120729 Mark 4:26-34

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 August 2012

The following sermon was written by Seminarian Matthew Rothe

Sermon Text: Mark 4:26-34
Sermon Theme: God's Kingdom is Growing!
1) All by itself. (vv. 26-29)
2) From small to great. (vv.30-34)

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, dear brothers and sisters,
Jeff was in his late 50s and an early retirement was near in sight. Ever since he could remember he had been working to make his small business a success. Now, He finally had it all. Sure it took a lifetime of late nights, early mornings, and time away from loved ones, but Jeff was now seeing the fruits of his labor. He had seen his business grow from nothing but a dream to a business that was grossing in the millions every year!


If you were to ask Jeff how his business grew as it did he will gladly hop up on his soapbox and preach a sermon on what it took. He'll tell you, "If you want something done, you gotta do it yourself. You gotta work harder than everyone else around you. The devil is in the details. After all, a business is like a car, it has to be driven to get results." And you know what? Jeff might be right. To make a business grow there is a considerable amount of work involved.
But ask Jesus what it's going to take to get his Kingdom to grow and what Jesus says may come as quite the surprise. You won't hear any proud soapbox sermon. Rather, the King of Kings sits down with you and me and tells two little parables with one great lesson. GOD'S KINGDOM IS GROWING, And it's not because you're taking care of all the details or because you're working so hard at it. No, GOD'S KINGDOM IS GROWING (1) all by itself, and it's growing (2) form small to great.


But what is the Kingdom of God? Read Holy Scripture, and you're going to get a pretty good description. God's kingdom started with God gazing out on the spiritual battlefield. He saw you and me lined up behind the prince of lies, Satan, literally hell-bent on carrying out the nasty and violent deeds that our sick hearts dream to do. God's kingdom is God not crushing us dead in our sins, but instead demonstrating unimaginable love to his enemies. God's kingdom is God sending his Son, the Prince of Peace, to snatch us from the cruel rule of the devil. God's Kingdom is God guarding us and keeping us safe and making us a righteous and royal people.

But have I made that too complicated? Jesus explained his kingdom better than I ever could. He put it like this. The Kingdom of God, Jesus said, is like a farmer out in his field, he takes hand-fulls of seeds, and tosses them covering the field. Everyday he wakes up and takes care of other business around the farm- milking the cows, feeding the sheep, fixing the fence. And when he's done he goes to bed. Waking up he goes about this routine, but out of the corner of his eye he always watches the seed that he scattered. One day he sees a few tiny green shoots poking up through the dirt. A few days later they're stalks, then leaves, then kernels of grain. The farmer doesn't worry about the progress of growth. He doesn't agonize about the fact that he doesn't even know how it has grown from a seed into a full plant. Yet, whenever he looks at his field he smiles because he knows that the seed he planted is growing. And it's growing all by itself.

This is just how the Kingdom of God grows! The seed scattered is the Kingdom of God, and God's kingdom grows every time we share God's holy Word. As Jesus told it, the farmer was mystified how the growth took place. So also are we totally bewildered and completely amazed at the fact God's kingdom is growing all by itself!

Let me ask you all a question. For the past ten minutes, what have you been doing to make your heart beat? Or when you went to bed last night, what did you do to make sure your heart would keep pounding away for all those hours of sleeping? ...I did a little research.

Did you know the human heart beats about 100,000 times in one day and about 35 million times in a year. During an average lifetime, the human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times... And not one of us here today made our heart beat a single one of those times. The same God that wonderfully created these bodies and causes the human heart to work all by itself without us doing any work also causes his kingdom to grow and spread in the hearts of believers all by itself!

Of course, there is something you get to do. Jesus says, "My friend, I want you to be my workers in my fields. Go out in my fields and scatter my seed. Scatter the terrible truth that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But for that reason also scatter the news that I was good and obedient in every way. Scatter the news that when I hung on a cross and suffered the torment of hell I was thinking of you. Scatter the news that I rose to finish God's saving plan; that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life." The command to GO! and scatter this message is not just for Pastor ¬¬-___ and seminary students. It's a command for every single brother and sister in his Kingdom. Every Christian has the privilege to carry out that Great Commission from our Lord to go and make disciples!
But tell me this. Have you ever taken this command from God and then tried to control how the kingdom grows through your own work, through what you do? You can think of that individual or that situation in your life right now, can't you?
i. I need to get my child to admit his or her sin, to 'fess up before God, to repent.
ii. I need to get my friend to believe the good news that Jesus is her Savior.
iii. I need to get my co-worker to start living a more God-pleasing life.
iv. I need to get my non-Christian friend to come to church with me...pronto.
v. I need to get these fellow believers in this congregation to start reading the Bible more, praying more, and trusting God more if we are ever to grow together in our faiths.

Do you ever get discouraged or frustrated by the lack of visible results from "our" work? Sometimes serving in God's kingdom is the most frustrating work in the world, because it's completely out of your control. So Jesus tells us about the farmer who scatters the seed to show you: After your hands have "planted the word" the kingdom's growth in peoples hearts is totally in the hands of thee all-powerful God. It's your God-given responsibility to tell the news of our sin and God's grace, YES! But then we must to let go of all sinful worries and let God deal with everything else.

