Faith, It Grows

Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

But moving a mountain was just the beginning. Towards the end of His ministry Jesus promised His disciples (and us) that we "will do what [He] has been doing. [That we] will do even greater things than these because [He was] going to the Father."

And Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. Jesus kept His word but have we acted on it?

Have we planted our seed of faith to reap more faith in God?
Have we moved the mountain with the seed we have already been given?

In Matthew 25, Jesus shares a parable about the talents. Before a man leaves on a journey, he gives each of his servants talents. He gave five to one, two to another and one to the last. In the bible it says that each man was given "according to his ability." Then after their master leaves, each servant deals with his own lot. The one who received five went to work and doubled his talents. The one who received two did the same and got two more. But the last servant who got one hid his talent until the master returned.

When the master returned, the two servants, who profited from their deposit, pleased the master and were put in charge of more. However when the servant returned the one that he received, the master was infuriated, especially after hearing his servant's excuse,
"Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours."
The master then took the last servant's talent and gave it to the first, who now had an ability of ten talents, and threw the scared servant out.

God doesn't want us to be the servant full of fear. We are His image bearers. Every good and praiseworthy thing that reside within us are a reflection of His glory. We are not meant to be hidden. We are not meant to play it safe. Our lives are a beacon full of His light meant to bring the broken back home to Him.

And in order to do that we have to sow the seed of faith in our hands. It's only after that moment will God begin to stir even more faith inside of our hearts.

Sow for yourselves righteousness
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground; 
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until He comes and showers righteousness on you.
One encouraging thing from the Matthew 25 passage is that our faith can grow. The first two servants doubled their ability.

Your ability of faith won't stay the same. So don't compare your faith to that of another. That's not fair or conducive. Everyone has a different walk with God. The only thing that's the same is the God we serve. The way He is with one, He wants to be with you. But that takes time; don't give up.

Your level of faith has to change when you put your hope in God.
It won't stay the same.
It can't stay the same because what you believe God is able to do, He is willing to do more.
God is limitless: He will always surprise you, always out-give you.

So how do we grow?
  1. Ask: "Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7
  2. Lean on Him: Don't do this alone. Don't do it in your own strength. Don't rely on your ability. Remember you have access to all of Him. When you are weak, He is strong.
  3. Stand: Stand on His word even when it hurts, when it doesn't make sense, when it's easier to just walk away and quit, stand. Your knees may be shaking but His word is firm. It stands forever. He doesn't lie. He doesn't change His mind. You can stand, kneel, sit, you can lie down, if you have to; His word will never pull out from under you. You can rest in it.
  4. Pray: Talk to Him. Hand over your worries to Him. Then listen to Him. He wants to lead you, He wants to help you but you have to be open to Him. You don't have to beg Him for His attention. He's already captivated by you. He wants to share His heart with you.
  5. Walk in His word: "Faith, without works, is dead." James 2:17. A seed remains a seed if it remains in your hand. It's only when you put it in the ground does it grow. The same can be said of God's promises. It remains a promise, an outlandish idea, if you decide to camp outside of the promise land. But when you decide to walk towards what He has for you, then a harvest comes. 
  6. Know Him: The third servant did not sow his talent because he thought he knew his master. He had a small perspective of his master that caused him to act small with his talent. When you know God, you're able to see yourself clearly: all of who He is rests inside of you and nothing will scare you because "He who is inside you is greater than he who is in this world."

This post has been hard to write. I think God first brought the Hosea verse to my attention a month ago. The word righteousness was repeated twice in the same passage and I didn't realize it at first when I wrote about it two years ago. But what I felt Him saying this time around was "Believe in Me for this and I'll give you reason to believe in Me for more."

When you believe in God for something and He fulfills it, it gives you a chance to believe in Him for something else until there comes a time when it's in your nature to trust Him to be there for you, when you trust Him with your whole life even with all the bumps along the way.

When you sow faith, you reap more of it. You open yourself to more opportunities to trust in Him. And there will never be an end of it because God is inexhaustible. He has no limits.

I guess the difficulty I found in writing this was the seeds that were tight in my hands, the ones I have yet to plant. Writing these words convicted me and I would rather write from a safe place of already arriving. 

I have seeds in my hands and I'm scared to plant them cause who knows how they're going to turn out. But one thing He wanted to assure us of is that in the planting, in the toiling, in the plowing we will be met by His love, His faithfulness will be seen. 

We will see Him and know Him a bit better each and every time we plant.

No matter the outcome, He will meet with us and reveal Himself to us.

I think that's better than any harvest that could ever come from these seeds.

Mini Bites 41.0

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

That's what we all want- what I really want: to know God's will for our lives.

But it's not as cryptic as we sometimes make it out to be.
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities- His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen... Romans 1:20
And we know that God's will is tightly tied to His character. God will not do something that does not align with who He is.

So in order to know His will, we have to learn who He is.

When we have a crush on someone, we get a Ph.D in cyber-stalking our crush. We know their favorite color, the car they drive, where they go to school, if they are dating anyone and this is all without talking.

But then we have God's Word, the bible, the only book where the Author actively interacts with us, speaks to our heart while we're reading it and we sometimes couldn't be bothered to open up its pages.

