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Summary: A New Years sermon that focuses on the early life of Jesus. All of us ought to grow in wisdom, statue and favor with God and people.

A YEAR OF GROWTH

Scott Bayles, pastor

Blooming Grove Christian Church: 12/29/2013

Another Christmas has come and gone. Perhaps, the tree is still up, but it looks mighty empty underneath. All that’s left of the turkey is a bare skeleton. Trash bags stuffed with wrapping paper line the streets. Visiting family members have returned home. The excitement of Christmas built for weeks to a crescendo … and then it’s over.

The story of the first Christmas is a lot like that. The weeks and months leading up to Jesus’ birth were bustling with activity—the angel’s appearance, the wedding arrangements, the census, the Journey to Bethlehem, the birth of the King, the shepherds preaching, the Magi praising. Eight days later, baby Jesus is presented at the temple where Simeon and Anna both praise his arrival. But then… nothing.

From that day forward, until Jesus begins his messianic ministry, the Scriptures are all but silent. Aside from the enchanting tale of Mary and Joseph losing Jesus at the temple, thirty years of our Lord’s life are reduced to a single sentence. But it’s an insightful sentence.

The Bible sums up the most important life ever lived like this: “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people” (Luke 2:52 NLT).

Jesus grew. I don’t know about you, but I need to do some growing too. So I’ve decided to use this verse as framework for the areas I want to grow in this year. And I want to encourage you to do the same. In this single sentence, Jesus provides us with a four-fold example of how to make each year a year of growth.

First, the Bible says Jesus grew intellectually.

• WISDOM

That is, Jesus grew in wisdom. It’s clear from the story of young Jesus at the temple, that he loved learning. The Bible says that when his parents finally found him in the temple he was “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:46 NIV). What amazes me is that Jesus, who authored our DNA and scattered the constellations, needed to grow in wisdom. But the Bible tells us, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges… and was born as a human being” (Philippians 2:6 NLT).

Even though Jesus was omniscient to begin with, he surrendered much of his knowledge and wisdom when he became human. He inherited our limitations. He reminds me of the little boy that asked his mom, “Where did I get my intelligence from?” She replied, “I guess you got it from your father because I still have mine!”

Jesus got his wisdom from his Father, that’s for sure. That Jesus continued to grow in wisdom, reminds us that no matter how old we get or how educated we think we are, we should never stop learning and growing. And it’s important to remember that knowledge and wisdom are not synonymous; rather wisdom is the application of knowledge and it’s often learned through experience. Mark Twain said, “We should be careful to take from an experience only the wisdom that is in it.”

Apparently, some children followed Mark Twain’s advice, because I found some nuggets of wisdom collected from various children and their experiences. Patrick aged 10: “Never trust a dog to watch your food.” Michael aged 14: “When your dad asks, ‘Do I look stupid to you?’ don't answer him.” Taylia aged 11: “When your mum is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair.” Michael aged 14: "Never tell your mum her diet's not working."

Hopefully, we all learn from our experiences, but I’ve decided to commit to one concrete means of growing in wisdom—reading through the book of Proverbs. The Book of Proverbs opens with these words: “These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise” (Proverbs 1:1-2 NLT).

Ultimately all wisdom comes from God, so if we want to grow in wisdom we need to turn to God’s Word and listen carefully what he tells us. So I hope you’ll join me in that pursuit this year. But Jesus not only grew in wisdom. He also grew in stature.

• STATURE

Or as another translation puts it: “Jesus…grew physically.” Now, most of us are done growing physically, but that doesn’t mean we’re done growing physically. Between Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas I’ve gained ten pounds in two months. I’m going to have to work that off now that the holidays have passed.

I’m sure I’m not alone here. Surveys show that some of the most common New Year’s Resolutions are losing weight, going to the gym, eating healthier foods, quitting smoking, and giving up alcohol, etc.

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