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Mature vs. Immature March 3, 2010

Posted by fredpereira in Uncategorized.
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1 John 2:1-18 

1  My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone sins, we have a Counselor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. 2 And he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world. 

3 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. 4 One who says, “I know him,” and doesn’t keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth isn’t in him. 5 But whoever keeps his word, God’s love has most assuredly been perfected in him. This is how we know that we are in him: 6 he who says he remains in him ought himself also to walk just like he walked.

7  Brothers, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. 8 Again, I write a new commandment to you, which is true in him and in you; because the darkness is passing away, and the true light already shines. 9 He who says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in the darkness even until now. 10 He who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no occasion for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

12 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. 13 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, little children, because you know the Father.

14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God remains in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

15  Don’t love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father’s love isn’t in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, isn’t the Father’s, but is the world’s. 17 The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God’s will remains forever. 18  Little children, these are the end times, and as you heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many Antichrist have arisen. By this we know that it is the end times.

 This is a passage from the first letter of John.  Why did he write this letter?

To whom was he writing?

What other books of the Bible are attributed to John?

What was John’s relationship to Jesus?

What is an “antichrist”?

There are at least 8 themes in this passage, perhaps more.  List as many as you can.  Here’s a start:

1 – Reassurance, in 2:1 it says there is help for us to not sin and even when we do Jesus Himself will make our case for forgiveness from the Father.  Don’t give up hope!

Suggested Memory Verses:

Luke 18:17 Most assuredly, I tell you, whoever doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a little child, he will in no way enter into it.”

1Cor. 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things.

Understanding

To stimulate some thought about where we are in our spiritual maturity complete the following:

Spiritual Maturity Assessment Tool

To be a Christian is to be a disciple of Jesus – a learner.  Growing in Christ takes time and requires our willingness to be conformed to His will, our openness to receiving His love, and being open to a different way of thinking – renewing our mind.  Therefore, spiritual maturity is a process, a journey, and not a goal which can be completely achieved, in other words we are always maturing. 

This assessment tool will help you assess whether your thoughts, lifestyle habits and attitudes will help facilitate being a disciple of Jesus. This tool should not burden you with feelings of inadequacies; it can lead you into thanksgiving for where you are and yet challenge you to go further.  So, this tool is really just a way to get us thinking about where we are and where we are heading in our spiritual development.

This tool is divided into 6 categories.  Each category contains a list of statements that, if answered in the affirmative, reflect that you understand this aspect of being a Christian and that you usually express it in your behavior.

Before you begin please pray, asking God to help you see your life clearly and accurately as you respond to each statement.  

Personal public commitment to Jesus – Definition of “I believe in Jesus”

  • I believe God exists.
  • I believe God made me.
  • I believe I’m separated from God by my humanity and my actions.
  • I believe Jesus is the bridge to fix that separation.
  • I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God
  • I believe Jesus died for my sins and rose again from the dead.
  • Through faith, I have received Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord. 
  • I have promised to be faithful and loyal to him day by day.
  • I have made a public profession of my faith.
  • I consider myself crucified with Christ, no longer alive but with Christ living in me.

 Total:  ___/10

 My assessment reveals:

0-3 I’m still seeking

 4-7 I’m a Christian but not sure what this really means

 8-10 I am a confident, committed Christian

 Personal walk with God  – Prayer

  • I regularly pray for others and for me (regular is defined as 5 days out of 7)
  • My prayers contain more than requests.  They reflect confession, adoration, worship and thanksgiving.
  • I keep a log of my prayers and I watch for God’s answers to them.
  • I have experienced God’s Spirit prompting me to action, conduct, or speech in my day.
  • I try to listen to the Spirit’s promptings though the day.
  • My gut response to crisis, problems or the unexpected is to pray.
  • I recognize an increasing depth and profoundness in my prayer life. 
  • Prayer for me is a time for restoration and refocusing. 
  • Prayer offers me perspective, insight, and strength. 
  • When I pray I am sometimes prompted to action; I obey these promptings.

