STRONG IN SPIRIT
GROWING IN GRACE
SUNDAY JUNE 24, 2018
Scripture To Consider:
“And the Child [Jesus] grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Luke 2.40
Something To Consider:
The early events of the life of Jesus were written about by more than one gospel writer, giving us different details from different perspectives. Many of the life events of Jesus are depicted in detail by only one of the four gospel writers. Much needed events such as the promise of and the birth of John the Baptist, the announcement to Mary, Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, the actual birth of John, angels visiting the shepherds, the circumcision, and the introduction of Simeon and Anna in the temple, were all written by Luke alone.
Without these important spiritual insights there would be much missing from the opening scene of the entrance upon the earth of the world’s greatest and most influential leader. Matthew gives to the world the genealogy of Joseph with several characters of quite questionable backgrounds. This inclusion by Matthew alone is an encouragement to many of us who have similar and shameful pasts. Only Matthew leaves a written account of the wise men from the East, the flight into Egypt, and the return to Nazareth. All of which are filled with biblical lessons of a lifetime to be learned.
Luke alone covers what could be as much as ten years of the young life of Jesus with this one solitary verse of our above Scripture to consider. And yet this verse is rich and filled with insightful information of the early formation of the character and spiritual nature of Jesus as a child. The formative early years of any child make an impressionable difference in the mind, heart, and direction of an individual. Jesus was no different in this respect. Jesus, even as a child, according to Luke, became strong in spirit.
Something Else To Consider:
There are many children in every generation who with the right guidance and proper godly leadership can and must be given an opportunity to become strong in spirit. Leaders in training should consider catching the vision from God for the children of their generation. As God’s people we should not miss this great and most important spiritual opportunity. If this divine work of God is left undone in any given generation there will be created due to neglect a generation that does not know God. Could we be fast approaching that very spiritual dilemma in our 21st century generation?
In the case of Jesus of Nazareth, Luke wrote, “And the Child [Jesus] grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was with Him.” Isaiah, in Isaiah 11.2, speaking prophetically of Jesus the Branch, declared; “The Spirit of the LORD shall be upon Him…” Luke also in his one verse description of Jesus as a child said He was filled with wisdom, and the grace or favor of God was upon Him.
Isaiah continued his prophetic proclamation of Jesus our far-reaching Branch, by stating; “The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD…” all rested upon none other than Jesus of Nazareth. Yes, the child Jesus grew strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
We too have the opportunity to grow in the grace of God and in the knowledge of the Lord by our diligently studying the Word of God and especially the words of Jesus to an end time generation of believers who need desperately to know the truth concerning the gospel of enduring to the end in order to reap salvation according to Jesus. Is that the case in our lives, and if not, why not?
Something More To Consider:
The apostle Peter in his first letter in chapter 2 wrote for our admonition; “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes [born again children of God], desire the pure milk of the Word of God, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” It was important for the Lord Jesus Christ to grow and to become strong in spirit, filled with wisdom. How much more important for us as true born-again present tense believers in Jesus to spiritually grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus? The answer is that it is very important!
Hebrews chapter 11 is considered by many as the biblical hall of faith. The entire chapter is filled with Old Testament faith heroes beginning with Abel, Adam and Eve’s son who was killed by his brother Cain due to jealousy, but Abel endured to the end of his life as having favor in the eyes of the Lord. From there the writer of Hebrews spends the next forty verses spanning some 3,000 Old Testament years highlighting the enduring and overcoming faith of biblical heroes such as Enoch who walked with God and was taken to be with God without facing death.
Noah is mentioned as being divinely warned by God of things not yet seen, who was moved with godly fear and being filled with faith he prepared an ark for the saving of his household. Have we been moved with godly fear and filled with godly faith that encourages us to prepare our lives and the lives of our loved ones in order to be prepared for the tumultuous end times that according to Jesus will be worse than anything that has every taken place on earth before?
Are we prepared as was Noah and his family to endure the flood of tribulation that Jesus has in advance warned us about as end time enduring to the end people of faith? If we are wise, why would we wait until end time events begin to take place before we become spiritually prepared? The time to properly prepare is now, not when we see these things take place! Now is the day of preparation!
Abraham, by faith obeyed when he was called to go out from among his family and familiar surroundings to a place that God alone would show him. By faith Abraham dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country. He waited for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Abraham’s wife Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the normal age of childbearing, because she judged God faithful who had promised a child.
By faith Abraham, when he was tested by God, was willing to offer up that promised son Isaac, as a sacrificial offering in obedience to God’s Word. Of course, God did not allow Abraham to go through with the killing of his only recognized by God son, but rather God used the divine testing of Abraham’s faith and obedience to portray a picture of God in the future giving His only begotten Son Jesus as a sacrificial offering for the sin of the world.
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning future events to come. By faith others endured to the end and overcame enormous obstacles. By faith Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, Daniel, and other prophets, through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, and turned to flight enemy armies.
These and so many more in every generation all died in faith, not having received the promised end results, but having seen them afar off they were assured of them and embraced and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. And as pilgrims we must fully understand by faith that we too, like so many before us, are simply passing through. This earth is not our home! We too must by faith be found looking for a new earth and a new city which foundations are built upon the Rock of Christ Jesus, whose eternal builder and maker is God!
A Few Final Words:
Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1 follows on the heels of Hebrews chapter 11, by admonishing us all, by stating; “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us [such as all malice, all deceit, all hypocrisy, all evil, and all evil speaking, envy, jealousy, and hatred without a cause], and let us run with endurance [endure to the end], the race that is set before us.”
And while we run the race of endurance let us be found; “Looking unto Jesus [studying His life, His gospel, His Word] the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” In other words, Jesus endured and overcame all odds so He could intercede on our behalf while we follow His glorious example and learn to endure to the end just as He did.
We too may despise the shame at times, but we must endure whatever we face even unto the end of our lives if that is our lot in life. And in doing so, let us do it all in the name of Jesus and rejoicing that we were counted worthy to suffer as He did for us. We must keep in mind that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, but He has promised to never leave us and to never forsake us.
Yes, Jesus grew and became strong in spirit so He could endure to the end. He was filled with the wisdom of the Word of God; and thereby the abundant grace of God was upon Him. Are we growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ by way of God’s Holy Spirit abiding in us and by way of our abiding in God’s Word? Are we becoming filled with the wisdom of God’s Word and especially the Words of Jesus to the degree that we are observing them and teaching others to do the same?
Great leaders and great leaders in training learn to grow in grace, both in the giving of grace, and in the receiving of grace; for God’s grace greatly enhances our spiritual growth and biblical knowledge of Jesus Christ and His lessons of a lifetime. “And the Child [Jesus] grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”
Our Father in heaven, make us as faithful children of God, strong in spirit and filled with wisdom, and accompanied by the grace of our God. In Him Always, Amen!