Well, if you'd like to take up your your bibles, either the ones you've got on the tables or perhaps the ones you bought with you. And we're going to have a look, as I say, at this parable we were thinking about this morning. This is a parable found only in Mark's gospel. The parable of the growing seeds and it's in March 4, and we're just going to read versus 26 to 29.
This is Jesus Jesus speaking. He also said, this is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows. Though he does not know how.
All by itself, the soil produces corn. First, the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear And as soon as the call is right, he puts the sickle to it because the harvest has come. Now failing to make progress in areas which we want to succeed in, is tough and it's irritating and it's disappointing, isn't it? Failing to make progress in areas where we want to do well, we want to succeed, but we just can't is is frustrating. So this is the time of year when perhaps you're thinking about your bible reading, and maybe you've downloaded or you printed off 1 of these bible reading plans that will enable you to read the bible in a year or over 2 years or over 3 years or and you're you're committing in your mind to that plan, you're getting ready for that plan.
I can't be the only 1 who's who's had a go at those things in the past. And at the starts has been really fired up. The first month goes well. The second month goes well, by the time March and leviticus come round, You know, we begin to fall off the wagon a little bit and by the time the summer's gone, you know, the the whole thing's, you know, a bit a bit by the way. And it's frustrating, isn't it?
Because it starts so well with resolve to do something, but we fail to make progress, and it it can be can be frustrating. The same is true in lots of other areas. So you might be into, you know, hobbies like crafting, perhaps you're into cross stitch or knitting or crocheting or and, you know, you've got the books, you know what you could achieve. You know, you've seen the YouTube videos and yet you have a go and time off, you just fail to make progress. You know, you want to get better, you think you might be able to get better, but you just can't do it.
And it's tough and it's a bit disappointing, isn't it? The same is true in all kinds of other areas, think of sports, or cooking or writing, whatever it is, things that we're passionate about, we want to make progress in, but we don't. It can be frustrating. We wonder why Why can't it be better? Oh, as good as somebody else.
And I think sometimes Christians can feel like that about sanctification as well. Now when it comes to sanctification, there are there are 2 there are 2 ways of thinking about it. The more the more technical terms would be kind of positional sanctification and progressive sanctification. Now positional sanctification is really what we become and what we are when we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we turn from our sins, when we confess him to be lord, when we receive him as savior, He sets us apart.
That's really what the word means. He sets us apart. He sanctifies us. He washes us by the blood of Christ. And from that moment, we are what we will always be right before the living God.
We won't make progress in that sense. But then there's the more progressive sanctification, which you could describe as bringing our characters in line with what God has already declared us to be. So we we become more like Christ as we continue in the Christian faith that he works on us to produce the fruits of the spirit, love, and joy, and peace, and patience and kindness and self control, and he makes us more like Christ. We make progress in being what we have already become by faith in the gospel. And actually, all Christians who have the Holy Spirit living in them and have been truly born again have this desire, sometimes strong, sometimes not so strong, but they have this desire to be like the law who bought them.
They want to be like their master. They've seen his beauty in the bible, and they want to be they wanna be like him. They want to make progress in Christ's likeness. The frustrating thing is that often it feels like we're taking 2 steps forward or 1 step back, or worse 2 steps back and 1 step forward, you know. And and it's frustrating, and we wonder why does it all have to be so up and down like this, and why does it have to take so long?
I mean, we live in the age of not just next day, but same day delivery. Same day delivery. Did I hear a what? That is right. Second new book, same day delivery.
We live in the age of, you know, 1 click download. You can be reading it instantly. That's the age that we live in. Can't God sort of conform to that level of service that we've come to expect. Can't he just zap us and make us like Christ instantly?
Why do we have to go through this long up and down process? Why do we have to go through these feelings of frustration? Why can't sanctification be more like receiving an Amazon Amazon package. There are a whole host of reasons why that is not the case. But I just want us to see 1 or 2 from from Mark chapter 4 and from this from this parable.
