Thriving | Acts 10:34-43
The Christian Rock Band Casting Crowns have written, “It's time for us to more than just survive; We were made to thrive”.
From my experience as a pastor and my understanding of the Bible, many Christians are living like they are just surviving, when in fact, the bible teaches that we are to thrive. A study of Ephesians chapter 1 ought to reveal this to us. Paul says that God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3 NLT). And then he lists all those amazing blessings! ⦁ We are chosen by God v4 ⦁ We are predestined by God v5 ⦁ We are adopted into God’s family v5 ⦁ We have received His grave v6 ⦁ We have been redeemed v7 ⦁ We have been forgiven by Christ’s blood v7 ⦁ We are sealed by the Holy Spirit v13 ⦁ We are guaranteed an inheritance v14
We are blessed with every spiritual blessing, so that ought to be mean that spiritually, we ought to be thriving.
Many of us Christians are just surviving spiritually because of issues such as hardships, lack of health, conflicts, and the lists continues. It’s the same with church. It ought to be thriving resulting in people coming to faith, baptisms, testimonies of God working in people’s lives, numerical growth, new church plants, the poor and vulnerable being cared for and helped, past wrongs with various cultures being reconciled, and the list continues. Jesus said to the church in Laodicea that they were only just surviving. They were lukewarm. He wanted them to be on fire!!
I find the verse in proverbs that is being quoted in some of our publicity for this series quite intriguing. Proverbs 11:10 says, “When the righteous thrive, a city rejoices…” (Proverbs 11:10 HCSB). And when we do some research, we find that this is so true. Some of us have watched in utter amazement back in the 1990s and early 2000s the Transformation Videos. They were powerful stories of towns and cities around the world who saw that when God began to transform the church and people repenting of their sins and following Jesus as Lord, gradually significant change in their towns and cities began to happen. Crime rates, murders, and rape were all down. Food crops were bountiful. Marriages restored. I mean, when the righteous thrive, a city rejoices (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MG-XBkCTDY). Some of us have read stories of revivals last century in Wales, Papua New Guinea, America and we hear of stories of mass conversions and incredible affect that this has in villages, towns and cities - “when the righteous thrive, a city rejoices”. When Billy Graham conducted the Southern Cross Crusades in Australia and New Zealand in 1959, where he preached to pack stadiums at the MCG, the SCG with people next door at the Show Grounds, and in towns across the country via the old land line, thousands came forward, repenting of their sinful living, asking Jesus to be their Lord and Saviour. And our history books actually record that for 2-years after these crowds, not only were church attendances everywhere up, but crime rates were down, attendances at the pubs were down, and other social affects - “when the righteous thrive, a city rejoices”.
Our mandate, our cause as a church, the great commission is to make disciples. And when churches do the work of evangelism unashamedly, people lives are totally transformed in Christ - “when the righteous thrive, a city rejoices”. Our city of the Gold Coast needs Christians and churches to be thriving. They may not know this, but God’s plan is to see people, churches and cities thriving.
This series, I want to look at four areas that are essential for Christians and Churches to get out from the rut of surviving to thriving.
The first one is all about having the right foundation.
In Psalm 92, the writer says, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” (Psalms 92:12-14 NIV).
What do you think God means when He promises that people who serve Him will flourish like a palm tree?
We Queenslanders know that palm trees grow in hostile climates. They tolerate high temperatures, little rainfall, and high winds. Palms can flourish where other trees would wither and die. Palm trees have a different root system than most other trees. Instead of the roots tapering and becoming smaller as they grow farther away from the trunk, palm tree roots stay about the same size. These roots can make their way below the dry, shifting sand to find stability where other trees would not. Also, unlike most trees that have a woody, dead outer layer, the entire trunk of a palm is alive, allowing it to be very flexible, bending in hurricane-force winds that would break other trees.
Like Palm Trees, we too need to root down to something solid. A bit like the Parable of the Wise Builder found in Matthew 7 and Luke 6. Here the man built His house on the solid foundation of rock and so when storms come it would not wash away because of its foundation.
For we Christians and for our church, we will thrive when we place our roots on the solid foundation of Jesus – not on materialism, not on nice philosophy, not on some good church growth principles they may have worked, not on some good preacher’s words. None of these. We will thrive when we place our roots on the solid foundation of nothing else nor anyone else by Jesus Christ.
Even then, this needs to be explained. You see, Jesus needs to be more than just a friend and not just a servant who comes to our beck and call when we come to him in desperation. We got to see him more than this.
The New Testament teaches us that Jesus is Lord and we as followers need to follow Him as our Lord. This is so important for us to know and accept and follow if we are to thrive.
Science writer Hope Jahren shares an interesting fact about plants, especially how a tiny seed starts to put down roots—the most essential thing for a plant's survival. She writes, “No risk is more terrifying than that taken by the first root. A lucky root will eventually find water, but its first job is to anchor… Once the first root is extended, the results are powerful. The tree's roots can swell move gallons of water daily for years, much more efficiently than any pump yet invented by man. If the root takes root, then the plant becomes all but