And if you have your Bibles review turned to Mark chapter 4, The the reading is gonna be on the screen as well.
We're gonna read verse 26 to verse 29. He also said, this is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scattered seed on the ground. Night and day whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows. Though he does not know how, All by itself, the soil produces corn.
First, the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. As soon as the corn is ripe, he puts the sickle to it because the harvest has come. Welcome to you and very happy New Year. My name is Tom. If you don't know me, I'm 1 of the pastors here, and it's great to have with us with us this morning.
Welcome to those joining us online, and welcome to oh, ho's gone. Welcome to Hope Bibi. Hope Bibi joining us. They used to be better than 2 some years ago. And I'm now living out in Switzerland.
Am I right? And you've packed some holidays, I guess. It's great to have you. Anyone else who's back is good so good to see you. Next week, we are going to be starting a new series in the book of 1 Peter, and we're gonna be working through that letter through our morning services and studying it in our hopeless as well.
So really to that. And today, as we often do on a new year Sunday, we're looking at something. Slightly different. Just this parable in Mark chapter 4 And this is what I think the media team would call evergreen content in the sense that these are truths that we always need to hear all the time throughout the year when it comes to our ministry as a church. Just to say 1 last time about the hope explored course as well, That's starting on the thirteenth of January, so a week on Thursday as Dean said.
And can I just really encourage you to think about and pray for anyone that you would like to come to that course? It's only 3 sessions, it's a brand new course, and we're gonna be running it on Zoom, so people can join from their homes wherever they are in this borough or or the world. And so why not just have think this week, is there anybody that you could meet up with? Someone that you could pray for an opportunity to invite a message that you could send a phone call that you could make someone that you could invite in your life who you're desperate to introduce Jesus to. This would be a great resource for you to make use of.
So that's Thursday the thirteenth twentieth, and 20 seventh and that would be great to have a handful on Zoom. So do be thinking about that. Okay. Let's let's pray together as we come to mark 4. Heavenly father, we do thank you for this opportunity to gather as the people and the brides of the lord Jesus Christ.
We thank you that you have promised to be with us by your spirit. You are here by your spirit with us. We thank you that as your word is sung and read and taught and prayed. We hear you speaking to us, and we pray that you administer to each 1 of us on this new year Sunday. Lord, although the passing of 1 year to the next does have some significance for us.
We thank you that you are the lord of years. Thank you. You are not bound by time in the same way that we are that you are not a slave to the ticking hands that you do not grow old K as we do. But you are the great I am was and who is and who is to come. That the lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday.
Today and forever. And we thank him just as he loved us last year. He loves people this year. Thank you for your passion for us. Thank you, lord Jesus, for your compassion for this world that you still have a great heart to reach the lost creatures that you have made.
And to call them into your kingdom. And thank you, that we still have a role to play in that great mission. Lord, there are still people all around us who are perishing. And who are on their way to a lost eternity because they don't know Jesus. And, Lord, we want to be used by you to reach them.
We thank you that you are the God who so loved the world that you gave your only son that whoever would believe in him will not have to face. That perishing and that lost eternity, but we'll come into the light of eternal life. And Lord, we want to be used by you this year, please call our friends and neighbors those we know out of darkness into the life of Jesus. And we pray as we think about that mission from Mark 4 now again that you would speak to us. In Jesus' name.
Oh, men. Oh, men. Well, this parable here in Mark chapter 4 is all about the kingdom of God and the nature of the kingdom of God, and the way in which the kingdom of God grows and makes progress and advances throughout the world. That's what it's about. And as you would expect with Jesus teachings, there are many surprises about those topics.
Some of those surprises are actually quite unpleasant In the sense that they convict us and they rub up against our pride, and they humble us and they disturb us a little bit. And they contradict what we normally think about the nature of the kingdom of God and the way in which it spreads. So I think we'll see that some of the surprises here are actually unpleasant for pride, proudful people who who think they know how these things work. But also, we'll see that that's what makes them pleasant surprises. In the sense that we can trust in God and that we can remember that this is his work, and that he's going to use us.
