Don’t Stunt Your Growth

September 23, 2015 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 6 Comments
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So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Hebrews 5:5-6

The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

Psalm 110:4

Christ’s priesthood is better than Aaron’s priesthood in numerous ways, including the fact that Christ’s priesthood is forever. It is from a different order of Old Testament priests – the order of Melchizedek.

And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Genesis 14:16-20

As a foreshadowing type of Christ, Melchizedek was a priest and a king.

Old Testament priests had to offer sacrifices for themselves before sacrificing for the people, but Christ was the Priest and the Sacrifice. Jesus shared in the suffering, but not in the sin. His shared suffering showed that He would be compassionate.

Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

Hebrews 5:2-3

Even as we touch on the issue of Christ being a Priest after the order of Melchizedek, we must also pause for another admonition – the third one in the Book of Hebrews. Remember, an admonition is not simply a threat: “If you don’t eat your green beans, I’m gonna knock your block off.” No, it’s encouragement, but with a loving warning: “Look, I noticed you have a tendency not to eat your green beans, and I want you to eat them because you won’t be healthy if you don’t eat them, but, if you don’t – because I love you – I’m going to have to discipline you.” The first admonition was: Don’t slip. The second admonition was: Don’t be suspicious. The third admonition is: Don’t be stunted.

Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

Hebrews 5:11

The problem is not that the message of God is too difficult; it’s that the ears of the hearers are unfocused and have become dulled. There are symptoms of being stunted spiritually. They mirror the symptoms of failing to grow physically.

1. Immature children don’t like to share.

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God…

Hebrews 5:12

2. Immature children can only have milk.

… and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

Hebrews 5:12-13

3. Immature children have no discernment. (They’ll put anything in their mouths.)

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Hebrews 5:14

One of the goals of the Christian life is to become more mature. It’s not enough just to escape from Egypt – to wander in the wilderness. We must cross over into Canaan.

Immature children are often too immature to know that they are immature. Here are some ways to know if this admonition is for you:

1. Do you find the Word of God boring?
2. Is Bible study dull?
3. Are you uninterested in hearing Biblical preaching?
4. Does prayer seem like merely a chore?

If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then the solution is not to find something more entertaining, but to “grow up.” You play a part in your own growth. Be intentional about “eating” (hearing the Word). Get some “exercise” (get involved in ministry in your local church).

Thank You, Lord, for providing most of us with a safe and comfortable place to meet and study and fellowship together. Cause us to be truly led by the Holy Ghost, and use us in magnifying and lifting up and glorifying our crucified and risen Savior. In His name I pray. Amen.

It’s Time to Grow Up

April 16, 2012 at 10:55 am | Posted in Bible Studies, I Corinthians | 21 Comments
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During the months leading up to the birth of our first daughter, my wife and I had many long discussions about all the plans and goals we had for her life. We talked about education, development, character, spirituality, even sports. I wanted to be the best dad in the world. However, that first night home from the hospital was an eye-opener. All the visitors and well-wishers had left, we were exhausted (and when I say “we” I really mean my wife was exhausted), and we were ready for our first peaceful night as parents. Our daughter had different plans though. She didn’t want to nurse, she didn’t want to take a bottle, and she didn’t want a pacifier. Most of all she did not want to sleep. What she wanted to do apparently was cry all night (and when I say “cry” I mean scream at the top of her brand new lungs). To say that my wife and I were freaked out is putting it mildly. I tried to remain calm for her sake, but the truth is I spent most of the night pacing, praying, holding the baby, trying to sing soothing lullabies through gritted teeth, and (even though I’m embarrassed to admit it) even crying a little myself. I also drastically altered my main goal as a parent that night. My main goal no longer had to do with making sure I had a daughter who would graduate from college or excel at sports or have tons of friends. My new main goal changed to just making sure she stayed alive.

About 7 1/2 months later I considered myself successful. She was still alive – and it was easy to prove because she still cried almost all night every night – and throughout most of the day unless she was being intensely entertained and stimulated. Then she started walking, and I changed my main goal as a parent again. This time my new main goal was to keep her from busting her head open. That goal lasted until she was 18 months old, at which point she took a head first dive from her stroller onto a concrete sidewalk and busted her head open. Thankfully, God protected her and she survived with a few stitches and a very small scar. My friend, Pastor John Wilkerson, once told me that it’s far easier to have a baby than to raise a child. He was talking about the challenge of evangelizing the lost and then discipling new believers, but the thought really resonated with me.

