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 Faith (Rewritten)

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Statesman63
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PostSubject: Faith (Rewritten)   Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:14 pm

Faith (Rewritten)

Since I rewrote the Truth lesson, I figured I should redact my Faith lesson as it is just as important as Truth.  I want to expound on the previous material and simplify things to make it more practical for the Reader.  Faith is a necessary requirement for your peace and freedom to be realized; therefore it is paramount that we fully understand what this faith thing is and how to achieve it.  

Let’s begin by defining faith.  I like Dr. Tony Evan’s definition.  He said, “Faith is believing that something is so even if your eyes do not see it to be so, simply because God said that it is so.”  Faith will often contradict what your eyes see and how you feel.  God has purposefully set up His creation that way because He wants to know that we are able to trust Him at His word.  In fact, God will often interject things into our lives that don’t make sense so that we will have to operate in faith to overcome them.  We see that all throughout the bible.  God told Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac.  Okay that doesn’t make sense because God had previously told Abraham that through Isaac will come many nations.  That’s a contradiction!  This is a contradiction that God thought up.  God purposefully gives us these types of contradictions to test us to see how much we trust Him at His word.  And it is only through faith that we become developed spiritually—it is only through faith that we receive blessings, healings, and Spirit-filled empowerment.  

God has made it so that faith is the thing that determines our relationship status with Him.  We are not on talking terms with God if we don’t have faith.  If a Christian lives faithlessly, then he or she has positioned themselves outside of His fellowship and good graces.  Hebrews 11:6 says, “Now without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  If we don’t trust what He says then it is impossible to please Him.  We must believe that God intervenes on our behalf.  We cannot come to Him and not take Him at His Word.  To not have faith is to call God a liar.  James puts it this way in James 1:6-8, “...the [person] who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the LORD; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”  Our prayers therefore, should be prayed with faith.  The issue is not that we doubt what we are asking for; the issue is that we doubt the Person we are asking.  God wants us to understand that although we are unfaithful at times, He is always faithful.  To have faith in Him is to believe that He is faithful.  

We are told in Ephesians 6 that faith is part of our spiritual armor in this spiritual battle called life.  It is referred to as the shield of faith.  A shield, of course, protects the person.  It protects us from death when attacked by an enemy.  God’s shield of faith protects us from spiritual death.  This spiritual shield, which is a real invisible shield that we are supposed to take up, protects us from spiritual death which includes anxiety, fear, and a negativity complex.  The Roman shield, called the scutum, was 3 and a half feet high and about 2 feet wide.  When in battle, a Roman soldier would kneel down on one knee and the shield would protect the entire body.  The front and back were usually painted red.  When we are in our spiritual battle, we need to kneel in prayer and pick up our shield of faith, dipped in the crimson red blood of Jesus, which protects our entire body.  To understand this, the “shield of faith” can be restated “the shield that is faith.”  In other words, your faith is the shield.  The only way to fight this spiritual battle with spiritual enemies called demons is to use spiritual weapons.  Physical weapons do absolutely nothing against our spiritual battle.  Stop fighting an invisible battle with your human physical weapons and effort!  Use God’s weapons that He supplied you with.  Your human weapons might get you by coping wise, but only God’s weapons can win this battle at its root cause.  It says in Ephesians 6:16 that this shield of faith is able to extinguish all of the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Note the superlative “all.”  Satan cannot touch you at all if you use this shield properly.  Please don’t take him for granted because his arrows are hot, which means that they do hurt and can cause damage.  He is not an enemy to take lightly.  To be successful against him, we have to be sure that we take up this shield called faith.  

Let’s define faith further.  Faith is being fully convinced of the Truth.  Faith is being fully convinced that God’s word is true even when you do not see or perceive any evidence of it being so.  Faith is going forth and believing beforehand that it will be just as God said it would be.  Faith is being in full agreement with what God said.  It is being confident that what God said must be real.  Faith is acting like God is telling the truth.  Faith requires action.  It is not merely believing with the mind; it is acting out with the feet.  No action cancels the legitimacy of faith.  Please don’t get this mixed up with “saving faith.”  With salvation faith, Jesus did all of the required action for us—we did nothing to either earn or acquire the salvation except to receive it through faith.  That is salvation faith, as opposed to daily living faith, which is necessary for our day to day fellowship connection with God.  Action is required on our part to authenticate and actualize daily living faith.  Faith is keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus despite the storms and distractions that surround you.  We are to walk with our feet with our eyes on Him, not on the situation that Satan wants to redirect our attention to.  Faith is a disowning of anything that disagrees with God’s Word.  Faith is being certain of what is real in God’s eyes, yet unseen by our eyes and not yet experienced as real.  The Bible defines faith as the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).  Faith is believing in advance, or as the NLV words Hebrews 11:1: “What is faith?  It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen.  It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.”  God wants us to trust in unseen evidence.  The verification of the evidence is the fact that He spoke it.  Faith is spiritually having before physically receiving.  It is believing before seeing the results.  Faith is acting on a promise from the spirit world that can later be accessed physically because we trusted in the One who gave the promise.  When we dissect faith with a scalpel, we find that Jesus is at the center of it.  Faith in anything that does not hold Jesus as its object and focus is not faith.  Jesus is the battery that powers faith and gives it its substance and vitality.  We are to live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  

