The feasts of God illustrate a progression for us to grow in. The areas we should grow in are our relationship with God, our relationship with others, and within ourselves. Let's look at several ways we can do this.
These are the notes taken live during services as captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the audio recording.
Brain cells have been likened to raw material. Much like lumber is a raw material in building a house. Heredity may determine the number and arrangement of the neurons. A child’s environment has a big impact on the connections. Our brains function before it is finished. At birth there are 100 billion neurons. Roughly the same number as stars in the Milky Way. Then there are trillions of connections. During the first few years, it eliminates connections that are seldom or never used. God designed our brains to grow and change over time. Languages are best learned in the first 10 years of life. Messages are going back and forth with a couple of months. By 8 months, it is full on. None of us want the mind of a newborn. We are thankful for the ability to think and reason and have relationship with God. The newborns motions are quirky. Their emotions too.
Leviticus 23:1-3 Leviticus 23:1-3  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
American King James Version×, 6, 8, 20-21, 24, 27, 34, 36 We were here last holy day. Let’s read it in a different light. Vs. 2 – We are not just celebrating some feasts. They are not my feasts or Mr. Werner’s. These are God’s feasts. Vs. 3 – Interesting that the first one is the Sabbath. We get that one every 7 days. Vs. 21 – That is Pentecost, less than 7 weeks away. Vs. 36 – I find it interesting that in this list of 7 festivals, there is a progression. Have you ever thought about observing Pentecost without Passover and UB? There is a progression. You can’t have Satan removed without first having Christ return, symbolized by Trumpets. We can’t receive God’s spirit – Pentecost – without putting sin out. We can’t put sin out without accepting Jesus’ sacrifice. Does God expect us to stay right here on day 7 of UB? Is it okay to God if we just stay right here? No. Absolutely not. God expects us to continue to grow. To come back in 7 weeks for the next feast. And then the next. He expects us to keep them in order; there is growth there. Just as there is progression in the holy days, God expects progression in our lives. There is no way you can say, I’m so perfect, I don’t have to do anything else.
Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×There is an interesting statement made here. The Moffat translation: Instead of being molded to this world, have your mind renewed, and so be changed in nature. God expects growth throughout the week. Every Sabbath should be more rejuvenating than the last. Conformed means to pattern yourself after something. G4964 συσχηματίζω suschēmatizō soos-khay-mat-id'-zo From G4862 and a derivative of G4976; to fashion alike, that is, conform to the same pattern (figuratively): - conform to, fashion self according to. Thayer Definition: 1) to conform one’s self (i.e. one’s mind and character) to another’s pattern, (fashion one’s self according to) Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G4862 and a derivative of G4976 My dad worked for GM. If the holes didn’t line up, it caused major problems for the assembly line. “Transformed” is literally “metamorphosis”. Think of animals that change into another form. G3339 μεταμορφόω metamorphoō met-am-or-fo'-o From G3326 and G3445; to transform (literally or figuratively “metamorphose”): - change, transfigure, transform.
Thayer Definition: 1) to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure 1a) Christ appearance was changed and was resplendent with divine brightness on the mount of transfiguration Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G3326 and G3445 Citing in TDNT: 4:755, 607 If you have done renovation on your house, you know what fun they can be at the beginning and what a pain they can be at the end. God wants us to renovate the faculties of our minds. God wants us to grow. Colossians 3:10 Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
American King James Version×“Renewed” here is the same word we read in Romans. To pull down the walls, to put out the pipes and wiring, and put in something new. And not just to anything, but to be in the image of God. To become God-like. If we are transforming our mind into something other than God, that is not what God expects. He wants to see growth toward His righteousness and character. This time of year is great for reflection. Over the last year have we grown? I’m sure we have examined ourselves. Have we grown since Passover 2009? Have we overcome some sins? Maybe we are still struggling with some we were last year. But maybe we cut off those thoughts sooner. God expects spiritual growth in us. He demands that we have spiritual growth. Two types of situations that produce growth. They may seem obvious. But there are specific situations.
