Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't stop now, the cross is only the beginning

Good morning my friends and my new friends who have joined us recently. May you be blessed, encouraged and provoked by God's Word this morning.

This morning I feel like I am "preaching to the choir" as we consider what we are doing for our growth as Christians. We all know believers that have never grown beyond that simple point of salvation. They hear the teaching that all we need to be saved is to confess our sins and to receive Jesus as Saviour and Lord. They fail to hear the message of growth into maturity and they miss out on the abundant living Jesus promised us. They remain at that point of constantly being afraid they are not forgiven and see our Father as being judge and jury over every step of our life. Jesus said he came to set us free but what freedom is there in fear?

Obviously from the simple fact that you are reading this you are actively seeking growth and maturity in your relationship with Jesus. You have understood what Paul was writing to the Colossians:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (2:6-7)

I congratulate you because there are not many Christians who understand the necessity of this outside of the context of Sunday. We have understood that there is more than the cross in our experience with Jesus. The cross is a starting point for us in this incredible relationship we have with Christ, so we continue to live in him every day. If I had more time I would go into the many scriptures that refer to us living in Jesus; he is in us and we are in him. It is a close and constant relationship, a wonderful daily interaction, a bond of love that cannot be broken by any person or circumstance, unless we allow it.

Paul refers to how we are rooted in Jesus. He is the soil that feeds us and keeps us firm and like any good tree we need to send our roots down deep into this rich soil for sustenance and firmness. With deep roots we can withstand any storms that would threaten to uproot us. However, to have such a large root system we must be involved in growth every day. We need to be intimate with Jesus throughout the day; talking, sharing, petitioning for others, worshiping, enjoying the company and companionship. As we do this we will also be built up in Jesus, just like any tree with a good root system. Notice the choice of words "in him". Whatever we do in this relationship we will always be found in Jesus. We cannot live outside of him because as a new creation we died to our former self and we were raised to life in Jesus. Outside of him there is only death.

As we have this daily fellowship with Jesus, growing intimately together, a couple of things happen. First we find that we are strengthened in our faith. Like any good and growing relationship, bonds of trust begin to form. As Jesus helps us in the little things that we first trust him with, we begin to trust him him with more and more. Many people will tell you that they trust Jesus with everything because they believe that is what they have to say. We are great with platitudes in the Church these days. (I blame Twitter). However deep trust, which is part of faith, comes as the roots grow deeper and as we are built up in Jesus. It is a relationship thing that can take some time, in fact all our life, because the growth process never ends. The second thing that happens is we gain a thankful heart. The truth is, as we mature in Jesus it becomes easier to face hardships and trials because we have learned that Jesus uses all of it for our good. That is difficult to accept until you have lived through it a number of times. Allow me to clarify that; until you have lived through it and learned from it. There is no sense going through difficult times if you are not going to learn from it. As we mature we realize there is more and more we need to be thankful for and there is only one to whom the praises are due.

So this is what we are involved with every day. This is the reason Paul encouraged us to "work out our salvation daily". This is the reason we need to encourage each other forward in our relationship with Jesus. We are naturally lazy and we will gladly sit and rest for a bit, never to rise again. Just like Christian in "The Pilgrims Progress" there is a point where we can become weary, when we think it would be okay to take a break from our progress, to just rest for a bit. The moment we stop moving forward is the moment we will start going backwards and we walk a very dangerous path. You should ask yourself, how am I different from last week? Is my fellowship with Jesus richer than it was? Am I stronger or weaker than last week? Let us not give up in doing good and let us encourage each other to go on in this incredible relationship we have with Jesus. There is so much more to learn and there is so much more room for growth. Let's work on that root system today.

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