The Path to Spiritual Growth

Study

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs.

Reflection

It can be frustrating when we don't experience the change that we desire and expect.

In the Christian life we're looking for total transformation. Seeking to grow into the likeness of Jesus, to replace old destructive patterns of behaviour and thought with life-giving ones. But the reality is that we're formed by lots of different things and not all of them helpful. By our friends, the TV we watch, the instagram accounts we follow and the websites we scroll through.

Paul tells us not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. (Romans 12). Our mind is renewed by applying it to those things that will transform it. Note that doesn't mean remove ourselves from the world, I'm not advocating not listening to rock music, or dancing, or any other weird thing Christians have enjoyed being against. Please can we all just be normal, but aware of what may be influencing us. And to ensure that we are equally reflecting on what will benefit our growth and transformation.

In another letter Paul says: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

Carved over the door to the main library at Harvard University is the inscription "The truth shall make you free." This is fascinating for at least two reasons. First is the use of a Bible verse (the quote is taken from John 8:32) in such a prominent location at Harvard. Second is what's missing. This carved fraction of a verse is missing its very important context: "Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, 'If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free'" (John 8:31, 32).

Freedom does not come by walking into the library or through the study of thousands of books. It is "abiding" in Christ's words that will bring freedom. It is through studying his words - taking the time to understand, gain insights, and be changed by profound new truths - that we are made free.

Abiding in the words of Christ is the highest and most impactive form of study and the source of freedom and transformation.

It is the Spirit who illuminates scripture for us and guides us into all truth.

I've included a number of Bible verses below: pick one to mull over for a few days. Repetition is really important with study, we're so used to a quick google search to fix all our problems, repeated exposure is crucial. Take a few minutes to concentrate on what the verse says, intentionally focus without distractions. Try to understand what it says, not just on the surface, but go deeper, what would this have meant to the first listeners, what does it mean to you?
Finally, turn what you've read into a prayer, asking God, by his Spirit to transform you.

John 3:16-17

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