What I am today is not what I will be tomorrow and not what I was yesterday. Why? In His good grace, God is at work in my life, and the seed of faith that was planted all those years ago continues to grow in my heart and in my life. It is for that reason that sometimes it seems like I am on a journey through life with an ‘L’ plate on my back – I am still learning, still growing. That’s the thing about God. There is always so much more we can learn, so many ways in which we might go deeper with God.
I think it is a very healthy exercise to examine ourselves and take a look at our life and faith and ask, “have we grown in our faith in the last 6 months, the last year, the last 5 years?” If the answer is yes, then praise the Lord. If the answer is no, other questions come to mind like, “what is inhibiting or stifling our growth in the Lord?”, or “what are we going to do about it?” One way in which we can grow in our faith is by reading the Bible. It may well be that you find it difficult to set a routine of reading the Bible through the week. It may well be that you find it quite daunting to read the Bible and don’t know where to start. If that applies to you, by all means have a chat with me and I will gladly suggest some resources that you can use which include something like a thought for the day message on a particular passage. It is by engaging with the Bible that we can get to know God, learn about salvation history and his plan and purpose for us today, and seek to apply that wisdom in our lives. Another way we can grow is through prayer. People often seem to struggle with prayer, but I would like to invite you to think about prayer as a conversation, a conversation you might have with your best friend. The important thing is that we come before God just as we are, knowing that he delights in being in fellowship with us. He really wants to hear from you!
I would like to suggest though that reading the Bible or prayer should become as natural as breathing for us, that they become part of our ‘being’ and not our ‘doing’. The reason why is because ultimately it is God who does the doing, God who brings the growth, often in ways that we don’t necessarily expect – we simply have to be faithful and follow Christ. The kingdom of God is something that suffuses through our very being. It is through our spiritual growth, which is so often a mystery to us, that we journey to a place of harvest – when we use the gifts of the Spirit that we are blessed with – our time, our talents and our resources – that we begin to see the fruit that is born from them, and what a harvest that is. It is in that harvest that we see the extent to which we are a new creation.
If these are things that you need encouragement with, by all means consider getting involved in a housegroup or homegroup. If you have loads of questions about faith that you would love to know the answer to, we can easily organise an Alpha course or Start! course. There is something for everyone, wherever you may be in your faith journey and it is a joy to learn and share together.
If we engage in sowing seeds in the life of others, all we have to do is to be faithful in sowing those seeds. We trust God that the seed might grow because anyone who truly believes is drawn by God himself. We sow the seed, trust God, and wait and look for signs of life. We may plant the seed of faith by our witness; it is God alone who makes it germinate, sprout, and blossom. So we need to faithfully minister to others and trust God for the growth. It is good to ask ourselves how do we sow seeds in the lives of the people we meet? Can you think of three people that you could pray for and invite to church, perhaps to our next special service?
You may be sat there asking yourself, “what difference can I possibly make?” Let me assure you that the impact that we might have on each other is often more profound than we ever realise. We might think that the seeds that we sow are tiny, just like a mustard seed. But the gospel passage reminds us that even though the mustard seed is the smallest of seeds on earth, when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade. The most effective form of evangelism is friendship evangelism. It is very likely that your non-Christian friends can see the difference that faith makes in your life. I would encourage you to always be prepared to give an account of the hope that you profess. The primary reason why we might share our faith with others is because Christ’s love compels us to. We love because God first loved us. In knowing such love, how can we possibly not want to share it in thought, in word and in deed. Our heart’s desire might be that people come to know the Lord. So may God bless you with boldness in the Lord, with a heart to reach the lost, and a fervent desire to spur one another on to good deeds through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen