Illustration results for spiritual growth
Why do we have such a hard time quitting sin?
a. We enjoy sin
God, make me good, but not yet.
b. There is much to do
When a person becomes a Christian, he usually undergoes some radical life changes, especially if he has had an immoral background. Through the first steps of spiritual growth and self-denial, he gets rid of the large, obvious sins. But sad to say, many believers stop there. They don’t go on to eliminate the little sins that clutter the landscape of their lives.
Gordon MacDonald, in his book Ordering Your Private World, told of an experience in his own life that illustrates this truth. "Some years ago, when Gail and I bought the old abandoned New Hampshire farm we now call Peace Ledge, we found the site where we wished to build our country home strewn with rocks and boulders. It was going to take a lot of hard work to clear it all out....The first phase of the clearing process was easy. The big boulders went fast. And when they were gone, we began to see that there were a lot of smaller rocks that had to go too. But when we had cleared the site of the boulders and the rocks, we noticed all of the stones and pebbles we had not seen before. This was much harder, more tedious work. But we stuck to it, and there came the day when the soil was ready for planting grass."
- Our Daily Bread.
SPIRITUAL GROWTH TAKES TIME
There was once a farmer who went to town to purchase seeds for his farm. As he was returning home one of the squash seeds he had purchased fell from his pocket onto the ground. It happened that within a few feet was another seed of a different type. The place where the two seeds lay was rather fertile, and miraculously they took root.
After about a week the squash seed showed signs of growth. The second seed showed none. After two weeks the squash began to sprout leaves. The second seed showed none. After seven weeks the squash began to show fruit. The second seed still showed no progress. Four more weeks came and gone.
The squash plant reached the end of its life bearing much fruit in that time, but the other seed finally began to slowly grow. Many years later, the squash was all but forgotten, but the other tiny seed, an acorn, had grown into a mighty oak tree.
So many people want their faith to be like the squash. They want to experience it all right now... Spiritual training -- like Epaphras understood, requires hard work and patience -- as anything worthwhile does.
(From a sermon by Steve Smith, "Pursuing Godly Living" 2/15/2009)
1 Thessalonians 5:18-5:18
1 Kings 3:16-3:28
1 John 2:15-2:17
2 Corinthians 9:12-10:1
ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
A. Todd Coget
Unused Spiritual Resources
During Superbowl XXXVII, FedEx ran a commercial that spoofed the movie Castaway, in which Tom Hanks played a FedEx worker whose company plane went down, stranding him on a desert island for years. Looking like the bedraggled Hanks in the movie, the FedEx employee in the commercial goes up to the door of a suburban home, package in hand.
When the lady comes to the door, he explains that he survived five years on a deserted island, and during that whole time he kept this package in order to deliver it to her. She gives a simple, "Thank you."
But he is curious about what is in the package that he has been protecting for years. He says, "If I may ask, what was in that package after all?"
She opens it and shows him the contents, saying, "Oh, n...
Sermon Central Staff
TYING OFF THE TAP ROOT
The Japanese introduced a tree to the world that is called a Bonsai tree. It is measured in inches instead of feet as other trees are measured. It is not allowed to reach anywhere near its full growth potential but instead grows in a stunted miniature form.
The reason for it growing in stunted form is that when it first stuck its head out of the ground as a sapling, the owner pulled it out of the soil and tied off its main tap root and some of its branch feeder roots and then replanted it. By doing this, its grower deliberately stunted its growth by limiting the roots ability to spread out and grow deep and take in enough of the soils nutrients for a normal growth.
What was done to the Bonsai tree by its owner is what Satan has purposed to do to the believer, if he can. He is going to try to tie off our tap root of prayer. He wants to limit our receiving in prayer what God supplies for our spiritual growth.
(From a sermon by Ajai Prakash, Rooted in Jesus, 4/29/2011)
The Japanese introduced a tree to the world that is called a Bonsai tree. It is measured in inches instead of feet as other trees are measured. It is not allowed to reach anywhere near its full growth potential but instead grows in a stunted miniature form. The reason for it growing in stunted form is that when it first stuck its head out of the ground as a sapling, the owner pulled it out of the soil and tied off its main tap root and some of its branch feeder roots and then replanted it. By doing this, its grower deliberately stunted its growth by limiting the roots ability to spread out and grow deep and take in enough of the soils nutrients for a normal growth. What was done to the Bonsai tree by its owner is what Satan has purposed to do to the believer, if he can. He is going to try to tie off our tap root of prayer. He wants to limit our receiving in prayer what God supplies for our spiritual growth.
Of all the classical Spiritual Disciplines, service is the most conductive to the growth of humility. When we set out on a consciously chosen course of action that accents the good of other and is for the most part a hidden work, a deep change occurs in our spirit.
Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness. The flesh whines against service but screams against hidden service. It strains and pulls for honor and recognition. It will devise subtle, religiously acceptable means to call attention to the service rendered. If we stoutly refuse to give in to this lust of the flesh we crucify it. Every time we crucify the flesh we crucify our pride and arrogance” – Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline p.114
DEAD OR ALIVE?
