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Jun 30, 2019

Labor-Saving Device

Labor-Saving Device

Passage: Mark 4:26-29

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: The Stories In-Between: Parables

Keywords: jesus, story, power, kingdom, parables, harvest, point, plot, grace mills river

Stories both shape and reflect our deepest beliefs. Some of Jesus’s most potent words were not three point sermons, but vivid stories he called parables – each with their own point but all in service of telling a single Story. What Story do His many stories tell? How are those stories – the ones that speak of life between what He began and what He’ll complete – meant to shape the way we think of ours and any story?

Order of Worship

Pre-Service Text: Revelation 14:15
Call To Worship: Psalm 67
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11
Sermon Title: Labor-saving device
Central Text: Mark 4:26-29
Benediction: Hebrews 12:28-29
Post-Service Text: Galatians 6:8

6.30.19 Sermon Notes

Readings & Scriptures

Pre-Service Text: Revelation 14:15
15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the
cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is
fully ripe.”

Call To Worship: Psalm 67
LEADER: May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us,
PEOPLE: that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.
LEADER: Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
PEOPLE: Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the people with equity and guide the nations upon earth.
LEADER: Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
ALL: The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Central Text: Mark 4:26-29
And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Benediction: Hebrews 12:28-29
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

Post-Service Text: Galatians 6:8
8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Related Scriptures:

  • Joel 3:13
  • Matthew 9:37-38
  • John 4:35
  • 1 Corinthians 3:5-7
  • Galatians 6:8
  • Revelation 14:15

Discussion Questions & Applications:

  1. Name a time when you were pleasantly surprised to find something you hoped or needed to be done end up being completed without you lifting a finger?
  2. What stories in our day seem to captivate our collective attention? Why do you think so? What are those stories--pick one--saying about life or ourselves?
  3. Why teach with stories--parables--as Jesus does? Why from a teaching point of view? Why from Jesus’s own explanation (Matthew 13:10-17, Mark 4:10-13)?
  4. How would you explain what the “kingdom of God” is? How did Jesus demonstrate its appearance?
  5. How does knowing the k ingdom grows and spreads by God’s mysterious acting affect how we participate in its life and its spreading? Think, for instance, about what you give your most time and attention to (job, parenting, caregiving, etc): how would you attend to that if there were no God with an interest in this world increasingly operating as He intends? How does it change the way you think about that investment if you believe there is a God with that very interest?


  • The most powerful words in English are 'Tell me a story,' words that are intimately related to the complexity of history, the origins of language, the continuity of the species, the taproot of our humanity, our singularity, and art itself. - Pat Conroy
  • I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’ - Alasdair McIntyre
  • No wonder it’s been said of… Netflix that their greatest competition isn’t another company but the human need for sleep. . . .Culture is the stories we tell that express meaning about the world. - Daniel Strange, Plugged In
  • Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.- Barry Lopez
  • The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on. “Perhaps the World Ends Here,” - Joy Harlo
  • Conversations are efforts toward good relations. . . . They are the exercise of our love for each other. They are the enemies of our loneliness, our doubt, our anxiety, our tendencies to abdicate. To continue to be in good conversation over our enormous and terrifying problems is to be calling out to each other in the night. - Barry Lopez
  • The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. - Barry Lopez, Crow and Badger
  • However dark the nighttime sky might be, you can always look up at that North Star promise, get your bearings again, and keep going. But wallpaper your reality with the Word of God. - David Powlison (d. May, 2019)


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