Faith is not believing in something that does not exist.  It is not a hope for something immaterial.  Faith is a hope in something concrete and real, but unseen.  Faith is being convinced that the unseen thing has already been deposited into your account awaiting your withdrawal.  The debit card that we use is faith.  Or as the King James indicates: faith is a substance.  It is invisible stuff.  The invisible stuff is your assurance and confidence in Jesus.  And this substance is used to activate the God given grace that He has already supplied to make the thing show up in your life.  The grace deposit from God is already there because Ephesians 1:3 says that He “blessed us (past tense) in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing.”  Please notice that it says that EVERY blessing that we will ever receive from God has already been given us, but they are located in the heavenly places and accessed only by faith.  We need to hang out in heavenly places (with the Holy Spirit) with faith to withdrawal from our spiritual blessing bank account.  Peace and rest from anxiety and fear have already been blessed to you because at the Cross, Jesus defeated Satan, took away the sting of death, and blessed you with every spiritual blessing.  Our blessings are in the unseen spiritual bank account that must be withdrawn by faith.  

We said that Jesus is the object of our faith.  That means that faith must be attached to Him to be real.  Make sure that you are not putting your faith in something else or even in faith itself.  Never ask God for a car and then put your faith in receiving a car.  If you ask God for a car (for Kingdom purposes, hopefully) then ask for the car with your faith stayed on Him, not in what you are requesting.  Some meditate on faith and call themselves building more faith.  It is not more faith that we need.  It is more confidence in the One of whom our faith is to be directed in that we need.  And God is not interested in being our Santa Claus.  Once we start focusing on the item of request and start glorifying the created thing in our hearts, God will reject our request because God will not take second place to anything or anyone.  And remember, faith establishes our relationship.  If our hearts are on the items of request and not on God, that damages our relationship with Him.  The purpose of God wanting us to trust that He is a blesser and rewarder of those who diligently seek Him is to establish a closer relationship between Father and His children, not to set our fancies on idols.  

An important question we need to know the answer to is: “How do we increase our faith?”  In order to fully answer that question, there are a few more things that we need to understand about faith.  This faith stuff is quantitative.  It can be measured even though it cannot be seen.  The measures of faith the Bible gives from least to greatest are: no faith, little faith, faith, much or great faith, and mustard seed-size faith.  The issue of increasing our faith is merely the ability to move up this scale to the next level.  It may shock you to see that I placed mustard seed-size faith as the greatest amount of faith.  Let’s quickly compare each one of these.  In Matthew 9:29, Jesus says, “According to your faith will it be done to you.”  He proclaimed this while healing someone’s sight.  He wants us to know that the measure of your faith determines how much grace is granted to you.  With much faith much grace will be granted.  With no faith, nothing will be granted.  

There is very little difference in the eyes of God between no faith and little faith.  Jesus rebukes both the one with no faith and the one with little faith together.  It is often His own disciples that He rebukes as having little or no faith.  One interesting example of this is that both Matthew and Mark quote Jesus’ words on one particular occasion, but in Matthew’s rendering he uses “little faith” and in Mark’s rendering he uses “no faith.”  It is the well-known story of when Jesus calms the storm.  One Gospel writer let us know that Jesus had already spoken “Let us go to the other side” before they even got into the boat.  Jesus had already said that they were going to the other side before they even got into the boat.  Jesus did not mention the terrible storm that would arise along the way, but a storm along the way does not matter if Jesus had already spoken their safety by saying that they would reach the other side of the lake alive.  Matthew 8:25-26 reads, “The disciples went and woke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’  He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’  Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”  When Mark reports the same story, his rendering in Mark 4:40 is, “He said to His disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?’”  With these two different renderings, the Holy Spirit is teaching us that there is no difference between having little faith and having no faith.  The disciples were focused on the storm, not on Jesus, so they had no faith in Jesus’ words.  Now, they were His disciples and they did go to Him with the problem, so we can give them a “little” credit for waking Jesus up to show Him the storm, but they went to Him with no faith in His original pronouncement that they would get to the other side of the lake alive.  

And then there is just “faith” on the faith scale grade.  Just having faith is good enough to not be rebuked by Jesus, but it is not miracle working or mountain moving like the other 2 faith quantities above it.  Salvation just requires faith.  Salvation does not require great faith, nor does it require mustard seed faith.  Only victory through grace over our trials and tribulations requires great faith and mustard seed faith.  Salvation does require more than no faith and little faith.  Little faith in the Cross and finished work of Christ cannot save anyone.  You either believe it to be true or you don’t.  Salvation starts at the faith level on the scale.  In fact, salvation is only at the faith level of the scale.  For someone to add to faith cancels the requirement of faith because it is only faith in what Jesus did that saves you.  If someone is relying on their great faith to eternally save them, they are relying on too much.  They are adding to their faith requirement and are trying to save themselves.  An attempt to add to the faith requirement that God has set is to say to God that I don’t trust that the payment that Jesus paid for me is sufficient enough to save me eternally.  And that is actually a lack of faith.  While the intention may be that the person is thinking to his or herself that they are adding more faith, they are in all actuality going with no faith because they are lacking trust in what Jesus accomplished for them.  So faith has different implications when it is applied to our salvation versus being applied to overcoming our trials in this life.  When applying just “faith” on the faith scale to overcoming our situations, faith alone is good enough to just get by, but it is not equivalent to the great faith and mustard seed faith that opens Heaven’s doors and grants grace to move mountains and work miracles.  This just-get-by faith might not incur a rebuke from God, but it won’t activate miracles either.  It is an inactive faith that most Christians today live by.  The other disciples, except Peter, who decided to stay in the boat and watch Peter get out and walk on the water had this type of inactive faith.  They decided to believe from a distance and watch as Peter received his miracle.  Jesus didn’t rebuke the other disciples who decided to not test the waters—they just didn’t experience any miracles for themselves.    

