Free to Grow

Free in Christ! 

Free to Grow

Sunday, May 22, 2022

 

 

Welcome! How many of you have been actively gardening either flowers or veggies? 

Is it your desire and great joy to have those plants remain the little sprouts they are, never to multiply, grow and produce the beautiful flowers or delicious vegetables? Do you look at those little plants and think, there perfection, I hope they stay exactly as they are. 

If you’re like me, I doubt that is what you’re thinking. There is great satisfaction no doubt to get your little plants into your pots and garden beds and I do have joy looking out at them each day, but that joy is in with anticipation for what is to come! 

I am fully expecting those plants to grow deep roots, to grow taller, stronger stems with many shoots forming, and for each plant to fully mature and bloom as it was designed to. I can see it in my mind and it brings me joy as I wait. 

But I can’t just wait and do nothing can I? Not if I want those results.

I have to be actively involved to help their growth and development. First, we have to start with good soil that has all the nutrients needed to help those roots take hold and give a rich foundation for the plants to grow in. If you need some of that richness come see us, we have plenty thanks to all our bunnies. Then I make sure to give them all a good start with some Miracle Grow and water and I do that throughout the summer to help them reach their maturity. Then we have to watch out for the harsh elements-strong winds, hot, hot sun that might dry them out or even sometimes a drastic dip to dangerously cold temps at night. If we don’t care for them, they could get frozen or wither up and die. We also have to know where the plants thrive in full sun, partial sun, or all shade.

And of course, those weeds we don’t want, seem to spring up no matter what we do, so if we want our good plants to flourish, we have to be diligent to remove the weeds throughout the summer or they will surely choke out our plants. 

It’s a process isn’t it and there are many factors involved with our plants reaching maturity. Much of this won’t be realized for weeks yet, if not months in some cases.

Yet for those who enjoy gardening, it is well worth the time, effort, and diligence on our part.

Watching the growth is part of the joy, isn’t it? Seeing where they start and what they grow into is very satisfying. 

 

So it is with the Master Gardener, our Heavenly Father who watches over each of us.

When we begin there is simply a seed of faith planted in our hearts and He is overjoyed to be able to plant that seed. It is never His intent to keep that seed in that state because unless that seed germinates, the beauty within will never be realized.

As God plants that seed in our hearts, He already sees the fullness of who we become with Christ in us. He sees the glorious transformation that occurs as we take on His likeness. He sees how His entire Body is growing and developing, which in turn is bringing forth His kingdom established in love, truth, and peace. It’s a wonder to behold and brings our Father great satisfaction!

In our journey He will provide good soil for the seed to take root and have a firm foundation to grow in, that is His Word that is Truth. He will water the seed and plant as it grows, that is the Living Water of Jesus Christ that is flowing within us through His Holy Spirit. He will provide every good nutrient to help us grow and mature to the fullness of Christ, that is through His Rhema-His spoken Word to our hearts as we pray and listen for His counsel. He will also prune away the weeds that clutter our hearts, to make way for His Truth to grow all the more inside of us and our faith to expand. He will provide shelter from the elements so we can grow strong-that is the Church He places us within. He equips us in every way to grow and evolve in Christ, to reach maturity in our walk and as the Body of Christ.

This is a free gift from our Father who loves us and desires for us to live life abundantly, to the fullest, in Christ. 

We have a part in this growing process too. He provides all we need and every good condition to help us grow and mature. We, in turn, must act with diligence, eagerness, and faithfulness to receive all His good gifts and apply them in our lives. This is to our great gain! This is for our great fulfillment and peace. 

The Apostle Peter teaches about this in his second letter. He calls us to look forward to the great promise of what is coming for all who are faithful, to be patient in the waiting, to be willing workers to serve as His kingdom grows, to stay on guard in our faith by staying near Him and His Body, to know His truth and He gives us all a charge.

It is probably similar to what every gardener does with all the plants put into soil saying something like, “now you take hold, grow big and strong and blossom in every way you were created to.”

