Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mustard Seed Sized Faith

When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth? What is faith and what does it have to do with believing in God? Must I have faith in order for God to work in my life? Will He answer all my prayers if I have faith? What can I do to have more faith in God? 

We’ve probably all struggled with faith at various times in our lives. Even the disciples of Jesus grappled with the idea of faith and they walked with Him daily. Several times Jesus told them their faith only had to be the size of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20, Luke 17:6). Really? Do you know the size of a mustard seed? Take a look and consider the proportion of your faith. 

Jesus says that’s all the faith you need. Do you believe Him? The disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith (Luke 17:5). Will you ask Him to increase your faith? Let’s examine the lives of some New Testament people with mustard seed-sized faith and discover what happened to them.

1 - When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. 

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. [But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”] Matthew 17:14-21 (NASB) 
2 - When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:14-29 (NASB)
3 - As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.”  And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them: “See that no one knows about this!” But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout all that land. Matthew 9:27-31 (NASB)
4 - On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19 ESV
These verses contain so much information that a complete interpretation would be impossible in this post. We’ll discuss the four stories above while focusing on three topics: God’s power, His mercy, our faith, and thanksgiving. Our God is a big God who created heaven and earth; He is capable of anything. His mercy flows from the love He has for His people; in blood, mercy poured down a cross that was meant for us, not Him. Our faith may be small or it may be large, but Jesus says if it’s only the size of a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for us. By the way, a mustard seed grows into a sturdy sizable tree. Faith’s beginnings may be minute, but with added belief, it will grow substantially.
In the first story, Jesus talked to the disciples about their faith. He said it only had to be the size of a mustard seed and then nothing would be impossible for them. But Jesus didn’t mean for them to put faith into their faith; He meant for them to put faith in God, and His intent for us is the same. Our God is the Creator of the universe. He gave us all life. He desires to bless us as a father longs to bless his children. If we have a big view of our big God, then we will find ourselves trusting Him more and more with our lives. We’ll soon believe that all things are possible with Him, transforming our mustard seed-sized faith into God-sized faith. And like the two blind men, we will be able to hear Jesus saying, “It shall be done according to your faith” (Matthew 9:29). 
The second story is a different account of the first story, concentrating on the power of Jesus. The father said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). Jesus responded by saying, “If You can? All things are possible to Him that believes” (Mark 9:23). Before this father stood Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Man of miracles. Did the father realize that he spoke to the One who created him, his son, and the crowds that surrounded them? Do we realize who He is when we speak to Him through prayer? Our Creator God has no limitations; He is God! No situation, no issue, no prayer is bigger than He. Scripture tells us that He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (Ephesians 3:20). He is able!
The third story immediately focuses on the mercy of God. Two blind men, realizing who Jesus was, followed Him and cried out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” Jesus asked them if they believed He could heal them and after they answered with a resounding yes, they were healed. All four Biblical accounts describe people who need God’s help, but before any miracle happens for them, they loudly call for the Lord’s mercy upon them. Even though it means the same thing, the father with the possessed son asked the Lord to take pity on them. Speaking the words ‘take pity’ or ‘have mercy’ humble us before a powerful God. It gives us pause to acknowledge God for who He is, giving Him adoration and praise while recognizing His many attributes, such as power, provision, and protection. Filling our lives with praise to Him gives us a prospective of His righteousness and our sinfulness. Then in humility we sinful beings beg mercy from our holy King, and He answers our faith-filled requests.
Similarly, the fourth story contains elements of the power of God, His mercy, and the faith of individuals, yet it adds another component to our relationship with the Almighty God. All relationships, even with God, should include thankfulness. Of the ten cured lepers, only one turned back to speak praise and thanksgiving to the Healer. We humans enjoy receiving thanks for the gifts we give; shouldn’t we also reason that God Almighty delights in and deserves thanksgiving and praise? Our thankfulness will please the Lord God.
What’s the size of your faith? God tells us He can work with mustard-seed sized faith. So believing yet sinful human beings should acknowledge a powerful God in humility, begging for His mercy while trusting in His ability. God’s Word teaches us that there are no limitations to what God can do. But if we have any doubts, we can pray with confidence, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” And our loving Savior will compassionately reply, “It shall be done according to your faith.” 
Will the Lord find faith on earth when He returns? He will when we strive for faithfulness, ask for more faith, give thanks, and believe the words Jesus declares to us:

“...if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. Matthew 17:20 (NASB)

“If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. Luke 17:6 (NASB)


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