Great faith is rare, but God wants us to have it.  People with great faith are rewarded with special grace and power from God.  So many Christians are not able to access power from on high because they are not accustomed to operating in great faith.  The lady who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment to receive a miracle among a crowd of many other people bumping into Jesus had this rare great faith, so much so, that Jesus paused all activity and said, “Who touched me?”  In Luke 8:45 the disciples basically responded, “Everyone is touching you because people are crowding all around you.”  Jesus says in verse 46, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”  This lady stood out among the crowd because of her great faith.  I’m sure that there were many others in the crowd who had needs and needed healings of their own, but this was the only one in the crowd who fully believed that Jesus was the solution to her problem.  Everyone in the crowd believed that Jesus performed miracles because they saw with their own eyes what Jesus could do.  I’m sure that there were people in the crowd who were hoping that Jesus performed a miracle for them that day.  But this lady took the initiative of faith to reach Jesus with her problem.  She was the only one who acted out her faith.  She went above just having “faith.”  She took a risk because she had an issue of bleeding, which according to Old Testament law meant that she was unclean.  In her unclean state, she took the risk of touching Jesus (holy and perfect) who could have potentially called her out, rebuked her, and made a public scene of her uncleanness before everyone.  Great faith takes risks.  Great faith operates on the Truth and takes risks for God and His Kingdom.  

To receive miracles from God often requires great faith.  Great faith is faith that is accomplished by acting it out despite the risks.  Great faith sees the Savior over the circumstances.  In other words, great faith is a confidence in God that is not by sight.  We see many examples of where God grants miracles because of a person’s great faith.  Great faith can be difficult to muster because it requires us to take our focus off of what our eyes see and to recollect back to what God said and apply that to our situation considering that to be the Truth and having the sufficiency to override the difficulty that we are seeing and experiencing.  Our flesh naturally operates by sight and not by faith—so it takes effort and focus and determination of the mind to muster up great faith.  Precisely speaking, yet perhaps paradoxically sounding, we have to muster up our great faith not through our strength, but through the grace of God’s strength that He provides.  That is where mustard seed faith comes into play.  Let’s define it.  Mustard seed faith is simply faith that is channeled correctly from the correct source (that is God) and applied correctly to the particular situation.  Mustard seed faith is the skilled-level faith.  It is precision faith that is compacted into a very small size but bursts forth with much power.  Mustard seed faith produces great faith, but one can have great faith, but not necessarily know how to operate the mustard seed faith.  Moreover, it does not require great faith to have mustard seed faith.  Great faith requires that we think on the fly, remember God’s Word, disregard what our eyes see, and work out the Word that we are told to do.  Mustard seed faith allows us to quickly channel the necessary faith to the situation on a moment’s instant.  Mustard seed faith is greater and stronger than great faith although both can pull off miracles.  The disciples were performing many miracles because Jesus had empowered them with the ability to heal and cast out demons.  We will take a closer look at the passage soon, but on one occasion, the disciples failed in their ability to cast out one particular demon that they met up with and Jesus said that they should have used mustard seed faith to accomplish it.  Now all the while up to that point, their great faith had been enough to successfully do many other miracles, but it was not enough to overcome that particular demon.  Confused as they were they asked Jesus why they could not cast out that particular demon.

Before we look at that passage, it is important to dispel a possible misinterpretation where some Christian interpreters might confuse mustard seed-size faith with little faith.  Some might confuse the two because they intuitively sound similar, but they are actually the total opposite.  Out of little faith does not come much faith, but out of mustard seed faith comes much faith.  Jesus often rebuked people for having little faith, but He always encourages us to have mustard seed-size faith.  A mustard seed is one of the smallest crop seeds, yet it yields one of the biggest plants when planted and nourished.  To get it to grow at all requires that we plant it in the correct place.  In the Gospels, Jesus often rebukes both the little faith and the no faith people.  Little faith in Jesus’ eyes is the same as no faith because He rebukes both.  To have little faith is to undermine God.  Little faith is to doubt God.  Just after Peter got out of the boat and successfully walked on water, he took his eyes off of Jesus and started focusing on the storm.  At that point he started sinking.  Matthew 14:31 says, “Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’”  At the point of Peter’s doubting Jesus was the point of Peter’s little faith.  Peter had more faith when he first stepped out of the boat.  His faith became little when he checked his surroundings and situation apart from Jesus.  So we see by Jesus’ words here that little faith is equivalent to doubting Jesus.  

