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(adapted from a message by Darrel Land)
I want us to talk about “Faith” this morning. What exactly does that word mean – faith? It seems to be one of those “churchy” words that mean different things to different people being dependent on how it’s used.
Sometimes “faith” refers to a list of beliefs or a religious affiliation. People will say that they belong to a particular “faith.” Maybe they’ll ask, “What faith are you?” In other instances, someone will, “Grab that basketball and take the shot. Have faith in yourself.” Or your teenager will ask for the keys to the car and say, “C’mon, Dad. Have a little faith.” Those examples are weak and anemic in their usage of the word “faith.”
We need to understand what the Bible means when it talks about faith. We’re going go look at a passage in which Jesus describes a faith that can uproot trees. It’s the kind of faith that pursues the improbable; the kind of faith that changes lives.
Turn with me to Lk. 17:5-10. Before we read this passage together, let’s understand a little background about what’s happening in context to what Jesus is saying. In this section of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus has been teaching His disciples about some very important things. At this point, the disciples are probably tired.
Immediately before He teaches them about what we’re going to talk about this morning, Jesus tells them that they have to forgive someone who has wronged them even if they do it seven times a day. Their exhausted bodies and minds had trouble accepting Christ’s instruction in this matter. They just didn’t see how it could be possible. Yet, in Jesus they see a walking demonstration of unwavering peace and determination. We pick up the conversation at this point.
Let’s start by looking at Lk. 5:5-6 – The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Have you been at a point similar to this one in your life? I have and still go through periods like that now and then.) 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.”
LEARNING ABOUT FAITH
The message this morning is not about forgiveness (although it takes a solid faith in God to forgive others on a continual basis.) The message is about faith. And Jesus’ message here is pretty simple to understand. It’s straightforward. Jesus says, “You don’t need more faith. You simple have to tap into the faith that you already have. You need to embrace the faith that is in you even if it’s just a small amount.” The way Jesus phrases His response to their cry for more faith implies that they already have plenty of necessary faith. The problem was that they just weren’t using it.
Jesus isn’t discussing horticulture. He isn’t saying, “Here’s the best way to transplant a tree.” Jesus simply does what He does many other times in the Gospels: He uses what is in front of His audience to teach important truths. In this instance, it’s a mulberry tree and a mustard
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