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God Does Big, Glorious Things Through Small and Seemingly Insignificant Things

The Gospel of Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:24
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Introduction:
If you have your Bibles let me invite you to open with me to the book of Mark chapter 4. We will read verses 26-34 in just a moment.
The Bible is a beautiful book and through it you will find themes that weave through the story from Genesis to Revelation.
You will find the themes of light and darkness, sacrifice, the priesthood, the temple, the image of God, God’s people, the covenants and so on.
But if you had to just pick one theme by which you could tell the whole Biblical story, that theme would be the theme of the Kingdom of God.
In Genesis God created a Kingdom.
He created a world over which he rightfully ruled and he employed humanity to serve him as representatives of his rule and authority on Earth.
In fact, Kings in ancient history would symbolize the extent of their reign and rule over a land by placing statues that resembled their image...., but God made humanity in his image and commanded them to fill the whole earth… as his reign was all encompassing.
God ruled as King by the authority of his word. His word was the law of the land.
When God said let there be light, there was light.
When God said let there be vegetation, there was vegetation.
When God said let there be animals, there were animals.
When God spoke it, his word accomplished it, and his creation obeyed it.
Until… humanity sinned against the King.
Adam and Eve’s sin was more than a mistake, it was a rebellion against the throne and an attempt to take it for themselves.
They ushered into the world man’s competing kingdom which brought with it sin, death, and brokenness.
The rest of the Old Testament story makes two big points over and over again.
Firstly, Man’s kingdom is really really bad and really deserves the wrath of God.
Secondly, God has a plan to conquer all competing kingdoms once and for all, will re-establish his kingdom, and will set a King over the world forever and ever.
Isaiah 9:6–7 ESV
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
The New Testament message is now this....
Jesus is that King.
God the Son embodied human flesh so that he might conquer the enemies of sin and death, and establish his kingdom on Earth forever and ever.
He came first to bear the punishment for mankind,
He will come again consummate his kingdom and conquer all other kingdoms.
And the way you become a part of this kingdom that is already here, but not yet complete is by following Jesus as King.
That’s why Jesus’ first words proclaimed in the gospel of Mark were these.
Mark 1:15 ESV
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
The good news is that Jesus is here to establish the eternal kingdom of God…
Turn from trying to be king over your own life, and trust Jesus as your Lord.
It appears, that Jesus intends to first grow this kingdom of God through the word that he preached, and by growing the number of people who respond rightly to that word.
Jesus intends to grow the kingdom of God by transferring converts from living for the kingdom of man to surrendering to King Jesus and becoming a part of the kingdom of God.
We have seen clearly in the parables of Mark chapter 4, that this kingdom spreading ministry is a matter of hearing Jesus’ message, and believing it.
The Kingdom of God is for those who pay attention to the words of the King and submit to his rule and reign.... We saw this in Jesus’ commands last week.
Mark 4:23–24 ESV
23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.
The kingdom expands to the hearers of God’s Word.
But apparently, King Jesus has work for us to do in the kingdom expanding mission of God as well.
The parables that Jesus provides us here in Mark chapter four are not just to explain what is happening in his own teaching ministry… these parables are meant to instruct and encourage us in how we join his kingdom expanding ministry.
The two parables we turn to this morning help us to see our role in God’s mission and God’s role in God’s mission..
And I think these are here for our encouragement.
Listen this morning and find encouragement to join what God is doing… Listen this morning and find encouragement to persevere even when it feels like God is doing nothing.
Lets read verses 26-34 and then pray for understanding.
Mark 4:26–34 ESV
26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” 30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
Lets Pray
Mark 4:26 ESV
26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.
Again Jesus is back to a parable of seed sowing that he has already referenced once before.
The seed in this analogy as we saw a couple weeks ago is the word of God.
It is the message of Jesus. That he is the King who came to die the death for his people and rise again to offer them eternal life in his eternal kingdom.
Mark 4:14 ESV
14 The sower sows the word.
We are to scatter the seed of the word.
And this is how the kingdom of God expands.