We can liken mustard seed faith to the most powerful microchips of our day.  Did you know that the smaller the microchip, the more powerful it is?  When computers were first invented they were huge processors that filled an entire room just to process what we would today consider minute information or data.  As computers got better over the years, they didn’t get bigger, rather they got smaller.  We know today that as the microchips get smaller, the more powerful they are and the smallest can hold the most data.  Today scientists are working with nano chips and experimenting on a molecular scale to try to advance technology further.  In the computer world, to compact the technology down to its smallest, precise composition is to access the most power.  In the faith world, to compact your faith in Jesus Christ down to its smallest and precise component and focusing only on what He can do will access your greatest power.  One other, more humorous example we can liken mustard seed faith to is to basketball.  Basketball requires us shooting the ball into the basket.  I am quite sure that it wouldn’t take long for me to become more skilled than Stephen Curry at shooting the ball if just for me they made the basket 3 times wider and my basketball just a little smaller.  It wouldn’t take much practice for me to have more precision and skill at shooting jump shots than Curry.  If we are somehow able to adjust the magnitude, width, and power of the rim of God’s ability in our minds, then we would be skilled at dropping our little faith into the basket of hope and scoring every time.  Just like basketball, to reach that skill level will take practice and experience.  

Now let’s look at what the Bible has to say about this mustard seed faith.  Jesus speaks of mustard seed faith 5 different times in the Gospels: Matthew 13:31-32, 17:20, Mark 4:30-32, and Luke 13:18-19, 17:5-6.   We will look at only a couple.  In Luke 17:5-6, we see a direct comparison between insufficient faith and mustard seed faith.  It says, “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’  And the Lord said, ‘If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.’”  Here, the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith and He told them to simply get mustard seed faith to increase it.  Jesus said that mustard seed faith will allow for your circumstances to obey you. His apostles already had faith, but before that time, they didn’t know how to channel their faith to control their situation.  

I want to take a more in-depth look now on that passage in Matthew 17.  Let’s start at verse 14, which reads, “When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before Him.  ‘Lord, have mercy on my son,’ he said.  He has seizures and is suffering greatly.  He often falls into the fire or into the water.’”  So far, we see that this son of his is in a hopeless situation.  He not only suffers from “great” seizures, but his suffering is so severe that he uncontrollably falls into more problems due to his original problem.  It is kind of peculiar that it says that he “often” falls into the fire or the water.  It is almost as if the seizures are directing him into more danger purposefully.  We will see why this is the case in a moment.  We see that this boy is so hopeless that when he does fall, whether into the fire or into the water, that his situation requires that somebody else picks him up because he is not able to pick himself up.  We also see here that this boy has an intercessor—his father.  This boy is in a hopeless situation, but he has somebody who he is able to piggyback on their faith in order to help his situation.  When we find ourselves in hopeless situations, we should go to the church or elsewhere to find other stronger Christians who we can piggyback on their faith just long enough to get us standing on our own two feet without having to fall into the fires and waters of our life.  

The father continues in verse 16, “‘I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.’”  Jesus had already empowered His disciples to heal.  Back in Matthew 10:1, it says, “He [Jesus] called His twelve disciples to Him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”  It is not that the disciples couldn’t do it—rather, they were like many of us—they were empowered to do it, but just didn’t know how to access and channel their empowerment.  I like this dad.  He understood that Jesus’ disciples had the power to heal and cast out demons so he brought his son to them.  When he saw that they were not able to produce, his father decided to go to the source of where the disciples got their power—he went to Jesus directly.  Mustard seed faith, as we will see, is really being able to access the source of the empowerment.  If we are relying on God’s power indirectly, we are not really using mustard seed faith.  

Then Jesus responds, “‘O unbelieving and perverse generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you?  How long shall I put up with you?  Bring the boy here to me.’”  Wow! That sounds like a harsh rebuke, especially in relation to the prior statements.  Jesus calls them unbelieving and perverse.  Jesus includes their sin with their unbelief.  This rebuke is not a rebuke for the father, but a rebuke for His own disciples.  Jesus didn’t spend much time with this boy’s father, but He had been spending lots of time with His disciples.  He says, “How long shall I stay with you?” and “How long shall I put up with you?”  Jesus was saying that the time spent with Him already should have been sufficient enough for His disciples to understand how to apply faith to their situation.  This is still quite early in Jesus’ ministry, so we can conclude from this that it shouldn’t take that long for you and I to mature to a deeper level of faith as long as we learn how to channel our faith to the correct source the correct way.  Instead of focusing on the sickness we are trying to heal, we need to focus on the One who has the power to heal the sickness.  Instead of focusing on a demon when attempting to cast it out of a person; and instead of looking at the external affects that a person displays who is possessed, we should be looking at the One who has the power to cast out that demon and focus on Him and His authority over the situation.  

