I am encouraged as I reflect on how far my relationship with the Lord has grown. I have come a long way from when I went to church meetings, Sunday School, kids’ club and camp as a boy. All this from small beginnings! The Lord’s influence in my life certainly had its ups and downs. There were times I loved Him, and there were times I denied Him. I have had my peaks and valleys since then, but God’s influence has grown in me. The God who is the same yesterday and today and forever brings changes to us, and through us.
God wanted to walk with us in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned, God foretold about “One” who would come to crush the head of the serpent who tempted them. Prophets pointed for centuries to the Messiah who would come and establish God’s leadership here on earth. Finally, a baby was born in a humble stable in Bethlehem—the “King,” with small beginnings. This King grew to be a man and spent much of His time teaching about the kingdom of God.
We walk into His “class” in Luke 13:18-21. Would you please take a few moments to read this passage?
The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.
The door to the kingdom of God is marked “Faith.” Our faith and the kingdom of God within us start small before they grow. Our trust in the King grows with each opportunity placed before us. We grow stronger each time we exercise our faith muscles until, one day, we find ourselves trusting Him and obeying Him in ways we would have never thought possible.
God’s influence in us begins as a mustard seed. When we become followers of Christ, we are what the Bible calls “born again.” God’s kingdom in us is just in its infancy at this point—just like a baby waiting to be fed and embraced. We can’t speed up this growth, but we can slow it down. As we yield to God’s kingdom in us, we find ourselves changing from the inside out. We nourish His seed through:
Talking and listening to Him.
Reading the Bible and getting to know Him, and His ways.
Giving our time and money to see God’s purposes done through us.
Building close relationships with other followers of Jesus.
Consider the size of one tiny mustard seed. The Lord’s desires and our desires become more and more alike. Eventually, this little seed of Godly influence is like a big mustard plant. In favourable soil in a warm climate, mustard trees can grow to a height of 10 to 15 feet or more—large enough for birds to nest in the branches!
Little things can make us or break us. Our daily habits shape us, and our daily commitment to loving and serving others results in significant impact.
The Kingdom of God is like yeast.
What the modern Bible translations interpret as “yeast” was referred to in Bible times as “leaven.” Leaven probably refers to the small portion of dough, left from previous baking, that had fermented and turned acidic. The Mosaic law strictly prohibited the use of leaven in the priestly ritual. The offering was a type of purity, and leaven, which causes disintegration and corruption, symbolizing evil and the power of sin. To the Hebrew mind, whatever was in a decayed state suggested the idea of uncleanness and corruption. Jesus warned His followers about the yeast of legalism and its harmful influence.
Consider how a small amount of yeast influences one loaf of bread—many times the size of yeast. The characteristic of yeast that makes it so powerful is its ability to spread. It has a way of working through a whole batch of dough, whether for good or evil. In Luke chapter 13, Jesus speaks of yeast positively, as its ability to spread can advance the purposes of God here on earth.
The Kingdom of God in our lives is a microcosm of His universal purposes. God’s kingdom began with Him and took shape in the form of a child—the humble baby Jesus born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. We are born into His kingdom as little children, humbly acknowledging His kingship in our lives. As we grow in maturity and obedience to the King, His influence becomes increasingly apparent in us and through us.
A simple sign on a kindergarten teacher’s desk reads, “THINK SMALL.”
We might be disappointed and discouraged by where we are. We might feel like we haven’t made much progress, or we are starting over. Maybe we look back on the “good old days,” when things seemed to be better than they are now. Preoccupation with the past can prevent us from seeing and embracing what God is doing now and what He will do in the future. We can neither change nor bring back the past, but our choices and priorities in the present can lead to a better future.
It is incredible how little words and actions stick with me as I consider how God has used people to shape my faith. Following the King includes some big, dramatic decisions. More often, however, it consists of the small choices we will make today.