In our eleventh turn at Freedom in Christ, Pastor John set the tone for us by reading from the Letter to the Galatians 6:6-10 “Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor". (Fellows, this one sentence is meant as a heads-up that as adults you should help make sure with your wallet that your pastor and his family at least have a roof over their heads and food on their table).
Continue: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
""Flesh" here is the Apostle Paul's short-hand for "worldly, ungodly natural sinful human inclinations" We all know full well about all that!
Having set the tone in Scripture, Pastor John then told us the story of his studious college roommate. From the start of each quarter in college P. John's then-roommate studied little by little. He covered almost every day what he was supposed to study that day. Pastor John and all the other students like most of us naturally procrastinated and and then crammed for the exam maybe the night before. The studious roommate alone of his group of collegians was relaxed when the week of finals arrived. Even at your ages you fellows all can readily understand this story from your own experiences.
So fellows, consider: Actions and reactions. Choices and consequences. Reaping and sowing. The wages of being mired in sin is death; the consequences of keeping daily in step with the Christ is eternal life. Patient character building gives fruit that benefits us and those around us. By contrast those times when we sow into our selfish desires we add to our pile of bad baggage.
"Spoiled brat". Pastor John knew that each of us knows what that is, how such a person comes to be. Even at thirteen years old you know full well from all that you have seen that when the parents give the child everything he wants when he wants it what the unpleasant result must be. Most of you know of the cartoon character Caillou? This child has temper tantrums all the time. The more spoiled he is by his inadequate parents, the more he becomes super-selfish.
Alright: what of OUR spiritual appetite? What reverses in life (not getting what we want when we want it) turn out to be blessings in disguise? Putting the shoe on the other foot, what seeming blessings turn out to be curses in disguise?
In this we learn that we must SEEK GOD'S FACE FIRST, not blessings first, and in all patient expectation allow the true blessings to come in His good time, according to His good, pleasing, and perfect will. Just to further illustrate the point: if some years away you are a father, do you want your child to love you, or to love what you can give him or her?
Pastor John then demonstrated for us that Scripture is heavily sown throughout with admonitions to this effect:
Psalm 37:4: “Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Galatians 6:9. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
2 Thessalonians 3:13 ” And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.”
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Pastor John then introduced us to the experience of the English missionary William Carey (1761-1834). He obeyed God's calling to go to the other side of the world, to India as a missionary. There he knew seven years of incredible hardship and toil before he baptised his first convert, Krishna Pal. From his long hard experience in faith he said “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” William Carey, through thin and thinner still, desired only God, not what God could do for him.
Whatever negativity you face in your daily walk with God, in your obedience to His will, still you ALREADY KNOW the end is good. So through it all keep at it; it is already won!
Pastor John underlined the point with a quote from John Stott: In the 20th century he was very famous for his work in England for the body of Christ there. He cautioned us: “Every time we allow our mind to harbor a grudge, nurse a grievance, entertain an impure fantasy, or wallow in self-pity, we are sowing to the flesh. Every time we linger in bad company whose insidious influence we know we cannot resist, every time we lie in bed when we ought to be up and praying, every time we read pornographic literature, every time we take a risk which strains our self-control, we are sowing, sowing, sowing to the flesh.”
Fellows, just as Pastor John cautioned us, we must never forget that every little choice we make matters. God is always watching. Now, think for a minute: is that a fearful fact or a comfort to us?
To help us get past our chronic expectations for immediate results, Pastor John explained to us the amazing genesis of Chinese bamboo. It takes FIVE YEARS after planting the bamboo seed for the tiny bamboo shoot to break through. But during all that time the plant's life systems are invisibly but surely making complex preparations. Then, in just two weeks after it first appears above the soil, the bamboo grows maybe nine feet tall!
We learn from such an example the truth of the verses above that when we do not give in to being weary and tired we will surely reap ("gather the benefits") according to His plan and purpose. God is patient with each of us as day-in and day-out we develop the nine facets of the fruit of the Spirit. It is how so patiently and faithfully He reaps.
Tempted by glittering evil, or up a tree and oh so weary and tired? (If not right now at age 13, soon enough as young adults you shall have such days now and then; that I guarantee you). On such a day when what you know is wrong seems so attractive or the world seems to crash down around your ears, don't give in and don't give up - humbly pray right then and there to be newly indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Then you will know as never before that there is power in the Spirit and your true freedom in Christ.