Whitney Standlea will be my guest blogger in the next several GB posts. She has a 3-part series on spiritual growth I know you will benefit from. Whitney is a Christian, a wife, and the mother of three little people. She finds herself floundering through this difficult journey called parenting and is thankful for God’s grace over each step, jump, and fall along the way. She loves to snuggle with her entire family, plays piano, and enjoys writing (sporadically). 

In this three part blog series I am pulling together some reflections from women in my own church body on the topic of growing in Christ. My original goal for this was to equip you with some practical ways and some encouraging wisdom from other women on how to get time in the Word. It seems that my life and schedule have changed constantly in the last five years, and my time in the Word has struggled from it. Whether you have fluctuating work shifts, distracting room mates, children that rise at 6 in the morning, or a chronic illness, you may find yourself struggling for consistent quality time in the Word. As other women have shared with me on this topic, some important underlying issues surfaced that we will consider as well.  I want you to think about this like a spiritual biology lesson, or a spiritual nutrition lesson. Hopefully you will get some great tools to improve your spiritual diet (intake of the Word) and also be encouraged as you learn about the work of the Spirit as He applies your intake in such a way that generates real spiritual growth or fruit! As we look at this topic, I want to clarify that when I say spiritual growth or fruit, I am referring to our growth in holiness and looking more like Christ. 
Have you ever thought about some of the things your body is doing right now without your knowledge? Evil bacterial armies are trying to invade that cut you got on your finger while you were slicing strawberries at lunch. All the while, white avenger blood cells are fighting them off, while skin cells are multiplying to create new tissue to heal the wound, while thousands of other cells are collectively fulfilling their responsibilities to digest and transport the nutrients from your strawberries so that all the cells can continue doing their jobs. Its like an entire universe is busy in your body and you don’t even know it! All you’re thinking is, “Man, this cut hurts!”
Even with all this activity that requires no conscience effort from you, it still does require that food from your lunch. And the better you eat, the more successful each cell can be in fulfilling its job. That’s why we take the time to prepare healthy food, buy fresh produce, or substitute out the French fries for a side salad. It’s also why we eat at all. Good food or bad food, you have to have something in there for your body to continue to function, grow, move, think, and heal.
Here are the questions we will discuss for our “Spiritual Biology Lesson:”
  • What is the Spirit doing in your spirit that is beyond your conscience effort? (Part I)
  • Why do we need to intake spiritual food? (Part II)
  • How can you find time to prepare and consume spiritual food? (Part II & III)
What is the Spirit doing in your spirit that is beyond your conscience effort?
As with our physical bodies, no matter what food we intake, we can not DO anything to make our cells work, our heart beat, our lungs absorb oxygen. It is all happening beyond our control. It is amazing that with our spiritual life, any fruit we generate is all a work of the Spirit of God. We can produce no righteousness without the Spirit producing it in us. That’s why that beautiful list of virtues (love, peace, patience…) in Galatians 5 is called the fruit of the SPIRIT and not the fruit of dedicated striving. It is God working in us. This is the first and foremost lesson I gleaned from the women who shared with me this past month. One lady shared that as we pray, study, memorize, and serve, we will only grow because of the Spirit’s work in our lives—and He often does this in our lives through trials. Difficult circumstances and difficult people place us in a position to depend entirely on God to produce the kind of patience and endurance that are beyond our capabilities. It is in those places that the Spirit often cultivates in us the very virtues we are studying or seeking to grow.
So seek God to work in you the fruit that He desires from you! His spirit can produce those impossible to generate heart changes that bring about patience toward disobedient children, kindness toward terrible drivers, faithfulness in a difficult marriage, and self-control toward overpowering temptations.

But you may be wondering, “If I just need to ask the Spirit to do these things in my life, what does Bible reading have to do with spiritual growth? Why is it necessary?” We will look at that in Part II! Stay tuned….

RESOURCES:

Check these resources out to get in the Word with a reading plan:
www.biblegatway.com (includes plans, study tools and multiple versions)
www.esvbible.org (includes plans, study tools, and audio recordings)
Apps:
There are many free apps to access the Bible or Bible reading plans on your phone!
Bible Gatway
ESV Bible
YouVersion
Print Resources:
Macarthur Daily Study Bible (Has a daily Reading Plan in the Bible)
CJ Mahaney’s For the Love of God (Daily devotional based off of the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan)
Precepts Studies These studies walk you through indepth personal Bible study, teaching you the tools you need to explore the Word of God for yourself.
Church Bible Studies
Your church likely offers several opportunities for accountability and encouragement surrounding your growth. Check with our church or local seminary for women’s Bible studies or one-on-one mentoring and discipleship.

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