1. Reactive. That means responsiveness. How do you respond to something? Maybe you think this is bad. In my last job, if I planned everything as I should, I shouldn’t have to put on the fireman hat and react. God is okay with reaction; it shows Him what we are made of. Hebrews 5:8 Hebrews 5:8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
American King James Version×Christ had to react to the environment around Him. Because of how He reacted, He learned obedience. He grew. Hebrews 12:3 Hebrews 12:3For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds.
American King James Version×All of Christ’s trials were brought on by other people. He had to react properly. If we do just a quick recap of his 33 years of life, how did He react? Perfectly. In the way that He should. In a way the reflected the gloriousness of the Father. What is our reaction? Trials are not always self inflicted. Sometimes they are what people have done to us. Jesus was always growing. Are we always working on our reaction to life’s difficulties? Or is it easier to throw up the barriers? One thing to consider is how will this affect my relationship with God? You deal with issues in a progression: First the person, then the Church, and then God. How will the situation affect your relationship with God? Closer or farther?
2 Corinthians 4:7-11 2 Corinthians 4:7-11  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
 For we which live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
American King James Version×Vs. 7 – What is the treasure in earthly vessels? We are earthen. God is living in us; that is a treasure. Vs. 8 – Have you seen people that are hard pressed and end up crushed? Paul says you have the Holy Spirit. Don’t be troubled because it is complex and everything is falling around you. Vs. 10 – This is not a morbid reminder that we should remember Christ’s beatings every day, but rather remembering what He did. That we can come before God; that our sins can be forgiven. We need to ask if our thoughts and actions worth Christ’s sacrifice. Is this worth the sacrifice of Christ? We go through things with friends and family. How do we react? What can we learn from the bad things that come on us? Sometimes trials come in the form of winning the lottery. Trials are not always bad things. What would you do? Would you become vain or turn inward, or give it away? Would you learn humility? Would you learn how to share? It is not that you just have to react to all the bad things. Someone comes up to you at work: You did a good job. Do you say, I worked hard on that one. Give Mom thanks, but other than that, it was all me. (Laughter.) Do we get angry and vengeful? Do we blame others? Do we blame ourselves? If I wasn’t such a rotten person… God expects us to work on our reactions.
Ways to be reactive to grow: How we deal with other people? Other personalities? Thankfully, we are all different. Think about a world full of Ed Dowds. Scary. You like blue; I like green. Some of it may sound trivial. But if we react in the wrong way, God sees that. How do we react to disappointments? How do we react to things out of your control? Think of your investments. How do you react to death? To separation? To opportunities? The chance to move to a new city? Kansas? Who wants to live in Kansas? (Laughter.) How about to changes in life? Getting married? Getting fired? Getting a new job? Transferred? Babies? Children leaving home? We can react correctly or badly in any situation. If we react badly, we should recognize it immediately. Whoa. I gloated too much over that raise. I didn’t give thanks to God. “God, give me another raise; I promise I’ll do better.” Maybe next time we catch it sooner. That is what God wants to think. A complete shrug-off is not what God wants. God wants us to internalize the right reaction to what we just did. He wants to see the war of His way and our selfish nature. He wants to see His way gaining ground.
2. To be proactive. That means controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than waiting to respond to it after it happens. Luke 2:52 Luke 2:52And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
American King James Version×This is a great conversation verse on the way home. Those in Valley Center will have to talk quickly. The rest of you will have more time. What was He doing that created growth? He was doing something. How did He increase in wisdom and stature with God and man? Luke 2:41-43 Luke 2:41-43  Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.  And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.  And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
American King James Version×Vs. 43 – It was common for the entire family would go. The parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all went. There were no WalMarts, so they took animals with them. My wife was left at rest areas several times growing up. Not in the last 12 years. (Laughter.) Jesus took the initiative. He was proactive. He would go in and talk with the leaders. He was seeing other’s reactions and their approach to different scriptures. It does not say that He grew in knowledge; just wisdom and stature and favor. He took time to fast 40 days. He prayed. He took steps to grow closer to God. He wasn’t born and said, “I’m the son of God; we go way back. I don’t need to pray to Him.” No. He still prayed and took proactive steps to grow closer to His Father. Bible study is one way we can grow closer. Different types of education. We can seek wisdom. Read about Solomon. He sought wisdom, but in what context? Preventative planning can be a way to grow. Prayer. Why did Christ pray? To increase in His relationship with the Father. We can fast. There was a great message on that a month ago. Meditation. When you drive to work, it is a great time to meditate. That allows God to talk back to us. And encourage us. And cause scriptures to connect. Hugely important. We can serve others. We can be hospitable. We can be proactive in having a better marriage. If you see someone you want to imitate, invite them over. Find out what they do. Plan to grow. This is my goal for overcoming these sins. For understanding this book of the Bible. Ephesians 6 – the armor of God. We can plan our growth with God’s help.
