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RELIGION: Steps to spiritual growth

by By Kitty Collingsworth Mill Creek Baptist Church | May 11, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.

We wished a happy birthday to Sheri White as we gathered to worship Sunday morning at Mill Creek Baptist Church. Doug Cory greeted the congregation, and special prayers were requested for Bill, Cheryl, Linda and Mark. We welcomed Brother Bill Bowen and JoAnn.

Rick Lett taught the adult Sunday school lesson, "I Find No Fault," as we studied John 18:28-40. The lesson reminds us that "Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin."

As we approach Mother's Day, Linda Abercrombie shared a devotional, especially for mothers who have lost children. She shared thoughts about losing a child and recognized those in the congregation who had. Linda shared Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Tyrel Lett asked for God's blessing upon the offertory, and he and Jeff Calley served as ushers. Susan Cory and Karen Gardner led the congregational hymns with special praise music from Karen.

Brother Bill filled in at the pulpit and brought us God's word in his message, "Steps to Spiritual Growth," with scripture from Acts 26:9-18. He shared the spiritual meaning behind the lyrics of Hank Williams Jr.'s country song, "I Saw the Light," as he related it to what Paul wrote about the conversion and giving his testimony. Brother Bill told us that "we can identify four steps Paul went through as he saw the light of Jesus Christ and had his life changed forever. They are the same steps that every person today goes through to fall deeper in love with Jesus."

Brother Bill told us that "first, we wander in darkness. Paul was a scoundrel. He loved to make people miserable, but in the process, he was miserable himself. Paul spent the first part of his life wandering in spiritual darkness. There are millions of people today wandering in spiritual darkness. The problem is they don't realize it until they see the light. Paul thought he was really in touch with God, and it wasn't until he saw the light of Jesus that he realized just how deep his darkness had become. God isn't satisfied with religion. He wants us to have a relationship with Him."

The second step Brother Bill told us is we experience God's light. "As Paul described what happened to him, he mentions a blazing light. God's character is expressed in light in many scriptures in the Bible. Light is such a common part of our lives that we take it for granted, just like we do with God. God's spotlight is Jesus. His light is everywhere, but God focuses His light, revealing Himself in Jesus Christ. When we see Jesus, we are looking at God."

Brother Bill told us that the third step to spiritual growth is we obey God's voice. "Paul said that he had served God all his life. If he really knew God, then he would have known when God spoke to him, but Paul didn't know the Lord. As God speaks to you, there are two important things to know: seeing the light is not the same as experiencing it and knowing about Jesus is not the same as knowing Jesus. If you do not obey the voice of God, then all the light will do is confuse you more. Eternal life is knowing Jesus, not just knowing about Him. Paul knew all the stories about Jesus, but he didn't really know Him until God knocked him off his feet and blinded him." All the attainments Paul had made in life, the awards, the goals achieved, the honors given, were all rubbish compared to the knowledge of knowing Jesus."

The fourth step in spiritual growth is living in God's light. Brother Bill told us that "after you come to know Christ, evidence of that experience is the desire to share Him with other people. That is exactly what God told Paul to do, to take the light that had opened his eyes and share it with others who were wandering in the darkness. God wants us to do the same thing. There are at least two irrefutable proofs to demonstrate that you are walking in the light of our Lord Jesus Christ: we experience a changed life and we experience a shared life. Paul was changed from a persecutor to a preacher, from a hater to a helper, from someone who wanted to kill Christians to someone who wanted to make Christians. The light of the world changed Paul's life. Jesus Christ turned on in his life and he was forever changed.

When you become a Christian, you become a brand new person from the inside out. Are you concerned for others who are walking in darkness like you once were? Do you know about Jesus or do you know Jesus? Are you religious or do you have a relationship with God? Church membership doesn't get you into heaven. The most important thing you can do is to know Christ."

Mill Creek Baptist Church is 3 1/2 miles east of Noel, just off Highway 90. Sunday school begins at 10 a.m., followed by worship service at 11 a.m. Everyone is welcome.

The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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