Summary: Each of us needs to strive for more depth in the Lord and more growth in God’s grace.
Many of us view the New Year as a time of beginning afresh, of setting new goals for ourselves, and making changes in our pattern of living. Some of us begin the New Year by saying to ourselves, as well as others, “I’m going to do things differently this year. I’m going to make some needed changes that I’ve been neglecting for far too long. I’m going to be a different person than I was in 2004.” Others of us don’t see ourselves making too many changes in our lives, no drastic alterations from the previous year. Though everything in our lives is not perfect, we are basically satisfied and reasonably content. Last year wasn’t that bad for us so we just hope that things will go on as before, that we will continue in the way that we’ve been heading.
Whether we see ourselves making many or a few changes, all should have at least one goal in common. Every one of us, from the youngest to the oldest, from richest to the poorest, from the least to the most educated, from the most pious to the most worldly, should have this as our goal…Each of us needs to strive for more depth in the Lord and more growth in God’s grace. Our prayers and goal should be that at the end of the year we find ourselves stronger in the Lord, with more depth in the Spirit, more understanding of God’s word, more commitment to doing God’s will. As we are all aware, there are still unplumbed depths in the Lord that have not yet been reached and there are heights of joy that we haven’t yet attained. The Spirit of God ought not be finished with any of us yet. No matter how much we have experienced or think we know there is still much that God’s Spirit can teach and reveal to us.
The Christian journey is something that we must grow into. One does not reach the highest heights or deepest depths by wishing it or wanting it or claiming it. I try not to judge anyone’s religion, but I become suspect of people who become holy, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost overnight. Such people often come in to the Christian life a bang and go out with a whimper. Rather than waning and weakening with time, true religion, true faith proceeds from strength to strength. Time takes its toll on all we know and everything we use except our FAITH!
In time, the clothes we wear, no matter how fine or how expensive they are (Tommy, FUBU, Nike), they wear out. In time, the cars we drive (Benz, Lexus, Beamer) wear out; their bodies rust and engines stop running. In time, the house we live in begin to weaken and crumble. In time, the techno-gadgets we rushed out to get become outdated and obsolete. In time, the greatest of athletes lose their coordination and must retire. In time, the vitality of our youth wanes as our steps slow and our energy fades. In time, stars noted for their beauty and whose names were once household words, fade from public memory. In time, even the caskets in which we are buried, no matter how much we’ve paid for them, rot away to dust. The Christian, however, gets stronger IN TIME. Only a Christian, like Job, can say, “Though worms destroy this body, yet, in my flesh shall I see God.” OUR LIFE SHOULD GO FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH AND GLORY TO GLORY. EVERY ROUND SHOULD GO HIGHER AND HIGHER. EACH VICTORY OUGHT TO HELP US “SOME OTHER TO WIN.”
THERE SHOULD BE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MY FAITH NOW AND THE FAITH I HAD WHEN I FIRST STARTED PREACHING. MY FAITH OUGHT TO BE STRONGER; I OUGHT TO HAVE MORE DEPTH AND KNOWLEDGE. I SHOULDN’T BE DISCOURAGED AS EASILY OR WILLING TO QUIT SO READILY; MY FEELINGS SHOULD NOT BE HURT AS QUICKLY. I SHOULD BE MORE CONVINCED AND CONVICTED ABOUT THE REALITY AND TRUTH OF SOME THINGS NOW. I SHOULD BE MORE FIRM AND RESOLUTE ABOUT SOME THINGS AND MORE FLEXIBLE ABOUT OTHER THINGS NOW. LIFE, THE CHURCH, PEOPLE, GOD, THE SCRIPTURES, THE WORLD SHOULD NOT LOOK THE SAME NOW AS IT DID TEN YEARS AGO WHEN I FIRST STARTED PREACHING. If everything and everybody looks the same now as they did then, I haven’t grown very much. Growth makes one see things differently.
I’m not simply talking about the passage of time, because the years can go by without much growth taking place. Some people think the same things, and try to do the same things they did years ago. Therefore, each of us needs to look at ourselves and see how much or how little we have grown in grace, in the Spirit, in the knowledge of God since last year. Each of us needs to look NOT at our neighbor but at ourselves to see how much depth we have in God so that we can grow in the fullness and knowledge of the Lord as the Holy Spirit directs. Well, lets take a look at our text.