Sunday, July 29, 2018

Speaking the Word of Faith

Luke 7:1-10
Introduction: George Mueller was a great man of faith. He believed in the greatness of God and prayed accordingly. A Christian steamship captain, a contemporary of George Mueller, once told of an experience involving Mueller’s great faith. While sailing off the coast of Newfoundland in extremely heavy fog, Mueller came to him and said, “Captain, I need to tell you that I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon. “The captain told him that it was simply not possible, due to the weather conditions. Mueller said, “Very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way, for I have never missed an engagement in fifty-seven years.
            Let’s go down to the chartroom to pray. “Again, the captain protested, saying, “Mr. Mueller, do you realize how dense the fog is?” “No,” replied Mueller, “my eye is not on the dense fog but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.” The captain then told how Mueller knelt down and prayed one of the simplest prayers he’d ever heard.
            When he finished, the captain himself started to pray. But to his surprise, Mueller put his hand on the captain’s shoulder and told him not to pray. “First,” he said, “you do not believe God will answer, and second, I believe He has. Consequently, there is no need whatsoever for you to pray about it. Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been even a single day that I have missed an appointment. Get up, Captain, and open the door, and you will see that the fog is gone. “The captain got up, opened the door, and sure enough, the fog was gone. And George Mueller made his appointment for Saturday afternoon in Quebec.”[1]
            Our society has been obsessed by the use of an ancient Greek word as a type of prefix. The Greek word is mega which means great. We believe the bigger the better. Think about it. We use mega a great deal. For example:  Mega-mall, Mega-Phone, Megabytes, Mega-size drinks, Mega Bucks, Megachurches etc. But the real deal is that we are to be people of mega-faith. We need people who will live out a lifestyle of mega-faith, and confidently speak the word of faith.  
            We have been on a journey to learn about faith by observing the lives of people in the Bible. The faith of four friends helped a paralytic to experience healing and salvation.  The desire of the disciples to grow in their faith taught us, that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. We learned that Biblical faith comes by hearing the words of God. Last week we learned the importance of not remaining in our doubtful stage but to cry out to God to help us with our doubts. Today we will look into the story of a Roman Centurion and his faith. Luke 7:1-10. Let’s unpack this story verse by verse.
I. A Master’s concern for his servant (1-3)
            In the passage we read, Jesus confirmed what he had been teaching earlier on the Mountain by curing someone from a distance, that was the centurion’s servant. Jesus came down from the mountain and entered Capernaum. What do we know about Capernaum? It was an ancient fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in northeastern Israel. Capernaum was one of the most prominent towns of Jesus’ life. It is mentioned 16 times in the Gospels and was the site for much of His teaching and many of His miracles. Matthew calls Capernaum Jesus’ “own city.”[2] It was Jesus’ ministry head quarter. We will pick up our story from here.
            Vs 2, “There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die.” The context shows that this centurion or the captain of hundred men is a Gentile.
            We neither know his name, nor whether he worked for Herod Antipas the Tetrarch. However, the passage does reveal his nature, beliefs and the noble acts he did for the nation and the town of Capernaum. This man had a servant who was sick and at the verge of death. By his account we know that this servant has earned his master’s trust and was very valuable to him.        Vs3, “When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant.” The centurion had probably heard how Jesus had healed the son of his fellow-townsman in Galilee which is not too far from Capernaum. (John 4:46-54). He wanted to make an appeal to Jesus on behalf of his servant instead of going himself directly he sent some of the elders of the Jews to Christ, to represent the case, and solicit for him. Why?
            He may have thought he was an uncircumcised Gentile, and Christ, being a prophet, would not care for conversing with him let alone come into his house. For that reason, he sent Jews, not ordinary Jews but elders of the Jews, persons in authority. This tells us the measure of respect this man had in the community, that the Jewish elders would be willing to plead his case.     Observe the way the elders were recommending the centurion to Jesus. Vs 4, “When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” Firstly, “This man deserves to have you do this.” Can you understand the implications of that statement?  In those days, it was rather unusual for the Jews to relate with, and speak highly of uncircumcised Gentiles.
            Secondly, they said, “he loves our nation,” which few of the Gentile did. Probably he had read the Old Testament, learned about how certain kings were kind and favorable towards those they conquered, and vice-versa certain Jews appreciated God fearing gentiles. Thirdly, they said, “he has built our synagogue.” Some Gentiles like this centurion became sponsors of local synagogues. The ruins of Capernaum show the ruins of a synagogue.
            It was a beautiful structure, built of white limestone. It shows by its architectural features that it was built in the time of the Herods. The centurion may have had his share in building it. After that heavy recommendation Jesus decided to visit the centurion’s home.