Jesus rebukes His disciples twice in this section.  We just read one rebuke.  Skip down a few verses to verse 20 for the other rebuke—it reads, “‘He [Jesus] replied, ‘Because you have so little faith.’”  Before we move further, let’s put these two rebukes together.  Here, Jesus says, “You have so little faith and that’s why you couldn’t do it.”  In the section above, we read that Jesus rebuked them by saying that they are an unbelieving and perverse generation, and that’s why they couldn’t do it.  Jesus said that they had little faith in one part and are just plain unbelieving and perverse in the other.  The parallelism is like a definition.  We can conclude that “little faith” is equal to unbelieving and perverseness.  It may sound strong and harsh to say that a person with little faith is being perverse, but remember, many things that are not perverse in man’s eyes are perverse in God’s eyes.  God has a different set of eye lens than we have.  So it may sound harsh to us, but God sees from a different perspective.  To have little faith in God is perversion in His eyes.  Perversion is sin.  To have little or no faith in God is sin.  When the disciples failed to cast out that child’s illness, they sinned because they took their eyes off of the One who empowered them to heal and they started acting in their own ability.  They started thinking that the empowerment came from within themselves.  When Jesus empowers us to do something, the empowerment is still not from within ourselves.  Our empowerment is always from Him and He is always the source of our empowerment.  We are just the vessel through which the power is emitting out of.  The moment we start thinking that we are the source of the power, we sin and lose the ability that God had graced us with in the beginning.  

We skipped down for just a moment, but let’s go back to where we left off.  Verse 18 says, “Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.”  What, what, what?  A demon?!?!—there was no previous mention of a demon as being the source of this boy’s problem.  Now we know why it seemed deliberate that the boy was being pushed into the fire or thrown into nearby waters.  This demon directed him into fires and bodies of water to do him harm.  Today, all outward notions of this boy’s problems would lead to a diagnosis of just bad seizures; or this child might be diagnosed with mental issues today since he loved the warmth of fires and drowning in waters.  Jesus goes to the root of this boy’s problem to heal him.  Mustard seed faith gets to the root of the problem using the root of the solution.  Be careful to do both.  It is possible to have only one of these correct, but fail with the healing part because we didn’t get the other part correct.  It is possible to have the solution, but still not able to access the power because we failed to apply it to the root of the problem.  Usually sin is the root of all of your problems.  If not sin, then demons are the only other possible root cause of your problem, regardless of outward appearances.  When demons are the root of the problem, they will mask it with other outward symptoms.  A demon, who is the cause of your outward problem will never identify itself by saying to you, “Hello, I’m a demon, and I am the reason you are experiencing this uncontrollable torment.  Just want to let you know it is me so that you can have identified your root cause correctly.”  No, we have to be spiritually perceptive enough to be able to look beyond and through our outward problems to see inside like an x-ray to the true spiritual cause.  We need to reassess our difficult situations with new spiritual eyes that discern sin and the spiritual demonic world.  Never be afraid of exposing your own sin.  That is actually step one of your healing process.  Seek out sins that you are not mindful of because that is most often the barrier between you and your healing.   Ephesians 5:10-11 says, “...and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”  

The disciples were impressed with how Jesus was able to handle that demon and they were wondering why they couldn’t do the same.  Matthew 17:19 says, “Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’”  This reminds me of Nicodemus coming to Jesus in private to try to get more information out of Jesus.  This is equivalent to praying.  When you cannot figure out why you keep failing, pray to Jesus directly.  That boy’s father went to the root of the source of power and healing when the disciples failed him.  The disciples decide to go to the root as they now realize that the power to heal and cast out demons is not from themselves even after Jesus initially empowered them to do it.  I don’t think we ought to criticize the disciples here for “privately” going to Jesus here because we are all allowed to pray both privately and corporately.  They are praying privately here so that they can have the power to act publicly in faith when they go out next time.  The only problem between private versus corporate prayer is when we decide to go privately to Jesus in prayer, but then keep Jesus private even when we go out in public.  This was not the disciples’ intentions.  I believe that one of the reasons why the disciples could not drive out the demon is found within their question.  They said, “Why couldn’t “we” drive it out?”  They went out thinking that they were the source of their strength and power and forgot that their power was from the enablement that came from Jesus, and not from themselves.  You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you with His strength, not you can do all things through your own strength apart from Him.  

Verse 20: “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith, I tell you the truth, 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.’”  Here we get a comparison between little faith and mustard seed faith.  Please note that the first part is a rebuke, the second part is a commission.  He rebukes them by telling them that they have little faith and then He immediately tells them the type of faith that they should have.  And please remember, whatever type of faith that is being described here, it is sufficient enough to cast out that demon that overcame His disciples.  Moreover, we read here that with this faith, nothing will be impossible to you.  Jesus is telling them how to increase their faith to an amount that can overcome any situation.  In telling them how to increase their faith, seemingly contradictorily, Jesus tells them to have small itty-bitty faith, the size of a mustard seed.  He tells them in essence to downsize their faith into a mustard seed size.  Yes, we need to downsize our faith into the most purest form.  Downsizing our faith means that we get rid of the interference, noise and distractions that might be attached to the faith which clutters it.  Mustard seed faith is faith in its most purest form without the clutter of unbelief, sin, distractions of storms, etc.  The most purest form of faith must have Jesus Christ at its source.  Many things that our eyes see and our feelings feel clutter our faith.  The disciples were not able to cast out that demon because their faith was cluttered and they had too much baggage covering their faith.  They had to take their eyes off of themselves in order to access the faith necessary to cast out that demon.  As I mentioned earlier, mustard seed faith is precision faith, which is why it starts off as small.  It is precise and pure.  

