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James Meehan - How to Trust God

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    James Meehan - How to Trust God
TOPICS: Culture Makers, Trust

James Meehan: Well, hello and good day to you. We are so glad that you're joining with us on this week of "Switch Uncut" where we're gonna have a conversation about faith, following Jesus and the Bible by exploring a passage of scripture and drawing out what it means for us as followers of Jesus living in the modern world. But first we're gonna ask the question, what would these words have meant to the original audience? Because until we can know what it means now, we've gotta start with, what did this mean then? We're gonna look at a passage found in Mark chapter 4, which is one of the four Gospel accounts, one of the four stories of Jesus' life, His ministry, His death, and His resurrection. And the big idea we're gonna explore is this idea that our job is obedience, and that it is God who controls the outcome.

Kaitlyn Caffery: Which is good.

James Meehan: So that being said, Caitlyn, will you please read for us starting in Mark chapter 4, verse 2?

Kaitlyn Caffery: Yep, absolutely. I'm gonna read all the way to verse 8. Verse two says, "He taught them many things by parables, and in His teaching said, 'Listen, a farmer went out to sow his seed, and as he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew, and produced a crop, some multiplying 30, some 60, and some a hundred times.'"

James Meehan: So there you go. Jesus is talking about farming. Figure out what that means.

Kaitlyn Caffery: Good luck. Maybe the odds be ever in your favor.

James Meehan: My favorite part is when you read, "Listen," I heard that meme of that kid who was really young, who would just say, "Linda, Linda, Linda, listen". Do you know what I'm talking about? Have you seen this?

Kaitlyn Caffery: No, I do not know.

James Meehan: Okay, it was a Vine from way back in the day. That's how you know I am old. But here's what Jesus is doing. He's giving us a picture that we're meant to wrap our minds around to better understand what it is that he's doing in His ministry. So he starts with a farmer, who is sowing seed. What does it mean? It's a farmer who's planting seed. And we're told that as he's scattering the seed, some fell along the path and it was eaten by birds. Some fell on rocky places, where it didn't have very much soil, so it's sprang up quickly. But then it was scorched and withed because there was no root. Then we hear about other seed that fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so they did not bear grain. But there was a fourth group that fell on good soil. Where it came up, it grew and it produced a crop, some 30, some 60, and some a hundred times what was sown. So there's four different types of soil that we're being shown. One, two and three, not good. Didn't produce a harvest. but soil number four produced a harvest. Now here's what's interesting. Is that in this parable, the sower planting seed is a representation of Jesus, because as He is walking through the earth 2000 years ago, spreading the good news of the kingdom of God, He is sowing the seed. He's telling people about this message.

Kaitlyn Caffery: Yeah.

James Meehan: And some people, in groups, one, two, and three, either A, won't respond to it at all, or B, might respond in the moment but as soon as things get difficult, they fall away. But then there's a fourth group of people who hear it, who receive it, and make that message a part of their life and their lives are changed in the process.

Kaitlyn Caffery: That's good.

James Meehan: Kind of the summary of this parable really is that the outcome is not in our control. Because even in this parable, what Jesus is showing us is that he's planting, but not all of it's growing.

Kaitlyn Caffery: Right.

James Meehan: Whether or not it grows depends on somebody else's response.

Kaitlyn Caffery: That's good. That's really good. So what I heard you say was Jesus is like the farmer sewing the seed. The seed is His message about the kingdom of God.


And then we fall into one of those four categories based on our response to the message of Jesus.

Yep. And then I would say once we've responded to the message of Jesus, then we are invited to also be farmers.

That's good.

Who are also scattering seed. And when that happens, just like with Jesus, we aren't the ones in charge of the outcome.


We don't control that. We just control our response. Do we receive the word that Jesus offers us? And do we share that word with other people?

Yeah and that's probably where this multiplication analogy comes from at the end.


He's like, it'll multiply 30, some 60, some 100 times. It's like, that's that transition point where we then become people who are also sowing seed or sharing the message about the kingdom of God and the multiplication happens.

Yeah, that's really good. I didn't think about that, but yes, I think that's right.

Cool. So there is more to this Mark passage.


And we're gonna start in verse 26, and I'm going to read 26 through 29. It says, "He also said, 'This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scattered seed on the ground, day and night, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself, the soil produces grain, first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it because the harvest has come.'"

So once again, Jesus is giving us another parable. And he's once again, talking about farming, where seeds are planted and then it sprouts up and it grows into something really special. Now what's interesting, first is to know that most of the people Jesus was talking to then were farmers. That's why he talks about farming so much.


