Thursday, March 22, 2012

Time to Graduate from Baby Food

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Baby Chloe
“Like newborn babies, 
crave pure spiritual milk, 
so that by it you may 
grow up in your salvation, 
 now that you have tasted 
that the Lord is good.” 
 1 Peter 2:2-3

Chloe's Pre School Graduation
Now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.... We need to grow up in our salvation and that starts with a craving for pure spiritual milk. Newborn babies need milk every couple of hours and for quite a while milk is all they eat. Little by little they get milk thickened with a little cereal and are slowly introduced to foods that have been pureed because they they can't chew it themselves. Eventually once they can sit in a highchair they are given a spoon and work on the skill of feeding themselves. Its pretty messy at first as they have to develop coordination. Before you know it they are eating the same food as the rest of the family cut up into small bites.

Sadly many who come give their heart to Jesus never move beyond baby food. Even in Paul's day he writes in Hebrews 5 how he has more to say but because the people have a kindergarden or infant understanding that it is hard for him to explain. We want those college level answers to life's problems but we refuse to grow up and learn to eat solid food. We want someone to spoon feed us, when we should be feeding ourselves.

Hebrews 5:11-14 (NIV1984)

  11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. 
 Even with spiritual gifts and spiritual armor you have to begin to use them for them to be of much value to you. My kids were given a microscope and a telescope and could, if they applied themselves do some really cool things. They have worked with them a little but certainly not to the extent of what is possible to learn and discover by working and using those tools.  I could do a lot more with piano if I actually managed to practice everyday. I read this quote a while back, "Earl Nightingale once said, "If you will spend an extra hour each day of study in your chosen field, you will be a national expert in that field in five years or less." What gifts and callings has God given you that you need to begin to use and allow to develop. Maybe its knowing the word and graduating from the Gerber Baby Bible, going by just what others tell you about or tossing around random refrigerator verses to really spending time in the Word, and not just reading random passages but really digging in and studying. 
I have had the privilege of watching and encouraging little Chloe for a number of years at this point. Last night I watched and applauded as she got a pin at AWANA's for memorizing bible verses. I am glad to see her at a young age hiding the Word in her heart. She is in kindergarden this year and I see her making wonderful developmental strides. She has had a number of challenges to over come through the years. I first met her when I helped out in the nursery for mops. She was a wild and willful little thing. Her mom and I became friends, so I have gotten to help encourage them both to know and grow up in Jesus. 
Last night our older AWANA kids heard the story of St. Patrick a boy from England who got sold in to slavery in Ireland. His dad had been a leader in the church in his town. Patrick must have had at least a little bit of understanding of the bible as a 16 year old. When he found himself in slavery he began to pray and talk to God. Eventually he was able to escape at the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit and made it back to England. There he really digs in and studies and becomes a priest who later heeds a call to go back to Ireland and take the gospel to that very pegan land.  The person sharing made a comment to the kids that he hoped that if something ever happened to them that they would have the verses that they have learned at AWANA's to help them.  It is our hope that these kids will have enough of the Word in them that when they are faced with temptation and life decisions that they will remember the verses they have planted in their hearts and make good and wise choices. 

 “I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn't have the heart to let him down...” - Ab Lincoln. 
I have had people in my life who encouraged me to grow up in my faith. I have pressed in to know Jesus more and the Holy Sprit has helped me to and I have seen John 16 at work in my own life.  5“Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. 

What about you? Are you steadily growing in the things of God or are you sitting in your dirty diapers screaming for someone to come entertain and spoon feed you when you should be learning to use your spoon to feed yourself? Maybe you are more mature and its time to go find some babies and to help them to grow up in the things of God. I am thankful for the mature believers who came alongside me. Who answered my endless questions. People who brought words of correction at times and at other times cheered me on as I made some step of faith. People who stood by me when I tripped and fell and loved me in spite of my brokenness and foolish behavior and choices. I will tell you that there is a dynamic that happens by being part of a community of believers, or a local church. Some times its a real pain and often people just run off to some other church rather than stay and work through things together. You stick a bunch of folks together and they begin to find that we all have a lot of rough edges and areas where we need to grow. One person may be strong in one area and weak in another. The kingdom life is not really ment to be lived in isolation. We grow best together.  Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

1 Peter 4: 7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Maybe you are growing but your growth is stunted in some area and its time to allow Jesus into that place. I have had areas of pain that I kept locked away for far too long. I encourage you to let Jesus into those places. He is patient and gentle and he understands how to heal that brokenness and cause that place to grow and become fruitful.  

Dear Lord,
Help us to be continually growing in you. Help us to discover the many gifts you have given us and to begin to put them to practice and use for your kingdom's glory. Help us to move from baby food to more solid food in your word. Help us to learn to rightly divide your word and to rightly apply it to the situations we face each day. Move us out of diapers and into training pants. Bring us life giving leaders who will challenge and encourage us on our journey. Help us to become life giving leaders who encourage others as we walk together for a reason or a season and in some cases a life time.

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