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"God Loves Growth"

November 5, 2017 Speaker: Tim Zulker Series: God Loves Growth

Topic: Sermons Passage: Genesis 35:11

Genesis 35:12 “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply."

In the next four weeks we’ll be looking at God’s heart for the growth of his family, so I’d like for us to look at the scope of this theme in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

 

1. God grew his Jewish family

Genesis 1:28 — God created Adam and Eve and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” This is God’s creation mandate. God is a creator Father who loves a big family.

Genesis 11:4, 8-9 — the sin of the tower of Babel was a failure to fulfill this command of God. “Let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the earth.” God saw that they were one people and one language. So he confused their language so that they could not stay together. Then in verse 8 — “So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.” You see, the primary problem at Babel was not the tower they were building to the heaven, it was their failure to disperse over all the earth — to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. God loves growth!

How much do we prefer comfort over growth? How much do we prefer to stay to ourselves and not expand God’ family?

Genesis 12:1-2 — So we’re not surprised to see what happens in Genesis 12 when God calls Abraham. “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” God called Abraham out of his comfort zone, out of his land, just like he did with Jacob and Jospeh. He called him to go out so that he would become a great nation. God loves growth!

Genesis 15:5 — God restates his promise to make Abraham’s family large: “And he brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said, ‘So shall your offspring be."

Genesis 35:12 — Abraham’s grandson Jacob received the same command, when God blessed him. This is our verse for today: “God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply.’”  Why did God say, “I am God almighty?”  For at least two reasons. First, so that Jacob would obey. He, like all of us, would rather be comfortable. But as we learned from our study of Joseph last month, God would bring Jacob and Joseph from the comfort of his home to the foreign country of Egypt so that they would multiply. So there is a command element to our verse. But there is also the comfort of God’s power and presence as we obey. We see this for ourselves in Matthew 28:18-20. “All authority in heaven and in earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” There is God’s presence with us as we go. God loves growth, and he will be with us as we obey him.

Exodus 1:7, 20 — Look at the progress report in Exodus 1:6: “Then Joseph died and all his brothers and all that generation. But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.”  And also verse 20: “So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong."

 

2. God is growing his spiritual family

If you are new to Godspeed, I want to catch you up to speed. Don’t want you to feel left out.  Last year we did a sermon series called “Step to the Right.” It was about moving forward in the Christian life — growing more spiritually mature. It was basic on purpose, so that as many people in our church would understand how to grow as a Christian. That was on Sunday mornings. Then we also have Home Groups here. These are smaller groups of about 6 to 16 that meet weekly to talk about life, study the Bible, pray for each other, and eat food. In our Home Groups, we’ve been going through a course called “Steps to Recovery.” The STEPS titles are coincidental. The Steps to Recovery is more than basic, it’s pushing us to do deeper in our lives and deal with sinful patterns and lies in our lives that have led to destructive behaviors. The point of both is for us to grow more mature and progress in life.

But we are not made to just grow deeper. We are made to grow outward also. If you keep taking in, taking in, taking in — getting more teaching, listening to more sermons, going to more Home Groups, but not seeking to multiply, you will get sick. WE will get sick. Here’s an illustration.

The Dead Sea is located at the southern end of the Jordan River in Israel. The sea is very deep. 1300 feet deep. Two features of the Sea make it remarkable. The amount of stuff flowing into it, and the amount of stuff flowing out of it. Fresh and saltwater springs flow into it from below. Hot sulphur springs pour into it. There are petroleum seepages, magnesium chloride, and bitumen in the Dead Sea. And it’s believed that the rock salt explosion that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah deposited large amounts of salt in the sea as well. 

It’s also remarkable for the amount of stuff that flows out of the sea. Because the Dead Sea is known for having virtually no outflow. As a result, the Dead Sea is full of minerals — chock full! So much so, that because of all the input, and no outlet, nothing grows there. No fish. No plants. No life except some bacteria. 

