Paul addressed divisions in the church in Corinth and in the process he describes quite well how God provides the increase in His church. Paul’s demonstrating what can and should happen when people are unified in purpose. Paul said, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants or waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:5-7 ESV).
Paul says that he who plants and he who waters are one, and each receives his own reward for the work they did. When we look at the very early church after Christ ascended, it grew quite rapidly. The church today is still in a fast decline and we could easily model what the early disciples did to plant and water. Afterall, God is still the one who gives the growth. The early disciples did not have a goal of reaching masses. In fact, they often traveled to small towns and villages to preach. But they still planted and watered. And God gave the growth.
This message is very important for us as families, because we can (and should) work together to plant and water. Our theme this quarter is God and family. There’s no better way to connect to God than to work together to bring people closer to God. There are ample opportunities to do so too. If we really believe that it is God, not us, who provides the growth then we will easily share the Good News with people and see what God does with that!
Diets are important. What we consume is what fuels us. We will either be productive or we won’t. We will lie in bed for the day or we will get up and get working. Jesus referred to himself as both the bread of life and the living water. He is the vine; we are the branches. The branches cannot live without the vine.
So what is our steady diet? Are we feeding on Jesus every day? Do we have a steady diet of scripture or do we consume junk “food?” Paul had this to say to Timothy: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:1-2 ESV). Paul told Timothy in an earlier letter to immerse himself in the scriptures: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. . . Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. . . Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:13, 15, 16).
Paul prescribed Timothy a steady diet of the Scriptures. He wasn’t just to read Scripture, he was to practice them. This was a daily discipline. Christians weren’t to “find time;” living the Scriptures was their time. Everything they lived and breathed was to be rooted in the Word. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it sure does mean improvement.
Living on a steady diet of the Word requires a plan. It requires us to think through how we become productive. It’s a vital part of being Christian. Living the Word daily is important to our salvation.
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Paul was a vocational evangelist. He was a tent maker by trade. He often told churches that he intentionally did not seek financial support from them, lest they come back and say he was “robbing” them. Paul worked very hard in everything he did. And he also gave. He gave of his time, money, and heart.
When he was on the beach at Miletus with the Ephesian elders, Paul said, “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20: 35 ESV).
There is an old adage: “You get back what you put in.” This is true of life. The person who works hard gets promoted. The one who gives of her time, money, and energy reaps a crop of righteousness. This doesn’t mean that those who give will be materially wealthy. But it does mean that those blessings will spread and endure. Others will be blessed. Kingdom work will be blessed. The poor will be provided for. They’ll be fed and clothed. The injured will have their wounds dressed and will find healing.
But we have to be willing to give. When we have the means to give, we should be extremely generous. Ultimately, we need to be willing to lay down our lives for others. We need to be giving of our talents, our tithes, and our time. Let’s challenge ourselves to give more and see how God blesses!
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