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How do we grow as believers? It is always a concern to meet believers who have neither ambition or desire to grow in Christ. I believe it shows just how caught up with material things and the cares of this world we can become. As believers the challenge is to grow into the calling and person that God has destined us to become. So, the question is how do we grow? The first thing we need is a desire to grow, to know more about God to become more like His Son Jesus and to bring Him honour by the way we live our lives. At the foundation of this is a simple but critical change in our hearts, a desire to be good. Not just behaving or conforming to a set of rules but to have a genuine desire to do good to all. Without this so many believers are simply rule followers, seeking to be seen to conform rather than having a genuine love and desire to do good. When our true motive is for God to get the glory and for others to see His goodness the world sees the Kingdom of heaven as it is meant to be. I am convinced that this is why the church in the west is largely declining, because those who see us as we really are see how little we have progressed in our walk with Christ. After all being a follower of Jesus is a journey, not just a destination. It is no good thinking now I’ve come this far, I’ve got it or that I no longer need to learn and develop. I love the way that Paul the apostle describes it when he says, “ Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12). In other words, we do not stop learning and we do not stop growing as believers until the day wee depart this earth for the heavenly realm. So then how do we grow? We feed, we don’t just read but we meditate upon the word of God, we spend time with others who have grown and are mature that we might learn form them as we study together, this is why a Bible study is far more crucial for believers than the Sunday service. We fellowship together, the quality of our growth is always effected by the quality of those we keep company with. The more time I spend around godly people the more godly character and desire are likely to be birthed in us. We spend time in God’s presence, there is no one in scripture or in testimony books who accomplished anything for God without spending time in God’s presence. So let me encourage each of us to develop a heart that desires to grow in Christ, to become more like Jesus. I believe as we take a fresh perspective of how church gathers we will find that fellowship (godly rather than mere entertainment), the study of God’s word and a longing to see God glorified will result in our personal growth as believers no matter how long we have been in church. I encourage you to take a look at your personal journey and consider how to align yourself to grow more.

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The road to eternity is very narrow, a gate that for most would seem undesirable. Jesus said “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14).

As we have read through the New Testament, we have seen what the life of a disciple should look like. Far too often there is great temptation to live an easy life, a life that in truth is the wide way that Jesus speaks about. A life where we enjoy the pleasures of this world now and conveniently ignore the teachings of scripture that lead us to what comes later. I am not speaking of denying ourselves the safety and provision that is available the privilege of the nation we live in but rather of the indulgence we allow ourselves, secular entertainment, tv, partying, socializing for our amusement. It really comes down to perspective and motive. Is my motive for joining in to be a witness to others whilst I am with them or more honestly is my motive to have ‘a good time’? I believe this is one of the reasons so many Christians don’t really find joy in their salvation and seem to want for more than Christ in their lives in order to find satisfaction. The love of this world has a powerful pull on many. Christians are not called to be miserable, but rather the source of our joy, happiness and satisfaction is to be found in Him (Jesus Christ). That is why Jesus explains that the gate that leads to eternity is narrow and the way difficult. If my fulfilment is in His salvation and my relationship with Jesus Christ, then I have no need of other things to make me feel happy or to be entertained. This is the great challenge of the 21st Century for believers. We have at our disposal so many labour-saving devices, such diverse forms of technology and entertainment, and so much free time that craves filling with idle distractions. In our affluence it is no wonder many have lost sight of the Christian way, the narrow way that leads to eternal reward. The truth is that on the narrow way we lack for nothing, this includes the fundamental needs that we so unconsciously seek to fulfil. He is our peace, and in Him there is joy, fulfilment and completeness. May He lead us in this ‘way everlasting’ and help each one of us to see where our foot is in danger of slipping off the path. There are only two roads into eternity one is broad and ends in destruction, the other is narrow and leads to eternal life. I know which I want to be on when I reach the end of the journey and I am sure you do too! For all the world possess I see a lost humanity in all its abundance crying out for the one thing that is missing, sadly for most they are either unable or unwilling to see and accept that what they need is Christ.

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The word that keeps me going, is a word in season, a thought, an encouragement at just the right time. How often God speaks a word at just the right moment to bring encouragement, lifting us out of our periods of discouragement or challenging a moment of neglect. God is so faithful; in His patience He quietly whispers from the pages of His word (the Bible) ‘this is the way.’ There is something very reassuring about the fact that God speaks to us through the scriptures. They become like an oasis in the wilderness of our existence, a refuge from the world that might so easily consume us. God is so faithful. It is in those moments of doubt, discouragement and the feeling of spiritual barrenness that we find the true merit of God’s word. It is in the low times of life that the benefit of God’s word is most evident. The uplifting power that is brought to bear within our hearts as we read words that warm our hearts and soothe the soul. What a loss it would be not to have such a book. Where would we find the words of guidance and counsel, those heaven-sent words of wisdom and encouragement to lead and guide us? How lost humanity would be without the word of God to light their way. How sad that so many have no idea just what a tremendous gift we have. Where else has the eternal God of heaven spoken so that f we care to listen we might hear Him calling to us.

It is so easy, when we are going through those low points in life, to be tempted not to read the word that would so readily lift us out of our lows. The discipline of regular bible reading is the best safeguard against falling into this trap. Learning the habit of regular bible reading time helps strengthen us for the moments when it can seem difficult to read the bible.

As we read and consider God’s word to us it acts as a raft to keep us from sinking or like an eagle carrying us out of the dark depths below. There are lots of ways we could describe the effect of reading God’s word and all of them are positive. What is important to remember is that God wants to speak to us, to share His comfort and guidance for our good. He does this through His word. Over many years I have found this to be true personally and in the lives of others. God’s word is a powerful tonic that uplifts and refreshes the soul. He brings gladness instead of mourning, joy instead of sorrow, light instead of darkness and all through His word. We must not see God’s word as just a medicine cabinet, a book to turn for help when things are going wrong. God’s word is far more than that. However, as we journey through this life, we can be sure that God has a word for every season stored within the pages of that book.

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