“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant,
is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” Hebrews 5:12-13
Intro: In case you missed last Sunday or you are new to First Church we are in the second week
of a Worship Series titled “Green.”
Last week we talked about how the Christian year has four basic colors: red, white, purple and green.
These colors represent the different times in the life of Christ and the church
or the different seasons in Christian year.
Green is the color for six weeks after Epiphany and will be the color again after Pentecost.
“Green” is color of growth
Green is the time for growth in the church.
Green is the time for growth in your own individual spiritual life.
Is it possible to measure spiritual growth?
If I could summarize the book of Hebrews in one sentence it would be.
“Let us grow spiritually.”
Yes, spiritual growth can be measured.
That is what our text is talking about today.
The writer of Hebrews is able to measure the spiritual growth of the hearers.
He says the audience has been believers long enough that they ought to be teachers by now.
But instead of making progress they were still spiritually immature
and had to be re-taught the elementary truths about God’s word all over again.
What if there was some type of scale that we could use on Sunday mornings
we would line people up
and instead of weighing the body weight we could weigh their spiritual weight.
Sometimes I wish it were that simple.
Because there are times in my own life
when I am in the middle of a struggle
and I am thinking that my spiritual life is in the dumps.
But in reality my spiritual life is growing by leaps and bounds.
I just have a difficult time seeing it in the middle of a messy life.
And then there will also be times in life when the temptation is to become content with your spiritual life
When in reality your spiritual growth has plateaued and reached a state of little or no change.
I am convinced that this is one of the most dangerous times in the life of a Christian.
And that it is likely true of about one out of five attending church members at any given time.
Many churches today are in uncharted territory.
They have side by side in the same church lifelong members and totally new seekers.
I will preach this same sermon to both the 8:30 crowd and the 10:45 crowd.
In these two services there are some very mature believers and there are some brand new believers.
Has your spiritual life stalled completely?
Have you thought about leaving this church and going somewhere else?
Right beside you on the same pew are members who are fired up.
Right beside you are people who are passionate about their faith.
They are ready to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ.
They want to be challenged.
They are ready to grow to the next level.
So no matter whether you are spiritually healthy and vibrant
Or your spiritual life has stalled or weakening
There are some easy steps that you can take to move in the right direction of spiritual growth.
I. Don’t be stuck in the past, let it go, leave it all on the altar.
One of the best trips you will ever make in your life is a trip to the altar.
Just ask anyone who has ever been there before.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you,
and learn from me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
A yoke was a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of a ox.
It is attached to a plough or a wagon or other piece of equipment for the ox to pull.
You may be pulling a heaving load.
Sin is never easy to carry.
Sin may make you feel light for a short time. It may make you feel high for a moment.
But sin is only fun for a season.
Then you begin to pay the price for the sin.
The cost of sin can be a lot.
The cost of sin is the hurt and pain people suffer because of their choices.
One of the biggest obstacles of spiritual growth is carrying around all the baggage of the past.
I meet people all the time who cannot let go of something that happened to them a year ago.
Or five years ago
Or ten years ago.
I have learned that I cannot be a healthy leader and continue to carry the weight of the past around with me.
If I am wanting to plant new seed.
If I am wanting to new blossoms.
If I am wanting to pick fresh fruit and growth and have a new harvest in my life.
I have to let go of the old sinful nature, move out of the past, leave my sin and sorrow at the altar
And begin a new journey.
This happens when we first give our heart and life to Christ
We become born again.
But it also happens over and over again as we grow spiritually.
If it doesn’t you are not growing.
As you workout the muscle fibers of your body stretches.
Making room for new muscle protein strands or myofibrils.
These tiny breaks and repairs of the myofibrils increase in thickness and number
to create new stronger, growing muscles.
The breaks in repairs in our spiritual life do the same thing.
We fail, we fall down, we make a mistake.
The choice is do we stay in defeat?
Do we stay down?
Do we continue in failure?
No, we repent.
We leave forgiven.
We leave lighter.
We leave stronger.
I know what some of your are thinking.
You are thinking you don’t have to come down to the altar for this change to take place in your life.
You are right.
But I know that for me the quickest best place for me the altar and I encourage you to give it a try.
How long has it been since you took steps to grow in your spiritual life?
How long has it been since you made a trip to the altar?
When you want to grow spiritual you have to be willing to sacrifice.
II. How are you willing to suffer for Jesus sake?
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” 2 Corinthians 4:8–9
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2
In these two verses, Paul lists several types of suffering — mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Each of these are different ways that we can suffer,
and when suffering comes, often several of these types of suffering are involved.
Christians still suffer as we wait for Jesus to return, but none of our suffering is random or without purpose.
Suffering happens in community.
The church is not meant to be a loosely bunch of Lone Rangers.
The expectation isn’t that we grow old together but that we grow spiritually together
We are meant to live, serve, suffer, and grow together.
How many people would come to church if instead of putting out the “supper” sign we put out a “suffer” sign.
How many will sign up to suffer?
I want to sacrifice?
I want to be persecuted.
I want to give till it hurts.
I want to work when nobody else will help.
I want to hug people who no one else will hug.
I want to be sent where no one else is will to go.
Sign me up for suffering.
To many Christians are waiting on someone else to feed them.
Too many Christians still are waiting to be spoon feed or bottle feed them.
So many times in my life I question why certain things happen to me
Things I could not understand.
