Skip to content
November 19, 2023

Sermon Theme: God’s Butterfly Effect: His Small Church Affects Entire Nations

Passage: 1 Timothy 2:1-4

So, butterfly wings causing thunderstorms…sounds farfetched, doesn’t it? How can something so small impact something so big? It’s an interesting theory, and many in science have gone back and forth on it. But is there ever an instance where this so-called butterfly effect is no longer theory, but surety? How about when a group of ten in church on a Sunday offers a prayer on behalf of all men and their national leaders? “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority,” the apostle Paul charges Timothy and the congregations he’s writing to to do. He charges these small groups to pray for kings and nations. And to think of that doing any good may seem as impossible as a butterfly’s wing gust causing massive thunderstorms. But with God all things are possible. When the Savior God, who wants all men to be saved from their sinful demise in hell and come to the Scriptural knowledge of Christ Jesus as their Savior, is behind our small church’s butterfly wings, then massive storms—effective changes will ensue.

Therefore, in observing our Thanksgiving holiday, let us give thanks to Almighty God in all our blessings, and let us also as a church family look to His Almighty, Saving hand to guide this world in a way which is conducive to spreading His saving Word so that people from many nations may, in quiet and peaceable lives, obtain the source to live in godliness and reverence, that source being the knowledge that they are saved in Christ Jesus our Savior God, who’s hands not only steer the world, but were also crucified for it. Knowing this saving truth of the Gospel, let’s see that in God’s butterfly effect, a small church’s prayer can affect entire nations.

( We pray…)

Now, before we dwell upon the impact of the hand of our Savior God, the hand that satisfiest the desire of every living thing, and how it can strong arm kings for the sake of mankind, let’s dwell upon what He has accomplished for us here in South Dakota. Struggling with the near sightedness of our sinful flesh on a regular basis, perhaps it’s hard to see the hand of God in just our lives and our church family’s life let alone the lives of the nations that occupy this world. Keeping track of just our lives and the lives of our immediate family, many exhausting days have been spent, hardly being able to keep track of time to the point we’re completely blindsided that this Thursday is already Thanksgiving and a month later will be Christmas. It’s overwhelming! How can we ever get by! Like the thought of a butterfly being beat down to the ground by the South Dakota wind, so we often think about our lives and how they can be so busy and overwhelming! And yet, as we anxiously think about our days and weeks while sitting in the church pews, we must ask: why all the anxiety?! You have come here this morning to hear about the Savior God, the God who can guide all nations, the God who, as our Old Testament reading shows us, led an entire nation through through a sea and barren wilderness, feeding them with bread from Heaven, and teaching them that they all live by His Word—the Word which spoke all things into existence. And so, when anxiousness and concern get the best of our thinking to the point where we seemingly forget about the God who led a whole nation through what seemed to be certain death, the God who even takes care of the sparrows and lilies, the God who even teaches us to pray for every single soul on this terrestrial rock, couldn’t we, even if it’s just a little bit, be charged with self-absorption and conceit? With such a mindset, the butterfly effect of God doesn’t even stand a chance, like a bunch of butterflies in a box not able to go out into the open air and test the theory out so we are if we come in this house of prayer barely able to get over our concerns let alone the world’s.

And so, this Thanksgiving season, it’s time to open this butterfly box and look at the reason for the season, learning from the words of our Savior God in our Gospel reading, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” God takes care of all these earthly needs. He takes care of those comparatively little concerns when one has the thought of entire nations in mind.

And so, yes, seek first the kingdom of God, drop your earthly concerns, and come hear God’s Word for your salvation and growth in the knowledge of the truth. Know that if God takes care of the smallest flower and the largest nation at the same time, He will take care of you. And perhaps I don’t need to stress that point too much, for it is the season of Thanksgiving after all. This is the season where many reflect upon what they are thankful for, and when we Christian’s observe it, we know exactly what we are thankful for and who to thank. Thanks be to God for He has given us house and home, land and animals, food and drink, our mind and senses; but most importantly He has given you eternal life in His Son Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God.