God is not hiding. His will isn't difficult.
"You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord... Jeremiah 29:13-14
"Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8 
Come near to God and He will come near to you... James 4:8  
He wants to talk to us and He will when we make the time to talk to Him.

He's not far from us. God's already with us.
For in Him, we live and move and have our being... Acts 17:28
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things... Romans 11:36
We can't discover ourselves, we can't uncover our purposes outside of God because without Him we are nothing.

There is no way we can recognize God if we don't take the time to know Him.

Open up your bible, invite Him into your life and know that He will meet with you and talk with you.



It's always going to be like this...

How many times does a variation of this phrase whirl around your head?
How many times do you look around and convince yourself that there has been no progress, no change?
How many times have you given up because you've resigned to the fact that whatever this you're standing in will always be here?

How many times?

I have a bad habit of looking at my current circumstances and projecting them onto my future. At times, I can't make plans because I always think, if I don't have the money, time or resource now, I probably won't have it in the future.

My small mindset limits my vision to see the more that is possible.

And maybe it's not something that you do but something that you've been born into. You walked into a legacy, a tradition, a pattern that's entrenched into your family's history, embedded into your family's DNA that you know, more likely than not, it will pop up into your own life. And this norm influences the way you live.

To live in fear, to live stuck, to live small, to live on a hamster wheel, exhausted and getting nowhere.

There are three accounts (and countless others) where Jesus meets people in their habits, in their patterns and they have to choose: what's familiar or what Jesus has to offer.

1. The woman at the well

The samaritan woman leaves her house to draw water from the well. The town she lives in knows about her life. They know that she hops from relationship to relationship and the current man under her sheets wasn't even her husband. Intent to avoid hushed whispers and unabashed stares, the woman leaves home when the sun is highest, knowing that she'll be alone. But lo and behold, once she arrives, there's a man sitting on the well.

2. The man at the pool of Bethesda

He's been disabled for 38 years, he's alone and what's worst, for a long time, he's been a few feet away from his miracle. If only he could get to the pool first when the angel comes in the morning to stir the waters. But every time he got within an inch of the edge, someone else beats him to it and he has to wait for the next day. Then one day, the man looks up to see someone standing over him. And the person asks, "Do you want to get well?"

3. The woman caught in adultery

The Pharisees and the teachers must have been watching her for days. How else would they know where to find her? The man she was sleeping with must have made a deal with them. Why else would she be alone, dragged towards the center of the village with just a blanket that could barely cover her body, let alone her shame? They throw her at the feet of some man named Jesus, demanding to know what sentence she deserves. She watches her accusers pick up the stones. Everyone knows that this warrants death, they didn't need the input of this man. She braces herself but nothing comes. She lifts her head and finds Jesus looking at her. He asks, "Where are your accusers?"

In the middle of their normal, Jesus shows up.

In their routine, Jesus interrupts.

In these cases, they've settled into their lot, into what the world has offered them. Then Jesus comes and offers all of them something different.

He enters their usual, looks around and says that they didn't have to stay this way, that this is not the only way and showed them another: He showed them Himself, that He was the way, the truth and the life.

They thought that this was all there was but Jesus said no.

No, you don't have to hide in shame. No you don't have to do it like everyone else. No, you don't have to wait to be healed, to be filled from a broken cistern. No, you don't have to go back to your old ways, to your sins. No, you don't have to be okay with this. This is not here to stay.

Jesus came in and broke down cultural barriers and decorum.

He revealed to a Samaritan woman, an outsider, that He was the Messiah.
He told a lame man to walk.
He showed mercy and forgiveness to a sinner.

The world thought that they knew what to expect from the Savior but Jesus trumped everyone.
They thought they knew what He would do but He didn't come to condemn. Jesus came to love us.

He didn't hold Himself back from the outsider. He drew near.
He didn't push the man into the pool. He told him to stand.
He didn't sign her death certificate. He forgave her.

Jesus came into the world as God fleshed out into the form of a man and gave Himself up as the sacrifice. He came to redeem us from sin and death by taking on the wrath of God. He paid our price so that we can have His life. He died so that we could live. The nails that kept Him pinned to the cross were our sins, our insecurities, our fears, our this, whatever this got you thinking that you'll never change.

Jesus died for this and destroyed its hold on us. We are free.

We are subject to nothing but Him and His love, His mercy, His grace, His truth, His sovereignty.

This has nothing on us. If we are in Him then this has no power over us, no matter how this looks like.

Bonus: The woman with the issue of blood

It's been twelve years of blood rushing out of her. It's been twelve years of being an outcast, of people avoiding her, of being contagious. It's been twelve years of trying everything and I mean, everything. She's been to doctors. She tried all the home made remedies. All her money has been spent, investing in anything that can stop the flow. But nothing's worked and it's been twelve years. But in the middle of her despair, she hears the crowd rushing to the shore outside her village. And she hears that Jesus, the Jesus who heals, who saves and who frees, is coming here, to her neck of existence.

Like this woman, we know who Jesus is. We've heard what He can do.

And like us, this woman had to not only push through the crowd, but she also had to hurdle through twelve years of false hope, twelve years of doubt and twelve years of disappointment in order to get healed, delivered and freed from her this.

I don't care how long this has been with you, always remember that one touch, one second in His presence causes this to change.

So with this new year, be resolved to push through this because this lost its power to stop you.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14