Many times in trials my weakness It is difficult for me to see beyond the tyranny of the moment.
And that's when my frustration start to get the best of me.
But it's then that I am reminded, I've never been forsaken.
I've never had to stand one test alone.
As I look at all the battles and all the victories,
the Holy Spirit rises up in me.
And It's through the test and challenges of life that my weakness is made strong.
God never lets a hurt or a pain go to waste.
He never promised that the cross would not get heavy
He never promised that mountains would not be hard to climb.
Just remember when you're standing in the valley of decision
If you will around.
Our Lord will show up (Yeah)
Just turn to someone right now and tap them on the shoulder and say “look around”
“Our Lord will show up”
I am not going to preach here.
Because the word of God has promised to preach for me.
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void,
but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Isaiah 55:11 KJV
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 1 Corinthians 3:6 NIV
So the Word of God will peach itself.
“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” Hebrews 5:12-13
Jerri was the pastor of a small church.
Her church was very proud of their prayer list.
In fact ever Sunday the lay leader read every name on the prayer list.
Then he again prayed for every person by name on the prayer list.
There were probably 40 or so names on the prayer list.
This took about 15 minutes or more in the service.
Over the years Jerri noticed that the number on the prayer list never varied by more than 4 or 5.
As soon as one was taken off either by death or released from the doctors care another name was added.
Jerri asked her church committee about the prayer list
and what this ministry represented to the congregation.
They talked about how important it was to pray
and for people to know they were on the church prayer list.
Jerri asked, “Why wasn’t the prayer list growing?”
Why stop at only 40? Why not increase the prayer list to 100?
That question challenged the core assumption of what is at the heart and focus of Christian ministry.
Somehow over the years the prayer list had slowly become the substitute for ministry.
Prayerfully, slowly, intentionally, the church began to form a visitation program.
They formed prayer team who would take the names of people on the prayer list
and pray for them every week.
But added to the prayer list were the names of members of the church who would be the visitation team.
The prayer team and visitation team would meet together and pray together and read scripture together.
Then the prayer team would pray while the visitation team went out to the hospitals, nursing homes,
and out into the community to disciple the lost and to witness to the unsaved and share the Gospel.
Every church I know has a prayer list.
But very few churches I know have a suffering team.
May be could call them the prayer teams and visitation teams who go out into the world
out into the community
Beyond the walls of the building
Taking the hope
Taking the love
Taking the Gospel of Christ to the people.
I know that things have changed and the culture of communities have changed.
But I am convinced that there is still no better way to reach the hurting, the broken and the lost for Christ
Than one on one conversation.
Building personal relationships is still the best way to do missions and ministry.
Too often church people and especially new Christians measure spiritual growth
by checking the “Christian” box.
I got baptized. Check
I am a member of the church. Check
I said a prayer today. Check
I read from the bible today. Check
I go to church. Check
It is almost like a grocery list.
We are walking through the isle checking items off our list as we put them into the cart.
III. See things from the rational to the irrational.
What I mean and what I want to get across in this point more than anything else is God is the doer of miracles.
God is the giver of every good and perfect gift.
I can’t explain it.
How Jesus could say to the lame man laying at the pool of Bethsaida.
Take up your mat and walk.
It is not rational.
I can’t explain how that a women with a health issue of blood for twelve years.
She had been to every doctor.
Spent all her money on medical cures that had not made her healthy or whole
But when she had faith the squeeze through the crowded streets
And just touch the hem of Jesus clothes
Jesus immediately felt the virtue and strength go out of him
And this illogical, irrational faith of this Samaritan woman with the issue of blood was healed and made whole.
How can Jesus call the name of Lazarus whose body was in the grave already for so long
The bible says his body stinks by now.
His flesh is dead and rotten.
But Jesus called out his name Lazarus and the dead is brought back to life.
How do I move from the rational to the irrational.
Because my logic says it is impossible
But my faith says it is so.
How can a cross and man named Jesus who died over 2000 years ago give me peace and forgiveness
And change my hate filled heart into a heart filled with love?
Normal, sane people would say, if thy enemy strikes thee
Strike them back and hit them twice as hard as they hit you.
But there is something grown up about not fighting.
I said, there is something gown up about not getting mad, and our feelings hurt so easily.
There is something spiritual about taking the high road.
You can’t really be mad at someone when you love them with the love like Jesus loves.
Why does the writer of Hebrews talk about baby Christians?
In order to grow from infant Christian to mature Christian
We have to be able to discern from the language of good and the language of evil.
Can you tell the difference between the correct use of the scriptures
And a mistaken use of the scriptures?
Are you acquainted with the teaching about righteousness? Hebrews 5:13
The commentary on this passage of scripture says,
“Too often we want a banquet without being able to digest it.”
Our ability to feast on the word of God and to grow deeper and more knowledgeable of God
determines our spiritual growth.
As we grow in the Lord and put into practice what we have learned,
Your capacity to understand will also grow.
God has given us a good and perfect gift of salvation, forgiveness, and love through Jesus Christ.
Are you saved?
Are you forgiven?
Are you loving?
Are you growing Green spiritually?
Closing: Do you want to grow closer to God? But don’t know how?
Then come let’s pray together, let me talk with you about how you feel.
What’s on your heart.
Gentle Creator, keep creating in me a new heart
That I may never grow weary in well doing.