Truth #1 Our Job in the Kingdom of God is to Scatter the Seed of God’s Word

Do you want to serve God?
Do you want to be a part of something bigger than yourself, something eternal, something that will truly and forever change people’s lives?
Do you want to stop wasting your life?
Then give yourself to the ministry of scattering the seed of God’s Word.
That is the way God’s Kingdom on earth expands until the day he returns and conquers every remaining kingdom.
And if you are a Christian, you have been employed in this seed scattering work....
In fact, God has uniquely created you,
and God has uniquely gifted you,
and God has uniquely placed you in fields to scatter the seed of the Word of God that other people have no access to.
Your age, gender, job, relationship status, living arrangement, financial position, ethnicity, and interests are not accidental attributes that make you you… they are intentional results of the providence of God that make you uniquely suited to scatter the seed of God’s Word in fields of people who desperately need to hear the good news of Jesus.
The mission of God is not easy… but it is simple.
First, you listen to God’s word. You hear it in daily readings of the Bible, in sermons, in books, in small groups…
and as you hear it, you listen not only for yourself, but you listen for the sake of others.
You are not ultimately a consumer of the word, you are a reproducer of it. You take what you hear and you share it with others.
You speak true things about God from God’s word to people.
You speak God’s word to your children.
You speak God’s word to your neighbors.
You speak God’s word to your co-workers.
You speak God’s word to your waitress at the restaurant you always go to.
You intentionally get together and you speak God’s word to brothers and sisters here in this church for their growth so that they can better speak God’s word in the fields that God has placed them in.
We are all employed by the King of the Universe to scatter the seed of his word throughout the world.

Truth #1 Our Job in the Kingdom of God is to Scatter the Seed of God’s Word

Mark 4:26–29 ESV
26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
Truth #1 Our Job in the Kingdom of God is to Scatter the Seed of God’s Word.

Truth #2 God Grows the Kingdom

That is the point of this parable.
When we share the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ with others…, when we share the word of God with others…, we plant seeds like a farmer.
All we are supposed to do is speak the word… that is plant the seeds…
In fact, all we can do is plant the seeds....
Farmers can’t make it rain outside.
Farmer’s can’t make the sun shine.
Farmer’s can’t make a seed sprout, grow, or bear fruit.
Farmers plant the seed, and then they go to sleep, and they wake up, and they go to sleep, and they wake up…
and processes are taking place totally independent of the farmer so that when the seed sprouts up and grows…
the farmer doesn’t even fully understand the intricacies of the process, but the sprout grows as if the earth produces it all by itself.... then the farmer reaps the benefit of its harvest.
The point of the analogy is clear...
We are freed from the expectation of productivity in the kingdom of God work.
We are freed from the expectation of ministry success....
We are freed from the pressure to convert people to Christianity, or to change people by our winsomeness...
Our responsibility is to sow the seed… and God is the one that miraculously brings the growth in a person and in a church.
He opens the ears of the deaf
He enlightens the eyes of the blind,
He softens the hearts of the hardened.
And I want you to notice how Jesus conveys time passing by.
It is not a quick flash in the pan process.
God’s work of kingdom expansion will often feel slow.
It will often feel so slow that you don’t even notice the growth in someone or in yourself until you look back at where you started.
God encouraged me with parables like this years ago as we began to plant Saint Rose Community Church…
He was gracious to relieve me of so much of the burden and the pressure of seeing this church explode in growth...
When I was younger I often felt like I had failed if my sermon did not result in some sort of big spiritual revival and awakening....
And for sure God sometimes does that… but his normal working, is daily kingdom expanding…
is not necessarily seen in the one sermon in the one moment…
its seen in the 500th sermon… as God’s people sit under the word of God and they sprout and they grow so that you don’t even notice until you look back at where they started.
Its not in one week of reading your Bible daily…Its in 10 years of reading your Bible daily.
This is our ministry… we plod along in day to day faithfulness to teach the word of God to ourselves and to those around us… and we trust God to bring the growth in our life and in the peoples’ lives around us.
If you are discouraged with your own spiritual growth..
If you are discouraged with the growth of someone you are discipling..
If you are discouraged with your evangelism efforts with someone in your family or a friend or a neighbor…
We can’t make it rain..
We can’t make the sun shine..
We can’t make a seed grow.
But we can scatter the seed… and as we do.... God gets the glory...
1 Corinthians 3:5–7 ESV
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.

