Summary: A life lived fully for the Lord will never be in vain.
The Practice of Growing
Rev. Brian Bill
January 2-3, 2016
I was so pumped about our Christmas Eve services that I arrived early and parked on the grass on our new property to make sure we had enough spaces available for our guests. When I drove in I stayed to the right like I was supposed to but then decided to hang a left. When I did I felt my front left tire begin to sink. I did what any cautious person would do and accelerated, thinking I could drive through the water-logged bog. Not a good plan. My right tire, not wanting to be left out, joined in the fun and sunk as well.
Since I was raised in the frozen tundra I decided to rock the car back and forth like you do when stuck in snow, putting it in drive and then in reverse. It didn’t work so well. I was going nowhere fast. I had created deep ruts and there was no way out.
I looked around to make sure no one was watching and headed to the building. I realized I couldn’t do anything about it so decided to leave my car until after the services were over. As some of our servants started arriving, I noticed a number were grinning at me. I thought they were just excited for the service. But then someone high fived me and complimented me on my park job and I knew the word was out.
I then saw one of our burly guys serving in the parking lot and discreetly handed him my key, begging him for help and asking him to keep it quiet. He smiled and said, “Sure thing!” It didn’t take long for the picture to be posted on Facebook with its own hash tag - #becarefulparking.
I was in a tough spot. I was stuck and was spinning my wheels. I couldn’t go forward or backward. I had created deep divots that were threatening to capsize my Cobalt. I was in a rut and there was no way out.
Do you feel a bit like that? Are you stuck in a rut? Just spinning your wheels? Are you embarrassed by your efforts, hoping no one will notice the situation you’re in?
Last weekend pastor Dan took us to 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 where we were reminded that most people live mediocre lives. Instead, we’re called to be motivated, to sacrifice, to stay focused and to live with discipline.
During the month of January, we’re going to focus on our second key value of our 4Gs – Gather, Grow, Give and Go. Today our title is “The Practice of Growing” from 1 Corinthians 15:58. Next week, we’ll look at “The Paradox of Growing.” In two weeks we’ll celebrate the sanctity of life from Exodus 1-2 in a message entitled, “The Posture of Growing.” The following week I’ll be out in California to visit two of our Go Team partners – John and Tiffany Markum with Life City Church in San Jose and Manuel and Kim Contreras in Fresno. Pastor Tim will be preaching on “The Purpose of Growing” and the following week on the “The Process of Growing.”
Let’s stand and slowly read our passage together. I’ll read it first so you can pick up on the pauses. 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
We’re going to honor God’s Word by walking through this verse phrase-by-phrase. I spoke on this passage at the Appreciation Banquet for Pregnancy Resources last month and will be using the same outline. As we unpack this gift from God, I pray that you will be encouraged and motivated to continue your selfless service for our Savior in 2016.
The word “therefore” refers to all that is written in 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul spends 57 verses dealing with the reality of the resurrection and the certainty of our salvation. Just one verse earlier he says, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And the very first verse of chapter 15 introduces his argument: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand.” He carefully defines the gospel and now at the end of the chapter he describes what gospel-centered living looks like.
Doctrinal declarations always lead to dutiful directives. Or to say it another way, we rise up and serve because Jesus rose from the grave. If Jesus was not resurrected, then nothing in life really matters. We see that in verse 14: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” But since He did conquer death, Satan and sin, then serving Him matters more than anything else. Belief must always affect our behavior; and our behavior is based on that which we believe.