Have a look with me again the the parable. It's only a few it's only a few sentences. This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.
All by itself, the soil produces corn. First, the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. As soon as the corn is ripe, he puts the sickle to it because the harvest has come. Now this morning in the sermon, we were thinking about this parable as it applies to the way that the kingdom of God advances and progresses throughout the world. We touched on other things, but that was the emphasis.
And we saw that although there are certain responsibilities that have and much that we do know, the emphasis of this parable is on the things that we don't know all by itself. The ground produces the crop. He does not know how it grows. That's more of the emphasis here, and we were thinking about that as the way the gospel goes through the world. But I just wanted to spend a few minutes thinking about the way in which the gospel or the kingdom of God progresses in the human life.
The way it bears fruit in the human soul, the way it works through us to transform us as as individuals. And the first thing that we can see about that here, and we saw this this morning as well, is that that is not an instant process. It takes time to develop the likeness of Christ in our lives. It takes time. I remember doing a photography AS level for all of about 3 months and then I dropped it.
And you know, you learn quickly in those 3 months that there's a big difference between a point and click, you know, instant out it comes photo and having to go into the dark room and mess around with all these chemicals in order to develop the thing properly like they're used to. You know, it it takes time in that way to develop a proper picture, to to gain the clarity and the color, and to see see what is there. And the same is true in the way in which Kingdom of God works through a life. It's not an instant point and click zap and it's done. It's a process of development that the Lord undertakes in each 1 of his his each 1 of his children.
The new living translation, which is a a another translation of the bible, I think puts it puts it really well. This is how the new living translation describes this process. It says the earth produces the crops on its own. First, a leaf blade pushes through. Then the heads of wheat are formed and finally the grain ripens.
First, a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed. And finally, the grain ripens that a lovely image, the first leaf blade pushing through the soil. If you've ever tried to grow anything, either in your garden, or on your windowsill perhaps. You know, it's the first sign of life, isn't it? The first leaf blade beginning to push through and you know that that's not the end result.
It's the beginning of a process. You know, if you look after it and tend it well, the fruit or the herb or whatever it is, it's coming a process has begun. Well, the message of the kingdom and the way in which it spreads is like that. It's a process of growth and life. Both in the world and in the individual.
And again, there's something we touched on this this morning as well. There's something mysterious about it, the way in which the gospel works to transform us. Not mysterious in the same way that Scooby Doo is mysterious or ghostbusters is mysterious. But a mysterious in the sense that it's hard to sometimes quantify and to work out exactly how it how it happens. Because most of us most of the time when it comes to sanctification, are not either nosediving away from Christ that great speed and plummeting towards the ground.
But neither do we feel like we're making great consistent gains day after day week after week. I think most of us feel like if our lives were a graph, there would we hope be a general trend of going up and becoming more like price. But it's not a straight line. It's a it's a real wiggle. You know, it's up and down and we have times when we feel like we're in a down and, you know, sins that we're battling with difficult situations that we're going through, we feel our fellowship with the Lord isn't what it should be, what we would want it to be.
And at other times, we feel much more positive and much more encouraged about those things. So there's a general upward trend, but it's more like a wiggly line, I think. And so the lords It's the same thing, Ray. The Lord is working to make us like Christ through all the situations, even through our sin, and the difficulties that we go through to bring that final harvest of of making us like Jesus. And that effect how we view the seed and the message of the kingdom.
It affects our attitude towards towards God's word. I've used this quote before This is from a chap called Christopher Ash. And he's talking here about how the Bible or the seed works in our lives. It's a long quote, but it's worth tuning into. And he says this, God knows what we need much better than we do.
And it's a misunderstanding to think that by some divine magic, the bible passage I happen to be reading today will be precisely what I need today, and then again tomorrow and the next day, that would be a remarkable series of coincidences. But the bible was never intended to work like that. We say I wanna hear good speaking to me today. Well, he will speak if I hear the bible faithfully preached, but he might not teach me what I think I need to hear today. The bible is not designed to give me a series of instant fixes.
