How Big is My Faith?

Seeds Series - Part 2

seedskidszone2I want to tell you a story.  I want to tell you a bible story.  Bible stories are the best kind of stories of all, do you know why?  Because they are true.  This one is a very special Bible story, because the first person to tell this story was Jesus.  Last week we explained that Jesus used to tell people stories to explain to them about God and Heaven.  The idea of God is so huge, that the only way he could even begin to explain God so that we could understand was to give examples, or tell parables.

Does anyone remember what a parable is?

Yes, a parable is a story where something unknown is compared to something known so that we can understand the lesson.

This parable was so popular that it was included in more than one place in the Bible.  We find it in the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke.  It was such an important teaching that it was included in three of the four Gospel accounts.

This parable is about a mustard seed.  Now when you hear the word mustard what do you think?

In this case we aren’t talking about mustard like you see on a hot dog, but a real mustard seed.  Jesus liked this small seed so much that he actually told two stories with it.  The first story goes like this.

Jesus told us a story about the mustard seed and he said it was like the Kingdom of Heaven.  In this story a man once took a mustard seed, the smallest of all the seeds, and planted it in his garden.  But it didn’t say he planted it.  When we look at the language it was originally written it, it’s more like he tossed it into the garden.  When he came back the mustard seed had grown into the biggest plant in the whole garden. It was so big that birds nested among the leaves.  All from this tiny seed.

Just like our last parable the seed stands for the truth about God, and the truth about the kingdom of heaven.  Once it is planted it will continue to grow.  Just like in our last story the good soil produced a crop of 100, 60 and 30, when the truth of God is planted in this story it continues to grow and grow to be the biggest.

When we look at this seed it doesn’t look that big, but if you were to put it in the ground and walk away, then come back in a year you would see a huge difference.  That’s how God works in your heart.  At first you don’t feel any different, but over time the difference is amazing.

It doesn’t take that much to get started, a tiny seed of truth is enough to plant in your heart, and God does the rest.  The farmer may plant the seed, water it and care for it, but he can’t make it grow.  God makes it grow.  God decides how big it gets and how much is produced from the plant.  Just like the tiny seed planted in the heart.  God makes it grow and helps you.

The second story by Jesus is also about a mustard seed.  Just like you don’t need that much to start a big faith in God, you don’t need that much to keep it going.

In this story Jesus said that if you have the faith of a mustard seed you could command a mountain to break free of the ground and just jump into the sea.  What?!  That’s crazy!  Jesus must have made a mistake.  Mountains are huge and they never move.

Jesus wasn’t joking.  He meant it.  Jesus knew that it doesn’t take that much faith to believe.  Jesus knew that faith can start small and be so powerful.  He knew that a person of faith could do anything because faith sustains them.  Jesus knew that faith makes all things possible.  He also knew that through God all things are possible, so faith in God, even tiny mustard seed faith, changes things.

So, it’s a great story, so why am I telling you this story?  Do I want to take you outside and have you start rearranging the hills of Gainesville?  No.  I want you to see that the faith in God is within your reach.  Jesus didn’t say that if you have the faith the size of a mountain you could move a mustard seed… No.  He said a little bit of faith can do great big things.

I’m telling you this because kids are the best believers, Jesus always said so.  In the Gospel of Matthew, he said approach God like a little child, and that heaven belongs to people that believe like a child.

So, in this story we see that big things come from just a small amount of faith, and we see that Jesus knew kids had that kind of faith.  He knew that you would understand God better, then you would understand faith better, and that you would come to him better.  He knew that you would see the truth better.

What is the truth?  Well, the Bible says that all of us have made mistakes, and that those mistakes separate us from God.  It says that on our own none of us can be good, and none of us can reach God on our own.  He also says that the punishment we deserve for our behavior is death.

The Good News, the truth that Jesus wants you to know is that there is a better way.  He is the way.  He came to save us.  He came to take our punishment.  He came to take all the blame for all of our bad choices and mistakes, so that we could go to heaven.  He came so that we wouldn’t have to die, but so that we could live.  We could live forever with God in Heaven.  Jesus loves us so much that he came to save us.

Now what are we going to do with that?  Are we going to nod, smile and then go do our craft?  Are we going to daydream until something more fun comes along, or are you going to prove God right?  Are you going to grab your mustard seed and believe?  Are you going to plant the seed of God’s truth in your heart and let it grow to be the biggest? Are you going to let Jesus save you?

Let us pray…

What Kind of Seed Do I Want to Be?

Seeds Series - Part 1

Seeds Series

 

I want to tell you a story.  I want to tell you a bible story.  Bible stories are the best kind of stories of all, do you know why?  Because they are true.  This one is a very special Bible story, because the first person to tell this story was Jesus.  Now raise your hand if you know who Jesus is.  Well, Jesus was God’s son, and one of the things that he did was teach us about God and heaven.  Whenever he was teaching about God or Heaven he did it by telling stories.  Now that sounds pretty darn cool to me.  Tell me a story, and I’m sure to listen.