II. The Humility & Faith of the Centurion: (6-8)
            Quite a few centurions were mentioned in the N.T, all of their characteristics are to be admired. (Matt 27:54, Acts 10:2; 23:17-18; 27:43) This centurion is one among them. His By reading his responses and faith declaration we can conclude that God may have been working on this man for quite some time prior to his encounter with Jesus.  When Jesus was not too far from the house, the centurion sends his friends to spare him the trouble of coming to his house.    Vs 6-7, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.” This shows his humility. Vs 7b-8, “But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

            By addressing Jesus, as “Lord,” he acknowledged the authority of Jesus. And the statement, “But say the word, and my servant will be healed,” tells us that the centurion knew how the power and authority of the words of the Roman lords works. Whatever they say and want will be done. In line of that tradition he approached Jesus with confidence.
            He believed in his heart that Jesus can do any and everything. He recognized the power in the words of Jesus so he said just say the word and that will be sufficient. Notice what he said about his servant’s healing. There is no ambiguity, and no going back and forth. He didn’t say he may be healed, or someday he will be healed, but he said emphatically, “he will be healed.”  That is called speaking the word of faith. That is exercising his absolute confidence in Jesus.
            Vs 9, “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Pay attention to the word “amazed or marveled.”! It is amazing to note that, Jesus expressed amazement only twice in the Newt Testament. Here in this passage because of the faith of an uncircumcised Gentile. The second time because of the lack of faith of many, including his followers in his hometown. (Mark 6:6) The centurion has earned a honorable badge saying, “he was a man of great faith.”
            Why did Jesus turned to the crowd and made this bold declaration? So that they will take note of the great examples of faith, especially from those who do not necessarily follow him. Believe me, at times the unbelievers whom we call, “non-Christians or the heathen” seem to exhibit more faith in God, than the so-called church going Christians. Let’s not pride in ourselves being Christians and look down upon those who have not yet become the followers of Christ.  You will never know on whose heart the Holy Spirit is tugging and drawing them to the truth.
            As Jesus himself acknowledged, John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” Saving people is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to pray for the salvation of the unsaved and try our best to live out a lifestyle of faith in our great God. What made this centurion to stand apart from the rest? What brought healing to his servant? Was it his knowledge of scriptures, or all his good works?

            The centurion’s faithful servant was healed, instantly without Jesus visiting his home and laying his hands on him, because his master dared to believe in the power of the words of Jesus and exercised his faith by speaking the word of faith. Remember he said, “Just say the word and my servant will be healed.” This is the difference between those who keep begging God to do a miracle and those who believe in the power of Christ and confidently speak the word of faith.
            The big take away from this story is not how much you know of the bible, but whether or not you are exercising faith by taking steps according to His Word. God is not impressed by people who only simply believe in Him but by those but those who tenaciously hold on to his word and confidently speak the word of faith. These are the ones who will earn a badge of “Great men and Women of Faith. God is pleased by such faith and is not ashamed to be called their God. We find many such examples in Hebrews chapter eleven. They encourage us to speak the word of faith in our own struggles and trails. How do we do it practically?
            Romans 10:8-10, “But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart… If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
            This confession of faith gets you on a journey of faith, on this journey you may face opposition, hard times, and challenging situations. What gets you through those times? When you face sickness, speak the words of faith, “By his wounds I am healed.” Isa 53:5. When you face opposition speak, “If God is for me who can be against me.” Romans 8:31.
            If you are afraid, speak, “I am not afraid for I have been redeemed. God knows my name. I am his property. When I pass through the rivers I will not be drowned, when I walk through the fire I will not be burned, because He is with me” Isaiah 43:1-2. If we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can speak to the mountains to move (difficulties in our lives). Are you facing mountains? What is stopping you from exercising your faith? Trust in the Lord. Do not be afraid to speak the word of faith. God will move those mountains from your path. So, what are you waiting for? The word of God is near you, it is in your mouth. Don’t hesitate, believe in the power of Christ, take a confident step and speak the word of faith. Amen!