And then he wants us to free us from burdens that we shouldn't have to carry. And he wants us to give us confidence and to pray to him as we think about our ministry to Kingston and this world. So this parable all about the kingdom of God and the way it grows has both unpleasant and pleasant surprises that work together, I hope we'll see, to encourage us in a ministry that God has that God has given And so what we're going to do is just work through the parable quite briefly, and to make some observations about it, and then we'll spend most of the time thinking through the lessons and applications of this parable at the end. And the first thing that I want us to see this morning from this parable is that it has a surprising picture. There's a surprising image, a surprising picture associated with the kingdom of God.
Have a look at the very first verse there, verse 26. He also said, this is what the kingdom of God is like. This is what the kingdom of God is like. Now naturally, How would you finish that sentence for Jesus? The kingdom of God is like, A mega city, paved in gold and the finest gems.
It's glimmering. It's dazzling. It's glamorous. It's impressive. Well, the kingdom of God is like a king who rode out on his horse, a mighty king on a mighty horse with his army to dominate an overthrow all of his opponents.
All that the kingdom of God is like a social media influencer. Everything that they look at and everything that they wear turns to gold. What they share is worth reading, worth seeing, worth knowing about, someone with real influence in the world. Jesus says, no, the kingdom of God is like a man scattering seed. On the ground.
And that is just classic Jesus. The greatest of subjects, the kingdom of God which has broken into this world through the king. Is earthed in normality, just planted in normal life and normal images. That's what happens all the time in these gospels. You've got these profound subjects like the kingdom of God and salvation of sinners and the glory of Christ, he's coming, his death, his resurrection, his return, that are just married to the sorts of things that we see all around us all the time, ordinary stuff.
The kingdom of God It's like a person who put a brick in a wall. The kingdom of God is like a car that broke down on the a 3. Just the sort of stuff that we see all the time. It is surprising in its orderliness. And that's really encouraging for us.
That's 1 of the pleasant surprises because that sort of language and that sort of imagery is inviting There's nothing here that says, you are excluded. There's language that you can't grasp. There's an image that you don't understand. This is a world that you don't live in. Jesus doesn't exclude us with his imagery.
It's inviting. He says come on. Okay. You may not be a farmer but you understand something of what that would be like, don't you? Scattering seed on the ground seeing it grow or not grow.
It's inviting language. And so firstly, the kingdom has a surprising image, which turns out to be quite pleasant. Encouraging. The kingdom of God is like a person scattering seed on the ground. Secondly, the kingdom of God has a surprising message It has a surprising message.
And this is slightly broader than just what we find in this parable, but but fits with the rest of Jesus' Jesus' teachings. Tim Faron, who used to be the the leader of the liberal democrats, tweeted recently just before Christmas. This and I thought it was it was really helpful for this for this passage. He said, just returned from 9 lessons and carols at Kendall Paris Church, hugely moving. Shockingly God chooses to enter the world that he breathed into existence as a helpless baby born in poverty.
God doesn't play by our rules, and you would expect the true God to disturb and contradict us. And I think that's absolutely right. Everything about the Lord Jesus Christ from his birth, to his death on a cross, to the nature of his kingdom and the way that it spreads throughout the world. Disturbs and contradicts us by nature, rubs up against our pride, contradicts what we would normally think to be true. Paul says in 1 Corinthians and this is the old King James version which which is great.
God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. And that word, confound means some thing like to disturb, to upend, to reverse, to contradict, to rub up against what we normally think. To embarrass, to humiliate even. In other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ just does not fit with how we normally think about wisdom and foolishness, and how we think about strength and weakness. And that was true in the first century.
Paul says in that passage that Jews demand miraculous signs. They want to see something powerful and tangible. They want some evidence and the Greeks demand wisdom. They want to see philosophical Foundations to the gospel. They want to see logic, things that they understand, things that are persuasive.
Paul says, we do something different. We preach Christ crucified. And that message is just disturbing you know, you think about it. This is what we're going to be saying at hope explored in 20 22 to our scientific, modern, progressive part of the world. This is our message for them, that the God who created heaven and earth became a little baby was born in poverty that he worked as a builder in a backwater part of the world, that he was crucified outside Jerusalem like lots of other criminals were.