Jesus is saying that a little of Me is enough to overcome any situation or demon if you apply My authority and channel it correctly to your problem.  A little of Jesus is enough to overcome the greatest problem because Jesus greater than anything that comes your way.  Access to a little authority from Him transcends everything.  We need to learn to downsize our thinking about faith.  David knew that he had enough to overcome Goliath with only a sling and several stones because he relied on his faith to bring down Goliath.  He even turned down the metal armor that Saul had offered him.  David downsized the baggage and went only with the mustard seed faith and the minimum equipment necessary to get the job done.  God often seeks to downsize the clutter so that our faith in Him will prevail.  God decreased the size of Gideon’s army to show His people how great He is with the little as long as we put our trust in Him.  Gideon’s army started off big.  It started at 32,000 fighting men.  God deliberately reduced their numbers so that it would be clear that the battle was won through faith in Him and not through themselves.  Interestingly, the Midianites that they were battling had already outnumbered them before God began decreasing His own army.  The Midianite army consisted of 120,000 swordsmen.  God reduced His original army of 32,000 of men down to 300.  So God’s army started off as being outnumbered 4 to 1 and God reduced them to being outnumbered 400 to 1.  God cleared the clutter of faith into a mustard seed size faith, which means that they are now in a predicament where only God can help them.  They have to completely rely on God to save them.  As long as they didn’t let fear clutter their faith, they now had access to mountain moving faith because God is now the clear source of their faith without any competition.  And they routed the Midianite army of 120,000 with only 300 men.  

Let me quote the verse again here. Verse 20 says, “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith, I tell you the truth, 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.’” Please note that Jesus instructs us to speak to our mountain. He says that we should speak to our situation using faith. He is telling us to rhema the Word of God directly to our obstacles. Command it in the name of Jesus to be displaced. This implies that the mountain will not move until we tell it to in the name of Jesus. The mountain is not going to listen to you or me because of some innate power from within us; but it will listen and obey you and me when we speak the Truth of God’s Word to it because that is where the power lies. We should pray to God to remove our mountains and speak to the mountains and tell it to move. The Greek word rhema means utterance, or to speak aloud, which is what Jesus tells us to do to this mountain. When we speak God’s Truth to our obstacles we are subjecting the obstacles to the Truth of God and authorizing God’s authority to act upon the obstacle. We must speak in faith, and particularly, with mustard seed faith. Don’t speak to your mountain without faith in the One who has the authority over your mountain, namely, Jesus Christ. Trust in Jesus, and with that faith, tell your mountain where to go by the authority of Jesus and His Word.

Moving this mountain as Jesus describes here in Matthew 17 is very similar to what we read earlier in Luke 17 regarding relocating the mulberry tree by mustard seed faith.  Mustard seed faith empowers us with the ability to move our problems elsewhere and to manipulate the situation at hand.  This is no guarantee at all that the problem will go away.  If we relocate a mulberry tree, that mulberry tree still exists because relocating is not annihilation.  But relocating the tree does move it out of your way so that it is no longer a major obstacle for you.  This faith empowers us with the ability to redirect our problems so that our problems reposition themselves in our favor.  We have to understand that this power is not from us at all; rather it is the grace of God that gives this ability.  And grace can only be tapped into through Jesus Christ.  

Let’s look at one more passage regarding mustard seed faith so that we can further understand how it works.  A short parable in Matthew 13:31-32 reads as follows: “He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.’”  Let’s quickly dissect this.  We already know from what we just studied that the mustard seed represents our faith in its purest form.  Jesus compares this faith to the Kingdom of Heaven.  So what is the Kingdom of Heaven?  The Kingdom of Heaven has more than one meaning and we devoted an entire series studying the Kingdom of Heaven on the New Earth.  But in this passage, the Kingdom of Heaven is simply an agenda.  It is God’s agenda of increasing the glory of Jesus on this Earth.  What this really means is that our faith must be attached to an agenda.  A very important thing to know about mustard seed faith is that if we want to access it, we have to stop living with the me-myself-and-I syndrome.  We have to live for God’s agenda and not our own.  Mustard seed faith gets activated when our faith becomes linked to the agenda of increasing the glory of Jesus.  Please note that the agenda of this man in this parable was to help the other birds of the air prosper and it was not just a personal agenda for this man.  And lastly, this man planted his seed in the ground.  Once we plant the seed into the ground, God takes care of it.  We do not make the roots grow or the leaves sprout.  The sun, rain, nutrients of the soil and the DNA of the seed does all of the work.  We just have to plant the seed into the appropriate soil.  So we are not relying on our strength to achieve anything—this is completely His strength that He provides us through grace.  The appropriate soil that we are to plant our seed into is Jesus.  Some people fail by planting their seed in their own strength, or they might fail by planting their seed in adulterated soil mixed with sin.  We have to plant our seed not in the dust of sin, but in the Miracle-Grow Soil of God.

