First Baptist Church of Minneola
Growing God's Gift
  • INTRO - Last week we learned about the special message given to special people. Like the shepherds, we too are special people with a special message. That message continues to be all about Jesus.
    Today we again will look at the impact on lives because of Jesus. Rather than focusing on only His birth, we’ll look more to Jesus’ life mission and consider how that impacts so that we can make a difference in the world.
    INTRO 2 - Jennifer and I like Star Trek and Star Wars. We understand these shows are fiction. Recently we laughed because one character keeps dying and suddenly by some amazing feat returns to the land of the living from some realm beyond.
    Even while fiction, its a bit of a stretch these writers find ways to twist and manipulate the story line. I often wonder if some of these shows get even to confusing for the writers to keep straight?
    Now come to Jesus, his life is not fiction, yet still just as amazing.
    One particular fact is that He survived Herod’s attempt to have him killed. He escaped the will of a very powerful man.
    Then we have the many miracles and His very real dying and coming back to life. And this is not science fiction!
    Jesus’ life and death, and life again, makes more impact on the world than even the accumulated lives of all the worlds best leaders.
    What started in the manger, the miraculous, is still happening in the world today.
    Isaiah spoke about Jesus long before His birth in the stable.
    Let’s look at v.2 from our passage:
    Isaiah 53:2 CSB
    He grew up before him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at him, no appearance that we should desire him.
    The “dry ground” the prophet mentions is symbolic of the humble life circumstances into that which Jesus is born.
    Also, the early life, growth, and maturing of Jesus all speak of His rootedness in a humble lifestyle.
    Add to that the nation Isreal, the political scene, and even His own disciples, and we recognize Jesus grew up challenged at every angle.
    The soil was dry, hard, and not well-suited for even a needy plant.
    Yet, as we will see, Jesus lives and even thrives.
    Jesus grows and God in Christ Jesus take root into the timeline of human history.
    First lets read out passage in its entirety.
    READ - Isaiah 53:1-6

    Our Heart

    The Bible speaks of our heart as the seat of affection. It’s where love lives and where only God and ourselves can view. Others might get a glimpse of it from time to time.
    The heart often is known for darkness, greed, envy, and pride. This is the sort of soul-sickness caused by sin.
    As much as we think of St. Augustine, he admittedly announced his once disdain for faith and his own mother’s prayers. Recall how evil the heart of the Apostle Paul was prior to his conversion. Paul persecuted Christians and hated Christianity.
    Great testimonies about great conversion inspire many to turn to Jesus. In my own experience, sharing my once evil ways and how Jesus changed me has inspired many to turn to Jesus in faith or praise.
    Imagine the power of your story to someone who is today as you once were. Your story has great potential. What an encouragement your story holds for someone who feels like their life is one lived out in a dry and barren place.
    TRANS - From the heart comes all sorts or good and evil. But, its in society where we often recognize the collective impact of many hearts influencing our culture.

    Our Culture

    Our culture is dry and barren. Just turn on the TV and quickly it’s obvious.
    ILL - One of the advantages of streaming TV is our ability to view shows from different decades. “I Love Lucy,” “The Brady Bunch”, and “Star Trek” were prime viewing back in the day.
    Watch enough TV from different decades and it becomes obvous that violence, sexual situations, and language now dominate most TV shows.
    For example, thinking the Star Trek run off “Picard” might be an enjoyable entertainment, we quickly were disappointed. The language is off the charts full out profane.
    TV is one form, but the internet takes that to an entirely new level of evil. What once required a photo ID to purchase from behind the counter is now free to anyone with an internet connection.
    I’d like to think music is safe, but that too is a media too frequently full with evil lyrics. Even public radio stations are no longer safe.
    And the news, well, lets not even go there or worse to social media platforms.
    Evil, wicked, dry land is all around.
    Whether in the media, at a public school, or secular university, the barren and dry soil of society is all about us today.
    Come now Christ. Jesus takes the dry root and causes it to thrive and grow even in an ungodly culture.
    Do you know that the reformation was born during the Middle Ages? God’s message of the clear gospel for all people was presented and grace rediscovered at a time when the wickedness was ramped up and powerful.
    My parents loved sharing stories of prison inmates turning to the Lord. NOBTS today has a seminar behind bars. Venezuela, China, and North Korea have thriving Christian communities.
    Don’t loose heart. The smallest seed can grow in the driest and worst of soils when watered by God. Then, Christianity will grow and change lives.
    TRANS - From hearts of people to people of the world we know the difficulty of knowing and growing in Christ. The world is dry and barren. Let’s look at our place in this world in our final point.

    Our-selves

    Some places seem more in with sin than some, but truly the whole world is hurt by this hellish dry and barren effect of evil.
    People resist the gospel and often with hostility. In some places, bringing Jesus to others put the life of the messenger in grave danger. Yet, the seeds planted do grow.
    In time, seeds planted in the worst of places take root. Consider China, for example. Marxism oppressed the Chinese people for decades. Still, opening doors allowed the message of God to penetrate this dry and barren land.
    The message of Jesus took root and today China continues to have a Christian influence.
    Now consider the many churches that drift from kingdom work to working on making themselves happy. In some parts of the world, the church actually never shares the gospel message. They keep to themselves, don’t know anybody else, and can’t understand why they don’t see others coming to Jesus.
    ILL - I took a hurting pastor to lunch last week. He shared how he left a church that grew. He left because the dozen of so who from the church didn’t want “outsiders” joining their church and changing things. They liked it the way the’ve always been.
    The pastor shared how people said they liked him and the church, but the 12 told them how bad the pastor was and all the things he did that they didn’t like. It didn’t take long for the rapid growth to shrink.
    The we have the faithless who think they are faithful. Sadly, many Christians sound like Elijah and think God is loosing the battle.
    How often people talk about the church that was, could be, or is not instead of talking about their testimony or the gospel.
    God uses people to reach people. We will see others come to know Jesus when we talk to them about Him. That is the power of testimony and truth.
    Be excited today. Church history is full with stories of God springing up in the driest and most barren of places.
    Think of families once hopeless, marriage on the verge of dissolving, with children rebelling that today are thriving.
    Consider the little church that started doing one ministry really well.
    The whole church got involved and today is outgrowing their buildings.
    Think about the testimony of someone the world does not want who today shares with others the great things God has done.

    Conclusion

    Let’s close with this. The Christmas message sounds loudly regardless of circumstances or hopelessness.
    No place or person is beyond hope of the power to take root in the driest of places.
    Offer Jesus the soil of your soul.
    Give God your barren and broken, your hopeless hurt, and your crisis of circumstances.
    Expect Jesus to do what He’s done through all of time.
    He is the man of miracles.
    Look for God to grow up a plant that shades your life with His grace, that waters your dry and barren land.
    God loves you and what Father does not want to give to His children?
    (end)
      • Isaiah 53:2CSB

  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

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