Tag Archives: development

Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11, KJV)

Consider for a moment the four things Paul says he prays to God about the Philippians:
1) Love may abound in knowledge and discernment (Notice: just saying you have more love is not enough, it must grow out of knowledge of God and his word).
2) Approve things that are excellent (to put to the test things that differ to find the conclusion of what is right).
3) Be sincere and without offence (being sincere alone is not enough, that sincerity must be coupled with correct actions)
4) Filled with the fruits of righteousness (Which requires a removal/refusal of the fruits of darkness).

All four of these things are necessary for Christian growth and development. They are the things we should be wanting to see in our own lives and the lives of others. Are they found in yours?

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Are you the same person today you were a year ago?

There are those who will speak ill of a person who has changed over time. They will complain that this person is not the same one they were friends with years before, began working with some time ago, or married in their younger years. They talk of change as though it is the plague and recoil at the thought of a difference being present. The same is often true in patterns of thinking as well. People, especially those in the public light, face ridicule or are called hypocrites and flip-floppers for changing their beliefs on a certain issue or study.

However, there are some questions that need to be asked: is all change bad? Is it wrong for a person to change, no matter what direction they are going? Instead of acting shocked at change, should we not expect it?

As people, we are not God. We do not have all knowledge, all power, and all comprehension. Therefore, it is necessary for us to learn and grow. As Christians, we desire to be more like God each day: to love what he loves and hate what he hates. This requires a continual progression of change (otherwise known as growth) on our part. Understanding such, it should be a part of our expectations in life that people change over time.

Peter wrote about the things that need to be a part of the Christian’s life in 2 Peter 1:5-8 when he wrote: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The use of the term “abound” in verse 8 is very interesting. It is from a Greek word meaning, “to exist in abundance, to make to increase.” It is used, in this passage, in the sense of continuing to increase as time moves forward.

Therefore, if I am to develop as God desires, I must change over time. Additionally, I should be looking for others to change as well, not to remain stagnant with each passing year.

So, are you the same person today that you were a year ago? If the answer is yes, then maybe you need to step back and see if there is something missing in your focus in life. We are all human, because of this we are all imperfect and need constant work and attention to every aspect of our lives. So ask yourself…

  • Is your knowledge and understanding of God’s Word the same today as it was a year ago?
  • Is your prayer life the same?
  • Is your love for God the same?
  • Is your relationship with your family the same?
  • Is your understanding of the grace and mercy of God the same?
  • Is your devotion to God the same?
  • Is your focus in life the same?
  • Is your desire for Heaven the same?
  • Is your development and use of your talents the same?

If the answers to any of these are “yes,” why is that? Is it because you have perfected every aspect of knowledge, understanding and implementation in that area, or is it because you have not been giving it the attention it deserves?

We need to change and we should expect others to do so as well. In fact, we should be disappointed if there is no change in our friends and loved ones over the years, because it means they have not grown.

I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to change over the years, because I believe that the man that is here today is a better servant of God than the one who was present years ago, and I pray that I will continue to transition into a better servant as days go by. I am equally thankful my wife is not still the woman I married… she is better, and continuing to grow every day. And I am so grateful to work with a congregation of people that have changed over the years… into better, more developed servants of Christ with more knowledge and understanding of his word.

Have you changed?

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The Christian’s Evolution

For many Christians the use of the term “evolution” automatically sends the mind in the direction of the scientific theory of evolution as a means of origin, and thereby leaves them cautious as to the direction of the discussion. However, there are very viable and accurate applications for this term that have nothing to do with the scientist’s brainchild. The term “evolution” is defined as, “any process of formation or growth; development; a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development.” Therefore, in truth, evolution simply means change over time or the continued development of someone or something.

In a very real sense, the Christian is an evolving individual. Christianity is a process of development and growth that requires time, energy, and focus to accomplish. Consider three ways in which a faithful Christian evolves.

From Worldliness to Righteousness

I do not know of a single individual who knew every aspect of what they were to do and how they were to live their lives the moment they became a Christian. Developing a lifestyle that is focused on the commands of God and not on the desires of men takes time and effort; Paul wrote, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). That transformation is the evolving of the Christian from a life of worldly pursuits to one of righteous service.

This process is one that requires patience on the part of stronger, more developed Christians. It does not happen overnight, but it requires teaching and a changing of the mind as to what is most important. The caring Christian will desire to help the transforming Christian through teaching and encouragement to continue to develop as they should; this process is accurately described as one of evolution.

From Hopeless to Hopeful

When an individual is outside of Christ, there is no hope for things beyond this life. It is this understanding of hopelessness that leads people to turn to anything and everything to try to find happiness and fulfillment in life. Paul reminded the Gentiles, “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). They did not have God in their lives and thus were hopeless in their view of eternity.

Nevertheless, when an individual becomes a Christian he begins to understand what it means to be hopeful in something beyond this life. Hebrews 6 shows the level of hope that God has sought to make available to mankind; that man can trust his promises, believe his word, and have hope in eternity. The fullness of that hope takes time to develop. The surety in the mind of man that God will actually do what he says, and that it can and will include us, takes time to process and evince fully. Once it is there, the evolution of hope in the mind of a Christian can help to ensure his continued faithfulness for the rest of his life.

From Self-centered to God-centered

The lives of men apart from God are, generally speaking, highly self-focused. Most people are concerned with personal wealth, health, and security with only minimal concern for the needs and desires of others. However, the faithful Christian evidences an evolution that goes completely against the mindset of the carnal man. He voluntarily makes himself a servant, not to his own wishes and desires, but to the commands and wishes of the God he serves. This process is not immediate, but takes place through growth and development. The blueprint for this evolution is seen in the Christian Graces of 2 Peter 1:5-9. It begins with a properly placed faith and concludes with a sacrificial love. By the time one develops the conclusion of the Christian Graces there has been a complete transformation of life.

There is a song that is sometimes sung entitled, None of Self and All of Thee. In its four verses it details this exact development in the heart of the servant of God. The first verse describes someone who is in it for himself; he does not care about anyone else, but is only concerned with his own welfare. The second and third verses show a growth and progression in the individual, a willingness to listen to the Lord’s commands and to begin incorporating them into life and practice. The final verse shows the completion of the transformation when the individual is able to say, “I do not care about myself anymore, I simply want to do what is right.” The evolution of a Christian in this regard is truly a beautiful sight to behold and serves as a great encouragement to others, both Christian and non-Christian.

The evolution of the Christian is absolutely necessary if that servant is to be faithful to God. The Christian who does not develop and make the changes necessary remains weak and infantile in their service. Those who do not continue to grow stronger and more devoted as Christians eventually fall away; they give up and die spiritually because they never fulfilled the transformation process in their lives. Therefore, as a Christian, a servant of God, are you evolving as you should?

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