3 Easy Tests to Gauge Your Spiritual Growth | Bayless Conley


Today on Answers with Bayless Conley: If you’ve lost your fire, if you’ve lost your
passion, then draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. There are many questions you are faced with
every day. We are all searching for answers that will
make a real difference in our lives. It’s hard to imagine that these answers
might be right in front of us. Get ready to discover answers in the Bible
with Bayless Conley. Hello friend, welcome to the broadcast today. I’ve got some exciting things to be sharing
with you. And some things that I think will provoke
you to think. Have you ever wondered, “How can I gauge
my spiritual growth? How can I determine where I am at with God?” Well we can find answers for that in the Scripture. We are going to deal with three specific things,
three ways that we can gauge our growth with God. The first one is our speech. Let’s get into that message right now. I want to speak to you tonight about three
easy tests to gauge our spiritual growth. Under the old covenant, God’s people were
encouraged to test themselves, and examine themselves. Lamentations, chapter three, verse 40, it
says, Let us search out and examine our ways, and
turn back to the LORD; In the New Testament, as well, as believers,
we’re encouraged to examine ourselves. I read to you Second Corinthians 13 and verse
five, and I want to read it from The Message Bible. It says, Test yourselves to make sure you are solid
in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for
granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay,
that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. You know, just a couple of days ago, Janet
was concerned that the oil in her car was low, so I taught her how to check her oil. She didn’t know. You pop the hood, for those of you watching
internationally, you pop the bonnet on your car or your truck, and there’s a thing called
the dipstick. You pull it out. It’s quite long. You wipe it off, put it back in, pull it out,
and it will tell you the level of oil, tell you if it’s filled to maximum, if it’s low,
if it’s dry. And there are certain tests that we can do
to let us know our level with God, how deep we are with God, if you would. In fact, the Holy Spirit’s work in our life,
by way of analogies, is referred to as oil, anointing oil. You can check the Holy Spirit oil. There’s a few gauges that you can do it with. So I want to share with you three ways to
examine ourselves to see how solid we are in the faith, how close to or distant from
God we might be. Are you ready? Are you sure? Alright. Test number one is our speech. After His arrest in Matthew, chapter 26, Jesus
is being spit upon and beaten. Meanwhile, Peter is in the courtyard at a
distance, and a young girl comes up to him and said, “You are with Jesus of Galilee.” And Peter said, “I don’t know what you’re
talking about.” A few minutes later, a different girl comes
up and says, “You… or talked to some guys, “This guy is one of those that was with Jesus
of Nazareth.” Peter swears, “I don’t know what you’re talking
about. I don’t know the guy.” And then some people came up to him and said,
“Surely you’re one of His disciples, for your speech betrayed you.” Now, of course, they were talking about his
Galilean accent, but there’s a great truth here in general. Our speech always betrays us, whether we are
one of Christ’s disciples or not. You just have to listen to someone talk to
know if they’re a disciple of Christ or if they are not. Look with me at Luke’s Gospel, the sixth chapter,
if you would. Luke, chapter 6, and we want to pick it up
in verse 43. Jesus said, “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit,
nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor
do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his
heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth
evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his
mouth speaks. Out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth
speaks. That’s true of every one of us. Out of the abundance of our heart, our mouth
speaks. If something is important to us, if something
truly fills our heart, we will talk about it, whether it’s sports, or cars, or gardening,
or food, or the latest video game, or God. What we love, we talk about it. It is an inescapable truth. I had a friend one time. I was spending the day with him, and he turns
to me and says, “Have you told you about my new grandchild yet?” I thought, “Only about six times in the last
two hours. Please,” and I remember making a mental note
to myself, “If I ever become a grandfather, I will never be that kind of a grandfather. I will never drone on and on about my grandkids,
and tell people about them that are not interested.” But you have to realize, I made that decision
before I knew how exceptional my grandchildren would be. I had no idea they would be so beautiful and
so above average. So, I never would have said that had I known. I can tell you about which one is athletic,
what they like to eat. I can tell you stories you don’t want to hear. I can tell you about how Sawyer is an outdoors,
crazy, tree climbing kid, and tell you stories that, like I said, you don’t want to hear. But it’s easy for me to talk about them, because
they fill my heart. I talk about them easily, because I love them. You listen to some people, and they can go
on and on about golf. I’m one of those guys. I can do that. I can tell you the last game of golf I played. I can tell you my score. I can tell you every club I used, every shot
I used on every hole. I can tell you how far I hit the ball on every
shot. I can tell you what I was thinking when I
swung the club all 18 holes. I can tell you every putt I made. In fact, let’s go. All right? Hole number nine, I hit an errant drive, about
