Summary: having faith requires a personal relationship with God through devotions and worship, following the life of Christ and practicing using your faith
I tell you the truth if you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can say to this mountain Move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
Do you have faith as small as a mustard seed? I do not see any mountains around here for if you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can move mountains. How much and what kind of faith is as small as a mustard seed?
This semester I am taking a class in Old Testament. I must admit like most of you my first thoughts were: “Oh boy, I cannot wait, the Old Testament, how exciting! I am from the New Testament Church how much relevance can the Old Testament have. However, my professor, Dr. Tom Jackson, has convinced me that the Old Testament was written for us today. In fact Dr. Jackson claims that the Bible may have actually been written in modern day as there were cars in the Bible, Hondas: For the disciples went out in one accord, a Honda Accord. Cigarettes were used in the Old Testament for Sarah lit on a camel. David rode a motorcycle. He rode Triumphantly.
While not actually written in modern times, the Old Testament is still relevant today. It is full great lessons which can be applied to our lives. To just read the New Testament is to read the end of a story without ever knowing what really was going on in the book or to read a dictionary without definitions. The Old Testament explains the New Testament. It explains what it means to live a life for God.
This morning as we try to understand the faith as small as a mustard seed we are going to turn to the Old Testament for an explanation. We are going to turn to a story most of us probably learned as children. And since today is Youth Sunday I thought it would be especially appropriate for us to learn from an example of some youth. Who says you cannot learn from teenagers?
We have some tremendously gifted youth in our church. Youth committed to following the example of God. I am proud of every one of them and it is my honor to be their youth minister.
The youth in today’s story are just as worthy of praise and admiration. Turn with me to the book of Daniel Chapter 3. This morning I am not going to read directly from the text. I am going to tell you the story Hananiah (han uh ni uh) Misheal (mish ee al), and Azariah (az uh ri uh). I bet you thought I was going to say Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego but their real names were Hananiah, Misheal and Azariah. They were princes of Judah who had been captured and taken to Babylon during the conquest in 607 BC.
King Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler. He loved things of beauty, grace and intelligence. He thought that if he surrounded himself such things that others would see him as possessing great beauty, grace and intelligence. So he ordered all the young men who were “without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, and quick to understand” to be brought to him. Now, Hananiah, Misheal and Azariah were finest specimen of young men you have ever seen. I mean fine. Blond blue eyed, tall dark and handsome, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Billy Graham and Albert Einstein all rolled into three very impressive and good looking young men. The chief official brought them into King Nebuchadnezzar’s court and gave them the names of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar became so found of them that he appointed them as administrators over the province of Babylon.
Now, not everyone was as fond of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as the king was. Some of their peers, the Chaldeans, were jealous of the attention and recognitions that the King bestowed upon Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So the Chaldeans watched and waited for an opportunity to discredit and tarnish the reputations of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. It was a grand festival that provided them the opportunity they had waited for.
King Nebuchadnezzar had had his craftsmen create a colossal gold image. It was probably the image of one of his favorite pagan gods. The statue was huge. It was nine feet wide and ninety feet tall. As customary, a festival of dedication was planned to honor the new statue. Dignitaries from throughout the land came: Satraps (say traps), Prefects (pree fekts), Governors, Advisers, Counselors, Treasurers, Justices, Magistrates and all the officials of the provinces. Everybody who was anybody was there. A herald loudly proclaimed:
This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music you must fall down and worship the image of god that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.