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May 8, 2020 8:40 am
On this podcast, I like to include special features ...and one of those is a sermon a week from my pastor back in Nashville, Jim Bachmann. Although Gracie and I left Tennessee to move to Southwest Montana, Jim and I talk several times a week. Jim's been a HUGE part of my journey as a caregiver and as a Christian, and I felt my subscribers would also find his messages meaningful.
This message is from May 3, 2020 and is titled: THE AMAZING KINGDOM OF GOD
For more information, visit www.stephensvalleychurch.com
We continue our study of the parables. Matthew 13 verses 31 through 33. Considering actually to parables this morning both very brief both very encouraging and both testifying to the amazing kingdom of God. Perhaps you sometimes find yourself worrying about the state of the world or the state of our country are a culture of the moral decline. Perhaps you are anxious times about the decline that we see the moral decline.
All around us, and perhaps you wonder about the effectiveness of the church or the lack thereof, and feel like you're very much in the minority.
Sometimes we I think we feel like the church is losing the battle and even God himself is losing well. If you have those thoughts as I suppose we all do at times take heart and allow the Lord to speak to you this morning and be encouraged by what we learn from these two very brief but very powerful parables, Lord, thank you for your word.
We we rejoice in the opportunity we have two to have the Scriptures in our hands there to read your word day after day to hide your word in our hearts that we will not sin against you. And we rejoice. It would never suffer the famine of the word of God and may that never happened to our church or to our country.
I would be good stewards of the Scripture. And may we be diligent to study and memorize and share and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior by your spirit. Teach us this morning by your spirit be our preacher and open our hearts open our ears and minds that we may be encouraged in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in his name we pray.
Amen. Matthew 13 beginning in verse 31. He put another parable before them, saying, the kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it is grown, it is larger than all the garden plants becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.
He told another parable.
The kingdom of heaven is like 11.
That woman took and hid in three measures of flour till it was all leavened. Amen. All flesh is grass and all its loving this is like the flower of the field. The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
Amen. Many of you have seen the series, television series, known as Downton Abbey. British historical drama featuring a very aristocratic family in their domestic servants. It is said in the years 1912 1926 at time of great change at time of many new inventions from all hairdryers to telephones to motors you know motors now as cars, as we call them. Many of these inventions were met with great skepticism. Many of them were viewed as highly unnecessary and convenient and not likely to have much of an impact. Those of you that watch the series may remember when the an electric mixer showed up in the kitchen, then Ms. Pat Moore, the head cook in the kitchen wondered what that contraption was for, and young Daisy said Ms. Pat Moore beats eggs and whipped cream and all sort, to which the older Ms. Pat Moore replied but you and I can do that. Daisy and then it was a day the refrigerator arrived and again Ms. Pat Moore founded area unnecessary and protested and thought the icebox would suffice. It had done well for many years and would do so for many more. She thought and finally these protest stations were just too much and Lady Grantham confronted her and asked the question, is there any aspect of the present day that you can accept without resistance and Mrs. Pat Moore quite a colorful character whose profile could best be described as very short and very round replied by saying oh my lady, I wouldn't mind getting rid of my corset point baking that most of these inventions were met with some degree of distrust is not discussed and seemed to have no lasting value.
I wish to speak to you this morning about another invention, although that's not quite the appropriate word I refer to the kingdom of God were the first things John the Baptist said in the Bible was repent for the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven is at hand. That is to say something new, something radically different was at hand. Jesus said the same thing. Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand and a bit later in his ministry said if if I cast out demons by the finger of God the know that the kingdom of God has come upon you so something big had happened. With the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, and as with these two parables are about in the first thing we learn here is that the kingdom of God has a very small beginning verses 31, 32, the kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed verse 32. It is the smallest of all, see, indeed, it is about 01 to 2 mm in diameter. People like me that need these things probably wouldn't even be able to see a mustard seed without some assistance. It was the standard of smallness. In fact, in Jesus day when someone wanted to make the point that something was teeny tiny and extremely small. They would say that it was a small as a mustard seed that was a very common figure of speech and Jesus is saying that's what the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, nearly invisible teeny tiny and note he says it's like a mustard seed is not like a 50 pound bag of seeds. If you see one single solitary little teeny tiny unimpressive seed which begs the question what good will that do how much impact will this new invention have will it be around for long will it have any usefulness whatsoever. How much good can come from one little baby born in one little manger in the little town of Bethlehem, how much good can come from one carpenter's son was raised in Nazareth. Nathaniel didn't think anything good could come out of Nazareth. Diddy know our society then and now tends to be impressed with bigness with large nests with the things that speak of power will be at a powerful army with the with the great weapons or even a big football stadium that can see the hundred thousand people, or even a big concert with the great numbers of young people.
