By David Stahl

The longer I go in God the more I see the critical need for spiritual maturity and development in God and why many Christians refuse to grow up.  Growing up is painful that is why little babies and children cry so much.  Especially today the need for growing up is more pressing because in the days to come (I believe) unstable and immature Christians will be manipulated, deceived, and used (more than what they are now) by forces and powers to further ungodly agendas and polices, even imprisoned, tortured, and killed for sport. Are we any better than the Christians before God in the early church?  I think not. The future for Christians looks bleak in the natural realm because many denominational and the nominal church has failed to minster the truth of the word of God to a lost and dying world and have purposely (for money and influence) kept young Christians weak and sickly spiritually.  But God’s desire for us is to grow up in Him.  I promise you my friend this will cost you dearly, things (purposely of our selves) that most Christians are not willing to pay.  After all why pay the price for development and spiritual growth when I can just sit on the church pew every Sunday and go through the motions after all the pastor told me I was a Christian.  I have been baptized and when I die I will go to heaven, well my friend it does not work that way it is God who is the judge not the pastor.  There is a price we pay for all we get from God.  Even our salvation was not free it cost Jesus His life.  Paul tell us,  “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.”  (Romans 5:15) I have often thought of this wondrous free gift of salvation,  nothing can stop the giving of this gift from God, but it is us the receivers who can stop the receiving and the point I really like is it must be free (no strings attached) to be a gift.  There is nothing we can to do to earn it, no work, or performance on our part will impart this free gift of salvation, but many Christians (term used loosely) are working hard to go to heaven. Well they may not make it. In the early days of being a Christian there were times when I became spiritually stirred and promised the LORD all kinds of things. I felt that I had received specific direction, purpose, and revelation, but the next thing I knew I had fallen apart and all spiritual vision and inspiration disappeared. Then I picked myself up, shook off the dust, returned to the starting line, and began again.  Growing up in God begins with many failures, but as we fail we are to learn and not make the same mistake again and again.  Babies learn to walk by falling and falling till they can get their balance and before long they are walking.  This pattern also takes place in our spiritual experience when we are truly growing up.  Life is never easy. We all have our ups and downs. There have been times when I told the LORD, “I will never doubt you again.” Soon I was saying, “LORD, where are you?” It is time for us to grow up and out of these patterns and begin to move upward and onward without variance.  It is very important that the foundation upon which we stand is our LORD Jesus Christ and that our life is built on Him and His divine spiritual principles.  If not our spiritual experience is resting on sand, that is, if we are trusting our own abilities we will fail when the pressures of life increase, but here we endure till we learn to exchange our abilities for His abilities (the learning process) and come to a point where we do not fail. When difficulties affect us and we begin to lose our spiritual direction we must become quiet and look to the LORD if we can do this we will recognize that beneath our variance  is a layer of spiritual strength and hope that had been deposited within us through our identification with Jesus in His death and resurrection, which was confirmed in the peace that came when He took up His abode within us.  Most seasoned  Christians  have a settled knowing that they have gone too far in their spiritual experience to turn back now and that at any price we have no choice, but to press upward and onward. Once we realize that we have gone beyond the point of no-return we can only say LORD for better or for worse my life is Yours.  Oddly the older I get and the more the world churns in turmoil the less I like to fly on airplanes (most common reason why Christians do not travel overseas), but to do that which God wants me to do at times I must board an airplane.  As the plane is waiting to rush down the runway I utter these words, “into thy hands oh LORD I commend my body, soul, and spirit.” No matter the outcome I am committed to the plan and will of God for my life even if it is to be on a airplane that falls from the sky at 40,000 feet from some act of terrorism or accident.  The LORD is pleased with this because true commitment is never in words alone, but always have actions that support our words.  They say words are cheap (how true) actions always means you have some skin in the game.  The varied struggles that each of us face are very real. However it is not the struggle that is important, but rather the way we view and respond to it. We live in a worldly environment where all sorts of things war against us and many times it seems that there is more against us than for us. This gives us ample opportunity to either feel sorry for ourselves and fall into despair or to rise above these things and meet our LORD as an overcomer. Our Country today in embroiled in a struggle over what many people (even Christians I still use this term loosely) call racism well it is not about racism, but about a heart condition that has never been dealt with by God.  Many people gather in rallies and peace demonstrations as they act out with violence in the name of justice, hogwash they are selfish, know not God and His ways, and just want their grievances heard.  If we have the King of Peace in our heart we need not go to a peace or unity rally.  Paul in Romans clearly states,   Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Romans 12:17, 18, and 21)  Pastors and spiritual leaders (black and white) gather on the battle line to fight and protest things that deal with the heart, but try to solve them with fleshly means.  It will not work my friend. All of my life people groups after people group have protested and complained about injustice while dismissing the true heart of the matter, their heart not being controlled by God.  It is the Gospel not protesting and rioting that heals hearts, that corrects perceived injustice, grievances, and inequalities. We (Christians) must not allow ourselves to get angry and divided out as the world does if we do all will be lost.  My friend God must be able to shut our mouth so He can open our heart.  Paul tells us,“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;”  (1 Thessalonians 4:11)  Strange we have to “study” to be quiet.  Again, God must be able to shut our mouth.  One of the first signs of growing up is being able to shut your mouth and the second is not needing to have your opinion heard.  You know there is a desire in the heart of the LORD for those who will stand with Him and His words to us in full redemption that He can accomplish on our behalf and trust in His faithfulness alone. This requires us breaking out of the mold of our past insecurities and an entering into the security of our being seated with Him.  Here as we rest in His victory the Holy Spirit who brought Jesus forth from the grave what appeared to be a total defeat will also lift us from our place of discouragement and variance into an overcoming victory in His presence. Since we are created in the likeness of the LORD this desire is also in the One who created us. Thus the LORD desires that we come to Him alone in trust and appreciation for His redemption in our behalf. These variances in our faith can rob us of our being able to give this satisfaction to our LORD.  If we will hold the potential that rests within us before the LORD in simple child-like trust we will be enabled to rise above the limitations (growing up) that we place upon ourselves and enter into all that He has made available for us.