I preached my first sermon over fifty years ago as a young teenager. The text and subject of the message escapes my memory, and I’m quite sure the congregation would say the same. Little did I know at the time that God was preparing me for a lifetime of ministry.
In the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus urges his disciples to trust the potential of the gospel, despite the seeming insignificance of their best efforts. He uses a mustard seed to illustrate his point. The mustard seed is a small vegetable seed that grows into the largest plant in the garden, large enough for birds of any size to build a nest in its strong, expansive branches. Once sown, it has the potential to spread rapidly. Simon Peter has no idea that God will use his frequent failures to grow him into an anointed messenger whose first sermon on the Day of Pentecost would bring three thousand souls to faith in Jesus Christ.
God has commissioned each of us to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. Our efforts seem small and insignificant when compared to the countless global challenges and cultural obstacles that oppose the gospel message. Yet, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, God is growing something far beyond our comprehension. Jesus taught his disciples that faith as small as a mustard seed could move mountains. God used the efforts of twelve ordinary men to spread the good news. How deeply do we trust the powerful potential of the gospel to accomplish its intended work?
God, forgive us for despising small beginnings in our efforts to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Give us your perspective on the world-changing message of Jesus Christ. Amen.
From a human perspective, we tend to judge people by appearances: how attractive they are, how wealthy they seem to be. God’s standard, however, is not outward appearance but the attitude of the heart. David was the youngest brother in his family, yet God knew his mighty heart and chose him as the next king of Israel. The psalmist declares that God gives victory to those who put their trust in God, not in the outward appearance of might. Jesus reinforces this truth with the parable of the mustard seed. Though the seed appears small, it grows into a robust plant. Paul tells the Corinthians that we should no longer judge people by what we see on the outside, for God changes what really matters—what is on the inside.
• Read 1 Samuel 15:34–16:13. What clear guidance has the Lord given you regarding an area of obedience in your life?
• Read Psalm 20. How has the Lord answered you when you called out during a critical moment in time?
• Read Mark 4:26-34. What prevents you from trusting God to use your testimony to lead others to Jesus Christ?
• Read 2 Corinthians 5:6-17. How does your trust in and obedience to God affect your personal conduct and your attitude toward others?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.