EIGHT SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, Your Virtual Life Coach

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4: 23

How well I remember my first vegetable garden! Each day I would lovingly water the tender plants and carefully check their growth. I found it exciting to watch them increase in height and fullness every few days and to know they were flourishing.           

Planting a garden led me to think about my spiritual growth. Was there a way, I wondered, to measure my progress in an area of life that defied accurate measurement? Although I could not measure my spiritual growth with a ruler, I needed to know if I were moving ahead, or slipping back, in my walk with the Lord.

As I studied God’s Word, certain indicators began to emerge that have helped me to determine whether or not I am progressing spiritually. Over the years, these indicators have served as a checklist which, I trust, will also help you to evaluate where you are in your own spiritual development.

1. Do I have an increasing hunger to know God and His Word? When I first became a Christian, I was like a newly wed enraptured and enamored with her husband. Then, over the years, I became comfortable in my relationship with the Lord. Yes, I still loved Him deeply, but I had lost some of the passion.When we find ourselves longing fervently for a closer relationship with God, and we determine to develop that relationship through daily prayer and study of His Word, we know that we are progressing spiritually.

2. Do I have a stronger desire to separate myself from the things of this world? Spiritual growth involves a process of separation. God said, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate” (II Corinthians 6:17). Although for now we must live in and influence the world, it must have no grip on us. As we grow spiritually, our desire for the things of this world will decrease while our desire for the things of God will increase.

3. Do I have a growing faith? The Word of God tells us that “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). When we find it increasingly easier to stand on God’s Word, especially in difficult circumstances, we are growing spiritually. The Bible becomes our final authority, and we can trust God to work in our lives. Whereas we once focused on the problem, we now focus on the solution found in the Word.

4. Do I find it easier to forgive? Jesus said, “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). We know that we are growing spiritually when it becomes easier to forgive. This includes forgiving not only those who have offended us, but forgiving ourselves as well.

 I remember an occasion when I asked the Lord to reveal to me if there were anyone in my life whom I had not forgiven. Feeling certain that I had forgiven everyone, I was startled when a young woman came to mind. She had wronged me many years earlier, but I had never even thought of forgiving her. Although I had completely forgotten the incident, I immediately repented of my unforgiveness and asked God to bless her.

5. Do I have a growing love for other people? When we notice an increase in our love for other people, we know we are growing spiritually. Increased love manifests itself in actions. Are we more patient? Do we readily respond with kindness instead of anger? Do we criticize less? How can we say we love God if we don’t love our fellow man (I John 4:20)?

6. Do I have a heightened desire for the spiritual welfare of others? We are growing spiritually when our heart’s cry is to lead others to Christ and to the fullness of the abundant life, no matter what the cost.

Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). We are increasing in spiritual maturity when we are ready to follow the Lord’s leading for each person we meet, knowing that at times we plant, at times we water, and at times we reap. Ridicule and persecution cause us to rejoice because we are sharing in Christ’s suffering.

7. Do I have a greater awareness of sin? We are growing spiritually when we are more sensitive to sin in our lives. What we may have considered harmless a few years or even a few months ago now pricks our conscience. Moreover, we find ourselves grieving deeply at the seriousness of sin’s offense against our Lord.

When I committed my life to Christ, certain activities that had seemed neutral to me suddenly took on a different perspective. As I grew spiritually, I became aware of subtle ways I sinned without even realizing I was sinning.

8. Do I have a greater willingness to obey God in all things? We are growing spiritually when obedience to God becomes a joy instead of a duty. As Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11: 27-28). When our response to God’s call becomes “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42), we know we are making spiritual progress.

Spiritual growth takes time. Just as we would not expect a child to grow up mentally and physically overnight, we should not expect to grow up spiritually overnight. Sometimes our progress may be slow. At other times, it may even seem as though we are regressing. Often it is only with the vantage point of several years that we can look back and realize how much we have actually grown.