But he has now been appointed the son of God in power through his resurrection from the dead, that he is going to return to judge living and the dead. He is the lord of all, and he commands all people everywhere to repent of how they used to live and what they used to think and to trust in him. As the only way of salvation. That's the message for our world in 20 22 that a crucified gallery and builder is in fact the Lord God who is the only Savior of the world. There's gotta be something disturbing about the way in which that works, isn't it?
Something that contradicts something that humbles us as you would expect from the true God. So there's something surprising about the image that Jesus uses. There's something surprising about the message of the kingdom itself. Thirdly, there's something surprising about the progress of the kingdom and the way in which it grows, the way in which it grows. I was looking this week about how to make a social media post go viral.
And basically lots of clever people who understand this stuff have sat down and put together a list of things that will ensure that your post goes viral, and they condense the list down to to 8 8 things to make your post go viral. 1 of them was the first 1 was, don't just get it before people. Get it before the right people. And that's the influencer point again. You know, you want it to land on the screens of the right people.
Those who command an influence online, those who might share it because if they'll share it, there's a chance that millions of others will as well. Secondly, you've got to post it at the right time. In other words, you've got to know what is trending in the culture, what is popular, what people are talking about, and you've got to land your post on that cultural wave to make sure it gets carried far and wide across the web. And thirdly, you've got to use powerful visuals. So apparently a social media post that doesn't have any visuals is half as likely to be shared as 1 that does.
So it needs to be in front of the right people at the right time with the right visuals and then it's got a good chance of going viral. And the truth is, I think most of us If we sat down with a pen and a bit of paper, could write a list that looks something like the expert list. If you understand how the medium works, you kind of learn or can have a good guess at how things spread on that medium. But the kingdom of God is counter intuitive in the way that it spreads. It does not go viral in the same way.
Maybe you remember that scene from Daniel chapter 2 where king nebuchadnezzar has this amazing vision about the kingdoms of men. And in his vision or in his dream, the kingdoms of men are represented by this glamorous statue. That is just all that we would expect and think about the kingdoms of men. The head is made of gold, the chest and the arms are made of silver, The belly is made of bronze, the legs are made of iron. It just screams strength and power and it's it's dazzling.
And yet in the dream, something strange happens. This rock appears that starts off small but then gets bigger and bigger comes hurtling towards the kingdoms of men, smashes them to pieces, turns them to dust, they're gone, and then that rock grows to the size of a mountain and fills the entire world. And Daniel's interpretation of that dream is that that rock is the kingdom of the living God. That rock is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is different from the kingdoms of men in the sense that it's not cut by human hands. That's the phrase that he uses.
Not cut by human hands. In other words, it's different from. It's unlike. It's different to the kingdoms of men and the way that they work. There's something hidden, something surprising, something mysterious about it.
And yet it smashes the kingdoms of men grows to a mountain and fills the entire world. That's how the kingdom of God works. It's different from the way the kingdoms of men were. This is how it's actually put in Daniel chapter 2. And it's worth I haven't got it on the screen, I'm afraid, but If you've got Daniel 2 and a church bible is page 886.
And this is what what is actually said. The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed nor will it be left to another people It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to the end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock, cut out of a mountain but not by human hands. A rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king.
What will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy. The rock not cut by human hands, destroys the kingdoms of men, grows and fills the whole world. And something like that is going on here in Mark chapter 4. Just have a look with me.
Mark 4 again, verse 26. He also said, this is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Knight and day whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself, the soil produces corn.
First, the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear, as soon as the corn is ripe, he puts the sickle to it because the harvest has come. You see, there are certain things that the farmer knows he has to do. He has to go out and scatter the seed. But the emphasis of this parable is on the things that he does not know. He does not know how it grows.
He has to kind of get on with his normal life as it happens all by itself, the soil produces the crop. This parable is about how the kingdom of Jesus Christ advances through the human soul and through the world And Jesus says there is much that we do not know about how that works. And so the kingdom of God is surprising in its picture, surprising in its message, and surprising in the way that it makes progress in the world. So much that we don't know. Now we're going to come back and think about the applications of that a bit later.
But fourthly, there's a surprising sower in this parable. The surprising the surprising sower. Now, whenever we come to the teachings of the bible and Jesus' teachings are no exception, there is a tendency for us to make it all about us in the first place. You know, to read ourselves into everything, this story, this parable, but that's all about me. I'm sent to stage here.
