Teaching Series
Grow Strong
Thursday—Growing What?

Series: Grow Strong

Sermon: Growing What

Speaker: Jessyka Albert

Writer: J. Murdock

Refresh: Begin today in prayer. Ask God for understanding through the Holy Spirit.

Read: Jeremiah 1:11–12 (NIV) As you read through these two short verses in Jeremiah, note any insights or questions that arise.

Reflect: Can you recall a time in your life when you could clearly see the proverbial writing on the wall despite the moment not yet having occurred? I experienced this moment this past week while watching the Dodgers face the Astros in game seven of the World Series. With the score a deflating 5–1 late in the decisive game, the Dodgers offense just couldn’t seem to get up the courage to come back from the brink. The once heroic lineup which had set records for home runs hit at Chavez Ravine couldn’t seem to locate their bats in a time when batting came as a premium. Inning after inning, more and more runners were left on base without crossing home plate. No manner of rally cap home remedies could encourage the team, and by the time the seventh inning had come and gone, reality sat in. The Dodgers were going to lose this game. With no definitive proof, it would seem unrealistic to think this conclusion was set in stone, but if someone had asked, “What do you see?” I would have answered, “I see the next win for this team coming in spring training.” Surely enough, six outs later, the Dodgers suffered a crushing loss to the Houston Astros and watched the World Series slip away after an historic season. Whether I was fully aware of it or not, I had seen well at the time that no amount of will would bring that team back from the brink.

Jeremiah is given an opportunity in his interaction with God to look out into his world and describe what he could see. For him, he bore witness not to a tense baseball stadium full of anxious fans, but instead an almond branch. As studies have shown, the almond tree was representative of the first tree to offer a signal of life after the harshness of winter had subsided. The almond tree was used as a barometer for the coming of spring. In seeing this signal of a budding almond branch, Jeremiah saw something not yet come, but present still.

Jeremiah and his people were not yet out of their suffering, but he could foresee a day coming when redemption would arise out of the ashes. God spoke hope into his vision by affirming that salvation was indeed still ahead.

For Jeremiah and the Dodgers, it’s going to be a long winter. But God reminds us to keep our eyes on the tree as He is creating new life. Though it is a long and cold wait, be of good cheer, spring is coming soon.

Recalibrate: What is it that you are longing for in your season of winter waiting? Do you know how to spot the signs that your spring is soon arriving?

Respond: As you go about your day today, keep with you this prayer as a constant reminder of God’s activity of new life waiting just out of sight. “Create in me a clean heart, O God/and renew a right spirit within me.” — Psalm 51:10 (ESV)

Research: Listen to the street poem Anis Mojgani receite his poem, “Shake the Dust.” Ponder on the places where the dust has settled in your veins. Do you need a good shake in order to make room for something new God has in store for you?

Live Wonder (ages 0–3): One day you will look back on this stage of childhood and wonder where the time has gone. One day your little one will stand tall and make decisions on their own. The lessons you provide will help them make good decisions when its their turn to take the wheel. That day is coming sooner than you might expect. They are grown already, and also not yet. Until that day when your birdie flies from the nest, pray that Jesus keeps them close to Him always as their little flaps grow into big strong wings.

Live Adventure (ages 4–11): Playing games with your friends is so very fun when everyone is playing fair and trying their best. But losing in those games is no fun at all. What do you do when you lose? Even when you don’t win, there is always another chance to play again and give it your best effort. Jesus tells us that even when we lose a lot, there is a day coming when we will win with Him if only we would let Him be on your team. Is Jesus part of your team?

Live Purpose (ages 12–16): At the end of the day, even if you’re received 10 compliments, if someone says something that embarrasses you, your brain spends more time focusing on the one insult than you do the ten compliments. What’s up with that brain? What do you do to quiet the lingering doubts that seem to always show up right before you’re trying to sleep? Even though it doesn’t change the embarrassment you felt, what are some techniques that might help you let stuff go rather than keep it built up in the recesses of your memories?

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