If he were talking to us today, he would probably use different examples and illustrations. But this is what was speaking to His audience. He was trying to meet them where they were to help them understand the truth of what it is that He had come to do and what that might mean for them. Now, the important thing here, is He's talking about this man that's scattering seed on the ground. And then after the seed is scattered, it begins to grow. Not because of what that man is doing to like, make it grow, but just because that's what seeds do when they're planted. If they get enough water, if they're in the right soil and they get enough sunlight, it will grow into a thriving plant. If those things aren't present, the water, the soil, and the sunlight, then it probably won't. But the point here is that once it's planted, that is the person's responsibility. After that, we've gotta see if the seed takes root. And if it begins to grow. And so again, for us, as followers of Jesus, who have received the seed that he sowed, who have received the good news of the kingdom of God, now that we've received it, it's our responsibility to be a part of making sure that we stay good soil. That the word that Jesus has planted in us will produce fruit. That we will become the kind of people who love others the same way that He has loved us. And then when we are then sharing that with other people, once we've planted the seed, like we can do everything we can to help make sure they're in the right environment, that they've got good friends around them, that we help them understand the Bible. We help give them good advice when they ask for it. But at the end of the day, we cannot control whether or not they grow to become more like Jesus or not. And if we do try to control it, then we're probably missing out. And then we've got another, in the same chapter of scripture, where Jesus is, once again talking about seeds being planted, this one starts in verse 30. Caitlin, will you read it?

Yup. Here we go. "Again He said, 'What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It's like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth, yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.'"

So what is the kingdom of God like? It's like a seed that gets planted, specifically a mustard seed, because that's really, really tiny. And it would've been the smallest kind of seed that they would've been familiar with. And then what Jesus tells us though, is that once it's planted, it starts to grow. And eventually becomes the largest of all the plants, with enough space in its branches for all the birds of the air to rest in. Jesus is using this to describe what the kingdom of God is like. It starts really small. It grows slowly, but eventually, there will be enough space for everybody. Everybody to find shelter in it. Because everybody has been invited into God's kingdom. You and me, our friends, our family, the people we go to school with, the people that we talk to on the internet, everybody has been invited to receive the good news that Jesus came to offer.

That's good.

The question is, will we respond to it?


And so here we are, looking at three different parables, all talking about farming, all using this metaphor and illustration of seeds being planted.

Yeah. And the consistent idea is that there is a part of it that is our responsibility. But there's another part of it that we can't control.


And I think the challenging thing here for us to keep in mind is that as followers of Jesus, if we try to control things that are not ours to control we will always wind up frustrated. But if we choose to be obedient with the things that we've been asked to be obedient in, then instead of being frustrated, oftentimes I think we'll actually feel fulfilled.

That's so good. This conversation is reminding me of one of my favorite verses.

Oh, okay. We love the Bible here.

It's in Philippians 2. And it's where Paul says, "Dear friends, you have always followed my instructions when I was with you, and now that I'm away, it's even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear". But then he says this, "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him".

That's good.

And it's that juxtaposition that you're talking about of like, there is something that is mine to do. And that is to obey God in response to the gift of salvation that He's given me. But the beautiful thing is that the Spirit of God lives in me and is working on me from the inside to give me the desire and the power to actually faithfully follow Jesus.

Come on, so here's the question. Whose job is it to make good things happen? Is it our job or God's? Oh, I think it's both. It's it's like whose job is it to make a friendship meaningful? Is it my job or is it their job? I think it's both.


It's actually when we're working together in partnership that we get to experience a really, really great friendship. And it's exactly what God has invited us into, to be partners with Him. He doesn't need us.


But He wants us.


He invites us. And I think this is such good news. Like there's some people who will kind of like throw their hands up and say, no I just wish God would do it all. But that would be so incredibly boring.


That's like, I never want to be somebody who makes a difference, I just wanna sit on the sidelines and watch. And maybe you genuinely do feel that. But the cool thing is is that once you've actually stepped into the game and you're a part of making a difference, just like God has called you to, then you'll start to see how cool this really is. And this past week we heard a message about how our Father has invited us to trust. And I think one of the biggest signs of trust in our lives is our willingness to obey what He's asked us to do.

Yeah, absolutely.

And he's always asking us to be a part of His plans to do good, to bring good to the world and to others. And that starts with us receiving the good news of Jesus. And that looks like us sharing the good news of Jesus with others.

Yep. That's good. So you described kind of one end of the extreme. of just like, I just want God to do everything.

Come on.

I think there's another end.

Wait, what? No way.

