Tag Archives: maturity

Numbers 4; Hold On!

I remember witnessing a situation in a church I attended years ago. A young man in his late twenties came to know the Lord in a dramatic and exciting way. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone more on fire after meeting his Savior. And his enthusiasm was contagious.

But I was surprised when the board approved him as a Sunday School teacher only a few months after his conversion. I talked to the pastor who said they felt his enthusiasm was exactly what our stagnate congregation needed. Even though he was still a baby in the faith, and had much to learn himself, the board thought he would be “a shot in the arm” for our fellowship.

The young man began to teach the young married class. But it wasn’t long before he began to teach some things that were not consistent with Scripture. He’d latched on to a popular TV preacher whose message was full of partial truths. But being a babe in his faith, the young man didn’t recognize the error. Eventually, after one of our elders tried to mentor him in the Truth, the young man left the church and took two of the couples with him.

God instructed Moses that men 30-50 were to be given the responsibilities to serve in the Tent of Meeting. In Numbers 8:24 provisions are made for younger men to take part in the work, and Matthew Henry suggests they could be apprentices until age 30, when they would be given their official duties.

It’s believed Paul took some time in Damascus after his conversion before he began his preaching ministry. Some have it as long as three years, and believe he spent time with Christians, learning about his Savior, getting grounded in his faith.

The excitement of a newly saved person should energize our churches. Enthusiasm for the things of God is contagious. But let’s choose our leaders wisely. When we appoint teachers and hire pastors, we are placing on them a serious responsibility, a higher standard by which they are held accountable by God.

Paul sets out some guidelines in I Timothy and Ephesians for church workers. I think we would do well to follow them. And if what Matthew Henry says is true, giving time for a bit of maturity, is the Old Testament basis for serving, as well. Maybe insisting an enthusiastic babe in Christ hold on before tackling leadership positions is exactly what God has prescribed for a very good reason.

We are told to pray for those in positions of authority. (I Timothy 2:2) I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing to do for our church leaders as well as our government. Let’s all be faithful to do that.

And, mature Christian, maybe YOU are the shot in the arm your fellowship needs. Just a thought.

September 28 – A Worthless Pledge

Nehemiah 6-10

The school where I was guidance counselor celebrated Red Ribbon Week each year. I always tried to make the emphasis fun, informative, and challenging. We’d ask students and staff to take a pledge to be drug-free. They’d sign a banner or a poster, then receive a red ribbon they would wear to show evidence of their pledge.

Student leaders were in charge of sitting at tables in the hallway and asking kids to sign the pledge and receive their ribbons. I’d often have them perform skits or share information during our morning announcements about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. We’d have contests, and try to make it cool to be drug-free.

Years later, I got a call from a young woman who had been one of my student leaders while she was in Middle School. She had recently asked Jesus into her life, and felt the need to confess some past sins to people she felt she had hurt. She told me that she had started using drugs in Middle School, that while she had been one of the more vocal advocates of a drug-free lifestyle, she had been using. She’d signed the pledge every year. She just didn’t keep her pledge and wanted to apologize for lying to me.

I read the list of names of the men who signed a pledge to obey God (Nehemiah 10) and wondered how many of them were able to keep their promises once the ink dried on the paper. Did they sign it like my young friend, not intending to keep their word, but because it seemed like the acceptable thing to do? Or did they sign it with good intentions, only later discovering they couldn’t hold to it? We know the Jewish nation failed in their attempt to obey God. Did any of those men succeed?

Sometimes I think we Christians are guilty of trying to get people to say the right words, raise a hand or kneel at an altar, or promising to change, then we walk away and assume we’ve done our part. But salvation isn’t a name on a ledger. Salvation isn’t even a promise to quit sinning. It isn’t church attendance, or praying for a meal at the restaurant.

The New Testament tells us we can recognize Believers by their fruit, their love for one another. The test isn’t church membership. It’s a life that look’s like Jesus’ life. It’s a person who thinks more highly of others than himself. It’s a heart that belongs to the Savior because that person has asked Jesus to forgive them.

