Scripture shows us that after Pentecost, those whom the Spirit had called continued “daily with one accord in the temple” (Acts 2:46). They were praying and studying the Word together. And during the coming years, that small, maturing band of apostles would literally change the world!
They believed that discipleship should affect every area of our lives as we mature in Him:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:11-14 ESV)
Today, as then, everything we do in life flows from what we are becoming as the Holy Spirit leads each of us into Christian maturity.
These are seven of the many lessons we must learn from the moment we “sign” that “blank promissory note”:
- Everything begins to change.
We are told, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:1-3 NKJV).
Hebrews 11, known as “The Faith Chapter,” lists some of the Bible’s best examples of lessons in maturity. One of the best examples is Abram, whose entire life was turned upside down the moment he began walking in faith.
God quickly changed his location: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (verse 8).
God even changed the man’s name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many)!
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:1-8 NKJV)
The result? The history of the world was changed forever through a man who signed his entire future away to the unseen God whom He trusted with his life.
- You start to understand that God never intended for you to simply fit in!
Abraham, his wife Sarah, and his followers received God’s promises and “were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 1:13 NKJV).
Throughout the Bible, those who were used mightily by God were people who understood that they were “strangers and pilgrims” on this earth.
Jesus Himself said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36 ESV). He taught, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19 ESV).
When you sign your “promissory note,” you offer yourself as a sacrifice to His greater plan:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)
As you begin to realize that you are in the world but not of it (John 17:16), your viewpoint starts to move from the natural to the supernatural. Your desires change. Things begin to happen inside as your heart is prepared by the Holy Spirit for greater service.
The only way to be a mature Christian is to stop living for this world and start living for the next. You are now a representative of another world—heaven!
- Your life becomes a “living sacrifice” to God’s will, not your desires!
We are told:
Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2 MSG)
When you truly make a commitment to God, there should be no turning back. When the process begins, you may have to tell yourself, “I’m going to seek Him whether I feel like it or not.” Then, as the days turn into months, prayer, sacrifice, and service become as natural and necessary as eating your meals.
Proverbs 8:17 becomes real: “I love them that love me; and those that seek me diligently find me.” Without knowing when it happened, your outlook changes. Your diligence and sacrifice is transforming your life!
- You increasingly develop a desire to open yourself to God and His truth.
As you mature, you quickly discover that the searchlight of heaven sees through every pretense, and as you experience closeness to God, you understand that honesty must rule your heart, for “The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth” (Psalm 145:18 KJV).
As you pray and become more intimate with the Holy Spirit, understand that He knows your heart. It is futile to try to impress Him with eloquent words or good works when you kneel in His presence, for this will produce nothing. The psalmist wrote:
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:5)
Every one of us needs the Holy Spirit’s help in our everyday life. The psalmist was so reliant on the Lord that he asked God to even guide each of his footsteps:
Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways. (Psalm 119:35-37 NKJV)
The psalmist was confessing, “I can’t do it on my own. Can you help me?” The same request should increasingly flow from our hearts and lips.
Maturity comes as you learn to open yourself to God and ask Him to do what you cannot.
- Maturity brings a growing awareness that we must be bold witnesses for Christ.
We are told, “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 ESV). That is happening literally in front of our eyes.
Today, the cancel culture and mob mentality have seemingly taken over. Many who proclaim the Gospel on the internet are immediately ridiculed and harassed—or worse.
As I mentioned in my most recent email to you, we must be bold witnesses, no matter the cost, for we know that Jesus Christ is the only hope for the world! Some Christians have lost jobs over posting Scripture verses, positive messages, and openly stating what would have been applauded mere years ago. Ministries are routinely savaged online by faceless enemies as social media has become a battleground of “approved” hashtags and slogans.
We must be bolder than ever!
We are told to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 ESV). We must get the good news of His life-saving and miracle-working power to the nations. The need to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ is now greater than ever before!
Eternity hangs in the balance for billions of people around the world, and though the world’s financial and political system may continue to shake and even crumble, your position as a believer is one of strength and power as you give to take the Light of the Gospel to a dark world.
- As you mature, you learn to live daily in God’s covenant blessings and provision, both as a receiver and giver.
The key to walking in victory in these days and in the future is our covenant relationship with God. Though the world struggles, God’s people will have supernatural provision. We are promised, “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22 NKJV).
Not matter the circumstances, we have a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God. As believers, we are people of the covenant.
I’m not just giving my opinion on this. I’m reading directly from God’s Word. You are blessed because you are a covenant believer. God is your Source. He says:
The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. (Deuteronomy 28:9-10 NKJV)
When Jesus truly becomes your Source, God will give you more than enough so you can give back into the Kingdom.
God wants to bless you to be a blessing! He wants to bless you in this world, even though you are a citizen of heaven:
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. (Psalm 112:1-3 NKJV)
I don’t like human gimmicks. Instead, I love our Father’s promises, for “all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV).
You cannot deny God’s promises. Those promises cannot change. When you give unselfishly to the Lord’s work because you are a covenant believer, He will bless you far beyond what your natural eyes can see.
- Your heavenly vision becomes clearer!
God’s covenant blessings mean more with every passing year as we “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14 ESV).
What is the prize?
Paul wrote, “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 ESV).
The apostle spoke of a heavenly vision.
And as we move into a deeper maturity, we learn to “set our affection on things above” (Colossians 3:2 KJV). Paul tells us: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses…laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:12-19 KJV).
We must be diligent in everything we do for Him, for our ultimate reward is not in this world, but in the world to come:
“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20-23 ESV).
Can you imagine how wonderful heaven will be? As a believer who seeks to serve God in a deeper dimension, you are getting ready to spend forever and ever with Him!
Heaven is more real than the earth we walk upon. Our goals must be heavenly, not earthly. This begins by understanding that we are strangers and pilgrims on this earth.
When you fully comprehend that you are only temporarily a citizen of this planet, you will be increasingly compelled by a heavenly vision. That’s one of the great marks of maturity as a Christian!