Total:  ___/10

 My assessment reveals: (please circle the appropriate one)

0-2 : I am lacking an understanding of this aspect of being a Christian.

3-4 : I am weak in this area, or I am a young Christian.

5-6 : I am becoming stable and growing in this category

7-8 : I am stable and growing in this category

9-10 I am able to guide others in this category.

Bible reading and study

  • I believe the Bible is this Word of God and therefore authoritative for my life.
  • I read and study the Bible regularly (defined as intentionally planned in the week)
  • When I read the Bible, I read with comprehension, remember it, and apply it to life.
  • I take specific time to reflect upon and apply God’s Word.
  • When I read the Bible I ask the Holy Spirit to teach me.
  • I seek to bring my behavior in line with Biblical definitions for normal Christian behavior
  • Sometimes, when I read the Bible, I experience a specific chastisement or encouragement from the Spirit.
  • I seek answers to questions I have about the Bible by reading other books or talking with other Christians.
  • When I read the Bible, I am often prompted to pray for certain things.
  • I want to obey what I learn from the Bible.

 Total:  ___/10

 My assessment reveals: (please circle the appropriate one)

0-2 : I am lacking an understanding of this aspect of being a Christian.

3-4 : I am weak in this area, or I am a young Christian.

5-8 : I am stable and growing in this category

9-10 : I am able to guide others in this category.

Character change

I see the fruits of the Spirit in my character, as evidenced through my thoughts, speech, and actions, or others have indicated I possess the following:

  • love, 
  • joy, 
  • peace, 
  • patience, 
  • kindness, 
  • goodness, 
  • faithfulness, 
  • gentleness, 
  • self-control.

Total: ___/9

  • When I sin, I am quick to confess it to God and re-establish my walk with him. 
  •  When I sin against another person, I am quick to confess that sin and seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • I take specific time to reflect upon my recent behavior and consider, if necessary, how to bring it in line with Christ-likeness.
  • I see my character being shaped by difficulty and vulnerability and I don’t hold it against God. 
  • I view difficulties as a time to be stretched in my spiritual maturity.
  • I regularly seek God’s wisdom as I live each day.
  • Regularly, I am content with what I have. (I praise God for what I have and don’t focus on what I don’t have.)
  • I am not busy pursuing the things of the world, but instead I simplify and focus my life according to Jesus’ priorities.
  • Christ’s agenda has a growing priority in my life. 

Total:  ___/18 (including the fruits of the Spirit total)

 My assessment reveals: (please circle the appropriate one)

0-7 : I am lacking an understanding of this aspect of being a Christian.

8-11 : I am weak in this area, or I am a young Christian.

12-14 : I am stable and growing in this category

15-18 : I am able to guide others in this category.

For reading on the above, consider:

Galatians 5, Colossians 3

Sunday worship and learning

  • I attend Sunday morning worship services regularly (3 out of 4 Sundays per month unless there are unchangeable work commitments)
  • I come to honor and bless God through my participation in the service.
  • I come to learn and apply what I have learned to my life.
  • I come to bless others at my church through my time with the larger church family.
  • I participate in the Sunday experience wholeheartedly. 

Total:  ___/5

 My assessment reveals: (please circle the appropriate one)

0-2 : I am lacking an understanding of this aspect of being a Christian.

3 : I am weak in this area, or I am a young Christian.

4-5: I am stable and growing in this category

Fellowship of Believers (often, but not exclusively, referred to as a “small group”)

  • I see myself as an integral part of my church and am committed to sharing my life with people in that community.
  • I have a small group of Christian friends with whom I express and experience genuine Christ- like love, encouragement, forgiveness, and help.
  • I have a growing sense of gladness and thankfulness for other believers and their influence in my life.
  • I am honest with (a couple of) others about the condition of my heart – my personal struggles, questions, confessions, and anxieties.
  • I experience others sharing the condition of their heart with me.
  • I seek to love, forgive, encourage, and help others.
  • I am open to others commenting / giving feedback about my character, behavior, or life decisions, especially when they are not consistent with following Jesus.
  • My community of believers practices truth telling even if it may cause conflict. 

