Do You Have Mustard Seed Faith?

Holding a small mustard seed in the palm of a hand.

As long as we have unsolved problems,
unfilled desires, and a mustard seed of faith,
we have all we need for a vibrant prayer life. 

—John Ortberg

Mustard seed faith is sometimes a difficult concept but one that is very important to understand. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds found in the Middle East, but that smallest of seeds grows into one of the largest plants. Jesus therefore used this illustration several times to show us that even the tiniest grain of true faith can do very great things.

14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus,
falling on his knees before Him and saying,

15 
“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill;
for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.

16 
I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.”

17 
And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation,
how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?
Bring him here to Me.”

18 
And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him,
and the boy was cured at once.

19 
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”

20 
And He said to them,
“Because of the littleness of your faith;
for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move;
and nothing will be impossible to you.

—Matthew 17:14-20, NASB—

We see here the central need of faith, without which nothing can happen. When Jesus spoke about removing mountains he was using a phrase which the Jews knew well. A great teacher, who could really expound and interpret scripture and who could explain and resolve difficulties, was regularly known as an uprooter, or even a pulverizer, of mountains. To tear up, to uproot, to pulverize mountains were all regular phrases for removing difficulties. Jesus never meant this to be taken physically and literally. After all, the ordinary man seldom finds any necessity to remove a physical mountain. What he meant was: “If you have faith enough, all difficulties can be solved, and even the hardest task can be accomplished.” Faith in God is the instrument which enables men to remove the hills of difficulty which block their path. —William Barclay

Beloved, I think we can all agree that COVID-19 is affecting us a great deal in so many ways. We have been feeling as if things are totally out of control. Life as we knew it will never be the same. Our emotions may be wavering while we seek to hold onto our faith during these difficult times.

Having and holding onto true faith is difficult in hard circumstances, but it is possible. In our own physical strength we cannot move mountains. We can’t make something from nothing. We cannot by ourselves change someone’s heart and mind about something. We cannot pretend that the Coronavirus never happened or doesn’t exist. All of these things and more are under God’s care and control.

What we can do is rely on the fact that God knows what is best for us and rest assured that His ways and means are perfect. And if we believe—have true faith—in that fact, we will be able to pray with a faith that will steadily grow.

Just like that tiny mustard seed.

We may then understand that what we regard as unanswered prayers are actually part of God’s grand design to mold us into becoming who He wants us to be. And we will become content, completely and absolutely trusting that His ways are best.


Emphasis mine

Life in Exile

Photo credit by Tammi Rhoney

When you pass through the waters I will be with you.
─Psalm 43:2

Life in Exile 

By Tammi Rhoney

Many of us with chronic illnesses and pain feel like we live life in exile, separated from the rest of the world because of the isolation caused by our illnesses. With the Coronavirus causing havoc around the globe and forcing businesses, schools, churches and restaurants to close, others are going to feel the isolation and loneliness that we live with on a daily basis. I have suffered with Myalgic Encephalomyletis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), a severely debilitating complex chronic illness that has kept me mostly housebound for twenty-seven years, almost half my life. One friend accurately named M.E. “the leprosy of the twentieth century.” It’s easy to become discouraged because we feel so disconnected, but God has a reason for our captivity.

In the book of Daniel, when Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were held in captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar, they sought to glorify God and refused to eat the king’s food and bow down to his golden image (Daniel 1:8, 3:18). They knew the Lord and wanted to obey, worship and glorify Him, even in very difficult circumstances, and they chose to trust God no matter what the outcome. God had a reason for their captivity and that was to bring glory to Himself.

The same is true for us. We worship the same God as in Daniel’s time.  While in captivity with our illnesses, we can find new ways to glorify God and worship Him. I enjoy listening to the dramatized Bible via audio on the Bible.is app because it takes less brain energy than reading and brings God’s Word alive with music, sounds and voices.  We can listen to on-line sermons, memorize and meditate on short Scripture verses, send cards to others and call someone who is lonely when we feel up to it. The more afflicted we feel, the more important it is to spend time in prayer, praise and worship to God each day and keep our focus on Him and not on our circumstances. Psalm 16:8 says, “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”  

