11.21.08, Mark 4:21-34

A Lamp on a Stand

21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

The Parable of the Growing Seed

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

What I Was Born To Do (Kriss Kross, anyone?)

Each of these parables are wonderful images of our life in Christ, and could be examined individually and in their own right.  But for today, I want to point out something about all three of these images, of light, and of mustard and wheat seeds – that they don’t have to try to give light or to grow into plants – it is what they are made to do.  When you set fire to a candle wick, light springs out of that moment and illuminates the room because it’s the nature of light.  When you plant a seed into ground, the seed doesn’t make a choice to grow, and what to grow into…it grows because that’s the nature of a seed.

In my own life, and in my ministries, I tend to emphasize discipline and perseverance, mainly because they are such under-developed values in my own life.  But in this text, we are reminded that for Christians, doing the things of God is what we are made to do, and naturally spring out of us.  When we are saved through Christ, certain values and actions pour out of us: compassion, forgiveness, evangelism, worship, humility.  Christ’s nature lives in us, and just like a flame, it gives light – that’s just what it does!  So it is important to emphasize your nature rather than your effort, that the works of a Christian spring from the identity of a Christian.

So, when we find that these things are not overflowing out of our lives, effort alone will not fix things – we have to re-affirm, remember, and reclaim our identity.  Because these parables remind us that a lack of fruit in our lives primarily comes when we forget who we are and what we were made to do.

Do you remember who you are in Christ today?

Questions:

1. Which of the three parables really stuck out the most for you, and why?

2. Have you ever had a moment where you did something that you knew God wanted you to do, and it just felt so natural and right, like you were born to do it?

3. What part of your Christian life is most difficult and unnatural for you to do right now?

4. Relating to the above question, look at the issue in terms of identity rather than effort – what do you have to remember about your identity to make that part of your life more natural?

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11.21.08, Mark 4:21-34

A Lamp on a Stand

21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

The Parable of the Growing Seed

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

What I Was Born To Do (Kriss Kross, anyone?)

Each of these parables are wonderful images of our life in Christ, and could be examined individually and in their own right.  But for today, I want to point out something about all three of these images, of light, and of mustard and wheat seeds – that they don’t have to try to give light or to grow into plants – it is what they are made to do.  When you set fire to a candle wick, light springs out of that moment and illuminates the room because it’s the nature of light.  When you plant a seed into ground, the seed doesn’t make a choice to grow, and what to grow into…it grows because that’s the nature of a seed.

In my own life, and in my ministries, I tend to emphasize discipline and perseverance, mainly because they are such under-developed values in my own life.  But in this text, we are reminded that for Christians, doing the things of God is what we are made to do, and naturally spring out of us.  When we are saved through Christ, certain values and actions pour out of us: compassion, forgiveness, evangelism, worship, humility.  Christ’s nature lives in us, and just like a flame, it gives light – that’s just what it does!  So it is important to emphasize your nature rather than your effort, that the works of a Christian spring from the identity of a Christian.

So, when we find that these things are not overflowing out of our lives, effort alone will not fix things – we have to re-affirm, remember, and reclaim our identity.  Because these parables remind us that a lack of fruit in our lives primarily comes when we forget who we are and what we were made to do.

Do you remember who you are in Christ today?

Questions:

1. Which of the three parables really stuck out the most for you, and why?

2. Have you ever had a moment where you did something that you knew God wanted you to do, and it just felt so natural and right, like you were born to do it?

3. What part of your Christian life is most difficult and unnatural for you to do right now?

4. Relating to the above question, look at the issue in terms of identity rather than effort – what do you have to remember about your identity to make that part of your life more natural?