Three more in detail: 1. Use your talents. Matthew 25:14-30 Matthew 25:14-30  For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods.
 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
 But he that had received one went and dig in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
 After a long time the lord of those servants comes, and reckons with them.
 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered to me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
 His lord said to him, Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.
 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered to me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
 His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.
 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you that you are an hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not strewed:
 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: see, there you have that is yours.
 His lord answered and said to him, You wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed:
 You ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury.
 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents.
 For to every one that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has.
 And cast you the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
American King James Version×You can use the talents God has already given you. Some are overly hospitable. Some enjoy sending cards. Some are great at music. They can serve God that way. Remember the first two used their talents – what God had given them. The last one buried it. You have to be aware of your talents. What is it that is in me that I can serve others and grow in godliness? Do you know what it is? A month ago, I suggested that we compliment somebody. How many did that? It helps them know what they are good at. When you are down, you want an encourager to call you. By the time you are off the phone, you are ecstatic. If you have taken up my suggestion, do it. It is great to know what service you can give back to the congregation. We have to grow the positives. Know what God can extract out of you to help others. Everyone has been given talents by nature; others come from the laying on of hands. Utilize what God has given you.
2. Ask, seek, knock. This is the big four. Prayer. Bible Study. Fasting. Meditation. Luke 11:9 Luke 11:9And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.
American King James Version×These are proactive steps. Things we do proactively. Ask means to crave or desire. G154 αἰτέω aiteō ahee-teh'-o Of uncertain derivation; to ask (in generally): - ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require. Compare G4441. Thayer Definition: 1) to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: of uncertain derivation Citing in TDNT: 1:191, 30 I have some things I’m craving after sunset tonight. (Laughter.) Do you crave God’s word? Do you desire a deeper relationship with Him? 1 John 3:22 1 John 3:22And whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
American King James Version×What are you asking for? Or have you asked? If not, be proactive. Seek. Luke 11:9 Luke 11:9And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.
American King James Version×It means to seek in order to find. It doesn’t mean an aimless thing; I’ll study this or that. It means seeking in order to find. We are aimed at something. We are dedicated to something. Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×Are we doing things in line with the kingdom of God, or are we just going from one ditch to the other? Are we seeking the kingdom or just something else blended with it? Knock. What are we knocking for? Are we knocking on God’s door and asking to be partners on this eternal life thing? What are we knocking against? For physical things? Nicer car. Bigger house. Pay raise.
1 John 3:22 1 John 3:22And whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
American King James Version×What are we asking for, seeking after, and knocking for? For health? For healing? For trials to go away? Not bad things to ask for? But are we asking for that 95% of the time? And 5% for spiritual understanding? Or the other way? What is that balance like in our prayers? How much are we asking, knocking and seeking spiritual things. God promises to take care of us. None of us are naked. We had a big lunch. But the biggest thing to God is that we are all in His kingdom in His family. The early kings in the OT had to write a copy of the Law, word for word. They had to carry it and read it. They learned to fear God. There are two kinds of fear in the Bible. Great study; what are they and how are they different. By writing the law and reading it, it helped them have a heart for the people. Being single minded helps God to bless us. Just logging time in the Bible is not good enough. Got my 30 minutes of study today. Or, I listened to a sermon. Or, I read this magazine. We have to couple it with the right mind. We have to have that inner desire to overcome our sins. We are at day 7; what does day 8 hold for us? Do we slip back into the bad habits? Jewish tradition is that yesterday, the Israelites were trapped. Today, they crossed the Red Sea. They looked back at the chariots and horse and Egyptians drowning. What does day 8 have in store for us? Along with asking, seeking and knocking, fasting is very important. We have to do it more than once a year. It helps us find out what we don’t know so we can act on it. It helps us to acknowledge what we do know but don’t want to face, so then we can proactively act on it. We have to ask, we have to seek, we have to knock.
