February 2019   
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Preschool, Children, The Mission (Youth Worship) and Adult Bible Study, Weekly Worker's and Officers Meeting
Bible Search
Becoming a FAT HOG for Jesus
1 Peter 2:2
Today we come to the end of our FAT HOG series.  I told someone the other day I was thinking about next moving to the book of Amos and preaching a series on the women that Amos called the “fat cows of Bashan” but perhaps I will save that for a men’s retreat sometime! 
So far we’ve explored what it means to be Faithful, Available, Teachable, Holy and Obedient. Today we come to the subject of Growing. And as with the other terms we’ve studied there is an abundance of material in the Bible when it comes to spiritual growth.  Over and over and over we are told that God wants us to grow up.
"We are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head into Christ." (Eph. 4:15 ESV)
"So let us stop going over the basics of Christianity again and again; let us go on instead and become mature." (Heb. 6:1 NLT)
"Like newborn infants long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation." (1 Pet. 2:2 ESV)
"Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Pet. 3:18 The MSG)
Growth is the expected result of salvation.  It is the most natural thing in the world for things that are alive to grow. 
Let me ask you a question:  have you mowed any grass this year?  Even though it’s been dry and hot, the grass and weeds continue to grow.  Just be thankful you don’t live in Vietnam. 
The bamboo grass found there grows about sixteen inches per day.  It reaches 120' in height, the size of an 11 story building.
Or you could be blessed with one of the varieties of grass found in Uganda that grows forty-five feet in two years.
If you are interested in trees in your yard you could plant a seed that is less than the size of an acorn less than an ounce in weight. And if you have a few hundred years to wait around, you can watch it that giant Redwood grow to a height in excess of 275 feet, ninety feet across the base and have enough lumber producing potential build fifteen five room houses.
The wonderful thing about growth is its uniqueness to every individual. No two things really grow alike. In fact even in the case of identical twins there is uniqueness and individuality about them.  But if there is health, there will be growth. 
Notice what we read in
1 Peter 2:2
The verse begins with
1.  A Description
"As newborn babes"
So about whom is he speaking?  Well, in the preceding chapter at 1 Peter 1:23, the apostle states that they had been born again. So these “newborn babes” are these recent converts. 
These are those who have been saved.  Scripturally speaking, a newborn is someone that has believed and in that moment, he was saved. He became a child of God! Thank God, when a person is saved they are delivered from the penalty of their sins. They are delivered from the wrath to come. They no longer have to worry about spending eternity in hell. They have been delivered. They have been saved!
That is what salvation will do for you. It will make you a new creature in Christ. It will produce a wonderful transformation in a person's life. It begins as a newborn and continues until you are completely transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ Himself. 
I once read about a poor illiterate couple that was saved through the ministry of the Salvation Army. They were both so happy, especially the husband. He attended services every night of the week and would always come home with a big smile on his face.
One night he came home and appeared to be a little sad. His wife asked what was wrong and he said, "All the people down at the church have nice coats with writing on it. I wish I could afford a coat like theirs with writing on it." His wife told him that she would make him a coat with writing on it.
Like her husband, she couldn't read or write but she took one of his old coats and came up with some writing to go on it." The next night he returned smiling from ear to ear.
His wife asked, "How did they like your coat with writing on it?"
He replied, "They all said it was the best they had ever seen." What the wife had done was copy the letters from a sign that she saw in the store window across the street. The letters she sewed on the coat read, "Under New Management." A new born is someone who is under new management. He has a new life, a new Lord, a new liberty and a new love.
That’s the description Peter offers of a person poised for growth. Next he talks about
2. A Desire
"Desire the sincere milk of the Word"
So what is it exactly that we are to desire?   
Notice verse 1
He begins begins with the word "therefore." So what he is about to say is based on what was just said  before. What was that?
What came before this text is this tremendous statement in verse 23 of chapter 1 that says we are born again gy God through the Word of God. And so amazing is this Word of God, it is imperishable , it is living and active, and it is not at all like grass and flowers that die.  In fact, it endures forever.
So if you have been born again through this Word, then you will last forever. You are secure forever in the family of God, who caused you to be born again into that family.
Therefore—since you have new life by God's working and since you have confidence about the future—therefore (2:1), "putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word."
Since you have been born again by the Word of God, now long for the Word of God. There is this vital connection between being born again by Word of God in verses 23–25 and longing for the milk of the Word in verse 2.   In essence, what he is saying is, “Since you began your life with the Word, now sustain your life with the same Word.