Truth #1 Our Job in the Kingdom of God is to Scatter the Seed of God’s Word

Truth #2 God Grows the Kingdom

In verse 30, Jesus transitions to yet another parable shedding light on our Kingdom ministry.
Mark 4:30–34 ESV
30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
Like many of the parables, this one has one big point.

Truth #3 God Does Big Glorious Things Through Small and Seemingly Insignificant Things

Jesus points our attention to the smallest of seeds, the mustard seed...
Mustard seeds were so small that birds could swallow them up…, but when that seed took root…, it grew into a tree so large that birds would find rest and refuge in its branches.
The parable is a picture of a great reversal.
The small seed which the birds could eat as a snack, becomes the tree in which they find shelter.
God is a God of great reversals…
He is consistently a God who works through the small and seemingly insignificant to accomplish the big and glorious.
King David was the runt of the family, and through him, God slays Goliath
Israel was the smallest of nations suffering enslavement, and through them God blesses the world.
Moses was a stuttering scaredy cat, and a murderer on the run, and through him God delivers his people.
The walls of Jericho fall not by some mighty act of valor, but when God commands the troops to simply walk around the city singing songs and blowing trumpets.
God tells Gideon to intentionally take less soldiers into battle not more
But most importantly… Jesus, himself, took the form of a mustard seed in order to establish the expansive tree of the kingdom of God…
The God of the universe with all of his cosmic power, emptied himself, and was born into a tiny, fragile, finite baby…
he grew up in an impoverished family, and worked a day job as a carpenter for most of his adult life.
He would grow up not to conquer by raising a large army and marching upon the Roman empire…rather he would humbly and allow himself to be falsely accused, flogged, and crucified...
He would conquer by willingly allowing himself to be conquered.
Through an act of humiliation and self-sacrifice…, he took on himself the sin of the world and the penalty of death….
Through that act, he paved the road to resurrection and victory over the grave.
From the world’s perspective in the first century, Jesus’ very personhood was but a mustard seed…, There was no external thing about him that drew your eye. He was lived, died, and was buried as a mustard seed…, but he resurrected as a great tree providing a home to all people who would find refuge in him!!!
Jesus took the greatest step of humility in the history of creation, and in his resurrection he rose and ascended to the place of highest exaltation for all eternity.
God is a God of great reversals.
Brings About Big Glorious Things Through the Small and Seemingly Insignificant Things
That’s true of Jesus, but that’s also true of you and me and the ministry that God has called us to.
We are mustard seeds, and our ministry is a ministry of mustard seeds.
1 Corinthians 1:26–31 ESV
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Jesus amazingly spent the majority of his 3 years of public ministry with 12 guys.
Jesus chose a rag tag group of uneducated sinners, fisherman, and tax collectors to lead the kingdom expanding work forward in the first century…, and he has chosen you to lead it today…
and we lead it not necessarily with big grand amazing flashy feats for the glory of King Jesus and the expansion of his kingdom...
We lead it with mustard seed like faithfulness to sow the word of God in the fields God has placed us in.
We are seeing this before our very eyes in St. Rose Community Church.
Six years ago this month, I came to preach here on a hot July day and their were four people in attendance at this church....
A small rag tag group of us moved here and we simply began to sow the word of God into any field the Lord would open to us....
We didn’t have a lot of money,
We didn’t have a lot of experience leading a church,
We didn’t have the best facilities, or the best music, or the best programming.
We didn’t have some grand outreach strategy....
But our little group did the little things faithfully and God began to grow his kingdom here in St. Rose… not all at once… we didn’t spontaneously baptize 100 people....,
We simply moved into the neighborhood,
we prayed,
we taught the gospel,
we met people and we talked to them about the gospel,
and we prayed some more,
and we taught the gospel some more,
