Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Don't Underestimate The Power Of One!

In every aspect of our lives, we are led to believe that bigger is better and it tends to easily flow over to the church. We think that more people, more money, bigger ministries, more programs will result in greater effectiveness at God’s work. We often think that God can do more when there is something going on that is grand and marvelous.

We also tend to think the same about smaller things. We act as God could not possibly be working in smaller churches or ministries, less programs or fewer ministries. So, the small complex gives us this feeling of insignificance or attitude of, ‘why bother’

The feeling of being small or insignificant trickles right down from the churches and ministries we are in to thinking it about ourselves. We may feel like, ‘man I really don’t have much to offer…I don’t have enough resources to make a significant difference’ but is bigger always better? No, not when it comes to spiritual things.

It was one year ago that I gave you a challenge to have ‘mustard seed’ faith and it is that time again except this year I want to look at the passage of Scripture in Luke’s gospel.

Luke 13:18-21

Even though the mustard seed is incredibly small, it grows to be one of the largest herbs in that part of the world. It typically grows to be about 12 feet!

The second illustration that is used here is that of God’s working is like yeast. Typically in that day they wouldn’t have dry yeast like we do today. They would take a very small lump of dough from the previous day’s making of bread and knead it into the flour mixture enough to influence the entire batch.

The most important part of the illustration is really missed in the NIV text as it states the amount of flour into which the small amount of yeast is mixed. The NIV states a large amount, but the Greek states more specifically three ‘satas’. Three satas equals 50 pounds of flour! That will feed 100 people and so we are talking about more than just daily bread. Jesus was talking about more than just a household baking situation. You see even that small original ball of yeast could have a huge influence.

So, you need some examples of how this gets played out in the Bible –

  • When God wanted to create a new nation to call his own, he started with a nomadic man and a woman too old to conceive children
  • When God wanted to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt, he used a man rejected by his own people and who spent most of his life tending sheep
  • When God wanted someone to represent His people, His choice was a shepherd boy
  • When Jesus wanted to feed 5000 people, he used a small boy’s sack lunch to do it
  • When Jesus watched people give, He wasn’t impressed with the big donors, but by the widow’s penny
  • When God came to earth in the form of man, he didn’t choose a rich and established family to be part of; He chose to be a baby born in a poor and seemingly unimportant family.

We tend to write things off a lot sooner than God. He uses small things to do BIG stuff. What we might think is too small or insignificant, God see as something that He wants to use for His purpose.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29

We need to remember what ministry means. In greek, the word for ministry is ‘diakonia’.

We see a couple examples of this verb usage in:

Luke 8:3 where it speaks of women who were helping the disciples to support (minister) them out of their own means.

2 Timothy 1:18 where Paul thanks those who helped (ministered) to him in Ephesus

The root word is ‘konis’ which means ‘dust’ or ‘grit’. In other words, ministry is dirty. It rolls up its sleeves and does things that look unimportant to the world. We get the word ministry in the English from the Latin root word for ‘small things’ as in miniscule. Ministry should and really does happen on an everyday basis. It is everyday service and it all adds up. Southside can grow a significant tree of service and of seemingly insignificant acts! We can do it and it is even better when we do it together. We need each other, support one another and spur each other on to greater Christlikeness. Hebrews 10:24,25!

In the book, Resident Aliens, we read:

By being the church, that is, by being something that the world is not and can never be, lacking the gift of faith and vision, which is ours in Christ. The confessing church seeks visible church, a place, clearly visible to the world in which people are faithful to their promises, love to their enemies, tell the truth, honor the poor, suffer for righteousness and thereby testify to the amazing community-creating power of God. The confessing church has no interest in withdrawing from the world… The church knows that the most credible form of witness is the actual creation of a living, breathing, visible community of faith.

I think often we are looking for the real big breakthrough ministry that is going to put our lives and for that matter our church on the map. So, what happens? Often we might hold back from really giving our all because we just can’t see how God could work through something that is so small or insignificant. Size because a discouragement and we need not let that happen. We need to be released from BIGNESS!! If God can grow a significant tree out of an insignificant seed, He can do the same with the small acts with you and me.

Last year we were involved in the Santa Claus Parade and we wanted to make Christ’s presence known and we did with our Happy BDAY Jesus float. There was one family in particular watching the parade at that time and when they saw our float, it resonated in their heart and they knew that was what it was all about. Since then they have become a part of our church and not only that but marveled as they went from watching last year to being an active participant this year.

How can blessing a person with a hot chocolate; singing songs to seniors; prayer walking through town next Sunday make a difference. It will in God’s eyes first an foremost and we ultimately serve an audience of one. Galatians 1:10

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. They are the ones who do the small things with a big heart.

It was Mother Teresa who said, ‘We can do no great things; only small things with great love.

The Takeaway:

This week focus on small acts of kindness in Jesus’ name with great love!!

Action For Movement:

1. Sign up for a service project. You will be called with details this week!

2. Sign up for ‘kettle time’ with Salvation Army

3. Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in the drive through

4. Purchase a ticket for a friend for Friday’s Christmas Banquet and invite them to join you.

5. Purchase a toy for the ‘fill the bus’ toy drive or donate money to the gifts for MD students –see Mary Martin

6. Ask God to fill in the blank for the acts of kindness He has in store for you!

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