Least and greatest are two big words. We serve the greatest call. Any church you are part of is greatest. Transformation is about small starts and big finishes. The Kingdom is like annoying mustard seed that grows anywhere and everywhere. (Matthew 13:32)
Speaker(s): Pastor Chris Arman, Pastor Renaldo Brown
Sermon # 11483
6:30 PM on 6/3/2018
We think of people coming here and hear God’s word and say I can give God my life and they say I can trust him. They get equipped and years pass and they are trained in the ditches of life, the classroom of life. They can’t pay their rent or get sick or have a job promotion but the Spirit is leading them and they are sent by our church to Africa, to Malawi, and then this young man with his wife and family just preaching. God brings people. They are filled with the Spirit. They are taught and trained. This is amazing. There are Africans, Malawians tonight there in his place as P. Chris is with us. As we go one year and people come back and get refreshed. It’s also a brilliant thing I go for 9 or 10 months and I come home.
Let’s say this word, home. Turn to your neighbor and say, I come home. Home is important. I come home. Wow. I see you enjoyed that a lot! Home. Now we have Lu Khalenback Jr. home from Massachusetts. He moved down here to be with his mom and dad and us, and with his son Corey over here. Isn’t that beautiful. P. Lou and Miriam have their son and grandchildren here. What a blessing. Home. A missionary coming home being loved, encouraged, hearing and hearing through the year messages given to us by the Lord to encourage us and lead us.
P. Renaldo who has been on the field 20 years and done it in a number of countries and recognizing this is God’s work. I think it’s impossible, to be honest. Who is sufficient for these things? Our sufficiency is of no other way. God does that. He does. God does it. God brings people. God speaks to hearts. We wrestle with it sometimes. We go home from a meeting in Zimbabwe for example. A man is wrestling in his heart and makes some decision in his heart. It affects his whole life. Nobody can do that but God does.
Welcome P. Chris Arman.
P. Chris Arman
Good evening. I was thinking about the blessing of the personal nature of God. As P. Schaller said coming back home is revealed to us in every hand shake and hug. This is one of the areas that is the most attacked by the devil. The devil wants to make a personal God impersonal. You can see this in every religion in the world. They are impersonal. This is the month of Ramadan. We have a small Muslim population in Malawi. Fasting for the whole month. When the sun goes down and evening call to prayer, people can start eating. It’s the get out of jail card. There’s a video of a guy with a piece of food in his mouth and the moment the call to prayer comes, he starts chewing. Is God real? Our calling is to make God personal to people, that he became one of us and is personal to us.
Thank you for the Bible college who sent us Mat Gehret for the first semester and then Brigida Calhoun for the second semester. I’m also a graduate and say with vigor what quality, what a personal touch in the ministry in Malawi planting seeds and investing. Thank you to the Baltimore church.
Jn 1 illustrates this point. Christ calling his disciples personally.
vs. 45. Philippe finds Nathaniel.
vs. 46. Even though Christ said Nathaniel is someone who has no guile, doesn’t he seem cynical? Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to him.
vs. 47-48. God sees you. God sees me. He is personal. Your communion with him doesn’t go unnoticed. The prayer you have, the hurting in your heart, God sees it. In the Middle East, people are so empty and searching and want God. The testimonies we hear from Turkey and different places, God personally meets their needs.
vs. 49-50. Christ touched him. He knew what to say to set him free. He said to everyone eat my flesh and drink my blood and everyone left except the 12 apostles. Peter said to whom shall we go? There is no one else like you. No one else can touch me and has the right thing to say. That’s who Christ is.
In my family, my dad heard Grace Hour in the 70’s and through Dr. Stevens, Christ touched his life. Now we are serving in Malawi together because of a personal touch from God.
I don’t know other missionaries but we try to think of funny stories and come up here and draw a blank. I got to write things down but I hope it’s funny to you. It illustrates God’s personal nature. We see in S. Africa a lot of people come to church to get something. Instead of seeking the giver, they seek the gift. Instead of the healer, they seek the healing. We try to visit their house when they come to the church. One new visitor came and we visited him a few days later. We had two men who got ordained in Malawi, our first pastors. I was with Pastor [name?] and we went to his house and sat and he’s a college student. He lives in a one room house. He had 2 chairs and there were four of us. He had amazing questions. How does God speak to you from the Bible? That’s an amazing question. We could be there for hours. A little girl, the next door neighbor, came in. Her name was Hannah. Her mom was outside the house and we invited them to church. She said I will come and I said bring Hannah. She was like Nathaniel. How do you know my daughter’s name? I told her I’m a prophet! Another man was standing next to her and he said, what’s my name? He had a bracelet that had a name Lawrence on there. You are Lawrence! He said, you are really a prophet! I said look at your bracelet. Ah, yah! People get cheated and we are not here to tell you what your name is but to tell you about Christ. Come to church to hear about Christ not what you will get or who you will marry. Let God direct you and minister to you because that’s what he wants to do, be personal in your life.
P. Renaldo Brown
Mt. 13, P. Chris is my funny story! Five years with him in Zambia is my funny story! One time he took the best offering ever. He gets up and says there is no rest for the wicked. But you’re not wicked so you can give to God!
Mt 13:31-32, thank you for your prayers for Africa. It seems we began not so long ago with P. Scibelli and we are all over the continent. Dr. Steven’s vision for him and his vision for the continent is amazing. Pray for us.
