AGCC Fri. PM 8/14/1998
"A GLORIOUS CHURCH!"
TEXT: Zech. 4:6-10 Matt. 13:31-32
INTRO:Every living thing started out small! Every great invention started out as just an idea. Even the universe God has created was made out of the smallest of particles called atoms. Living in a day when everything has to be "BIG" it is important that we remember how important small things really are!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us to appreciate small beginnings, that God honors small things when they are not despised!
I. GOD'S PROMISES Zech. 4:6-10
A. Concern 4:6-9
1. The Jewish people had just come through a very difficult time of history, they had been captive for many years, and their homeland had been destroyed.
a. At this point in the book of Zechariah however many of them had returned home to live, the city had been rebuilt.
b. The temple of God however was not in existence.
c. They knew their history however of the great Temple of God Solomon had built, and now Zerubbabel was encouraging them to build a new one, albeit a smaller one.
2. They were weak, still recovering from a difficult time and they were being asked to believe God to rebuild His temple.
3. While God was pleased to see them restored to the land, He was very concerned to see them restored to a relationship with Him also!
a. God's concern was not just national, it was spiritual.
b. The Temple of God was the symbol of their life with God, thus it needed to be built or they would forget their God.
4. The people however had doubts about their ability to build God a house, they just didn't see how it would be possible!
a. So many things for God would never happen if we were full of doubts.
b. If the doubters had their way, even though their logic seems correct at times, nothing much for God would get accomplished.
ILLUS:The following statements are taken from official documents, newspapers and magazines widely read during their day. Listen to what the "authorities" had to say:
1840 - "Anyone traveling at the speed of thirty miles per hour would surely suffocate."
1878 - "Electric lights are unworthy of serious attention."
1901 - "No possible combination can be united into a practical machine by which men shall fly."
1926 - (from a scientist) "This foolish idea of shooting at the moon is basically impossible."
1930 - (another scientist) "To harness the energy locked up in matter is impossible."
There have always been those who said, "It can't be done." Yes, even the experts can be wrong. But the real tragedy is that 99 percent of the people believed them. -- Source Unknown
5. God tells them that they need not fear, it won't be by "might, (perhaps human strength) or power, (possibly political power) but by my Spirit (God's power!)" that the job will get done.
a. They just needed to believe and obey!
b. Even the "mighty mountain" (the biggest obstacles thrown at them) will "become level ground" as they obey the Lord and believe that God will enable them. 4:7
c. In fact, God tells them that the day will come when they will see Zerubbabel lay the capstone on the finished building and they will shout at that time "God bless it, God bless it!" 4:9
B. Critics 4:10
1. In spite of all the encouragement from God and the encouragement from God's servant Zerubbabel, the critics come out and challenge the ability they have to build a new temple even with God's help.
a. Whenever you attempt to do anything for God you can expect there will be some critic to tell you why it can't be done!
b. God asks them not to despise the small beginnings of the work.
2. The truth of the matter is that anything significant done for God will likely go through a small stage!
ILLUS:"Let's build a bridge across the Niagara," someone proposed nearly a century ago. Great idea, it would save miles of travel and solve many problems. But how were they to begin? The canyon walls were too steep, and the rapids were too wild to get that first strand across from cliff to cliff. Then someone got a bright idea. They'd offer a ten dollar prize to the kid who could fly a kite from one side to the other. That's how the first string got across. It was then connected to larger string, and it in turn was connected to a slender cable. And the slender cable was connected to the strong cable that made the entire construction possible.
When the project was first announced, the critics laughed at the project. When they heard that a "kite was going to solve the problem," the sophisticated engineers had a field day. Well, history had the last laugh. One young boy, Homan Walsh, flew the first string across the chasm with his kite in 1848. He succeeded and the process worked just as it was envisioned. The boy collected his ten dollars; the great suspension bridge was started with a single string. -- Source Unknown
3. While the beginnings of this new temple would indeed be small, they were not to despise it, they will rejoice when they see the day Zerubbabel has the plumb line or possibly cap stone in his hand to show that God indeed did help them.
a. God has surely brought our Church body a long way in 20 years also.
b. Though our beginnings were small, God has built His Church and many have rejoiced and shouted, "God bless it, God bless it!" through the years!
