What would your best life look like? What are your dreams? What would make your life so much better? A better job with better pay, a home to call your own, more family, a closer family, healed relationships, more time or being better at balancing time, a vacation?
The truth is there is a treasure that is worth so much more than all of the things we could ever dream of or think would make our lives better, and it’s available to everyone willing to accept it, right here, right now. The series we’re studying is called “Kingdom Treasure” where we’re uncovering truths about this ultimate treasure that can change every way of how we live our lives and certainly our eternal lives.
I’m calling it a treasure, but it is not a hidden treasure, at least not to those who want to find it. This treasure is the ultimate treasure, God’s Kingdom, and Jesus’ life, death and resurrection opens the door right to it.
What is the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven? Jesus talked an awful lot about it and taught many parables that pertained to it. You may remember that a parable is not a story that actually took place, but rather a story designed to teach life-changing truth. Jesus’ parables compare something familiar to something unfamiliar, helping us to understand spiritual truth by using everyday objects and relationships. Jesus’ parables compel listeners to discover the truth, while at the same time concealing the truth from those too lazy or too stubborn to see it. To those who are honestly seeking, the truth becomes real clear.
Isn’t that the problem of our world today? People don’t want to see it. They don’t want God, His truth, His ways, because that means they’d have to give up their own ways and so called truths, so they ignore it and don’t listen to what Jesus is saying or even seek what He says. Let me remind you where our own ways and truth lead us, to the pit of Hell. The reality is that a lot of the things we often chase after and see as valuable, worth our time, our energy, in the end aren’t worth anything.
We’re looking at the book of Matthew chapter 13 where Jesus tells several parables that uncover the beauty and possibilities of this Kingdom. This Kingdom is like a treasure of incredible value, like yeast that permeates everything it touches, like a seed that starts small but grows into something unexpected, and like a net that is set to retrieve a massive haul. Each parable is like a newly discovered treasure that reveals exciting truths about what we are invited into as followers of Jesus.
Last week, we discovered that the Kingdom of God is like a treasure that is buried in a field. When a man found it, he sold everything he had to have it. The Kingdom of God is worth any price, and it’s a sacrifice we must be willing to make to experience the full life God wants for us. Ultimately, the price we pay to follow God does not compare to the price that was paid to allow us the gift of eternal life. When we come to truly realize the sacrifice made for us, it’s then we can see that trading the temporal for the eternal, the earthly things for the divine, is an easy trade.
Today, we are discovering a Kingdom treasure that reveals more of what God has for us.
Last week one night, Matt and I were watching the news for a few minutes. Rarely do we ever watch the news, and surprisingly there was a positive story being told. It was about a young boy, 6 years old who decided to have a cookie and lemonade sale along side his mother’s yard sale. The young man did pretty well making $62. He said after making so much, he decided to give half of it, $31 to the local fire department. A firefighter reported that they are used to receiving regular donations, but not from a six year old. So they decided to show him their appreciation for such a kind gift. They showed up at his house and took him and his dad for a ride in the fire truck. You can imagine the joy and excitement of this child, but is the real joy is that this story has spread inspiration.
Yes, it was a small gift and $31 is not going to go far on equipment and supplies that costs in the hundreds of thousands, but never underestimate the small things that comes from a big heart. This big heart of a six year old made the evening news! Thousands of people saw it and was inspired by a six year old giving $31.
The truth is that just because something is small does not mean that it cannot make a big difference. This is actually a Kingdom principle that is found all over the Bible. In the hands of God, even the smallest and most insignificant things can have a major impact.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus is once again teaching a group of people, using parables to reveal the amazing power of God’s Kingdom in the world.
Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
Jesus decides to use something everyone there would be familiar with. He compares the Kingdom of God to yeast that a woman uses in baking bread. The Greek word Matthew used was saton meaning a dry unit of measure equivalent to three gallons, and she uses three of them meaning 9 gallons of flour. Using modern bread recipes, nine gallons of flour could make approximately fifty loaves of bread! Jesus is describing a woman who is making enough bread to feed scores of people. Sounds a bit like the Kingdom of Heaven.
