One Degree – January 20, 2019

Genesis 41.17-42.17
Matthew 13.24-46
Psalm 18.1-15
Proverbs 4.1-6

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread.”

You have most likely heard the saying “A little bit goes a long way.” Yet all too often, we live by the rule of: “If a little bit is good, a lot must be better.” Why have a regular size burger, fries, and drink, when you can value size it?

Certainly, there are times when more really is better, but the challenge is that we begin to think in an all or none mentality. Suppose you want to lose weight, let’s say 25 pounds. That process is not going to happen overnight. Simply skipping your value sizing today will not result in substantial weight loss tomorrow.

Or let’s say you have decided to run a marathon. Unless you have had a large amount of training up to this point or you are some freak of nature, your ability to complete a training regimen for running 26.2 miles will have to include many small, slow steps that build up to a large conclusion.

James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, discusses the importance of small steps in accomplishing a big goal. The analogy he uses to stress the importance of small changes is to discuss how just one degree of adjustment will make a large impact on a cross-country flight. If you were to move the nose of a commercial aircraft just one degree, the movement would be measured in a handful of inches, perhaps a couple of feet. But if you stayed on that setting throughout an entire cross-country flight, the difference would be miles, as in, you would end up miles away from your intended destination.

I think Jesus was alluding to this sort of idea when he says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast used in the baking of bread. You do not have to be a baker to know that the amount of yeast used in a loaf of bread is a very small portion compared to the amount of dough you have. Yet, that small amount of yeast transforms the entire loaf.

Many of us long to follow God better, yet too often we want it to be an all or none proposition. We want to decide today and act blameless with no struggles tomorrow. Perhaps our focus needs to be on the one degree of change that we can undertake today.

Remember, it may not seem like much, but even a very tiny amount can make a huge impact.

Questions:

Are we surprised that Joseph is described as one who is filled with the spirit of God? How does the Spirit help us face adverse situations like Joseph did in a way that gives glory to God?

Jesus tells a parable that the kingdom will be full of weeds, but those weeds will be dealt with when the harvest comes. How does this story impact your understanding of the world we live in and the challenges we face?

Does knowing God hears you affect the ways you cry out to him? What can you do this week to better understand the fact he hears you?

What specific steps can you do this week to gain spiritual wisdom?

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