How to Stay in the Growth Zone
It’s One Thing to Get There, It’s Another to Stay
One of God’s biggest purposes for our lives is that we grow and keep growing. One of the reasons He created us is so that we could progressively experience more and more of the divine nature, which is life at the highest possible level. (2 Peter 1:3–4).
God is light, life, and perfect love. Love gives and out of that light, life, and love nature God created us so He could share all that with us. God is the most cheerful giver in existence and He created us to bless us.
The very first words found in the Bible regarding God’s creation of man are these, “God BLESSED them, and said to them, ‘BE FRUITFUL….” (Genesis 1:28a)
God created us to “bless” and to make us “fruitful.”
He wants us to experience His love, joy, peace and all the other fruits of being filled and guided by the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22–23).
There is no doubt about it. It is the clearly stated, often repeated will of God that we don’t just read about abundant life, but that we actually experience a good measure of it here in this age. The full expression and experience of abundant, eternal life won’t happen until Jesus returns and we get glorified bodies, living in a new heaven and earth.
But, even with the deposit of the Spirit we have received now, we can experience in this age the possibility of living more and more in the life of God the Spirit. Yes, we get to experience increasing measures of the divine nature in these flesh and blood, aging bodies.
The Most Important “Living God’s Purposes, Experiencing the Life of God” Practice
If you’ve read any of my articles or books, you know I strongly believe the most important practice found in the entire Bible is to continually abide in Jesus.
I believe that because Jesus Himself said it, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
The Greek word “abide” has several related uses in Scripture. It means “remain, dwell, tarry, and continue.”
When we received Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we were spiritually united with Jesus. Our dead in sin spirit was made alive and we were joined with the only Source of eternal, abundant life, God Himself. .
All of us were united with the Vine.
In John 15, Jesus takes some time to emphasize the fact that if we want to bear fruit, (fellowship with God, formed by God, filled by God, and flow with God in His purposes), then we need to keep that life-giving union going.
When I was in college in Tennessee I was amazed at how many people told me they had received Jesus when they were 12, so they new their sins were forgiven and they were going to heaven. But they had absolutely no desire to read His word, join with other believers, or live a life devoted to Him.
Only God knows if they meant it when they prayed that prayer and if they had simply gotten side-tracked at this time in their life, but there was absolutely no godly fruit growing in them back then..
If they had connected to Jesus, they certainly were not abiding in Him.
To Bear Fruit, To Keep Growing: Keep the Union Open and Alive
Spiritual and personal godly growth only happens “naturally”, if we continually abide, remain, dwell in relationship with Jesus, the only True Vine.
If abiding simply occurred naturally without us doing anything to keep it going, Jesus would not have addressed it. Though we are recreated in Christ to live from Him and for Him, because we still deal with various aspects of sin, remaining in Christ takes intentionality.
One of the reasons Jesus emphasized on-going abiding is because it is easy to drift away.
“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” (Hebrews 2:1)
Ephesians 2:2 tells us that the natural “course of this world” is driven by “the prince of the power of the air, working in the sons of disobedience.” The “natural” flow, course, pull of this fallen world system works to separate us from Jesus and live from and for an ungodly source.
That spiritual river is always here on this planet, in this age. We need to be aware of it because if we don’t take conscious, deliberate, consistent steps to remain in Jesus, it’s easy to “drift” away, like Exodus Israel so often did.
Several years ago my wife was at the beach. She fell asleep on a raft in the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. When she woke up, she could barely see land. Without any effort at all, the current took her out into the ocean. Without trying, she drifted away from the beach out into the ocean.
After getting over the shock, she began paddling back towards the beach and eventually got there. We all deal with the current of the fallen world and the sin nature.
The Importance of Paying Attention
I was surprised when I looked up the phrase “pay much closer attention” in Greek as to how strong the words were. “Pay much closer attention” meant, “give great attention, great focus, give superabundant effort.” These were not “just relax, rest, take it easy” and you’ll be fine, definitions; they were active, strong effort words.
It reminded me of Paul’s challenge to join him as, “I PRESS ON toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) Here too, Scripture encourages us to really go for God with zeal and effort. Press means “push hard, like metal on metal forming a new image.”
And Proverbs 4:20–23 “My son, GIVE ATTENTION to my words; INCLINE YOUR EAR to my sayings,. DO NOT LET THEM DEPART from your sight; KEEP THEM in the midst of your heart. For they are LIFE TO THOSE WHO FIND THEM, and health to all their body. WATCH OVER your heart WITH ALL DILIGENCE, for from it flow the springs of life.”
The word of God will give “life to those who find them and health to all their body”, but only when we give attention, incline our ear, don’t let them depart from our sight, keep them in our hearts, and watch over our hearts with all diligence. God’s word will produce those things, our part is to give great attention to those words and do what it takes to get them and keep them in our heart.
Especially During Busy Seasons of Life
I know life gets busy. During certain seasons of life you’re doing good to spend time with your spouse and kids or even take a shower. But there really are ways to stay connected to Jesus and live in the flow of His Spirit, in increasing measures of His divine nature…even when life is moving really fast.
It starts, though, with believing what Jesus said. In Him and only united with Him do we bear fruit that God values. Apart from Him we can do nothing of godly value.
Martin Luther once said, “I have so much to do I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
Obviously we don’t all need to spend the first three hours of our day in prayer, Luther himself did not do it every day. But if we want to “bear fruit” instead of just doing activities, keeping the union with Jesus alive and active, paying much closer attention to God’s word, is the way to go.
There are several really good methods for abiding in Jesus even in busy times. If you want to learn a few of them, head over to www.TruVinemission.com and get the free short book Prayer for Busy People.”
Once you’ve gotten it settled in your mind and heart that the only way to bear real fruit is by continuing with Jesus, then make the internal commitment to do whatever it takes to prioritize Him. Read Pauls’ challenge to “ press on” and keep going for it. Read Proverbs 4 about keeping your internal focus on Jesus through His words.
Commit to paying much closer attention to what you’ve heard and then you will not drift away.
It takes no effort to drift. Relaxing in our “abiding boat with Jesus” and letting the current of the world take us where it wants, will result in missing out on the Promised Land Future God has in mind.
Stay connected to Jesus, prioritize Jesus and His words, will protect you from spiritual drift and keep you in the flow of God’s Spirit instead.
Again, you can get your free book on some simple but extremely ways to stay connected with Jesus during busy times here: www.TruVineMission.com