Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

How to increase our faith in Jesus to pray? How great a faith is required?

Probably, most of us have asked this question in our Christian journey …

For some, … it may be how to believe for greater things from God …
For others … it may be how to have our prayers answered faster, quickly … instantly

Or for others  …. faith to obey the Lord’s guidance/leading step by step

Unfortunately, sometimes sincere believers with challenges are told
by others that ‘their faith is not enough for God to answer
…. if so, then … how much is faith is really  ‘enough‘ ?
Where is the tipping point or passing mark?

Sometimes, we may feel we’re not ready to minister …  we need more time for our faith to grow …
ie.
big problem requires proportionally big faith, …
Sounds logical … but, is this true?

Sometimes, we secretly wished we have the great faith of others  …
wishing somehow an instant faith infusion happens.


While reading Luke 17, found something interesting …

The disciples asked this same question 🙂
… in fact they demanded it.

Luke 17:5 (NIV)
The apostles said to the Lord,
     “Increase our faith ! ”

And Jesus reply?

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed,
you can say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’
and it will obey you.

A very concise, simple … yet, complete answer.

seed finger

Mustard Seed

Jesus did not give a ‘How to?’ recipe …
more like Nike’s slogan … ‘Just Do It!’

While the disciples were looking for a sudden, miraculous infusion of great faith,
in contrast,
Jesus spoke about tiny faithmustard seed size faith

Mustard seed faith … is mulberry tree moving faith.

Jesus was saying … use the faith we already have,
… no matter how tiny or weak it seems.

Hence, its not about us striving to hit some magical faith level,
or tipping-point faith before God answers,
or trying to overcome some reluctance on God’s part to answer.
Neither is the Lord looking for more works or sacrifices either,
… just obedience.

However, sometimes its not a question of faith,
there are instances in the Old Testament and the Gospels,
when the Lord did not answer or ignored some of the requests put to Him.

1 John 5:14 (NIV)
This is the confidence we have in approaching God:
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

John 15:7 (NIV)
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

i.e
abide in Him and His words abide
& ask according to His will

Psalm 66:17-20 (NIV)
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
    his praise was on my tongue.

18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened;

19 but God has surely listened
    and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!

Sin hinders our prayers.

By getting our hearts right with God, by the blood of Jesus, we can confidently approach God’s throne of grace, and  receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:15, 16 (NIV)
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 

Why mustard seed faith?

tree

Mulberry Tree

If its not so tiny,
we’ll end up with faith & confidence in our ‘great faith
or ‘great prayer‘ or ‘great fasting‘,
.. and not solely on the Lord.

The solution lies not on our faith … but on the power of God,
i.e. faith in our faithful God … (not faith in faith)

For a tiny mustard seed faith to move a large, imposing mulberry tree,  (challenges, problems, obstructions, etc)
… many, many, many million times bigger …. implies the focus is on the faithfulness & power of the Lord,  His grace and mercy,
and not on the size of our faith.
i.e. Faith in Him, … not in ourselves or our faith.

Its like Gideon, whose clan was the weakest in his tribe Manasseh, and he’s the least in his family, … but … with the Lord’s help …
with only 300 in his army overcame the vast army of Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples assembled against them.

When Gideon was first approached by the angel, … his response very much echoes our thoughts at times when we are perplexed, feeling abandoned  … “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about …  (Judges 6:13 NIV)

Where is this awesome Lord of the Bible we read about?
… Why is this happening?

Gideon was sincere and honest as he expressed his inadequacies to the Lord.

Judges 6:14-16; 7:22 (NIV)
14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

… the weakest … the least …
 The Lord answered, “I will be with you

Gideon did not expect that he was going to partner the Lord to be part of the solution.  (hence, the Lord did not answer ‘his why? or how?’ question).  The Lord re-directed Gideon’s thoughts from problems … to focus on solutions.

Go in the strength you have
… I will be with you

Often, like Gideon, God has more confidence in us to succeed, … than we have … and He wants to position us to succeed … though at times in our finite minds, it seems perplexing ( 300 vs a vast army?)

Judges 7:12, 22 (NIV)
12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.

The Lord of hosts was still in their midst, He had not left them.
God gave Gideon a step-by-step plan, … only 300 is sufficient for victory.
Gideon’s obedience unleashed God’s power and deliverance in their midst.

22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords.
The army fled ….

Faith shifts our focus from us … to Him & His greatness,
… from what we can naturally do, … to what only He can supernaturally do.
… from our strategies & plans, … to the simplicity of His wisdom & solution
… from our need  … to His faithful provision,
…. from our weakness … to His infinite strength.

1 Corinthians 2:5 (NASB)
so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men,
but on the power of God.

In another situation when faced with 5000 hungry people on a remote mountainside, the disciples saw the huge catering & financial challenge …

John 6:7,8 (NIV)
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

5 small barley loaves and 2 small fishes … and 5000 hungry people, … Andrew is right logically, the maths didn’t add up (!?!?) … the lack, the deficit …

But Jesus is the miraculous difference, … multiplier,
He fed everyone full, with plenty of leftovers.

