Don’t Fail the Growth Test

So have you ever bombed a test?

Well your not alone.  I did it just the other day.

Now the test I’m talking about isn’t a school test…God knows I have struggled a lot with those in the past.  No, the test I am referring to is the kind that helps us grow in character and our calling.

The other night, a few of my friends and I were in the kitchen talking. One of my friends saw that he had not shut the door fully behind him as we came in earlier. He, with a rather direct tone said, “Todd shut that door will ya?” Now I know that seems like a simple request, and honestly as I write this I feel like even more of a dork, but guess what I did?  Instead of fully shutting the door, I closed it only half way to where it was not fully latched.  Needless to say, he noticed as he stared me down with a look that urged obedience while at the same time wondered why I did the job only half way in the first place.

So what was I thinking?  And why did I behave like a jerk you ask?  Well, in only one second, I thought three things:  1) “I don’t like his direct tone toward me”  2) “I prefer the door partly unlatched anyway so that when you come in from the garage it is easier to just push open than turn the handle too.”  3) “I will just close it half way like I like it.”

Do you see why I know I failed my test? To state the obvious, it was about ME and what “I wanted.”  It was a test to help me overcome my own pride and selfishness.  You see that same morning in my devotion time I read the verses in Philippians chapter 2 where it talks about imitating Jesus’ humility, valuing others above yourself and not looking to your own interests but the interests of others.  God trained me up with this scripture and got me ready for the test, but I bombed it.

Retakes for Growth

The good news is that God allows you to retake the test if you want too. The bad news though is that if we don’t want to retake the test, you and I will remain where we are….in the same grade.  It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love us, it just means He can’t advance us.

You see God doesn’t want us to just know something; He wants us to become something. And by allowing challenges to come our way, He desires that those circumstances help define and build our character. And when our character grows guess what happens?  Our life grows.

When our life grows it means we have moved to another level in our journey to become all that we were created to be.
Ephesians 2:10 states that we are God’s handiwork:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

We were created “to do”.  So that means it has to be more than just knowing some scripture. It is there for us to know so that we become it.

Plants just like people have stages of growth, we can’t skip any stages. We can’t fool ourselves to think that God’s spiritual growth design can be bypassed. We must be mature at each stage of growth before we can move onto the next.

What area in your life have you sensed you have failed to pass the test? Will you allow God to show you what you need to do to move forward to your next growth level?

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What Would Jesus Think?

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“then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. …In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” – Philippians 2:2,5

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This passage talks of following Jesus’ example, to have the same MIND and same LOVE.

You may have heard the saying “What Would Jesus Do?”  Maybe a better question to ask first is “What Would Jesus Think?”   “Doing” is about love.  But what the mind thinks and perceives determines it’s love.   That’s why scripture here says to be “like-minded”.  Our thinking determines our love.

So then, what did Jesus think…and therefore model for us?
➡️ Strength in his identity – He knew he was. He didn’t need to “strut” or “compare” or try to “prove” his greatness. (v.6)
➡️ Humility in his service – In John 13 Jesus models symbolically what he had been doing all along and what he wanted us to think and act like toward those we love and lead. Jesus ultimate humility in service was going to the Cross in our place. (v.7)
➡️ Obedience in his love – Until you and I learn aspects of obedience toward those who God has sent to protect and guide us, we will miss key aspects of life and leadership.  Jesus modeled this kind of faithfulness for us.  He submitted to the plan from the beginning of time even though it was painful. (v.8)
➡️ Exultation by the Father – Because of Jesus’ humility and obedience, God therefore exalted Him with great admiration and love. (v.9-11)

THINK: Ask yourself then: In my modeling of my life…
– Do I find my identity in Jesus…meaning do I know and really believe what God says about me?
– Do I find my mind thinking about what Jesus would think most of the time or what the “world” or my friends think?
– Do I find that I have a heart of a servant and love towards those around me?
– Do I find that I am obedient to those that God has given me to provide and help me grow? Am I obedient to what God says in ALL areas of my life?

PRAY: “Jesus I want to love people better than I do.  Please help me discover more how you thought and lived so that as I seek to live your ways out, you would empower me to walk in my identity as a son of God in great humility and obedience.

What is one small way that you will think and act like Jesus this week? 

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