Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do His good pleasure.”
Philippians 2: 13
“The will of God streams and flows like a colossal, cosmic current through the seas of time. Only the person who also moves in accord with it finds purpose and direction in a divine destiny of utter fulfillment. If you would walk with God in your will, discover what it is. Then do it! Step out in simple faith, your attention centered in Christ to go where He asks you to go; to live as He instructs you to live; to be what He asks you to be; to do what He asks you to do. As you set your will to so live, you are taking the first giant step of faith which He will honor. He in turn will be faithful to you and empower you to walk with Him in joy.”
W. Phillip Keller
Today’s Study Text:
“And (Jesus) said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use to illustrate and explain it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all seeds upon the earth: Yet after it is sown, it grows up and becomes the greatest of all garden herbs and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air are able to make nests and dwell in its shade’…So that same day when evening had come,‘ He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake’”
Mark 4: 30 -32
“The Fraud We Call Fear” Part 11
“A Lesson on Faith From the Mustard Seed”
“The promises are not made to strong faith but to true faith.”
How would I define the word “faith”?
Have I ever felt that my faith was being tested?
In what ways has the testing of my faith helped me?
“Faith and the promises make a happy mixture, a precious confection.”
“Lack of faith is such a waste of time when there is God.”
It does no good to look at the way fear can take control of our lives, immobilizing us as we seek to follow our heavenly Father’s guiding hand, if we don’t in turn look at how we, with God’s help, can find deliverance from the dread and foreboding that circles around us each day.
In a world with 24 hour, 7-day a week news reports and advertisements, telling us that we must constantly be frightened by some potential or perceived foe, it would do us well to balance fear with faith. And this is why I’ve chosen to return to the New Testament where we will spend the coming week studying about the way Jesus teaches us how to handle fear.
Once we call the Gospels. Interestingly, scholars believe this book was written by John Mark, whose history as an aid to both Peter and Barnabas and the Apostle Paul, gives him a front-row seat from which to keep a “diary” of Christ’s life. Additionally, Bible commentators reveal that “the terse pointed style found in the book of Mark, with its stress on facts and actions rather than themes or topics, distinguishes this book as the most vivid account of the life of Christ.” And so, it is from a detailed vantage point that we take up our study that will present insights into how each of us can learn to overcome the farce we call fear.
Since we have found, as we have studied together, the importance of uncovering truth within the context it was written, our investigation begins in Mark 4; 1 where we find that “Jesus began to teach beside the lake. And a very great crowd gathered about Him, so that He got into a ship in order to sit in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was at the lakeside on the shores” (Mark 4: 1, Amplified Bible). Just picture this scene as a host of people crowded as close as possible to the lake’s edge, drinking in every word possible from Jesus teaching.
True to form, Mark continues his report by informing his readers that Jesus “taught them (the crowd) many things in parables (illustrations or comparisons) put beside truths to explain them” (Mark 4: 2, Amplified Bible). In just a few verses, Mark shares that Jesus spoke about a “sower” who was planting seed and the type of soil which the seed happens to land on. Jesus also told of another “sower” who after planting seed “rises night and day” to check on what has been planted so he knows exactly the right time to harvest his crop.
Finally, we come to Christ’s words which serve as an illustration in our study text for today.
In this passage, Jesus compares “the kingdom of God” to a small mustard seed. In fact, some people call this particular seed, the smallest of all. Yet when planted in the ground, the tiny seed can grow into a plant which becomes so large that birds could make nests in the branches. Just think! Something so small, when planted in good soil, cannot only grow into a home for birds, but it can offer shade as well.
However, we need to dig a little deeper in our study to find out another way Jesus uses the common mustard seed to help illustrate a heavenly truth. The disciple Matthew gives us this record of Jesus’ words in Matthew 17: 20 where Jesus tells His disciples that, “If you have faith, that is living like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move from here to yonder place, and it will move: and nothing will be impossible to you.” Now just to make certain I understood the Greek meaning for the words “nothing” and “impossible,” I pulled out my trusty Greek dictionary and here’s what I found. The word “nothing” means “not even one, nobody, nought.” And “impossible” means just what I thought it meant: “not able to do.” Or in plain English, this text would read as it does in The Message Bible, “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, move!, and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.”
You see, from a tiny little mustard seed of faith, when put under the restorative care of our Master Gardener, the potential lies within each of us to grow into something so beneficial to others. We can provide a nest of encouraging love and the shade of our heavenly Father’s blessed covering. I believe this was Jesus intention when He left the earth. He wanted His followers to be so united together that those who were aching, lonely, and broken-hearted would find loving compassion within the sturdy branches of the minute mustard seeds He had planted on this earth. The fact is if this was Christ’s model, it certainly should be ours, too. Just think what a nesting place would be like that replaces doubt with deliverance; hate with love; and fear with faith?
It is from this stage setting that the rest of Mark 4 takes place. And it will be Jesus, Himself, who is at the center when the hopeless becomes hopeful, and the frightened become faith-filled.
One of my favorite writers, S. D. Gordon makes this insightful point: “Faith is blind – except upwards. It is blind to impossibilities, and deaf to doubt. It listens only to God and sees only His power and acts accordingly.” May we learn that as we grasp our Father’s hand, even our most minute seed of faith will grow into such strength that we can be a haven of protection and comfort in a world of fear. In the words of poet Mary Gardner Brainard:
“So I go on, not knowing,
I would not, if I might
I would rather walk in the dark with God
Than go alone in the light;
I would rather walk with Him by faith
Than walk alone by sight.”
"I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I shall believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil worketh good to me;
And, though I weep because those sails are battered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered,
"I trust in Thee."
I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I shall believe it is an all-wise Love
Which has refused those things for which I yearn;
And though, at times, I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn.
I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive;
I shall believe the heights for which I strive,
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And, though I groan and tremble with my crosses,
I yet shall see, through my severest losses,
The greater gain.
I will not doubt; well anchored in the faith,
Like some stanch ship, my soul braves every gale,
So strong its courage that it will not fail
To breast the mighty, unknown sea of death.
Oh, may I cry when body parts with spirit,
"I do not doubt," so listening worlds may hear it
with my last breath."
Ella wheeler Wilcox
"O God who travels with us in the shadows,
You know who we are.
We long for life which is full and free:
We long to know the truth
and we want to leave behind us
all the things which hold us back.
We want to move forward in faith
but the way seems so dangerous
and we stand in helpless fear
before the hiddenness in our past
and in our future.
Stand beside us, gentle Christ.
Walk before us, brave Jesus.
Call us on into life, Holy Spirit.
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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