John 6:12,13 (NIV)
12 
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

Here again, Jesus takes something very tiny, and miraculously met everyone’s need.
From lack, deficit … to overflowing abundance, Praise God!

In both stories & many other Bible stories, God always makes use of what we presently have already at hand … not what we wished we had.

I’m sure most of us have gone through the experience of teaching children to share and give.  The nameless boy who gave away his  whole lunchbox must be commended for not saving it for himself, … but gave it away … he had faith!kids praying for missionary

Hence, a young child … or a brand new believer …
we all have enough mustard seed faith to unleash a miracle
… praise God!

Matthew 18:4,5 (NASB)
Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;

The boy had an unforgettable experience with Jesus that day, when he partnered the Lord in the miracle!
Praise God!


 

In the deliverance of the boy afflicted by demons, Jesus also shared about mustard seed faith in casting out demons,

Matthew 17:19-21 (NKJV)
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief;

for assuredly, I say to you,
if you have faith as a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’
and it will move;
and nothing will be impossible for you.
21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Mustard seed faith … is mountain-moving faith

if you have faith as a mustard seed,
you will say …
… and nothing will be impossible for you.

Earlier on, Jesus said to the boy’s father

Mark 9:23 (NKJV)
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe,
all things are possible to him who believes.”

To the boy’s father and the disciples, Jesus underscored
faith in the Lord,
all things are possible to him who believes

In both accounts, Jesus told his disciples and us to speak in faith to the mulberry tree, and the mountain with the authority He had given.  Prayer is also about speaking to our mountains in faith and authority.

“Why could we not cast it out?”

unbelief, i.e. without any faith in His word, faithfulness & character,
resolute faith in a lie about Him,
rejection of the truth about Jesus.
Sometimes, believers may succumb to fear, deception & unbelief,
that diminishes who Jesus really is.

Romans 1:21,25 (NIV)
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

… when our focus is  on our humanly insurmountable mountain
& ourselves, our lack, our inadequacies, etc …
fear & darkness stealthily creeps in
… and we soon lose our focus on the Lord & His light of hope.

And like the boy’s father, our humble prayer

Mark 9:24 (NKJV)
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears,
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

And upon the father’s tiny mustard seed faith, …. his precious son was healed and set free.

Faith is kindled & sustained by the word of God,
faith in God, himself,
not the wisdom of men, or our faith.
Through His word, His will & unchanging faithfulness is revealed to us,
and by His Spirit, he enables us to boldly arise in faith to face our mountain.

By His word and the Holy Spirit, we receive hope to
believe & receive what we hope for.

Faith acts in agreement with God’s word, revealed by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen

Faith is fanned by hope.

Hope means believing in spite of the evidence,
then watching the evidence change.”
– Jim Wallis

Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance.
It is laying hold of His willingness.”
― Martin Luther

Faith & hope is built on His word and prayer by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:4, 13 (NASB)
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jude 1:20 (NASB)
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith,
praying in the Holy Spirit

Matthew 7:24,25
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

In another situation,

Mark 6:1,4-6 (NKJV)
Jesus left there and went to his hometown

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.
And He marveled because of their unbelief. …

Though,
Jesus was physically present in all His glory,
in the midst of his hometown folks,
Jesus could do no mighty work there
He marveled because of their unbelief

Our unbelief, limits God’s hand to act.finger of god

However, a minuscle, tiny mustard seed faith moves mountains by God’s hand.
Faith pleases Him.

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him.


When young David was confronted with the huge giant Goliath (mountain), a seasoned Philistine warrior,

1 Samuel 17: 45, 47-50 (NKJV)
45 
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. … 
47 Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

48 So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him …

The odds were overwhelmingly staggering … David had no armor or sword on him, no battle experience … while the giant was armed to the teeth.
David was risking his life for the whole nation in this battle.
Youthful exuberance … or faith?

1 Samuel 17:33,37 (NIV)
33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Lack of experience?  Not qualified?  Too young?  No proper training?
You sure you understand the magnitude & complexity of the problem?

Discouragement and doubt came from others, but
David chose not to focus on the size of the problem, or the size of his abilities, or experience,
but on the might of his solution, the Lord.

In partnering with the Lord, David also became part of the solution.

David knew the Lord personally, and that His presence goes with him.

David prevailed unharmed over the huge giant with only one smooth stone .. and Goliath fell on his face to the earth.  

David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.
Faith in the Lord gives us courage to face our giant with confidence … when we humanly would rather defer or avoid it.  David hurried and ran towards the giant!    

Before David engaged in physical battle, he boldly spoke truth in faith to his mountain

I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts  …
for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands

His faith in the Lord of hosts … & the Lord’s victory!