And that’s fine in a general sense, but I’m still not sure that helps us understand exactly what is referenced by the phrase, “the pure milk of the Word”. Other translations use the word “sincere” or “spiritual” milk.  
So is "the pure milk" merely the Word of God or is there something more to see there?  I think it is more specific than that.  Let me show you why:
verses 2–3
Now follow the thought line and consider the entire passage. 
When it comes to desiring the pure milk of God’s Word, we are to like newborn babes.  In other words, we who were born again by the Word of God, are now to long for the milk so we can grow and we do that because we have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 
There is a connection between the intense longing or craving for the "milk" in verse 2 and the tasting of the graciousness of the Lord in verse 3. 
And when you put them together, it carries the idea of “longing for the spiritual milk, since you've tasted or experienced the grace of God”. 
It seems to me what he is telling us is the milk is the milk of God's grace.  In fact, NASB uses the word “kindness” to describe what was tasted. 
The grace of God is exactly what every born-again believer has experienced.  That’s what he’s saying back in verse 25.  We are born again by the grace of God through the Word of God and that is the milk we are to desire.
By the way, if he’s taling about the grace of God and salvation, then it makes perfect sense to describe it as “pure” milk. 
I hope I don’t have to remind you there is only one plan of salvation.  There is only one way to be saved and that is by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.  That is the pure milk. 
That is the sweet message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By the way, it’s not by accident that the old-timers refer to whole milk as sweet milk. That makes sense. God told Ezekiel to eat the scroll of His Word and he said, “When I did, it was as sweet as honey”. 
David said the same thing in Psalm 119:103: “How pleasing is what you have to say to me— tasting better than honey.”  
Now lactose is the sugar in the milk. That’s what makes it sweet.  And unfortunately, when it come to the “pure milk” of the word, there are a lot of people who are lactose intolerant.  But you need to understand, lactose intolerance is not a problem with the milk.  The problem is the way your body responds to the milk. 
Now come all the way awake and don’t let what I’m about to say get “past your eyes” because if you do you are inviting “udder” chaos. 
The only plan of salvation is the sweet milk of the grace of God. 
Some want to substitute soy milk. Now soy milk is plant milk made by soaking dried soybeans and grinding them in water.  UHMMH!  That reminds me of the sacrifice of Abel.  He brought to God that which was grown from the ground, and God rejected it.
Some want to substitute goat’s milk.  They think the answers to life and eternity are found in the Koran or the writings of Joseph Smith.  But they are substitutes for the sweet milk of grace. 
Others want skim milk.  They want a watered down Bible with a 2% gospel. Just work hard and live your best life now and minimize the blood and don’t talk about the corss and denying self.  But that gospel won’t get you to heaven. 
And what verse 2 is telling us is, “You were born again by that sweet milk of the grace of God. Now spend grow by longing for the same Word.  Spend time every day experiencing the kindness and goodness and grace of God in His Word.
And notice, Peter says we are to that in the same way  newborn babies desire milk. Now “desire” is a strong word. But if you’ve ever had a baby around the house, you don’t have any trouble understanding the symbolism.  They want what they want when they want it and they don’t care who they have to wake up or when to get it. And nobody has to teach a baby where to find the milk. Just get then close and they’ll find it.  There is this built-in, natural impulse to latch on and be nourished.
That’s the idea Peter has in mind when he talks about how grace has affected our lives.  We are so overwhelmed with the grace God showed us in salvation that we can’t wait to get back to the spigot and get so more! 
In fact, the word “desire” in the Greek carries the idea of "having a yearning desire for," or "longing after." In the Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, it is used for man's deepest longing for God:
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God (Psalm 42:1).
That is the picture Peter uses to describe a growing Christian.  There is a longing for, a yearning, an aching for what can only be found in the Word of God and by the grace of God.
Are you craving the Word of God? If you are I know that you are doing daily devotions with God. So many people say, "Yeah, I know that I need to do that, but I just don't have the time." Do you know with an attitude like that, you will never have the time?
We have time to sit in our houses and watch hours of TV. We can spend massive amounts of time on FaceBook or the internet.  We’ve got time to tweet and Instagram and be involved in all kinds of social media. 
And if we don’t get to do those things on a regular basis, we are extremely agitated. For some of the younger ones among us, we’ve even got time to go wonder around town looking for Pokemon till all hours of the night. 
So when was the last time we put that much effort and energy into the study of God’s Word? 
