TODAY'S WORD FOR Tuesday, February 19, 2019:
Mature; develop; progress; increase.
Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
II Peter 3:18.
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE:
New believers come from all sorts of backgrounds. Some may have gone to church before they found Christ but never accepted Jesus as their Savior. Others may have come from a very worldly and sinful background and never darkened the door of a church or never opened a Bible to read it.
No matter what was their background, every believer is as a newborn baby according to the scriptures. Just as a baby needs to be fed to thrive and grow, a new believer needs to be fed from God’s Word in order to grow and mature in their new found faith.
In Ezekiel 47, Ezekiel shares with us a vision God gave him that symbolically depicts the stages of spiritual growth through the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of those who accept Jesus as Savior. God gave Ezekiel a vision of a river flowing out from the temple. The temple symbolizes God and the river the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When we first find Jesus it is likened to walking ankle deep in the water, as portrayed by the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 47:3 and we experience only a shallow sense of God’s grace and power in our life. If a person does not begin to learn more about Christ and keeps walking only in the shallow water, the Scriptures calls that person a “babe” in Christ. Such a person has not learned how to live a Spirit-lead life which is a life of obedience, trust, surrender and peace.
A lot of people today who say they are Christians want to only wade ankle deep into the grace of God. They are not motivated to want to take the next step as portrayed by Ezekiel (47:4) as wading into knee deep water, which is hungering and thirsting for God. At this stage a Christian is not satisfied by being merely born again but hungers for a deeper knowledge and closer relationship with their Savior and Lord.
In Ezekiel 47:4 the prophet talks about walking into the water up to the waist. At this point the Holy Spirit is now captivating the believer in Jesus to be possessed by His Lord giving the believer the desire to search deeper into the things of the Lord.
As the search begins some things will be easy to understand, as walking in water up to the ankles. Just as it is harder and requires more effort to walk in deep water it requires more effort to dig deeper into God’s Word. As the believer walks deeper there will be less of the believer visible and more of the Lord.
You can see we live today among so many Christians who are still just babes in their faith and need to be motivated to wade up to their waist in God’s Word in order to be possessed by God. Where does this motivation come from? For the most part it is not always taught in our churches and not taught by our pastors. It is also not seen within most of our family structures. So the result is that we live in a world where Christians are living according to the will of the flesh rather than living according to the will of the Spirit of God. If one is not taught in their home or in a church, where does he grow?
The motivation to seek to grow in the Lord comes from the Holy Spirit. He strives to motivate us but we must be willing to listen to Him and allow Him to lead us into the deep water of His Word. It is only by reading God’s Word and applying it in our lives that we can grow into the mature Christian that our Lord wants us to be.
The apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians about how the people in the church at Corinth were divided into factions and cliques and continually at each other’s throats, dragging one another into courts of law, gossiping against each other and undermining each other. What a mess it was! Does it sound a little like we may be facing today among those we know and perhaps even among friends and family?
The source of these divisions that we read about in the church in Corinth and what we see today in our society is pride, the fleshly desire for preeminence, and to be idolized and praised. Paul reminds us that as long as the desire to live for worldly pleasures is alive and well in our lives, as believers we will remain spiritual infants and will never grow up into what God wants us to be.
God is not the least bit impressed by what we do in the flesh. Only what we do in the Spirit will last. The cleansing power of the cross must come into our lives and cut off the flesh so we can experience growth and maturity. Until we learn to walk deep in the water, as Ezekiel tells us, division and conflict will reign in our lives. To serve the Lord we must do more than just get our feet wet. We can’t have one foot in the world and one foot in God’s kingdom.
As Ezekiel traced the trickle of water coming from the temple it continually grew until it became a great river. As the trickle of water widened and made its way through the desert the trees grew ever more abundantly and the fish multiplied. As we allow the Holy Spirit to grow us into the mature believers God wants us to be, our life will bear witness to the truth that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and we will bear much fruit for the Lord.
Our memory verse for this week is found in Psalm 32:7.
You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah
Help me to step out by faith into the deep waters of Your Word and submerge myself so that there is more of You and less of me. May Your Holy Spirit work in me to draw me closer to the Lord so that others may see Christ in and through me. Help me to grow spiritually each day of my life so I will be able to bear much fruit for You.
These Family Devotional thoughts are written by Dr. Ken Phillips, Executive Director of America's Hunger
Solution, and his wife Dottie. Ken has had ministry positions
with The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, World Vision, Youth For Christ, World Opportunities International,
and World Bible Society. He also has consulted for more than 30 Christian ministries in management and stewardship
development. They have published a book called No Problems Only Situations that discusses the journey of their family.
Ken and Dottie have been married for 60 years, and have 6 children, 20 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren. Their
second book, TODAY'S WORD, includes 365 daily
devotionals and is now available for only $10.
Ken & Dottie Phillips
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