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Summary: In the spring of 2004, 10-year-old Austin Gutwein watched a video that showed children who had lost their parents to AIDS in Africa. He realized these kids weren’t any different from him. ...

Consider Your Influence Matthew 13:31-35

Introduction

In the spring of 2004, 10-year-old Austin Gutwein watched a ideo that showed children who had lost their parents to AIDS in Africa. He realized these kids weren’t any different from him. He decided to shoot free throws and on World AIDS Day, 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during his day at school. Friends and family sponsored Austin and he was able to raise almost $3,000. Over the past eleven years, Austin's effort has turned into the largest free throw marathon in the world with an estimated 40,000 people in more than 25 countries participating in Hoops of Hope. Hoops of Hope has raised nearly $4 million for orphans. Austin is 21 now and is a Youth Minister in Washington state, author of two books and appeared in interviews on multiple television network news shows and featured in magazines Christianity Today and Time.

This month’s theme: CONSIDER YOUR LIFE. Consider Your Day: Pray, Forgive, Devote, Seek. Consider your Neighbor: Judge Kindly, Pray Fervently, Love  Exceptionally, Build Wisely. Today we will Consider Your Influence

Two Parables About Influence (Read Text)

You may not believe you are very influential for the Kingdom of God, but I believe these two short parables by Jesus should give us a different perspective. Three observations from this text that I hope encourage all of us this week to consider our influence and to put it to good use for the Lord.

1. EVERY SMALL ACT HAS GREAT POTENTIAL

When we do something for God it does not have to be HUGE to have a great impact. Small acts are not often valued by the world: No awards for ‘Least Watched Movie’! No signs say: Shortest Bridge in World! The ‘best’ products are as ‘new and improved’.Even Jesus’ own life started out small - Born of humble parents in impoverished setting in a small town. He only had a handful of followers at time of his death.

Matthew 10:42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Have faith that what you do for God matters.

2. EVERY SMALL EFFORT IS EXPONENTIAL

When we do something for the Lord, it not only has mysterious and amazing potential, it also has the power to be exponential - it grows beyond our expectations!

How many small things do we do for God that turn out to be big things? Thank God for Sunday School teachers - may never see the impact in someone’s life! What is God doing with the kindness you show others. How many times do small churches wish they were big churches - do we think that God can’t use a small church? Never underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word, or taking time to listen. Every person in this room is capable of doing amazing things for God … by doing small things for God!

The power for our efforts to grow and expand is not in us, but in the seed being planted. Earlier in this chapter in another parable the seed is the Word of God. Every Outreach, act of Worship, Prayer, Compassion, Christlikeness are all actions that show a small effort can become exponential.

3. EVERY SMALL SERVICE IS INFLUENTIAL.

Like the yeast in the dough, pervading throughout, so are we in the community and even the world.

Ralph Waldo Emmerson “The great majority of men are bundles of beginnings.”

Luke 17:5-6 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

What can God do in our community … or even our world … with a handful of mustard seeds … a little bit of leaven?

Conclusion: Consider Your Life

Consider your day, your neighbor, your influence. Every small act has potential. Every small effort is exponential.

Every small service is influential

So…

Always feel encouraged in serving and blessing others - God is at work in this!

Purposefully use your abilities and talents to bless and serve others - it has greater power than you know.

Pray that God will use you to Glorify Him and build His Kingdom through your influence.

______________________

LIFEGROUP QUESTIONS

1. Jesus uses small things to proclaim the work of the Kingdom in these two parables. What small or seemingly insignificant possession is worth a great deal to you? Why?

2. Consider these parables in light of coming persecution. How do they read differently in that perspective? What would help Jesus’ followers in the coming days?

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