Like physical and emotional growth, spiritual growth is sometimes painful. But let’s be encouraged! The Holy Spirit, our instructor, is guiding us and leading us into all truth. We can rejoice, therefore, in the knowledge that each moment, day by day, we are becoming more conformed to the image of Christ.                                                        

Now, it’s YOUR turn: How do you measure your spiritual growth?

TWEETABLE: “Eight Signs of Spiritual Growth” by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio (CLICK TO TWEET)

If you found this post helpful, please forward it to a friend. Thank you! Check our archives in the right sidebar for older posts on a variety of topics. You may also search for a particular topic in the search box at the top right. Some of our most popular posts

How to Recognize a Controlling Spirit

Sex and Soul Ties

How to Make Change Your Ally

Are You Playing the Blame Game?

For additional encouragement, check out my podcasts at the following links:

A Moment with MaryAnn – Podcasts on Living the Good Life

Winning with the Word Podcast Series

Write Your Heart Out! – Podcasts for Writers

NOTE: If you are struggling to know your purpose in life, I can help you! As a highly experienced Certified Life Coach, I will help you set priorities in line with your God-given purpose. For more information or to set up a phone appointment, please send me an email at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com. You’ll be taking a major step toward fulfilling your destiny!

Please tell your family and friends about this blog and please pass this post on to them. Thank you!
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Matters of the Heart is a weekly blog that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart, the issues we all face but sometimes don’t want to talk about. The heart is the programming center of our lives. What is programmed into our heart will affect every area of our lives. Learn how to discover what is in your heart and how to program your heart for success.

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WILL YOU ENDURE TO THE END?

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, Your Virtual Life Coach

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4: 23

During his famous Olivet Discourse, Jesus gave us a powerful and sobering warning: “The one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24: 13).

What does it mean to stand firm to the end? And how can we be sure we do?

If you are paying attention at all to what is happening in our world, you will agree that it is NOT business as usual. Instead, insanity besets us on all sides. Insanity in our thinking. Insanity in our behavior. Insanity in our beliefs. To the follower of Christ, this insanity should not come as a surprise. Rather, it should come as a reminder that the time is short before the return of our Lord.

There is no question we are in the last days. But do you know that the last days, or end times, actually began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the conception of the Church at Pentecost? Since then until now, we have been living in the last days. Despite scoffers who taunt that Christ hasn’t come yet so why should we think He’s coming at all, Scripture tells us that a day with the Lord is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day (2 Peter 3: 8). So, according to Scriptural interpretation, we could say that only two days have passed since the Lord’s prophecies about what would happen in the latter days of earth as we know it.

Jesus warned us that as the time of the end draws closer and closer, the signs of the end would accelerate and converge. Here are His own words in response to the disciples’ questions, as recorded in Matthew 24: 3-14:

“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’

Jesus answered: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.'”

Although these signs have been occurring since the conception of the Church, they are now increasing in frequency and intensity. Moreover, they are occurring simultaneously–a phenomenon called convergence

SIGNS OF THE END

What are these signs of the end times?

–Unusual natural phenomena.
 Earthquakes are increasing in frequency and intensity (Yellowstone National Park, Cascadia Subduction Zone, New Madrid Fault, Italy, Greece, South America, among others). Volcanic eruptions are becoming more frequent and intense (Mt. Aetna, Vesuvius). Unusually violent storms and floods (tsunamis in Asia, increasingly severe hurricanes). The heavens are shaking as meteors fall toward earth and nearly miss striking it. Signs are occurring in the Heavens through which God is speaking to a world that isn’t listening (Blood Moons, Solar Eclipses, and the upcoming September 23, 2017 sign).

–False Messiahs. People who claim to be Jesus Christ (Alan John Miller, Moses Hlongwane and Phetole Selepe in Africa, Jett Simmons).

–Growing Apostasy (falling away from truth). This is occurring in alarming proportions among those who call themselves Christians. Many pastors are preaching a distorted, unbalanced, “warm and fuzzy” Gospel that focuses only on the love and grace of God and not on sin, repentance, and uncompromised obedience to the Word. 