It is with this attitude- Trusting that GOD'S KINGDOM IS GROWING all by itself- you ...
1. ...sit down with your child and sternly, yet lovingly, tell her what she is doing is wrong. But also have the most blessed opportunity to get to tell her of the great love and forgiveness that is hers through her Savior Jesus.
2. ...(repeat *) form trusting relations with your friends so you can start talking about serious spiritual matters, and invite them to church with you.
3. ...encourage your fellow brothers and sister in the faith to spend more time in God's word and with him in prayer
4. ...plant the seed of the Word and let the Holy Spirit do his work.

We pray; "Your kingdom come." Do you realize what you're asking with those three words? With those three words you are asking for a dangerously powerful take-over by God to happen in the hearts of people everywhere. With those three words you'll never loose sleep or become frustrated thinking about the growth of the Kingdom. For although it is a mystery to us how the Kingdom grows, it is really just another miracle of the Most High God. You too can smile when you pray, "Your Kingdom come", trusting confidently God's kingdom is going to come to this person and that one and that one.... all by itself!


Some things in life are easy to figure out. Some things are hard. Wrapping our minds around how God rules his Kingdom just does not come very easily. This was not lost on our Lord. So he told parables. Then he would explain to his disciples "as much as they could understand" about the awesome power of his Kingdom.


So what did he use to teach us about another amazing point? You guessed it. Another parable about planting. The Kingdom of God, Jesus said, is like a mustard seed. Do you see it? Ok, that's because I don't have a mustard seed in my hand. But we all get the point Jesus wanted to make. The kingdom of God starts like the tiniest seed around. A mustard seed wouldn't impress anybody, it's so small. Yet, despite it's small beginning the seed grows into a huge tree with impressive branches. So also GOD'S KINGDOM IS GROWING from small to great!

Ever hear of Oprah Winfrey? You have now, but did you know Oprah Winfrey spent the early years of her life down and out. Did you know she would wear dresses her grandmother had sown together from potato sacks? The kids at her school would completely ridicule her. Imagine how small she must've felt. The physical and psychological torment she suffered as a young woman is almost unimaginable. Its true. But now the Oprah name alone has become an empire. CNN and Times have both called Oprah "arguably the world's most powerful woman", and the USA Today has named Oprah "the most influential black person of the previous quarter century". Growing up in Milwaukee she often stole money from her own family to just make it. Now Oprah Winfrey is worth almost $3 billion.

In a similar way that's how GOD'S KINGDOM IS GROWING. God demonstrates the power of his growing kingdom in some bible heroes that also grew from small to great.
i. A young boy named Joseph is thrown into a pit by his 10 older brothers- destined for a life of slavery- he rises up to become the second most powerful man in all of Egypt! In fact, God uses Joseph to save millions of people from starvation.
ii. A little shepherd boy named David slays a giant. Then that little boy grows up and is called a man after God's own heart. In fact, he becomes the most powerful King of Israel.
iii. Twelve men with names like Peter and Andrew and James and John were small and unimpressive in the world's eyes. Simple fishermen, we're told. But the Lord used them to speak his Word and set the world on fire causing his Church to grow form small to great. It began with just 12 Apostles. And though the devil and this world did what they could to snuff out that fire it has spread to every continent.

And GOD'S KINGDOM IS GROWING in our place and time too, isn't it?
1. In 1837 a small German mission group sent one man to North America. Twenty years later there was just 17 churches in this little Wisconsin Synod. Today, our synod is blessed with 1,825 congregations across the globe!
2. Or how about this congregation? I am just guessing, but how many families gathered together here for the first worship service at___? Was it two? Five? Maybe ten? Now look at how many are gathered together here today to sing the Lord's praise!
3. What about your family. How many people are Christians in your family? Maybe quite a few, right? But it all probably started with one or two people, a grandparent or parents. One person brought to faith by the power of God's Word. One little mustard seed. And now the family tree has many branches who trust in Jesus Christ the Savior. And if you are the only one in your family that is a Christian, that's ok, take heart and be comforted that God's kingdom grows from small to great.
You and I must never forget our own beginnings. There was once a time when there was no possibility for God's Kingdom to rule in your heart. Your heart was dead. It was a desert. Growth on that wasteland was seemingly impossible. Seemingly, but not, because it was on that heart, in your heart, that God desired to establish his reign. So when a scattered seed of God's Word fell on your desolate heart, when the heat of your sinful nature tried to dry it up the seeds life, the Holy Spirit poured on it the water of life through the cleansing waters of baptism and caused that seed, the word, to take root in you and grow.

All by itself the Kingdom of God was established in your heart by the Holy Spirit –not by you or any other person. And ever since the Spirit of God has protected you from this world's wild winds and thorny weeds that try to snuff out your growth—the Kingdom of God's growth in your heart. The Spirit has caused faith to grow in you from a small to great, and in others as well as you scatter the seed of his Word. Praise be to God who has caused you to grow into a beautiful and powerful plant that is able to withstand the storms of this life because you are rooted deep in a faith and confidence that trust the growth of God's Kingdom is totally in his hands.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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