#Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

Holding a small mustard seed in the palm of a hand.

As long as we have unsolved problems,
unfilled desires, and a mustard seed of faith,
we have all we need for a vibrant prayer life. 

—John Ortberg

Mustard seed faith is sometimes a difficult concept but one that is very important to understand. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds found in the Middle East, but that smallest of seeds grows into one of the largest plants. Jesus therefore used this illustration several times to show us that even the tiniest grain of true faith can do very great things.

14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus,
falling on his knees before Him and saying,

15 
“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.

16 
I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.”

17 
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.”

18 
And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him,
and the boy was cured at once.

19 
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”

20 
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.

—Matthew 17:14-20

We see here the central need of faith, without which nothing can happen. When Jesus spoke about removing mountains he was using a phrase which the Jews knew well. A great teacher, who could really expound and interpret scripture and who could explain and resolve difficulties, was regularly known as an uprooter, or even a pulverizer, of mountains. To tear up, to uproot, to pulverize mountains were all regular phrases for removing difficulties. Jesus never meant this to be taken physically and literally. After all, the ordinary man seldom finds any necessity to remove a physical mountain. What he meant was: “If you have faith enough, all difficulties can be solved, and even the hardest task can be accomplished.” Faith in God is the instrument which enables men to remove the hills of difficulty which block their path. —William Barclay

Beloved, having and holding onto true faith is difficult in hard circumstances, but it is possible. In our own physical strength we cannot move mountains. We can’t make something from nothing. We cannot by ourselves change someone’s heart and mind about something. These are under God’s care and control.

What it does mean is that if we rely on the fact that God knows what is best for us, we can rest on the assurance that His ways and means are perfect. And if we believe—have true faith—in that fact, we will be able to pray with a faith that will steadily grow.

Just like that tiny mustard seed.

We will then understand that what we may regard as unanswered prayers are actually part of God’s grand design to mold us into becoming who He wants us to be—completely and absolutely trusting that His ways are best.

This is Impossible for God to Do

This is from another of my favorite blogs, Radical, which:

exists to serve the church in accomplishing the mission of Christ…making disciples who make disciples who make disciples throughout the world – from our neighbors across the street to the unreached people groups across the globe – all for the glory of God.

Read on!
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in hope of eternal life,
which God, who never lies,
promised before the ages began.
—Titus 1:2

This is Impossible for God to Do

By David Burnette

It may surprise you to learn that there’s something God can’t do.

Of course, Jesus tells us that with God “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), and we certainly don’t want to deny that God is all-powerful or that he has all authority. No one can thwart his purposes (Daniel 4:35). Still, according to Scripture, there is something that God can’tdo, but it turns out that it’s actually for our good—he cannot lie. This attribute of God, his faithfulness, is the last of several snapshots we’ve taken of his character (see also God’s holiness, mercy, and wrath). To know that God “never lies” (Titus 1:2) should change the way we think about and respond to him.

Lies and Truth

It goes without saying that human relationships are often marked by unfaithfulness. Marriages, friendships, and businesses suffer as a result of dishonesty and deception. When it comes to our political leaders, we don’t even expect them to fulfill their campaign promises. Sometimes our unfaithfulness is intentional, but often we simply forget to do what we said, or else we are unable to keep our word due to circumstances or limitations. Whatever the case, we are often wary of placing too much confidence in people or institutions. Thankfully, we don’t need to be skeptical when it comes to God.

Read more here, and please spend some time looking around the awesome Radical site.

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Great is Your Faithfulness

Great is Your Faithfulness

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Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. —Lamentations 3:21-23

How often do we do things that disappoint the people in our lives?

Maybe we’ve made a promise that later we found we can’t keep. Perhaps we raise our voice in anger again even though we don’t mean to. And how about the times when a friend or family member tries to sympathize with our pain? They mean well, but you’re certain they just don’t understand. I’m sure you’ve wanted to tell them, “You have no idea what it’s like to be in this kind of pain every day.”

At this point, we have two choices: to dwell on our misery or get on with the business of life.

We can moan and groan about our circumstances so everyone is aware of how much we are hurting, or we can demonstrate God’s presence in our lives by rejoicing in the knowledge that He is faithful to be with us through our tough times.

I have a very close friend (you know who you are!) who is a good example of one who lets God shine through her in spite of her constant pain. She once shared her feelings about pain with me this way:

“It is just pain. It could be worse. I could be suffering with pain and dying. It is only pain. I can still live and make the most of my life, to extend myself as far as I can go, to reach for the stars, to do the unimaginable. The pain will still be there. So, why not celebrate?”

This dear friend is such an encourager. Her positive attitude is a beacon of light in the darkness of pain. Quite simply, she makes me smile no matter how awful I’m feeling.

