For the next seven days, as we read through the book of Acts together, I offer for your contemplation, some excerpts from my book, Keys to Growth: Meditations on the Acts of the Apostles. Each chapter focuses upon a different "key to growth" in the life of the individual Christian and the life of the Church as a whole. This first excerpt comes from the first chapter entitled simply Jesus....
My eldest son, James, brought two pumpkin plants home from school one day when he was about thirteen years old. When he brought the plants home they were small, perhaps an inch or so in height. He planted them in two clay pots with good soil, rich in nutrients, and he placed the pots by the window in our living room. Every day James continued to pay attention to those plants. He checked their soil to see how dry they were. If they needed water, he watered them. When we went away for a few days we left the light on the table where the plants were located so that they would be certain to get plenty of light. It was interesting to watch the pumpkin plants grow. They stretched out toward the window, toward the light, in a dramatic way. Eventually the plants got so big, James stuck a pencil in each pot and attached the pumpkin vines to the pencils to help them grow up straight and strong. Eventually, the plants got too big for the pots and too big to keep indoor. Thus, James cleared out an old, overgrown flower bed, put some good top soil down in it and planted his pumpkin plants outside. Unfortunately, it was at that point that the plants didn’t survive very well. Perhaps the soil and the sunlight were not quite right to produce healthy pumpkins, despite the fact that James did his best with the project.
What would have happened to those plants if James hadn’t given them good soil to grow in at all? What would have happened if he hadn’t watered them? What would have happened if he hadn’t put the plants near a good source of light? What would have happened if he hadn’t given them room to grow? What would have happened to those pumpkin plants without a gardener like James? It’s obvious; those plants would have died even sooner.
Every living thing or person requires certain ingredients in order to grow. And if a thing or person is not growing, it is dying. What is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual realm. In order to grow spiritually, individual Christians, and the whole Church in fact needs certain fundamental ingredients.
Acts is a book that is all about growth. In at least ten places in this book growth is specifically mentioned or inferred:
- “In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty).” Acts 1:15
- “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2:41
- “But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.” Acts 4:4
- “Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.” Acts 5:14
- “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7
- “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.” Acts 9:31
- “But the word of God continued to increase and spread.” Acts 12:24
- “So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.” Acts 16:5
- “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” Acts 19:20
- “Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 28:31