Matt.13:32 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
A friend messaged me this scripture last week, believing it was for the church here at Keresley. That morning, in my time with the Lord, God was confirming to me again that He was doing a new thing in the church. He impressed upon me, that the years of sowing the seed of the gospel in the community, were beginning to bear fruit.
Seeds are Small and Insignificant
In the East, the mustard seed symbolizes something small and insignificant. It produces a large plant, but not a “tree” in the strictest sense. However, the plant is large enough for birds to sit in the branches. For years, the church here in Keresley has been viewed as something small and insignificant – but “Seeds Grow” – God is doing a new thing.
In the natural, a gardener will plant a seed in the ground, he will cover it with soil – so that it is hidden from sight. He will water it, put it under the rays of the sun – then he has to be patient and wait. Weeks pass when nothing seems to be happening, but the gardener has faith that the seed is good and that it will germinate. But “Seeds Grow”, eventually new shoots appear, the plant grows to maturity, and produces yet more seed!
So it is with the Kingdom of Heaven – we sow the good seed of the gospel – it falls into the hearts of men, women, boys and girls – it is hidden from sight – we ‘water’ it – we place it under the ‘rays of the Son’ – and wait! Eventually new ‘shoots’ appear and we will reap a harvest – if we don’t lose heart and give up!
Seeds germinate at the Right Time
Unfortunately, we live in an age where we expect instant results. We have ‘instant coffee’, so-called ‘fast food’, eye prescriptions ‘while you wait’ – we can order nearly anything over the internet – not having to wait longer than a day or two before it arrives on our doorstep from anywhere in the world!
We expect the same with the things of God. We sow the good seed of the gospel – have an evangelistic outreach, distribute Christian literature, start a new ministry – and expect immediate results! We know that the seed is good – we know the fruit that it produces – but we are impatient – we want it now – we don’t want to wait. And when it doesn’t happen in our time expectation – we lose heart – we give up!
It is the same with prayer! I have often wondered why the prayer meeting is sometimes the least attended of all church activities. We petition God for something – and we expect an immediate answer. There are times when, owing to the urgency of the situation, God answers there and then. But usually we have to wait – we fail to realise that God answers in His time – and His time is always the right time. Someone once said, “God is never late, nor is He ever early – but He is always on time!” That is where faith in God comes into play! Even though we don’t see the results immediately – we have faith that God always answers prayer – but we must wait for His timing! (God doesn’t always give us the things we ask for in prayer however – usually because we have asked for something that is not according to His will – James 4:3)
My mother gave her heart to Jesus just before the Second World War. Her desire was for everyone in her family to do the same. She was particularly concerned for one of her brothers who went to war and had a particularly dangerous role as a dispatch rider, taking messages to troops that had been deployed deep inside enemy territory. She prayed that her brother would be kept safe, but more importantly, give his heart to the Lord. God spared his life – he came under fire from the enemy many times – often in very difficult circumstances – but miraculously escaping with his life! He came through the war years unscathed – but still no commitment to Jesus. My mother kept on praying – thinking that as God had spared his life – her brother would surely give his life to Jesus – but not so, (he seemed even more opposed to the things of God). He became a successful business man – eventually entering retirement – still my mother prayed – but no result. Then, awaking one Sunday morning – he announced, to the amazement of his wife, that he thought they should go to church that day. After a few weeks of attending their local Baptist Church, they both gave their hearts to the Lord – serving God to their dying day. My mother had prayed daily for fifty years without seeing any result – there were many occasions when she felt like giving up – but she kept on praying, and, at the right time – God answered! (Matthew 7:7-8).
God has a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) – His time is always the ‘right time’ – Romans 5:6. Jesus fully understood the will and the timing of His Father – John 7:6-8 – and lived His life accordingly. We all (but particularly church leaders), need to be like the men of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32)
Perhaps you are discouraged – you have laboured for God – planting the seed – watering it – exposing it to the sunlight of God’s love – but nothing. Maybe you have prayed for a loved one to be saved or healed – but nothing! Remember, “Seeds Grow” – God will answer when the time is right! Keep going “…for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal 6:9 NIV
Faith as small as a Mustard Seed
Jesus also talks about mustard seed in the context of ‘faith’ – believing God. “…I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matt 17:20 NIV Someone once said, “Faith is like a muscle – the more you exercise it – the stronger it becomes.” You may feel that your faith to believe God for something – is small and insignificant… but “Seeds Grow” – exercise the little faith you have – see God work on your behalf – and your faith in Him will grow. Then you will be able to trust Him for much bigger things!
