Core Value: Grow

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Introduction:

Connie Borth, Grow Pastor at Medford First Church of the Nazarene
Children’s, Youth, Adult Discipleship Ministry Teams

Love doing what I get to do:
Watching new families connect to the church
Helping people engage with scripture for the first time
Seeing people become more and more like Jesus

I love it so much because of this truth:

 

– God CREATED us to grow.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 1:27-28

We were made to grow!

God didn’t just create us to grow numerically but in other ways too.

We find this in Jesus.

JESUS grew.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Luke 2:52

When God took on flesh, when Jesus came He didn’t come as a full-grown man.

He came as a infant that needed to grow.

Jesus grew in all ways we were created to grow in:

In wisdom – Jesus grew mentally (which is crazy to think about)

In stature – Jesus grew physically (he understood adolescent awkwardness)

In favor with God – Grew in obedience and love for God the Father

In favor with Man – Grew in integrity and influence with others

God created us to grow – Jesus grew – and

– God EXPECTS us to grow.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 3:18

God loves each of us right where we are.

But God loves each of us too much to leave us right where we are.

Grace and forgiveness are available to each one of us.

Grace says we don’t have to clean our act up or be good enough before we are accepted into God’s family.

Grace and forgiveness is a gift that comes with a new start.

As we decide to receive the gift of grace we are brought from death to life.

We are reborn with new life in Christ.

Just like a baby that is born is expected to grow and mature.

Those made new in Christ mature and grow.

God expects us to grow, and not stop growing.

The goal of the Christian life is to

grow to become like Jesus.

The goal of the Christian life isn’t just to get to heaven someday.

It’s to be made new and to grow to become more like Jesus today.

God created us to grow.

Jesus grew.

God expects us to grow.

But how?

How do I get there?

How do I grow to become more like Jesus?

In John 15, Jesus talks about this, he uses the image of a vine to teach us.

HOW DO I GROW TO BECOME MORE LIKE JESUS?

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

John 15:1-2

Jesus gives us this image of a vine.

In our day grape vines grow in vineyards in rows

In Jesus’ day the vines would grow in bunches on the ground

The vinedresser would frequently come along

Cut off the branches bearing no fruit – suck the life out of the plant

Prune back the ones that did bear fruit so it could produce greater results in the next season

Great care taken by the gardener.

The gardener expected fruit.

When our character grows into Christ-likeness we see this fruit in our lives:

Love – we grow from loving those who love us

and grow into loving enemies

Joy – we grow from being happy when things are going well

And grow into having optimism when things aren’t going well

Peace – we grow from experiencing God’s peace when you loose a job

And grow into experiencing God’s peace when you loose a child

Patience – we grow from learning to remain calm in traffic

And grow into remaining calm while caring for an aging parent

Kindness – we grow from being kind to those who are kind to us

And grow into being kind to those who gossip about us

Goodness – we grow from doing what is right under our parents roof

And grow into doing what is right as we go off to college

Faithfulness – we grow from keeping your word when there’s nothing to loose

And grow into keeping your word when there’s everything to loose

Gentleness – we grow from talking nice in public

And grow into disciplining our kids in gentle yet firm ways

Self-Control – we grow from controlling our anger sometimes

And grow into loving at all times

There is some really good fruit God longs to see in our lives.

He expects to see it, just like a gardener expects to see its crop bear fruit.

God continually calls us to cut out the things in our life

that suck the life out of us so we can grow.

Things like: insecurity, pride, anger, unforgiveness, jealousy

Which make us: fearful, resentful, and bitter

The gardener knows there is no life found there

And works with us to cut the dead things out of our lives

He also prunes us during seasons and circumstances in life.

So we can grow to become more like Jesus.

For me, just when I think I’ve grown in humility.

In walks a person, a season, or circumstance that challenges me to grow even more.

And I can choose what to do with that.

Growth will only happen when I stay rooted in Jesus.

This is exactly what Jesus urges his followers.

Stay rooted in Me.

STAY rooted in Jesus.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:4-5

 

Have you ever tried to muster up the strength to try harder, do better, or be good enough?

That can be really exhausting!

Jesus speaks against this “growth by works” mentality.

He says stay rooted in Me, let Me produce within you the character of Christ

How do you grow to become more like Jesus?

You spend time connected to him, He is the source of life.

This happened just this past week in my life.

I was sitting with a group of people who were talking bad about people I love.

It was hard to listen to.

Just that morning I had spend time in scripture, where I read Proverbs 17:14 “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out”

I had journaled this prayer: Let my words be a refreshing stream instead of a violent waterfall.

In that moment, the Holy Spirit was nudging me to remember what I had just read that morning.

Because I was connecting to Jesus that morning

I was rooting myself in Him.

I was able to grow.

Remain in me and you will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.

  

– Don’t STRAY from Jesus.

If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:6

When a branch connected to the vine faces pressure it bends but doesn’t break.

There’s a flow of life to sustain the storm that branch faces.

When a branch is disconnected from the vine, it withers, it is easily broken.

 

When we stray from Jesus our spirit withers.

When we stray from Jesus our character withers.

When we choose to stray from Jesus our faith withers.

Straying from Jesus is this picture of a withered up branch.

Our souls are dry as kindling.

There’s no life.

How do we grow to become like Jesus?

Don’t stray from Jesus,

Stay rooted in Jesus – its there we find life, it’s there we grow.

GROW fruit of Jesus.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:7-8

We can read this and think if I stay rooted in Jesus that means I’ll get whatever I want.  It says ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.

This passage isn’t saying follow Jesus, ask for a million dollars and you will get it.

The point here is as you stay connected to Jesus.

As you so align yourself with Christ the source of all life.

You will begin to want and desire the things that God wants.

You will begin to ask for whatever is in line with becoming like Christ.

You will begin to grow into the will of Jesus.

And God will not deny you the ability to grow to become more like Christ.

CONCLUSION:

God created us to grow.

God expects us to grow. Just like a gardener expects their crop to grow.

The goal of the Christian life is to grow to become like Jesus.

Growth isn’t about what we do.

Growth is about where we position ourselves.

When I position my life rooted in Christ, I’ll grow.

So what steps can I take to stay positioned and rooted in Christ?

STEPS TO SAYING ROOTED

  1. Personally DRAW from the source.

– Engage daily with scripture and prayer

Tip:

  1. SUBMIT to pruning.

– Attend services regularly to be challenged and changed

  1. HANG AROUND other branches.

– Get connected to a group

  1. GIVE the fruit away.

– Give time and resources to others

All In
All In
All In