Total:  ___/8 

 My assessment reveals: (please circle the appropriate one)

0-2 : I am lacking an understanding of this aspect of being a Christian.

3-4 : I am weak in this area, or I am a young Christian.

5-6 : I am stable and growing in this category

7-8 : I am able to guide others in this category.

 For reading on this category, consider:

Acts 2:42; Ephesians; 1 Corinthians

 Being Part of the Body of Christ

  • I have committed myself to be an active part of my church.
  • I have made that commitment public by becoming a member.
  • I regularly contribute to the life and health of the church by serving/volunteering.
  • The ministry I serve with expresses my unique spiritual gifts, abilities, and perspective.  
  • Serving in ministry is a chance to express my gratitude and devotion to God, therefore when I serve, I give my best effort.
  • I pray for my ministry responsibilities, being aware of my dependence on God yet my responsibility to be faithful with the effort.
  • I view preparing for my ministry responsibility as another opportunity to honor Jesus.
  • I sometimes serve even if I’m not comfortable or am out of my comfort zone.
  • I return a percentage of my income to God’s work, using the Old Testament tithe (10%) as a guide.

Total:  ___/9

 My assessment reveals: (please circle the appropriate one)

0-2 : I am lacking an understanding of this aspect of being a Christian.

3-4 : I am weak in this area, or I am a young Christian.

5-7 : I am stable and growing in this category

8-9 : I am able to guide others in this category.

 For reading on this category, consider:

1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12

Being a missionary in our world

  • I seek to help those who do not know Jesus to understand who He is and to invite them to be part of God’s family. 
  • I seek to express being a Christian at home, in my vocation, and as a citizen.
  • I can identify how I help other people know Jesus.
  • I find myself trying to understand things from God’s perspective. (In complicated or confusing issues I find myself asking “What might God be doing here?”)
  • I find myself taking risks to help others know Jesus, even when it comes at a personal cost.
  • I sacrificially donate money to causes that help the poor, bring truth and justice to the world, or help spread the Gospel.
  • I seek to help others in my daily life (believers and non-believers).
  • I pray for our government and the leadership of other countries.
  • I pray for other missionaries and the spread of the Kingdom of God.
  • I pray for Christians that are persecuted around the world.
  • I stay informed and involved with at least one world concern; seeking to spiritually and practically impact my community and our world with compassion. 

Total:  ___/11

 My assessment reveals: (please circle the appropriate one)

0-3 : I am lacking an understanding of this aspect of being a Christian.

4-5 : I am weak in this area, or I am a young Christian.

6-8 : I am stable and growing in this category

9-11 : I am able to guide others in this category.

 For reading on this category, consider:

Acts, 2 Timothy 

Goal Worksheet

By reviewing the Maturity Profile my weakest category of spiritual maturity is: (check one) 

  • Personal public commitment to Jesus 
  • Personal Walk with God: Prayer / Bible Reading & Study / Character Change
  • Sunday morning worship and learning 
  • Fellowship of Believers 
  • Being Part of the Body of Christ 
  • Being a Missionary in our World 

How will you apply this understanding of God and yourself in your life this week?

By reviewing the unchecked boxes in that category, my weak areas are (list several):  

I am going to focus on the specific area of:

The reason I believe I struggle in this area is:

My goal in this area is to:

Specific measurable action step(s) I will take:

People who will support me in achieving my goal:

* Understanding the reason we do or don’t do things requires honest self-consideration.  For example, a person might say they are too busy to pray regularly.  Further thought might reveal that they really don’t know how to pray, don’t think it will make a difference, they may be afraid to be honest with God, or become frustrated when they don’t find immediately clear answers.  Understanding our true reasons enables us to accurately address the problem.

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