Beloved, the Lord is our only hope! He knows exactly what our pain is like and He will help us through it “every morning; great is [His] faithfulness.” He understands how constant pain can undermine a positive attitude and make us feel hopeless. But He’s always with us, ready to offer His love and comfort: “therefore I have hope.” Won’t you please pray with me?

Heavenly Father, sometimes it’s so hard to be cheerful and hopeful when I’m feeling so rotten. It’s easier for me to just give up and let the pain take over. But, Lord, I know that You love me too much to let me feel this way. Thank You for what You are teaching me through these trials and for being with me always. Help me to let Your joy flow through me to touch the lives of others who may also be suffering. You are great and greatly to be praised! Amen.

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Faithfulness

Today I have another wonderful devotional by Patricia Knight to share with you. This one is from her book, Pure Joy.

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In my garden are many flowers. Oh, it is a beautiful sight, encompassing the whole back yard in the summertime. But, right now, in the deepest of winter cold, there is no evidence of any life under the deep snow and layers of protective mulch. But, I know the flowers, in their dormant stage, are there. I have faith that when warm weather arrives, the snow melts, and the mulch is removed, all of the glorious blooms of last year will return. I don’t understand the cycle. God certainly breathes life back into the seasonally dead flowers.

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“Faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Though we have never seen God, we believe in Him because He has given us evidence of His presence. All around us we are surrounded with His creation. Modern science has yet to duplicate many of His sophisticated creations.

As Christians, we don’t assign amazing happenings in our lives to luck. There is no luck, but only God talking with us and walking with us.

Faith is blind. God has a perfect plan for our lives, but He only reveals the details a little at a time. I wonder how many of us could be trusted with the weight of knowing what will happen in our lives in the future? I am predicting, not many of us. That is why faith is so important. God knows what routes and curves our lives will take in the future, but saves us from the burden of knowing. What a marvelous God is He! Each day, He gives us a bit more knowledge, and builds upon it with every succeeding day.

In the Old Testament, there are many “if/then” agreements between God and His people. There was an action, which produced a reaction. “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commandments, I will send you rain in its season”— (Leviticus 26:3). There were conditions to most of God’s promises so that He could build a personal, responsive relationship with His people.

Since Jesus died on the cross to absolve our sins, God commands that we live by faith. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1,2).

By exercising our faith in God, we become faithful, or we make faith a reality in our lives.

We become dependent, obedient, and joyful in our daily walk with God. It is not easy to be faithful. Without God’s help, it is impossible. But, we are told, with God’s help, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). God is the standard against whom we measure all our thoughts, words and actions. We learn faithfulness from God because God is first faithful to us. When God does what He promised, He is demonstrating His faithfulness to us. When we do what God requires of us, we are showing faithfulness in return. Our relationship is on a personal basis because the sacrifice of Jesus bridged the gap between sinful man and His Creator. If we accept Jesus into our lives to be our Savior and Lord, He only asks for our faithfulness. No other conditions are attached.

As if God weren’t faithful enough Himself, He gives us human examples to demonstrate how faithfulness works among our peers. Think about the faithfulness of Abraham. I still don’t understand how Abraham could even come close to offering Isaac upon the altar. But, he was faithful. He trusted God that He would show a love and mercy greater than Abraham’s would right at that moment. And, God didn’t disappoint him. You know the story (Genesis 22). It rings in our ears of a living example of what a man can do when energized with the power of God.

DanielLionsDen--AMPOr, how about the odds that Daniel faced? In spite of the new law restricting prayer, one really designed to trip up Daniel, he remained faithful to his God, and prayed as he always had. As a result, Daniel was thrown to the lions for his faithfulness. The hungry lions were powerless against his God. Still, he trusted. He remained faithful to God and witnessed to His glory among a savage people. And, God made him a great man.

To be abandoned by his brothers, sold as a slave, graduated to serve the king, and entrusted with a kingdom, only to be falsely maligned and thrown into prison, Joseph remained faithful. God, who had a plan for Joseph’s life, never forsook him. In the end, God rewarded Joseph’s faithfulness.

Do we have any more temptation today than those men of old did? I think not. The temptations were different, but there are no fewer of them. Everyday, we are bombarded with alluring come-ons. We are told to be faithful to our God, and He has promised to give us the power to resist temptation so that “we can flee the devil” (James 4:7).

One of my favorite Bible characters is Job. If anyone endured horrific losses, it was he. I am wondering if I could ever summon Job’s amount of strength? He gives me a challenging example. God gives me the strength. Pain, death, sorrows all plagued Job for no apparent reason. Reading of his triumph over all of it is an inspiration to me. Job remained faithful. I am commanded to do the same. Job was rewarded for his steadfastness when God returned all his losses, plus more worldly riches than he had before.