This is the heart of our Father for us as well. Grow big and strong in your faith. Grow in your knowledge. Grow in your understanding. Grow in grace. Grow in love. Grow to the fullness of Christ in you

Let’s listen with fresh ears today and a responsive heart to this freedom we have to grow in Christ! May we choose and commit to flourish and become all God desires us to become, in Christ. 

                                                                  2 Peter 3: 13-18 NASB                                                                    

13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found spotless and blameless by Him, at peace, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which there are some things that are hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried aknway by the error of unscrupulous people and lose your own firm commitment, 18 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.

  • In Truth    

Our freedom to grow in Christ begins with our growing in truth and understanding. 

We have this incredible gift of God’s Word at our disposal wherever we are. As you read it often, it becomes sealed within you. The Holy Spirit, as the river of life, bubbles up inside of you reminding you of truth to be your guide, to encourage you, and to calm you, whatever your current need is. 

Therefore, it is so important to read His Word and know His promises, His truth, and His ways. It is our daily bread, our life source.  It is a lamp unto our feet. If we don’t read His Word, we won’t know His truth and we will be swayed by the shifting winds, we will be influenced by media or others around us, and more than likely we will become anxious, afraid, angry or without hope.                                      

Peter speaks to this in 2 Peter 3. He is giving a warning that there are people, in his day and still in ours, who are untaught regarding the Word or unstable and therefore do not speak it accurately. There are people who will use Scripture to serve their own agendas or justify their desires, who will twist it to lure people away from sound teaching. Notice the end result as people do that, to their own destruction. If we mishandle God’s Word, it will not be beneficial to us and it certainly won’t glorify God or further His kingdom. If we don’t know God’s Word, we can be lured away by false truths. Growing in truth is to our great protection and joy.

Look at the Apostle Paul’s prayer: 

Philippians 1: 9-10 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,       

This means for us to gain the right understanding, why? So we can discern what is best and remain pure and blameless-meaning remain pure in heart and true to God’s Word.          

2 Timothy 2:15 NASB 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

Like our gardening requires much diligence to produce a harvest, so we must be diligent in pursuing Truth, gaining understanding, and having His truth sealed in our hearts. It is to our great gain to do so! This is where freedom lies!

God always sees our diligence and faithfulness. He will reward and bless us far greater than any effort we put forth. His reward will always be greater! 

Peter teaches in his first letter in chapter 2

1 Peter 2:2-3 NIV   Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvationnow that you have tasted that the Lord is good

This is our theme and focus this year to Taste and See the Lord is Good. His goodness is found in truly understanding the freedoms we have in Christ and the joy we gain as we put forth the effort to know Him more. 

Ways we do that are to desire to know Him more, to ask Him to reveal Himself more and more to you, to give you greater understanding as you read His Word, to open your mind and heart, then to make time to get in His Word and ponder it. We grow as we talk about His Word, here in worship and in smaller groups, at home, one on one as we visit and encourage one another. Discussing His Word helps us grow in our understanding. 

You know when you faithfully come and let His Truth be imparted to you, as you take time to be quiet with your God and take in His Word, when you meet with friends who are believers and you talk about His Truth applied in your lives, you know you are richly blessed for it.  It’s worth our time and energy.

He is such a generous God that desires to share all He is with us, as we seek Him. 

  • In Grace  

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace overflow to you, so that, always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 

I read in an article that “freedom in Christ is not the right to do what we want, it’s the ability to do what we ought.” 

This is God’s grace given to us. 

God will never call us to do or be anything that He won’t provide the grace we need first, to accomplish all that He asks of us. We have to trust in this. We can ask for more and more grace for He is infinite in His grace and lavishes grace upon us as we turn towards Him. 

If you lack understanding in His Word, simply ask Him for understanding. Ask Him to grant you revelation knowledge and as you earnestly pursue to know Him more, He will give you a greater and greater understanding. 

If you lack courage, then ask Him for it to help you do what He has laid on your heart. 

If you lack resources, then ask our gracious God to provide you with resources to do what He’s called you to do. 