II. GOD'S PROVISION Matt. 13:31-32
A. Calvary 13:31-32a
1. The kingdom of God started as a small seed, in fact, the smallest of seeds cultivated by the Jewish people, the mustard seed.
a. Who could have ever imagined a simple carpenter named Jesus would be the beginning of the most significant event in the history of mankind?
b. Jesus is referring both to Himself and the cross of Calvary when He talks about such a small seed.
2. The fact of the matter is, this small event in the eyes of those who witnessed it was the very foundation of the great kingdom of God to emerge that would change the whole world…and the world to come!
3. Almost no one imagined that the cross of Calvary would make such a difference in the world, but it was this single event that made possible man's way back to God.
ILLUS:James Black, formerly of Free St. Georges in Edinburgh, describes a trip he took through the tulip fields of Holland. He says that the beautiful beds of flowers were divided by canals which were crossed by foot-wide planks. As Dr. Black and his party visited the various beds of brilliant flowers they had to cross these little canals on the narrow planks. When they came to a canal that was twelve feet wide, they hesitated. The plank seemed so narrow. Would the owner of the field make a wider bridge for them across the canal? No. He blew a whistle and a man came and handed them a thin pole which made it easy to cross the canal on the narrow plank. Dr. Black says that he then made a marvelous
discovery. "How easily you can cross the narrowest plank if only you have something to hold on to." You can go through life with all its tensions, all its uncertainties and all its changes if you have something to hold on to."My times are in Thy hands." -- William Austin, Pastor's Annual (Zondervan, 1967), p. 256.
4. The mustard seed though small had to be planted into the ground to die in order for the grand plant to spring forth, and so was Jesus, He had to be the small seed planted in the ground and to die in order for the kingdom of God to spring forth.
a. The world still stumbles over this truth.
b. It seems so illogical that such an event so many years ago could make such a huge difference today, but that is the small seed of the kingdom of God.
B. Church 13:32
1. The small mustard seed however that died comes alive and produces a huge plant, the largest of cultivated plants in gardens of the first century.
a. It is a marvel that such a small seed can produce such a huge plant!
b. It is a marvel that the Messiah's death has produced such a huge living organism like the Church!
2. The Church's success is not the result of man's clever abilities, it is the success of God's Spirit at work in individuals that come together to make up His Church!
a. This plant gave forth food and shelter.
b. The Church also is a place where people find nourishment and shelter from life's storms.
3. We must live in such a way as to believe that God really is at work in
His Church, that He very much desires to have His temple be a great structure for ministry.
a. It is tragic that we can so easily forget that God is very much alive and still desirous to make His Church a mighty force.
ILLUS:Sometimes it's important to be very up front with your husband when changes need to be made. Early in their marriage, Martin Luther's wife watched him battle bouts of depression, even question God's willingness or ability to help him through a difficult trial. Without saying a word, she donned a black dress and veil, reserved for times of mourning. When Luther asked why she was dressed that way, she commented, "Because God is dead. It's obvious by the way you're acting."-- Unpublished class notes from Dr. John Hannah, Church History 201, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1976.
b. If we are not careful we can forget too that God is still building a great Church!
4. And this brings us to our Church!
a. Our beginnings were small, and there were those in the beginning that despised the hopes we had.
b. But God and faithful people believed that God would take such small seeds and build His Church.
c. We celebrate not just our accomplishments, but God's power, His Spirit that has brought forth His Church and which enables it.
5. What a privilege and honor to be a part of God's Church in this day and age, and to look forward to another 20 years of watching this tiniest of seeds grow.
CONCLUSION: Whoever thought a small band of disciples would change the whole world with the simple message of Christ's death and resurrection? God still takes small things (in the smallest of cities!) and builds His mighty Church, the glorious Church!