I grew up in a small town in the Midwest and there’s a lot I don’t know about farming. But I do know this. Farming is a partnership, a joint venture between the farmer and God.
The farmer works hard to prepare the soil and plant the seed. From that point on, though, he is totally dependent on God to produce the crop. God gives the seed the capacity to germinate. He provides the right climate—light and warmth and moisture—to nurture the plants as they grow.
God’s work follows the farmer’s work. If the farmer doesn’t get the seed into the ground, paving the way for God to do what he alone can do, there will be no harvest.
Farming is a partnership.
In a similar way, our growth as disciples is a partnership, a joint venture between us and the Lord. God’s Spirit transforms us into his likeness (see 2 Corinthians 3:18). That same Spirit enables us to “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (Romans 8:13).
But these things don’t happen automatically, and never without our consent. If we don’t care to be changed, God gives us what we wish. If we don’t put forth the effort to grow, we won’t.
The apostle Paul said it like this. “He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:8, 9, NLT).
Our faithful God has invited us into partnership with Jesus Christ, promising to keep us strong to the end, blameless when we stand before him. This partnership (or fellowship) is a two-way street. God promises to do in our lives what he alone can do, anticipating that we will put personal effort into our spiritual growth as well (see 2 Peter 1:5, 10, and 3:14).
This is why we redesigned The Lookout—to assist you in your personal effort to grow as a disciple. In a small way, we’d like to partner with you as you partner with Christ for your spiritual transformation. Here’s how we’d like to help.
We’d like to partner with you as you read through the Bible annually. The New Year is an ideal time to make a commitment to read God’s Word from beginning to end. Our Bible Reading Plan and the accompanying mediations provide structure to help you achieve this goal, along with the flexibility to adjust your reading to your personal schedule.
We’d like to partner with you in the systematic study of Scripture. The study material we provide each week is ideally suited for the classroom and the small group. It can be used for personal study as well. Together, we’ll study through the entire Bible in a six-year period.
We’d like to partner with you in making disciples and cultivating Christ’s character. Every article we publish will address one of these two themes.
We’d like to partner with you and every member of your church “so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28, NIV). Wouldn’t it be great if every member of your congregation were in the Word consistently—personally and in a class or small group? We’ve been encouraged by the news that churches are purchasing copies of The Lookout to put into the hands of every adult member of their congregation so the entire body of believers can grow together as disciples. Perhaps your church will consider this option.
God invites his children into partnership as we grow in Christ, promising to keep us strong to the end. In our small way, we invite you to partner with us as we read, study, and grow into the likeness of Jesus.