I wish I had paid more attention to that young Middle School girl. Maybe I could have recognized the signs of drug abuse in her. I think because she said what I wanted to hear, I figured she was ok. She wasn’t.

Do you know a person who is young in their faith? Get to know them better. Nurture them. Hold them accountable out of love. Don’t assume because they went forward last Sunday that they will be ok. Those of us who have walked with God for a while now know that accepting Jesus is the first of many steps in this Christian life.

Walk with someone today who is learning to use their faith-legs. Your interest might be exactly what they need to help them keep the promises they’ve made to the Lord.



June 3 – Time to Grow Up

Proverbs 1-3

The other night I watched a little neighbor girl go up to my five-year-old great-nephew, Colton, and put her finger on his shirt, then ask, “What’s this?” When Colton put his head down to see where she pointed, she flicked his nose. Took me back a few decades. I wonder how many times I fell for that myself.

The thing is, just a few minutes earlier, the little girl tried the same thing with Sara, Colton’s mommy. I’d heard Sara laugh and say, “I’m not falling for that.”

Children are naive, aren’t they? Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, they believe just about anything they hear – until they grow up. But you have to admit, it’s cute while it lasts.

Solomon begins the list of proverbs by talking about wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, he reminds us. God gives us wisdom, he says, if we only pay attention.

1:22, “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?”

1:12 tells us the waywardness of the naive will kill them.

Dear one, it’s not enough to say you’re a Christian. Being a Christian involves being born again, but like a child, there is a time to grow up. Solomon tells us God will pour out His spirit on us and make His words known to us. But first God says, “Turn to my reproof.” (1:23)

In other words, accept the fact that God disapproves of sin in your life. No, he hates sin in your life. And he doesn’t want you to be naive about what sin is, or what the consequences for sin are. Saying, “I didn’t know” doesn’t cut it with God.

In fact, naivety is a death sentence. How sad is that, when there is so much wisdom available to us through God’s Word and by His Spirit living in us?

It’s time to grow up.

Jan 6 – I Will Trust God

Job 10-13

Job is hurting. He’s at his wit’s end and doesn’t know how to make things better. He doesn’t even know why his life has turned out like it has. He feels alone, ridiculed, misunderstood. He wants to ask God some questions. He even says he’s ready to argue with God. And he can’t figure out why God is treating him like an enemy.

Sound familiar? Have you ever found yourself crying out to a silent God? Do you have the “why” questions that are not being answered? Does it feel like God has turned on you?

Job doesn’t know what we know: that his losses are of Satan, not God. He doesn’t have the privilege of opening God’s Word and reading God’s heart.

But we do.

The answers you are looking for aren’t found within you, or in some self-help book, or in Oprah. The answers are found in the pages of God’s Word.

I like Job’s point of view. He said, even if God kills me, I will trust Him.

There’s the answer you are looking for.

A mother tells her young son not to play in the street. Why? “Because I said so.” A father insists his teenage daughter be home by 11. “Trust me,” he says when she asks why.

Often, when we mature, we realize the answers to our “why” questions. And maturity comes from studying God’s Word, by getting to know God’s heart, and by trusting Him in every circumstance, allowing Him to prove He can be trusted.

Somehow, when our relationship with God is mature, the questions we have just don’t seem all that important. God replaces our uncertainty with Himself.

Then, with Job, we can say that no matter what comes, “I will trust God.”

Dear Father, I like being your child. But sometimes my curiosity, or my hurt finds me asking, “why?”. God, I want to trust you, even if I never have the answers I think I need this side of heaven. May I not let my questions get in my way of a close relationship with You. Because, Dear Lord, nothing is more important than the sweet fellowship I enjoy as your child.

December 22

Hebrews 2-6

I love milk. My mom used to tell me that, as a two year old, I would snatch my sister’s bottle if Mom wasn’t looking. These days I have learned to drink low fat milk, but every once in a while I buy just a little of the good stuff and drink it like an alcoholic falling off the wagon.