[1] L.B. Cowman, Streams in The Desert, edited by James Reimann, published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan; pgs. 314 & 315[2]

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Help Me With My Doubts

Help Me with My Doubts!
Mark 9:14-29 
           The amazing story of Charles Blondin, a famous French tightrope walker, is a wonderful illustration of what true faith is. Blondin's greatest fame came on September 14, 1860, when he walked across the mighty Niagara Falls. People from both Canada and America came from miles away to see this great feat. He walked across, 160 feet above the falls, several times... each time with a different daring feat - once in a sack, on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark, and blindfolded. One time he even carried a stove and cooked an omelet in the middle of the rope!
            A large crowd gathered and the buzz of excitement ran along both sides of the river bank. The crowds went wild as Blondin carefully walked across - one dangerous step after another - pushing a wheelbarrow holding a sack of potatoes. Then at one point, he asked for the participation of a volunteer. Upon reaching the other side, the crowd's applause was louder than the roar of the falls! Blondin suddenly stopped and addressed his audience:
            "Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?" The crowd enthusiastically yelled, "Yes! You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world. We believe! “Okay," said Blondin, "Who wants to get into the wheelbarrow.” The crowds went silent! no one dared to step in that wheel barrow at that time![1] So, Blondin turned to his manager Harry Colcord.  “Harry, do you believe I can carry you across?”  “Yes”, said Harry, “I know you can.”  “Then climb on!”  And Harry became the only man who was ever carried across the raging Niagara Falls by his friend since he was the only man with real faith in Blondin.
            This unique story illustrates a real-life picture of what faith actually is. The crowd watched these daring feats. They said they believed. But... their actions proved they truly did not believe but were imprisoned to their doubts and fears. Similarly, we say we believe in God, come to church regularly, hear faith building stories and messages. However, when it comes to entrusting all of our life into the hands of Jesus Christ, and believe that he can forgive, heal, and provide for our needs we get paralyzed by our doubts.
            Today we will look at a story where Jesus once again proved that nothing is impossible for him, while harshly rebuking the unbelieving crowds and helping a desperate father who was plagued with his own doubts. Mark 9:14-29. Here is the background of this story. In the first twelve verses of chapter nine, Mark records one of the most spectacular events in the gospels, the transfiguration of Jesus on a mountain. For the very first time Jesus’ three closest disciples witnessed the transformation of Jesus and his conversation with Moses and Elijah. They heard the affirming voice of God the father that said, “This is my son, the one I love. Listen to him!
            Peter thought of capturing this rare event, suggested to build three shelters one for Jesus, one for Moses and Elijah. But Jesus knew his mission was not yet accomplished so he instructed them not tell this event to anyone until he has been raised from the dead. Then four of them made their way down to the other nine disciples. There they saw a large crowd, and legal experts arguing with the disciples. Jesus asked, what’s all this fuss about? Let’s pick our story from here.

I “O, Unbelieving Generation!”
            Vs, 17-19, “A man out of the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn’t.” The answer of this father evoked a sharp response from Jesus.    Jesus replied, “O, unbelieving generation, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

            The word “generation” indicates that Jesus ‘exasperation was not merely with the father of the boy, or the nine disciples but also with the unbelieving scribes, who were no doubt gloating over the disciple’s failure.
            We see here Jesus’ frustration with people who in spite of seeing many miracles remained unbelieving. At one-point Jesus denounced his home town Capernaum for their refusal to believe him as the messiah. Matthew 11:23, “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” This scripture indicates that Jesus was particularly upset about the hardness and the unbelieving heart of the people of his own home town where he performed a great deal of miracles. Let’s translate this into our context.
            What would Jesus think and say about our generation? What would he say about Christians everywhere who in spite of seeing Christ’s power remain doubtful? What would he say about the members of Hope Church who even after seeing God’s intervention, provision, restoration and healing yet refuse to surrender their lives to the Lordship of Jesus?  Hope none of us are included in that harsh rebuke of Jesus that is aimed at unbelieving people.

