Feature Article | Maturity is an Investment

At the beginning of January, Wesley began a five-week series on the Old Testament prophet Elijah. The main point of the series is that Elijah KNEW God deeply, and because of that, God did incredible things through Elijah’s life. Elijah knew that God is a good, kind, and loving Father. He knew that God is relentless, God is generous, God is trustworthy, and God is King. Consequently, if He is all of these things, then we, like Elijah, are his princes and princesses.

Deep down, we all want to accept that we are truly sons and daughters of God. However, fully embracing that truth takes time and requires us to consistently be in process and growth. Oftentimes, God uses a plant or a tree as a metaphor for his children. Like the trees, he shows us that we’re aren’t supposed to remain stagnant, but instead we are constantly being pruned and grown to produce bigger, better, and more righteous fruit.

In order to pursue a life truly rooted in God’s love for us as sons and daughters, we have to be willing to God pruning and maturing our branches. Here are a few simple practices that will keep us rooted in his love as we grow.

1. Stay rooted in the Word, every day if possible, to allow the Holy Spirit to uncover lies and sin issues


“'I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.’”
-  John 15:4-7 ESV

The reason why God uses trees as metaphors for our lives is because he is using his truth to speak to us in ways that we understand. If we are his greatest creations, then he will use his creations to show us how he uses it for his glory and our good.

Residing in the truth of who Jesus is will bring up lies and sin issues we deal with on a day-to-day basis. And that’s hard! Nothing about following Jesus will be easy or grand. However, having faith in the truth of who Jesus is - the Son of God - will lead us to the better side of eternity.

But as God allows sin and lies to rise to the surface, his intentions are for him to help you allow that thing, whatever it might be, to die! That’s amazing! It’s beautiful and reflective of nature because death makes way for new life, and new life produces new fruit! The Circle of Life strikes again! Thanks Disney!
 
2. Serving people will keep you connected to community

'And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." '
Matthew 22:37-40 ESV

There is something that Jesus is constantly clear about throughout Scripture, and that is service. We are called to be the hands and feet of God through the body of Christ. However, the enemy will do his best to separate us from the truth of Christ’s love for us. Believing lies of loneliness and unworthiness can cause many consequences in our lives, such as anger, anxiety, depression, and fear - and as innately sinful beings, humans will take reactions like that the wrong way, and people could become even more isolated than they felt before.

However, learning to move past the lies of the enemy is something God does at our pace. If you feel lonely and unworthy the first thing you should do is to pray. Pray, pray, pray. God will encounter you with the Holy Spirit and bear your burdens. He might invite you into serving others or he might invite you to sit with him for a while. Either way, you are connecting to the body of Christ and learning how generous the heart of God the Father really is.

Jesus commands us to serve others because one, he seeks to reconcile people who are lost back to him and two, he wants the decaying parts of our lives and put them to death for good. Like he says in Luke 13, if we allow him to, Jesus will use those dead aspects of our lives to help the tree of righteousness that he planted to thrive.

3. Renewing your mind will help you kill sin and shame

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”
2 Corinthians 10:4-6 ESV

The way to help sin & shame to die is to take control of your thought life. Your thought patterns are actually physical pathways of neurons in your brain (funny, because they also look like trees), and the more you tread them, the stronger they become and more likely they are to become your reality, especially if they are toxic.

While desiring for lies and sin issues to disappear overnight is completely normal, it usually doesn’t unfortunately. God often keeps good things from you not because he is rude, but instead because he is kind and loves you! It takes time for you to build healthy thought patterns while the Holy Spirit living in you breaks down the unhealthy ones. Oftentimes, Jesus knows we can’t handle the full capacity of breakthrough all at once, so he gives it to us piece by piece.

Think of the proverbial tree as you read. It probably has taken years to get to where it is today. There have been seasons that the tree produced lots of fruit, and seasons where fruit was a luxury to come by because of drought. The tree had long periods of time where it was relying on a limited water supply and wilted its leaves to keep the roots and trunk alive. If the tree suddenly had to experience a flood due to rain, it could die because of how weak it is. But instead, the weather can ease back into a normal cycle of rain, and the tree will day-by-day return nutrients to its extremities. The same thing happens as you trust Jesus more and more. Even though the trajectory will be upwards, you are human and will have days of doubt, fear, and anxiety.

THAT’S OKAY.

You have unlimited grace given to you by Christ. He never told you to be perfect, he told you to love him and follow him so he could know you. ONE DAY AT A TIME. Just like the tree. You grow as naturally as that tree, except you have an eternal inheritance in heaven. As long as your eyes are focused on heaven and you believe in who Jesus says he is, the lies will die and feed the truth of love through sonship & daughterhood with a Father who is truly and relentlessly in love with you.
 
Author | Brad Schiebel

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