“THE TIPPING POINTS” By Pastor YAU
Text: Romans 12:1-2 October 28, 2007.
1) Tipping points for business: The famous business writer, Malcolm Gladwell, wrote in his best seller book The Tipping Point that many struggling businesses have often turned around for the better by one key decision. These once foundering companies became thriving and successful because of a choice that tips them to the right direction.
2) Tipping points for Christians: Although target to those in business managements, the principle of “Tipping Point” may also be applied to those who want to experience thriving and successful Christian life. Many Christians find their spiritual life up against a wall with no sight of progress or growth. They struggle in making decisions or facing situations that threaten to cripple their capacity for an effective and productive life. It is at that critical junctures we need to make that “tipping point” decision to turn things around.
THE STAGES OF GROWTH: Just as plants grow in stages, Christian life grows in similar ways.
1) A time for budding: All plants start from small and fragile buds. They got their life from seeds. No seed, no bud and no plants. This same principle applies to Christian growth. The seed is the power of God in the hearts of man. Christians are sowers. We sow seeds of spiritual life through the gospel message. The seeds in people’s hearts will begin to grow, to break through the ground and begin to bud. This is a time to see potential and possibilities. No Christian starts his life as giants of faith or leaders of God’s church. We all begin our spiritual journey from a small start. The critical point at this time is the “seeding”. Someone must go and sow the seeds. Jesus commanded His disciples in the Great Commission that they need to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. To go and sow is our job. To germinate and bud is God’s job. If we are faithful in sowing, God will take care of the budding.
2) A time for growing: Christians grow their spiritual life as plants grow theirs. In most cases, growing follows the design as God has planned---a slow but steady process. The growing process depends on the supplies of water and nutrition—fertilizer in plants. That is why Jesus created the church to be homes for new born Christians. New Christians need to be cared for in churches, family of God’s people, for continued spiritual nourishment and fellowship so they may grow properly in wisdom and stature. Many Christians have strayed away from God’s church and have become victims of the devil because they did not receive proper care and nourishment God has planned for them. Christians in the church also need to pay more attention to and care for new members of the church. They are the future of God’s church just as children are the hope of families. Healthy children need plenty of loving care from family.
3) A time for blooming: Flowers of plants demonstrate the beauty of God’s creation. They also show the life and energy of the plants. This is about the healthy condition of the plants. Christians must also be able to bloom, to show the beautiful nature of godly life in everyday endeavor thru words, deeds and attitude. Whatever in us on the inside must show on the outside so our heavenly Father may receive all the glory and honor.(Matt. ) The different colors and shapes of flowers tell us that all Christians may glorify God with their unique “flowers” also in different shapes and ways. As long as they have done their best, God is well pleased with them.
4) A time for fruit bearing: Flowers are good to please our eyes, but fruits are the hope of farmers who plant fruit trees. Fruit bearing is what God expects of us. It is so important that Jesus uses it to show us His desire of His followers in John 15:1-8. We must not only try to look good, we must try to bear fruits so our Heavenly Father may be glorified. (John 15:8) On top of the fruits in Galatians 5:22-23, we may also bring forth fruits in our words, deeds and our obedience to God. We certainly may bring fruits of souls of man into His Kingdom by our faithful sharing of the gospel and our life testimonies. Just as farmers look for fruits from all his plants, God looks for fruits from all His children. (Luke 13:6-9)
CONDITIONS OF FRUIT BEARING: (Mark 4:3-9, 13-20. The parable of Jesus on fruit bearing: The choice is yours.)
1) Resistance in the heart: “Some people are like seeds along the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.” ()These are those who have heard the word of God but do not allow the word to sink into their hearts but resist the word so Satan will come and take the seeds away. Many of those who might have the truth in their hearts and life do not grow, nor bloom or bear any fruit because they resist the seed, the word of God, to sink into their hearts, the proper ground to grow so they can bear fruit. Resisting the teaching of God is to resist the power of God in our life and there is no way to bloom or bear any fruit because of that.
