All I Want for Christmas Is...

John Hill

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…"  2 Peter 3:18a

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."  Philippians 2:12-13

I can remember a year when all I wanted for Christmas was to grow taller.  It all started when my mom began putting marks on a doorway to keep track of our growth from year to year.  She would put the backs of my sisters and I against the doorway and mark just above our head and then write our initials next to our lines.  After seeing where I was one particular year, I committed to be sure that I grew the most during the next year.  I can recall stretching every day, hanging from a bar in my bedroom doorway for hours at a time, and avoiding foods that were rumored to cause shortness.  In the end, I could not make myself grow.

Recently in a staff meeting, Pastor Jay made this statement regarding spiritual growth.  He said, “You cannot make yourself grow” (where were you when I was twelve Pastor Jay?); “but you can do the things that cause growth.”

The application of such a statement is far reaching.  If I want my life to grow spiritually, I have to understand first of all that I cannot make that happen.  As Paul reminds us in Philippians 2, “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”  In other words, God causes the growth to occur within us.  But we are also told to, “Continue to work out…” and to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior…” This can cause some confusion, but it shouldn’t.

What the writers of the New Testament, and Pastor Jay, have figured out is that growth is an expectation of God for us.  We should grow, both in our knowledge of God and our intimacy with Him.  But they also understand that we cannot do it by ourselves.  What we can do is be diligent and disciplined about the things that cause growth, and when we are, God is faithful to grow us into whatever He intends.

So as Christmas races to us and with it, the end of another year, take a moment to “mark” where you are with God and commit yourself to things that God will use to cause growth in your walk with Him.  Here’s a quick list to get you started:

• A daily time of Bible reading
• A daily time of prayer and worship
• A weekly commitment to be in a worship service
• A commitment to join a small group and/or ministry
• A renewed focus on people you know who you can pray for to receive Christ this year
• A commitment to family Bible study, prayer, and/or ministry
• A journal to record thoughts about God and prayer requests and answers

While the above list is not intended to be exhaustive or enslave you to meaningless ritual, it is a good place to begin. See if you can commit yourself to one new thing this year that will help you grow in your faith and see if God doesn’t meet you and draw you closer to Himself.

May God bless you and your family this Christmas, and may you grow like no year before!

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