Hymns of Praise
The Secret of Christian Growth
Many Christians become stagnant after conversion. This could result from a number of reasons. One reason is that some believe that all that is necessary is to become “born-again” to secure their place in heaven. While this is perfectly true, in a sense that is not the whole story. Once in the Kingdom, we have a duty to perform for the King. Stagnant water just breeds mosquitoes, and who likes mosquitoes around?
The Christian has work to do! Paul tell us that “good works” on their own is not a requisite to enter the Kingdom of Heaven; good works AFTER becoming a child of God will promote growth, as well as reward at a later period of time when our works will be tried as by fire. How much gold will we have, as individuals? Christian Growth leads to more knowledge of the Lord and a better understanding of how to praise Him for His goodness and mercy.
From Psalm 1 we learn that God’s blessings will result from the practice and study of God’s laws. Psalm 1:2, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” One of the blessings is happiness and joy to that person who turns his back against evil. This is not a easy task, when one has so many evil people and influences around us, at work, etc.
What is one who is blessed? On him is poured out the best from God; peace happiness, joy, a contented soul and spirit.
A true Christian should always hunger and thirst after God’s Word. He should meditate on it night and day. Only when he asks the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s plan for him through the Word will he have tremendous blessings, both material and spiritual, because then truly he is “seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Luke 12:31.
From this psalm there are 6 important steps to the Christian growth.
DO NOT CONTINUE TO ASSOCIATE WITH SINNERS AND THEIR WAYS
Psalm 1:1, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seal of mockers.”
It is a well-known fact that if bread in your bread tin has gone mouldy and you leave it there, then any new loaf put in will, in a very short time, also become mouldy and unfit for human consumption.
So it is with the person who is a thief. If you are aware of it and go out with that person on one of his rounds you are playing with fire.
For a Christian this may even later lead to the lake of fire, because the call of the worldly pleasures may just overtake him and make it impossible to return to the bosom of Jesus.
One cannot eat with the turkeys and then expect to fly with the eagles! [Meng jou met die semels dan vreet die varke jou op – Afrikaans proverb Tr. Mix with the husks and the pigs will eat you up]. Proverbs 5:3-5, “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the graves.” Proverbs 3:7-8, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun
evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Remember, we are in the world, but we are not to be part of the world.
LIVE A CHRISTLIKE LIFE
Why people say that to live a Christlike life is impossible I cannot understand!
The Scripture urges the Christian to live a godly and moral life, as close and as well as you can, with the help of the Holy Spirit. “Be holy as I am holy,” God has said quite a few times to his children. If it were not possible, then God would not have said this to his children. God does not make it difficult for us to follow His directives. We are the ones who make it difficult for ourselves. We tell ourselves so often that we cannot do it that we eventually believe our own lies. In psychology this is called “auto-suggestion”, a form of “self-hypnosis”.
Make up your mind from this moment on to lead a Christlike life. Sure, you and I fall now and again, but Jesus is there to help us up and set us on our feet again. Be like the Psalmist as he said in Ps 119:106, “I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.”
STUDY AND MEDITATE ON GOD’S WORD
Psalm 1: 2, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD and on his law he mediates day and night.”
Meditate means to consider, to reflect, to think upon, to ponder on the Word of God. This can be done any time of the day and night, even at work. Do not become confused with the meditation of the Easter Religions where one is required to sit in certain poses, with eyes closed, uttering certain sounds, empting the mind, etc.
The Christians way of meditating is an opposite and better way. Firstly we are required to fill our minds with Christ, then we can consider all the works and wonders of God in our lives. Paul told Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Day and night we are to meditate on his Word.
LET GOD’S WORD BE PLANTED IN THE MIND AND HEART
Psalm 1:3, “He is like a tree planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.”
Much can be said on this subject. It is of utmost importance to have God’s word implanted in your heart and mind. This is the one and only secret, if one can call it that, of a complete and successful Christian life. The Holy Bible is the Maker’s Handbook for the running and the maintenance of the Christian and his lifestyle. It is imperative for you and I to have a daily prayer and Bible study. Are you perhaps envious of someone who is walking close to God? Then I suggest you imitate and follow all the good points of that person. Paul told us to imitate him, even as he did his best to imitate the life of Christ!
GROW IN GOD’S WORD
Psalm 1:3 “…Whatever he does prospers.”
A follow-on of the last point is that as we imitate the life of Christ we will, of necessity, grow in God’s Word. Any plant or tree that receives adequate water and nutrients and the right amount of sunshine will grow into a superb specimen of its species! Any deficiency, and it will become stunted. It is a shame that too many stunted Christians are walking around on God’s earth when God has given us the means of becoming perfect specimens. Are you and I growing in God’s Word as we should?
PRODUCE FRUIT THROUGH, AND IN, GOD’S WORD.
The soul purpose why we plant fruit trees in our garden is to eat of the fruit it produces. If it does not come up to standard, then out it goes! I have done that a few times in the past! The Christian can only produce the fruit in his life when he does not sin, when he does not intimately associate with sinners; and this does not mean that we must not go out and bring sinners into the Kingdom. If we neglect this side of the good works then we are at fault. We are to produce the type of fruit that is required of the Christian tree.
John the Baptist scolded the Pharisees that came to him while he was baptizing in the Jordan, “You brood of vipers” Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentence.” (Matt.3:7-8)
The consequences of ignoring God’s Word and His presence in our lives is that we will not have true and permanent joy. The Christian’s hope is, and always will be, that promise of being with Christ, at His return, forever. The sinner ignores God’s Word and because of this he will eventually be judged for this, whether he likes it or not. A Christian whose roots are deep unto the River of Life will never wither. Christ is our source of life. He is the one who supplies us with that water, the living water. The growth of the tree is a measure of how much living water is absorbed by the roots. So a Christian’s growth is measured by the fruit that is produced in his or her life.
Friends, has your tree given fruit to the hungry, or shade to the weary traveler in need of rest? The tree cannot eat the fruit it produces; it is for others to enjoy. A Christian who produces fruit is not supposed to keep it to himself or herself. God gave us a gift to hand out to others so that they also can grow.
If you want to enjoy fruit, the let other Christians feed you of their fruit. In this way we edify and build each other up, to the glory of our Saviour Jesus Christ.