I have to admit that I am not good in these things – we have been planting and watering for years at ICCkeresley – with very little result. At times I became downcast and lacking in faith. But “Seeds Grow”. Just as there is a right time in the natural for a seed to germinate and grow – so I believe it is the right time for us as a church – we are beginning to see the ‘shoots’ of new growth.
How encouraging it is for the gardener to see the first shoots appear above the ground His ‘faith’ in the seed he has sown has strengthened – he gets excited and begins to look expectantly at other pots in his green house – to see if he can see any other shoots. He is satisfied that the seed is good and is confident that in repeating the process – he will get similar results again. But now the hard work begins – he has to tend the young shoots – supporting them with garden canes until they are strong enough to support themselves.
So it is with us – when we begin to see people come to know Jesus – we are encouraged that the ‘seed of the gospel’ is bearing fruit – things become exciting and we become expectant in seeing others follow. But then the real work begins! As people come to know Jesus, they will bring with them all of the problems that sin has caused in their lives. Some things God deals with straight away – but others things need the ‘body ministry’ of the church, manifest in love and understanding. ( 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, 1 Corinthians 13)
Seeds produce New Life
Then we need to realise that ‘new life’ is a miracle only God can perform. The miracle lies within the seed. The gardener may provide the right conditions – the right soil – water in the right quantity – and sunlight (incidentally, all these are provided by God too!), but germination and growth are all of God’s doing – part of His creative work. Similarly with childbirth. I had the privilege of being present at the birth of both my daughters – what a wonderful experience to witness new life! Medical science can do many things – we may be able to help infertile couples – but as yet – no scientist has been able to produce new life – and I believe they never will – this is something only God can do!
In the work of God we need to remember that ‘new life’ has nothing to do with us. We may provide the right conditions – prepare the ‘soil’ (break up the fallow ground etc.) – ‘water’ the seed and expose it to the sunlight with witnessing and prayer – but God gives the increase! In fact the planting of the seed and the watering may be performed by different people – but it is always God that produces new life! (1 Corinthians 3:7). We must remember this and be careful to give God the glory for all that He is doing!
Seeds produce yet More Seeds
Finally, “Seeds Grow” producing mature plants – which then produce more seeds – and so the cycle continues! This is the law of reproduction – Jesus commissioned us to be His witnesses in all the world – to communicate the gospel message to those around us and further afield. (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8)
We reproduce after our own kind. Many people say that I take after my father – I look and sound a bit like him. I even notice myself saying things in the way he would say them and do things as he would do them. When I was younger I used to lead praise and worship at church services on a regular basis. Now both my daughters lead in the church at Keresley. Although they have their own unique style of leading, I often see methods and mannerisms that I used when I did it! We all, but particularly church leaders, need to be aware of the influence we have on those, particularly young Christians, around us. The Apostle Paul was aware of this when he penned the words “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” to the Christians in the church at Corinth (1 Cor 11:1 NIV). I thank God for those Christian men and women I have looked to for an example over the years – they were not perfect by any means – but their commitment and faithfulness to the work of God have been a help and inspiration to me. But the greatest example of all – the One who should be our ultimate pattern in life, is the Lord Jesus Himself – He invited ordinary people to “Come follow me” (Matthew 4:19). Jesus invites us to be like Him – as the old chorus goes…
To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus,
all I ask – is to be like Him.
All through life’s journey,
from earth to Glory,
all I ask – is to be like Him
Do we have the likeness of our heavenly Father? How wonderful it is when those of our family and friends see the characteristics of Jesus in us – His love – His nature – His personality – His temperament. This is the greatest witness, the greatest testimony we can ever give – more powerful than any words we can say! How can we be like Jesus? When God’s ‘seed’ is in us – our lives are transformed, (1 John 3:9). And “Seeds Grow” – as we allow God into our life more and more – we will be transformed into a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17) – we will become more and more like Him (Romans 12:1-2)
The Bible has a lot more to say about ‘seed’ – but remember that, although small and insignificant; “Seeds Grow”. Perhaps you have sown the gospel ‘seed’ in the life of a friend or family member – or you are involved in an outreach ministry but with little or no visible result. Remember:
- There is nothing wrong with the seed – it is good seed – it is the gospel – the Word of God. (Luke 8:11)
- The ‘seed’ of God’s Word will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
- Some seeds fall by the wayside, or on rocky ground, or among thistles – but some fall on good ground and produce an abundant harvest. (Matthew 13:1-23)
- We need to be patient – and not give up – for in God’s time – the shoots will appear! (Galatians 6:9)
Above all, remember… Seeds Grow!