What should we be doing for the kingdom while we await Jesus’ return?

The parable of leaven bread reveals what we should be doing.

“He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”” (Mt 13:33)

If you are familiar with the leavening process, you know leaven is added to the dough and it is left to sit. Over time the dough rises as the leaven works through the dough. Eventually the whole bread is leavened.

In this parable, the dough represents the world. The leaven represents us — believers in Christ. Those who are already apart of the kingdom.

The parable of the leaven teaches us that while we wait for Jesus to return, we are not to wait idle. Instead, we are to spread the gospel, influencing the world and others for Christ just as leaven leavens a whole lump of bread.

This parable teaches us Christians have the ability to influence the world for Jesus.

A lot of time I think we don’t believe that because:

(1) We see how messed up the world is.

We think these people are never going to come to Christ. But you were a part of the world at one time. You came to Christ. Yes, you were actually that bad.

(2) Or we see how messed up we are.

We think God could never use me to reach someone else for Him. But that is simple not true. God’s plan is to use messed up people whom He saves and sanctifies to reach the world for Christ.

Yes, the world is messed up. There are a lot of people who will reject the Christian message, the gospel. But there are also many who will believe. God is preparing their hearts right now to hear the gospel from you. Hearing, they will believe and they will come and be a part of the kingdom.

The kingdom grows as Christians work for the kingdom in the world. While God is patient and holds off His judgment, it is our job to work for the kingdom, to influence the world for Christ.

How do we work for the kingdom?

(1) Evangelize others

We do that simply by speaking the gospel into the lives of others. That might be going door to door throughout the different communities in our city. It might be building relationships with people who you come into contact with on a regular basis with the purpose of speaking the gospel into their lives.

In the past, I spent a lot of time at coffee shops. COVID has messed that up. But in the past I spent a lot of time in coffee shops. I love coffee and the coffee shop vibe. But that wasn’t the only reason I went to the coffee shop. I went with the intention of building relationships with folks in order to talk with them about the gospel. Over the years, I have built a lot of relationships with people at the coffee shop and had a lot of good gospel conversations.

I am sure there are places you frequent. A coffee shop, donut shop, hair salon, playground, auction, cattle show. You also have people at work. People on your kids sport’s team. People that live next door. There are many ways we can meet people, build relationship and talk with them about the gospel.

But here is the point: We have to be intentional.

We have to intentionally build relationships with non-believers and talk to them about the gospel if we want to see the kingdom grow.

(2) Living for God

If we want to be an effective evangelist, we have to actually live out God’s Word. The most common critique of Christians is that they are hypocrites. They say one thing, but they actually live another way. If we want to be an effective evangelist, we must actually live out God’s Word. By living for God, we can be an influence for the kingdom because it undergirds our evangelism.

(3) Working for our City and Community

We can be an influence for the kingdom by helping out in the city and in the community.

  • Serving at the homeless shelter.
  • Volunteering at a school.
  • Helping those in need.
  • Working in government.
  • And more.

We can be an influence for the kingdom by working and volunteering in our city.

(4) Discipling Others

Through the years I have had a number of people disciple me. They have been an influence on my life, helping me grow both spiritually and intellectually.

If we want to be an influence for the kingdom, we can and must disciple others as well. People need others to help them understand God’s Word. Provide them with wisdom and accountability. Encourage them to keep walking out the faith. We need others.

It is our vision here at the church that we would be a church full of disciple-making disciples. That every member would be making disciples, replicating themselves as they live in community with other members.

But I am afraid that is not going to happen unless we throw out a consumer mentality and adopt a disciple making culture. We have to make a shift from seeing the church as being about me to it being about others. We must become more other-centric rather than me-centric.

Unless we change our mentality and understand that the reason we gather together as a church is to help encourage, hold accountable, teach, and care for one another, we won’t be a disciple-making disciple church. Instead we will be like every other consumer driven church. But that is not the type of church we need to be. That is not the type of church Jesus is calling us to be. He is calling us to be a church full of disciples who are making disciples.

As we wait for the kingdom to come, we are to work for the kingdom. What are you doing to work for the kingdom? How are you influencing this world for Jesus?

There are a lot of people out there who need to hear the gospel. Who need to be encouraged, helped, and discipled.
What are you doing to influence this world for Jesus? What can you do this week to influence the world for Jesus?

  • Maybe there is a neighbor or co-worker you can talk to.
  • Maybe there is someone around the corner you can help out.
  • Maybe you can start a discipleship relationship with a friend, co-worker, your kids, or grandkids.

