Lesson 7, Digging Deeper 1
In Progress

The Small Things Matter by Larry Davenport

Engineering Miracles

Each year, when new smart phones hit the market, cellular phone manufacturers appeal to the public to pay special attention to their latest features: Long lasting batteries, warp-speed processing, crystal clear displays, wireless charging, fingerprint sensors, eye tracking, infrared remote control, plus tons of other luxurious options. Over and over again year after year we hear the term, “engineering miracle.” Consider for a minute if this would be an engineering miracle:

Suppose you were going to build your very own smart phone, and suppose that in gathering materials to build this smart phone you found a shattered screen, a half-used battery, a cracked motherboard, a burned out processor, and you found some torn and damaged flex cables to connect the electronics together, along with some stripped screws for the overall assembly. Suppose you then showed me all of the items that you had gathered and proclaimed that you were going to build a smart phone and it would be an engineering miracle. The truth is that if you were able (with the junk you had gathered) to build a smart phone that was beautiful, sleek, and actually able to power up – it would be an engineering miracle.

Here is a second question: Suppose you wanted to build a worldwide religion, how would you begin it? People who start religions today like to launch in big cities with big money, and they will often involve popular people like movie stars to promote their religion. But suppose you wanted to start a worldwide religion today and you began by taking three fisherman, and you added one tax collector, and perhaps there were a few who were prostitutes in former times that you gathered. This is exactly what Jesus of Nazareth did and this is what I call an engineering miracle.

Small Things Matter

When Jesus invited the tax collector to follow Him and when he said to Peter, James, and John, “take up your nets and follow Me,” Jesus revealed a tremendous truth to us. It is a truth that many people might not recognize at first because it doesn’t make sense to start a worldwide religion using such humble materials.

But that is how Jesus began His church (the kingdom) and He tried to help us understand this through the telling of parables. In these parables, one point is delivered loud and clear, “Small Things Matter.”

The Sower and the Seed (Small Beginning – Huge Result)

In the parable of the Sower and the Seed (Mark 4:3-9), a man simply broadcasts seed across the land within his circle of influence. Some seed falls on the farmer’s path between the two fields and the birds eat it. Some falls on rocky ground, that is so prevalent in Palestine, and the roots can’t grow deep, so the sun scorches the plants and they die. Still other seeds fall in the thorny ground. That seed grows but the thorns choke it out. Finally, some of the seed falls in good and fertile ground and in some cases produces as much as 100 times what was planted. Jesus later explains that the kingdom of God works like this. When the word of God (the seed) is sown in the hearts and lives of people it might start out tiny but the end results are very large. Small things matter.

The Mustard Seed (Small Beginning – Huge Result)

In the parable of the Mustard Seed (Mark 4:30-32) Jesus describes how the tiniest of all seeds can grow into a tree 10-12 feet tall. He points out the benefits of this very large tree. This tree provides comfort by giving shade. It also provides shelter for the birds to build their nests. It is really amazing that this tiniest of all seeds – that might easily be overlooked – grows into such a magnificent tree. Then Jesus explains that this is exactly how the kingdom of God works in the hearts and lives of people. It can be planted and almost go unnoticed, but over time it grows and grows and winds up huge as a young Christian matures into a grounded pillar of the church. Small things matter.

The Patient Farmer (Small Beginning – Huge Result)

In the parable of the Patient Farmer (Mark 4:26-29) a farmer plants the seed into the ground and he waits – patiently waits. If someone were to pass by his house, they might not even realize that a farm is there. Weeks pass by and one day that tiny seed sprouts and grows – ankle high, knee high, shoulder high, and then the big sickles come out and it is harvest time. The tiny almost unnoticed seed has reproduced itself 100 times over. And then Jesus asks the question, “Do you know what this means”? This is exactly how the kingdom of God works in the hearts and lives of people. Jesus explains through the parables of the Sower and the Seed, the Mustard Seed, and the Patient Farmer that the Word of God has been released into this world like a seed. This seed makes it way into the hearts of people and in some cases it grows 10-12 feet tall, it grows and reproduces itself in the hearts and lives of other people to cause the kingdom to increase multiple times over. Small things that might almost go unnoticed really do matter.

The Belief That Noise Goes With News

Too often in our day and time we suffer from the delusion that nothing significant happens unless bright lights and loud noises surround it. If it is important, there will be fireworks and lots of fanfare. It is easy to believe that noise goes with news. If you don’t believe me, the next time you are watching television, notice that when a commercial comes on the volume somehow increases because the advertiser wants to get your attention.

But oh how different the Word of God is…

It Was Almost Unnoticed – But Look At The Huge Result

If you had been in Rome in AD 33, you might not have known that it happened. But the word gets out among the Romans that a man was put to death in Jerusalem and the people were pretty unimpressed about the whole thing. The people mocked him, and beat him. While He was hanging on the cross, they challenged Him to use His claim of deity to come down from the cross. I don’t think you and I would have figured it out. It would not have made sense that a worldwide religion would arise from:

  • A man of Nazareth (they said nothing good comes out of that city)
  • The son of a carpenter (how could the son of a carpenter be anyone significant?)
  • An initial group of some fishermen (who probably smelled like fish and cursed like fishermen before coming to know God)
  • Disciples with horrible reputations (people that no one wanted to associate with because of the way they treated people, or their moral bankruptcy)

We would not have been able to calculate that Jesus would take this group of people and start a worldwide religion. It would not make sense because Jesus did not begin in Rome (the New York city of that day). He started it in the little off-beaten place called Jerusalem. Way back in 33 AD, a tiny seed was released into the world and look what it has become. It may have started out tiny but it ended up huge. Look at what has happened in your own life because small things matter.

The following story appeared several years ago and has been passed around many times. It is a great illustration of how small things matter. .

Small Gesture – Huge Result

Mark was walking home from school one day when he noticed the boy ahead of him had tripped and dropped all of the books he was carrying, along with two sweaters, a baseball bat, a glove and a small tape recorder. Mark knelt down and helped the boy pick up the scattered articles. Since they were going the same way, he helped to carry part of the burden.

As they walked Mark discovered the boy’s name was Bill, that he loved video games, baseball and history, and that he was having lots of trouble with his other subjects and that he had just broken up with his girlfriend.

They arrived at Bill’s home first and Mark was invited in for a Coke and to watch some television. The afternoon passed pleasantly with a few laughs and some shared small talk, then Mark went home. They continued to see each other around school, had lunch together once or twice, then both graduated from junior high school. They ended up in the same high school where they had brief contacts over the years.

Finally the long awaited senior year came and three weeks before graduation, Bill asked Mark if they could talk. Bill reminded him of the day years ago when they had first met. “Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things home that day”? asked Bill. “You see, I cleaned out my locker because I didn’t want to leave a mess for anyone else. I had stored away some of my mothers sleeping pills and I was going home to commit suicide. But after we spent some time together talking and laughing, I realized that if I had killed myself, I would have missed that time and so many others that might follow. So you see, Mark, when you picked up those books that day, you did a lot more, you saved my life.”

Small Things Matter.