As far as the eye can see.
When I was a teenager I went to municipal Auditorium and I watched heard three dog night and had a great time and Elton John had a great time and others, and it may been 10,000 people there. I thought that was cool.
Nowadays you you you you have Garth Brooks singing in Central Park as he did in the 1990s in front of 750,000 people.
That's impressive that gets attention makes news or the Rolling Stones back in 2006 performing before 1,500,000 people in Rio Asian arrow and is impressive but a seed 1C1 mustard seed. What on earth.
The kingdom of God is like that. Is there any hope for any reason, any reason for optimism about this kind of kingdom all. Maybe there's a solution made me if the if the one who sows the seed is rich and famous and impressive and influential.
That will give it credibility and that will jumpstart the kingdom and it will never look back. Who is the sower essay to see what the answer is here.
The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man a man that you hear that a man just a man, nothing, nothing impressive and nameless, faceless, underwhelming man, and nobody I don't know about you but I would say this kingdom needs a son by the if this kingdom is going to go anywhere if this kingdom is going to make a difference. It needs a somebody not a nobody. That's why I think that maybe the way you think that is not the way God thinks God loves to use nobodies like nobody fishermen Peter and John, like nobody, tax collectors, Levi, nobody disciples, uneducated men the change the world. You know who wrote the melody for amazing grace. I did know this, you may be way ahead of me, but this week I learned who wrote the melody for amazing Grace, actually I didn't learn it and you heaven either because we don't know who wrote the melody. You can go to the Library of Congress in Washington DC and check it out and check out any authentic manuscript of that hymn and it will say at the bottom, or somewhere words by John Newton, melody on known probably.
It was a common West African slave to written by some unknown slave on the five black notes on the piano. Like so many of the famous spirituals we still here today swing low Sweet chariot addenda. Every time I feel the spirit, and others just those five notes and they built the power and the pathos of the wonderful spirituals on those five notes, but we don't know who did it and may never know till we get to heaven just the slave just just a nobody. God loves to use nobodies a man with a little teeny tiny, single, solitary, see that's what the kingdom of God is like. I would have to say this just does not look promising at all humanly speaking, but I did say that these parables were encouraging that I not and indeed they are, because secondly we see that this little see nearly invisible has secret power.
Verse 32. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown, it is larger than all the garden plants. This seed grows.
It grows silently. Most of the time it grows invisibly.
Most of the time it grows steadily because it has this secret power that never makes headlines is never any breaking news that there is one new souls been added to the kingdom of God. Most of the time it's one person at a time.
There may be some occasions in history where there's some mass evangelism or mass revival or a family get saved us some answer but most of the time it's one single person at a time, quietly, silently, invisibly, steadily, the kingdom grows in 1857 Queen Victoria called for solemn assembly of national prayer time of worship and humiliation, and in London because of the Indian mutiny against Great Britain and Charles Spurgeon was asked to speak and he went to the Crystal Palace a day or two before the event and he walked around looking for the place he might want his pulpit to be and they were expecting the largest crowd in the history of London nearly 24,000 people were expected and Mr. Spurgeon found the spot. He wanted the pulpit to be in the. He stood there and he shouted the words behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and it sounded good and he was satisfied and he left was always the next day he came back in a workmen in the building sought him and found and told him he'd been working in the building the day before when Mr. Spurgeon shouted those words in his heart was pricked by those words and he went home and he wrestled with God was eventually converted that night and gave his life to Jesus Christ. There is secret power in this little seed, one would never guess it one would look at the seed and say it's insignificant that one would look at it and say it's in its impotent.
It's foolishness. It's like the foolishness of a Sunday morning sermon. It's like the foolishness of preaching the cross, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. The fact of the matter is, the seed is not vulnerable. The seed is indestructible. The seed is in principle there's a secret power in it, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it and the people who plots can't prevail against it in the nation zoom range can't prevail against it and a virus can't prevail against it. Persecution can't prevail against it because it has unbelievable dynamite the dynamite of God. Paul says in Romans secret power after John Wycliffe was dead and buried his enemies exhumed his bones. They hated him so much exhumed his body from the grave and it burned his bones and they scattered those ashes in the river Swift thereby symbolically at least attempting to silence him once and for all but the historian said it had just the opposite effect because their secret power in the sea, and it was as though Wycliffe's ministry. Wycliffe's impact expanded throughout all of Europe, the other rivers in the tributaries and he became the MorningStar of the Reformation is a similar story with John Bunyan thrown into prison by the magistrate of of the Bedford and when he threw him into prison, the magistrate said at last we are done with this tinkerer and his cause nevermore will he plague us for his name locked away as securely as he shall be for cotton done. We are and all eternity with him will not so fast Mr. magistrate who we are not done with Mr. Bunyan. I'm quoting him this morning as a mentor I were still raining. The Pilgrim's progress 340 some odd years later because their secret power in the seed in the kingdom grows and the gates of hell can't stop it. This will be a significant, even substantial kingdom versus 32 and 33.
