In Matthew 17:14-21 (yep, still taking my little journey through Matthew lol), the story is told of a man who kneels before Jesus because his son is possessed with a demon. He’d taken his son to the disciples, and they couldn’t help him much, so now, he’s asking Jesus to do…something..anything, to help him. Jesus essentially does the deepest of sighs (because he knows why the disciples couldn’t help the boy), has the father bring his son, casts out the demon, and the boy was set free. The disciples are a little confused (and possibly in their feelings), so they go to Jesus and say “wh…wh….why couldn’t we do that?” Jesus tells them that their unbelief restricted their power, and proceeds to tell the well known mustard seed example of faith (if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains). That infamous mustard seed is what I want to start our chat off with today, because we make it sound so…simple, and elementary.
To me, mustard sized faith sounds so...easy. However, in reality, mustard seed faith can be pretty hard to achieve sometimes. It’s also important to know that I believe that you can have different levels of faith for different areas of your life. I think that we can have a mountains of faith to believe that God can work a miracle for somebody else, or that He can restore our joy in the dry seasons of our lives…and have half a mustard seed when the time comes to believe that He’ll work in our finances. Ok, now that the ground work is done, let’s build some faith up, and go on about our various days, k?…k. There are a few things that I believe we all need to know about 'mustard seed' faith.
1. Mustard Seed Faith is Hard to Reach. Getting to the ‘mustard seed’ is a process in & of itself. We make it sound so simple: “if you can have thiiiisss *presses my fingers together to make an invisible line or circle* amount of faith in God, you can look at your mountain, & tell it to get out of your way, & it’s got to MOVE!!!” It almost sounds as simple as 1 + 1, right? It sounds natural, like something that we should all be able to do at any point of the journey. Yet, for some people, having mustard seed faith is like calculus or ridiculous trigonometry, because there’s so much in the way. Doubt gets in the way. Previous experiences can get in the way. What happened the last time we tried this can get in the way. I’ve learned a lot from watching other people do things (and mess up). So for people like me, watching other people fail at something God wants us to do gets in the way. Not being able to see God can get in the way for some people. Life…gets in the way. Because regardless of how magical we make it sound, faith is hard, and it makes you look foolish. It’s hard to look at the Mount Everest of your life and say “yo! you need to move to the left, because you’re in my way”, AND expect it to move. If the disciples didn’t have mustard seed faith, why do we make it sound like it automatically comes in some ‘new Christian’ package? These are the men that walked with Jesus for years, followed Him everywhere, listened to Him daily, and documented the story of His death, burial, and resurrection. They are also the men who didn’t have enough faith to move a mountain (or a demon). If THEY didn’t have mustard seed sized faith, literally in the face of Jesus, why do we make it sound like it’s something that should always be automatic?
2. Mustard Seed Faith is the Minimum for Your Mountain. Most of us know that without faith, it’s impossible (not just extremely unlikely) to please God, but in order to move the mountains, you’re going to need to get to the mustard seed level of faith. That’s the basic requirement. We can’t get mad at the mountain (or at God) for not moving when we really didn’t expect it to budge in the first place. Now, since it’s impossible to please God without faith, and mustard seed faith is something that some of us have (or had) to work towards, I’m inclined to believe that there’s something in between (kind of like steps). This tells me that you may be able to do things with smaller amounts of faith, you just can’t move mountains. You may be able to get a few annoyances out of your life, you just can’t seem to shake some strongholds. If this sounds familiar at all, I don’t want you to feel bad, you’re not in the worst of company. Once again, the disciples looked at Jesus every day for years. They served Him and everything! They did the work, but eventually, they were faced with something bigger than their faith. This wasn’t a sign that they should stop following Jesus, it was a sign that they needed to be more intentional when they followed Him. It was a sign to have a deeper hunger for Him. They needed to stay close to Him. We don’t all start in the same place, and that’s ok. Don’t have mustard seed sized faith? Do you need to grow a bit more? (say yes, we all need to grow, don’t lie lol) Well, let’s keep going…
