Proverbs 31 Womans Devotional - Encouragement for Today

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Encouragement 03-24-04

March 24, 2004
Encouragement for Today

It's Time to Grow Up!
Mary Southerland, Author, Speaker and Director with Proverbs 31 Ministries

Key Verse: 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)

 I have recently begun working out with weights.  Since I am a novice in this area of fitness I asked my son, Jered, to help me get started.  A rugged football player, who is well acquainted with the fundamentals of weight training, he graciously volunteered to be my personal trainer.  Little did he know the challenge that lay before him.
When I first started a regular exercise program I naturally experienced some soreness.  I was just not prepared for every muscle in my entire body to scream out in painful protest!  Honestly, my initial reaction was to stop!  I wanted to do what was easy, comfortable and absolutely painless but still attain the toned body of a professional weight lifter.

Jered had no mercy.  He was absolutely committed to my physical success and long-term health.  He drove me onward, constantly encouraging me to keep working those muscles even through the pain and discomfort.  One glorious day, he pointed out that those once painful muscles were no longer sore and much stronger as well.  He even suggested it was time to increase the weight I was lifting because that beginning workout had become too easy!  I had indeed come a long way, baby! 

I want to accomplish the same thing in my journey with God!
I want to be spiritually fit and mature.  When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child.  But as I grew, my thought life and heart desires naturally matured as well. Our thought processes illustrate themselves in our desires. A mature believer has mature desires. A "baby" believer naturally has childish desires.  It is sad and unnatural for a longtime believer to have new believer traits, habits and desires. Proverbs 3:7 warns "You should not be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn your back on evil."  (NLT)
When we come to the place where we are willing to give Him everything, a wonderful process begins.  He trains our immature desires to line up with His perfect ones. When we begin to seek His will by laying down our desires and plans at His feet - yielding to Him - He shapes our will until it becomes His will.
The Holy Spirit has been given to us as a Spiritual Trainer.  He will lead us in the right spiritual exercises of life that will make us stronger and more mature. Many of those exercises involve the submission of our will and the yielding of our desires.  As we allow the pain and stress of daily living to "stretch" us spiritually, we will grow and mature until one day we will realize that His desires and our desires are the same.  Mature desires - Godly desires - desires that are in line with His will are the desires of a believer who is growing in Christ.
 Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.  (NIV)
"Delight" literally means to enjoy.  We can come to God with an attitude of joy, knowing that He is a Father of love who wants what is best for His child. His plan is absolutely the best one we could possibly imagine or accept.  We can delight in His love, trust in His goodness and enjoy a growing love relationship with Him.  A heart fully and joyfully submitted to God will produce mature desires.
High in the Alps is a monument raised in honor of a faithful guide who died while ascending a peak to rescue a stranded tourist. Inscribed on that memorial stone are the words, "He died climbing!" A maturing, growing Christian should evoke the same attitude and desire! The apostle Paul tells us that it is time to "put away" childish things.  As our children grow older we train them to pick up their toys, to put away things that are not needed and to leave behind what is childish, straining toward what is ahead.
Right now, you have the same choice to make.  To "put away" indicates an understanding of what needs to be left behind but also a willingness and commitment to actually do so.  The question is, are you ready to grow up in Christ?
My prayer for today: 

Lord, I am so tired of being a "baby" Christian.  I want to honor and please you with my life, my attitudes and my habits.  Please reveal every childish way in me.  Help me to grow up in You!  Amen!
Application steps:
What are the "childish" areas in my life?  Identify them and make an actual list of each area.  Surrender this list to God in prayer.  Taking one area at a time, ask Him to help you "grow up". 
Reflection points:
Do I truly understand that God wants me to "grow up" in Him?
Am I willing to give the Holy Spirit free rein in my life?
Am I willing to seek Him daily through His Word and through prayer?
How can my desires become His desires? 
Read and memorize Proverbs 3:5-6, making it your prayer for this life journey.

Power verses
Ephesians 4:11-19 And Christ gave gifts to people--he made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to go and tell the Good News, and some to have the work of caring for and teaching God's people. Christ gave those gifts to prepare God's holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger.  This work must continue until we are all joined together in the same faith and in the same knowledge of the Son of God. We must become like a mature person, growing until we become like Christ and have his perfection.  Then we will no longer be babies. We will not be tossed about like a ship that the waves carry one way and then another. We will not be influenced by every new teaching we hear from people who are trying to fool us. They make plans and try any kind of trick to fool people into following the wrong path.  No! Speaking the truth with love, we will grow up in every way into Christ, who is the head.  The whole body depends on Christ, and all the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each part does its own work to make the whole body grow and be strong with love.  In the Lord's name, I tell you this. Do not continue living like those who do not believe. Their thoughts are worth nothing.  They do not understand, and they know nothing, because they refuse to listen. So they cannot have the life that God gives.  They have lost all feeling of shame, and they use their lives for doing evil. They continually want to do all kinds of evil.  (NCV)
Colossians 1:28 So we continue to preach Christ to each person, using all wisdom to warn and to teach everyone, in order to bring each one into God's presence as a mature person in Christ.  (NCV)
Colossians 4:12 ...continue to be mature and completely convinced of everything that God wants.  (GWT)
1 Peter 2: 2 You must crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation. Cry out for this nourishment as a baby cries for milk. (NLT)
Philippians 3: 15 All of us who have grown spiritually to be mature should think this way, too. And if there are things you do not agree with, God will make them clear to you.  (ICB)

Additional resources:
How to Live a Life of Victory - a tape set by Mary Southerland
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes


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