Lessons from the Gardener

February 23, 2020

David Sorn

Jesus says that His Kingdom is like a mustard seed. Find out why knowing what that means is critical to the spread of His Kingdom.

Lessons from the Gardener

February 23, 2020

David Sorn

Jesus says that His Kingdom is like a mustard seed. Find out why knowing what that means is critical to the spread of His Kingdom.



Hey, very quickly before we start.

The very first time we sent a team to Rwanda, we sent 6 people.

The next time 10, and last time we went…14.

And while I was there in 2018, I felt the Lord, really strongly put on my heart to begin praying for 25 people to come in 2020.

And I’ve been praying that for almost 2 years.

And amazingly, we had TWENTY…FOUR people sign up to go share about Jesus in Rwanda!

That’s incredibly close to the number the Lord put on my heart.

I don’t normally talk like this…

But there’s got to be somebody here this morning where the Lord told to go, and you told Him no

He’s telling you to go.

It’s been His plan all along

If that’s you, come talk to me after the service.

All right, I find that most big projects are overwhelming at the outset.

Even just getting yourself to do your taxes can feel overwhelming

But most of us know that if we just keep putting one foot in front of another, we can get some of our bigger tasks accomplished.

But what about big things that seem almost unsolvable?

The things that are beyond just our own, personal effort?

Like getting Americans to talk about politics with some civility?

That feels pretty impossible.

Or trying to decrease drug addiction in this country?

Or bringing the suicide rate back down?

When we sit and think about how massive those problems are, most of us will never do anything.

Because, we reason, the little dent we make in the problem, won’t even matter.


But Jesus is going to challenge our assumptions about solving big problems today.

(Page 847)

(Renovation App)

We are continuing in the Book of Luke…which is one of 4 books in the Bible that contains the teachings of Jesus.

Just 4 verses today

(Luke 13:18-21) – NIV

18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” 20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

We’re going to spend most of our time focusing on the metaphor of the mustard seed today…

And specifically the man who planted it.

Jesus tells us, in verse 18, that this man plants the mustard see in his garden.

So we know this man is some type of gardener…

Whether he’s a professional gardener or it’s just a hobby…that we don’t know.

But what I want to do today is give you 3 “Lessons From The Gardener”

And I hope that these will increase your faith.

Here is the first one:

Lessons From The Gardener:

#1: He has a garden!

Now, that may seem so obvious that it’s not even worth saying…but when it comes to our faith, I think it’s necessary to explore this point.

This man is like most of you

In his own hand, is a seed.

And the seed in the Bible is almost always the Word of God…or the Gospel (the good news that Jesus can save us)

This man has the Word.

He knows about God…and that God loves Him and can save Him and wants to be in a relationship with Him.

So, so far, he’s just like most us in this room.

But…he has a garden.

And I find that far too many Christian people have no garden.

No sphere of their life where they are sowing God’s Word into another person…hoping to see something result.

They are merely consumer-Christians.

Learning, receiving, consuming…but never planting what they’ve learned in another person

And it’s odd, because I find that these people often they LOVE to watch others plant in their respective gardens.

Maybe online…you follow missionaries, like Ben Pierce, who will be here in 2 weeks…

And you rejoice at all of the planting that he and Steiger are doing overseas.

Or you follow some of our church plants on Social Media…

And you get excited about mustard seeds getting planted in other cities!

Or you read the books or follow the podcasts of some famous Christian author or pastor…

And you love to watch them plant!

But you never plant anything yourself.

You’re like the person who loves to watch HGTV, but you never do anything yourself.

But God has intended that each and every one of us has a garden.

Do you have one?

Is there some sphere in which you are passing on what God is growing in you?

That is our MOST important task as believers

To be disciples that disciple someone else.

Otherwise, the message of Jesus will die out in our land.

I just read this week that one of the large mainline protestant denominations in America was recently informed that at their current rate of decline they will cease to exist in America in just 30 years.

30 years!

And it’s because they stopped believing that the Bible as the Word of God

And when you think you know better than the Bible…then there’s no reason to obey God’s Word

And thus, you’ll never share it with anyone…because you don’t even believe it.

And if none of your people have a garden where they are passing faith on…

It’s over.

Get this: In 1966 there were 3.6 million Americans in this denomination…and in just 30 years from now…zero.

That’s a loss of 3.6 million adherents in just a few generations.

If we stop planting, we stop growing.

So where is your garden?

You’re not going to see God do anything miraculous through you without one.

Where are you planting seeds?

Who are you talking to about God’s love?

Who are you discipling to follow Jesus?


