I Corinthians 3:6-8 (NLT)
I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.
Some of you may remember the old Coca-Cola commercial that featured the jingle, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…” The slogan for Coca-Cola is that “it’s the real thing.” In the commercial a diverse group of young people including a multicultural mixture all came over a hilltop singing together. In 1971 when it was aired this was quite a spectacle considering segregation was not that far behind them. It was a relatively new idea for people of all races and creeds to enjoy life together. It’s interesting to note how the jingle came to life. During a forced layover in a crowded airport with many hot tempers, the executives noticed that the next morning the passengers were all talking and joking drinking their soft drinks waiting to board their new flight. Hardship often brings people together in a variety of ways. They capitalized on what they encountered in the airport and it became one of the most popular advertising campaigns ever conceived including a “Hilltop Reunion” in 1990. The jingle would be become a popular song. This commercial convinced the world that if they would just “buy a Coke for another person” it would bring us all together. If it were only that easy…
In a day and age when we see churches come and go, congregations grow later only to divide, and relationships prosper and fail, it bears reflection as the Body of Christ is not resembling the flourishing group of believers that the Lord intended it to be. Somehow losing sight of its focus, the church resembles the worldly philosophy of divide and conquer rather than connect and grow. Paul planted the seed in their hearts. Apollos watered the seed. But it was God who made it grow. How do we get back to this understanding in the church today? There should never be an “us-and-them” breakdown. God never intended for His People to split between doctrine and religion. We are. If you really want to teach the world to live in perfect harmony, it will not be because we learned to share a soft drink or accept one based on earthly compromise accompanied by watered down grace.” To live in perfect harmony will require a reunification of the Word and Spirit allowing God to increase in our lives once and for all. How important is harmony in the House of God and among ALL of His People? The Lord calls it wonderful and pleasant. (Psalm 133:1) It is as precious as the anointing oil that ran down Aaron’s beard. (Psalm 133:2) It is as precious as the dew on Mount Hermon after the Lord pronounced blessing and eternal life. (Psalm 133:3) The Spirit of God pleads with the human heart to live in harmony with God. (Romans 8:27) Our mission as a church is to live in harmony with everyone and build one another up. (Romans14:19) There should be harmony of all members of the Body of Christ as they care for one another. (I Corinthians 1:10) There should be no division in the church which includes EVERYONE who calls on Jesus Christ as Savior AND Lord. Harmony produces peace in the life of the believer. (2 Corinthians 13:11) Love allows us to live bound by harmony to one another by the Grace of God. (Colossians 3:14) However, the modern church chooses to ignore harmony and continues to be dysfunctional even today. What do we do to overcome the lack of power in our churches and see revival sweep the land once again? We must get together and bind ourselves together in the Love, Mercy and Grace of God to serve Him effectively.
Paul planted the seed.
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
Through the course of my life, I have somehow managed to visit churches of just about every possible denomination. Each with its own set of rules and regulations to accompany the Word of God and cultivate believers. I have experienced the horrifying reality that many churches are businesses behind the scenes and prosperous ones at that. I have seen people to come together and form churches, as well as, as the devastation when it all falls apart. It would seem that Paul and Apollos were experiencing some ministerial challenges when it was written that Paul planted the seed. Apollos watered. But it is always God who gives us increase. We have lost sight of this today and are desperately trying to reconnect with God. God wants to grow and increase the Body of Christ. He is burning with revival fire to reign down into the Body of Jesus Christ. How do we find holy ground for the Body of Christ today? Where when will we finally experience the Power and Glory that the Lord has promised? When we get it together – He will come. It begins by tearing down the walls of religion to experience a full-blown relationship with Jesus Christ. The disciples were frustrated. They could not deliver people from demon possession. Jesus exposed their lack of faith. There are people walking around the world today who are demon possessed whether you like it or not. Deliverance is a real and relevant ministry that should be offered in every church body except those of course who do not believe that demons exist today despite the Word of God’s compelling testimony that they are alive and real. Nothing is impossible for those who believe. Belief is a product of faith. If you do not believe in the Power of the Cross or know its true potential then you will pray “if it is your will” rather than “let your Will be done!”
