Tag Archives: Spiritual maturity

The Cost of Spiritual Maturity.

         Christians follow others for many reasons. Personality, charisma, doctrine, integrity, social status, etc. The reason most people follow a Christian leader is because of the relationship with God that is evident in their life. All great Christian leaders have one thing in common, a genuinely intimate relationship with God that is obvious to all.

          The reason God sent Jesus was to restore man to an intimate relationship with Himself. The message of the Gospel is one of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration of relationships. It is the removal of all barriers that stand between God and man. Jesus is our peacemaker. If a Christian is not continually growing in this revelation, and living out this truth, he/she is not able to reach their full potential as a leader. 

Ephesians 2:14-18 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

          A leader’s influence should be used to bring others into a deeper relationship with the Father. Deep down this is what we all want. This can only be done by example first and teaching second. It is impossible to lead someone to a deeper relationship with God than you have personally experienced. No matter how good a teacher we may be. we can’t lead anyone to a place we’ve never been. Jesus said of Himself; “I am the way, the truth, and the life… John 14:6

If we don’t know “The Way,” we can’t show the way.

          Jesus is the example of leadership that we must follow. We can look at His life and glean many leadership principles that we can live by, but I will only address one main principle that we see Him practice throughout the gospels. The practice of being intimate with the Father.
          There are no shortcuts to intimacy, it costs time, discipline, effort, devotion, and commitment. Above all, it requires a love for Him. Pursuing intimacy with the Father is the greatest indication of our love for God and the greatest investment we can make in ourselves and others. Our faith will only rise to the level of our love for God.

          Jesus paid the price to restore our relationship with the Father. Are we paying the price to nurture and develop that relationship? This is a question we all must answer for ourselves. Intimacy with God is what leads us to maturity. Many Christians follow others because of their “spiritual gifting,” not understanding that gifting can easily be manifest without spiritual maturity.

Spiritual Gifts are Free, Maturity is Expensive

          Our identity is not found in our gifting or our calling, but in our relationship with the Father. Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher is not who we are, it is how we were created to serve. We must find our identity in our loving relationship with the Father, not our gifting.

          Disciples are made when people willingly follow you, and your living example. If you make disciples apart from intimacy with the Father, what are you reproducing? Do we really need two or more like you?
Our priority should be a growing relationship with the Father. We should be cautious of having followers if there are any other priorities above that.

          A leader can easily get distracted from spending intimate time with the Lord. A common trap is to replace being alone with God and pursuing intimacy in that relationship with the busyness of religious activity.  Another trap is to allow our “quiet time” or “devotion time” with the Lord to become a lifeless activity where we go through the motions and never connect with God on an intimate level. We can read a daily chapter or two, run through our laundry list of prayer requests, and never take time to be quiet and listen to the one we are talking to. I have been guilty of this myself. It is tragic to become lifeless in our devotions to God and call it a relationship.

            We can learn about God from reading and studying the Bible, but to truly know Him, we must spend time with Him, commune with Him, and listen to Him.

          Jesus set our greatest example. He only did what He saw the Father do. This demands a lifestyle of watching and praying. It’s not always convenient or comfortable, but it is always necessary.

          If you read my biography, you can learn a lot about me, but you can’t honestly say that you know me. You may “feel like you know me,” but to truly know me, you must spend time with me, ask me questions, and listen to my responses, spend time with me. It is the same with God.

          When intimacy becomes a lifestyle, reading the Bible takes on new dimensions and bears much more fruit in our lives. We begin to view His written word through His divine nature, we see it with an unveiled face and a heart of love that makes us more sensitive to His spoken word. This is when the scriptures begin to come alive for us.

          The Lord taught me a powerful lesson about who I am, and I would like to share it with you.
I pray often that God would live in me and through me in fullness. That people would see Him in me. I remember some time ago, ministering to a lady on the phone one day, she asked me if I was a Pastor. I said “No, my wife is a pastor,” The Lord then spoke to me in the middle of this phone conversation and said, “But I Am a Pastor, and if you deny Me that expression in your life I can’t answer your prayer to live through you in fullness.”

          God was showing me that titles and labels don’t define who we are, He does. Many times we limit His expression through our lives because our words and beliefs are not aligned with His heart. It gives us a twisted view of our identity. Intimacy with God not only gives us an understanding of who He is, but it also shapes our beliefs and gives us an understanding of who we are in Him.

          Who we think we are, must come second to who He wants us to be at any given moment. He showed me that He is the embodiment of the five-fold ministry and if we will maintain intimacy with Him and be sensitive to His desires He will be free to move through us and touch lives in ways that we could never do through our strength and ability.

Ephesians 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 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— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

          Without intimacy. we will not produce the fruit of who He is in our lives. May we grow in this wonderful relationship until we love as He loves.

          As we seek Him, we will find Him. As we draw close to Him. He draws close to us. As we embrace Him, He will embrace us. We love Him because He first loved us. He proved His love by laying down His life for us. May we lay down our lives for Him. He is worthy

          He is worthy of our attention, our affection, our life, and He is worthy of our death should it be required. He is worthy!

