Thriving in God’s House

Most of us enjoy seeing things thrive.

I love seeing a local coffee shop or restaurant buzzing with people and making money. I love hearing stories of growth and expansion when businesses are adding capacity or adding a location.

If you’re a plant lover, you know that nothing’s more exciting than seeing the plant or the garden you’ve been nurturing when it starts growing and maybe doubling or tripling in size. That thriving plant somehow becomes a source of joy.

On the other hand, when something’s not thriving, we are troubled.

If I’m in a mall or on a main street and I see empty spaces or businesses shut down and boarded up, I feel a sense of sadness and emptiness. I find myself wanting every business on every street to do well.

In the early days of Coastal when we were meeting at the Landmark Hotel, you could walk up and down Robson Street any time of day and feel the buzz of a thriving street. It was the place to walk, to shop, to dine out, to hang out – everyone wanted to be on Robson.

Even though we lived in Surrey at that time, we considered Robson Street along with the West End and Coal Harbour like our own communities that we could enjoy vicariously every Sunday. We loved coming downtown to church on Sunday morning and then spending the day in the neighbourhood.

Recently though when walking down Robson Street I didn’t quite have the same feeling. I found it difficult walking by empty retail spaces or seeing familiar restaurants no longer operating.

As I write this, I realize in a light-hearted way that I might still be grieving the loss of Streamrollers on the corner of Robson and Bute. For over 20 years it was the go-to place to enjoy a unique, steam-cooked burrito – the world-famous Tommy® burrito to be exact. But at some point the business stopped thriving and Steamrollers is now history.

Thriving in Every Season

Over many seasons and cycles of life, we might see businesses come and go and even some plants may only flower for a season, but you and I have been created in God’s image to multiply and flourish and He’s very interested in seeing us thrive in every season and stage of life.

The Oxford Dictionary defines thrive: to grow or develop well or vigorously – to prosper: to flourish.

Ask yourself: Am I thriving and prospering? Am I flourishing? Am I developing well or vigorously?

The good news is even if you know you haven’t been thriving, there’s hope. If we’re still alive, we can still thrive!

My wife does most of the caring for the plants in our home and when she sees one wilting or one with leaves that are drying up, she doesn’t panic. The plant is still alive! She mostly just checks the plant’s environment to make sure it’s getting the right amount of light and water, and that the soil it’s potted in is in good condition. If the plant is in a healthy environment, it’s going to thrive!

Sometimes with even a slight tweak, the plant starts looking healthy again already the next day.

Are you ready for the secret to thriving in every season of life? The answer is found in the environment you’re planted in.

God makes this amazing promise to us in Psalm 92:12-14:

“The righteous thrive like a palm tree and grow like a cedar tree in Lebanon. 13 Planted in the house of the Lord, they thrive in the courts of our God. 14 They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green.”

Isn’t it good to know that God doesn’t see you as just a delicate plant? He sees you as a thriving palm or a huge cedar tree that’s healthy and bearing fruit even in old age.

Allowing Ourselves to be Planted

You’ll notice though that the key to us thriving as Christians and growing in our faith is that we’re planted in God’s house. Of all the environments we find ourselves in during our daily or weekly routine, the healthiest and most nourishing place to be for ourselves and our families is God’s house – with God’s people!

When I first came to Christ at age 17, living in Calgary, I had a very strong sense even as a baby Christian that I didn’t just choose the church that I was attending at that time, but that God had called me to be rooted and planted there.

So I started in God’s house Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Tuesday nights for deeper Bible teaching and Thursday nights for prayer meetings. I made friends with other “brothers and sisters” in Christ that I would visit on the off nights and we would read scripture together and discuss every Bible question and topic you could imagine. I was being discipled.

To say that I grew during those years would be an understatement. I exploded. I started serving in our youth ministry and on our street ministry and drama teams. Two years later, our church started a bible school much like our Coastal School of Missions that I began to attend.

I used to tell people then that being in God’s house was like a spiritual greenhouse or hothouse for me. My relationship with God had grown so much and so fast just by allowing myself to be planted in His house.

And the thriving spilled over to every area of life – my school marks, my work, my friendships, my family, my prayer life, even the different hobbies and sports I was playing at that time.

Before Christ, I had never experienced a thriving and a flourishing like this.

The Thriving Church

The Book of Acts shows us the picture of a healthy church and believers who are thriving.

Even from day one, the church flourished and grew by 3,000 people (Acts 2:41) and each day after the LORD would continually add more people being saved (Acts 2:47).

From this picture we see what being planted in God’s house looks like and what makes for a healthy environment that allows us grow and thrive.

Like the thriving church of Acts 2:42-47, we do the following at Coastal:

  1. We thrive by meeting all together. “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.” (vs 46a).

Every weekend and during special services and events we meet in person at all our campuses and online. Notice the verse says they continued meeting. This means it’s a continual rhythm we establish to stay healthy.

  1. We thrive by doing life in our small groups.Every day…and from house to house…they broke bread in their homes…they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (vs 46, 5:42a, vs 42).

Each week we find life and community by meeting in our small groups. This includes Life Groups, Alpha, INSTE, Freedom Session and others. As in Acts 2, our Life Groups are continual throughout the year and focus on:

  1. Our Pastor’s Teaching. Each week every Life Group “flies in formation” together discussing and applying our weekend messages. This is key to retaining what we’re learning and to becoming “doers” of what we hear.
  2. Fellowship and breaking of bread. As Christians we share a wonderful sense of fellowship and being “in-common” in Christ. Our Life Groups allow us to express this as we get to know each other socially and commit to hospitality and breaking bread together.
  3. Prayer. Our prayer life is vital and nourishing. This includes our personal prayer and relationship with the LORD as well as our corporate prayer life together with other believers. Each week we pray for one another in our Life Groups and we pray together corporately at Saturday Morning Prayer.
  4. Caring for one another. “They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” (vs 45). Being connected in Life Groups allows our church family to care for one other. In our Life Groups we see people supporting each other in job searches, moves, health issues and other needs.

As the early church in Acts, lets commit to being planted in God’s house and devoting ourselves to these things that will keep us thriving in every season of our lives.