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March 22, 2009
Great things begin with small beginnings, such as a big bush from a small mustard seed. Or, a worldwide body from a single death on a criminal's cross. Or, a Christian life from a decision to follow Jesus, and be baptized into Him. Every day, we make small decisions that impact us for life--and impact the lives of others!
a sermon by Bernie Parsons
presented to the Globe church of Christ on 03/22/2009
A portion of Zechariah 4:10: “For who hath despised the day of small things?”, and that got me thinking about how consequential small things can be. We should never underestimate the power of a small thing.
Think about the birth of Jesus, and what a humble beginning that was. He was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judaea.
Matthew 2:6: “And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.”
Few on earth took not of His birth, aside from His own parents, and a few shepherds in their fields, and later, a few wise men from the east. Yet, look how well that birth is known, and how widely celebrated it is today.
Think also of the death of Jesus, and what an insignificant event that seemed to be. He was crucified, one of three men accused of being criminals, condemned to execution.
Matthew 27:37: “And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
38: Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
39: And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
40: And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
41: Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
42: He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
43: He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
44: The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.”
Few believed that Jesus was anyone special on that dark day. However, look how many people profess faith in Jesus today, how many rely upon His death to save their souls! From this humble beginning, the church has spread worldwide.
Mark 4:30: “And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?
31: It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:
32: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.”
The church, like the tiny mustard seed, grew into a large tree, with branches all over the earth. Who could have seen, from its small beginning, there in Jerusalem, that the whole world would be influenced by the knowledge of Jesus Christ?
Think of the Lord’s Supper. It consists of taking a small piece of unleavened bread and a small amount of fruit of the vine, in order to recall that great event. Small, yet it reminds us that we are a part of this huge called out assembly of God’s people, with members scattered, not only around the planet, but also through the ages! We are a part of the body of Christ. Such small reminders help us to recall that, as small as we are as individuals, we are part of something universal and ages old.
Now, think about our own baptisms into Christ. It only takes a few short minutes to be baptized, but look at the profound and lifelong change that it produces! A few minutes time in one day out of our life, and we are different people for as long as we live!
Mark 16:16: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
That few moments in the water launches a lifetime of service to God and to our fellow man. It changes who we are, and who we are going to be. From such a small beginning comes a whole life of commitment.
Another small thing that can change you for life is the reading of the Bible, and contemplating what it means to you, and how you live your life.
Acts 17:11: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
12: Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.”
Take a few minutes per day to read the Bible, and it is amazing how much spiritual knowledge that you will gain over time. That small investment in time makes you better able to understand what God wants you to do, and you will be able to discuss the scriptures with others. When faced with a tough situation, you will know what to do because of your knowledge, as well as the examples set forth in the scriptures.
Matthew 10:41: “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
42: And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”
Think about that. A cup of cold water, in those days, was free. When a disciple—that is, a follower—offers a cup of cold water to another follower, it brings a reward. We do well to adapt this example to our own behavior. Out of Christian hospitality, ask guests if they would like a glass of water. Ask them if they would like something to eat. If you see someone on a hot summer day, who appears to be suffering from the heat, offer them a cold drink. If you see someone who looks cold on a chilly day, offer them a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. If they look hungry, offer them something to eat.
You never know what comfort this may bring to that person—and you will certainly feel better about yourself. They may never forget that kindness, and it may prompt them to do something good for someone else. As I have stated before, I can never forget that, when I was about eleven years old, the Salvation Army stopped by our little shack in the country in northern Ohio. They gave us an old, stained bed mattress, a box of canned and bagged food, and a box of toys. These items were someone else’s cast-off, hand-me-down items, but they made a world of difference to us. I will never forget that.
Small words can make a world of difference. My mother taught us basic phrases of common courtesy. Please. Thank you. You’re welcome. Sir. Ma’am. Excuse me. I’m sorry. Forgive me.
1 Peter 3:8: “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:”
I lament the death of common courtesy. Everywhere I turn, people are rude, self-absorbed, and thoughtless. It only takes a little courtesy to make a big difference.
Driving on the highways, I see that few people bother to use turn signals these days. It would be a nice little courtesy to know if that approaching car intends to turn, or to go straight ahead. People engage in road rage, getting angry, threatening one another.
In the grocery store, many people would just as soon run you down—whether on the parking lot or in the aisles—rather than waiting, slowing, or saying “Excuse me.” Let me also make this small suggestion: Stick to the right hand side of the aisles when walking, or pushing a buggy. That allows for two-way traffic, and cuts down on confusion. It amazes me, as I walk down the store aisles with my cane, how many people come straight at me with their buggies, and I guess if I didn’t get out of the way, they would smash into me, as they show no sign of swerving or slowing down.
What does driving and shopping have to do with being a Christian? Christianity is a way of life, and we need to let our lights shine wherever and whenever we are. If we will show a little courtesy, who knows, it might become contagious?
James 3:2: “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
3: Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
4: Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
5: Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
6: And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
7: For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
8: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
9: Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
10: Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
Do you know that it is against the law to yell, “Fire!”in a crowded public space? That one word can lead to a panicked stampede and great death or injury. What about yelling “Bomb!” or “Terrorist!” or “Gun!” in the same place? A small word or two can do a world of hurt, or it can do a world of good. Thank you. You’re welcome. Excuse me.
This lesson is small, compared to some that I give, but if you will observe
it, it will change your life in big ways!
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