Spiritual Gifts are Free, Maturity is Expensive

          Christians follow others for many reasons. Personality, charisma, doctrine, integrity, social status, etc. The reason most people follow a Christian leader is because of the relationship with God that is evident in their life. All great Christian leaders have one thing in common, a genuine intimate relationship with God that is obvious to all.
          The reason God sent Jesus was to restore man back to intimate relationship with Himself. The message of the Gospel is one of redemption, reconciliation and restoration of relationship, the removal of all barriers that stand between God and man. Jesus is our peacemaker. If a Christian is not continually growing in this revelation, and living out this truth, he/she is not qualified to lead others anywhere.

Ephesians 2:13-16 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

          A leader’s influence should be used to bring others into a deeper relationship with the Father. Deep down this is what we all want. This can only be done by example first, and teaching second. It is impossible to lead someone to a deeper relationship with God than you have personally experienced. You can’t lead anyone to a place you’ve never been. Jesus said of Himself; “I am the way, the truth, and the life… John 14:6

If we don’t know “The Way,” we can’t show the way.

          Jesus is the example of leadership that we must follow. We can look at His life and glean many leadership principles that we can live by, but I will only address one main principle that we see Him practice in the gospels. Intimacy with God.
          There are no shortcuts to intimacy, it costs time, discipline, effort, devotion, and commitment. Above all, it requires a love for Him. Pursuing intimacy with the Father is the greatest indication of our love for God, and the greatest investment we can make in ourselves and others. Our faith will only rise to level of our love for Him.

          Jesus paid the price to restore our relationship with the Father. Are we paying the price to nurture and develop that relationship? This is a question we all must answer for ourselves.
Intimacy leads to maturity. Many Christians follow others because of their “Spiritual Gifting,” not understanding that gifting can easily be manifest without spiritual maturity.

Spiritual gifts are free, but maturity is expensive.

          Our identity is not found in our gifting, or our calling, but in our relationship with the Father. Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher is not who we are, it is how we serve. We must find our identity in loving and serving, not gifting.

          Disciples are made when people willingly follow you, and your living example. If you make disciples apart from intimacy with the Father, what are you reproducing? Do we really need two or more like you?
Our first priority should be intimate relationship with the Father. We should be cautious of having followers if there are any other priorities above that.

          A leader can easily get distracted from spending intimate time with the Lord. A common trap is to replace reading the Bible and going to church with being alone with God and communing with Him. We can only learn about God from reading and studying the Bible. To truly know Him, we must spend time with Him, commune with Him, listen to Him.

          Jesus set our greatest example. He only did what He saw the Father do. This demands a lifestyle of watching and praying. It’s not always convenient or comfortable, but it is always necessary.

          If you read my biography, you can learn a lot about me, but you can’t honestly say that you know me. You may “feel like you know me,” but to truly know me, you must spend time with me, ask me questions, listen to my responses, spend time with me. It is the same with God.

          When intimacy becomes a lifestyle, reading the Bible takes on new dimensions and bears much more fruit in our lives. We begin to view His written word through His divine nature, we see it with an unveiled face and a heart of love that makes us more sensitive to His spoken word. This is when the scriptures really begins to come alive for us.

maturity1.jpg

          The Lord taught me a powerful lesson about who I am, and I would like to share it with you.
I pray often that God would live in me and through me in fullness. That people would see Him in me. I remember some time ago, ministering to a lady on the phone one day, she asked me if I was a Pastor. I said “No, my wife is a pastor,” The Lord then spoke to me in the middle of this phone conversation and said, “But I Am a Pastor, and if you deny Me that expression in your life I can’t answer your prayer to live through you in fullness.”

          God was showing me that titles and labels don’t define who we are, He does. Many times we limit His expression through our life because our words and beliefs are not aligned with His heart. It gives us a twisted view of our identity. Intimacy with God not only gives us an understanding of who He is, it shapes our beliefs and gives us an understanding of who we are in Him.maturty3.jpg

          Who we think we are, must come second to who He wants us to be at any given moment. He showed me that He is the embodiment of the five-fold ministry and if we will maintain intimacy with Him and be sensitive to His desires He will be free to move through us and touch lives in ways that we could never do through our own strength and ability.

Ephesians 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 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— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

          Without intimacy. we will not produce the fruit of who He is in our lives. May we grow in this wonderful relationship until we love like He loves.

          As we seek Him, we will find Him. As we draw close to Him. He draws close to us. As we embrace Him, He will embrace us. We love Him, because He first loved us. He proved His love by laying down His life for us. May we lay down our lives for Him. He is worthy

          He is worthy of our attention, our affection, our life, and He is worthy of our death should it be required. He is worthy!

