Becoming a Mature Believer

What does it look like to grow as a Christian?

Many young believers see their need for God so clearly. They realize that they have sinned and messed up their lives. They are desperate to live differently and know that apart from God it is impossible so they cling to Him. They are dependent upon Him. They seek His will in the smallest moments of everyday life.

As the years go by, often, these believers grow up and become more “mature” in their faith. They become accustomed to the Christian life. They lose their conscious need for God’s help. They stop depending on Him and seeking His help and guidance in every area of their lives.

This is normal but is it right? Should we grow up in our faith to be independent of God or should we grow more dependent every day?

John 15:4-8 says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

As believers, we should constantly be growing and becoming more fruitful for the kingdom. According to Jesus the only means by which a believer can bear fruit is by abiding in Him. If we abide in Jesus we will bear much fruit. Without Jesus, we can accomplish nothing.

A branch’s job is not to bear fruit. Instead, it is to abide in the vine. If it abides in the vine, it will produce fruit. In the same way, our job as believers is to abide in Jesus. If we do so our lives will overflow with fruit.

Although it is normal for us to grow in independence, we should instead grow in dependence. This is the key to maturity and fruitfulness. The Christian life can be summed up in one word—Jesus. He is our aim, our goal, our life.

A mature believer is one whose whole life is wrapped up in Jesus, one who has truly learned to abide in and depend upon Him.

Is that your reality as a believer? Is your life summed up in Jesus? Are you growing more dependent upon Him every day?

May we mature in our faith by growing in dependence.  May we cling ever tighter to Jesus.

Walking With a Limp

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A liar, deceiver, and manipulator, Jacob was self-sufficient, independent and able to get his way. But all of that changed in Genesis 32. Jacob came face to face with God and wrestled with Him through the night. He came away from that encounter with a new name and a limp.

Up until this point, Jacob had gotten everything he wanted in his own strength. He was strong and independent. In this wrestling match, God dislocated Jacob’s hip, giving him a limp and showing him how weak he really was.

Jacob desperately needed to learn to depend upon God. His greatest spiritual weakness was His own strength and intellect.

Whether we realize it or not, we are all weak and broken. We all need to learn to depend upon God. We all have a limp but it isn’t until we come face to face with God that we recognize it.

When we truly see God we finally see ourselves as we really are. We will never fully understand our own helplessness and vileness until we come face to face with Him—His power and His holiness. It is impossible for us to truly understand who we are until we know who He is.

A true encounter with God will always leave us with a limp. Suddenly in light of God, we see our weakness and we realize how desperately we need to depend upon Him.

As much as we may dislike seeing our own destitution and desperate need, it is actually a wonderful thing. As long as we are striving in our own strength we can never accomplish anything. It is only when we recognize our need and depend upon the Lord that we can be truly effective and productive.

John 15:4-5 says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. We, like Jacob, need to come face to face with the living God and see ourselves in light of Him. We are weak. We are helpless. We are broken. Apart from our gracious God, we are utterly destitute. We need Him so desperately. We must learn to abide in and depend upon Him.

Are you like Jacob, striving to find happiness and fulfillment? Or have you come face to face with your own brokenness and destitution? Have you learned to depend upon God and embrace your limp?

Embracing Weakness

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Recently I have been struggling with extreme exhaustion. I have been tired constantly. And I must admit I have done a good bit of complaining about it.

But as I was laying in bed at 5:55 PM because I was so tired that I could barely hold up my own head it hit me that this is an opportunity to embrace dependence.

I like to feel strong, capable and in control. Being exhausted strips you of those feelings but the reality is we are not really any of those things anyway. As Christians, we are called to recognize our weakness in order to embrace God’s strength.

We live in a society that glorifies independence. Believers, however, are called to live lives of dependence upon Jesus.

We must recognize that we can’t but He can.

Dependence is one of those ideas that is much more fun to philosophize about than to actually experience. No one likes to come to the end of themselves. Dependence demands that we recognize that we have nothing, that we cannot do it, that we need help.

And yet there is a beauty and excitement when you do come to the end of yourself and realize that God’s grace is sufficient.

It is only when we come to the end of ourselves that we tap into the power of God that has no end.

It is easy for me to complain. I have even thought, “Lord why did you make me like this. I could serve You so much better if you had made my body to run on less sleep.” And yet I am discovering that it is in this very weakness that I experience God’s strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness.

In this passage, Paul is talking about a personal struggle that he actually pleaded with God to remove. God responds to Paul by saying, “My grace is sufficient.” Paul’s conclusion is that he will boast in his infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon him.

Our weaknesses force us into dependence upon Jesus.

We often think that we could serve God better without our weaknesses but God desires that we would depend upon Him even as we serve Him. Our weaknesses force us to depend on Him. They remind us of our need for Him.

Just like Paul, we should learn to rejoice in our weaknesses because God’s power is perfected in them. Therefore it is when we are weak that we are truly strong.

Annie J Smith wrote a beautiful poem that sums this up wonderfully.

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; To added afflictions He addeth His mercy, To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision, Our God ever yearns His resources to share; Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.