“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
Paul planted seeds among the people. He was a deeply religious man before he met the Lord on the Road to Damascus. After He was saved by the Grace of God, he chose to live for the Glory of God. Now all the Word that had been packed in his life in the synagogue and through religious training made sense by the Power of the Holy Spirit so he could explain it to all the people because he knew it by heart. Paul planted seeds. These seeds were the Word of God. As they are placed in the human heart, they are put in proximity of faith that is hidden there by the Hand of God the moment He created us. Faith is the fertilizer that grows His Word into confident hope in the life of the believer. “So faith comes from hearing that is hearing the Good News about Christ.” (Romans 10:17) I grew up Southern Baptist filled with the Word of God. Scripture memorization was emphasized from my earliest recollection. We studied the Books of the Bible line by line and precept by precept as the Law of our life. Faith-full-ness is the creed of those who call themselves Baptists. They have no problem with the Authority of God’s Word, but many have no idea just how powerful it is. There are those who effectively plant seeds of faith in the Body of Christ today. But to plant a seed and not nurture it will cause it to die in the ground. Few will prosper on their own without someone taking care of them.
Apollos watered the seed.
Galatians 5:13-14 (NLT)
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Apollos ministered to people individually. He served others in love which reinforced the seed of faith causing it to grow and flourish. There are some people who are called to be evangelists like Paul and those who are called to be pastors such as Apollos. Both are vital to the modern day church and are of equal importance. The word “church” or “Body of Christ” is not limited to the four walls of a building but refers to every man, woman and child called by Jesus Christ. “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13) Two unique individuals with very important roles in the Body of Jesus Christ. The people tried to choose between the men which is not what God intended.
What is important is that God makes the seed grow!
Mark 4:30-32 (NLT)
Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”
You are given a measure of faith. It comes with the package. (Romans 12:2) Paul represents salvation. The moment the Word of God connected with the seed of faith hidden in your heart. Immediately it begins to change and grow as your true potential as a Child of the Living God begins to take root. But the enemy is watching and has come to “steal, kill and destroy” that seed before it ever has a chance. Apollos represents the Way of God demonstrated through the service of others as that tiny seed is protected, nurtured and cultivated by God’s People. It is the process of service that allows us all to reap the rewards of sowing and reaping as we are all God’s Hands. Salvation is important. Sanctification is equally so. But if God is not the primary instigator of growth and potential in your life – your effort is futile. If your greatest motivation is anything other than the cultivation of faith – forget about it. We are building the Kingdom of God. It is God’s Will for us all to work together to build the Body of Christ not “bodies”. “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” (Philippians 2:1-2) “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.” (Philippians 1:27)
Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT)
Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
God is working in you through the Power of His Word and Holy Inhabitation of His Spirit to do what pleases Him. You are never alone. You will not be forsaken. But you cannot do the Will of God all by yourself. You need the personal revelation of who God is and His Intentions towards you to enter a covenant relationship based on faith and trust. The Holy Spirit is the Power of God living in you. You will need assistance in battling the adversary so who has time to fight with one another. We are all in this together. There is only one enemy who has come to steal, kill and destroy. There is no need to turn on one another – Heaven is big enough for all of us to live together forever. Love must leak under the doors of our sanctuaries and outside the building to captivate the lost and dying world all around us. We must rip the baskets or bags off our heads to become the Light of the World rather than the laughingstock that organized religion has become. It does not matter who planted the seed that led to your salvation. It does not matter who led you to the Cross. What matters is that God is increasing our faith day by day to be ready when He comes. God is working in you. The Lord is fighting for you. If we would put a little effort into working hard to show the results of our salvation and let our love grow hot instead of cold then maybe revival would come as the saints of God join together. For now we are divided and misguided bunch of wanderers worried about who gets credit for what and where the tithe money is going! We have the power to do what pleases God but without the desire to do it – what’s the point? It is time to get together and do our job at promoting harmony among the believers so we can finally live a life that is pleasing to God! Whatever happened to the motto, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
John 4:36-38 (NLT)
“The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”
The Lord has sent us to harvest where we did not plant. You will miss God’s Greatest Blessings trying to do it your way which means you reap what you sow. Now why would anyone want to reap the blessing of their own hands when God is able to accomplish infinitely more than we could ask or think according to the Power of His Great Love. Hold your position of faith today but let everything else go. Examine your heart for the roots of bitterness that refuse to allow freedom to reign in your life. It isn’t worth it. Exhaust all your effort in loving one another even the most unlovable. Let the Spirit of God work the Word of God through your life like long rows in a field that will soon harvest greater blessing than you could have ever imagined or produced. Remember, the Lord sent you to harvest where you did not plant. There is more to life than this – invest in it. Stop the division. Church is not a business, it is a ministry. Let’s get back to focusing on the Body of Christ and not the church. Churches will come and go but the Body of Christ is the bride that will be taken. Make sure you have not attached yourself to Paul or Apollos but cling to the Word of God living in the Way of God so you can have the Will of God for your life! It gets no better than this when we choose to live in harmony! Come on Christians, believers, and followers of Christ – let’s get it together.
John 12:23-25 (NLT)
Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.