230 yards. I hit it right under the trees. I was handcuffed. You have to hit it over water. It’s a par five for your second shot, and
I can’t get over the water. So, I’m thinking about punching it underneath,
but I saw a window up above. So, I took my 58 degree wedge, and I hit it,
perfect shot, about 80, 85 yards, right through the window. Stopped short of the water. Then I hit my rescue club. I hit it to a 100 yards from the green. The flag was in the back right hand side of
the green on an upper tier, so I took my 52 degree wedge. You need to know that, and I hit it to about
eight feet up on that upper tier. I thought, “All right. I’ve still got a chance at par.” But the putt leaked right, and I missed the
putt, ended up with a bogey. I can tell you about hole number two, hole
number seven, hole number 10, hole number 12, and I can go back a lot of rounds before
that. Why? I happen to like golf. Are there any golfers in the house who know
what I’m talking about? Yeah, of course. Listen to this verse. It’s Malachi 3:16, and this is from The Living
Bible. It will be on the screen. It says, Then those who feared and loved the Lord spoke
often of him to each other. And he had a Book of Remembrance drawn up
in which he recorded the names of those who feared him and loved to think about him. There is a book in heaven, where God records
the names of those that speak about Him often. Is your name in that book? Jesus said in Matthew, chapter 12, that we
will give an account for every idle or nonproductive word that we speak in the day of judgment. Think about that. I’ll give an account for every idle word that
I speak. He went on to say, “By your words, you’re
justified. By your words, you’ll be condemned.” Let me ask you a question. Is your speech full of doubt, fear, pessimism,
or it is filled with hope, faith, and encouragement? Do people leave your presence after they’ve
been with you and listened to you, do they leave your presence lifted up, or weighed
down? Some of you say, “Well, look, I just believe
in being honest. If things feel dark or things look dark, I’ll
say so. When my circumstances change, then I’ll change
my speech.” No. You need to learn to change your speech if
you want your circumstances to change. Start talking to your mountain about how big
your God is, rather than continually talking to God and everyone else about how big your
mountain is. Learn to shout while Jericho’s walls are still
standing. Learn to say, “Father, I thank You that You’ve
heard me while your Lazarus is still in the tomb.” Yes, we need to be honest. But, listen to me, people that are close to
God are people of faith, and faith always affects our speech. I have an acquaintance. He had a friend visiting, and they were both
believers, and this friend of his just went on, and on, and on about the dark side of
everything, and how this bad thing was going to happen, and he was worried about this,
and just like supercharged the atmosphere with unbelief, and just went on and on. My friend tried to help him. Said, “Look, why don’t you just speak a little
more positively about things. You could put God’s Word in your mouth, just
as easily as you can talk about the dark things of life,” and the guy said, “Well, if you
had my circumstances, you’d talk just like I would.” This friend/acquaintance of mine said, “Look,
I wouldn’t normally do this, but I’m going to try and help you. Let me tell you about what’s going on in my
life right now,” and he began to talk about his own problems and his own challenges, and
they were far more severe than this guy that was complaining, and the guy said, “I don’t
understand. How can you have such peace, and how can you
be so positive with those kind of things going on in your life?” He simply said to him, “Because I believe
what God’s Word has said about my circumstances.” If you are close to God, you will be in faith,
and if you’re in faith, it will come out in your speech. Your speech, my speech, it always betrays
us. It always shows where we’re at with God. All right. Secondly, look with me at First John, chapter
four, if you would. Test number two is how we treat others always
reveals where we’re at with God. How we treat others. First John, chapter four and verse seven, Beloved, let us love one another, for love
is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for
God is love. Now, I want you to look up here. It says, “We need to love one another, for
everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love, does not know God.” I think it’s possible to be born of God, but
if you live a selfish life, and you don’t put others first, and you’re not really loving
people, you don’t know, you’re not in the space of having an intimate relationship with
God. The love we express to others, how we treat
others, always is a revelation of where we are in our relationship with our Creator. Look in verse 20, the same chapter. It says, If someone says, “I love God,” and hates
his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how
can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that
he who loves God must love his brother also. Look back at Matthew, chapter five, a very
well-known section of Scripture. Matthew, chapter five and verse 43. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You
shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless
those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully
use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes
His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. So, part of this test is not just how we treat
our brothers and sisters in the Lord. It’s how we treat our antagonists, and our
enemies, and our persecutors, and those that hate us. There was a lady that I knew when I first
got saved. She had a couple little kids, and she was