It is God's instrument to shape and mold my mind and my character into the likeness of crime. And that takes time. I need to listen to the bible passage being preached today and to turn my heart to God in submission and trust today not only because I may need that passage today, but because I may need that passage tomorrow and tomorrow may be too late to learn it. I think it's very perceptive and very helpful and helpful in applying this this passage. The Bible is not designed to give me a series of instant fixes.
It is God's instrument to shape and mold my mind and my character into the likeness of Christ. And that takes time. Or in the words of this parable, the soil produces corn. First, the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. It is a it is a pro this.
It is a process that takes time. And that, when we think about it, it is is fantastic news. Because if God were just to zap us instantly and to make us in 1 finger click, like the lord Jesus. That wouldn't be that wouldn't be good for us in the end for a number of reasons. I was trying to think of an illustration to to help to help get this across.
It would be like it would be like a body builder. This is an area I know very little about. The way. It would be like a body builder who instead of getting strong and putting on mass through weights and going to the gym, gets it all through needles and powder. And what you would get, I think, is somebody who looks big and might be able to fill out their tight t shirts that they're buying and wearing.
And they would look the part, but actually their skeleton wouldn't have developed strength. Their tendons and their ligaments wouldn't have developed strength over time in getting bigger and stronger. It's all synthetic. It comes through the needle and through the powder. And so although the flesh is on the bone, in the end, the the act strength of training that person to be like a certain thing isn't isn't there.
I don't know if that holds true. If you're a body builder, then you may be able to correct me on But I think it's helpful at least in understanding what goes on with sanctification. We might ask why does it take so long? Why do we have to go through this process? And 1 of the answers is because God wants to train a Christian mind.
He wants to grow us in the fruit of the spirit fruit like patients by helping us to bear with 1 another in love. He wants to help us to grow in the gift of love through self sacrifice and through the laying down of our own lives. In other words, there is difficulty and there is hardship and there is death to self in the process of growth, which is exactly like our our lord. And so we grow in Christ's likeness through this process. It doesn't just get zapped onto us.
Paul, in the new testament, in 2 Corinthians 12, says something really interesting about his own sanctification and growth in Godliness. This is 2 Corinthians 12 verse 7 to 9. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was giving a given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of satan to torment me. 3 times, I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me. So here is Paul talking about his thorn in the flesh, which lots of people think was some kind of physical disability that he had. So he's got this thorn in the flesh and he's praying to the Lord 3 times that the Lord would remove it from him. But the Lord says, no. And to keep him from becoming conceited because he'd had these great experiences and these visions and this insight into the revelation of God to keep him from becoming proud or boastful in himself, there is this thorn in the flesh to to keep him humble.
And you can imagine him saying, maybe he wouldn't have said this. But you can imagine him saying, you know, why does it have to be like, you know, I could be a super apostle. You know, why do I have to have this thorn in the flesh, this limitation, this disability, just think of all that I could be doing. If I was transformed into the image of Christ right now, if I didn't have any of this, if I was perfectly Godly, I'd be so much more effective in the world. So much more useful.
But actually, that thorn in the flesh was 1 of the ways in which the loving God was gonna sanctify him. And make him like Christ in teaching him to rely not on himself, but on the god who raised him from the dead. That's the purpose of it. So his sanctification didn't come through zapping, but through difficulty to produce real reliance on Christ. So we might not know everything about our progress in sanctification how it works.
There might be a degree of mystery to it that we don't understand, a process that we don't really get. But this is our confidence. This is the confidence the Lord gives us that he is gonna work to slowly, gently, wean us off our addictions to the world, and to teach us through community life together how to be like Christ and by his spirit to make us more and more like Jesus. Until we see him face to face 1 day, and that process is finally complete. And so there are 2 reasons that we can take heart when it comes to the seed of the kingdom working in our own lives.