Eventually most parents realize that one of their main goals is to help their children become “mature.” When the Lord used the Apostle Paul to found the church at Corinth, the new Christians there were like spiritual babies. They had been “born again” by trusting Christ, but they were not yet mature. They were what are sometimes called “carnal Christians.”

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

I Corinthians 3:1

Physical size is often an indicator of maturity in the natural sense. We can tell a baby from a grown-up partly because of how big he is. But that doesn’t work in the spiritual sense. A person can become a Christian as a young child or as a full-grown adult. However, there are other ways of distinguishing children from adults that do apply to Christian maturity.

DIET

New-born babies have a very limited diet: milk or baby formula – that’s about it. Grown-ups can eat “meatier” food. The spiritual version of food is the Word of God – the Holy Scriptures. Several kinds of food are used to illustrate the Word of God.

Honey:

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:103

Bread:

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Matthew 4:4

Meat:

For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Hebrews 5:13-14

Milk:

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

I Peter 2:2

The Word of God nourishes Christians, and helps us grow, and we should be getting more mature in our understanding of the Word. We should not only be reading the Word, but heeding the Word.

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

I Corinthians 3:2

INTERACTION WITH OTHERS

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

I Corinthians 3:3

These kinds of statements are to be somewhat expected from immature children:
-“Would you stop touching me!”
-“She stuck her tongue out at me!”

But these kinds of statements are pathetic and unacceptable coming from grown-up Christian believers:
-“Somebody sat in my pew!”
-“The preacher had better not be too busy to call me back or I’ll find another church!”

Immature children frequently fuss and fight (what I Corinthians 3:3 calls “strife”).

This is what you expect to hear from little kids:
-“I had it first!”
-“Sally got a cookie and I didn’t – that’s not fair!”

This is what we should not expect to hear from mature Christians:
-“I would tithe, too, if I had a good job like him!”
-“It’s easy for her to have faith – she’s never been through what I’m going through!”

Children tend to think they should have whatever the other children have (what I Corinthians 3:3 calls “envying”).

We might think it’s somewhat cute to hear little kids saying:
-“I’m not going to be your best friend any more, I’m going to be Suzy’s best friend!”
-“Don’t let Jimmy join our club!”

But it’s not so cute to hear grown-ups saying:
-“We can’t invite Billy Bob to the retreat – he’s difficult to deal with.”
-“Oh sure, if I had a fancy car like so-and-so, maybe the preacher would like me, too.”

Children like to exclude some and include others as a way of being mean (what I Corinthians 3:3 calls “divisions”). Two signs of maturity are what we eat, and how we act. Another sign of maturity is who we follow. Children tend to have “heroes.”

For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

I Corinthians 3:4

The baby Christians in Corinth were identifying themselves with Paul or Apollos or Peter or other church leaders, and they were making a sinful issue out of it.

Little boys brag: “My dad can beat up your dad.” But Christian men should not be dividing over which famous evangelist or TV preacher they follow. Mature believers look to Christ as our role model.

I Corinthians was written to church members who weren’t getting along. They were acting like little babies when, time-wise, they should have been growing up. These were people involved in ministry. They had talents and spiritual gifts, but they were ignoring the reason for these gifts. God gives us spiritual gifts to bring lost folks into the Kingdom, to do the work of bringing people to Jesus, to make disciples, to help others grow up, to build up the saints. Many times, though, like little bratty children, we’re misusing the gifts and talents which our loving God gave us. We’re playing with them. Or we’re fighting with them or over them. Or we’re bragging about them, and trying to show off, as if we earned them, or did anything to get them for ourselves.

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

I Corinthians 3:9

The spiritual gifts and talents given to us by God are not weapons to fight with. They are not toys to play with. They are not trophies to brag about. They are tools, and we ought to be using them, as humble workers, to build with.

https://i1.wp.com/cache2.artprintimages.com/p/LRG/26/2679/7MZUD00Z/art-print/little-kids-sword-fighting-at-sunset.jpg

Real Joy Vs. Fake Joy

May 10, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Romans, Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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The worldly person who has no real relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is, by necessity, dependent upon external things for proper behavior, peace, and joy. When circumstances happen to bring about his comfort, he feels magnanimous and wants to be nice to others. He feels temporarily at peace, and even experiences a counterfeit joy.

However, those who intimately know Christ Jesus and reign with Him in life know righteousness, peace, and joy that surpass physical and external circumstances.

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Romans 14:17

When true Christians get together, regardless of their level of spiritual maturity, there should be an atmosphere of peace and love, similar to that which should exist among a loving family, which is made up, not only of grown parents, but also of young children. Children grow physically because they are fed and exercised. They grow emotionally and spiritually because they are trained in love.

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Romans 14:19


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