Elevate 28 - A 28 Day Challenge to Intentionally Engage with God's Word
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
"Don't Stop Growing"
By James MacDonald, Our Journey
"If anyone is in Christ they are a new creation; old things are passing away;
all things are becoming new."
2 Corinthians 5:17
How does a person grow up spiritually? How do you become a mature follower of Christ? Think about how your spiritual life began. You came to the cross by faith and embraced Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and was transformed eternally into this thing called “new life in Christ.” Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ they are a new creation; old things are passing away; all things are becoming new.”
And you changed. “Old things are passing away:” the way you used to think and act, the things that used to satisfy you, the things you used to pursue—one by one those things drop off and one by one new things are put in their place. “All things are becoming new.”Now, you think differently, you act differently, you have different priorities, values, interests, and pursuits; that’s the process of your new life in Christ.
If you’ve followed Christ Jesus for very long, you know this process doesn’t happen by being good or by going to church or by working hard for Christ, just as those things didn't save you, either. They are all important parts of discipleship, but I know people that exhaust themselves in good behavior or in good works, and they’re still just as mean or immature as they were before.
What we need is a reality check about how spiritual growth really happens and we’re gonna get it firsthand this week on the broadcast from someone whose life was transformed by the power of Christ. We’re continuing in our series called, “Reality Check” from 1 Peter.
The apostle Peter is a poster boy for radical life change. Remember when you first met him in the gospels? He was outspoken, foolish, and weak in his faith. Later in the book of Acts, old things had passed away and Peter had been transformed into a powerful preacher and leader of the early church. He had changed. His commitment and devotion to Christ had become so strong that he never looked back—even to the point of death.
It’s from Peter’s testimony and instruction that we can learn what is absolutely essential to flourishing in our faith in Christ and being changed by the gospel.
Think about your own story. You began the Christian life with a message about the Cross; it came out of God’s book and into your heart. That’s how it started; and that’s how youkeep it going. First Peter 1:23 says,
“ . . . since you have been born again not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God.”
The Word of God is a living message. You know how I know that? Hebrews 4:12 describes it:
“The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing to the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Has this ever been your experience? As you hear God’s Word being taught, you’re likeHow does he know that about my life? Listen, that’s not the preacher, that’s the Word of God. It’s living! It can make such an impact in your life. The Word of God is the tool of your transformation.
I want to encourage all of you who are partnering with Walk in the Word that together we are getting the Word out and God uses it to transform lives.
Recently a man wrote to us saying,
"I am a patrol deputy and listen to Walk in the Word at 2:00 a.m. Last night I got a call in the middle of the program and I didn’t want to miss the rest of it but I had to. The last thing I heard Pastor James saying was, ‘Choose to sin, choose to suffer.’ Well, it was a domestic dispute I was answering, and I had to detain the husband; he was battering his wife. I felt like the Lord was telling me to share the words that I had heard, and the man’s abusive speech abated as I gently shared God’s Word and the consequences for sin, hopefully to give him some hope that God changes people. By the time we got to the station he was quiet. I think he was taking it all in. And then he closes with this, The Word of God is definitely a sharp sword that challenges all of life."
Is the Word of God challenging you? Maybe you’re in a bit of a spiritual desert right now. Are you wondering why the things of God that used to be so dear to you have become a little cold or dry? You used to be like a waterfall, with trees and flowers growing around, and now in that place there are just a lot of dry tumbleweeds blowing. Have you ever wondered, What has happened to my heart?
I’ve been to that place a few times in my life, and as hard as it was for me to admit it, I went there by choice. I have never in my life picked up the Word of God, with the phone unplugged and the door shut, and given it my focus and my faith in a diligent way when it hasn’t fed me and grown in me a new vitality for God. So if you’re a little dry spiritually, I know what’s going on. You need to get back into the Bible. The most vibrant Christians I know are people who are often, regularly, diligently feeding themselves on God’s book.
So, back to our original question, How does a person grow up in Christ? Answer: By getting back to where you started from—allowing God’s Word to change you. I guarantee you that the life of Christ will be formed in you as you feed faithfully on the living, active Word of God.
James MacDonald is a Canadian-born evangelical Christian pastor, Bible teacher, and author. He was the co-founder and senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, and was the Bible teacher for the former broadcast ministry, Walk in the Word.
REFLECT & RESPOND: Children's Edition
Beaded Butterflies representing "New Life in Christ"
A guided craft activity for children.
Older children or adults can guide the making of the butterflies.
1. Read the devotional above by James MacDonald entitled: “God is For Us”.
2. The craft holds a heart with scripture that states, "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; Behold the new has come." II Corinthians 5:17
3.Make many of these to hand out to those struggling with a challenge or going through a difficult time.
This activity was provided by the Teacher Love Project - a Why Not Charleston community education initiative. The Teacher Love Project aims to provide love and encouragement to teachers that will elevate their wellness and care and therefore, enhance student achievement. We must care for those who care for our children - we must love each other because God loved us first.
"We love because he first loved us."
1 John 4:19
by Taraea L Griffith
Father your word says if your people who are called by your name, will humble themselves, and pray seeking your face, and turn from their wicked ways, then you will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.
I come asking you Lord to forgive and heal my sins as I come forward seeking above all else your face and humility of heart.
I forsake my ways and turn my thoughts from evil. Have mercy on me God and heal me from my sin.
I repent for all my sin, that I may live observing your holiness, teach me the right way to live. Save me and help me with your right hand for your love delivers me.
I am grateful that by your stripes I am healed. Even though you see my ways you hear me, you guide me, and restore and comfort me to creating praise on my lips and peace in my mind.
Thank you for your health and healing so that I can enjoy an abundance of peace and security in You.
sources: 2 Chronicles 7:14, Isaiah 55:7, Ezekiel 18:32, 2 Chronicles 6:27, Psalms 60:5, Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 57:18, 19, Jeremiah 33:6
Taraea L. Griffith lives in Charleston with her husband, children, and grandchildr