Messages from Pastor Raddatz

February 12, 2023, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Houston TX Other Texts for today: Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Matthew 5:21-37

GOD GIVES THE GROWTH, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

Dear People of God,

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God the Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen

The biblical text for us to consider today is 1 Corinthians 3:1-9:  “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”


            You probably heard this story: One spring, a farmer purchased an old, run-down, abandoned farm. The fields were grown over with weeds, the farmhouse was falling apart, and the fences were collapsing all around. He planned to turn the place into a thriving enterprise.

The farmer invited his pastor to stop by on the first day to say a prayer for the farm. The pastor could see what a mess the place was, but blessed the farmer’s work, saying, “May you and God work together to make this the farm of your dreams!”

A few months later, the pastor stopped by again to call on the farmer. Lo and behold, it was like a completely different place— the farm house was completely rebuilt and in excellent condition, there were plenty of cattle and other livestock happily munching on feed in well-fenced pens, and the fields were filled with crops planted in neat rows.

“Amazing!” the pastor said. “Look what God and you have accomplished together!”

“Yes, Pastor,” said the farmer, “but remember what the farm was like when God was working it alone!”

            The Apostle Paul addressed the Corinthian Congregation knowing they were immature.   Like a baby, who can only feed on milk and/or baby formula, they could not handle a juicy ribeye.  They were not ready for it.  They were still dragged down by their flesh.  

            When we are baptized, our sinful flesh has been killed, like a drowning man it is not to have such a life sucking pull on us.  We are to daily drown our old sinful self=our flesh and rise to be like Christ.

The Apostle Paul had been there about 18 months.  He hoped these followers of Jesus would grow, but you cannot make a person grow.  You’ve probably heard this one: CHANGE HAPPENS, BUT GROWTH IS OPTIONAL.  When we follow Christ we are to use the word of God, the spirit of God to grow.  

How does he know they didn’t grow?  He know because there was still strife and divisions among them.  They were party people!  Not just going to parties, but they took sides, and they followed personalities.  “I follow Paul,”  and another, “I follow Apollos”.  This is the human way and not the spiritual way. 


            We are guilty too, of playing one upmanship from time to time.  During times of conflict we have to remember that we are on the same team.

Illus. I've Always Liked The Story Of The 3 Old Widows .....

I’ve always liked the story of the 3 old widows who lived together. One sister got up to go to bed, half way up the stairs she stopped and asked "was I going up or was I coming down"

One sister replied with hint of aggravation, "you were going up to bed."

A second sister headed into the kitchen to make herself a sandwich. Once in the kitchen she hollered back to her sister who was still down stairs; "what did I come in here for"

The sister responded again with a trace of irritation, "you went in to make yourself a sandwich" after which she said; "I’m so glad I am not as forgetful as the both of you are" as she knock on the end table.

And then she got up and walked over to the door and said "Who is it?" (Charlie Roberts) It is good they lived together, even though there were times they were driving each other crazy, they were a help to each other.

In verse 5, Paul defines the purpose of pain, in our life.  He also describes the role of the Pastor and the purpose of a servant of Jesus Christ.  We can either plant, water or reap.  God is the one who causes the growth.


            I have said before that “pain is a great teacher”.  When we are in pain we tend to be more open to change.  When we are in pain we look to get out of pain and we usually have to do something different, a change of our behavior.  

            As Paul leaves he knows that he has been faithful.  He has given them the word of God.  He will be rewarded for his labor.  

             In our Western World we interpret the word “wages” as money.  It does not necessarily mean that here.  In the Greco Roman world wages were “glory.”  It is not I get a higher place in the kingdom, but the recognition that only God can give, “well done good and faithful servant” from Matthew 25:21.  (Dr. Jeff Kloha)

This is the difference between a personality driven ministry or church and a purpose driven church.  In other words growing the church is not up to Pastor’s or leaders, but it is up to God!

            Spiritual Growth will come and may we continue to plant God’s word and water God’s word, in our life and the lives of others so that we can reap a bountiful harvest for the kingdom of God.

May this peace, which passes all human understanding keep your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus, to life everlasting, Amen.   Pastor John Raddatz

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