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

What Defines A Mature Christian?

growing baby

          Is it possible to be a faithful church attender, serve in the ministry for years, teach others about the gospel, be a leader within our church community, even be a pastor and still be a babe? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. 
         The Church has developed some un-biblical ideas about what defines a mature Christian. Because of these twisted beliefs we have fallen into the trap of “thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought,” (Romans 12:3).
          Young children always think they are more “grown up” than they actually are. Boys compare themselves with other boys to see who is bigger and stronger. Girls compare each other to see who has the most grown up stuff in their purse, who gets their ears pierced first, who gets to wear make-up first, etc. This thought process produces a belief system that makes them think they are more than they are, and they carry that into adulthood. It is not a healthy thing. It lacks humility and darkens the perspective about their identity.
          It is time for the body of Christ to humble themselves and acknowledge their immaturity. It is the only way to move forward and grow spiritually. If a person thinks they are more mature than they really are, it hinders their spiritual development because they are trying to start from a place that they are not.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
          If we are to learn algebra, we must first have a clear understanding of basic math. Without a solid foundation of basic math, algebra will remain a mystery. There are certain rules and laws of math that must be understand clearly before we can advance into algebra. Growing up spiritually is the same way. There are a few things we must understand about ourselves before we can grow into a mature believer.
grow big.jpg

          Spiritual maturity is much like physical maturity, and just like the physical, spiritual maturity can be measured by stages of growth. We see three stages represented in the New Testament. Babes, children, and mature. For this lesson we will look at what causes Christians to remain a babe.

Spiritual Immaturity

Hebrews 5:12-14 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Notice the phrase “unskilled in the word of righteousness.”

A clear understanding of righteousness will cause us to grow beyond being a baby Christian.

The word unskilled here means to be ignorant. It means: without knowledge of, unaware of, unconscious of, oblivious to, incognizant of, unfamiliar with, unacquainted with, uninformed about, unenlightened about, inexperienced with, naïve. You get the picture?
growing babe.jpg

          Being ignorant of our righteousness is one of the greatest tragedies in Christianity. Not knowing who we are prevents us from becoming what Christ paid for. If we never understand we are righteous children, we will serve God FOR approval instead of serving God from a place OF approval.

Galatians 4:1-2 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

          Many of us are claiming our rightful inheritance of healing, blessing, prosperity, favor, etc. but until we embrace our righteousness and establish our identity as sons and daughters, we will not grow up enough to receive much of our inheritance. We will remain under guardians and stewards and remain a servant, a slave, a babe. Many times the reason we don’t grow up is because the “guardians and stewards” (pastors and leaders) we are under don’t have this revelation themselves so they can’t teach it. This produces a lot of frustration and discouragement in the body of Christ.

We will never grow beyond being the revelation of our identity, the understanding of our righteousness.

          We have a tremendous inheritance through Christ, but our inheritance won’t come to us in fullness until we catch this revelation. We will live a life no different from a slave, because in some ways, we will still be a slave to sin. The revelation of righteousness sets us free from sin and legalism which wars against Christ’s transforming work in us.
          Living without a revelation of righteousness is living a life of bondage and slavery to sin. It keeps us from the freedom and intimacy of relationship with our Father. This is why it is such a big deal. We can be zealous and hungry for God and miss the whole point of the Gospel. Listen to Paul’s heart for his fellow Jews.

Romans 10:1-4 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
          What is Paul saying here? The Jews are zealous for God but they are ignorant of the fact that righteousness has been provided for them. IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS! Ignorance can get us destroyed. Ignorance can keep us from receiving God’s promises. Ignorance can stunt our spiritual growth and keep us from developing beyond a babe in Christ.
growing.png

          We must submit to righteousness. This means that we must set ourselves in agreement with what God has said about us. Stop talking sin and death and begin speaking life and righteousness. We can’t be free from a sin consciousness and keep it in our language. We need to submit to the the gift of righteousness.
         God sees us sinless. When we begin to believe that righteous and holy is the only way He sees us, then we will begin to see ourselves that way too. This opens the door for His grace to flood our lives and transform us so that we actually begin to produce righteous and holy fruit. If we try to live righteous and holy in our own strength, we have already set ourselves up for failure. That is what the Jews were, and still are doing. We can’t make ourselves righteous, so we must agree with God that He has already made us that way and His grace will empower us live that way.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

          Christ started the work by giving us the gift of righteousness. Believe what He said is truth and grace is released to perfect the work.
          When we begin to believe that we are righteous, we leave no room for the enemy to touch our lives. Being settled in our identity will cause our motives, thoughts, intentions, and even our actions to be pure. Submitting to righteousness is the key to spiritual maturity and transformation. Righteousness isn’t just who we are in His sight. It is a promise to transform us, by the grace of God, into a person that actually lives a righteous life. We just have to believe what God has said about us is true.

Why is it so hard for us to believe that we are righteous? Because we know us!

          Let the weak say “I am strong!” (Joel 3:10) Let the Christian that struggles with sin say, “I am righteous!”
          Righteousness is not a lesson we learn and move on to something else. This must be focused on, cultivated, and exercised constantly. Its something we continue to grow into. when we develop a hunger and thirst for this revelation we will be filled with all the fullness of God.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC