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Message:  Growing Pains

Early one morning, my four-year old son walked up to me crying and telling me his foot was hurting.  I asked him if something had happened to hurt it and he said no and the pain subsided shortly after that.  An hour or so passed and he returned, crying again, saying, Mommy, my foot hurts.  His seven-year old sister followed behind him, she was concerned about his aching foot as well.  I asked him again why his foot hurt and he did not know.  I told him I thought his foot was probably growing. Then my daughter told him something that as soon as I heard it, I knew there was a lesson there.  She said, Well, Dylan, sometimes when we grow, it hurts.  I thought, wow!  Thats so true, growing pains! 


 I remember as a child myself, my legs often ached for no apparent reason and the reasoning behind it was that I was growing.  I couldnt understand why growing had to hurt so darn much!  I had always looked forward to growing taller and stronger but I did not know that I would in the process have to endure the pain of my bones and muscles stretching out as they grew.


So now, I look at that through spiritual eyes.  We start off as new born again Christians, still babies in Christ, just as we started off as babies in the natural one time.

Just as it were when we were children in the natural, always looking forward to being taller and stronger, we are the same as baby Christians.  Not all baby Christians strive and crave to grow taller and stronger in Christ, but all baby Christians should!  We all want to be the big and strong Christians. That kind of Christian we see on TV ministries, strong in the word and in their faith; and those kinds of Christians whose walk with Christ seem almost faultless.  Everybody will fall, stumble, or lose balance in their walk with the Lord at some point.  I just want to say that even though some people have strong a Christian walk, that they too, have endured growing pains to get, where they are and must endure growing pains to get where God wants them to be. 



I heard a speaker say once that we always want to skip the process and get straight to the progress.  Isnt that the truth?  It would be so much easier to just jump from being the new born again Christian to the strong in the word, strong faith Christian who has already been through the lessons, trials, and tribulations that all newer Christians face during their walk. 

  Let me give you an example about why it would not be a good thing for us to be able to skip all the studying of the Word, and the lessons and trials that we encounter along the journey our Christianity.


 Okay, lets say that an eighteen-year old wanted a brand spanking new house right out of high school.  This kid didnt want to have to pay for it though.  He wanted his Dad to just give it to him.  He wanted it fully furnished, in tiptop shape, and all the bills paid in full every month.  This kid did not want anything to do with keeping up the place, he just wanted the benefits of having a great place, such as the way it looked to others and the possessions inside of it.  Everything in the house and the house itself were given to this kid.

He moved into a house, fully furnished and all bills paid.  Sounds great right?  Well, he didnt take care of it though.  Not long after this house was given to him, he had parties, he mistreated the furniture and his very nice possessions were stolen from him because he didnt protect them by locking the house up.  After all, he didnt work for any of this, so it was no big loss to him if it were taken away just as easily.


 Another scenario is this.  The same kid wanting a house, but this time, instead of his dad just giving it to him already in tip top shape and fully furnished, gives him the supplies, the tools, and helps him find a job to earn money to pay his bills.

Okay, so this kid works a full time job, and on his off days works his tail end off working on building his house.  He spends time with details, wanting it just right.  The money he earns from his job buys his furniture, which he picked out himself.  He finally finishes it after months of hard work and a lot of time spent on the job earning money to buy the things to put inside of it.  This kid really feels good despite all the hard work he endured.  His dad didnt just hand him everything, but he respects his dad all that much more because he guided him through a process that helped him learn the value of the product of his hard work.  His sweat that was shed on the board of that house while hammer each nail in one by one.  Although the house was finished, as he looked at it, he could still see the frame underneath that he worked so hard on.  The strong frame that he busted his knuckles building to provide a solid foundation for his house.  The possessions he purchased with his own hard earned money that filled that house made him smile.  Even though they may have been on the clearance rack at K-Mart, he earned the money himself to buy them, so they were precious in his sight.  He took special care of that house and everything in it because he endured the process that took him to the progress and his end product. 


So my point is, if God were to give us, as new born Christians, that strong faith that it took some Christians years to get, and if He were to instill within us as newborn Christians all those lessons that we have to learn along the way to truly appreciate, then we would take our salvation for granted and falling or stumbling during our walk would not be such a big thing. When we endure the trials and overcome them through Jesus, it boosts our faith in our Lord all that much more.  We must endure the process, all the trials, and all the hardships of growing stronger in the Lord.

   James 1:2-4 says Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 

Wow!  How many of us can say that we are experiencing pure joy as our faith is tested??  Honestly, not too many people would.  James goes on to say that the testing of our faith develops perseverance.  As were being tested in life, whatever the case may be, it develops our perseverance, our drive to go on and press on no matter what the circumstances are.  We must persevere in order to mature in Christ.  If we just sit back and wait for God to just take us in His hand and carry us to the next rung in the Christianity ladder then we will be waiting for a while. 


God expects us to press on through the circumstances, but not on our own.  Just as the kids dad did in my illustration, our heavenly Father provides us with the supplies and the tools to make ourselves stronger.  If He were to hand everything to us, we would not appreciate it at all.  God does not expect us to do it all on our own though.  He wants us to draw from Him, rely on Him and take refuge in Him as we endure our growing pains.  We must be close to God during these times.  James 4:8 says, Come near to God and he will come near to you 


 I often use illustrations involving my own children because the Lord chooses to speak to me through every day things that happen with them.  I will go back to when my son came into the room I was in crying about his foot hurting.  Even though my daughter told him that his foot was hurting because of growing pains and that the pain would pass in time, it still hurt nevertheless and he still needed to be comforted.  I wrapped him in my arms and prayed for him and soon enough he was better.


God wants to comfort us during our growing pains.  We must endure trials, and tests during out walk because that is what strengthens our faith.  Its a simple equation.  Endure trials and tests + Relying solely and completely on the Lord and His word to pull us through = making it through the trials and tests with stronger faith in God and in turn are more mature Christians. 


 In the natural, growing pains tend to stop after a certain age, but as Christians we continue to grow, which means we will have to endure growing pains from time to time. 

Psalm 66:8-12 says Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.  For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver, you brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs; you let men ride over our heads we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.   God will always bring us out of the tests stronger, but only He knows the length of the tests and the purpose.  We have to lean on Him for strength and endurance through it all.  We have to plant the seed of His word within our hearts so that in the midst of our growing pains we will reap the harvest of that seed planted deep within our hearts and fight the enemy with Gods word (the sword of the spirit Eph 6:17).


 During spiritual growth the enemy will try to hit us where we are weak.  We must grow in our weak areas to make them stronger.  If you notice a particular area in your life that you keep getting confronted with, such as a short temper or gossiping habits, which tend to make us stumble in our walk and set us back, then those are areas that need to be strengthened.  Anything that keeps us from pressing on in our walk and growing stronger needs to be plucked out of our lives from the root.  We want to bear good fruit, not rotten fruit.  Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  So, take note, if there are any seeds in your life that will not grow and flourish into the fruits of the spirit then they need to go.  Call on God for help and He will answer. 


 God has put people in our lives here on earth that possess gifts that are meant to help us grow in our walk with Him.  He states in Ephesians 4:11-16 NIV It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare Gods people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining the whole measure of fullness of Christ.  Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning craftiness of men and there deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligaments, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

  This group of scripture says that the Lord has risen up different types of people that are there to help us mature in our walk with Him and to mature in His word so that we are not deceived by false things.  We must all mature in Christ so that we make a strong Church body.  Ephesians 2:21 NIV In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. 

We as a church body must grow strong in the Lord, because according to this scripture we are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  Praise God!! 


 So my final statement is based on 1 Peter 2:2 NIV Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 

We know that the Lord is good, so we should crave more of Him and His word. Plant the seed of Gods word deep in your heart everyday and watch yourself begin to grow stronger and stronger with each passing test.  Yes, we must endure growing pains as we mature in Christ, but after it is all said and done, and the world sees you come through it all with ease through Jesus, they will see a brighter, stronger, word-rooted, more mature Christian than they knew before. Praise God!  Hallelujah!!