            Though the crowds, the teachers of the law, the father of the boy and his own disciples have failed to see and recognize the power and the authority of Jesus, but the evil spirit knew who Jesus really was. During Jesus’ ministry the evil spirits recognized Jesus from a distance. Remember on one occasion a demon actually spoke through a man?
            Mark 1:24, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” I John 3:8, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” Yes, when Jesus died on the cross and rose again he has defeated Satan and put a dent into his works on the earth. One day he will completely and permanently destroy Satan and all his followers forever. For more on this matter read my sermon series on “The Lord’s Prayer.”
            In the passage we read, a father brings his son who was being tormented by an evil spirit from childhood. This particular evil spirit was powerful, violent and a dangerous one. It made this boy mute. Besides that, the evil spirit would throw him in to the fire and water with an intention to destroy him. When the boy was brought before Jesus the real confrontation begins. When the evil spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into convulsion, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.” Listen to the tone of the father.
            Vs 18, “So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” The disciples’ failure to cast this particular evil spirit is surprising, in light of the power granted them by Jesus earlier. Mk 3:14-15, “And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons.” Mk 6:13, “And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.” Yet on this occasion, they could not cast out this particular demon why?
            The following sentence explains the desperate nature of the situation and the helplessness of a father. The father said to Jesus, “if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Listen to this interesting back and forth conversation between a helpless father and Jesus.

            One could only Imagine what this poor father must have been going through. The father’s statement explains the gravity of the situation. The demon has caused much harm to the boy. He may have been disfigured from burn scars, and possibly further ostracized because of them. His situation also created a hardship for his family, who would have to watch the boy constantly protect him from harm. They have tried everything to find relief from this situation, including brining the boy to the disciples and asking them to heal him, but his disciples couldn’t help.
            So, out of such desperation the father said, “if you could do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Apparently, this father had given up all hope. The issue here however is not whether Jesus can heal this boy but it is does the father believe that he can. It is not about Jesus’ lack of power, but it is about the lack of faith of the father. Though Jesus often healed apart from the faith of those involved in this particular situation, he chose to emphasize the power of faith.
            Jesus said, If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” In other words, if you can believe I can heal your son then you will see a miracle. Immediately the father cried out, “I believe, help my unbelief.” In the Message, it reads, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” The father here represents a much bigger and wider problem of unbelief. 
            As we look through the pages of the Bible many struggled with unbelief. God had to rebuke the nation of Israel for their lack of faith in Him in spite of all the great wonders He had performed. It was the same situation during Jesus’ time, the crowds and the disciples had a hard time believing in Jesus, and a similar pattern seems to continue even today. Who among us never had any doubts about God, Jesus, salvation and about what he says about life and the life to come claims of the Bible? We all did, and we may continue to struggle with doubts from time to time. If you are struggling with doubts right now, you are not alone, welcome to the club.
            In the story the father on one hand believed, but on the other hand recognized his own unbelieving heart, so he cried out saying, “Help me with my doubts.” I think it is a good prayer to pray. Jesus responded to that prayer and rebuked the evil spirit to leave that boy and never to enter him ever again. The evil spirit came out after violently convulsing the boy, and the boy looked like as though he was dead. Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. When he came into the house the disciples asked him a question that had been bothering them since the beginning of this encounter. Why couldn’t we drive it out?  Jesus replied, this kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.
            He said this to emphasize the fact that certain confrontations from the evil spirits require persistent prayer coupled with fasting, as he himself fasted for 40 days and prayed when he faced Satan in the wilderness. Similarly, certain difficult situations and problems we encounter in our own lives require persistent prayer and fasting before we can see a break through. Let me conclude this message with the following statements: There is nothing impossible for God, He can do all things. If only we believe we will see the glory of God.
            The evil spirits are powerful but remember Jesus who lives in our hearts is greater than all the power of the evil spirits put together. Are you facing a desperate situation? Are your feeling helpless? Bring it to Jesus, let him handle it, ask him for his mercy and compassion. Are you plagued with doubts? It is OK to have doubts, but do not remain in your doubts, exercise your faith, cry out to Jesus, “Lord help me with my doubts” It is a powerful prayer, repeat it as often as you need it, and you will see Jesus delivering you from the evil one. Amen!


