Growing In Godliness Blog
Jesus Increased in Favor with Men
By Paul Earnhart
The Bible says very little about the early childhood of Jesus. It does inform us in Luke 2:52 that He increased in favor with man. This tells us that Jesus was the kind of child that adults admired. Every parent desires to have such a child.
How did Jesus grow in favor with good men. Certainly not by being a smart-alecky spoiled little brat. No adult likes to be around that kind of child. Rather, as we are told in the other parts of this verse, Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God. Good people admire that. In addition, they appreciate children who are respectful of adults, obedient to their parents, careful with property and considerate in their relations with other children. Growing in favor with God would require all of this, and what we see of Jesus in His teen years (and later) clearly indicates that this was the kind of child he was.
If you are a child, let me remind you that if you want to be like Jesus, this is the kind of boy or girl you must be. It is not time yet for you to be travelling over the country preaching as Jesus did. But it is time for you to be applying yourself to getting a good education, to developing a strong body and to being right with God. One way to determine whether you are succeeding in this is to watch how good adults feel about you. If they admire you and speak of you as a good child, then you must be doing as you should. If they dread being around you and clearly do not like you, then you probably need to make some changes in your behavior and attitude to be like Jesus.
If you are a parent, let me remind you that you are responsible for the development of your child. If your child is a terror to others, you need to be making some changes in your method of handling the child. As the child grows older, the problems will only increase. Perhaps you should begin with yourself. Disciplined children must have disciplined parents…it’s the only way.
Jesus Increased in Favor with God
By Paul Earnhart
Luke 2:52 tells us that as Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, He also increased in favor with God. This is the most important increase of all. All other progress in the development of a child is of temporary value. The wisdom he learns will someday be forgotten. His physical body, regardless of how strong, will someday weaken and die. And the favor of men can vanish in a moment of time. But favor with God prepares us for eternity.
Favor with God is obtained by godly living. In 1 Peter 3, beginning with verse 10, there is a quotation from the Psalms which is true for all times: "Let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile. And let him turn away from evil and do good. Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears attend to their prayers, but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." (1 Pet. 3:10-12)
Children do not grow in the favor of God by accident. This is especially true in our own day when so much ungodliness is being fed to children on television, in school, and through their companions. If children are to increase in the favor of God, they desperately need parents who have spiritual goals for them and rear them “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).
What of your children? Do you feel that God is increasingly pleased with them as they grow older? What are you doing to help them in that direction? Do you read the Bible and pray with them? Do you take them to Bible classes? Do you give them an example of a god-fearing parent? What your children become is largely up to you. But you must act now!
Finding Contentment in Being Single
By Bethany Taylor
When you look around and see so many happily married couples but notice that you are becoming one of the few (and sometimes only) single person left in your friend group or church, the feeling of loneliness may creep in. And when you hear sermons on marriage and children and the beautiful plan God has there, you can start to ache for that stage and want to escape what could feel like the worthless state of “being single.” But I think if we evaluate this rationally, my dear Christian, we may find the opposite is true. There is so much value in the single life, and so many ways to bring glory to God that I hope you will be rejuvenated in your sense of value in the “opportunity” God has provided you in your singleness.
I think a first step in finding contentment with anything is seeing if there is any benefit. Paul seemed to think so as he states in 1 Cor. 7:8, "But I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.” Here he is most likely addressing Christians at a particularly heavy time of persecution. But he is pointing out that as a single person you are not encumbered with the cares and anxieties of a family, since when you are married life gets harder and more complicated (1 Cor. 7:32-35). There’s a blessing of freedom in being single with less responsibilities and a different set of opportunities. But with this benefit of more freedom and time, one must be careful how it is used, since each one will give an account of it. Matt. 5:14-16 tells us to “let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Are the ways you’re using your time and freedom as a single person to glorify God, or are they only for your personal enjoyment?
Contentment with being single can also be found by remembering to trust that the One who created you knows your heart. Our Heavenly Father knows what we need and hears our prayers. So, if your prayer to be married hasn’t happened, could it be because He has a plan for you and being married isn’t the plan at this time? We see throughout scripture righteous people praying to God for something and yet He has a better plan for them than what they prayed for. My favorite example of this is Zacharias and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-7,13). We see they had prayed for so long to have a child, but God’s timing was not their timing. I wonder if waiting wouldn’t have been hard had they known their child would be John the Baptist,.
It is hard to feel content when you feel like a failure. As single, know that you are the opposite of that! You are worthy. We all know the “Worthy Woman” of Proverbs 31, one whom all Christian women admire. Prov. 31:10, “A worthy woman who can find? For her price is far above rubies.” Now look at Ruth 3:11, in this verse Boaz is talking to the unmarried Ruth: “And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou sayest; for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a worthy woman.” Both of these verses use the same Hebrew word for “Worthy women” which is “Eshet Chayil.” Just as Ruth was single and worthy, others can be as well. You have value and are worthy as a single person serving God - married or unmarried isn’t a criterion.