This is this is for me. And and of course, with all of the bible's teachings, there is loads that is for us and is about us. But in the first place, the word of God is about the living God who breathed it out. The teachings of Jesus are about the Jesus who taught them. And that is the case here.
He is the great sower in this parable. Now, remember, this is a parable and therefore, you can't push every detail right to the last and try to map Jesus onto every description. Otherwise, things do start to get a bit fuzzy and it's not really how parables work. But it's clearly him, isn't it? Jesus Christ is himself the message of the kingdom.
Jesus is the words made flesh. He is both the message and he is the sower who comes into the field of this world in order to scatter it. And Jesus Christ is the 1 who comes at the end of the age to gather in the harvest. You know, that language there at the end of putting the sickle to it That's judgment language. You find that in Joel, you find that in the book of Revelation.
The coming of the sickle is judgment language. Jesus is gonna come to judge the world both to destroy the unrepentant and to gather in all those who have loved and believed in him for a for a great harvest. Jesus is the surprising sower of this parable. And actually even in the details, which are a bit trickier to match like the sleeping and the not knowing how things happen. Even we see Christ in those details.
Now have a look with me just a bit further on at verse 36. So this is a story a bit later on in mark 4, verse verse 36. This is the calming of the storm. And it says leaving the crowd behind, they took him along just as he was in the boat. There were also other boats with him.
A furious squall came up and the waves broke over the boats so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, teacher, don't you care? If we drown. So Jesus, even in his life is a bit like the sower.
He goes out and he has his hours of proclamation where he throws out the seed of the kingdom of God and then he goes to bed on a boat. Now I know there's more going on in that story, but it does remind us, doesn't it? That g's himself lived within these rhythms of work and rest. He had moments when he was out town to town village to village proclaiming the kingdom of God and then he had moments where he needed to retire and to rest and to pray. He had these rhythms and he demonstrated a life of trust in the Word of God believing that what he had sown would not return to him empty but would fulfill the purpose for which it had been sent.
He had these rhythms of work and rest just like the guy in the parable. And so this parable is surprising when it talks about the sower. It's not firstly, not mainly about us and what we do but about Christ. And what he did and what he does as he sows the word of God through the church. So those are 4 observations about the parable.
Surprising image, surprising message, surprising in its progress, surprising soa. And now let's just think about some of the lessons and the applications of us for us today. And the first thing, which which I hope Well, it sounds like a contradiction. But but it's not a contradiction is that there's something that is just very unsurprising about all of this. Isn't there?
There is something very unsurprising about it. By which I mean, the more you get to know the Lord Jesus, the more you live within this world of surprise. Remember what Tim Faron said about true God that you would expect him to disturb and contradict us. The more familiar we are with the Bible The more used to being disturbed and contradicted and surprised we are by what we find in the bible. A Christian learns to live within that surprise different different world.
Brian Chapel, who's a an American pastor and and writer. He says this in his in his little comment on this in this parable, He says, the counter intuitive nature of God's kingdom should not surprise us. After all, the gospel of grace is itself a message that confounds our expectations and tells us that things are not as they seem. Though sinful, we are forgiven, though broken, we are redeemed. And his point there is that the Christian has learnt to live in this surprise world where the kingdom is a seed and the king of glory has been crucified on a cross.
And real sinners like us can really be forgiven and declared right with the living God, that those who have been broken by sin and by suffering in this world can really be restored and redeemed. That death had its day but it's been swallowed up in life that defeat had its hour, but it's been swallowed up in victory. This is a counter intuitive kingdom. And we get used to being surprised in that way. There's an old prayer book called the Valley of Vision.
And that in the first prayer which is called the valley of vision, it says this, this is somebody praying to the lords along these lines and the person writing it says, let me God, talking to God, let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up. That to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit. That the repenting soul is the victorious soul. That to have nothing is to possess all. That to bear the cross is to wear the crown that to give is to receive.
In other words, it's a full of surprises, isn't it? And there's something quite unsurprising to those of us who, by God's grace, know Christ and know the Word of God. That's the first thing. Secondly, in terms of applications. There is an unpleasant surprise in this parable forest.