It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it is grown, it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nest in its branches.
He told another parable. The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour till it was all leavened. Three measures of flowers, a lot of flour, but is limited leaven goes a very long way in this little mustard seed becomes a very large tree in a place of safety and refuge for the birds of the air. Point being, the kingdom will grow and grow until it is significant and substantial.
I might even use the word gigantic you say doesn't the Bible indicate that there will be many people in heaven.
The road is long and narrow, and few there be that find it. And yes it does say that in there were few in Jesus day fear of his own people. He came to his only received him not.
The religious leaders of his day didn't receive them. But the Bible also says a be a multitude no man can number from every nation tried people in language, standing before the throne of God wearing white robes and worshiping our Redeemer, the provinces of the increase of his government and peace the Leno and not to decrease the increase of his government and peace will never end. And then there's a marvelous and mysterious passage we read earlier from Daniel to about the statue old Neil King had a great dream and he was troubled by it. He couldn't figure it out. Nor could his wisemen God gave Daniel wisdom to know the dream and know its interpretation and it was a statue composed of different elements in the neck.
That was the stone that struck the statue and destroy the statue that the statute crumbled like dominoes that statue represented four successive kingdoms, beginning with the Kings day babbling in Persia and Greece and then Rome big, powerful, strong, seemingly invincible kingdoms until the stone came along this rock and if you were listening carefully.
You notice something about the stone very unique. It was not cut not made by human hands, but instead this was God stone.
It was God's rock and represented the kingdom of God. And Daniel even says in those days, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and that stone we read there becomes a mountain and not one little mountain but amounted for all the horror so you get the picture here all 11 was leavened in the little seed became the largest garden plan and the stone became a great mountain and filled the entire verse kingdom grows and keeps on growing because of secret power in the seed in one great day it will be a very substantial significant, perhaps even gigantic kingdom. I know that Once upon a time, the kingdom seemed dead when Jesus was dead and buried, but he rose and he said his spirit and the spirit since the disciples and they spread the gospel. They went to Antioch in the Macedonian and Asian even to Rome and it was great persecution. Many martyrs, but the secret power was already unleashed on the world and the gospel began to take root in Constantine fourth century declared Christianity to be the official religion of the Empire and from Constantine to Charlemagne. It continued to spread throughout Western Europe and from Charlemagne to Aquinas to Luther to spread into Germany and Norway and Iceland and Greenland and along came a man named Calvin who had great influence in the in France and Switzerland in England and Scotland and even America and more than one historian feels a John Calvin is the true founder of our country and we established our forefathers at city on the hill. As you know, meanwhile the Moravians took the gospel to the West Indies and Hudson Taylor to China, and David Livingstone to Africa, and William Carey to India and others to different places and kingdom grows with you know what I'm telling you names of people you know somebody's and I'm not doing justice to the nobodies that also spread the gospel. It took that little one little seed and sold it and it had power. Somebody did that in your life in my life and that's why we're here now worshiping the Lord even separated.
You may be worshiping in your pajamas at home with.
I know some of you are and I may watch the service and enjoyed my cinnamon toast. As I have begun to do in recent weeks.
You know, there are a few advantages to this virtual worship are there or not.
But the point is, were all worshiping this great God because of that little seated at secret power in the invention, the invention is making steady progress and believe you me, friends, fret not. Let not your heart be troubled day is coming when this gigantic kingdom will be far more visible than it is today in the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ and he will reign forever and ever and that little teeny tiny mustard seed will become a full-grown tree of life, one on each side of the river of life, bringing forth its fruit every month of the year.
Its leaves being for the healing of the nations (hasten the day Lord when you're kingdom will come in fullness in power and glory and you will remove every fear and anxiety that we have hasten the day when every knee will bow before you and confess that Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of lords. The meantime, give us confidence that this little seed is indeed the dynamite of God. May we share it we sing it. May we preach it. Regardless of those who think it's foolishness. Use it to make our ministry grow and make your kingdom, you will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Bless are infirmed and are sick.
We think in particular, Chris Dozier and her husband on Clea Ray Wendy Beasley, Mike Stevens and Andy Burton, Arlene, why bother Mayor Beckett friend. Many of us here Joyce Davis and Edna Pearson as they mourn the loss of loved ones, or God you know our needs before we call out to you and you said your grace is sufficient so increase our faith and encourage us in the wonderful news with considered this morning glorify yourself through nobodies like us in Jesus name we pray. Amen