2 important reasons to take cover. The first is from Philippians, 1, verse 4 to 6. These are wonderful words that we looked at. I think in the first lockdown when we were going through Philippines, Paul says in all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it onto completion. Until the day of Christ Jesus.
That is a great encouragement for us, isn't it? That if we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, if we are his by repentance and faith if we have been united to him. That good work he has begun in us, he is going to pleat on the day of Christ Jesus. No matter what we go through, whether we feel like we're right at the bottom of 1 of those wiggles or going quite well and feeling quite encouraged at the moment. God is going to finish the work in every person he has started it in until the day then we see the lord face to face.
And so the way this ties into this parable, I think, is that there is going to be 1 day a great global harvest of believers from every tribe and tongue in nation who will be gathered in. There will be a harvest of people ready to serve the lord Jesus forever. But there will also be an individual harvest in the life of every Christian as we see what God has been to in our lives, to sanctify us, to make us like him, to bring the fruit to fruition, all to the glory of Christ on that day. So there's 1 encouragement God is gonna complete the work that he's begun in his children. And secondly, the other encouragement is is just living together in the church and having the privilege of seeing the word of God doing its work all across the different ministries that we have here.
That's why I wanted to have these 5 testimonies so that we can gain some encouragement from what God says to us in the word and just hear how This seed has been growing, bearing fruit as the word of God is patiently faithfully taught week after week and seeing that together. And it's wonderful because 2 people of the 5 I've asked have said to me, and I hope I'm not stealing what they're gonna say. 2 people have said to me, look, we were thinking about this, and there's not there hasn't been any real dramatic great fit. You know, there isn't really any dramatic story we can share or great testimony that we've heard of. It's just kind of quite ordinary.
And I think it's absolutely fantastic. I think that's the point of this. It's the week in, week out, ordinary faithful sowing of the word of God out in the day, sleeping and resting at night, getting on with life while faithfully teaching and just seeing the lord slowly, gently transform his people by his word until that great harvest day. And I hope we'll all be encouraged to hear those stories in just a moment. But we're going to we're going to pray and then we're going to sing he will hold me fast, which is a wonderful song about sanctification in some ways.
But when we fear our faith is gonna fail, When we fear suffering's gonna undo us, actually Christ has got hold of us. He's gonna work in and he's gonna bring it to completion. So let's pray and then we'll sing that together. Our heavenly father, we thank you for those words in Philippians that Paul was confident as he spoke of the Philippian Church, but of all believers, that the good work, which you have begun in each of your children, you will bring to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. We thank you that the seed has the life giving power within it that your word is what changes us.
We think of that prayer, sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth. That the truth of your word, Lord Jesus, is what will sanctify us and what will make us progress in Christ likeness and we thank you that the kingdom is advancing in not just this world, but in the hearts and lives of all of your children. And we just pray that this year, we would remember that. We would come back to you.
We would trust your work in our lives and rejoice as we see it working in this church, in these different ministries. And we pray that you help those now who are gonna come up and share with us. And as we pray together for these ministries, we pray it would be great just to reflect on all that you have been doing in our church through your word in Jesus name, amen. I'm going to invite Paul Simpson, and then Paul Langman will come straight after that. And they're both going to tell us about how they've seen God's word working in the international ministry and in and in the home group.
So Paul over to you and then Next, Paul. International Capital this week, many of you been along to it, but we have a little format. We had an English lesson we then have a a drink and a chat and maybe an activity and then a meal together. And then we have a a short talk from the from the bible. And a chance to discuss it together on tables and ask questions.
And we've been working through – we worked through the whole of Mark. We're now working through Luke we just do a little bit each week. And I guess our the passage that we've we've built around is the 1 that we've been looking at this evening and this morning, where we're we're trusting as God's word is opened that he is working and he is speaking through it and and working in people. But much of the time, we don't really have much idea what's going on. The discussions are are sometimes quite interesting, sometimes to get good response you normally get a polite response.