We don’t want to be like the Dead Sea. All input, not output. If we spend our years at church studying the Bible, but not reaching outward to pray, care and share with those outside of church, we will be filled with knowledge — like the Dead Sea is full of minerals. But we want to be like a lake that has a constant flow of fresh water, and is full of life. Input, output.  Input, output. 

That is what produces growth. Look at how God is growing his spiritual family in the New Testament. 

Matthew 28:18-20 — “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Acts 1:8 — “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” Do you see the similarity between this and Genesis 1:28 — be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth? And the tower of Babel. And by the way, the unity of the Bible, from beginning to end, is one of the proofs of it’s truthfulness.

Acts 2:9-11 — the disciples were in Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit came into them. And what did they start to do right away? Speaking in other languages so that people from all over the earth could know about Jesus! That’s because God loves to grow a big family. He is speaking life into the world, like he did at creation. He is filling the earth with a knowledge of the glory of the Lord. Habakkuk 2:14 says, the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.” God is gathering a large family. 

Acts 2:21 — “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The emphasis in that verse is on “everyone."

Acts 8:1-4 — And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him.3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. 4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.

Acts 2:41 — now listen to the growth reports from Luke in the book of Acts. This is in the beginning of the church: “So those who received is word were baptized, and there we added that day about three thousand souls.” That should make us cheer like a super bowl touchdown!

Acts 2:47 — “And the Lord added to their number day by day those we were being saved."

Acts 4:4 — “But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand."

God loves growth!

Acts 6:7 — “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith."

Acts 19:20 — “And the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily."

Revelation 5:9-10 — “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain , and by your blood you ransomed people from God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” God loves growth. He loves a big family!

Brothers and sisters, what is racism, but another way for Satan to keep us from loving God’s big, all-inclusive family! What is laziness in the mission, but Satan’s way of keeping us sitting in our easy chairs, not willing to walk across the room, or the street!

 

3. Be with God on His Mission

Fireplace bellows: when we started Godspeed, we often talked about fireplace bellows. They are a good picture for a church. They only work if you draw in the air, and if you send the air out. You want to grow a fire? In and out. In and out. So God calls the church together to be holy and to grow. Then he also sends his people out to multiply. Without both, you don’t have a church. 

Genesis 35:12 “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply."

John 15:16 — “I have appointed you that you should go and bear fruit."

This is played out in personal multiplication — reaching out to those you know. It’s also played out in church multiplication — church planting.

But here’s the gospel twist. As God calls us to be on mission with him to expand his family, we get something more than accomplishing the mission of God. The real prize is not the mission of God, but the God of the mission. It’s God himself. If we set before us merely a task to accomplish we will tire out. We will be doing something any hard worker can do — work for a goal. And while God loves work, and accomplishment, he also calls us to work with Him. The true joy of the job is not the checklist. The joy of this mission is the master. 

The picture we get from the Bible is not a God who barks out commands to his workers to get more done. He is a Father who lovingly invites his children to join in the work with him. It’s not burdensome.  He is a Father who says, here, let’s do it this way. Good job. Now let’s go eat together. Let’s talk about the day. He says, I love being with you as we work together. And as we work together our hearts are filled as if they are going to break. Tired bodies. But satisfied souls who can’t believe they get to work with this loving Father. This is the God of the mission. And he is our prize for joining him.

 

Conclusion

If you are on campus, follow the lead of Jarrod and Susie — your mission is to turn lost students into Christ-centered laborers. We stand behind you guys fully!

At Godspeed, today is not just the beginning of a new sermon series. It’s the beginning of our talking with you about what the elders believe is God’s path for us over the next 5 years. And it centers around this conviction that God loves growth.  

In your handout, you’ll see a 3-2-1. I’d like you to write down the names of three people who you wish knew Jesus personally. I want you to pray for all three of them this week. Ask God for a chance to care for two of them. And then, pray also for the boldness to share the good news of Jesus with one of them. Start praying this way, this week. God loves to answer this kind of prayer.

Genesis 35:12 “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply."

More in God Loves Growth

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"Corporate Growing"

December 31, 2017

"What Are You Laughing At?"

December 24, 2017

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