So those are the different scales of faith.  By learning the different scales of faith, we learned how to increase our faith.  We learned that faith allows you to displace the mountains of your life—the mountains meaning your trials and tribulations.  Again, we said that faith does not prevent trials and tribulations, but rather, it empowers you to overcome them.  Faith moves mountains.  Mountains have no power over your faith so as long as the object of your faith is Jesus Christ.  Sadly, many Christians let their mountains control their faith instead of their faith control their mountains.  We are told in Hebrews 12:2 to fix our eyes on Jesus because He is the author and perfecter of our faith.  Faith is faith only when Jesus is the focus.  When you have the focus right, even when the mountain seems bigger than the faith, faith wins.  Faith is like watching a suspenseful movie that you already know will have a happy ending.  Jesus said that even with a little faith: that is, mustard seed sized faith, you can move a gigantic mountain because the issue is not how much faith you have, but rather that the object of your faith is Jesus Christ and Jesus can move anything.  A huge mountain or trial is conquered by a tiny bitty faith because Jesus is a big God who reigns supreme over the mountain or trial.  He is completely in control when we apparently are not.  We know now not to confuse mustard seed-size faith with the faith when Jesus says, “O, ye of little faith.”  When Jesus says that, the people He is referring to are not focusing their faith on Him.  Mustard seed faith is small, but it is focused on Jesus Christ.  

Now let’s continue with some more points about faith itself.   Faith does not compromise God’s position on an issue.  Therefore, acting out faith will often incur trouble from the world.  Daniel had faith, but his faith led him into the lion’s den as a death sentence because he would not compromise praying to God.  We should never be naïve to think that by going in faith that we should see no trouble.  Faith overcomes the trouble, it does not prevent it.  We have to go through the trouble with faith.  Faith takes risks for God’s kingdom.  It stands up against the opposition to God.  It does not take a backseat and watch life through a peep hole.  Faith does not seek out Safety and hide in its bosom because it trusts that God will protect the obedient servant when he or she steps out and faces the opposition.  In fact, trouble is absolutely necessary to strengthen faith.  Trials are the muscular and aerobic exercise mechanism of faith.  James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James is saying that without the trial, it is impossible to mature and become complete.  Faith without trouble is like potential that has never been realized.  We should embrace trials because that is our only mechanism for maturing our faith and becoming stronger spiritually.  

Faith is the key that opens up God’s favor on your behalf.  Romans 5:2 says that we gain access to grace through our faith in Jesus.  Grace is the power that God gives.  Grace is God giving you His ability to accomplish something that you do not have the power to accomplish on your own.  Please memorize the meaning of what Romans 5:2 is saying.  It is literally saying that our faith is what accesses God’s grace.  For your reference, I’ll quote Romans 5:1-2 here: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, [2] 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.”  If we want access to God’s power we have to obtain it through faith.  Remember, faith is believing the Truth despite what your eyes see and acting upon that Truth.  Believing the Truth accesses God’s power of grace.  Later in verse 5, Paul says that “hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”  God warrantied our hope or faith so that it is guaranteed to be successful.  Our warranty is in the person of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit, who is in you if you are saved, directs God’s grace and power to you and through you.  We know that faith is on our side because God loves us.  The love of God is in us because the Holy Spirit is in us.  We must remain cognizant of the fact that the Holy Spirit is always sensitive to whether or not we are living to glorify Jesus because the Holy Spirit always seeks to do the same.  The Holy Spirit points to Jesus who points to the Father who points back to the Son.  

God only operates on your behalf in the arena of faith.  Without faith, Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “without faith, it is impossible to please God...”  Faith is the key to your healing and victorious living.   But without that key, there is no healing or victory.  Jesus would often say to a person, “Your faith has healed you.”  Without the faith there is no healing.  Only faith or your trust in Jesus initiates the grace of healing from God on your behalf.  Acts 14:8-10 says, “In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked.  He listened to Paul as he was speaking.  Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, ‘Stand up on your feet!’ At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.”  This is a fascinating passage.  It doesn’t tell us what Paul was saying to the guy, but we can take an educated guess and say that he was telling the man about Jesus.  It says that the man was listening intently to what Paul was saying, so intently that Paul saw his faith showing through just by looking at him as he sat listening.  It says that when Paul saw that he had faith to be healed, Paul graced him with the healing.  It wasn’t until Paul saw the man’s faith that Paul granted the healing.  If the man did not show faith, he would have only gotten a good sermon that day, but no healing.  Please note how this faith worked.  We are told that this man could not walk and he never walked in his entire life.  But when he revealed the faith to be healed, Paul commanded him to do something that he innately did not know how to do.  You and I did not just come out of the womb and start walking.  Walking takes many months or even a few years for some to learn how to do.  This man skipped the learning process, and he didn’t just walk, he jumped.  To jump without learning how to walk and balance is a super miracle.  God did not only heal the man, He empowered the man with a new physical ability and knowledge that he didn’t have before.  Many of us have been suffering with panic attacks for a long time and we feel that it will never go away.  Many of us feel that we’ve been suffering so long that it seems impossible to ever go back to that innate innocent peace that we started off with as a small child.  It may be impossible for us, but faith enables the impossible.  What is impossible to man is possible to God.  It might be impossible to us, but it is never impossible to God and that is who we must always have faith in—His ability to overcome the impossible.    

