Posts Tagged 'growth'

2 Corinthians: Excellent Gifts

2 Corinthians: Excellent Gifts

2Ki.4:38-44; 2Cor.8:7-11

This last year, I participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange. I received one gift up front, a very nice pair of scented candles, and a note that’d I’d be receiving something else over time. I appreciated the candles… but I’m CRAZY about the Sock-Of-The-Month club that sends me weird and brightly colored socks! I occasionally light the candle… but I wear socks every day! Which gift do I appreciate?

How Do We Gauge A Good Gift?

We Value a Viewpoint ~ 2Kings 4:38-44

  • 38/41 miracle or mundane: how your view affects your reading of Scripture (I tend to think that this account is miraculous, because why include it otherwise?)
  • 42/44 seems familiar, right? Notice Elisha’s reasoning: “this is what the LORD says” – the prophet doesn’t feed these people/do a miracle because of what *he* thinks; it’s in response to God’s Word: OBEDIENCE ALLOWS MIRACLES TO BE SEEN

We Trust What We Test ~ 2Corinthians 8:7-11

  • 7 we can choose to excel in means of God’s grace (this is huge!) Growth in God’s Grace is EXPECTED
  • 8 Christian love is TESTABLE – we can *learn* about our love for others by testing its attributes (are we generous to all, or just some? What circumstances cause us to give sacrificially, and what others to only give grudgingly? What attributes are shared among those whom we feel compelled to serve? What attributes among those we feel it’s okay to ignore?)
  • 9 grace works well when given, not grasped (cf Phil 2)
  • 10/11 desire to help should be matched by willingness to work

Can you “test everything” on your own? Who helps you administer that testing in your life, and who holds you accountable for results?

Good Gifts are both GRANTED and GROWING

MEMORY VERSE: I Thessalonians 5:21: “Test everything. Hold on to the good.”

Learn to Discern: Growing In God’s Will

Learn to Discern: Growing In God’s Will Sermon Audio Here

John 3:27-36

We all know Jesus was a carpenter’s son. And we certainly know that He was an itinerant rabbi. But do you remember His very first recorded parable? Was it about wood? Craftsmanship? Was it about travel or teaching? Nope. Jesus’ first parable was about SOIL. He knew His listeners would be concerned with growth!

We Can’t Grow in God’s Will Unless We

Know Growth Comes From God ~ John 3:27-30

  • 27 spiritual gifts come from God; no other source. We don’t CREATE our own SEEDS
  • 28 I’m not God: we are Sent to Represent
  • 29 attends the Bridegroom: John t.Bap. is the “best man/M.C. of the day” point to Jesus’ love for the Bride
  • 30 John’s explanation to his own disciples is a MODEL for how we, as followers of Jesus, are to live: HE is to increase in us; we are to DECREASE. Our very SELF is to become less and less important as we become more like Christ.
=> imagine you’ve been given a piece of land to garden; what to do first? REMOVE what you DON’T WANT (rusted car bodies, big rocks, weeds) We get rid of the negatives, so the positives can grow

Care About Our Condition ~ John 3:31-36
(We’re BARREN!)

  • 31 stuck with earthly perspective (we can’t see like God sees)
  • 32/33 God gives us the truth, but it’s not always accepted (because of our “earthly” vision)
  • 34/35 gives the Spirit without limit TO JESUS; when John taught this, the Spirit didn’t indwell anyone yet
  • 36 “will not SEE life FOR”= replace FOR with INDEED; one state (God’s wrathfulness) follows another (willful blindness leads to righteous indignation)

Isaiah 61:11~ For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.

We are the MEANS by which God grows His righteousness and praise for the world to see. Like Adam, we are DIRT; are you going to be rich fertile soil, or dry and barren dust?

The Gospel Challenge ~ Use GMO Seed

The Gospel Challenge ~ Use GMO Seed Sermon Audio Here


Mark 4:26-34

Concerning agriculture, there is controversy over GMO seed, especially among those who don’t know much about it. I find it interesting that the same conditions give rise to controversy about the Gospel; when people don’t know much about it, they’re more likely to have wrong conclusions. Jesus taught about the use of seed as a way of describing how the Kingdom of God works.

The Kingdom of God Is Like

A Growing Seed
Mark 4:26-29

  • v26/27 understanding of HOW God gives growth isn’t required
  • v28 growth is a process; it takes time
  • v29 growth has a purpose; it meets a need

A Mustard Seed
Mark 4:30-31

  • v31 Salvadora persica (Middle Eastern variety); 1/16” -> 10′
  • growth isn’t dependent upon impressive starting conditions

An Observable Sequence
Mark 4:32-34

  • v32 look to provide environment of protection
  • – followers of God protect the oppressed, not put down
  • v33 put in the work to understand the Gospel
  • – we aren’t supposed to coast; we WORK for the King

v34 listen to Jesus for explanation – We don’t always get the answers we want, but since the Lord DOES know what He’s doing, we might learn something if we listen for the still small voice of God


Pastor Ed Backell

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