Thanks be to God that He has done this for you! And what did He do for you exactly? Well, remember that nation of people He delivered? Well, that nation would bring about God’s plan for a Savior. From this nation came the Savior Jesus, who brought the Kingdom of God to His people. And in doing so, He through His perfect life, innocent death, and resurrection from the dead sent the ripple effect of salvation throughout all the world. Many men who don’t see Christ as the Savior would simply see a man who died on a Roman torture device for propagating new aged beliefs. Like a lone monarch butterfly taken from the 21 million of its kind and nailed to a bug board, so these scoffers and naysayers would simply see a human taken from the billions of His kind and nailed to wood. But oh how wrong they are, for this different kind of Monarch, the King Monarch of all nations and tribes, His wings, His hands crucified to that wood would send a ripple, a butterfly effect if you will, throughout the world. He, Jesus, this one man yet also God, would bring about the salvation of all mankind. And this would include you and me! This would include our small church, and in this blessing of grace this man, Jesus Christ, has opened the communication system with God the Father through His mediation. He has made us His children, friends with the Almighty Father, the one who guides nations and nature. And by doing this, Jesus Christ has opened that butterfly box, if you will, to let our seemingly tiny wings emit massive storms of prayer through the power of our Almighty and gracious God.

And so, since Christ has delivered us to salvation and given us the power of prayer with our Almighty Father, the butterfly effect is ready for experimentation. So then, let’s go back to Paul’s words in 1 Timothy to see what we’re getting at again. Paul in this section of Scripture is giving instructions to Timothy and the various congregations to which he is leading, and these instructions involve public worship. Paul first, in his list of instructions, charges the congregations what they should be praying about in their services. This sanctified instruction charges that Christian congregations should be offering personal requests, reverent prayers, and personal representation to God on behalf of all men, believer and unbeliever, every tribe and nation; for no matter how far they are away, prayer is able to reach them. And the same goes for us. As a congregation, justified by the blood of Christ and set apart as God’s people, we are charged to pray for all men. And like the butterfly effect causes storms, so the prayer of nine people in Bowdle to God Almighty may impact the greater, spiritual good for millions in Beijing China and Boston Massachusetts, or like the prayer of ten in Ipswich to the same almighty God may also impact millions in Istanbul Turkey and the state of Idaho.

When we do this, when we pray for all nations, we are to do this for their kings and leaders as well, for what better way to impact a nation of people than to pray for their king or leaders. Pray for all those in authority, for a butterfly can do a lot to impact things! To give an example, during the era of the Kings in the Old Testament, King Hezekiah and the nation of Judah were threatened by the leading empire at the time, Assyria and their leader Sennacherib, and when Hezekiah prayed for the Lord’s deliverance, the Lord struck down the entire heathen army of Assyria that God’s people may be preserved, God’s Word and promise made sure, and His glory declared for all to see. So then, if you want to pray for all people, pray for their leader, whether they are good or evil, so that they may be blessed. Pray for them, these leaders, so that they provide a quiet and peaceable life—perfect grounds for the spread of God’s Word and for the weak Christian to grow in faith lest the threat of martyrdom cause them to lose their faith. Pray this so that quiet and peaceable lives can produce from the Word fruits pleasing to God and honorable to one’s neighbor. And even if the evil kings and evil governments of this world don’t relent, still pray for the people under their control; for through the witness of the martyrs to God’s Word will many be brought to the knowledge of the truth—salvation in Christ Jesus. And so, no matter how our prayers are answered, the butterfly effect ensues, as God’s hand guides His Saving word throughout the nations. And when we read of a remnant here or there, or of a group in our nation who gives glory to Christ and His Word, let us also be thankful for when God answers these prayers and acts for the good of mankind, guiding them to His grace.

And so, in conclusion, we ask, why does God charge congregations to do this, to pray for all men and their leaders? Every individual Christian knows that this is acceptable to pray for. And as a congregation, God finds it good and acceptable, the God who is our Savior from our sins. This God desires all men to be saved! And how are they saved? They come to the knowledge of the truth found in the Gospel of Christ. God wants the message of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection to go forth to save all men. This is our Savior God and how He works. He therefore is pleased by seeing His people asking Him and thanking Him for setting up the perfect grounds for spiritual growth. Praying for all people to come to faith, and praying for leaders to work in God’s favor will set up the perfect formula for God’s saving Word to bring salvation for all men. Therefore, as God has dispelled our foolish notions and has shown us His grace in His saving word, the Holy Spirit then has lifted the box lid to let the seemingly little prayers of our church go forward towards God that He may impact all nations with His Word. May the Hand of God which satisfies the desire of every living thing lead millions in our nation and every nation to the hands of our Savior Jesus that they may see the knowledge of the truth—their salvation found on the cross. And thanks ever be to God that such a big impact can be made by even the littlest of groups who pray to Him to work His power and grace among our nation and all nations. Amen.