3. Great Years Require Greater Levels of Faith. I believe that 2016 is going to be an amazing year for a lot of of us. I believe that it’s going to be the year that shifts some of us into our destinies. It’s going to be a year that promises become reality, and that lives are changed. It’s the year that we ‘level up’ in a lot of ways. I’ve heard a lot of ministers, preachers, etc. talk about the great things that God has in store for His people, and I believe that 2016 is a year that will exceed our expectations…but that requires us to have expectations. We can’t have the year that we shout about in church if we don’t have the faith to sustain it once we walk out of those doors. Going to church is only part of the process. A lot of people think that we can go to church, ‘name it and claim it’, and pull things out of the air until our arms are sore, and just like that, it’s done!…..but you’ve got to walk out of service & keep pulling. We go to church to get refilled. We go to church to hear testimonies (well, if testimony service is still a thing lol) about how God is yet working, and that He’s still faithful. In my life, the battle is rarely fought in church. I may get the strategy in church. I may get the energy in church, but the battle rarely ended with my little dance. We have a habit of getting hyped up on Sundays, and giving away all of that hype to the issue that hits us on Tuesday. That can’t happen this year. You can’t get the promise if you don’t have the faith to withstand the process. Your year will be as great as your faith. Most of the miracles (that I’ve read) were completed “according to [their] faith.” Jesus said what He needed to say to heal people. He did what He needed to do. However, the final step typically relied on the recipient’s faith. I can determine what you really believe by simply watching what you do (faith without works is dead). If I’m not expecting a package, I’m not going to run up to the UPS or FedEx truck every day. If I’m expecting somebody to disappoint me, I’m going to have (at least one) backup plan. The evidence of your expectation is in what you do. It’s the motivation behind your actions. Now, sometimes, there are things that simply stay between you and God. Therefore, you may not have an outward expression of faith, but you should still be able to internally see how your faith is working in your life. How can you increase or upgrade your faith? Well, that’s our next (and final) step…
4. Keep it Real (and Consistent). I can only tell you what has worked for me, and that is complete honesty. Jesus & I have a very simple conversations. I took people serious when they said He’d be a friend closer than a brother (lol). Therefore, I’ll tell God that there’s a part of me that believes what He said, and another part that wants to believe what He said…and another part that doesn’t believe because it’s terrified because I don’t like failing. Then, I ask Him to help my unbelief, because I know I can’t please Him with partial faith.
It also helps if you remember who you’re talking to & what He’s done. For example, I keep two glass bowls (or vases..whatever lol) in my home. One of them is what I call my ‘blessing bowl’. I write down the good things that have happened to me. I make note of the storms that I’ve come through, and how I came through them. Then, I fold them up, and drop them in the bowl. Every now & then, when life gets hard, and I feel like I won’t make it, I walk over to my ‘blessing bowl’, read a bit about a storm of the past, and remember that I have in fact come through something. I remember what that storm was like at it’s greatest point of pain, and realize that if God can take that pain, and turn into a few words on a piece of paper in a blessing bowl, He can definitely bring through my current struggle. The other bowl in my house…doesnt have a cute name yet (I’ll take suggestions though lol). However, it does have a purpose. I use that bowl to hold God’s promises. I always try to write down what God says to me when He speaks to me directly. So now, I write it down, and put it in my second (nameless) glass bowl. That way, I never forget what He said. I have dates & everything, because I don’t think you can have faith in something that you don’t remember. Occasionally , I go to that bowl & pick a random piece of paper. Sometimes, it’s a promise. Other times, it’s a word of encouragement. Regardless of the specific words, I know that it’s something that God told me. Therefore, it’s something that deserves my faith, because the promises that are in one bowl will soon be the contents of my blessing bowl. That’s already happened, so it helps me maintain, and upgrade my faith.
Determine what kind of year you want. Determine where you are, and more importantly, where you want to be. Upgrade your faith. Be honest with God. Remember what He’s done. Show Him that you believe whatever He said to you. Let’s have the faith that creates the year of our dreams.
Background Music: Help Me Believe - Kirk Franklin & Made a Way (Live) - Travis Greene
Words from the Author
At the end of the day, these posts are the thoughts that run through my mind. These are the lessons I've learned. The doors that I've walked through. The path I've chosen. This is part of what it means to be me. Hopefully, it'll help you be...you. Let's grow together, kay?
Church Decoded has been viewed over 15,000 times! FIF...TEEN....THOUSAND!....IN A YEAR! I am SO grateful to everybody that has ever read, shared, and/or liked a blog post. Ya'll have truly blown my mind. Let's keep telling (our lives) His story!