And we just sowed seed in the fields… and we went to sleep and we woke up, and we went to sleep and we woke up…, and we watched an Almighty God bring growth to a church by his grace and for his glory.
How will St. Rose Community Church continue to reach this community?
It is true that as we grow larger, things get a little more complicated, more ministry doors open up, more fields become accessible, but nothing changes about our overall strategy....
We built this addition to our place of worship, not in an effort to grow our church… buildings don’t grow churches… we built that addition to accommodate the growth that was already happening as a result of your word sowing ministry in this community.
We will grow as a church and send out more churches as much as our church members patiently and faithfully sow the word in the seemingly insignificant moments in their lives and in the fields of influence that God has placed them...
and as we do that… God will grow the tree of the Kingdom of God from this place so that the branches provide shelter to people not only on St. Rose Ave., on Oak Street, in Preston Hollow, 1,2, 3 Street, Dianne Place, Bar-None, Turtle Pond, and Destrehan… but throughout the river parishes, into the city of New Orleans, and all the way around the world to places like Southeast Asia.
It is my hope and dream that God might graciously grow us to be a kingdom expanding church so much so that new churches are started and/or revitalized in Luling, and Laplace, and New Orleans and beyond from this little mustard seed that was planted in Saint Rose, LA.
Our mission as a church is simple… Love the Lord. Make Disciples. Plant Churches. By His Grace & For His Glory.
Truth #1 Our Job in the Kingdom of God is to Scatter the Seed of God’s Word
Truth #2 God Grows the Kingdom
Truth #3 God Brings About Big Glorious Things Through the Small and Seemingly Insignificant Things
So what are we to take away from all this?
Scatter the Seed of the Word in your field
Take a look around you and at the opportunities before you and consider how it is that God may have actually placed you in this season of life so that you might sow the word of God in places that no-one else has access to?
Consider your relationships in the church, and outside the church.
Consider places you frequent, and acquaintances you have with those who need the hope of Jesus.
Consider how you can more intentionally do the work of scattering the word of God in the field.
Be Faithful with the “Small Things”
God is opening small doors for you to walk through every day.
There is opportunity before you every day. Steward the small things.
Be obedient to God in the small things.
Have the spiritual conversation…, do the devotional with your kids…, take that teaching opportunity seriously…, Read your Bible daily, take notice of that one person who is left out and undiscipled…, meet with a group of men or women weekly just to hold each other accountable to read the Bible.
Those small things done faithfully every day, every week, to sow the word of God…, will be like mustard seeds slowly growing in ways you may never even see.
Be Patient
2 Peter 3:8–9 ESV
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Impatience and discontentment are just expressions of our faithlessness.
They are products of our false belief that God has looked the other way and is not giving our situation the attention that it deserves, simply because it is not being resolved in the manner that we would like nor at the pace we would prefer.
The Lord is not slow when it comes to the way in which we plans to use you to expand his kingdom, nor is he dumb.
Be Patient. Mustard seeds don’t become trees very quickly.
Be Humbled
You are not the king of the kingdom.
Jesus is… and Jesus made this very profound and often forgotten claim.
Tucked away in some hard to understand and often debated verses in Matthew 16:18, Jesus says these words...., “I will build my church.”
Jesus is expanding his kingdom.
He building his church… and he has invited us to be a part of it.
In fact he has invited us to be a part of it in ways that bring him the most glory.... so that no-one in the end could say that it was to the praise of our glory.
2 Corinthians 12:8–10 ESV
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Scatter the Seed of the Word in Your Field
Be faithful in the small things
Be patient
Be humbled
that is the sweet spot for enjoying and watching the kingdom of God expand through you and around you.
So lets pray toward that end for us individually and for our church corporately.
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