Spiritual Growth 1

Genesis 35:1-15


1Then God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother."

2And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. 3Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone." 4So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.

5And they journeyed, and the terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. 6So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. 7And he built an altar there and called the place El Bethel, because there God appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother.

8Now Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the terebinth tree. So the name of it was called Allon Bachuth.

9Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. 10And God said to him, "Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name." So He called his name Israel. 11Also God said to him: "I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. 12The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land." 13Then God went up from him in the place where He talked with him. 14So Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He talked with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured a drink offering on it, and he poured oil on it. 15And Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him, Bethel.

I have hear preachers preach on this text and call it a return to Bethel. There is a lot of history in this passage and we will deal with all of this in December.

But Jacob is a good example of how many of us struggle in the area of spiritual growth. Some twenty one years before Jacob had laid his head down on a stone at this place and that night received a message in vision that God was going to with him and sustain him in his spiritual pilgrimage.

As we will see in December Jacob had left home to find a wife and came home with four. He had many troubles and trials in his life as God led him along. But God never gave up on him and finally brought him to spiritual maturity.

  1. There are rules for growth.
    1. You have to plant.
    2. There must also come the regular rains.
    3. Then we have to have an ample amount of sunshine.
    4. But there can be hindrances.
      1. Attacks from without
        1. Insects
        2. Frost, ice, wind, hail, flood
      2. Attacks from within.
        1. Disease
  2. There is a blessedness of spiritual growth
    1. Fruitfulness
      1. Sufficient for the needs for which it was planted
      2. The abundance is used for things beyond the essentials
        1. Flowing to others to help them in their time of need.
        2. Holding up others who have not been blessed as we have.
      3. Galatians 5 tells us of the fruitfulness of the spiritual Christian
        1. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
        2. The fruit of the Spirit, on the other hand, suggests that which is a natural product of the Spirit rather than of man, made possible by the living relationship between the Christian and God (cf. 2:20; John 15:1-17). The Expositor's Bible Commentary
        3. In John 7:37On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." 39But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
        4. Jesus had used similar language when He spoke to the woman at the well in John 4:13Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."
        5. Fruitfulness is of much greater importance in the spiritual realm than it is in the physical.
    2. Bringing glory to God
      1. We are to glorify God for His blessings.
        1. Psalm 9:1 I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
        2. Psalm 146:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! 2While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
      2. Israel failed in this area.
        1. They went after other gods to give them praise for what He had done.
        2. They were unthankful
      3. God have given them special feast for the specific purpose of giving them opportunity to thank Him for His blessings.
      4. But spiritual fruit is what bring glory to our heavenly father.
        1. Phil 1:9And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
        2. John 15:8By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
  3. There is a naturalness connected with growth.
    1. Growth is not like manufacturing.
    2. Growth is a natural thing.
    3. Spiritually we have to not do the right things and we will not grow.
  4. There is always a sense of tragedy attached with a failed harvest
    1. Many things can lead to a failed harvest.
    2. There is always a sense of loss at the harvest.
    3. But you really do not know what the harvest will be until it is in.
    4. Just as the corn needs proper rain, sunshine, soil etc in order to have a full harvest so there are certain things needful for spiritual growth.
      1. Daily portion of the word of God
      2. Worship
      3. Submission to the Holy Spirit
      4. Service

Are you satisfied with your spiritual growth?

Do you long to understand the keys to spiritual maturity?

Do you want to have a fruitful harvest in your life?


This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com