I love this portion of Scripture. It’s a missionary parable. Two words you can circle, least and greatest. That is our life with God in two words. You come home and you feel like the least. Nobody comes home confident and proud. After a year, you come home a bit worn. Maybe even this week, this month has been long, more than 31 days. Your month has 49 days and you can’t figure out where they went! You feel least. Some of us look like least. Unfortunately, we look least. What happened to you? I’m least today. It’s been a least year. You feel least but you know you serve the greatest God and have the greatest call. You’re in the greatest church.
Whatever church you are called to is the greater church. Why would I be called to a church that’s least than the greatest for me? We love those two words. It’ speaks of transformation. We come home and get transformed from least to greatest. We are the least but God makes us the greatest.
De 7:6 Israel is least but God said I’ll make you the greatest. Small beginnings, huge endings. Transformation excites us. We love it. That’s why this parable is so great. You knock on doors and maybe get on a plane and fly to another country or go across the city of Baltimore. The distance doesn’t matter. A mission is a mission. Tracts in hand and hope in your heart and you go. Your group is never big. Even when it’s big, it’s not big. The parade we did, we’re still small. We’re still the least. We have this reality in front of us. We have hope in our heart for the future and a dream for the present. We squeeze the hope so tightly we lose track of the reality of today. We see ourselves for what we are. We don’t get to greatest. We stop at least. We feel least. You think of small. Nobody wants to be small. Small is not taken seriously or respected. Small is ridiculed or taken advantage of. Small is marginalized. It’s called micro phobia, fear of small things and small creatures. Fear of small. It makes us insecure. We doubt the importance of small. We don’t see the quality of small. Soon as you see the word least, you saw small. We don’t know what God can do with small. We don’t respect what God can do with small.
Zech 4:10, yet we don’t appreciate small. The small work of God in your life is powerful. The smallness of your small. We look for the greatness of God and we miss the smallness. Small, little moves.
Jn 6:6 he took small food. Something small. In the secret corners of our dreams, we despise small. We live in a world and culture that desires big. Why do you think they invented high heel shoes? Big. Everything is big: car, stereos, salary. Everything in the world screams bigger. Bigger church is obviously more spiritual because it’s bigger. We fear small and run from it. Jesus Christ is speaking to his followers. The kingdom of God is in their mind, the greatest and biggest and he says to people marginalized in small, the kingdom of God is small. It’s the opposite of what you expected it to be, small. Small. He describes the opposite of what they were expecting. They were expecting a kingdom that would bring back to the dominance under David; rise up and crush their enemies like in the time of Esther. He says it’s least, small. Like a seed. He compares it to a seed. A small, insignificant seed. He picked the worst quality seed, a mustard seed. It’s not even a plant. It’s a weed. The kingdom of God is a weed seed. It’s a hated seed. In the Mishnah, you’re not allowed to plant mustard seed. It’s referred to as the hated seed. Jesus says to the Jews who understand what a mustard seed is, the thing insignificant and doesn’t matter is the kingdom of God. No guys are selling mustard seeds in Israel. No one is selling them. No one is going to sow a mustard seed. Jesus said a man is planting a seed. Which man? He’s not a Jew or smart. No farmer plants a weed. It can grow to be almost 10 or 12 feet tall, a big weed.
1 Cor 1:25, Is 55:8, we look least and to the world we have a value of a mustard seed. The way we do missions and ministry we have a mustard seed strategy. Go plant a weed and see if it will happen.
Ezekiel 18:29 the ways of God are not equal. Are not mine equal and yours unequal? The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. He didn’t say an apple seed or orange or wheat. He said it’s like weed. He didn’t even pick avocado seed. Weed. Useless, rejected. What’s amazing is by God it grows. By God it grows. The kingdom of God and the people God allows in his kingdom, the outcasts, sinners, mistake makers, and the wrong people. Weed seeds. God says I’ll plant those seeds and they will grow. By God we grow no matter what condition I’m in. Israel is covered with mustard seeds. All efforts to stop it growing and it grows everywhere. All efforts to stop the kingdom of God and it grows everywhere. All efforts Satan tries to do to stop the kingdom of God and it grows and grows. Every other religion and group, everyone supports them. We can save the planet but not save souls. If you recycle, God bless you! I met a man. I was supposed to put a box, this is only in America. I was going to put the trash in the trash can and it’s like taking a college class! I’m trying to decide what goes into what. I was going to put the boxes in the other and the guy said you can’t do that. We’re saving the universe. My two boxes in this dumpster is saving the universe? You are more worried about two boxes saving the universe than saving the souls? I don’t care.
Heb. 1:2 and 3 he is upholding the universe with his hand and my two boxes doesn’t make it easier. You hold up eternity and here’s my two boxes. Forgive me in advance! I’m not speaking for Greater Grace. I don’t recycle! Help me plant mustard seeds. I’d rather save souls than preserve the earth. We preserve the people who populate it. You fill your dumpsters with boxes, and I’ll fill heaven with souls and I’ll meet you in eternity and we’ll talk about it.
The kingdom of God is small and despised but man does it grow. God makes it grow. Only God can take the least and make it the greatest. Sometimes we come home and feel like the least. The strategies didn’t work. We put the boxes where the cans were supposed to go. We made a mistake and drank Coke Zero. Even if we get it wrong, God gets it right. He takes the least and makes it the greatest.
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