Sometimes it just seems to be a kind of doesn't make sense to people. It isn't it's hard to understand. And so it's hard to gauge how how God's word is actually working week by week. But we do get those little little leaf blades coming through. Which is is a great encouragement when you do see them.
Just 3 very, very brief examples. In many ways, sort of insignificant, but many ways, very significant. We've seen Christina come along, and and she's enjoyed Cafe and come to church. Now it just brings her whole family. He's a whole family that comes just through 1 person coming and sort of enjoying it and getting to know people and hearing God's word working.
Some of you are now Bao who who came to Cafe and then came to church and now moved off to Hong Kong. But certainly seems to have grown and understood that quite know how much But in Hong Kong has now got got stuck in at a church there, which again is encouraging to see And a wonderful North Korean lady that many of you will know who's become a Christian. It becomes a cafe for a long time. Over the last years become a Christian and now comes to church and is so excited by it. She says She loves Church so much on she's still smiling on Tuesday.
And has been inviting her friends to that as well. So that that's wonderful. But again, most is unseen. Much of the fruit that we see has been started by other Christians way back down the line. Much of probably what we're doing, we won't really see the fruit from, but we will see both other Christians will pick that up.
As people move on and to various places and various countries. And so I guess it'd be great to be praying and we'd value the prayer that God would continue to be opening people's eyes as his word is taught and looked at together. Good evening. Tom just asked me to say a little bit about our home group. As I'm sure you were doing in your home groups, we spent most of last term looking at proverbs.
Together, which was wonderful following the Morning Sermon series. And I think we saw really clearly that God's word is always relevant and is always certain in a year where there was lots of uncertainty. It was just wonderful gather together every week. Perhaps having watched the news before we came where the where there was masses of uncertainty about what was gonna happen next to then be able to open God's word together, which is absolutely certain, was just a wonderful blessing. It instructs us to fear the law, doesn't it, proverbs?
And assures us that trusting God and what follows from that living wisely and righteursly with integrity, loving others, working hard, though these things may be difficult or unpopular and may lead to us being mocked or even persecuted, they will result in blessing and life. The outcome is certain. So I think it was just a wonderful comfort and encouragement to see the certainty of God's word. In those types. And in – to take words from Proverbs chapter 15 verse 15 in varying degrees of oppression and wretchedness and difficulty, we could cheerfully feast together on God's faithfulness and his promises in his word.
1 person in our group said they were challenged and encouraged about how real proverbs is because it touches every area of our human lives, however big or small. So whether it's decision making, how to use our time, what we consume relating to work colleagues or or other people, parenting, what we're building our lives on or where we're placing our hope. The fact that God's word speaks to all of those things shows us that he cares about us at every level and therefore we can trust him and ask for his help. With anything and everything. Someone else said they had been challenged and humbled to love and welcome rebuke.
This is in Proverbs chapter 9. And correction in the Lord because it's ultimately for our good. We saw there, didn't we the contrast between young, unwise Mocca who hates others for rebuking them, but the wise person who who is receptive to it and knows it's it's ultimately for their good. And I think ultimately, we were all encouraged that Jesus is our righteousness. We're clothed in his perfect wisdom, obedience, integrity and love, So in all those proverbs where we saw righteousness and wisdom contrasted with folly and wickedness, and we knew we wanted to live wisely and righteously, but we're painfully aware of our failure to do so.
We were all more thankful for Jesus. That's just a bit about Home Group last term. Thank you both very much. And tying in wonderfully with what we see in the word of God and in that parable. The week after week, the seed is sown.
