Saturday, December 16, 2006

"Mustard" to Action

"The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!' He replied, 'If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, "Be uprooted and planted in the sea," and it will obey you.'" -- Luke 17:5-6 (NIV)

The Mustard Seed. Jesus used it as an object lesson at least three times in recorded Scripture. The first is a parable, telling of the man who took that tiny seed and planted it in his field, so it grew and became a sturdy tree.

Twice He spoke of it clearly to His disciples as an analogy to faith. In the above passage, as they were requesting more faith, Jesus responded that their mustard seed faith, if put to use, could uproot a mulberry tree. On another occasion, when they were unable to cast out a demon, Jesus scolded them for lacking faith because, as He said, if they used their mustard seed of faith, they could move an entire mountain.

Jesus has woven this common thread about the mustard seed into a tapestry of truth. As the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 2, God has dealt to each of us a measure of faith, and the implication is that, although we may not all have the same amount, we definitely have some.

But, the hinge point of the matter is what we do with that faith. “Show me your faith by your works, else it is dead faith,” James declares. Back to the mustard seed, we see the farmer in the parable take his seed and plant it so it grows. We see Jesus encouraging the disciples not to bemoan the smallness of their faith, but to put it to use felling the forests of doubt. And later, he reproves them for still not learning to put their faith to use moving the mountains of the enemy.

Why do God’s people shrink from adversity and box at shadows when, by now, we should be putting to flight the armies of the alien? God has an investment in his children, and He expects a handsome return. As with all things in His universe that speak of potential, He begins with a seed. A mustard seed. If we will but plant that seed–set its potential in action, no matter how initially small–then it will grow in strength and be well rewarded.

Search the Scriptures, and find this principle restated in a dozen ways.

Proverbs 4:18

"The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day." Start down the path, one step at a time.

Matthew 25:23

"His lord said to him, Well, good and faithful bondman, thou wast faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things." Plant the mustard seed, He will see to the tree.

Matthew 24:46-47

"Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods." Act now, for He is watching and wanting to reward our faith.

Revelation 3:8

"I know your deeds…I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." When the going gets tough, Jesus notices our steadfastness.

It is often said that heroism is not the absence of fear, but the courage to act in spite of that fear. Hebrews chapter 11, Faith’s Hall of Fame, speaks of God’s heroes down through the ages, while chapter 12 tells us that these same heroes are a living “cloud of witnesses” watching to see what we will do, how we will serve the purposes of God in our generation!

These were men and women of like passion as ourselves; that is, they ate their soup one spoonful at a time just as we do. They had the same mustard seed of faith that we do; in fact most of them were handicapped in that they did not have the Holy Spirit anointing that’s available to us.

So what was different about these heroes? What made them achieve where others failed? Hebrews 11 tells us that their “weakness was turned to strength” when they acted. As each hero of faith is introduced, we see a mere human being. Then we see what a great journey of faith that human being realized by taking one step at a time—starting with the first step.

There is a first step ahead of us today.

What is it?

Shall we dare to take it?

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