Growing In Grace

Growing In Grace

Lessons from the Good Doctor

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GROWING IN GRACE   What is growth?  Growth is not how many. Growth is how much.   I want to look at how God grows us.  There is a process of growth that God wants to work in our lives and here's the process:  Ephesians 4:22-24.  "You were taught with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."   So, what do we have to do to make this work? 1.     PUT OFF THE OLD.  The old is what used to be.  The old is our life without Christ. But what could prevent that?  Trying to grow by doing good.  Jesus gave His disciples then and us now a great picture of why this doesn't work.  He talked about wine and wineskins in Matthew 9:17 "Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins.  If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." Sometimes it looks like it will fit, it fits in the beginning but there's no room for growth, for expansion.  Sometimes it looks like if I could just do enough good things, I'm going to grow.  That will work in the beginning but there's no room for genuine change in that.  There's no room for becoming all that God wants us to be. Trying to grow by keeping rules.  Hebrews 13:9 "Your hearts should be strengthened by God's grace, not by obeying rules." Rules cannot produce growth.  They control things, they control people. But you cannot produce growth through rules.  What's the place of rules in the Bible? You might think of grace as the jets that power the engines.  The Ten Commandments sort of give us some flight plan ideas, some direction.  But the power doesn't come through rules. Trying to grow by feeling bad.  Guilt can't produce growth, but we think sometimes, "If I just feel bad enough about myself, maybe I'll get better." If I really heap the guilt on, maybe I'll get better.  Logically, we can see why that wouldn't work.  If I feel bad about myself, I don't get better, I just feel bad.  We're trying to beat God to the punch.  We're trying to say, "God, I know You don't like what I'm doing so I'm going to feel bad.  I'm going to condemn myself so somehow You won't condemn me."          If we don't grow by feeling bad about ourselves, if it doesn't work by having a list of rules, and doing good things doesn't grow us in God’s grace, then what does?   2.  PUT ON THE NEW. 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come."    This is a promise for those who are in Christ, for those who have trusted their lives to Christ and His leadership. A couple of things about this new life that God wants to give to us.             We don't have to achieve our new life.  We don't have to make it work on our own.  Newness is a creation of God.  God is a new creation.  We don't have to make ourselves new.  We simply put on the new life God's given us.              We don't have to keep our new life.  We don't have to hold onto it.  Colossians 3:3 "Your old sinful self has died and your new life is kept in Christ in God."  That's pretty safe, pretty secure.  Let Christ keep it for you! We do, however, have to put on this new life.  There is a decision that everyone of us gets to make, that we’re allowed to make everyday of our life about this new life that God wants to give.  We get to put it on. The third step is so important and it's the often forgotten step.  We know we have to take off the old.  We know we have to put on the new.  The empowering step is number three.   3.  BE RENEWED IN YOUR MIND. This step of God, renewing our mind, empowers us to take off the old and put on the new.  Romans 12:2 "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way that you think." That's where the power is.  God wants to change the way we think. a new life. It happens by grace.  It starts by grace and ends by grace. Galatians 3:3 "You began your life in Christ by the Spirit.  Now are you trying to make it complete by your own power?  That is foolish."  A renewed mind is not just determination.  It's determined dependence on God.  There's a big difference between those two.  It's not just self-determination -- "I'm going to do this no matter what!"  It's determined dependence on God's grace, because that's where the power is.  The power is in God’s grace.    The Christian life is not a life of rules.  The Christian life is a life of new power.  We can live a new way because we have a new power in our life. But I must be honest and tell you thatwhen it comes to Christian Growth, I’ve had people say to me, “Phil, "I want to change but why is it taking so long?"  When something is valuable, it's takes time.  I beautiful diamond isn’t created in the earth over night.  It takes time to grow but growth is a process that points toward eternity.  When God changes our character, it's not for a few months or a couple of years, it's for eternal life. The motivational power for growth isn't found within us. It's found within God.  The motivational power is this: God wants and is willing and is working for us to grow everyday of our life.  The minute we come to God and give our whole life to Him, the growth begins.  Growth is not accomplished by trying hard.  It's accomplished by trusting in the Lord.  That's where growth comes from.  God is trustworthy. Paul reminds us of two wonderful promises about trusting God to grow. Philippians 1:6 says "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  Philippians 2:13 "For God is at work with you, helping you want to obey Him and then helping you do what He wants."              What a fantastic promise! Blessings, drPHIL
