Mustard Seed Faith — Matt. 17:14-21
The Silent Holocron devotes Monday space to the sermon to be preached the following Sunday. However, since Stephen did not preach yesterday and will not preach this Sunday, he will share with us Pastor Tim Bender’s sermon from this past Sunday (yesterday).
Matthew 17:14-21 (NCV)
When Jesus and His followers came back to the crowd, a man came to Jesus and bowed before Him. The man said, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son. He has epilepsy and is suffering very much, because he often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to y our followers, but they could not cure him.’“Jesus answered, ‘You people have no faith, and your lives are all wrong. How long must I put up with you? How long must I continue to be patient with you? Bring the boy here.’ Jesus commanded the demon inside the boy. Then the demon came out, and the boy was healed from that time on.“The followers came to Jesus when He was alone and asked, ‘Why couldn’t we force the demon out?’ Jesus answered, ‘Because your faith is too small. I tell you the truth, if your faith is as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. All things will be possible to you .'”
Our Faith is Like a Mustard Seed
1. Mustard Seed Faith Begins As A Grain
Grain faith is small. When each of us were saved, God gave each of us a certain amount of faith (Romans 12:3). That faith is God’s gift to us. It is enough to save us, but it is not enough for that faith to remain a seed. God wants us to invest and grow our faith. How do we do this?
Grain faith must be planted. A planted mustard seed uses up water in 72 hours, and grows leaves in 2 to 3 days. By that time, it is ready to handle whatever weather conditions it may face! In the same way, we must plant our faith squarely in God. Our trust must be in none other than Jesus. We must not trust money, possessions, family, friends, jobs, education, etc. We must soak up the nourishing water that is the Word of God. That is the only way we will be able to grow and face the challenges of life in this fallen world.
2. Mustard Seed Faith Turns Into A Plant.
Planted seed is greater than herbs. The mustard plant, Pastor Tim said, was more valuable than other herbs such as parsley, sage, etc. Why? Because it is larger than other herbs. Those plants are small; whereas a mustard plant can grow into a tree!
Our faith should never be smaller than when we were born-again. If we actually have less faith than when we accepted Christ, there is something seriously wrong with us! In that respect, we should never discourage young believers from using their faith. Oftentimes we will see a young believer who is all fired up and excited for the Kingdom, and they are hyperactive, wanting to do everything they can. What do we do? “Shush! Don’t make a fuss, young-un! You’re embarrasing me!” That, says Pastor Tim, is like crushing the mustard plant before it can grow into anything of substance! It is like putting your foot over the place where the seed will sprout and not allowing it to grow! That is wrong and sinful.
Planted seed must be well rooted. An interesting fact is that the root of a mustard plant grows three times faster than the stalk. It becomes well-grounded in its habitation. In the same way, our faith in God should be three times stronger than our living by sight. We must be well-rooted in our Lord. How? Through the Word and daily living by it.
3. Mustard Seed Faith Turns Into a Tree
Tree faith must grow. Mustard trees grow up to 21 feet tall, and the root is down to 63 feet in the ground! The seed has a destiny – it is to become a tree. God set the natural order of things in such a way that each of His creations has a purpose to fulfill, according to His pleasure. When God made the mustard seed, He told it, “I have a goal for you. You are, when you are planted, to become a tree.” In the same way, God has a purpose for our faith that must be fulfilled.
Tree faith must have branches. Mustard tree branches grow up to 72 feet long! It covers the entire area in which it is planted. In the same way, our faith needs to spread out three times more. It must not merely only cover us when we are at church. It must not merely cover us for ourselves, our own personal struggles and needs. It must cover our brothers and sisters in Christ, those we pray for, those to whom we witness. It must cover all whom we seek to reach for Christ through our ministry as believers.