What are you going to do this week to influence the world for Jesus?

Be ready to provide a defense of your hope in Jesus

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Pe 3:15–16)

Our world is increasingly growing hostile to Christianity. I’m not talking about cultural or progressive Christianity, rather, I’m referring to gospel-centered evangelicals who stand firm on God’s Word. The world in which we live is growing more hostile each and every day towards our message and values. Instead of assimilating or disassociating from the culture around us, we should engage. 

Peter tells us that we should be ready to provide a defense to the hope we have in Christ. It is that hope that keeps us going and it is that hope we should be ready to share with others. But we must not share the hope of the gospel in combative harsh ways. Instead, we must be gentle in the way in which we share. As well as we must share with a good conscience. We are not out to attack or one-up someone. We are not out to be harsh and disrespectful to other human beings. Instead, we must be gentle and loving in the way in which we share. That doesn’t mean we shy away from sharing the truth. We must continue to share the truth because it is the truth that sets us free. It is the good news from ages past that is still good news today, so we must not and cannot alter the gospel message. Instead, we must share it with others so that they might experience the same hope we experience. 

One book that has been helpful for me lately is Sam Chan’s book Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News about Jesus More Believable. He does an excellent job of walking you through how to share the gospel with others in today’s culture. If you are looking for a way to reach the world in which we live, give Chan’s book a read. 

We should want to be used as God’s instruments because Jesus came for us

Jesus’ sacrifice and His cross work should be something we want to share with everyone.

Jesus didn’t have to come. Jesus could have left us in our sins. But Jesus didn’t. Jesus had compassion on us. He cared for us. He loved us. His love drove Him to come and die so that we might have life and our relationship with the Father would be reconciled.

We should want to go, not because it is easier and we know God’s will will be done, but because we want to share the love of Jesus with others. Because we want to share what Jesus has done for us.

“When [our] heart is gripped by the love of God poured out in the cross, and when [we] see the extent of that love in the propitiation by which Christ became the sacrifice for [our] sin, bearing wrath and entering hell for [us], and when [we] are convinced that this Christ offers Himself in redeeming love to others who do not yet know Him, a passion will be lit in [our] heart to pursue a God-centered life, [to pursue people on mission for God.]”

James Denney in Jonah by Colin Smith, 48.

When God comes to us and asks us to do something that is difficult — and if He hasn’t done so already, He certainly will — when He does, we should go. We should answer His call, so that others might experience the same joy, peace, comfort, love, and salvation as we do.

When God calls us to go, we should go for the sake of others and their eternal destiny.

The Unified Mission, Devotion, and Power of the Church – Part 3

What is the Unified Devotion of the Church?

In Acts 2, after Peter’s Spirit-empowered preaching at Pentecost, a multitude of people began to follow Jesus as His disciples. We are told in verse 41 that:

“…there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41b)

We know from earlier in the chapter that those who heard Peter’s sermon were “from every nation under heaven” — verse 8. So a number of the people who began to follow Jesus that day were from foreign countries. I assume that many of them carried the good news of Jesus back to their hometowns and made disciples there. But many stayed in Jerusalem and joined the other disciples. We are told starting in verse 42 what their day to day activity looked like.

The text says,

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Ac 2:42)

These were the things they were devoted to and unified around. Let’s look at these one at a time.

They were devoted to and unified around learning more about Jesus and how He would have us to live.

Each day they would be taught by the apostles more about God, Jesus, and how they were to live. That wasn’t just an early church practice. We should be unified around the idea of learning more about God, Jesus, and how we are to live as well.

You see, being a member of a church shouldn’t be like being a member of a Country Club. We shouldn’t join for status, connections, or for what we can get out of it. Instead, we join and come to church to help one another become better disciples of Jesus. That should be our focus as a church — to learn how we can better follow Jesus and help others to do the same.

They were devoted to and unified around fellowshipping with one another

As well as we should be unified around fellowshipping with one another. This means that we should be close. We should know what is going on in each other’s lives. How we can encourage and be in prayer for one another.

Even if that is occurring in the community to which you belong, there’s always room for improvement. One way to actively improve fellowship in your Christian community is to pick someone out, it could be anyone — someone you know well or someone you don’t know well, but pick someone out, and invite them to do something with you. Maybe that involves grabbing a coffee or having them over for lunch or dinner one day. When you are gathered together, make it a point to ask them how you can pray for or encourage them.

