The E-F-F-O-R-T-L-E-S-S-N-E-S-S of True Spiritual Growth

Have you ever experienced someone who knows you well saying “you’ve changed” (grown, matured, etc.), and you were surprised because not only did you not notice the growth, you didn’t “do” anything to grow?  This is one of the most encouraging statements you can hear if you’re someone who wants to grow in your faith.

I heard this for the first time years ago, when one of my sisters announced to me, “before you became a believer in Christ you were “much more negative…. you’ve really changed.”  For the record, I didn’t even know I was “negative” before (I just thought I had a bit of a sarcastic sense of humor, haha), so I was equally clueless that I had changed.  The fact is, I had changed with no effort at all!  I had changed unconsciously and permanently without even trying!  Have you changed effortlessly?  Yes you have, if you are a believer.  You see, you cannot help but grow if you have Christ inside you.  His nature will eventually manifest through you.

But just how does real, permanent growth take place without effort?  Jesus said look at a grapevine and its branches.  He said a branch will bear (grow) fruit just by staying attached to the vine!  Likewise, a Christian will grow spiritually just by staying attached to the vine (Christ)!  That sounds…almost…simple.

For many years I asked “How do I stay attached to the vine?  Tell me how to abide.”  I believed I had to DO something to stay connected to God.  “Come on, just tell me how to DO it.”  Have you ever felt this way?  Well, how does a branch stay attached to the vine?   It just rests where it isHere is how we stay attached:  We rest where we already are in Him.

The critical question then becomes, “Do you know where you already are in Him?”   If you can’t answer “Yes” to that question, then your growth — the true effortless, permanent kind — will be slow.  Why?  Because you will be spending your time working on yourself and getting discouraged.  You weren’t meant to do it that way.

 The secret to growing spiritually:   Learn where you already are in Christ because of His efforts, His finished work on the Cross.  Come and learn, come and receive, come and trust in what you already have in Him.

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.”  1 Pet 1:3.

Jesus Christ loved you enough to give Himself to you.  The old you died with Him, and now He lives in you, the new you.  Now you live by His faith.   Galatians 2:20

Striving will diminish, and resting will flourish.  Growth will be effortless. That’s the abundant life Jesus promised to you and me.

Have you experienced some effortless growth you’d like to share?

Lisa L

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The Secret to Everything is I Can do Nothing

“Apart from Me you can do nothing.” Jesus is talking to His disciples right before He would usher in the new covenant. He was speaking to His chosen ones who would soon be living life without His physical presence….who would soon be carrying His message of redemption, love and grace to all the Earth. He was preparing them for the work of the Kingdom that was about to be pushed to a new level. Jesus’s “How-To Manual” began like this:

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.” John 15:5 (MSG)

Jesus gave His disciples their plan for living life and marching orders for service by announcing to them their utter helplessness apart from Him. He didn’t start with a pep rally, explaining how hard they would have to work, but that it would all be worth it in the end. He didn’t try to motivate them by saying “I know you can do this, persevere!” He didn’t tell them all the things they would have to give up as His followers. He didn’t teach them the different ways to share the gospel, how to heal the sick, how to cast out demons. He taught no methods, no rules, no 10 steps, no strategies for getting people saved or doing the work of the Kingdom. He said in effect “don’t try to live this life without staying deeply connected to Me, or the fruit of your labors will be meaningless.”

He was saying, to paraphrase, “I love you with an everlasting love, now live in that love, stay joined with Me, stay joined to My love…. know Me, and you will have success.”

Surely Jesus wasn’t saying we couldn’t walk, talk, or work apart from Him. Most of the world is able to do these things without giving Him a second thought, including atheists. They are producing something, aren’t they?  Jesus was saying that nothing of any eternal value would be produced through self-effort.

Yet the Church is filled with believers operating in their own strength, working for an approval from God which they already possess in Christ;  striving for an approval from man, which they don’t need.

Lord, show us our deep need for You and Your love in every area of life.  Reveal to us that we are already approved by You because of what Jesus already did. Show us our inability, that we may rest in You and receive Your ability. Demonstrate to us and through us the abundant life that comes from knowing You as Everything.

Lisa L.