I will close with a challenge to those who are married. As you strive to support your brethren who are single, and want to help them find contentment and see their worth, do your words show that? Do your questions tell singles that being married is the most important thing… is their relationship status the *first* question you ask about when you talk? When they are in a relationship do you encourage them to take time to know the person they’re dating instead of inquiring if they’ve “made wedding plans?” Perhaps the next time you find yourself comforting someone after a break-up, instead of saying “one day the right person will come” how about instead saying, “God knows what you want and what you need. Live today pleasing to Him.” As married or single Christians we need to be Heaven focused not only in actions, but also in our questions and responses. In this way, we can help others see what is truly valuable and worthy and how to find contentment in any stage of life serving God.
“What an Awesome God You Are”
By Steve Gwin
After the church sings the song “Listen To Our Hearts” in one of our assemblies, I will have the chorus of that song in my mind for several days. I recently learned there is a name for that: earworm. The words in the chorus that reoccur in my mind most often are: “We will use the words we know to tell You what an awesome God You are.” Truly, “our God is an awesome God,” which are words in another song, “Awesome God,” that the church also sings. Let’s think about what an awesome God we have.
In the New King James Version of the Bible, awesome is used to describe God in several verses:
- In Deuteronomy 7:21, when the nation of Israel would soon be entering the Promised Land, Moses told them not to be terrified because the Lord, “the great and awesome God,” is among them. God is awesome in power to give victory to His people.
- In Deuteronomy 10:17 Moses explained that “the great God, mighty and awesome” administers justice for the fatherless and the widow. One reason God is awesome is because He cares for those in need.
- Nehemiah said, “I pray LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments,” (Nehemiah 1:5). Another reason God is awesome is because He always keeps His promises.
- “For the LORD Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth,” (Psalm 47:2). Our awesome God is King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15).
- As David praised God in Psalm 68:35, he wrote, “O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places.” God is awesome in His holiness.
- “Holy and awesome is His name.” (Psalm 111:9) Every aspect of God is awesome.
- Jeremiah wrote of the hardships he faced from those who did not want him to tell them the Lord’s words, but Jeremiah took strength and comfort in knowing that “the LORD is with me as a mighty, awesome One” (Jeremiah 20:11). In our struggles against evil, we can be strengthened and comforted by remembering that the awesome God is with us.
- When the 70 years of Babylonian captivity were nearing their end, Daniel prayed, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments” (Daniel 9:4). Daniel was confident God would keep His promise to return His people to their land, and we too can be confident that God will take those who love Him and keep His commandments to heaven, because our God is an awesome God.
The word awesome is used to describe God’s works, “Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works!’” (Psalms 66:3). After God promised David that He would set up his seed and establish his kingdom forever, David praised God, “And who is like Your people, like Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name – and to do for Yourself great and awesome deeds for Your land – before Your people whom You redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods?” (2 Samuel 7:23). We should praise God for the awesome deeds He accomplished to deliver us from our sins.
The song “Awesome God” mentions four characteristics of our awesome God: His reign, His wisdom, His power, and His love.
- “God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne,” (Psalms 47:8). When we hear news of nations developing missiles and nuclear warheads, our anxious minds can be put at ease by remembering that our awesome God reigns over the nations.
- “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen,” (1 Timothy 1:17). Because our awesome God has all wisdom, we should trust His way and not depend on our own understanding, (Proverbs 3:5).
- As King David neared the end of his life, he blessed the Lord before all the assembled Israelites, “ Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all,” (1 Chronicles 29:11). We, too, should bless our awesome God before others.
- The apostle Paul wrote of the awesome love our awesome God has for us, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:38-39).
Let us use the words we know to tell Him what an awesome God He is!
Jesus Increased in Wisdom
By Paul Earnhart
Very little is known about the childhood of Jesus. Many fictitious stories have been circulated; some have even been dramatized on television. But all we really know is what the Bible tells us. And all that the Bible tells us about His life in Nazareth, before He was twelve years old, is found in Luke 2:52. That verse tells us that Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.
It is interesting to learn that Jesus increased in wisdom. Though He was the Son of God, it is evident that in becoming a man He gave up His divine knowledge of all things. The fact that He INCREASED in wisdom proves that He did not have it all as an infant.
Jesus must have increased in wisdom as all other young people do. Doubtless He gained some wisdom from the instruction of His parents. Good parents are important to a young person's development.
We can believe also that He increased in wisdom through life’s experiences and through observation of life around Him.
I do not know if schools were available to Him or not. From some source He learned to read and write, and we can be sure that He took advantage of every opportunity of this kind.
Prayer must have had its part even for Jesus as a child. James tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask of God and it will be given to us (Jas 1:5). Of course, when we pray for daily bread, we work for it also. And as Jesus prayed for wisdom from God, He must have read and studied God's word which is a major channel through which God gives us wisdom.
Jesus is an example for young people and older people as well. Each one of us should take advantage of every opportunity to grow in wisdom.