In this story he was talking about farmers and seeds.  Does everyone know what a seed is?

Well, in this story he compared people to seeds, because we just at the beginning of knowing about God, just like seeds are just at the beginning of growing into what they become.  He knew that if we knew about God we could grow into something very special.  So he started with seeds as the beginning of his story.  You can find this story told by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew in Chapter 13.

Now Jesus said that there are four types of seeds, and his story went something like this.  He said that once upon a time there was a farmer, and he was spreading out seeds for the planting.  Back then when a farmer planted the seeds, he scattered them around the field, kind of like how we plant grass seed today.  Some of the seeds fell on the path, where the ground was hard, and while it was lying there, birds came and ate it up.  Then some of the seeds fell on the rocky ground and the roots couldn’t go that deep, so they grew on the top fast but quickly died in the sun.  Then there were some seeds fell among the thorny bushes, and when that seed grew it was choked by the other plants and couldn’t survive.  Still other seed fell on very good ground, and it produced a healthy crop 100, 60 or 30 times what was sown.

Then Jesus stopped the story.  Now, you need to know something about Jesus stories.  When Jesus told a story, he told a parable.  Now it’s not a pair of bulls, it’s a parable.  It’s kind of like a story with a secret message hidden in it.  It’s when the storyteller teaches you something new by comparing it to something you already understand.  In this case, the people Jesus was talking to were farmers, and they understood his example.

However, they didn’t really understand this parable, so later the disciples asked Jesus to explain it.  So, because Jesus loved them so much, he did.

The soil represents our hearts.  The seeds represent the Word of God, or the Bible message about Jesus.  The first set of seeds that fell represented the person who heard about Jesus but didn’t understand.  Rather than think about it they just shrugged their shoulders and let the truth go, like being snatched away by birds.  They went back to their day and didn’t consider it for more than a moment.

The second set of seeds represent the kind of people that hear about Jesus and at first are really, really excited.  They look like they understand but it’s all just for a little while.  Once it’s no longer new or exciting, they let it go too.  They don’t really want to be a Christian, or make the hard choices that Christians make.  So, like the seeds that died in the bright sun because they had no deep roots, they also fall away from Jesus and do something else.

The third set of seeds represent the people that hear about Jesus and accept the truth at the same time.  They would probably be very good… if it weren’t for the weeds.  The thorny weeds represent all the other things in the world that they care about that they consider to be more important than Jesus.  They may understand the truth and they may be a Christian in their hearts, but they never share it with someone else.  Just like the seeds that were choked that never produced a crop, these people never share their faith or do anything with the gift that Jesus has given them.

Finally, the last set of seeds represents the people with willing and open hearts.  They hear the message of Jesus and they are excited about it.  They want to belong to Jesus.  They want to serve Jesus.  They accept that truth, they surrender their hearts to him, and he uses them to do great things for other people.  The crops of 100, 60, and 30 represent all the people that they share the truth with through ministry.  They represent other lives that are changed because they share the truth, and they share the gift that Jesus gave them.

So the sets of seeds all had the same chance to grow because they were scattered by the same farmer.  Just like all of us have the same chance to react to the truth about Jesus.  However, it was only the last seed of seeds that did what God needed them to do.

So our question today, is what kind of seed do we want to be?

Well, before you make up your mind or think about it… what is the good news, or the truth that the seed represents? What is the message that was scattered by the farmer?  Can anyone tell me?

The message is that we are all separated from God.  We’ve all done bad things that keep us from God.  These things that we have done are called sin, and when we did them it meant that we couldn’t be in God’s presence.  God is perfect and holy and sin cannot exist in the presence of God, so as long as we still have sin on us, we are doomed.  The Bible says that all of us are sinners and not one of us knows how to be good.  It also says that what we deserve for that sin is punishment.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to be punished, and I sure don’t want to be punished by God.  The good news that Jesus was telling us is that we don’t have to be.  He came to take our punishment so that we wouldn’t have to.

It’s like getting a bad report card, with all F’s and then the smartest kid in school offers to trade report cards with you.  He says that he will take the bad one, so that you can show your father the good one.  Doesn’t that sound pretty good? This other kid is willing to give you the credit for all of his hard work so that you can be rewarded, and he is willing to be grounded with your bad report card.  All you have to do is accept the offer.  Jesus must love us a whole lot for that to be true.  Sound too good to be true?

So, now I will ask you again… what kind of seed do you want to be?  Do you want to be the first kind that hears about Jesus and then doesn’t care?  Do you want to be the kind that gets all excited about it at church but then forgets on the car ride home?  Do you want to be the kind that prays with me about Jesus, accepts his gift, but then never tells anyone else about it?  Or do you want to be the kind that accepts the gift of Jesus and then begins a relationship with him? It’s a big decision.  It’s really something to think about.

Let us pray…

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