There are some similarities and differences between Daniel and his friends’ life in exile and our daily exile caused by poor health. One main difference is that we know God sent Israel into exile as punishment for their sin, while today’s chronic illnesses often are not God’s punishment for specific sins, but part of living in a fallen world. Both are from God’s Hand (Job 2:10, Isaiah 45:7). Scripture says that God is completely Sovereign and free to do as He wills for His own glory (Psalm 15:3; 103:19). His Sovereignty determines the length, duration and severity of our illnesses, just as He determined the duration of captivity for Daniel and his three friends. If it is God’s will, He chooses when and where to deliver us, how and when only He knows (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Daniel and his friends didn’t know that they would be delivered from the fiery furnace and lion’s den, but even if they were killed, they still intended to remain true to God (Daniel 3:16-18).

They also didn’t know that a theophany of Christ would appear with them in the furnace that was heated seven times hotter than normal (Daniel 3:19, 25). God chose to reveal His awesome power in and through them as their clothes were not even singed and there was no smell of smoke on their garments (Daniel 3:27). Dr. Bill Barcley, our senior pastor, said, “God reveals His power and glory in and through us, especially in times of trial and through our perseverance.”

We’re never alone; God promises to be with us because we are His very precious, redeemed people (1 Peter 2:9). Remember that God says, “I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are Mine” (Isaiah 43:1-3, ESV). Yet God doesn’t always save His saints from death or disease. Our calling is to trust and obey Him and leave the rest in His Hands.  As Paul proclaimed, weakness is one of the ways God displays His strength and power through us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Life in exile is fruitful because:

Even as believers, we are a very sinful, idolatrous people, but thankfully our sins are covered by Christ’s precious blood (1 John 1:9).

Sometimes God chooses to remove all distractions from our lives so that He becomes our most important and treasured possession.

While life in exile is not fun, it’s sometimes necessary in God’s plan. We should ask Him to help us give thanks to Him for this time of refining in our lives and for how He’s going to use these fiery trials for our good, the benefit of others and His glory (Romans 8:28).

Faith Over Fear, Trust in the Lord

Today I’m sharing from Decision Magazine. In light of our current Coronavirus situation, this timely article by Franklin Graham has some excellent suggestions to help us cope not only with COVID-19 but with any stressful situation in our lives.

Faith Over Fear,
Trust in the Lord

By Franklin Graham

The only thing that has spread faster than the coronavirus itself is the fear raging around it. Since the first outbreak was reported in China several months ago, it has now reached around the world, causing widespread panic and alarm like I have seldom seen before—if ever. 

Here at home, businesses and industries have been severely affected. Schools and universities have suspended classes. Many airports have become ghost towns, as transportation has been sharply curtailed. Some stores have seen their shelves emptied by frightened shoppers. Professional and collegiate sporting events have been called off. Stock markets have swung wildly, plunging in declines not seen since 1987.

Despite all of our good attempts at reducing the spread of the virus, we can’t stop it completely. It only took a few months to travel the entire globe. However, in the midst of all this growing hysteria, here are a few things we can know.

We can know that whatever we are facing—including a formidable virus—we have a God who has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus said that He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20). So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear” (Hebrews 13:6). 

He is the Good Shepherd who loves us. In the 23rd Psalm He promises to lead us into green pastures and beside still waters. He is the One who restores our soul. Even though we may go through the valley of the shadow of death, we do not have to fear any evil. Our Lord is with us and is able. He has a rod to guide and direct us, and He has a staff to correct us. We can take great comfort in knowing that He has prepared a table for us. He anoints our head with oil.

Right now, America’s soul needs to be restored, and that is something only the Good Shepherd can do. 

None of us knows when this global pandemic will end, but we can choose to live in faith, not fear; faith in a God who cares for us, loves us, is in control of every detail, and who will never leave us or forsake us.

Not only can we know that God is with us, we also can take comfort and find hope that our God rules over all. He is sovereign over every detail of our lives. Not a single sparrow, a single atom or a single germ lies outside of His control. He rules over nations, over kings, over history, over evil, over pandemics. There is nothing outside of His command, and He will use everything for His glory and our good. 

We can also know that no circumstance can come into our lives that will in any way affect His loving care for us. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing [including a virus], shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 38-39). 

Read the rest here.