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Growing In Your Faith

Faith Builders Series Luke 17:1-6, 7/15/2018
           It was 1985, for the very first time in my life I left my small hometown where I and went to a big city called Madras, in India to do a Discipleship Training School with YWAM. Away from my Mom and Dad, everything was new and strange. In the first week of my training, on a Saturday some one told me that I got mail. I picked my mail and opened the envelop and to my surprise I found a 100 rupees bill equivalent of two US dollars and a note which read, “Francis we love you, trust God for your all your needs and finances.”
            It was simple yet powerful. For the first time someone told me that I could actually trust God for money. Up until that time I always looked to my Mom and Dad for all my financial needs just like any son who grows up in the east would do. But from now on my heavenly father is calling me to trust him for all my needs including finances. That was the beginning of my journey of faith. Along the way I have learned a lot of lessons of faith and I am still learning.
            Last week we have learned in the story of the healing of a paralytic man that Jesus was impressed by the simple faith that was in the eyes of the paralytic and his four friends. Seeing their faith Jesus said, Son your sins are forgiven pick up your matt and go home.
            It was faith in Jesus that brought about the greatest miracle of all, which is the salvation of that man’s soul along with it also physical healing to his paralyzed body. Today, we will look at some questions pertaining to FAITH. What is faith? Where does faith come from? What does the Bible say about faith? How can we grow in faith? Luke 17: 1-6.
            A man slipped and fell of a cliff while hiking on a mountaintop. Luckily, he was able to grab a branch on his way down. Holding on for dear life, he looked down only to see a rock valley some fifteen hundred foot below.
            When he looked up it was twenty feet to the cliff where he had fallen from. Panicked, he yelled, “Help! Help! Is anybody up there? A booming voice spoke up. “I am her, and I will save if you believe in me.” The young man said, who are you? The voice said, “I am God.” The young man yelled, I believe; I believe! Then the voice said, “if you believe me, let go of the branch and then I will save you.” The young man hearing what the voice said, looked down again. Seeing the rock valley below, he quickly looked up and shouted, “Is there anybody else up there!” Really! Who else will be up there other than God; If God can’t save us who will?
            When it comes to understanding faith, no one can better explain it other than our Lord Jesus Christ. It was said of him in Hebrews 12:2-3 “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
            Someone said, “Life is a never-ending struggle. But to give up, to give into helplessness or resignation or paralysis, is to die when we are still alive. And who wants to do that?”[1] If we don’t want to grow weary in our struggles we are to look to the founder and perfecter of our faith. Rightly, so in the passage we read the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Increase our Faith.” The came to the right person with a right question but with a wrong perception.
            Somehow, they thought that Jesus can increase their faith. Jesus was not at all impressed with their request of him to increase their faith. He was indignant that, in spite of seeing all the miracles he performed they failed to recognize Him as God and believe in Him that he was indeed the messiah of the world. So, Jesus, taught them this basic principle of Faith.