Possibly. Possibly, I think the other extreme is I try to do absolutely everything and just box God out of doing His job. And that also does not produce the right result.


Because the fact of the matter is I cannot, on my own, produce the results that are good and true and effective. I can try, but I wasn't made to like handle that much weight.

A hundred percent.

It's in partnership with God that we are actually able to continue the work that Jesus started.

Yeah, spoiler alert, none of us are God.

Yeah, whew.

And if we ever try to be


We will be miserable.

It doesn't go good.

We will be frustrated. So here's my question for you as you're watching this video and you're processing and reflecting on your own life, what is your tendency? Do you tend to sit back and do nothing and hope that God does everything? Or do you try to do everything and you don't leave any space for God to do what only he can do? Caitlin, you're first.

Here we go. Yeah, I think I definitely swing more towards the I try to grab the reigns of control.

Yeah, yeah.

Maybe that's why I brought it up.

I'm laughing because I'm so surprised. I would've never guessed.

Shocking, who would do such a thing? Um me. So yeah, I think I definitely tend towards that. And actually I have been asking myself the question recently of have I stepped into any spaces that were not actually mine to fill?

That's good. Because the beautiful thing is God doesn't make it a mystery about what it is that He's called me to do. He doesn't make it a mystery about the space that He's called me to occupy, because He actually wants me to do that well. Because it brings Him glory and honor when I do the things that He's asking me to do. And that's how our partnership works the best, is when I'm doing my part and He's doing His part. And so a question that I have been asking myself on a on a weekly, and even a daily basis at first, is just like, okay, what spaces am I tempted to step into that aren't actually mine to fill?

Such a good question. I also have the tendency to try to take control and do everything and force it in my timing. One of the things that is most difficult for me is being patient, because I'm very impatient and I want it like right here and right now. Like I remember when Elden Ring, the greatest video game of all time came out. And I had like pre-ordered it and pre-purchased it on my PlayStation. And the night it released, because I hadn't actually done this soon enough, it wasn't fully installed at the time it came out. So I could only play the tutorial and had to wait until the next day to actually get invested in the game. And that was miserable. And it's like such a tiny thing. And if I'm that impatient in the small things, you better believe I'm more impatient in the big things. And so when I read these passages, one of the things that I'm challenged by is my unwillingness to trust that God's timing is actually better than my timing.

That's so good.

And so a great leader once said to me that when we have the right heart, and we take the right actions, then we can trust that at the right time, God will bring about the right result.

That's good.

And so that's what I wanna do. I wanna have the right heart. I wanna make sure that my attitude is the way it needs to be.


I wanna take the right actions, right. I want to do my part.


And I want to trust, that at the right time, God will bring about the right result. And that helps me to kind of stay centered and grounded whenever I'm feeling a little bit impatient.

That's good.

Because I think the more that we can be okay with doing our part, and trusting God to do His part, probably the more effective we'll be as followers of Jesus.

Yeah, that's so good. And that makes me think of like, the spiritual discipline that we are practicing in this series, which is prayer, and a type of prayer that I do that really helps me with this is like a release and receive prayer.

Yeah, yeah.

And so I just sit down. I've probably already journaled and asked myself some of those questions about kind of what things that I'm grabbing and trying to control that really aren't mine to hold. And then I'll just sit down and I'll say, alright God, like I release my expectations and I receive your peace. Or whatever that thing may be that I'm holding on to. And I just sit there and I just breathe and I just pray and I release and I receive. And that's something that's been really helpful to me. And like a type of prayer that I've found to just like really help me practice some of these things that we're talking about.

That's so good. It reminds me of a friend of mine, Dustin, he's a Pastor at Life Church. And the prayer that he taught me to pray was to pray and ask God to take away any part of this that I'm not supposed to carry. And then give me the strength to carry the part of this I am supposed to carry.

That's good.

And that's a really helpful thing because it's a reminder that I'm not supposed to do all of it.

All the things.

So as you're hearing this conversation, as you're reflecting on the scriptures that we shared, and this idea of trusting that if we do our part, then God will do His part. What's standing out to you? What questions are you asking? What is it the Holy spirit is revealing to you? What are some steps you can take, some questions you can ask, or even some prayers you can pray to better understand what it looks like for you to occupy your space, and be obedient to the calling that God's given you? Because he called all of us to make a difference. To become the kind of people that truly love Him and truly love others. And so that's all I've got. Caitlyn any last words before we sign off?

Nope. That's good. We love processing this stuff with you guys. So leave what you are thinking about in the comments below and we will see you next week.

See y'all.
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