–Increasing tolerance and acceptance of sin and all of its perversions (adultery, fornication, pornography, pedophilia, homosexuality, transgenderism, bestiality). Lawlessness is rampant as people become more and more self-centered, more and more rebellious, more and more depraved. We have only to turn on the news or even look out our windows to see this happening now all around us.

–Increasing Ridicule and hatred toward Christians. Christians and Christianity are being increasingly ridiculed, maligned, and condemned. Hatred and intolerance toward Christians is multiplying geometrically.

–Increasing persecution of Christians (Verbal attacks; legal attacks; physical attacks: beheading, murdering, and torture of Christians). Have you been hated recently for being a Christian? Have you been arrested? Persecuted? Do you know of any brothers and sisters in Christ who have been killed for following Jesus? If none of this has happened to you yet, it will. It is only a matter of time.

A few years ago, a Christian writers’ organization I directed was denied the use of a meeting room in a public library because our organization was “religious.” When finally confronted by a Christian attorney hired by the writers’ organization, the library backed down, claiming that it had given us the wrong information. The truth was that the library had not expected to be confronted by our Christian group and backed down out of fear of adverse publicity.

Today, however, persecution is even more blatant and more brazen. Are you ready to handle it? Have you asked yourself what you would do when persecuted? Not if, but when, for you will surely be persecuted.

Have you asked yourself if you would stand firm in the face of death simply because you follow Christ? This is not far-fetched. Just look at our brothers and sisters who have been beheaded and tortured unto death in foreign countries simply because they loved and followed Jesus.

This could happen to us, too. We think that because we live in the United States, we are immune to persecution. This is a dangerous mindset that could cost us not only our lives but also our eternal salvation.

So, I urge you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, stand firm to the end, no matter what. But in order to do so, you will have to keep yourself strong day by day by fervent fellowship with our Lord. Spend time in His Presence. Read, study, and obey His Word. Pray without ceasing. Fulfill the Great Commission to preach the Gospel wherever you go, healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead. 

Most of all, love! Love God! Love one another! Love your enemies! Bless those who persecute you, for thereby you may snatch precious souls out of the hands of Satan. 

One day, when all is said and done, we long to stand before our Lord and hear Him say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy I have prepared for you!”

But we will hear these words of His only if we endure to the end!

Now, it’s YOUR turn: Have you been persecuted for following Jesus Christ? If so, how? How did you handle the persecution?


TWEETABLE: “Will You Endure to the End?” by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio (CLICK TO TWEET)

If you found this post helpful, please forward it to a friend. Thank you! Check our archives in the right sidebar for older posts on a variety of topics. You may also search for a particular topic in the search box at the top right. Some of our most popular posts

How to Recognize a Controlling Spirit

Sex and Soul Ties

How to Make Change Your Ally

Are You Playing the Blame Game?

For additional encouragement, check out my podcasts at the following links:

A Moment with MaryAnn – Podcasts on Living the Good Life

Winning with the Word Podcast Series

Write Your Heart Out! – Podcasts for Writers

NOTE: If you are struggling to know your purpose in life, I can help you! As a highly experienced Certified Life Coach, I will help you set priorities in line with your God-given purpose. For more information or to set up a phone appointment, please send me an email at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com. You’ll be taking a major step toward fulfilling your destiny!

Please tell your family and friends about this blog and please pass this post on to them. Thank you!
______________________________________________________________
Matters of the Heart is a weekly blog that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart, the issues we all face but sometimes don’t want to talk about. The heart is the programming center of our lives. What is programmed into our heart will affect every area of our lives. Learn how to discover what is in your heart and how to program your heart for success.

AN INVITATION TO YOU: To follow this blog via Facebook, click here. If you are not on Facebook or would prefer to subscribe via a different venue, please check the sidebar to the right for subscription options. Thank you!

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How Free Do You Want to Be? – Week 3

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, Your Virtual Life Coach™

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23

Are you new to this blog? If so, what is the “Matters of the Heart” blog and why will it bless you to read it?

Matters of the Heart is a weekly blog that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart, the issues we all face but sometimes don’t want to talk about. The heart is the programming center of our lives. What is programmed into our heart will affect every area of our lives. Learn how to discover what is in your heart and how to program your heart for success.

