Waynedale United Methodist Church
Saturday, April 04, 2020
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!

Sept 6, 2015 Sermon

Luke 13:18 – 22
Ted Jansen  September 6, 2015  Waynedale UMC
1.)        I was a college student and I went to help my Grandma Jansen in New Jersey do some projects that she needed done at her home.  I enjoyed the chance to go and visit with her and share stories about her life, faith and ministry.  Grandpa had been a pastor in Norway before they moved to New York City after WW 2. 
At the end of our several day visit she gave me a check for $50.00 to help with college.  That gift was used in my heart to let me know that God would provide what I needed for my future. 
            That gift was unexpected, and though it was not going to pay for much of college costs it gave me evidence that God’s grace was real.  That is why I remember it today.     
            My hope is that today you will give evidence of God’s amazing and unexpected grace to a person that is not expecting it.  I pray that you gain an excitement for what God will do with our acts of love and witness.
2.)        Luke tells us about one that Jesus was talking about what the Kingdom of God is like.  Jesus wanted the listeners to know that God is in the business of doing unexpected things, even with the smallest, tiniest of objects of love.  Jesus shares two images that people know about, two common items that were small.  Mustard seeds and yeast.     
            What can a little thing do?  Listen to God’s word from the New Living Translation.  (Luke 13:18 – 21)
             “Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.
He also asked, “What else is the Kingdom of God like? It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
3.)        Do you know how small a mustard seed is?  It is about the size of a pencil point.  Contrast that with a watermelon seed, which is large.  A really small mustard seed can grow into a 25 foot tall tree, though it will take a while.  It is not a fast growing plant.  But this tree can be a welcome home for birds who can nest and rest in it.     
            When the tiny seed is planted in the garden and it has good soil, water, sunshine and good dirt it will be healthy.  It takes something and effort to begin the growth process. 
Consider the mustard seed as our witness of faith and you are the one planting the seed.  You are looking for a garden, a location that will allow the seed to grow and get bigger.     
4.)        When we witness to our faith with an act of love we hope that it is received and grows.  We never know how the seed will grow.  There are times we keep a watch on that seed and tend the garden, at other times we plant the seed in random places and leave the growing to God.
Where is a good place to share our faith?  Who are the people that you think might be the most open?  When is the best time?  Who are the best people to share their faith? 
I wonder if Grandma knew my heart and wanted to plant the seed of faith and grace in me?  She may have given all her grandchildren $50 checks that year?  We never know how a seed will grow in the soil?  We never know how a life will be touched.      
5.)        Jesus goes on and asks about the Kingdom of God and says it is like yeast that a women mixed in her flour.  Have you ever seen yeast?   It is small and dry. 
Something happens to yeast when it is mixed with flour and water.  It begins to rise and made the dough mixture bigger.  The yeast interacts with the flour and it causes gas and elasticity to happen.  The dry flour becomes bread after it rises and is baked. 
Yeast, all by itself, does not affect anything.  You can buy it in a packet and keep it for years.  You have to mix it with flour and see what affect it will have.  When you mix the yeast in the flour there is no part of the flour that is untouched by the effects of the yeast.  Something small mixes in with life and a bigger thing is seen and experienced. 
The Kingdom of God is like that yeast.  God’s love and grace are worked into people’s lives and everything is transformed.  When the Kingdom of God is alive we see women, and men, mixing the yeast into the flour of life.  Life is different when acts of grace and loving witness are shared by Jesus’ disciples. 
7.)        On Thursday I knew I was going to be working on my sermon and I decided to eat breakfast at a local restaurant.  As I was thinking about this sermon I realized that I needed to “practice” my acts of love before Sunday.  I decided to pay for a couple’s meal and leave a generous tip.  I wanted to do what I am asking you to do.  I had to have the waitress go back and get the bill and she gave it to the manager.  Several people knew what was happening.  It felt good, but a little sneaky!        
When I paid the bill the manager said that yesterday some different people were paying for meals. 
What kind of evidence did the manager able to see?  He saw evidence of kindness, generosity and love.  What will that manger talk about more?  The bad news of the day or the people who paid for a meal and left a big tip for a waitress. 
When we take the yeast and work it into the dough it gets bigger, it expands.  When we give in love and joy God will use that act and make it bigger.  That gift of love will become larger.  That is what the Kingdom of God is like.     
8.)        I have a video that I want you to see. It is about a boy who decides, after he has seen other teens hurt and bully others, to instead act in love.  The video follows people who see a loving act and they in turn offer a loving act.  It shows the power of little acts and how when you start something you never know how it will end.  May this video speak to you about what little thing you can do to share your faith. 
9.)        After Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God and the yeast and the mustard seed Luke tells us that Jesus went through the towns and villages on his way to Jerusalem.  Jesus continued to teach about the Kingdom of God as He prepared to give the ultimate gift of love for the world.  He was preparing to give His life away and die on the cross.  His own life, like a seed, would be planted in the ground and bring life to all who come close. 
Jesus continued to plant the mustard seeds into the lives of people and worked the yeast into the grain of life around Him. 
Jesus looked at each person and loved each person and desired that His love for them would make a difference.  He desires that His disciples continue His ministry by loving and serving and planting mustard seeds of grace in the lives of people.      
10.)      Can you think of a time when an act of love for you made a difference?  Is there a gift, a word, an act of service, or some expression to your heart that gave you evidence of the Lord’s Love?   
            I was going through a really tough time when the church building was broken in to and set on fire.  This was in Kokomo in 1997.  I was struggling with faith and loss and not having a good attitude about people and the world.  This act of arson was evil and I took it personally.  I felt like something was taken from me.    
A few weeks after the fire I was in a convenience store with our kids.  The owner of the store smiled at me and the kids and then gave to them some suckers.  This was all unexpected and he gave them for free.  When this random act of love to our children was expressed, God touched my heart with grace.  It helped bring hope and healing to me.  I still remember that love because my heart was hurting.     
11.)      When Jesus told the story about a mustard seed and yeast he was intentional about using an image of something very small, something that you might miss.  You might miss the seed if you weren’t looking for it.  I believe He wanted to teach us all that the size of the act of love does not matter, but what matters is that you plant the seed, you work the yeast into the dough.  God does the rest and the Kingdom of God gets bigger.   
            An act of love is used by God to make a life bigger.  God’s Kingdom grows when we use God’s principles.  Small love grows the Kingdom of God. 
            So, today, we are going to make the Kingdom of God bigger by our witness.  Our act of servant love will be used in some way.  I believe it.    
            We need to go and TELL others!   We need to give Tangible Evidence of the Lord’s Love.  We are going to share with our community some evidence that the Lord loves them.  I am excited to see how God will use our acts of love.  
12.)      Jesus did something unexpected when He celebrated the Passover before He was crucified.  He spoke of God’s grace and salvation in the past and said that God was acting in love right now and will act in love in the future.  Jesus said that when we share the cup and eat the bread we are to remember Jesus. 
We have evidence of Jesus Christ and we have evidence that we are loved.  You cannot deny the evidence that we have before us. 
God used a $50 check and a sucker for my children.  God might have used a generous tip and a free breakfast in someone’s life to give evidence of God’s love. 
May you hold in your heart and mind the truth that the love of our Savior is true and real.  Come to this time of celebrating Communion asking the Lord to fill up our garden with lots of seeds and work into our flour all the yeast of God’s grace.  We desire to see the Holy Spirit fill us and overflow our lives.  We witness to the love and grace that we have received. 
Come and ask that the Lord will fill you with His presence.  Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us.