflowing love? With whom might God want you to share your overflow?

Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. (2 Thessalonians 1:3 NLT)

  • In the second letter Paul wrote this same church (Thessalonica), he expresses joy because of two growing points he sees in the believers. What are they?
  • Can you think of a time when your faith was flourishing? What caused that to happen and what did it look like in your life? How can you help someone else have flourishing faith?
  • What causes our love for one another to grow? How can we let it grow even more?

And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. (1 John 4:17 NLT)

  • Why (or how) do you think our love matures (grows more perfect) as we live for God?
  • What helps us not fear the day of judgment?
  • Look at the sequence of this verse. 1) Live in God. 2) Love grows and matures. 3) Not afraid of Judgment Day. 4) Face God with confidence. 5) Why? Because we lived like Jesus while here on earth. 6) It started with living in God and ended with living like Jesus.

Discipleship

Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. (Philippians 1:25 NLT)

  • Paul’s love for God and his love for others motivated him to help others grow in their faith. How does your love for God and others stimulate you to help them grow in faith? Can you think of someone in your life who is ready for a next step of faith? How can you help them in everyday ways to desire to grow in God?
  • Paul believed one purpose for God keeping him alive was so he can help others not only grow but what else? Why do you think God is keeping you here on earth rather than gathering you up to spend time with him in Heaven? 
  • How can we help others experience the joy of their faith? What does growth have to do with this step?

Christlike / Body of Christ

Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (Ephesians 4:15-16 NLT)

  • As we show love towards others and mentor them in their faith (while continuing to grow in our own faith), we see the body of Christ come together.
  • What does speaking the truth in love have to do with growing in every way more and more like Christ?
  • The church is the body of Christ. How is Jesus the head?
  • What does the church body look like as Christ makes it fit together perfectly?
  • Each part is called to do our own special work. What is your special work?
  • What three things happen when we do our part, according to this passage?

And they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it. (Colossians 2:19 NLT)

  • Why is it important to the individual and to the church, to be connected to Christ?
  • As the body grows, who is the one nourishing it? How do we gain that nourishment?

STEPS: Growing into Maturity

  1. Maturity means continuing to grow in the Lord while helping someone else grow in the Lord. “For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord.” (Romans 1:11 NLT)
  1. Maturity means being able to do life with others. We experience this fully as we rejoice with them and encourage them. “Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT)
  1. Maturity means being able to endure trials and let our faith shine. “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:3-4 NLT)

Copyright © 2019 Kathy Carlton Willis, used with permission.

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