A growing Christina will desire the pure milk of God’s Word. Now, the result of that is
3. A Development
" Grow thereby"
All of us are interested in growth. As a matter of fact when the children are growing up in the home we try to give them the kind of things that will make them grow.
It reminds me of the mother who was trying to get her son to eat his spinach. She said, “It will make you grow and besides that, there are millions of kids around the world who would like to have that spinach.”  He said, “Name one.”
The Bible talks about the fact that what we really need to learn to do is grow up and the important thing about knowing Jesus Christ is to somehow we learn the meaning of the growth process.
In II Corinthians 9:10 Paul says, "To increase in the fruits of righteousness."
The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:13 to grow up unto all things in Christ until we arrive at real manhood.
The Bible tells us in I Thessalonians 5:12 that the Lord calls us to increase more and more in love one toward another even to all men even as we do toward you
In 1 Corinthians 13:11 we read, "When I was a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
The writer of Hebrews said that the people should have been teachers themselves, however they were still just children that had not grown in the ways of the Lord. Instead of teaching others, they were always being taught and they were still just babies in Christ.
They had refused to dedicate themselves to diving deeper into God's Word, because they lacked the passion to know God more closely and intimately.
While all this emphasis of growth?  It is because no matter where you are in your spiritual walk you can always grow more. There is always something new to learn.  There is always some fresh discovery waiting on the person who faithfully and anxiously opens the Word of God, asking and expecting God to show up and teach them. 
I don't believe that a person every gets to the point where he or she can say that they have grown all they can spiritually. I do on the other hand believe that people do get to the point where they THINK they can't grow anymore.
And once we have tasted salvation and experienced God’s grace, we have the blessed privilege of continuing to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord until one day, we are changed to be like Him. 
It is written of Jesus that He grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.  It just seems to me if it was important for Jesus to grow, then it’s important for you and I also.  And I will tell you this, if you are not growing in Christ-likeness, then you are declining in Christ-likeness. 
It’s just like riding a bicycle.  If you don’t go on, you go off.  We must continue to grow.  That is what the Bible calls sanctification, continually growing and maturing in our spiritual lives.
If you are growing you are able to deal with the things around you.
If you are growing you can handle all of the hassle. If you are growing you are able to see things as they really are not as you wish they were.
If you are growing you can get a handful of reality and deal with that reality.
As you grow you become flexible and you know when to stand your ground and when to give in and when to stand firm. You know how to be understanding.
If you are growing you are a person with a plan of action. If you are growing you have a purpose for living and you are trying to improve you situation in life.
If you are growing you are a person of emotional stability and you don't see problems as devastating.  You see them as an opportunity to experience the power and grace of God.
A person that is growing uses all of the resources of God to deal with the situations he is facing. 
Have you ever wonder how a person like Helen Keller with her blindness and her deafness could ever survive. She had to develop a language of touch and feel. Someone came up to her and asked what is it like to be blind? She said everyone should live everyday as though they were going blind the next.
And they said to her if you had three days of renewed sight and you know your sight would be gone after three days what would you do? She said the first day I would have all of my friends come in and I would study their faces in detail. I would touch their features and I would memorize the way they look.
Then I would take a little new born baby and I would look at that new bundle of life and I would memorize feelings and what it meant and what it look like. Then I would take my dogs that l love dearly that I've touched and I would see their every movement and I would look at the wag of their tail then I would see their joy and then when the evening came I would go and watch the sun go down.
On the second day I would get up and watch the sunrise and I would see it come up in all of its brilliance and I would memorize that scene and put it in my mind. Then she said I would go to a museum and look at the progress of the human spirit.
I would see how man had challenged himself and in the afternoon I would to an art museum and I would see the soul of man and I would try to understand all he had said all that he had done.
Then I would see his great art and then I would go to hear the great music he had made.
Then on the third day I would watch the sun rise again and memorize that scene and get that view in my heart and in my mind and in my spirit.
And then I would go where man sweats and toils and I would go into the prisons where he suffers. I would go into the hospitals where he has pain. I would go into the ghetto where he has poverty. I would go until I understood what man really felt gut level.
Then in the evening I would go to something light, to a comedy or some kind of program that would make me see the humorous side of things and then the next day when I lost my sight I would remember these experiences with love. Those are the words of one who has tasted the grace of God.  Have you? 
There is a beautiful invitation found in Isaiah 55 and I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that the Holy Spirit brought it to the mind of Peter as he penned these verses:
Isaiah 55:1-3
Good invites you to taste and see that Lord is good.  I encourage you to drink deeply!  
Let’s pray.
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