AN INVITATION TO YOU: To follow this blog via Facebook, click here. If you are not on Facebook or would prefer to subscribe via a different venue, please check the sidebar to the right for subscription options. Thank you!

And now, on to this week’s post! 🙂

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Welcome to Week 3 in our discussion on freedom!

Last week we learned that all of us who are born again have been given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. We learned that the keys represent authority and power. This week we will explore how to use our keys to enforce God’s rule in the earth.

The Kingdom of God has a King. His name is Jesus Christ.  As King, Jesus rules over the entire universe and everything in it. Psalm 103: 19 says this: The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.  Moreover, God’s Kingdom is eternal, which means it will last forever. Daniel 4: 3 says this: His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.

Many of us live in countries that are ruled by forms of government that do not have a king. Consequently, the concept of “kingdom” may be difficult for us to grasp, especially for those of us who live in a republic or a democracy, where the people have a large say in their governance. Not so in the Kingdom of God.

In the Kingdom of God, Jesus is the King, and those who are part of His Kingdom willingly and gladly obey Him. From this perspective, we see that the Kingdom of God has not only an external aspect (the entire universe), but also an internal one (the hearts of those who are born again). The Kingdom of God reigns in the hearts of those who love and follow Jesus. Jesus told us in John 18: 36 that His Kingdom is not of this world. By this He meant that His Kingdom is a spiritual kingdom that rules in the hearts of those who choose to be its citizens. We saw that one enters the Kingdom of God by being born again–that is, by repenting of one’s sins and accepting Christ as one’s Savior and Lord.

Because we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have been given an assignment to bring others into the Kingdom. Why? Because God loves everyone and does not want a single person to perish. This assignment is called the Great Commission and is described in Mark 16: 15-18:  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

ornate vintage metal key on a white backgroundSince this assignment requires supernatural authority and power to over-rule the natural realm, Jesus gave us this supernatural authority and power so we could complete our assignments. This supernatural authority and supernatural power reside in the keys of the Kingdom.

So, how do we use those keys? To use the keys of the Kingdom effectively as born-again Christ-followers, we must first remember the following:

1-We do not fight FOR victory; we fight FROM victory. By His death and resurrection, Jesus earned the victory over Satan once and for all. The Word tells us in Ephesians 2: 6 that we are seated with Christ in heavenly realms and, therefore, share with Him His victory over Satan.

2-Satan is a DEFEATED foe. He has no power over us unless we give him power by believing his lies.

3-The keys of the Kingdom are designed to establish on earth what is ALREADY established in Heaven. This is the meaning of the words in the Lord’s Prayer: Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven. By using the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, we bring this Kingdom and God’s will into the earth.

Once we understand the above truths, we will use the keys of the Kingdom with confidence. How? We will boldly do what Jesus commanded us to do in the Great Commission.

  • We will preach the Gospel.
  • We will cast out demons.
  • We will be baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues.
  • We will not be harmed if we are attacked by a snake. (See Acts 28: 3-5 where Paul escaped harm after being bitten by a snake.)
  • We will not be hurt if we accidentally drink something poisonous.
  • We will lay hands on the sick, and they will be healed.

As we obey these commands of Christ, we will be enforcing His Kingdom in our sphere of influence; in other words, we will rule with Christ in our domain.

Next week, we will conclude our study on the Keys of the Kingdom by exploring some reasons that we Christ-Followers are not seeing more of Heaven’s blessings manifested in our lives but are still experiencing many of Satan’s curses, such as sickness, lack, and strife.

Now, it’s YOUR turn: Are you using the keys of the Kingdom that Jesus has given you? Are you enforcing the laws of the Kingdom in your assigned domain? If not, what is keeping you from doing so?

TWEETABLE:
 How Free Do You Want to Be? – Week 3 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio (CLICK TO TWEET)

Please tell your family and friends about this blog series and please pass this post on to them. Thank you!

