I welcome you to a brand-New Year, the year 2022, our year of Growth and Development. In this new year you shall witness uncommon growth and development which will lead you to a new status and elevation in Jesus’ name, if you will dare pay the price. To grow is to become a better version of yourself! You re-publish yourself. God does not want us to remain “infants” (Hebrews 5:13) rather He wants us “to leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1). Peter says, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Paul has a prayer for you and I “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ[b]—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” Phil 1:9-11. My prayer for you this year is that you shall grow from glory to glory, grace to grace, favour to favour in Jesus’ name. Since physical growth is natural and automatic, I pray that in all positive facets of your life, you shall grow and develop spiritually, intellectually, financially, materially, matrimonially, socially and in your ministry, in Jesus’ name. I pray you climb the mountain of transfiguration with Jesus and be transfigured and transformed to be a better you in Jesus’ name” Matt 17:1-12. This year every power that has lined up to limit, hinder, stagnate, cause embargo, delay and go slow in your life shall not prosper in Jesus’ name. This year God wants to cause you to be elevated and promoted through your growth and your personal development, to terminate spiritual infancy that has characterized your life. May you follow through in the name of Jesus. ”Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith” Phil 1:25.
What is growth and development?
Growth is a stage or condition of increasing, developing, or maturing. Growth is the act or process, or a manner of growing, development and gradual increase.
Spiritual growth is the process of becoming more and more like Jesus Christ.
When we place our faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit begins the process of making us more like Him, conforming us to His image. Spiritual growth is perhaps best described in 2 Peter 1:3-8, which tells us that by God’s power we have “everything we need” to live lives of godliness, which is the goal of spiritual growth. What we need comes “through our knowledge of Him,” which is the key to obtaining everything we need. Our knowledge of Him comes from the Word, given to us for our edification and growth.
There are two lists in Galatians 5:19-23. Verses 19-21 lists the “acts of the flesh.” These are the things that identified our lives before we came to Christ for salvation. The acts of the flesh are the activities we are to confess, repent of, and, with God’s help, overcome. As we experience spiritual growth, fewer and fewer of the “acts of the flesh” will be evident in our lives. The second list is the “fruit of the Spirit” (verses 22-23). These are what should characterize our lives now that we have experienced salvation in Jesus Christ. Spiritual growth is identified by the fruit of the Spirit becoming increasingly evident in a believer’s life.
A group of tourists visiting a picturesque village walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked him, “Were any great men born in this village?” The old man replied, “Nope, only babies.” Every person who is a born-again believer starts life as a baby in Christ. Either one is converted at six or sixty, that person is still a new Christian and needs to grow in the Lord. A baby Christian who has been saved for forty years is a tragedy. God intends for us to grow and mature so that we can be a positive influence in the lives of others. Until we learn to dig into the meat of the Word for ourselves, we will never grow.
Personal development is very important for a Christian who wants to fulfill all that God has deposited inside of him. Christians are to be making progress. 1 Peter 1:5. I pray that this year you will grow and develop in Jesus’ name. Our focus is not that you grow only spiritually but in your professional life and other areas as well. Your marriage, business, career, ministry needs growth but all growth is predicated on your spiritual growth-“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3Jn 1:2
Evidence of lack of growth:
1. Deliberate involvement in sinful activities as a Christian. “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin” Heb 10:26
2. Desiring milk instead of meat like babies. “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly—as infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for solid food. In fact, you are still not ready, 3 for you are still worldly” 1 Cor 3:2 (Heb 5:12)
3. Unwillingness to change or to press forward.” I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me”. Phil 3:12
4. Being earthly relevant and heavenly irrelevant. “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” Phil 1:27
5. Lack of Joy in the Lord.” Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” Phil 4:4
6. Unconcerned about the coming of the Lord. “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” Rev 1:7
How to Grow
1. Repent– Change your mindset- Change the way you think. Ask yourself what has limited you in life especially in your relationship with Christ. Find out why you are stunted? Check your spiritual, personal belief, values, priorities and philosophy of life, are they in tandem with God’s way? Are you genuinely born again? Is your prayer, bible study and fellowship life anything to write about? You must accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. You cannot grow without a personal encounter. Pursue that now! Jer. 29: 12-13; Rom. 10:8-13
2. Align your thoughts with Godly thoughts. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee” Prov. 23:7. Thinking always precedes doing, If the thoughts are faulty then the actions and consequent results will be faulty. Before people steal, kill, rape, smoke, take drugs, kidnap, watch damaging movies, they think about it. For you to grow and become what God wants you to be, think good thoughts. “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”-Unknown. Align your thoughts with “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phil 4:8
3. Change your spiritual diet. You had enough milk, start eating meat: “There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word.[c] You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.” Heb 5:11-14. Until you wean yourself from drinking milk and look for solid food you are not ready to grow. When all you are looking for are comedians on the pulpit to entertain you and make you laugh, when all you want to hear is what will not challenge you to arise and be an asset to the body of Christ, you are not ready for growth-
4. Commit yourself to something worthwhile: You cannot grow without committing yourself to something viable in life. For instance, if you are a Christian and you are not attached to a bible believing church and while in that church you do nothing, you cannot grow. If you grow it will be a limited version not unlimited. The people in the Philippian church grew because they committed to financing the gospel and supporting Paul’s ministry “As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this” Phil 4:15. To grow this year join any of the ushering, media, accounts, evangelism, follow-up, choir or admin department. To become a medical doctor or any professional, you must commit to years of studying that profession.
5. Refuse to be ashamed of the gospel. “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die” Phil 1:20 (Rom 1:16,1pet 1;2) Learn to declare Jesus wherever you go without being ashamed. Proclaim him with boldness. Be prepared to face trials, persecutions and challenges in your office and the market place.
6. Live like a heavenly citizen: “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News” Phil 1:27. If you really desire to grow you must make heavenly matters a priority. If all your interest is amassing weMalth, looking for power, position, enjoying earthly pleasure at the expense of your soul you cannot grow.
7. Don’t live in fear: “Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself” Phil 1:28. You cannot grow if you are easily intimidated. If you are not preparing to take risks. Life is full of risk. People who grow and make it in life are risk takers not cowards.
8. Have the attitude of Christ. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Phil 2:5,1-4
Continue from Part 2