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GROWING IN GRACE   What is growth?  Growth is not how many. Growth is how much.   I want to look at how God grows us.  There is a process of growth that God wants to work in our lives and here's the process:  Ephesians 4:22-24.  "You were taught with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."   So, what do we have to do to make this work? 1.     PUT OFF THE OLD.  The old is what used to be.  The old is our life without Christ. But what could prevent that?  Trying to grow by doing good.  Jesus gave His disciples then and us now a great picture of why this doesn't work.  He talked about wine and wineskins in Matthew 9:17 "Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins.  If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." Sometimes it looks like it will fit, it fits in the beginning but there's no room for growth, for expansion.  Sometimes it looks like if I could just do enough good things, I'm going to grow.  That will work in the beginning but there's no room for genuine change in that.  There's no room for becoming all that God wants us to be. Trying to grow by keeping rules.  Hebrews 13:9 "Your hearts should be strengthened by God's grace, not by obeying rules." Rules cannot produce growth.  They control things, they control people. But you cannot produce growth through rules.  What's the place of rules in the Bible? You might think of grace as the jets that power the engines.  The Ten Commandments sort of give us some flight plan ideas, some direction.  But the power doesn't come through rules. Trying to grow by feeling bad.  Guilt can't produce growth, but we think sometimes, "If I just feel bad enough about myself, maybe I'll get better." If I really heap the guilt on, maybe I'll get better.  Logically, we can see why that wouldn't work.  If I feel bad about myself, I don't get better, I just feel bad.  We're trying to beat God to the punch.  We're trying to say, "God, I know You don't like what I'm doing so I'm going to feel bad.  I'm going to condemn myself so somehow You won't condemn me."          If we don't grow by feeling bad about ourselves, if it doesn't work by having a list of rules, and doing good things doesn't grow us in God’s grace, then what does?   2.  PUT ON THE NEW. 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come."    This is a promise for those who are in Christ, for those who have trusted their lives to Christ and His leadership. A couple of things about this new life that God wants to give to us.             We don't have to achieve our new life.  We don't have to make it work on our own.  Newness is a creation of God.  God is a new creation.  We don't have to make ourselves new.  We simply put on the new life God's given us.              We don't have to keep our new life.  We don't have to hold onto it.  Colossians 3:3 "Your old sinful self has died and your new life is kept in Christ in God."  That's pretty safe, pretty secure.  Let Christ keep it for you! We do, however, have to put on this new life.  There is a decision that everyone of us gets to make, that we’re allowed to make everyday of our life about this new life that God wants to give.  We get to put it on. The third step is so important and it's the often forgotten step.  We know we have to take off the old.  We know we have to put on the new.  The empowering step is number three.   3.  BE RENEWED IN YOUR MIND. This step of God, renewing our mind, empowers us to take off the old and put on the new.  Romans 12:2 "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way that you think." That's where the power is.  God wants to change the way we think. a new life. It happens by grace.  It starts by grace and ends by grace. Galatians 3:3 "You began your life in Christ by the Spirit.  Now are you trying to make it complete by your own power?  That is foolish."  A renewed mind is not just determination.  It's determined dependence on God.  There's a big difference between those two.  It's not just self-determination -- "I'm going to do this no matter what!"  It's determined dependence on God's grace, because that's where the power is.  The power is in God’s grace.    The Christian life is not a life of rules.  The Christian life is a life of new power.  We can live a new way because we have a new power in our life. But I must be honest and tell you thatwhen it comes to Christian Growth, I’ve had people say to me, “Phil, "I want to change but why is it taking so long?"  When something is valuable, it's takes time.  I beautiful diamond isn’t created in the earth over night.  It takes time to grow but growth is a process that points toward eternity.  When God changes our character, it's not for a few months or a couple of years, it's for eternal life. The motivational power for growth isn't found within us. It's found within God.  The motivational power is this: God wants and is willing and is working for us to grow everyday of our life.  The minute we come to God and give our whole life to Him, the growth begins.  Growth is not accomplished by trying hard.  It's accomplished by trusting in the Lord.  That's where growth comes from.  God is trustworthy. Paul reminds us of two wonderful promises about trusting God to grow. Philippians 1:6 says "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  Philippians 2:13 "For God is at work with you, helping you want to obey Him and then helping you do what He wants."              What a fantastic promise! Blessings, drPHIL
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