2) Rocky ground and rootless: “Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” (4:16-17)These are people who have joyfully received God’s word at salvation but do not spend time or putting efforts to grow the roots of spiritual life, Satan will come and take their faith away when they face difficulties in life. They never really understand the meaning of following Christ. They may think that believing in God is like buying an insurance of prosperity and happiness. They are not willing to pay a price to follow Christ and they will not be able to bear any fruit for God.
3) Thorny ground and worldly deceits: “Still others like seed sown along thorns, hearing the word. But the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire of other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (4:18-19)Too many so called Christians allow the world and its deceits of wealth and their desire of other things to fill their hearts to the point there is no room for God and His truth to be functioning in their life. These are those who make Christian life as something extra as decoration to their already busy life. Their hearts are filled to the brim with things of this world. They have no desire to bear fruit of any kind for the Lord. God is one of the decors they wear to look good.
4) Good soil and fruitful: “Others like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it and produce a good crop---thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.” ()Look at the good soil that is receptive to the word, the teaching of God, well prepared to hear, to accept and to produce fruit. This is about people who are willing and ready to receive the word of God into their life and make the best of its power to produce 30, 60 and even 100 folds of harvest. Fruit bearing is never by accident. It is the result of intentional acts. Those who are willing to prepare, willing to accept and willing to follow God’s instruction of life are assured of fruitful life.
THE TIPPING POINT: (Romans 12:1-2)
1) A will to surrender: “Surrender your bodies as living sacrifices.” (12:1) is the tipping point. The Greek word, parastesai, means to present up as one presents a sacrifice up on the altar as a burn offering to God. It has been translated as “offer”, “present” and “surrender” and I believe in view of the nature as a sacrifice, “surrender” is the most appropriate. When you offer or present a sacrifice to God, you surrender your ownership, your right and your purpose on the object. That is exactly what Paul meant when he urged the Romans Christians to “surrender” their bodies to God as living sacrifices. He didn’t ask us to die or be killed or to be burned. But he did ask us to surrender the ownership, the rights and the purpose of our bodies, the way we live in our bodies, to God not as dead sacrifices but as living sacrifices. The first tipping point of a fruitful life begins with our bodies surrendered to God.
2) A will to please: “…pleasing to God.” (12:1b)The second tipping point of a fruitful life is our will to please God more than pleasing ourselves or others. Most people today live their lives to please themselves regardless if God is happy or pleased. God is not against a happy life for you. In fact, God always has your happy life in His mind. But to live your life to make you happy, or to please you, is not what a Christian should do. What guarantees our happy life rests not on pleasing ourselves but pleasing God. If you want to be fruitful, make sure your life pleases God than yourself.
3) A will to change: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (v2) The third tipping point of a fruitful life is the willingness to change, to be transformed in your mind. This is about your value system, your priority list and your purpose of life. A fruitful life in God is not the same as a successful life in this world. Paul urged us NOT to be conformed by the value of this world. Do not follow the world’s standard or ways for your life. Be willing to surrender the purpose of your life to God so He can “make it over anew” for you. No worldly life can be fruitful for God.
4) A will to know: “Then you will be able to test and verify what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (v2b)God is never too far away beyond our reach. His will is never too lofty to understand. Most of His will is in the Bible. The rest is in His spirit that resides in your heart. When people say they don’t know the will of God, most of time is because they are not willing to know or to obey. They want God to do things their way instead of they do things God’s way. That is almost for sure their life won’t be fruitful because God cannot and will not bless a life that is so egoistic and self-centered.
1) Be sure of your progress: Look at the life growth progress and find out in which stage is your life. Don’t stay where you are but grow to the next level so you may be fruitful sooner.
2) Be sure of your condition: Look into your heart and see if it is a futile ground for a fruitful life. Find out if anything that is blocking or choking your growth. Remove those obstacles and you will be more fruitful than before.
3) Be sure of your destiny: Look forward and see if you have your destiny is set on the right direction---God and heaven. If you have doubt, ask God to give you answer and direction. Jesus is the way. He can lead you to a more fruitful life than you can ever dream.