There is something unpleasant about it. You will know that this is the time of year when lots of people, lots of us perhaps, will have a think about New Year's resolutions, and ambitions, reinventing ourselves, perhaps things that we would like to achieve in the new year and if we're ever gonna have a go at joining a gym or have a crack at that business or trying to rescue that devotional life. Then now is often the time that we'll think about it and give it a go. And providing that the motives are right, there's nothing wrong with any of those things, but this parable is about the things that you cannot achieve in 20 22. It's about the things you just can't do.
There are things that we must do, but this is more about our limitations than our responsibilities. Now look, there is lots that we know. So let's be clear on that. We do know very many things about the kingdom and the way it works. We know that it is through the living and enduring word of God that people are born again.
We know that because the Bible tells us that. We know that Christians grow through a steady diet of listening to the voice of their shepherd and becoming like him. We know that the message of the kingdom is the rock on which Jesus will build his church. He's gonna build it on the message that he is the crucified king and risen lord of the world. He's going to build his church on that message and it's not going to be undone by anything.
And we know that 1 day Jesus is gonna come again and there is gonna be a worldwide harvest of believers who will be gathered in and they will shine like the son in the kingdom of the father. We know that is true. But as to the way in which This message works and spreads throughout the world. There is so much that we don't know, isn't there? Think about that neighbor or that friend you've tried to witness to.
Maybe 1 you want to invite to hope explored. When we try and share something of the gospel with them, what sort of soil are we looking at? You know, is it hard to see just going to bounce off? Is it stony, shallow soil? Is it infested soil?
Is it good soil? We can have a guess But we don't know, do we? Or how many people has God got here in Kingston who are waiting to hear the Word of God and to come to life? How many is he appointed to salvation in this town? We would love to think and we hope to think many, but we just don't know, do we?
Or why is it that in the east and in the southern hemisphere, there are places where the gospel is just flourishing Whereas over here, we seem to move further and further from our gospel heritage. And will there ever be an awakening like there was before in this country We hope so, we guess so, but we don't know, do we? And why is it that people respond so differently to the word of God? That 1 can hear and come to life and bear fruit and start growing. While another might hear it time and time again and just decide, I don't want to hear it no more.
Or why some people hear it and they start really well, but then for whatever reason they grow cold, they begin to die and they give up. We don't know. Or how exactly does the seed progress through a human soul? How does that work? How does it not do the same thing in 1 person as it does in another.
And how does it still manage to survive in this world where cruel dictators and vicious religions and world views that are against God and His Word just seem to gather more and more momentum How does the gospel continue to survive in that world? Well, we don't know, except that it does. And that Jesus promised that it would. And so that's the humbling part of this parable. There is so much going on under the ground.
That we just don't know. And our task is to just keep sowing in faith and to leave the rest of God. And so what is in some ways an unpleasant surprise becomes in the end of pleasant eyes. This is 1 of the only areas I think or maybe there's more, haven't thought it through fully. When knowing our limitations is wonderful news, isn't it?
To know the things that we can't achieve. Great news. So you think about it. If we knew everything about how this all works and how it all progressed in the world. What what what would some of the consequences be if we had the same knowledge as God when it came to this?
Well, we wouldn't pray for 1 thing. We wouldn't need to pray. We wouldn't need to trust God. We wouldn't need to ask for his help. Because we would have already worked out what the killer evangelistic strategies are.
We would know them. We'd be able to roll out our programs, know that they work. This is how it happens. We'd know the structures that we need to make the church church flourish. Everyone to be happy and growing.
We'd know all of that. We're gonna learnt it. We'd know who's not gonna respond and so we wouldn't need to waste time on them. We just dump them overboard because we already know they're not gonna listen. That'd be good, wouldn't it?
And so do you see we would grow cold and we would grow blind and we would grow worldly and unable to even grasp the very kingdom that we've been called to share. It'd be a disaster. Understanding our limitations is such good news. Because it means we can read what we're called to do by God's grace, have a crack at it together, and we can leave the rest to him. Martin Luther, the the old German reformer, who's not an example in every way, but is a great example in this way.
