Faithlife Sermons

Mustard Seed Faith - Brantford General Service

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lass=MsoNormal>I speak to you in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – Amen 

One of the most difficult things for many people is waiting – especially waiting on something unseen

We are people today that don’t like to wait, in this age of instantaneous google searches

I have heard that studies reveal that, on average most people will wait only about 20 seconds before pushing the already lite elevator button a second or third time.

Waiting is hard work – it can be trying work

Especially if the waiting has anything to do with your health or the health of a loved one

Then our faith gets really tested…

Faith seems unnecessary when times are really good and a trial of patience and obedience when times are hard

I opened this sermon time by praying in the name of God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – I did this because we need the community of God to come beside us and help to carry the burden

We need the body of Christ – the Church, however you define Church to - without judgment, give us messages of encouragement and remind us

St. Paul, in what is believed is his final writing by some scholars, in his second letter to Timothy shares a message of encouragement in the faith – he writes

5I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you…11For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. 13Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us. (2 Tim 1:5, 11-14)

St Paul, the champion of the movement… the Hero of ‘The Way’

            Arguably the most significant man in promoting the Gospel in the early church

He founded churches, challenged others of false teaching – even confronted Peter, in whom Christ declared was the rock on which the church is built,

St. Paul set St Peter on the straight and narrow path

He has contributed more of our New Testament than any other

St. Paul is writing to his most promising student a word of encouragement in the Faith

            He reminds Timothy of the heritage that came through his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice

Consider the people in your life that have share the faith with you

            Was it first a parent or a grandparent like Timothy?

Maybe you were blessed by the charismatic and evangelistic gifts of a great preacher, like Billy Graham – millions have first come to faith through the power of the Holy Spirit manifested in the Billy Graham crusades

maybe your parents wanted you to experience church but weren’t church goers themselves, and it was a kind faithful Sunday school teacher whose love overflowed so much that sharing the gospel was just part of who they were…

We are not all gifted in teaching – maybe it was a colleague at work or a school friend that just lived the gospel and therefore sparked your curiosity

Whomever it was, our faith is a gift… passed on – it is taught to us by others

And so it is only natural that we might want more

                        If some is good than more is better

When thinking about the challenges that lay ahead – one might feel not up to the task and call on God to “Give me more faith”

That brings us to our Gospel passage, consider the situation that the disciples faced just before our passage for today:

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! 2It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 4And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” (Luke 17:1-4)

With their teacher Jesus telling them this message they respond by asking Jesus to… “Increase our Faith”

The disciples, like you and me, when we consider all that challenges us; both in our past and our future – they call out for help

burdened by the warning to not to be a stumbling block… and also faced with the situation that they know will happen, when someone will repeatedly sin against them – they hit the panic button and ask for more faith.

On first glace Jesus’ response is bizarre

Jesus has encouraged them with wonderful stories of faith

Parables that are universally known for their power to evoke the strongest of loving emotions, as we picture the father watching the road each day longing for his lost son and then running out to greet him and celebrating his return home

One parable after another of teaching and when Jesus, only briefly, gives them some challenging instruction

The weight of it seems too much for the disciples and they call out for help

Jesus surprises them, and us, with His bizarre response to His closest followers – His Students that have been with him for nearly three years – He doesn’t offer comfort and give them the answer that they are looking for...but He rebukes them

He says “IF you had faith the size of a mustard seed…”

Jesus – seems to be saying that they don’t have faith

            Then He tells a story of how one might treat a slave

                        And that the slave’s only response is duty

This seems bizarre and disconnected from their request and the situation

I believe, however, that it all goes together and our job is to look deeper beyond the confusing first glance

And when we do, we can start to see something very profound about the nature of faith…

In our world where some is good, and more is better

Jesus challenges our human desire to want more – our desire to store up riches, in whatever category those riches may be – whether it be in wealth or a wealth of faith

To their request to “increase our faith” Jesus is saying… wrong question, you have missed the point… … faith is not measurable

Asking for more faith is like saying that you are ‘sort-of pregnant’…

                        You either are or you aren’t

Faith is like a light switch – it is either on or it is off

            Faith need be only like a mustard seed – small… tiny in size

But capable of growing into a large plant that the birds of the air might nest in it

            Once you have even the tiniest of faith – you have faith…

Enough to uproot a large tree with a complex root system and replant it, not only in water, but in the salt water of the sea

Or enough to say to a mountain to move and it will move

In essence Jesus is saying that “it is not so much that we need more! It is that we need to use what we already have!”

This may come as shock to some – I believe it came as a shock to the disciples

I believe that Jesus spoke in this hyperbolic way to, in fact, shock them into understanding

They needed to understand not to measure as the world measures, not to judge and compete as the world competes – not even to think that once I have enough of this or enough of that, then I will then do what I am called to do – once I have enough faith then I can handle all my problems

                        No, faith is not that way – faith is trusting, waiting, doing… in belief

                                    … And it only takes a mustard sized faith

It is this last point that I take great comfort, in my darkest hours…

And it is this last point that I often find myself giving others comfort

            When I am grave side with someone that is worried about their lost loved one

I tell them of Christ’s word of promise…

I tell them not to look as the world looks… but trust and believe…

That it takes only a mustard seed of faith

Heavenly Father – we are united together in this heavenly rehearsal, … I pray in the words of St. Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy:

13Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit

living in us.  - Amen

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