3. Ask for correction. This is the same as asking for growth. Sometimes it hurts when we grow. When kids grow, their legs ache. Muscles ache. Jeremiah 10:24 Jeremiah 10:24O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.
American King James Version×There are two ways to ask for correction. We will look at both. Vs. 24 – Correct me with mercy. Way number one: God correct me, but please be gentle and don’t make me a grease spot on the road. Way number two: God correct me, but let’s just work on one thing. Jeremiah didn’t ask for correction in just one way. He asked not to be a grease spot on the road. We need to ask for correction, but don’t limit God. Don’t tell God that you are okay with all these things except this one. David prayed for repentance of everything he had done. Jeremiah was proactively asking God for correction. He didn’t want to wait for the world to correct him. That is the hard way. We should ask for correction. God is going to course correct you one way or the other, whether you like it or not. As long as you are trying. The Holy Spirit will convict us toward that growth. Let God live in you; to grow and overcome.
Hebrews 12:10 Hebrews 12:10For they truly for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
American King James Version×, 14 The pursuit of holiness involves asking for correction. We have to ask for that growth. We have to be proactive to this. Draw a horizontal line on your notes. On the left side, it indicates the evil and lustful. The right side indicates righteousness and obedience. In your mind’s eye, where are you on that scale? On the left? In the center? This close to the right? Where do you fit on that scale? God wants to see you start moving to the right on this scale. We can do that through reacting the right way and being proactive. Fruit comes from growth. It doesn’t come from sitting there. Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×With God living in us, these are the byproducts. When we grow, these things increase. We can’t just decide it is Wednesday, and I will be more gentle today. It is a byproduct of God’s way of life. We can’t just decide to work on peace today. As we work on this, God’s fruits increase. We can be proactive and then fail in reaction. We can pray and study and fast and meditate and then fail to react properly. We have to do both.
Here are three very broad areas we should be growing in, as we leave UB and start the 40 days to Pentecost: 1. Grow in our relationship with God. Not a news flash there. That is the greatest commandment. How do I grow in love towards God? 2. Grow in relationships with others. The second great commandment. 3. We should grow within ourselves. We should grow in godly traits. Genesis 22:12 Genesis 22:12And he said, Lay not your hand on the lad, neither do you any thing to him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.
American King James Version×God said about Abraham, “Now I know…” When will he say that about you? We must grow in our faith and trust and obedience we talked about on the first holy day. Proverbs 24:16 Proverbs 24:16For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
American King James Version×Vs. 16 – The reference is not seven literal times; it is more of an infinite thing. The fact that we rise again to fight what knocked us down means there is growth. God wants to see us get back up and put our mitts and say, “Nice try, Satan! It’s not going to happen!” Each time we eat a bit of leaven, we need to rise up again, tell God we are sorry, and do better next time.
2 Peter 1:10 2 Peter 1:10Why the rather, brothers, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall:
American King James Version×Vs. 10 – Peter references verse 5-7. It is a progression of growth. He starts with faith and adds virtue and knowledge and self control and perseverance. Have you ever tried to persevere when you don’t have self control? It is all about growth. God wants to see us grow. There is a growth that occurs. You can’t just wake up one day with perfect care and concern for others. There is a growth process. We must put off our selfish nature to get there. We have to realize the importance that God puts on putting sin out of our lives. There are two festivals that last 7 days. The other one pictures the great millennial rule where people learn obedience. You don’t go to the feast, you don’t get rain. A hard lesson for some. This is the time for us to put our sins out and move on to day 8. These seven days are about our growth from sin to godliness. 2 Peter 3:17-18 2 Peter 3:17-18  You therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×Vs. 18 – This is not a syrupy kind of grace. We are to be thankful for Him being kind to us; for the sacrifice His Son made. This does not exclude personal responsibility in this. That is what these last seven days were about.