living in the top floor of a duplex. The owner decided that he was going to break
the contract and kick her out. She had a lease agreement with him, and looking
back, I think it was just the fact that housing went up, and rents went up, and he thought,
“Man, I can get a lot more money than I’m getting with her, but the only way, I’ve got
to break this contract, get her out. I’ll get somebody in that can pay a lot more
rent.” So, he couldn’t legally put her out, so he
made up a bunch of stuff, and I knew the situation. He actually made up several lies, went to
the authorities and told them that X, Y, Z had happened, and they were destroying the
property, and on and on, and so he got whatever paperwork he needed to evict her from this
duplex, this lady and her kids. I remember she got in touch with me the day
before they had to be gone. She said, “Can you come over and help us?” I said, “Sure.” I went there and she said, “We want to clean
the place out. We want to just make it spotless.” So, we spent the entire night vacuuming floors. I remember this lady even went into the closets,
and she scrubbed the inside of the closets. Made the place so clean you’d think Jesus
was going to be moving in. The guy actually came over while we were cleaning
the place. He thought we were probably in stealing the
refrigerator or something, and he burst into the door, and he’s about to holler, and he
looks around and realizes what’s being done. I’ll never forget it. He looked at this lady and he said, “Why? After what I’ve done to you, why would you
do this for me?” You know what she said? She said, “Because God loves you, and I’m
praying for your soul.” He looked like somebody had thrown a wet mackerel
in his face. He was absolutely stunned. Now look at Matthew, chapter six. There’s one final test I want to share with
you, and it’s this, our giving always is a test of where we are in our relationship with
God. Matthew, chapter six and verse 19, Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures
on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay
up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves
do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart
will be also. Isn’t that beautiful? Where your treasure is, there your heart will
be, also. What we love, we invest in, our time, our
treasure, our talent. What we love we invest in. I think there’s a brilliant example of this
in the book of Hebrews, the eleventh chapter. It speaks about the first two children that
Adam and Eve had, Cain and Abel. In particular, I want to read you verse four. Hebrews 11 and verse 4, By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent
sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying
of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. By faith, Abel gave a more excellent … That
literally means a better quality sacrifice than his brother, Cain, a better quality offering,
and his gift that he gave to God, it says it testified that he was righteous, and righteousness
means to have a right relationship with God. So, Abel’s gift to God testified that he had
a right relationship with God. It bore witness of where his relationship
with God was. It demonstrated his faith in God, and his
love for God, as is equally true for each and every one of us. You can read this story if you want. It’s found in Genesis, chapter four, verses
one through seven, and it says, “When harvest time came, both Cain and Abel brought gifts
to God.” Now, Cain was a tiller of the ground. He was a farmer. Abel was a keeper of sheep. Both great occupations, and gifts of the fruit
of the ground, completely acceptable to God, just like the gift from the flocks were acceptable,
but it talks about Cain. The gift that he brought is just nondescript. Cain brought an offering that didn’t cost
him anything. There was nothing special about it, but the
Scripture specifically says, “When Abel brought his gift to God, he gave God his first and
he gave God his best, and God respected Abel and accepted his offering, but he did not
respect Cain and his offering, and Cain became angry, and his countenance fell, and God said,
‘Cain, what’s up? Why are you so angry? If you do well, if you do what’s right, you’ll,
also, be accepted. But if you don’t, sin is crouching at the
door, and it wants to master you.'” You see, Cain’s lukewarm gift revealed his
lukewarm relationship. Abel, however, gave his first and his best,
because God was first and most important in his life, and it all boiled down to this,
it was a revelation of their relationship. I have a friend. He pastors a fairly large church, and I think
a significant church, because they do their best to feed the flock and they’re soul winners,
and he did something he’d never done before. He decided to check the giving record of all
of the employees. He’d never done it after having the church
for years and years. So, he did, and he said he was really surprised
to find out that one of his main leaders … In fact, the guy that had the second highest
salary of any employee on the whole team. He and his wife had not given, not even one
cent to the church in over a year. So, he went to him and just was honest. He said, “Look, I checked the giving records,
and it doesn’t show that you and your wife have given anything. Do you give in cash and just do it anonymously?” The guy said, “No. We don’t do that.” He said, “Well, are you guys in a financial
bind.” He said, “No. We’re doing great financially.” “Well, why? We teach tithing. We teach honoring God with the first part
of your income. The Scriptures, Old and New Testament teach
it. Don’t you believe it?” He said, “Yeah, we believe it.” It turns out his wife had gotten offended
at somebody and said, “We just didn’t want to give, because my wife was kind of bent
out of shape.” And so the pastor and him, they had a conversation,