The woman has 9 gallons of flour that she adds yeast to. Now, even with such a large amount of flour, the amount of yeast that would be added would be tiny in comparison. This is because yeast is a fermenting agent that is added to help the dough increase and grow. A small bit of yeast spreads throughout the dough. Too much and the dough won’t rise correctly. A little bit goes a long way. Jesus’ point?
POINT #1 – A LITTLE OF GOD’S POWER CAN DO BIG THINGS
Jesus uses this story of yeast to teach a very important aspect of God’s Kingdom. The Kingdom often starts small and insignificant, and then grows. God gives a promise to change the world through one man named Abraham and his family. The Savior of the universe was a baby born in a stinky stable. The Gospel begins with a ragtag group of disciples and now has gone global. A little can become a lot when God is involved.
It’s almost as if God loves to show His power by working through the simple, small, and humble – so we can believe He can work in little us too. You certainly can find the Kingdom exploding onto the scene in big and powerful ways in the Bible, but more often than not, God grows things. Like yeast in a batch of dough, a little of God’s Spirit grows in the hearts of His people, and that is how the world changes.
This Kingdom principle is put on display in a story about a little boy and a massive group of hungry people.
After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. 3 Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. 4 (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) 5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.
7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”
8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. 9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. 12 After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” 13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.
14 When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”
Jesus had been traveling around healing the sick and tending to those in need. Everywhere He went, He was surrounded by a large number of followers looking to receive from Him as well. The crowd gathered, and Jesus is again healing when the hour turns late. It was dinnertime and the people were hungry. There were 5,000 people to feed, and Jesus was looking to the disciples to feed them.
Out in this desolate place, all the disciples could gather together was five loaves of bread and two fish. It was a little boy’s lunch, and it would not go far in holding off hunger, unless it was in the hands of Jesus. He told everyone to sit in the grass. He took the loaves and the fish and He gave thanks, and the disciples distributed it to all who were seated there. Not just a tiny bite for each one, but enough for everyone to be filled. Not only that, but the disciples picked up baskets of leftovers.
Everyone who was there was astonished and recognized Jesus as someone who must have come from the Kingdom of God.
POINT #2 – KINGDOM POWER MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE
God has a habit of taking a little and doing a lot. This is good news for you and me. Maybe today you feel like you don’t have a lot to offer the world. Well that’s true. You don’t have a lot on your own, but when you put your life into the hands of Jesus, you can accomplish great things.
Maybe you wonder how God could work in your life when you have made so many mistakes. Oh, but you see, God loves a good comeback story, and there is nothing that you could have done that would keep Him from working in you and through you.
There is nothing that is impossible for God. He cannot be contained. He cannot be stopped. As Christians, we must begin to believe that the Holy Spirit’s power is available to us and live is us. When we trust in Jesus, we will see that power work.
The Kingdom of God is like yeast in a batch of dough. It’s like a young boy’s lunch that Jesus used to feed 5,000 plus people. The key for every Christian is being able to trust that our Father God can do anything. When we trust God’s ability to work in us and through us, when we trust in God’s ability to take a little and make it a lot, then we become much more eager to live in the Kingdom of God with joy and excitement.
POINT #3 – DON’T UNDERESTIMATE GOD
I have found that there are times in my life when I look at circumstances and situations around me and don’t look at the things God can do with it. I don’t even go there – maybe because I’m not believing He can do anything with it. I am afraid, at times, this has kept me from believing in God for great things. When I underestimate God, I miss what He can do in my life. When I underestimate God, I miss what He can do in the world around me. Too often we’re looking for the big and spectacular and forget that God works in the simple and mundane as well.
Keep believing for big things, even before you see big things. It’s like an instruction that Paul gives in 1 Corinthians to those who were laboring for the Kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 15:58
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
Paul encourages those in the church to keep working. Keep laboring. Never give up. It may look small now, but just wait to see what God will do with it. This is because God meets us in the mundane. God is in the yeast that permeates the dough. God is in the little boy’s lunch that feeds so many. God is in the bread and juice and meets us through communion. God is in the water and meets us in the simple act of baptism.
There is treasure here if we will open our eyes to see it. We will see God move in powerful ways when we look for Him in the little things. There is nothing that is impossible in the Kingdom of God. Though I am only one person, I can make a difference when I am placed in the hands of God, and so can you. Offer what limited resources you have to God, trust Him, and watch Him use you to help change the world.