A Call To Spiritual Growth
A Prayer to Open Our Study
Heavenly Father, everything we need is found in You. For those of us who come here feeling broken, bring restoration. For those of us who come here feeling weak, bring strength. For those who come here weeping, bring joy. For those of us who come here with doubts, bring faith. For those who come here feeling shame, bring freedom. For those of us who come here feeling burdened, bring rest. For those of us who come here feeling anxious, bring peace.
We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Lesson Four Part Four: Our Continual Growth Is The LORD’S Desire.
In the last lesson we learned, it’s important for us to preform continually self-examinations; so that we can do the difficult work of changing our beliefs and behaviors. My husband, Joe tells us one of the easiest ways for us to know if we are growing in our faith walk is to compare our lives to the fruits of the Spirit.
Is your life showing more “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” than it was before? James 2:14 asks us, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” James 2:15 gives us the answer “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” We don’t want to have a faith that is dead, we want an ever-evolving devotion to the Lord, and His people, that is visible in our actions.
Read Romans 13:12-14
In question 8 Mr. Stanley asks us, “What does it mean to put on the Lord Jesus Christ?” I found a Pastor who put it very well. He said, “To put on Christ means to follow Him in discipleship, letting our lives be conformed to the image of Jesus. Rather than adapting ourselves to the pattern of this world, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and the modification of our behavior into the model of Christ’s life on earth. Putting on Christ means abiding in Jesus and living to please Him.”
It’s in the choosing: Love over envy and jealousy It’s in the choosing: Joy over sadness and discouragement
It’s in the choosing: Peace over struggling and combat
It’s in the choosing: Patience over intolerance and annoyance
It’s in the choosing: Kindness over callousness and spitefulness
It’s in the choosing: Goodness over depravity and cruelty
It’s in the choosing: Faithfulness over infidelity and betrayal
It’s in the choosing: Gentleness over heartlessness and ruthlessness
It’s in the choosing: Self-control over indulgence and abandon
Read Romans 12:2 and Colossians 3:10
9. In this question Mr. Stanley asks us, “What is the armor of light?” To me it means to trust in the truths in the bible and His plan for us. To let the scriptures shine a light on the actions of our life. The more we saturate our minds with God’s word, the clearer it becomes. I remember learning to read, with each story I grew more skilled. Each story of the Bible has a lesson to be learned. From Adam and Eve, we learn about our sinful nature. From Noah we learn how faithfulness comes with rewards. Ruth and Naomi teach us about selfless love. These lessons go on and on and their light is a beacon for us in a lost and turbulent sea. JJ my son, didn’t like going into a dark room. I asked him if he was afraid of the dark? He said he wasn’t afraid of the dark, but of what was IN the dark. And that is how we should live our lives not fearful or anxious of the world, but we should use Jesus as our light against the things that are dark in our lives. I think 2 Timothy 3:16 in the New Living Translation put it best, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right”.
Read Ephesians 6:10-18
Put on the full armor of God
Attacks’ can come at us from places we never expect like our friends, and family, Satan can use anyone from strangers to the ones we love. That’s why we need to get up each day with a plan to protect ourselves. As we read in the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul creates a powerful metaphor for how your faith can help protect you from spiritual attack. Spiritual attacks might be things like the temptation to sin, doubting your faith, or feeling like I did that you aren't good enough to share God's word. The Bible says that these are caused by Satan and his evil forces. However, if you symbolically put on the whole armor of God, you can stand firm against these attacks and remain strong in your faith. But what symbols could we use to put on armor?
Pray: As you put on your top or blouse make this is your Breastplate of Righteousness, make requests to Jesus for protection over your heart. To keep it safe from attacks from friend or foe.
Pray: As you put on your shoes to make your Feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace, so as you walk through your day you are spreading God’s love.
Pray: As you put on perfume or body spray make this your Shield of Faith, use this sweet smell to ward off temptations of overindulging on food, drink, gambling, or your vice of choice.
Pray: As you put on a hat, scarf, or sash make this your Helmet of Salvation, to use this keep your mind and spirit on what is commendable and a benefit to others.
Pray: as you apply your makeup ask that it would be your Sword of the Spirit, let it reflect your honor and beauty to the world.
Pray: As you pick up your cell phone and make a commitment that this is your Belt of Truth, that you will only use it with words that bring glory to God and never to spread malicious gossip or slander.
Now you are prepared to face the challenges in the armor of God in the daily clothes a woman puts on. A lovely blouse wrapping you in righteousness; shoes fitted for service… as you get dressed everyday use these earthly garments as a means to call on the Holy Spirit to keep you safe from the war we are in.
10. Mr. Stanley wanted us to consider some of the ways you have been persevering in the “race” and what spiritual growth can you see as you look back over your life. The conversation I had with my old friend really brought it home for me, I clearly could see that I have been moving my life closer to what glorifies God. Just her words that she didn’t even recognize me anymore, were the most beautiful words she could have said. They hurt at first, I wondered how she could say that? I still recognized her. I was still her friend and would never call her out on her life choices, I loved her. But that was it, she hadn’t changed or improved her life, and although I didn’t say she could use improvement, it was my change that made her look at her own. I have a mountain of things that still need work, but I am going to make a list of the things that I have already accomplished, so that when tuff days come, when friends or loved ones point their finger at me I will have a record of my success to lean on. So that I can readily see where the hand of God has taken me, so that I will not fear the rest of the race. I urge you to make your list, lean on your list, add daily to your list, because there is a war on, and the race will be won by the children of God.
Charles Stanley wants us to consider these thoughts:
Today and Tomorrow
Today: God uses adversity to get my attention and to lead me to
examine myself and change.
Tomorrow: I will prayerfully examine my life, asking God what
needs to change.
Closing Prayer, Charles Stanley
Father, thank You for loving us. Today, our prayer is the same as the words of that verse in the Psalms: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me.” Lord, test our thoughts, point out anything in us that makes you sad, and lead us along the path of everlasting life. Help us to release the control to You so Your blessed Son, who is within us and has become our life, can express Himself through us. We want to reflect Your glory and Your purposes to the world. Amen