4. Mustard Seed Faith Turns Into A Great Tree
Great tree faith is not seasonal. Like evergreen trees, mustard trees don’t shed their leaves or change color. Our faith is not something we can set aside until Sunday or Wednesday, or for when the pastor is around. Our faith is not something that we keep hidden (“changing our color”) when we are around non-believers. Our faith is something that is to be used daily, just like we use our eyes to see daily. Remember, we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). Our faith is to proclaim loudly that we belong to Jesus. Which leads to the next point:
Great tree faith is attractive. Pastor Tim told us an interesting thing about the mustard tree. Sheep love the mustard fragrance and will lay under the tree. Sheep love the fragrance of the tree. Christians are to love the sweet fragrance of God poured out in His Word through the preaching of the Gospel and fellowship with Christians. They are to love being in His presence!
Also, the leaves of the mustard tree close at night, and water drips from the leaves onto the wool coat of the sheep to kill ticks, fleas, and lice. The oil of the plant is curative. Imagine! The fragrant oil of the Lord is curative for the Christian! He heals us of the consequences of our sins, and protects us from further temptation. But unless we, like the sheep, “lay under” (trust) Him, this will not happen.
Then Pastor Tim shared a fact with us that reminded me of my post On Sheep and Goats. Goats hate the fragrance of the tree, and may even attack the tree! The fragrance of the mustard tree, the oil, is repugnant to them. They can’t wait to get away from it! If it gets on them, they are miserable. Miserable! Their distaste for the mustard tree is so intense that they will ram the tree attempting to destroy it, and in some cases even to the point of death. They will ram against the tree so many times, so forcefully, that their skulls fracture, their horns break, they bash themselves to death against the trunk of the tree.
Non-believers despise God and His Word. Many will not consciously admit it, but they do. Non-believers do not want to place their trust in the Lord, and as such will get as far away as they can from God and His people, and at the very worst will attack them. It takes a work of the hand of God Himself to change a goat into a sheep. Truly, we did not choose Him, He chose us!
Great tree faith has powerful influence. Nothing grows under a mustard tree’s branches; no weeds, insects, or even bird eggs. In plant form, the mustard plant is considered a weed; it chokes out and kills any other plants around it. In tree form, the oil from the tree is poisonous to certain plants and animals. The ground underneath the tree is bare dirt. No ants or other bugs live around it. Birds may nest in it, but the oil and fragrance will kill a hatchling. In the same way, the world is powerfully influenced by our faith. The world should not influence our faith; instead our faith should destroy the influence of the world!
Great tree faith is resilient. Interestingly, a mustard tree can withstand a 3 1/2 year drought. If you go to California, you will see many thriving mustard trees despite the heat and drought, provided they haven’t burned in wildfires. Remember, as a 2-3 day old plant, it is ready to face whatever weather conditions it is presented! In the same way, our faith must not depend on seeing God move all the time. We must not depend on “signs,” or “hearing His voice,” or on “seeing God moving,” or what have you. Our faith must depend simply on trusting in Him.
True faith does not need constant contact with the Lord. God does not speak to people all the time. We cannot depend on answered prayer and such. We can’t say, “Oh, I will try praying and see if God answers. If He is real, He will answer.” That is bull, plain and simple. God doesn’t have to prove a thing to us. He doesn’t kowtow to our expectations of Him. On the contrary, it is we who must kowtow to Him. And as such we are to merely trust that He will answer when He is good and ready. We must merely trust that He has a purpose and plan that will not be thwarted. We must merely trust that what we want from Him may not necessarily be what we need or even what He wants to give us.
Pastor Tim concluded with this scripture from Mark 4:30-31 (NCV):
“Then Jesus said, ‘How can I show you what the kingdom of God is like? What story can I use to explain it? The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, the smallest seed you plant in the ground. But when planted, this seed grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants. It produces large branches, and the wild birds can make nests in its shade.'”
There are 8 points Pastor Tim wants us to remember from this sermon:
- God has given you an amount of faith (Romans 12:3).
- Your faith should be alive, active, increasing, growing daily.
- Don’t be afraid to use and share your faith.
- Stop playing it safe with your faith.
- Stop depending on someone else’s faith.
- Living the 5 Purpose Driven Life purposes: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, Mission will help your faith to grow.
- Reading/studying/meditating on the Bible and consistent prayer will help your faith to grow.
- Ask the Lord to increase your faith (Luke 17:5).