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Growing in love, joy and peace

Our bodies are spectacular gifts from the Lord.

No wonder we marvel and smile as we hold a newborn and gaze into those sparkling eyes. We marvel as we watch them grow and mature. Girls will mature faster but stop growing taller by 15. Boys will start later and grow until they’re 20.

While they won’t grow taller, the brain and muscles will keep growing for a bit. But even then the body doesn’t stop growing completely. Look at what happens when you get a cut or break a bone. Your body replaces the missing cells with new growth. Did you know that your body can even grow a new liver if part of it is damaged?

Growth is even more important for your spirit. But it is not guaranteed. We see the results of a dying spirit all around us. A dying spirit leads to a loss of hope, unrest, anxiety, depression, loss of identity and even worse. A growing spirit, on the other hand, produces the gifts of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

Growth doesn’t just happen. The God who created this planet and made it to grow comes to His people to give them faith and grow that faith. God came through Moses and the Prophets and then He came through His son, Jesus. In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Jesus came to die for your sins so that you can be forgiven and live as God’s children. As we abide in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins we grow and we bear much fruit – love, joy, peace, etc.

Jesus still comes to us today through God’s word and sacraments. Look at how Luke explains the encounter between Jesus and two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus.

“And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27) All of scripture is an opportunity to meet Jesus and to continue growing.

Or look at God’s spectacular promise of growth in Isaiah 55:10-11.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Spiritual growth is no accident. It is God’s gift that we experience as we read our Bibles and listen to God’s word proclaimed. Praise the Lord!

REV. MATTHEW SORENSON is the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He can be reached at pastor@stjohnsfarmville.org.