Let me give you a second lesson now from the gardener in this passage

Lessons From The Gardener:

#1: He has a garden!

#2: He believed in the power of a seed

This same teaching of Jesus can also be found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.

In Matthew, Jesus tells us that the mustard seed is the smallest of seeds, and yet becomes the largest of garden plants.

And indeed, in those days, the mustard seed was THE smallest seed that farmers and gardeners used.

But it could grow to 8 or 10 feet tall!

But look how small the mustard seed is:

(Mustard seed Penny)

(Mustard Seed in Gardeners Hand)

It’s so small that, the gardener, holding it in his hand, could have felt like it was powerless.

It was a tiny seed.

What could it do?

But, the gardener plants it anyway.

He believes, that even though it’s small, it can become great

Because…he knows that there is POWER in the seed.

He’s not putting a marble in the ground…but a life-giving seed.

Do not miss this from God’s Word today!

I think one of THE main reasons we are often so scared to talk about God to other people…is because we forget that the power is in the seed…not in us

It’s not your job to make the seed grow.

You don’t have to say it “just right”

Or know the answer to every question

Or have the perfect timing.

God’s going to do the work.

One of my favorite parables comes from Mark chapter 4, and very intentionally, it’s the passage that precedes this exact same mustard seed passage in Mark

(Mark 4:26-28) – NIV

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.

That gives me a lot of peace as a Christian.

It’s not my job to make a seed grow in another person.

Only God can raise the dead and bring someone to life.

My responsibility is just to have a garden, and plant the seed.

God will do the hard part.

And I wonder…is perhaps the reason some of you are so afraid to talk to anyone about Jesus…is because you think that YOU have to be the one to do the convincing?

A few weeks ago, when John Alexander was here preaching, I was a guest speaker at a church in my hometown.

And I was talking to them about the power of God.

And I said, “Listen, we need to stop looking at nonbelievers through worldly eyes.”

Too often, we look at them and say, “Nah, they would never give their lives to Christ.”

But when you say that, you’re only thinking about you and them…you’ve subtracted God out of the equation!

And I told them, “Some of you know this…but to my friends, I was the LAST person they thought was going to become a Christian.”

But once the seed got planted…and began to grow…NOTHING could stop it.

Our job isn’t to change hearts…it’s just to plant seeds…powerful, life-changing, seeds.

And like Jesus says in the parable of the sower…not every seed takes root…

But we are to trust all things, even that, to God’s sovereignty


Let’s take a look at the third lesson from the gardener in Luke 13

Lessons From The Gardener:

#1: He has a garden!

#2: He believed in the power of a seed

#3: He sees the exponential blessing of one seed

When you hold a tiny mustard seed in your hand, it’s hard to imagine what it can do.

And even as it begins to grow…it can still be hard.

Because the growth isn’t fast.

And there’s a lesson here about the Kingdom of God

A mustard seed doesn’t grow at warp speed

Seeds don’t explode

They just work…slowly…over time.

But there’s a living power in them.

And if you wait…if you have patience…you will see it.

And you will see a growth that goes way beyond your expectations.

I heard it explained this way once, and I thought it was really helpful

If a mustard seed had a head on collision with a sidewalk, who would win?

The sidewalk, right?

The mustard seed would probably just bounce right off of it.

But if you plant the seed, deep in the soil, underneath the sidewalk…and give it time

The mustard seed will grow into a tree that will crack right through the concrete.

And that’s the power of gradual growth.

And what’s interesting about the Kingdom of God is Jesus is so often talks about the exponential power of small things.

The 1 cup of cold water, the one priceless pearl, the widow’s 2 small copper coins, the two fish & five loaves, the 12 young disciples.

Think about it…

Quite often Jesus is teaching us that His kingdom starts small…and slowly, over time, makes a significant impact.

This is a similar to the second metaphor in our passage…

Where the yeast eventually bakes through ALL of the dough and has a tremendous impact…even though it’s so small.

This is how the Kingdom of God grows

And it starts with just one seed.

Just a conversation about God here.

A facebook post about the goodness of God there

An offer to pray for a co-worker there

It’s not flashy.

It’s not about getting power…but often about coming under…

And it’s not prideful.

The seed metaphor matters.

You can’t really get prideful over planting seeds.

It’s not hard work to plant A seed in the ground

You can’t walk around talking about how well you put one seed in the ground.

No, you don’t get the credit.

God does, for growing it.

But this all runs against our nature.

We don’t want to plant a seed…we want to build the tower of Babel

Like the story of Genesis 11 where humanity tries to build a tower to the sky to prove how great they are

But that’s not the way of God

Jesus says, “Don’t build yourself up to the sky, instead, I want you to stoop low…maybe onto your knees…and put a seed into the ground”

“I’ll do the work.”