When elderly Adele Gaboury turned up missing four years ago, concerned neighbors in Worcester, Massachusetts, informed the police. A brother told police she had gone into a nursing home. Satisfied with that information, Gaboury’s neighbors began watching her property. Michael Crowley noticed her mail, delivered through a slot in the door, piling high. When he opened the door, hundreds of pieces of mail drifted out. He notified police, and the deliveries were stopped. Gaboury’s next-door neighbor, Eileen Dugan, started paying her grandson $10 twice a month to mow Gaboury’s lawn. Later Dugan’s son noticed Gaboury’s pipes had frozen, spilling water out the door. The utility company was called to shut off the water. What no one guessed was that while they’d been trying to help, Gaboury had been inside her home. When police finally investigated the house as a health hazard, they were shocked to find her body. The Washington Post (10/27/93) reported that police believe Gaboury died of natural causes four years ago. The respectable, external appearance of Gaboury’s house had hidden th...
April 21, 2005 “Give Me A Shrub With Character!” Proverbs 12:3 Key verse(s) 3:“A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted.”
There are some plants that you can’t kill! I have long been fascinated by the differences exhibited in hardiness among the many plants––vegetables, bushes, weeds, et. al.––that share our little valley. Some are tender and fragile. If you bruise a root during transplanting or cultivating, you could send them into a state of dormant growth; or, worse yet, wilt and death. Last fall I transplanted a shrub that had spent nearly a decade growing next to our well. It had become very large and had begun to crowd out everything around it. So, spade in hand, I carefully dug a wide trench around the root ball and then gently pried the mass loose. The bush came out rather easily and I was pleased with the amount of smaller sucker roots that came out with it. I transported it but a few yards away to a newly dug and enriched flower bed in the middle of the driveway turn-around. The soil had been deeply cultivated and manure and nitrogen thrown into the mix. I was sure the new bed would be far healthier than the old one. The carefully dug hole, filled with water and nutrients waited to receive the root ball. The shrub was gently laid into the hole, root mass covered and watered again in anticipation of spring and new growth.
Yesterday as I bent down to examine what I hoped would be new buds bursting on my transplanted shrub, I plucked a brown bud only to find it dry and lifeless. As I pressed the bud between my fingers the branch it crowned snapped revealing a dry and lifeless core. The bush had died over the winter. Despite the fact that it had been carefully transplanted, fed, and covered for the winter, the shock of transplantation had been too much. The root ball had shut down and the shrub had died. As I pulled the lifeless mass from the ground I chanced to look across the expanse of our front yard at another bush, much larger and just beginning to burst into spring bloom. It had also been transplanted months ago before the winter snows had hit. Since it was already fairly mature and over six feet high, I had been unable to dig around the root ball. And, since I had wished to leave part of the bush where it was, just removing part of the root ball, it was hard separating the bush into two shrubs. So, with chain in hand, I pulled a tow chain around the base of the portion of the bush to be moved, hooked the other end to my John Deere and literally pulled it out of the ground. It came out missing a good portion of its root mass and there was little if any cradling dirt that came with it. As it lay on its side in the yard, a few gangly roots protruding, I dragged it across the yard to its new home atop a nearby mound. I didn’t have a lot of hope for it, but it went into the ground nevertheless.
Now, as stared across the yard at the blooming bush, I just couldn’t believe why that one had survived but the one I had babied, now lay dead in my hand. Had I been too careful? Perhaps that drag across the backyard behind the tractor had somehow invigorated the one? Who knows! It seems that there are just some plants you can’t kill while there are others that are easily damaged or killed. Till up a garden fill of raspberry bushes and no matter how many times you course through the layers of dirt with those tiller tines, the following spring there will be sucker roots reaching out to another part of the garden. Yet, till to closely to the asparagus tubers and you can forget about those luscious spears in early summer. They won’t be there.
Plants that can handle a bruising and come up in spades, those are the kind of plants that I like. You can count on them season in and out. In a drought they shut down and conserve. In a drenching rainstorm they stand firm because they always have root mass to spare. They brace against winter with hidden stores and are always very forgiving no matter what the weather or the gardener. Clip a root with a tiller or break a branch with a mower and they simply heal themselves and come back for more. Plants, especially shrubs like that have, well, character. They stand out from the rest because they try harder and possess a great deal of endurance. Ah, give me a shrub with character!
Christians are like that; those that have their hearts firmly planted in the love of God, who put their roots down deep, clenching the fertile promise of what God’s Word has to offer, are the kind of folk that you just can’t uproot. When the unrighteous flourish but are suddenly confronted with a crisis that pulls them from the comforts of this world, they quickly wither and die. But the righteous, those clinging to Christ, are stubborn. They will not die. But, like that shrub dragged and injured, simply take root again when hard times are past. Give me a Christian with character any time!
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us spiritual roots that endure no matter what the world may throw our way. We know that hard times will come; but they can’t kill us. You have planted us here to grow and bear fruit. There no man, devil or world that can ever destroy our faith. We will flourish planted in You. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
A CHAPLAIN’S PRAYER FOR OUR SOLDIERS
"Lord our God, provide wisdom, insight and clear vision of Your will, for all our senior military and political leaders, the President, his Cabinet, the Secretary of Defense, the Service Secretaries and the flag and SES level personnel under their direction. Provide protection, mercy and care for all deployed service members, DOD civilians and their extended families worldwide. I pray for their safety, and that they might know of Your eternal love, mercy and forgiveness. Provide Your leading, oh Lord our God, to each employee of the Pentagon, both military and civilian, that we might provide our best in service to our Nation, our family and community. Protect and sustain us during this day that, in each mission we perform, we might know of Your unfailing grace. Empower me this day, that I will value each person’s contributions, create a supportive work environment, foster mutual trust and respect in the work place, and seek Your direction for my own spiritual and professional growth."
--From the Chief Chaplain’s Office at the Pentagon
SOURCE: Presidential Prayer Team Update for March 27, 2003