I love milk! But I enjoy steak and potatoes, chicken, pasta, and well… you know. Limiting my diet to milk was fine when I was an infant. But I’m certainly not limiting myself to milk today.

Is that what’s happening in the Church today? Are too many Christians living on just milk? People hear a lot of sermons about God’s love, about the Good Shepherd, about Jesus who pulled little children on his lap, healed blind people and raised the dead. Many Christians are allowing their pastors or some TV preacher be their only source of food, like a baby who lays in his mother’s arms and receives the only nourishment he gets.

Too many of us don’t devour God’s Word for ourselves. The writer of Hebrews tells us Scripture is “sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (4:12)

The Bible reveals sin, lays us bare, beats us up and forces us to our knees before a holy God. It hurts. It refines. 

Just look at what is going on right now. We are getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the darling little baby in the manger surrounded by cows and sheep, shepherds and angels, and his young mother gazing into that adorable face. Isn’t he cute?

Well, let me tell you about this precious baby. Scripture tells us he grew up to defeat sin, to die a horrible death because you and I disgusted him. He preached about the holiness of God and the fact that you and I just don’t measure up. We aren’t good and capable. We are depraved sinners who he will have no problem sending to hell unless we humble ourselves and accept his grace. Christmas isn’t just about love. It’s about sin.

That’s hard to hear. But, my friend we need to grow up. We are at war here and I am afraid we are an army of infants. Believe me when I say Satan is loving that.

I hope you will take charge of your faith in 2014. I pray that each of us will be students of God’s Word, we will study it, meditate on it, memorize it, pray over it. May we allow it to cut us, penetrate our inner most being and reveal those things for which Christ died. Simply put, may we grow up.

God is holy. He demands holiness of us. Trust me, that’s a command an infant can’t obey.

God, I know you love us more than we can imagine. I know you loved us so much you came to live among us and die so that we could be forgiven when we come to you. But, God I know you don’t stop there. You hate sin. Sin makes you sick and angry. Sin separates us from you and you hate that more than anything. Forgive us when we would rather concentrate on your love and ignore the elephant in the room. We are sinners. And without your saving grace we will go to hell for eternity. God, if some reading this today need to accept you as their Savior, I pray they will do that right now. For those of us who know you but need to grow up, I pray that you will point that out to us. Then, Father give us the courage to do it. We want to be able soldiers in your army. Feed us a little meat today and help us digest it for Jesus’ sake.

June 17

I Kings 21:1-29, 22:51-53, 1-35; 2 Chronicles 18:2-34

I don’t think Ahab ever grew up. When Naboth wouldn’t give the king the vineyard, Ahab locked himself up in his room and pouted. Impressive behavior for a nation’s leader.

Then when the king of Judah wanted to combine military forces with Israel, they decided to ask God first. But when Jehoshaphat suggested they go to the prophet Micaiah, the king of Israel (I presume was Ahab) said no, “I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.” Very mature.

I think God is asking me to measure my spiritual maturity level. Do I see Ahab’s behavior in me when I face disappointment or correction? Are there times when I find myself pouting or complaining because God didn’t answer a prayer like I wanted or times when I avoid someone who sees through my act and calls me on sin in my life?

I wonder if the decline in some churches’ attendance isn’t a reflection of this kind of immaturity. It seems many people would rather be entertained on Sunday morning, told how great they are and how much God loves them. But if they hear the truth, that there is no one righteous, not even one, that all have sinned, that they need Jesus’ blood to be acceptable to God, that Christianity is not a ticket to health and wealth, then they stay home and pout. Or they find another church that will tickle their fancies.

I don’t know. But I think God would have us all ask ourselves… have I grown up spiritually? If not, maybe it’s time.

Lord, I pray for maturity today when faced with disappointment or hearing the truth about sin in my life. May my reactions honor you. Forgive my times of pouting or self-pity. Forgive my tendancy to turn a deaf ear on things I need to hear but don’t like. May I put aside childish things and enjoy a mature relationship with you today.