And when the tree grows, it starts to have an impact.

We see that the even the birds perch in its branches and rest in its shade

The kingdom is having an impact on others

And not just that, its exponential.

Again, the imagery is rich here.

This is why we want to walk slowly through the Bible…and STUDY its teachings.

When the mustard seed has turned into a large shrub…you might even call it a tree if it’s 8 or 10 feet tall in some areas…what happens?

And eventually, it will do what God created it to do, and reproduce by seeding.

And more mustard plants will grow

Jesus does not want us to miss this metaphor of exponential growth.

Think about it…

Jesus trained 12 unknown disciples…and they changed the world.

Not just them, but the people they trained, who trained others, who trained others.

In just 300 years, most of the entire Roman Empire was following Jesus

That is exponential growth from a tiny mustard seed

But we cannot forget that exponential growth requires reproduction.

Just one seed growing into a large tree…isn’t exponential.

This is one of the things that greatly worries me about the modern American church.

Firstly, that we have Christians in the seats…that do nothing more than just sit in the seat.

There is no reproduction.

They have no garden

They are not making disciples.

That’s not the imagery that Jesus is teaching us

And secondly, too many churches are more concerned about building the tall tower of their kingdom than they are with helping God’s Kingdom reproduce.

Too many American churches exhaust all of their energy and effort so they can be 500 people or 1,000, or 2,000 people.

And that’s all they think about it.

Growing their own kingdom

Listen, it’s not bad to think about reaching your city for Christ.

But the Kingdom of God is meant to be an exponential, reproducing movement.

It’s a mustard-seed movement.

The agricultural, and reproductive imagery matters here

I’ll tell you something, this church is probably never going to be the largest church in the metro

But we believe our impact may be greater than any of the largest churches in the metro.

And here’s why:

We don’t want to just amass people in, we want to send people out.

Like the mustard seed…we want to reproduce.

Let’s do math. I love math.

There are 500 to 550 people here on an average Sunday, but in our church plants, there are already 700 more people in their churches this morning!

And as we continue to grow, we’ll be able to plant more churches, and plant them even faster.

And not only that, it won’t be long now until our churches begin to plant their own churches (and we’ll be grandparents)

This is the exponential reproduction that Jesus is talking about

So yes, the growth is slower at first

And no, this is most likely never going to be a megachurch of 5,000 people

But 25 years from now, if someone were to a draw a church-family tree, with Renovation Church at the trunk…

…and our 25, 35 church plants…

…and then their church plants…

I wouldn’t even be remotely surprised if there are over 20,000 people on that tree.

That’s how God’s kingdom works.

It’s not flashy.

It’s not often fast

But it’s exponentially powerful

And it’s about HIM!

Of the 20,000 people on that tree, almost none of them will even know who we are!

How many of you in this room know how David Nelms is?

Pastor David Nelms does not have very many people in each of his churches.

That’s probably why you don’t know him.

But I bet if I started listing off the names of pastors who have 10,000 or 20,000 people in their church, you’d recognize their names.

And again, not that it’s bad to have a big church…

But we’d be reaching this world a lot faster for Christ if more of us did ministry like David Nelms.

David Nelms is a the man who started The Timothy Initiative

The Timothy Initiative is a ministry we support.

5% of your giving to our general fund goes into International Missions, and we give $333 to The Timothy Initiative every single month.


Because $333 plants one international church.

Isn’t that amazing?

David Nelms started the Timothy Initiative 13 years ago.

It’s an incredibly simple model.

It’s a great example of mustard-seed multiplication

Take a look at this short video that explains their process


This is mustard-seed stuff.

Tell someone the Gospel, train them, they tell someone else…

It’s exponential reproduction.

Now, before you look at this, and say, “That’s neat, they multiplied a few churches…but this guy’s no Andy Stanley…or pick your favorite megachurch pastor…”

In 13 years, through reproducing small churches all over the world…they’ve reach 1.5 million people for Christ.

You didn’t hear me incorrectly.

1.5 million people for Christ.

They’ve started 76,775 churches.

And most of them aren’t large at all…but it doesn’t matter…

The mustard seed power of this movement is cracking through the concrete of hard to reach places that other missionary groups haven’t even been able to touch!

See, if everything is just about growing our own little kingdoms…we’ll never reach the world for Christ.

But if we learn from the mustard seed…

And we each get a garden

Trust in the power of God’s seed again

And commit ourselves to exponential reproduction…

We are going to see God do amazing things…even through us, the people of Renovation Church.

Let me pray

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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