Let’s cover faith’s opposite: unbelief.  Trials never cancel faith.  Only unbelief cancels faith.  How you view your trial can potentially cancel your faith.  Cancelling faith cancels your grace, and thus cancels your blessing because without faith, you don’t stand a chance of pleasing God.  On several occasions Jesus refused to perform miracles because of the people’s lack of faith.  We stated earlier that to lack faith is to call God a liar.  Jesus says in John 20:27, “Stop doubting and believe.”  Romans 14:23 says that anything that does not come from faith is sin.  This means that we are supposed to always operate in faith without taking a moment off.  Satan always attempts to make us cast doubt on what God has said.  Sometimes he twists the meaning of God’s words around, even sometimes deleting or adding to what God actually said.  We see this with his conversation with Adam and Eve and elsewhere, even with his discussion with Jesus.  Satan knows that unbelief temporarily cancels our grace and power that we have over him until we are able to muster up our faith again and believe in the Truth.  We know that faith is believing in the Truth; unbelief is believing that a lie surmounts the Truth.  We receive no power when we believe a lie.  Therefore we must become skilled at being able to recognize a lie from the Truth.  Many times Satan will trick us into thinking that a lie is the Truth.  Satan is skilled at getting Christians to believe his lies as being the Truth.  And often he dupes us into believing that the Truth is a lie.  So to have faith is to have spiritual discernment.  We need to be secure in our knowledge of God’s Word so that Satan will not be able to trick us.  Being secure in God’s Word is more than hearing and knowing God’s Word.  Both Adam and Eve heard God’s Word that He spoke to them in the garden and they knew what He said, yet despite their knowledge of God’s Word, Satan was still able to trick them using God’s Word.  He also tricked them by redirecting their focus off of what God really said and onto what their eyes saw.  Satan wants us to focus on what God is seemingly not giving us and get our focus off of all of the trees that God said that we may freely eat from.  Satan wants to get our focus off of our freedom in Christ and to ponder on perceived limitations from God.  From the mind of anxiety, it seems and feels like God is restraining us from peace and giving us fear.  That’s a total lie, but it is a lie that Satan wants you to believe.  We have to see and understand Truth in order to operate in faith.  Once we know and understand Truth, then we will know that God has actually given us His peace through Christ and has conquered fear on our behalf through grace.  

Faith is needed to overcome our fears and anxiety.  Jesus said to his disciples in Mark 4:40, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”  The disciples in that passage were afraid because of the storm.  Actually, a careful read of that passage reveals that they started off being afraid of the storm, but then became afraid of the One who rebuked the storm and calmed it.  That is what we should do.  Be not afraid of your problem; rather fear with reverence the God of the universe who is much greater than your problem.  Redirect your fear from what your eyes see to the invisible Creator.  We have to have faith that Jesus has the power to rebuke our storms and calm it.  Jesus’ two questions in Mark 4:40 imply that faith itself has the ability to take away our fear.  It is as if He is saying, “If you have faith, you wouldn’t be afraid.”  Fear and faith don’t mix or commingle.  True faith dispels fear.  But uncontrolled fear dispels faith.  You can control your fear by nurturing your fear with Truth.  When you know that Jesus has your back there is no fear.  2 Corinthians 1:24 says it is by faith you stand firm.  1 John 5:4-5 reads, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  

Let’s look at a few more great Scriptures about faith.  Philippians 1:20 says, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”  Faith is not just for the afterlife, it is for the here and now as well.  Paul has the type of faith that he expects and hopes beforehand, with eagerness.  We should let our faith preempt whatever coming trial or test that we might face in the near future by going with an eager and expecting faith that believes beforehand that God is sufficient to overcome any obstacle we face.  Don’t wait for a trial before attempting to increase your faith.  Trust in Truth to increase and strengthen your faith right now.  Meditate on Truth.  The more you believe in Truth the greater hope and faith you will have.  Believing more in Truth means that you will have sufficient courage.  Paul’s focus here is on exalting Christ in his body, not on his problems.  Paul’s eyes are correctly focused on Jesus and off of his hardships and struggles.  We all know that Paul had great hardships and struggles.  But he kept the exaltation of Jesus as his goal, which gave him the type of faith that was powerful enough to preempt whatever future trial he stepped into.  That’s why selfish Christians don’t have faith.  Their focus is on themselves and not on exalting Christ.  The more we exalt Christ, the greater our faith.  

Ps 28:7 says, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.”  We should understand the Person in whom we are putting our faith in.  It is hard to have faith in someone you hardly know.  David understood who God is.  David knew that God is all-powerful, so he writes, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.”  David is able to have such faith because he knew God.  He had an intimate and personal relationship; he had past history and experiences with God.  The more we know Him, the stronger our faith will become.  David knew where his help and protection came from.  I like how David says, “my heart trusts in Him.”  We have to trust that God will help us in time of need.  When we trust, then He helps.  When we are have no faith, we saw in Hebrews that God does not respond because it is impossible to please Him.  So let us go out and fight our battles with the shield of faith.  It extinguishes all of the flaming arrows of the enemy because God is our protector through faith in Jesus Christ.  And after every victory He pulls you through, don’t forget to thank Him because God stops responding to thankless children.  David says, “My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.”  The nurturing of a relationship requires being thankful.  Faith requires that we know Him, which requires a relationship, which requires responding to God with thanks when He sets you free from your trials.  

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