It's hard to exactly measure week by week the effectiveness of that particular study or that particular talk. But as you stand back even over a term or 2 and just survey what God has done and think about it, you could see that his word has been working, making his people more like him, bringing people to faith and the harvest is always growing as Jesus promised it would. We're gonna spend a few minutes on our tables now just praying, both for the home group ministry, which goes on throughout the life of the church, week after week, that God would continue and to sow his seed there and grow it in our lives and for the international ministry, which Paul has just been telling us about as well. Just a few minutes on our tables to pray for those 2 ministries. Thank you.
Do have a seat. And I'm going to again, just 1 after the other, going to invite Sarah, who's going to tell us about the women's bible study. Then Garrett is going to come and tell about youth. And then lastly, Kanita will come and tell us about the student ministry. So Sarah, over to you.
Thanks. Women's bible study happens here at the hub every Wednesday morning in term time. And traditionally, we've done studies sort of using a formal kind of study guide like this kind of thing. But over the past year or so, we decided we needed to be a bit bolder. And so we read a book together called Women of The Word by an author called Jen Wilkin.
Which is essentially a book designed to sort of equip people to handle God's word more confidently and build up bible literacy. She outlines a a a sort of how to study with more purpose and and use a of the process. So we have definitely, I think, grown in our ability to feel able to kind of manage the study on our own, which has been great. We've been looking at the gospel of John. And 1 week, we may do a whole chapter.
Another week, we may just do a few verses depending on what the study leader wants to do and how they're discussion kind of takes us. But the emphasis is really on looking, trying to discern what what the passage tells us about God and and and how we should be responding to that and then we try and pray it through. And there's always time set aside to I mean, women's bible study is probably is really about supporting each other, encouraging each other, getting to know each other better. So there's always time set aside to pray together, to catch up with each other, find out what's going on in each other's lives. And then we pray together in sort of smaller groups.
There is a a creche for anyone who's got young children. So hopefully, people can feel that they can really focus and engage in the study knowing that their kids are safe and hopefully happy. And 1 thing I I did want to kind of emphasize is that although the the majority of people who come are able to commit to coming everywhere stay, that's absolutely not a requirement. So I just want people to know that if they have a free Wednesday or a few free Wednesdays if they're in between jobs or whatever, there is it's absolutely okay to dip in and out all the studies kind of stand alone and people would be more than welcome even if it's just is a 1 off. Thank you.
Good evening. Tom's asked me to say a couple of things about rooted in church and say how it runs. And a couple of encouragement from rooted. So rooted is sort of the older youth in church, and we we have a meeting on a Friday night, and then we meet again on Sunday. In our Friday sessions, they've been really, really exciting because we've called them encounters with Jesus.
Now, for those, we've been looking at God's word, and we've been primarily looking at the Gospel and seeing seen people encounter the the living Christ and seeing how he has transformed their lives. And that that's been a really great thing. Along with those sessions on Friday, once a month, we've been doing sort of whole of fame Christians, if you will. Where we've looked at people who have encountered Christ, people like John Newton and seeing how Christ impacted their lives. Which has been a real encouragement to me as a leader, but I think it's been also a real challenge to the youth as well.
And then on a Sunday, we have been been looking at God's words for the the whole session, whereas it's more of a bible study format. And for those, we've been in the book of Romans. We're currently on a cliffhanger, we've left them in Romans 8 wanting more when we come back in January. And those sessions have been at absolutely fantastic because we have seen that we're all absolutely in need of a savior. And we ended in Romans 8 hearing that there is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
And and that is such good news. And and then a couple of encouragement from from the youth team, the the rooted lot, especially, is Just seeing the young people bring bring others to rooted has been a real encouragement to they've been the ones going out and planting the seeds and bringing in people to to the church, which has been an awesome, awesome thing. Seeing people who perhaps have never even stepped into a church building before come in and hear the word of God preached. We've also We've also seen seen people in these Sunday sessions where we've been looking at the word of God, asking far more deliberately what does God's word say? Where perhaps their their preconceptions have been challenged, and they're not looking to someone older or someone wiser.