If you lack motivation, then ask God through His grace to instill motivation within your heart a burning desire to do what He has placed within you. 

If you don’t think you measure up or are qualified, then welcome to the club “Only By God’s Grace”, I’m not only a member, I’m the president! (This is a joke referring to a commercial’s tag line from several years back.)

The Apostle Paul knew this and gave all glory to God for what he was able to do in his lifetime. 

1 Corinthians 15:10 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

By the grace of God, I am what I am.  Amen! 

Paul was saying look I gave all of who I am to this purpose but it wasn’t because of anything I did on my own or could do on my own. It was solely because the grace of God equipped him to do everything he did. How his life ended and what he would be remembered for was all by the grace of God at work in him and through him.  He was completely changed by the grace of God.  

We can all live out what God called us to do by His grace and we can be pleased with the end result. 

I am so thankful for His grace. I look back on the last seven years and I am in awe at the grace God has given me.

But the thing is I received His grace and asked for more. I would not be doing all the amazing things I am doing now without His grace. I am thankful there isn’t a limited supply of grace given to me, that I can keep coming to the source of all grace and ask for more and He freely gives it. I am thankful that as I learn of His grace in my life, I can be an extension of His grace to others. This is when the gift multiplies and grows into bigger gardens that are beautiful to look upon. 

This is our Father’s great desire that we should be filled up with His grace and extend that grace freely to one another. A free flow of grace given and received.                                                

 

Ephesians 4:15 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

This is God’s great desires-for His Church to step fully into the power we hold with Christ in us and walk in that power to bring glory to His great name and to build His kingdom of peace. 

As we grow in truth and grace and begin walking in that more and more, the natural result will be an increase in our faith. God is ever faithful to His promises and not one Word falls to the ground without accomplishing that which it was sent for. As we know His Word and apply His Word in our lives, we prove Him true and thus grow our faith.  

                                                                 

  • In Faith                                                                                             

Romans 10:17 17 So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.    

The only way to grow our faith is to hear the Word of God, that is truth. But we must also know to simply hearing His Word isn’t enough. 

James 1:22 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

 

We must apply His Word in our lives and be changed by it. If we simply come here and listen to His Word preached but leave it here and never let it enter our hearts, never think about it, and never act on it, then it does us no good. God’s Word is alive and active, cutting between soul and spirit, joint and marrow and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. It is meant to change us and transform us so we must do what the Word says so we might grow into the fullness of Christ and increase our faith as we do. If you don’t ever test God’s Word-meaning apply it in your lives, you will never know if His promises are true.

But when you do, you know full well they are true and this is how we build our faith! 

 

To fully embrace our freedom to grow in Christ, we must determine to choose faith over fear, over our circumstances, over our limited resources, over our hurts and disappointments…we choose faith in God. 

 2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight—      

 

How many of you are grateful for the growth you have had thus far in your knowledge, understanding, and faith in Jesus Christ? How many want to keep growing knowing in this life, we will never run out of capacity to grow? This is what makes life an exciting adventure. This is what will produce the beautiful garden that is our life.  Can you see your garden in full bloom?                                                                                                                                    

 

Conclusion:  In Christ, we are not only saved from our sin, we are free to grow in the likeness of Him. May we heed Peter’s counsel and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus so we may reach the fullness of Christ in us. THIS is living life abundant in Christ. This is how we taste and see the Lord is good. 

Let’s pray: Father God we thank You for Your amazing love, Your grace upon grace freely given to us as we seek You, for Your promises that are true, for Your Word that is a lamp unto our feet and for Your Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and understanding. Help to see all of these things all of who You are as precious gifts in our life, helping us reach the fullness of Christ in us. Help us to seek You with all our heart. Help us to hunger for greater truth and understanding of Your ways. Help us to grow in grace and understanding that we might live life more abundantly in the ways You desire for us Lord. Thank You for the freedom we have in Christ. Reveal to us more and more what that freedom means and how we apply it in our daily lives. Thank You Jesus. In Your name we pray. Amen. 

 

Final Blessing: 2 Peter 3;18 (May you) 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.

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