Summary: The church like all living things has been created to grow
Stopping Stagnant Growth
August 6, 2006
Would you rather be a tumbleweed or an oak in your influence on others? That’s the question posed by Galen Anderson, who wrote, "A man’s life is like either the tumbleweed or the oak tree. Some people just grow like the weed. They are of no value in their youth, and as the years of life come they break loose and become a blotch on society. They have no useful purpose in life -- just drifters. Their loved ones will mourn their loss, but society will not miss them. Then there are those whose lives are like the oak. They have turned from the frivolity of this life and have invested in things that have genuine worth. Their influence for good will live on in the lives of others after they are gone. Their death is noticed because their lives were spent bettering the nation and the community. They will be missed.
Life has a dynamic need for growth. Living things must grow in order to thrive and mature. Where there is no growth there is nothing but drifting. Think about all of the various things in nature that require growth
Babies must grow to reach maturity. Can you even imagine a bay that would not be able to grow?
Plants have to sprout from seeds and grow to produce flowers, trees, fruits and vegetables. Would there be any point in planting seeds if they never grew?
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 He who has ears, let him hear." Matthew 13:1-9
Look closely at what Jesus says here. He is searching for good soil to place the seed of His word, the seed of His power and the seed of His provision. The question remains is this: If the church is meant to grow, what is keeping us from growing?
The spiritual soil of the church has become polluted, making it difficult for growth.
Rocks of hardened hearts, concrete attitudes and unsurrendered lives
Weeds of complaining and disobedience work their way up and into our lives
Thorns of prayerlessness, negative attitudes and selfishness choke the life right out of the church.
Six Thorns in our Spiritual Soil
1. Ignoring God
He who has ears, let him hear
Jesus was encountering a major road block to His ministry and message. The people were literally ignoring Him. Our church is experiencing the same problem today, people are ignoring Jesus.
What am I talking about?
When you are prompted to come to the altar and you refuse to move from your seat – you are ignoring Him
When God speaks to your heart telling you to give and you don’t - you are ignoring Him
When God tells you to testify and you remain silent – you are ignoring Him
Ignoring God is a dangerous business because His direction is the only thing that you can count on in life. When you ignore him you lose that direction.
27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you." 28 He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."
When you make the choice to do the opposite of what God wants you to do it is disobedience. Obedience is a choice that you and I make on a daily basis. It part and parcel with our walking with God. You cannot walk with God if you walk in disobedience.
Elisabeth Elliot, at Urbana 76, told of her brother Thomas Howard. Their mother let him play with paper bags she’d saved if he put them away afterwards. One day she walked into the kitchen to find them strewn all over the floor. Tom was out at the piano with his father singing hymns. When confronted, he protested, "But Mom, I want to sing." His father stated, "It’s no good singing God’s praise if you’re disobedient."