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Summary: Increasing our faith is a gift from God that we recognize in difficult times when we question God less and trust Him more.

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INCREASE OUR FAITH

(Luke 17:3-6; Mt.15:21-28)

Increase our faith asked the disciples after Jesus had just explained to them the need to forgive your brother even up to 7 times in one day.

The disciples knew themselves well enough to admit that to forgive a person once can be difficult let alone seven times. They knew that many of the teachings Jesus taught required more faith than they had. On one occasion after Jesus had healed a son

who had a dumb spirit that caused epileptic seizures, the disciples asked Jesus privately afterwards: Why could not we cast out that dumb spirit as you did? And Jesus said to them

“this kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (Mark 9:28ff) This episode of not being able to heal like Jesus and not being able to forgive as often as Jesus taught was cause enough for them to ask: “Lord, Increase our Faith !

It is our loss when we do not make the same request of Christ today. Most of the time it would seem that we are satisfied or willing to live with the status quo when it comes to our spiritual life. Then when a crisis occurs, we suddenly have an urgent need for more faith- God please heal my very sick child; God please save me from the shame and embarrassment of this sin in my life, God, please give me the right answer to this difficult problem I face; and we find

ourselves repeating the remark of the father speaking to Jesus about healing his son- Lord,I believe, help my unbelief— another way of saying Lord, I have faith, but I need greater faith to deal with this child’s problem.

We could take a long time talking about what faith is or what faith means but most of us already have a pretty good idea because of being disappointed by the

faithlessness we have all experienced at one time or another. The most common example is the person who promises to be somewhere at a certain time and then never shows up without any explanation or she told you even promised you she would never do it again and then she went ahead and did it again. And what did you say to yourself about that person:

“I don’t have much faith in him or her.” And we know exactly what you mean- the person can’t be counted on, can’t really be trusted, because they are unreliable for whatever reason.

Yes, we know something about faith all right even to the point of sometimes thinking or accusing God of being faithless. He didn’t answer my desperate prayer; He allowed this terrible evil to happen in my family; here I am trying to live a decent life and I’m getting further behind instead of ahead- where is this God who blesses and keeps safe- where no evil shall befall me, no scourge come near my tent (Psalm 91:10)?

What can be even more discouraging is what Jesus said to his disciples after they asked Him

to Increase our Faith. He said to them:

If you had faith even the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this tree be rooted up and be planted in the sea and it would obey you. In Mark 11:23 Jesus uses the example of a mountain

(far greater than a tree): “whoever says to this mountain, be taken up and cast into the sea and

does not doubt in his heart, but believes it will come to pass, it will be done for him.

-2-

If we can’t even move trees or mountains into the sea, our faith must be smaller than a

mustard seed or is this just hyperbole, exaggeration, that Jesus is using to make a point about how important faith is in our spiritual life. I wonder if we have more faith in our car starting

than we do in Jesus answering our prayer. I wonder if we have more faith in our best friend

helping us than we do in Jesus helping us. I wonder if we have more faith in our self to make

a living and pay the bills than we do in hearing and answering the call of Jesus to serve Him.

It might be a good idea at this point to look at someone for a moment who Jesus said had

faith, in this example great faith. The person is an unnamed Canaanite woman whose daughter was possessed by a demon. At her first cry for help Jesus did not answer her and his disciples told him to send the woman away because she kept following them and begging for help. Finally Jesus did answer the woman telling her:

“…I was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

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