Monday, March 07, 2011

Faith: seed-sized to mountain-moving

Tree growing through rocks
Harrison, B.C.*

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 17:14-27

TO CHEW ON: "Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, 'Why could we not cast it out?"
So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief..."- Matthew 17:19, 20a

In today's reading — a continuation of yesterday's story — Jesus is down from the mountain and very much back on earth. In fact, the first encounter He has is with the distraught father of a demon-oppressed son. The father tells of how he brought his seizure-prone, self-destructive boy to the disciples (presumably the ones that didn't accompany Jesus up the mountain) "but they could not cure him."

How Jesus' reply must have cut those disciples: "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?"

When they came to Him later and asked why they couldn't heal the boy, Jesus answered, "Because of your unbelief..." Then he talked about how even seed-sized faith was enough to move mountains ("a figure for an obstacle, hindrance, or humanly insurmountable problem" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1322).

Judging from His outburst in verse 17, even Jesus was a little jarred by the contrast of the mountaintop experience with life back in the earth-valley. We're not told which disciples tried to heal the man's son. I hope, for their sake, it wasn't the ones who accompanied Jesus up the mountain. How discouraging it would have been for them after seeing heaven open, to come back to earth and find they hadn't changed one whit and that their faith was still practically non-existent.

For that is the purpose of a spiritual high — to build our faith, to give us fuel for living lives that take God's presence and power into our problem-strewn world. A sidebar article in my Bible outlines how faith grows:

"First God says that you have a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). It is resident within you.

Second, God says that this faith comes alive by "hearing...the word of God (Romans 10:17). [For our disciples, this would have been hearing the actual voice of God conversing with Jesus, Moses and Elijah and then declaring "This is my beloved Son....Hear Him!" For us it's hearing God's voice through the Bible and the myriad ways He communicates its truths to us, including those spiritual mountaintop experiences at special weekend retreats.]

Third God says that you can apply your faith to see your daily needs met. How? You do something as an act of your faith. You sow the mustard-seed-sized smallness of your faith into an action of love... speak to your mountain and watch God set about its removal." - Oral Roberts in "God Has a Way of Getting Your Need Met," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 132.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to come down from spiritual high points with bigger faith so I can be more useful in Your Kingdom. Amen.

MORE: "Only Believe" - a collection of quotes by Smith Wigglesworth

* "When you plant a seed God changes the nature of that seed so that it becomes a plant; and the power of life surges in that tender young plant to such a great extent that even a mountain of earth cannot stop it from pushing upward!" - Oral Roberts in "God Has a Way of Getting Your Need Met" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1322 (see photo above).

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