Now, I know that sounds a little uncomfortable, but if we truly want to experience the level of fellowship Luke is writing about in the book of Acts, that’s something we need to start doing regularly. The easiest way to start is to just do it. So take some time this week to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to fellowship with others in your congregation, and then invite them to hang out.

They were devoted to and unified around breaking Bread Together

Next, we see that along with focusing on learning what it means to be a disciple and fellowshipping with one another, the early church was also unified around breaking bread together. What this means is that they participated in the Lord’s Supper with one another regularly. The reason they did that, and the reason we should do that, is to constantly remind ourselves of Jesus’ work on our behalf.

When we keep what Jesus has done in front of us, it’s hard to keep sinning against one another and God. That’s because when we are thankful for what God has done for us by sending His son to die on our behalf, we should want to please Him. Not to earn or keep our salvation, but simply as a way to worship Him. So by regularly observing the Lord’s Supper, we should be driven to obedience and unity with one another.

They were devoted to and unified around praying for one another

Lastly, we learn that prayer for one another unified the early church. That’s what we should be doing as well, we should be praying for one another. Not just for each other’s physical ailments, but for one another’s spiritual life. That means we have to be willing to ask others how they are doing spiritually, as well as we have to be willing to tell others how we are doing spiritually. It’s a two-way street and we have to be willing to drive down both sides.

Telling others how you are doing spiritually doesn’t necessarily mean that you are always telling them what’s wrong. While that is not a bad idea. Telling others how you are doing spiritually might also mean that you share with them how God is working in your life for good. By willing to do both, you’re not only setting yourself up to receive encouragement, guidance, and prayer, but you will also be a catalyst to worship, as others are driven to praise God for what He is doing in your life. Either way, we are bringing glory to God, and glorifying God is what our life should be about.

What are the Benefits?

So these are the things we should be devoted to and unified around as a church. Honestly, when we are unified around these things, fights and disagreements will be at a minimum. When they do occur, we will seek reconciliation quickly.

As well as, when we are unified around these things, we will always be on the lookout for one another’s spiritual health. When we see others slipping, we will be in a place where we can pray for and admonish them. Or when we see others doing well, we will be in a place where we can encourage them to keep on keeping on.

Moreover, being unified around these ideas will allow us to be better witnesses to the world because we will come across as a unified and loving family that others will want to be a part of.


But again, we don’t do these things in our own strength, nor do we accomplish our mission in our own strength. It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to be devoted to these things and to make disciples. Which means, when we see ourselves or others slipping, we shouldn’t just encourage them or ourselves to try harder. Instead, we should pray that the Spirit would work in our lives, empowering us to keep pressing on as Jesus’ disciple.

So let me encourage you to be faithful to your Spirit-empowered mission — to make disciples and to be devoted to the teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are the above a point of unity for your congregation?


Post adapted from my sermon The Unified Mission, Devotion, and Power of the Church


The Unified Mission, Devotion, and Power of the Church – Part 2

What is it that Empowers Believers?

After Jesus’ resurrection and before His ascension, He stayed with the disciples for 40 days comforting and teaching them more about the kingdom of God. Starting in verse 4 of Acts chapter 1 we read,

“And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”” (Ac 1:4–5)

And a little bit later in verse 8, Jesus tells them the benefit of the Holy Spirit when He says,

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”” (Ac 1:8)

So we see, then, that

We are empowered for our mission by the Holy Spirit.

He is the reason we are able to make disciples, boldly proclaim the gospel to others, answer their objections, and convince them that following Jesus is what’s best. He’s the reason we are able to write books, preach sermons, and teach Bible studies. He’s the reason we are able to learn foreign languages, culture, and practices, and leave a comfortable life to live as missionaries in an uncomfortable or dangerous environment. He’s the reason we are able to do what we have and will do for the kingdom.

Making disciples, then, isn’t something we do in our own strength, rather it’s something we are empowered to do by God Himself. He calls us to the task, and He empowers us to complete the task.

Seek His Power

If that’s true. If the Holy Spirit is the One who empowers us for the task of making disciples, then we need to make sure that we are depending on Him and seeking His power to accomplish our mission. The way we do that is by praying for Him to empower us on a daily basis. You see, prayer is powerful. It accomplishes a number of things, including us being empowered for the task of making disciples.

Looking Forward

But the Spirit doesn’t just empower us to accomplish our unified mission, He also empowers us to accomplish our unified devotion, and that’s what we will talk about next time.


Question for Reflection

  1. Do you see that the Spirit is the one who empowers for ministry?


Post adapted from my sermon The Unified Mission, Devotion, and Power of the Church