August 19, 2014

Plant the seed and God makes it grow

On Father’s Day in June, we were given two small tomato plants. I planted them in the same tub, put them in a hot, sunny place, and give them buckets of water. These two little plants are now more than seven feet tall and 3-4 feet across —from a couple of tiny seeds to a bush covered with fruit.

At one point in the ministry of Jesus, He compared the kingdom of God with a grain of mustard seed. It is a small seed, “yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” (Mark 4:30–34)

The key verses for this devotional study speak also of growth saying the church is “the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, (with) Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” growing not into a tree in this metaphor, but “a holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:19–21)

The book of Acts mentions this enormous growth in several places too. Early on, the disciples were speaking to the people when “the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.” (Acts 4:1–4)

God was doing what He said He would do; He was changing those who were called “Not My People” and calling them, “You are my people.” They were responding with, “You are my God. ” (Hosea 2:23) This pointed forward to Gentiles, formerly not God’s people, but He had a plan. As they heard the Gospel, “they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)

The Bible calls this a mystery that the Gentiles became “fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6) even though the Old Testament is full of references to God’s plan of blessing the entire world through Abraham and his offspring. It seemed impossible, but by His grace, the mystery unfolded.

The point is that God build or grows His church. The disciples then and His disciples today have a role; we are to share the good news of Christ’s life, death, resurrection and His offer of justification by faith, but while we plant and water those seeds, it is God who provides the increase. As Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:6–9)

As a Christian, I know I am to tell others about Jesus, but it is God who makes things happen. For me, the bottom line of all of this is not to let my fears, or my sense of inadequacy become a hindrance. Actually, praising God and telling others about Jesus is the easy part — God Himself does the difficult stuff in that He produces results.

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