“Look, you need to start doing this, because there’s more involved, and if you think about
it, it’s just wrong on so many levels. There are single mothers in our church, there’s
single mothers that honor God with the first part of their income, even though it’s a great
sacrifice for them. They do it out of obedience. They do it in faith. They do it because they love Christ, and they
love the house.” We have elderly people, listen to me, on fixed
incomes, and the first thing they do when they get their Social Security check, or whatever
income they have, the first thing they do is they honor God with the first and the best,
and then you’ve got somebody that actually has the privilege of earning a living from
that, and they’re not even tithing themselves. It’s just so wrong. So the pastor said, “Look, this has got to
change.” He said, “I will, Pastor. I realize I’ve been wrong, and we’re going
to start tithing.” Well, the pastor let it go six months, and
he said he checked it again after six months, and they had not given one thin dime in the
next six months. He went to him again, and this time, “Well,
it was somebody else’s fault. Somebody did this to me, and we were just
mad,” and the pastor, to his credit, said, “Our relationship needs to change. It’s obvious you don’t love the house. If you did, it would be evident in your giving,”
and he let him go, and I applaud him for doing that. It’s not a matter that it’s something that’s
required, but we’ve got to be on the same page. We’ve all got to be pulling oars. It revealed where his relationship with God
was. It revealed his love for God’s house, his
love for God’s people. In First Timothy, chapter three, it gives
all of the qualifications for a leader in the church. Did you know two of those qualifications deal
with our heart attitudes concerning money? My dad passed away two weeks ago and went
to heaven. You know what he took with him? Nothing. Nothing. The only thing he took with him was his character,
who he was, and the people that he’s touched for Christ, those that he’s touched through
his prayers, through his testimony, through his giving, but that’s it. Nothing else did he take with him. He left everything behind, everything. Friend, life is short. I want to enter eternity and hear, “Well done.” I’m going to tell you something. I would never have told you this while my
dad was still living, but he’s not here, so he can’t get mad at me. He bought a small piece of property a long
time ago, and built a small office building where he had his practice for many years,
and after he retired, he sold that office building that he had built, and he made quite
a bit of money on it. He and my mom put every nickel of that into
God’s kingdom. They didn’t take a penny of it, and it would
have helped them for their future. They put every nickel of it into the kingdom,
and you know what? Because of that and because of his consistent
giving, though he’s dead, it still speaks. Just like Abel’s gift, though he’s dead, it
still speaks. Now, if as you consider these three tests,
your speech, how you treat others, or your giving, you realize there’s a real chasm between
you and God, the way to make it right is not to just bustle about and try and change those
outward behaviors, though changing the outward things is important, but we must realize the
root is spiritual. The root of things is internal. Those three things we talked about, those
are just outward symptoms. The real way to get it changed is to repent
and to come to God, to draw nigh to Him, so that He can deal with the root. If you’ve lost your fire, if you’ve lost your
passion, then draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Thank you for joining us for today’s broadcast. Whether you watch us on television, through
a podcast, or through some other means, we’re just very, very glad that you joined us. You know, I’d like you to consider doing
something. If you wouldn’t mind letting us know how
the message has impacted your life. If there was something that stood out to you
or if it helped you in some way let us know. Because it would encourage the people on the
team here and would help us do a better job at what we’re doing. We look forward of hearing from you. Hi there. I’ve written a little booklet about the
cross. Something I believe can benefit every believer. We’re looking at whether it’s a reason
for offense or if it’s actually God’s loving open door to a lost and hurting world. And along with that, I preached several messages
in our church recently. These can help equip you to confidently share
your faith with the lost. If you’re serious about sharing your faith
with others, contact us today to receive The Cross bundle. This booklet and two message series will equip
you to confidently talk about the most important decision you made in your life and the joy
you found in Jesus. Learn how you can engage the lost so they
can cross over from death to life. Request your Cross bundle today when you use
the contact information on the screen. Thank you for watching Answers with Bayless


7 Responses

  1. Can A.

    November 15, 2018 10:57 am

    Bayless I am from Jamaica. I lived in SC for 5 years and came upon your content when I could not find a church home in the US. I have been teaching since September 2018 and I have not been paid for over two months. I will be moving on at the end of November if I am still not paid. It's been frustrating and I feel my heart growing bitter. Today's word has helped me to gauge my reaction to the situation I am in because my times are still in God's hands. I love teaching and the students make it worth it everyday. Thank you for always sharing and may God fill your heart with your father's precious memories and legacy.


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