Acts 2:42-47 and 1 John 2:12-14
Sunday, October 7, 2012
#3 of 5 – 30 Day Church Challenge
Week Three – Life Is About Growing:
Stepping Up to Spiritual Growth
Welcome to week three of the 30-Day Church Challenge! Two weeks ago we started our 30-Day Challenge. I asked you to commit to coming to a worship service each week, to studying a Scripture passage each day, and to consider joining a small group, if you aren’t already in one. The objective of our 30-Day Church Challenge is to discover and engage in the five purposes of the early church found in Acts. We said that at the end of the thirty days we want a transformation in our thinking about the church, not just viewing it as a place to come to, but realizing that it is a vibrant family to belong to. We each got a 30-Day Church Challenge Bookmark to remind us that we’re committed to this challenge…If you didn’t get one, please pick one up at the Welcome Center.
Each week I’m issuing a challenge related to the five purposes of the church we’re studying. Two weeks ago I shared with you about community. We looked at the importance of being part of an authentic community of faith and the challenge was to commit to joining a small group or class where you can experience authentic community. Last week we discussed that we are wired for worship and that worship is a verb that describes an action we should do with every breath we take. The challenge was not only to come to a worship service every week, but also to take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life – and give it to God as an act of worship.
Today our challenge has to do with the third purpose of the church – spiritual growth. Why was the first church so committed to authentic community and worship? Because they wanted to grow! So, our focus today is on spiritual growth.
Chances are, when you were little your parents had a special place on the inside of a doorframe or closet where they measured your height every three or four months…Remember that? Remember how excited you were every time you saw that you had grown? Something in us just wants to grow. And we get excited when we see and feel it happening! The Bible talks about measuring our spiritual growth in 1 John 2:12…Turn there now…By the time John wrote this letter, he was in his sixties or seventies, which was old back then…So he writes this as a grandfatherly figure writing to younger folks. He says: [read 1 John 2:12–14]. By John’s definition, spiritual children are those who have received Jesus; they’ve had their sins forgiven by receiving Christ and they know God. Spiritual young men are strong because they are regularly reading God’s word, and they are involved in the cause of Christ, advancing his kingdom and thereby “overcome the evil one.” Spiritual fathers are those who have a relationship with the Lord deep enough to know God’s character personally—he’s “eternal,” “from the beginning.” That’s how God measures spiritual growth. From just coming to Christ to growing and serving to knowing God like you know a great friend.
Life is about growth…spiritual life is about spiritual growth. We’re designed to grow until the day we die…the thing is – some of us die inside before we start showing signs of dying on the outside. There are three signs that someone is dying on the inside:
1. They stop learning.
2. They stop maturing.
3. They stop caring.
My grandfather told me that he was determined to learn something new every day because, if he ever stopped learning, he may as well die…He lived to be 87. You can tell when a person has stopped learning because they never share anything new that they read, heard at a seminar, or gleaned from a sermon, podcast, or small group conversation. You can tell when a person has stopped maturing because their character doesn’t change…They aren’t becoming more thoughtful or patient…They don’t do anything more helpful around the house, neighborhood, at work, or at church than they did a few years ago. You can tell when a person has stopped caring because, well, they don’t care. They don’t care any more deeply today about children starving around the world or social injustice than they did a few years ago.
God never intends for us to stop growing. You and I ought to be getting better until the day we die. Growing is about transformation…It’s about moving from whomever we are to the someone we should be. When you grow as a Christian, you learn to believe better, hope better, and love better. As you are transformed by the renewing of your mind, you believe less of what Oprah says and more of what God says. You become less of a taker and more of a giver…Your life becomes less about you and more about others. None of this happens overnight. It’s a process—an on-going process. Our goal is to step up to spiritual growth by committing to taking one spiritual step at a time. Your challenge this week is to grow. The challenge I want you to take on is to commit to spending time with God every day.
Part of spending time with God is reading the Bible…Put your bookmark at 1 John 2:12-14; meditate on that passage and listen for God’s plan for you. The second part of spending time with God is prayer. God speaks to you while you’re reading the Bible…you speak to God when you pray. Your prayers don’t have to be elaborate, just tell God what you’re thinking and how you’d like his help during your day. This is God’s teaching for today…Will you receive it? In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…Amen