He said this about his his reformation work. This is a famous famous quote. He says, I opposed indulgences which was a kind of old Catholic way of earning and meriting grace and all the papists, that's the Catholics as well, but never with force. I simply taught, preached and wrote God's word. Otherwise, I did nothing.
And while I slept or drank my Wittenberg beer, with my friends, Philip and Amzdorf. The words so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing. The word did everything. And even in that quote and definitely if you know anything about his life, to say that he did nothing is just not true.
I mean, he knew his responsibilities. He opposed the indulgences, He attacked the false religions of the day. He wrote and preached about the true gospel. And yet actually, as he thinks about the way in which God's kingdom works. He can go to bed and he can drink beer with his mates at the pub.
And he can know that it was God who did everything. God did everything. And so when we know our responsibilities, and our limitations. The point is we can kind of just get on with life and leave the fruit to him. You see if the future of Kingston was on our shoulders and the ultimate future of church rested upon us or if the salvation of our friends at school or our kids at home ultimately depended upon us.
It would be devastating, wouldn't it? We would either feel completely deflated because most of the time it all looks very ordinary and weak and we seem to be going backwards rather than going forwards, or we would be frantic in our anxiety. You know, why isn't this working? We've done all we need to say, why isn't this happening? Why isn't the fruit coming?
Why isn't my child prayed to pray yet? They should have prayed to pray yet. You know, why haven't they done that? To be happening. Maybe this message needs to be changed.
Maybe we should sell it out for something else. There would be a franticness about us. But if Paul is right, When he says that neither the 1 who plants nor the 1 who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow then that is great. Because that means we are guarded against laziness. There is stuff for us to do.
We must sow and we must water. We can't just leave it. This isn't a kind of let go and let God don't care. Kind of teaching. And actually porn in his example never did that.
So in the book of acts, he goes around establishing new churches but he is just as keen to visit the old ones and to strengthen them and to see how they're doing. In fact, in his letters, he's often saying, when I could stand it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out how you were doing. So he doesn't just leave the thing. But it also guards us against self reliance. Because ultimately, only God gives the growth.
Or in the words of this parable. Night and day whether he sleeps or gets up. The seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself, the soil produces corn. First, the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
As soon as the corn is right, he puts sickle to it because the harvest has come. Jesus is gonna have a great harvest for himself. He has called us to do certain things, We can do them by his grace, and we can trust him with the rest. And so together, these unpleasant and pleasant elements work together encourage us both personally as a church and as a church when it comes to our word seed ministry this year. Now, I'd love you to come back again this evening or to at least tune in this evening because we're going to be thinking about another application of this parable.
We've thought mainly this morning about how it works in the world. Tonight, we're gonna have a think about how this applies to us as individuals. And how the seed makes progress through our own lives. And as well as that, we're also gonna be hearing 5 testimonies 5 people who work in different word ministries in this church, who are gonna be telling us about how they've seen something of the word of God progressing through their ministry in the past year. So that's gonna be really encouraging, and I'd love you to come along as we think about that.
But we're gonna pray now, and then we're gonna sing our last song or glory be to Christ. You may not know the words. You'll definitely know the tune, and it just marries particularly in that first verse. The things we've been thinking about the lord who is the builder of the house, but also our responsibility to be in the field. So let's let's bow our heads and let's pray before we sing.
Heavenly father, we thank you that this parable is firstly about your son. We thank you that he in his infinite mercy came into the field of this world and in love, he sowed the kingdom message by which we have been saved. We thank you that he is our great sower who even now even this morning has sowed the seed of the kingdom into our lives again. We thank you, Lord, that you've made it plain what you have called us to do. To be like Christ in that way, to go out into the world and to sow the seed of the kingdom.
But we thank you perhaps most of all this morning for reminding us of the things that can't do, the things we can't achieve by ourselves, the limitations that we have. Thank you, lord, that it is you who gives the growth. Thank you that all by itself, the seed produces and comes to life, that the life giving power is not in us, but in the seed in your word. And so we pray that you would help us on an individual level with our friends that we live around, with those we go to school with, with our children at home, to bear both of these things in mind that we would trust you that we would pray for fruit and just continue to patiently sow the seed. And we ask all of these things in Jesus' name.