To help you better understand the power and authority you have as an Ambassador of Christ in the Earth, I wrote YOU WERE MADE FOR GREATNESS!. Get your copy now!

greatness-ebook-cover-072516Learn about your power and authority in the Kingdom of God! Discover who you truly are in Jesus Christ!

YOU WERE MADE FOR GREATNESS! by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

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If you missed Part1 and Part 2 of this series, click on the links.

Remember this: You will be as free as you choose to be!

 

If you found this post helpful, please forward it to a friend. Thank you! Check our archives in the right sidebar for older posts on a variety of topics. You may also search for a particular topic in the search box at the top right. Some of our most popular posts are:

Sex and Soul Ties

How to Recognize a Contolling Spirit

Embrace Your Race

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Why You Need a Spiritual Mentor

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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men prayingRecently, my spiritual mentor went home to Heaven. I had just visited her in the hospital two weeks before and was able to pray with her.  Her death evoked both sorrow and joy within my soul.  Sorrow at losing a dear friend and spiritual mother.  Joy at knowing that she is now with her beloved Jesus.

These precious words graced her obituary:  “She served the Lord till the very end.”

And, indeed, she did. Through trial after trial, she remained faithful to God.  Now she is reaping the eternal rewards of her faithfulness.

But not only did she remain faithful to God, she taught me how to do the same. As she discipled me, I grew in wisdom, discernment, and understanding.I grew in love for God and love for others.

How did my spiritual mentor accomplish this? She always pointed me to Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith. The Beginning and the End of all life. The One in Who we live and move and have our being.

My mentor’s influence on my life was transformational. For this reason, I encourage every believer to find a spiritual mentor. Why? Because we all need someone more spiritually mature than we are to help us grow and to hold us accountable.  Someone who will take us under his or her wing and make sure we are walking the straight and narrow. 

What qualities should you look for in a spiritual mentor?  Here are a few I consider very important:

1) A spiritual mentor should have an intimate and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. He or she should be a solid, mature Christian who knows the Word of God and lives it consistently.

2) A spiritual mentor should be a person who is free from the spirit of control.  A spiritual mentor offers advice when asked but does not make your decisions for you. The purpose of a spiritual mentor is to encourage and help strengthen you, not to control you.

3) A spiritual mentor should demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit in his or her life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).

4) A spiritual mentor has had life experiences that will benefit the one being mentored. He or she sees life from an eternal perspective and can help you do so as well

5) A spiritual mentor is willing to give of his or her time to assist in the spiritual growth of a fellow believer. Spiritual mentoring takes time and sacrifice. It takes dying to oneself for the good of another.

If you are struggling in your Christian walk, or if you simply want someone to walk alongside you during the journey, find a spiritual mentor. Here are some ways to do so:

1-Pray that Holy Spirit will lead you to the spiritual mentor of His choice for you.

2-Ask your pastor to recommend a spiritual mentor within your church.  Men should mentor men; women should mentor women. It is not wise for a man to mentor a woman or vice versa, for obvious reasons.

3-Meet with a potential spiritual mentor to determine if you feel comfortable with that person. You will be sharing sensitive personal issues as you grow in the Lord, so you both must feel comfortable being transparent with each other.

The right spiritual mentor for you is a great gift from God. He or she will help you to grow in the Lord in ways you would not have been able to do on your own.  My spiritual mentor did that for me. Now that she has left this earth, it’s time for me to find a new spiritual mentor.

I encourage you to do so, too.  You will be making one of the wisest investments of your life, an investment whose ramifications will affect not only your life but the lives of all those in your circle of influence.

Remember: We are never too big to grow bigger in Christ.

To help you grow in Christ, you may wish to obtain a copy of my ebook, You Were Made for Greatness!  You Were Made for Greatness-def

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If you found this post helpful, please pass it on to someone who can benefit from reading it. Thank you!

If you have any questions, you may contact me as follows:

Email: drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com
Snail Mail: PO Box 1185, Merchantville, NJ 08109
Tel. 609-364-6902

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Copyright 2015 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published or printed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may contact her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com to request permission.

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Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com  or via one of her social media venues below:

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