            According to a dictionary definition, faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something. It is belief, confidence, conviction; and optimism. A strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, church, sect, denomination, ideology etc. What is biblical faith then?          First, let’s look at what biblical faith is not. It is not some wishful thinking. By definition wishful thinking is, “when the desire for something to be true is used in place of/or as evidence for the truthfulness of the claim” For example, if say, “I know in my heart of hearts that our home basketball team Celtics will win the NBA championship this year.” The truth of the matter is, No! I don’t know, what is my heart of hearts anyway? This is classic wishful thinking. I just wanted my home team to win so I make it sound like it is true and it is going to happen for sure. 
            Biblical faith is not presumption. Presumption means jumping to conclusions. It is taking something for granted, an idea, an answer, an event without having any real knowledge about it, and that is usually not a good thing. For instance, we can presume on God’s protection. We know that scripture says in Psalm 91:11, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Based on this scripture thinking that nothing will happen to me even if I jump from the top of a ten-story building, probably that is not a good idea, the law of gravity will prevail
            Biblical faith is not a man made “name it and claim it gospel.” Another name for this gospel is, “health and wealth” or prosperity gospel. Unfortunately, these days many gospel preachers are twisting the truth of the gospel for their own financial gain and deceiving many Bible believing Christians. They are preaching a gospel of wealth, health and prosperity, in contrary to what Christ has taught us pertaining to such matters. Therefore, it is imperative for Christians to know what the Bible says faith is, and how it works in our day to day life.
            A clear definition of biblical faith is found in Hebrews eleventh chapter. Which can be called, “the Hall of fame of faith.” It lists the names of the heroes and heroines of faith. The bible defines faith as, the substance, or the base of all of life. Hebrews 11:1-2 “Now faith is the assurance (substance) of things hoped (expected) for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval (obtained a good testimony).”
            Life is full of hopes. What is hope? It is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. For example, high school seniors hope to get to finish their school and get into a first-class college. Once they graduated they hope that they will land into a job that pays six figured salary. In the mean time they hope to meet and marry their perfect dream girl or a boy.         Once they are married they hope to have ten children, buy nice home, and peruse the all-American dream. But what is the substance for their hopes? What is the evidence of the things they haven’t yet seen but they hope and wish that they would happen?  It is having faith in God.
            Biblical Faith is the vehicle that will carry our hopes and dreams into the presence of the almighty God who loves us and wants the best for our lives, which may vary from person to person. Biblical Faith is not about what we can make it happen, but it is about resting and relying the assurance of God’s promises. It is not putting our trust in things but in the person of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul encourages Corinthian believers to put their faith in Jesus Christ alone.
            II Cor 1:18-20, “As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
            Faith always begins with, sustained by and ends in God. God is the one who gives us faith. It is a free gift to all those who belong to him. If you are a born-again Christian, you have already been given a measure of faith. In other words, you don’t have to look elsewhere, or ask God for faith, it has already been given to you and it is in you. Consider these scriptures:
            Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” This scripture says that no one has more faith than the others in the body of Christ. It is the spiritual gift the Holy Spirit gives each believer. We all have been given the same measure of faith, how much faith is it?  Jesus quantified faith that each of us were given by answering the request of the disciples, “Increase our faith.”
            Vs 5-6, “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” In another parable Jesus compared the kingdom of God to “a mustard seed, Matthew 13:31-32 “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” In both these incidents Jesus used the analogy of a muster seed to explain how faith grows and the kingdom of God operates. Have you ever seen a mustard seed?
            Those coming from the east would know what I am talking about. It is very common in Indian cooking to use mustard seed as garnishing in curries. It is a tiny seed. In the region of Israel there are three species of the mustard plants were common.
            One of them is the black mustard, Sinapsis nigra, is specifically singled out and cultivated as a condiment. Each of these species produces an extremely small seed, and all of them in favorable soil conditions and climate grow to an impressive size. While four feet tall is an average maximum height, noted examples of the Sinapis nigra have been in the range of ten to fifteen feet in height.”[2] What is the meaning of the mustard seed analogy?
            God has given each of us faith the size of a mustard seed to begin with. When we take that seed of faith into our hearts and let it grow through continual exercise and application in time our faith will become like a tree of blessing to many. Where does such faith come from?
            In Romans10:17 we read, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” In another farm parable Jesus compared God’s word to the seed. (Luke 8:11) The key to growing in faith is taking God’s word, believing it with all our heart and appropriating for our difficult situations and circumstances.  Let me share a few faith builders. Are struggling with finances, don’t know where the money will come from to pay your bills and debts.?
            Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” In my life I have seen God come through over and over and provided for my needs. Are you anxious and fearful about your present and the unknown future? I Peter 5:7, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Are you searching for a Job?
            Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Are you lonely and discouraged? Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you?” I can go on and on with scriptures, but it won’t do any good unless you believe in them and take those small steps of obedience then you will see your faith grow. Like with everything else in life, Faith starts small and grows big in time. May the Lord help us all to take those small steps of Faith today. Amen!

[1] Naomi Levy, “Hope will Find You.” Page XI Preface