Matthew 13:31-32, Mark 4:30-32, Luke 13:18-19
So many of us know the parable of the mustard seed that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 13:31-32. "Another parable put he forth unto them saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs,and becometh a tree, so the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." This parable is also referenced other times in the Bible.
Over my lifetime, I have heard many people say "You just need the faith of a grain of mustard, just that tiny seed." After doing some research on the mustard seed, it's actual size is one to two millimeters in diameter. If you take a look in your spice rack, you may even be able to see that for yourself. But, Jesus doesn't stop with the seed. He says it is suppose to grow much bigger into a tree, just like the kingdom of heaven.
The mustard seed actually grows into a tree about nine feet tall with very strong roots.
My challenge is the question, don't we need to grow that mustard seed? How do we do that? First, we can grow our own faith every day by reading and studying God's word and praying so that seed doesn't stay tiny. It is also our responsibility to grow the kingdom of heaven through witnessing to others and sowing seeds in others lives and investing in people!
What about when things come up in our lives unexpected or inconvenient that could potentially cause us to question our faith or derail our mission to see others saved? Does our seed just die out? Jesus talks trees again in John 15:5 "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing." These are the exact times in our lives we can grow that mustard seed even more. We have a responsibility every day to grow the kingdom of heaven, but what an opportunity to show others our growing faith in troubled times by looking only to Jesus.
I know my desire is for the mustard seed to become that large, nine foot or more tree bearing lots of fruit with strong roots. Although life is not always easy, we have the answers in the word of God. I will leave you with one last verse that sums this thought up for me : Matthew 12:33, "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit."
Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 13:21, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Romans 8:37,
2 Timothy 3:16-17, Deuteronomy 7:9, Proverbs 30:5
One of the most quoted verses in times of change is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” What a beautiful and reassuring promise that is! But that is just part of the picture.
Not only does God know and plan our future for us,
He equips us with strength and victory in what He plans for us to do.
Hebrews 13:21 says, “Now may the God of Peace… equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working is us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ.” The indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16) that we now have because of the work of Jesus equips us daily to not only get through the day’s journey that God has prepared, but to CONQUER it (Romans 8:37)!
So where do we find this equipment? 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tell us. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” The Word of God is our equipment closet. It is where we go to seek teaching, reproof, correction, and training to face the day’s challenges.
But, do we have the faith to approach each day, each relationship, and each situation truly believing that we are equipped to do His will?
Do we have the faith to trust that by His grace, mercy, and love we are strengthened to rise victorious above all adversaries?
God is a God who is good to His promises. Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Then Proverbs 30:5 contributes with, “Every word of God proves true,” Therefore, knowing God is good to His promises and knowing that His Word is truth we can also know that we are indeed equipped to face our life’s journey!
Where are you finding your equipment that you take into battle with you each day?
Oh how much I long for that every day of my life. I long for God to empower me and give me confidence to be BRAVE. To be BOLD. I pray for that every day – because let’s be honest….don’t we all want that?
And as I am praying and hoping and wishing that God will somehow give me this (because I whole heartedly believe that He can do anything) I have a realization…or as I like to call it the “whomp whomp whomp” moment… that moment when you realize you were working too hard on something so simple.
This particular moment I am speaking of (because the reality is, it happens quite frequently for me) was one that happened as I was reading Joshua 10 a couple of weeks ago. The back story to Joshua is that God has directed Him (and assured him that He would succeed) to lead this battle in defense of the Israelites land and to protect the people. The battle was going to be against ALL of the Amorite kings – all FIVE had ganged up to defeat Joshua and attack Gibeon.
I can see how Joshua would feel a little under equipped to handle this task. (Because I sure would!!). But God, the promise-KEEPER, whispers to Joshua “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb – not one of them will stand up to you.” (10:8) God understands our potential, and He gives us countless reasons to put our faith in Him, even if we feel like we are not enough.
I can imagine Joshua is feeling little more equipped KNOWING God is a promise-keeper. KNOWING He will use his little potential and God’s big potential to fight this battle and bring Israel to victory.
Battle after battle, God comes through for His people. Joshua (with God) leads His armies to victory after victory. God even “pitched huge stones on them out of the sky and many died. More died from hailstones than the people of Israel killed with the sword.” (10:11) Wow…can you imagine?
God is coming through for them in BIG ways. He is following through on His word. Joshua and his armies have faith and because of that, God continues to fight for them.
I don’t know about you but I LOVE that image.
I love hearing stories about how God fights for those who follow Him. We are all too accustomed to hearing stories of pain and suffering, of struggles and heartbreaks. For some reason those are the ones that are written about, those are the ones where we see God show up big time with redemption.
But how warm is your heart when you hear a story about how God comes through when people have bold faith? Like a young girl who has pursued God faithfully for a husband for years, stayed pure and prayed daily; and He rewards her with the man of her dreams. Or when a woman has been praying for years for a baby - has had 2 miscarriages and is pushing 40- is still laying down her hearts desires at the feet of Jesus – and she finally gets the baby she has been hoping for.
Man, my heart leaps for joy with stories of BIG FAITH rewarded with BIG ANWSERS.
God comes through for us. That’s why we have faith – because we have no doubt in His promise-keeping ability.
That’s why the last part of Chapter 10 gets me pumped – because Joshua BOLDLY and BRAVLEY asserts his faith. There is no dancing around it, or using big words to ask for it. He simply states it – basically demands it – and God comes through. God likes simple and He loves bold. The chapter comes to a climax as Joshua’s armies are in the middle of the biggest battle – the combined armies of the five Amorite kings versus the Army of Israel at Gibeon. They are tired and the sun is starting to go down, but the Israelites needed more daylight to complete the victory. I can imagine all of the men are looking to Joshua for direction, because if the sun goes down, they stop fighting, then they lose their momentum and potentially the battle.
So Joshua does the most simple, most astonishing thing…he DEMANDS the sun to stand still. He simply says “ Stop, Sun, over Gibeon; Halt Moon over Aijalon Valley.” And the sun stopped, and the moon stood still until he defeated his enemies.” (10:11)
How incredible. Can you believe it? Joshua was brave, and God listened. Joshua was bold and God delivered.
I can just imagine that Joshua was feeling a lot of different emotions. Hope, fear, faith, doubt, excitement, and disappointment - all of these are swarming in his head. He had a decision to make and he chose faith. He chose to trust God.
What a lesson on living with audacious faith.
Our God is perfectly willing to perform the impossible in our daily lives…IF WE JUST ASK.
Be bold in your faith. Be brave in your desires. Ask God for what you want. And watch Him come through.