April 5, 2009

The Church’s Path to Further Growth (Psalm 1:3)

by: Rev. Jeremiah Cheung
on the occasion of CBCP’s 22nd Anniversary

As we celebrate the church’s 22nd anniversary, there are two matters we must do:
1. Give thanks
2. Do not be self-satisfied

While we grow year after year, we must also be concerned with how we can sustain the growth. Today, I would like to use trees to encourage everyone because the Bible often uses trees to portray righteous men.

Psalm 1:3 “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruits in season and whose leaf does not wither.” This is a tree that remains green and always bears fruit.

Psalm 92:12 “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree; they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon.” V.14 “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.” The church should be like a tree – become a big tree, continue to grow and become a blessing to many.

I. The Largest Tree in the World – Sequioa Trees

The largest tree in the world is the Sequoia. This kind of tree can grow to a height of 112 meters. Mainly found in the state of California in the United States, the oldest living sequoia tree is about 2200 years old. It is not the tallest tree, but it is the largest tree. The seed of the sequoia is very small, about the size of a mung bean. So we ask – how could the tree grow to be so big? The secret is in its never-ending quest to grow. Because it never stops growing, it became the biggest living thing in the world.

All throughout our lives, we must have a heart that seeks to pursue growth continually. Paul is our best model.

When Paul was old and in prison, he told Timothy, “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.” Paul asked for three things: 1. His cloak 2. His scrolls 3. His parchments. He needed the cloak to keep him warm physically. His scrolls were for his mental and intellectual needs. The parchment was the Word of God. This was for his spiritual needs. Paul was a very highly educated man. He had served the Lord 30 years long. Still, at the last stage of his life, he had not forgotten to pursue growth – he wanted his scrolls and parchments. May the Lord help us. Whatever age we are in, may we continue to pursue growth and, like the sequoia tree, never stop growing.

II. The Tallest Tree in the World – Red Wood

The Red Wood Tree is the tallest tree in the world. They can live up to 800-1000 years. They can grow to a height of 300 meters, about the height of a 20-30 storey high building. They need a lot of water, but their roots are short which creates a problem – a tall tree with shallow roots; surely such a tree will fall easily. And yet they don’t. How come? The reason is that these trees grow in clusters. Usually the roots of seven to eight trees intertwine with each other; I support you, and you support me. Spiritually, this means growing together.

III. The Tree which Sacrifices to Raise Up its Next Generation – Talipot Palm

There are many kinds of palm trees, and one kind is called Talipot palm. It lives up to approximately 80 years old. This kind of tree only flowers when it is 70-80 years old, blossoming about 2000 flowers. Six months or so after, it will bear fruit; after bearing its fruits, this tree will die. Before it dies, it has already flowered and borne fruits, it has already given life to a next generation. This reminds us that it is truly not easy to raise up the next generation, often it entails costly sacrifices; this kind of tree, in fact, sacrifices itself to bring up a next generation.

We must be like the talipot palm, we must exert more effort, energy, and strength to raise up the next generation. Co-workers, your responsibility is very great, you must use your life, your godly life, to influence the next generation. This is the path to further church growth. May the Lord bless his church.

April 5, 2009