I know someday I will live in a heavenly home with streets of gold and fertile fields and prolific fragrant flowers. I will be in the very presence of God Himself, if I remain faithful. A pastor friend of mine frequently uses a haunting phrase: “Few Christians finish well.” I don’t want to be one of the casualties. I want to be faithful to the end. “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). May God give you the strength to remain faithful, no matter what the temptation.

“O Lord God Almighty, who is like you. You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you” (Psalm 89:8). No longer does law bind us, but we live by faith. Oh, that someday God will say to me as He did to the servants in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:23), “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness!”

Wow! To hear those words at the end of my days is a wish and a dream. May those words of Jesus also spur you on to a greater faith, with a closer daily walk with Him.

…..

PureJoyThank you again, dear Pat, for allowing me to share your heart here!

 

 

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Love in Action

 

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Love in Action

Love must be sincere.
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
 
Be devoted to one another in love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
 

Never be lacking in zeal,
but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord
.
 
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction,faithful in prayer.
 

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.
Practice hospitality.


Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
 
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
 
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
Do not be conceited.


Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
 
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone. 

Do not take revenge, my dear friends,
but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
 

On the contrary: 
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
 
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. 

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”


Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.
—Romans 12:9-21

 

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The Heart of Jesus [repost from Joni Eareckson Tada]

This wonderful devotional from Joni Eareckson Tada is from her Joni  and Friends web site.

Daily Devotional

Joni Eareckson Tada’s inspirational daily devotionals are biblical insights that will enrich,
enlighten, and encourage you in your walk with Christ Jesus.

“Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.”
—Lamentations 3:32-33

What do you think was on the Lord’s heart when He healed those who were paralyzed? When He opened the eyes of the blind? What was the Lord feeling when He counseled the father of the little boy who was gripped by seizures?

There are those who point to such miracles as signs of Christ’s messiahship, saying, “Jesus healed those people as evidence of His authority as the Son of God. By such power, He was proving He was the Messiah.” And they are right. But praise God, there is more.

Christ did not use helpless people to advance His own agenda. He did not enlist hurting men and women only as audio-visual aids to teach an important lesson about Himself. Neither did He approach blind, deaf, or paralyzed people in an emotional vacuum. Scripture often tells us that He was moved with compassion when He saw the hurting masses.

When it comes to suffering, Lamentations 3:32-33 reveals the heart intent of Jesus. He does not willingly, or that is, from the heart bring affliction of grief. Suffering may be part of God’s larger and most mysterious plan, but God’s intention is always to demonstrate compassion and unfailing love which touches people at their deepest point of need.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness”
(Lamentations 3:22-23).

Lord, may I never doubt what’s on your mind and heart when I suffer. You are full of love and compassion. Thank You for only permitting in my life what I am able to endure with Your grace.  Bless You for Your unfailing love.

Taken from Diamonds in the Dust. Copyright © 1993 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

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Great is His Faithfulness

Great is His Faithfulness

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Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;

great is Your faithfulness.
—Lamentations 3:21-23

How often do we do things that disappoint the people in our lives?

Maybe we’ve made a promise that later we found we can’t keep. Perhaps we raise our voice in anger again even though we don’t mean to. And how about the times when a friend or family member tries to sympathize with our pain? They mean well, but you’re certain they just don’t understand. I’m sure you’ve wanted to tell them, “You have no idea what it’s like to be in this kind of pain every day.”

At this point, we have two choices:
to dwell on our misery
or get on with the business of life.

We can moan and groan about our circumstances so everyone is aware of how much we are hurting, or we can demonstrate God’s presence in our lives by rejoicing in the knowledge that He is faithful to be with us through our tough times.

I have a very close friend (you know who you are!) who is a good example of one who lets God shine through her in spite of her constant pain. She once shared her feelings about pain with me this way:

“It is just pain. It could be worse. I could be suffering with pain and dying. It is only pain. I can still live and make the most of my life, to extend myself as far as I can go, to reach for the stars, to do the unimaginable. The pain will still be there. So, why not celebrate?”

This dear friend is such an encourager. Her positive attitude is a beacon of light in the darkness of pain. Quite simply, she makes me smile no matter how awful I’m feeling.

Beloved, the Lord is our only hope! He knows exactly what our pain is like and He will help us through it “every morning; great is [His] faithfulness.” He understands how constant pain can undermine a positive attitude and make us feel hopeless. But He’s always with us, ready to offer His love and comfort: “therefore I have hope.”

Won’t you please pray with me?

Heavenly Father, sometimes it’s so hard to be cheerful and hopeful when I’m feeling so rotten. It’s easier for me to just give up and let the pain take over. But, Lord, I know that You love me too much to let me feel this way. Thank You for what You are teaching me through these trials and for being with me always. Help me to let Your joy flow through me to touch the lives of others who may also be suffering. You are great and greatly to be praised! Amen.

…..

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