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If you were to start a world changing movement, how would you begin?
In our technological age, maybe you would use social media to amass millions of followers.
Perhaps, you will run for political office to try to change from within the power of government.
Or, like many rulers of the past, you would use military prowess to intimidate and conquer your inferiors.
Of course, it feels silly to think this way because so few have successfully formed lasting kingdoms.
However, one who made a most valiant attempt was Napoleon.
And no, I am not talking about the one with the last name, Dynamite.
He recognized that there was one founder, who sparked the creation of his kingdom with an entirely unique ignition.
Napoleon wrote:
“Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires.
But on what did we rest the creations of our genius?
Upon force.
Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him.”
Napoleon was on to something.
There is something utterly otherworldly about Jesus’ movement.
His kingdom is not made up of buildings, army’s, and governments.
But hearts and souls.
And some of the hearts in this room belong to his ever-growing kingdom.
Tonight, we will hear from Jesus’ own description of how he grows his kingdom, his people.
First, we need to understand that...
We’ll grow slower than expected.
Mark 4:26-29 “And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.
Earlier in this chapter, Jesus used the image of a seed to describe his word.
For true growth to happen, the first step is to tell others about the truth that God has spoken to us through his word.
Do you want to grow spiritually this year?
Begin with the word of God.
Do you want to influence your friends to love Jesus.
Begin by sharing the truth of God.
The first tool that God uses to grow his kingdom is not serving, social media, or cool events.
No, he uses the seed of his truth nestled in the the good soil of a humble heart.
But you may be thinking, man, I can barley read a ten page chapter for homework.
How you do expect me to read a book thousands of years old with thousands of pages?
Sometimes, it only takes one seed for a harvest to come.
Begin by taking one of these Bibles home and reading one paragraph a day in the book of mark.
Or if you don’t like to read, download the bible app and listen to Scripture as you get ready in the morning.
He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.
The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.””
Because the farmer has done the hard work of sowing seed, he wants to see results.
And a few long days and sleepless nights past with seemingly nothing happening.
Some of you are coming to church every week and you feel like nothing is growing.
Some of you are sowing seeds of God’s truth with family and friends and you feel like nothing is happening.
Your "night and day" may feel like an eternity, but be patient, if you have sown, the seed will grow in due time.
In fact, even before results are visible, growth is occurring underground.
Because growth is slow, and sometimes we can’t see it, we often want to take matters into our own hands.
Some of you may be like farmers who have to see the growth to know that it is happening.
So each day, you pull the seed out of the ground to examine it.
If you continue to do that, you will kill the seed.
The seed needs time.
Some of you may be embarrassed by the lack of growth so you devise a plan.
Instead of waiting for the stem to blossom and fully mature.
You decide to clue petals onto plastic stems.
That may look like growth, but because it is a lifeless fake, it will never reproduce.
True spiritual growth is a process.
It takes time and happens organically as God’s truth is nourished by the warmth and rain of his love.
Be patient with your own growth.
Be patient with the growth of those around you.
Your job is to be faithful to scatter the seed.
God is the one who will bring the harvest at the proper time.
Though growth may occur slower than expected…
We’ll become better than imagined.
Mark 4:30-34 “And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 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.”
From your perspective, does it seem like Christianity is loosing or winning.
Growing or declining?
I’ll be honest, it often feels like it is loosing!
Those who practice evil seem rich, full, and happy.
Those following the way of Jesus seem like a minority movement that is fading away.
Growing up, it felt like my whole town headed to church on Sunday.
Today, the calmest traffic is on my way to church on Sunday.
I know that the bible says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.
But, it sure does seem like hell’s had a couple victories recently.
It feels like Christianity is small, and the way of the world is big.
Perhaps the crowd felt similarly as they listened to Jesus that afternoon.
During Jesus’ day, the Jewish people were longing for a king who would establish a kingdom that would surpass all that came before.
Maybe they imagined that this leader would be like a lion that would overthrow the eagle of Rome.
Instead, they are listening to a Jewish carpenter, surrounded by a rag tag group of fishermen and tax collectors who describes his kingdom, not as a lion or eagle, but a seed.
And yet, though the seed began small and unimpressive this seed of a movement grew to become a huge tree of life.
Big enough for all to enter the movement to find shade and rest.
In the Old Testament, non Jewish people are occasionally symbolized by birds.
If this is what Jesus is alluding to, he indicates that his gospel message will reach all people regardless of race and culture.
According to author Rebecca Mclaughlin, here are some of the movements we are beginning to see.
“Over 60 percent of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa identifies as Christian.
By 2050, this part of the world could be home to 40 percent of the world’s self-identifying Christians.”
“Today there are hundreds of thousands of Christians in Iran.
The Iranian church is the fastest-growing Christian movement in the world.”
“The number of Chinese Protestants has grown by an average of 10 percent annually since 1979.
Experts predict that there will be more Christians in China than in the United States by 2030.”
The seed of God’s kingdom looked like a small insignificant seed.
And today, it continues to be a global movement with inexplainable growth across all continents.
But there is another possible interpretation.
If you remember the parable of the sower.
The birds in that story represented the efforts of the devil.
Perhaps the text is best interpreted as unbelievers slipping into the church to sow division and to snatch up further growth.
Aware of this possibility, Jesus did not disclose the hidden meaning of his parables to everyone...
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.
He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.”
198 days ago, I preached a message on the parable of the 4 soils.
The story describes 4 responses to the word of God.
After Jesus taught that sermon this is what happened…
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