They're looking to God's words. For what does God's word actually say about this subject. Which has been a real real encouragement. Now that is happening more and more in in the young people. And the third encouragement, I think, is not not so much from me because Rachel and myself, Rachel and my wife and I, we've only been doing youth for for just a year now.
But some of the youth leaders have been there for a lot longer, and they've seen some youth go, and and they've been going up gone up to UNi, and they've seen that that faith that these young people have they've seen it stick, and they've seen go off to university, and they've seen those roots of faith in Christ Jesus stick when they go off, and they they're stuck into their church. And I think that's been a great encouragement as well to us. Hi. So I'm gonna talk about the students ministry, which meets using Sunday after the evening service at the back. And over the last time, we've been walking through book of colossians.
For the majority of our time. And that was up to the way day that we had in November. And after that, we've spent some time I'm packing the Sunday evening service. So, like, the summons in John 1, which have been really useful when encouraging spent some extra time unpacking that. Tom asked me to say some of the ways that I've seen that gods were work has been at work in the students ministry.
And 1 of the things that stuck out to me most was that the word of god is ultimate truth that has power realign, sort of, our attentions and our diversions back to Jesus. We spent some time in colossians 1, which has such great truths who Jesus is and the personal work of of Jesus Christ, and then going through the entire letter, how that transforms into our everyday lives. Like, right down to our family life and every aspect of that. And I feel hearing some of the testimonies and some of the feedback from, like, the students when we're having discussions in, like, breakouts. It's just seeing how focusing on that truth of who Jesus is and what he's done for us really does sort of I'm focused right now to every aspect of our lives and that's really encouraging to hear how does that can little everyday circumstances that that truth has been holding true in in the life of the students.
And also, it's just that the world has got really empowered to equip us to overcome the lives of this world every day. I think that Instagram and just social media and there's just so much stuff that the world 3 is at us that some of it can seem true, but I'm consistently coming back to a student group and digging into the word of God and seeing like, okay, no, this is actually what the Bible says is true. And seeing the students sort of figure their way out through that and, like, and think through it and stand firm on the truth of of the gospel and of the bible has been really encouraging. I remember a student saying about how her lecturer was saying something to her, and she was able to sort of pick it apart and say, like, well, that part is true, and that is not. And I think it's the word of God that you have the power to give us the summons, be able to see the lives of what they are and the truth for what the truth is and answers.
Here is how they are standing on that truth in like their everyday lives and that, for instance, stances even when it might not be popular and what more you see has been really encouraging for me as as well. Encouragement and the testimonies that we've heard this evening, Thank you for reminding us of Paul's words that the 1 who sows and the 1 who waters is nothing, but only God who gives the growth. And as we stand back and we have just thought very briefly about some of the ministries in this church, we we are just amazed that you have done this. That you have given growth in all of these different areas. We thank you for the internationals and for the encouragement of that group gathering here from all over the world week after week as your seed is faithfully sown and for the evidence of life that we've heard about.
We thank you for the home groups that meet every week across the borough, and we thank you as just these friends sit down together and open your word that you have been working in our hearts through these home groups. We thank you for the women's bible study for that women of the word resource for how that's just equipped and helped the women to grasp and understand and love your word more and more. And we thank you for the youth, for the friends that they've brought along to hear about Jesus, for their passion to work out what the Bible really says. And we thank you for your faithfulness to them. The ones who have grown up in this church have come through the Sunday school in the youth program.
Have left to go on to university and are still loving and walking with Christ and wanting to tell us about him. You have done this. And we thank you lord for your grace. We thank you for the students for how they've been looking and seeing Jesus in colossians and trying to take that into the campus with them. All these things you have done through your word, and we thank you for the privilege of being involved in that sowing and watering process.
But we recognize that the increase in the growth is all of your work. And we prayed that this year as we continue to do the very ordinary, but supernaturally wonderful work of sewing your word each week that you would give more growth. Both to us as a church and lord we pray for salvation for this area too. Thank you for this evening in Jesus' name. Amen.