Just before this huge ‘upset’ victory,
Goliath had confidently stood &  taunted the Israelites for 40 days, twice a day,

1 Samuel 17:11, 24
When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. …
24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid

Goliath’s sheer insurmountable size, and constant taunting with his words,
brought fear and dismay to the men of Israel.  Their courage & confidence melted.

Right after David slayed the giant, the tables were turned,

1 Samuel 17:51,52 (NKJV)
… And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
52 Now the men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted, and pursued the Philistines as far as the entrance of the valley and to the gates of Ekron.

Faith & bold courage was instantly restored to Israel and Judah,
all through the Lord using young David and his stone.

Faith is contagious,
unfortunately, … so is fear & unbelief,
but …. but,
a tiny mustard seed faith changes everything.

The men of Israel saw the giant
… David saw the Lord.

The men of Israel listened to the giant
… David listened to the word of the Lord.

Revelations 12:11 (NKJV)
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
and they did not love their lives to the death.

David’s miracle inspired his fellow believers to see the same Lord of hosts was still in their midst, He had not left them.
David’s faith unleashed God’s power and deliverance in their midst.

Hebrews 13:8
 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Like those present that day …. we all need a fresh glimpse and revelation of who the Lord really is …

During the 40 days that Goliath was taunting Israel, the Philistines could have easily attacked Israel as their confidence melted … isn’t it amazing that the Philistines did not.
The Lord is in control … He held back the enemy … until David stepped into the fight & obtained the victory.

A final note, David’s original purpose that day was to bring food from his father to his 3 brothers … however, the Lord had better plans.  Sometimes we God-incidentally walk into situations seemingly unprepared, lets’s remember His presence goes with us as we walk into any situation we’ll face today.



In another situation, Jesus shared

Mark 11:22-25 (NIV)
22 Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.

23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone,
forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

In exercising faith in God, Jesus teaches us to have our hearts right with others and God.

James echoes this,

James 5:16-18 (NKJV)
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

17 
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.
18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

The focus is not on the size of our faith … but on our hearts
 righteous man praying earnestly, fervently.

1 John 5:14 (NIV)
This is the confidence we have in approaching God:
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

John 15:7 (NIV)
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

One who’s heart’s desire is God’s will and His Word.

Psalm 66:18 (NIV)
If I had cherished sin in my heart

    the Lord would not have listened;

Let’s get our hearts right with God and others.

 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours
Elijah certainly was mightily used of God with great miracles,
however, he’s no different or special from any of us.

God has no favourites,
… He favors ordinary folks with everyday challenges & weaknesses (a nature like ours),
who reach out in faith to Him,
like Gideon and the father of the boy afflicted by demons. 

2 Chronicles 16:9 (HCSB)
For the eyes of Yahweh roam throughout the earth
to show Himself strong
for those whose hearts are completely His.

Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 15:9,10 (NKJV)
For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all,
yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

We can’t earn or deserve God’s answers or blessings or gifts,
by our works or sacrifices, but
solely by the unchanging grace & mercy of God

Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need.

Through Jesus and His blood … our tiny mustard seed faith touches God’s throne of grace with confidence … and we receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Faith touches the throne of grace through Jesus blood,  … where God’s sovereignity is met with the kiss of His covenant grace and mercy, so that His divine hand moves upon our need. 

In fact, … even our faith comes from Him, by grace.

Romans 12:3 (NASB)
… as God has allotted to each a measure of faith

Hence, great faith is great receiving of  His unchanging grace & mercy.

Sometimes, He answers immediately,
sometimes He gives us grace to patiently wait, perservere &  to keep walking with Him,
in any case, He walks with us through our challenges,
we are not alone.

Isaiah 43:1-3 (NIV)
But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;


In conclusion, when we’re faced with …

“It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” … “… five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

“You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

“but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about …

Let’s remember Jesus’ words to the boy’s father

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe,
all things are possible to him who believes.”
Mark 9:23 (NKJV)

Let’s put on the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, raise the shield of our mustard seed faith, and raise the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God,  to continue to, … pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.|
(Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

Like David, Gideon, the boy’s father,
… let us, with our mustard seed faith,

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power … 

stand against the devil’s schemes
you may be able to stand your ground,
…. and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm 

Philippians 4:6,7 9 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.

And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus.

Have faith in God,
spend time in the word of God,
rest on the grace of God,
& the peace of God,
as we wait upon Him,
as we receive from Him.

Today … what does the Lord want you to partner with him to believe for ?

“… the battle is the Lord’s”

God does not require you to have great faith.
You simply are to have faith in a great God.”
  –  Bill Bright

 


  Faith | Serving Quietly

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
April 10, 2015
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License

 

 


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This entry was posted on April 10, 2015 by in Daily Rice, Faith & Prayer, Healing, Ministering Spirit & Truth, Serving Quietly.

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