Pass the Mustard (Seed)

Pass the Mustard (Seed)

Mustard.

Sharp. Pungent. Tangy.

I wasn’t a fan until I met my husband. He loves it, and now I do too. For me, a little mustard goes a long way, but God says that’s true of faith as well. In fact, a mustard seed portion of faith is enough to do the job. So, slap some mustard on your hot dog and let’s train with the mustard seed.

Jesus mentions a mustard seed in three different contexts in five different places:

  • Matthew 17:20 (14-21) In this passage, Jesus healed a boy with seizures. Scripture tells us a demon caused the boy’s illness. Jesus rebuked the demon, it left, and the boy was healed. This immediately followed the Transfiguration. The disciples who had been left behind already had authority over evil spirits (Matthew 10:1). Privately, they asked Jesus why they failed to heal the boy. Verse 20 gives His answer—“because you have so little faith.” Is there an area where you once had victory, but now struggle? The issue may be one of faith—mustard seed faith.
  • Luke 17:1-6. Jesus had just spoken on the seriousness of causing another to sin and on the need to offer repeated forgiveness. The disciples’ response? “Increase our faith.” Jesus’ reply? Mustard seed faith.
  • Matthew 13:31; Mark 4:31; Luke 13:19 These passages give a parable about the kingdom of heaven. Three times. Think this one’s important? Here’s Matthew’s version,He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” The takeaway? Small beginning, big finish.

So why the emphasis on small? A tiny mustard seed?

Because something as small as a mustard seed, when linked to God’s power, has no limits to its potential.

When the battle grows fierce . . .

When the task at hand appears impossible . . .

When the whole world looks like it’s going to hell . . .

Remember the mustard seed.

Nail your spiritual workouts and change your corner of the gym.

Speaking of mustard seeds, check out this link for some inspirational jewelry: www.mustardseedjewelry.com.

Workout of the Week: Pass the Mustard

Memory Verse: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32 NIV

Meditation Passage: Matthew 17:14-21; Luke 17:1-6

Just Do It: Have mustard seed faith.

Capture the Moment

Capture the MomentMemories. We do our best to capture the moment. Graduations. Weddings. Births.

We collect programs, photos, and party favors.

Momentos of milestones.

Remembering is a good idea. God chose everything from feasts to memorials to help His kids remember.

Remember what?

His goodness. His faithfulness. His provision.

Moses challenges us to remember, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (Deut. 4:9 NIV) Here are some tips from Moses:

  1. Intentionality: “Be careful and watch yourselves closely.” Or what? Or you will forget. Life rushes through like Class 5 rapids. God calls me to the riverbank to stop and reflect on the journey. Without care and watchfulness, I shoot down the river, only vaguely aware of His presence, offering arrow prayers when the boulders come too close.
  2. History: We have a history with God. Times when He grabbed our attention and changed things. Decisions. Healing. Comfort. Close calls. Provision. What have your eyes seen? Have you captured it in a journal? Perhaps a recording is more your style. How about photos? Whatever media appeals to you—capture the moment. You don’t want it to fade from your heart only to be replaced by something trivial.
  3. Legacy: Pass it on to those who haven’t seen yet. Children. Grandchildren. The older I grow, the more I appreciate those who walked before me. Testimonies have the power to encourage, challenge, and comfort me—all at the same time.

Your story of God’s faithfulness may be the turning point for your own child’s faith. Share His goodness.

Nail your spiritual workouts and change your corner of the gym.

Workout of the Week: Capture the Moment

Memory Verse: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (Deut. 4:9 NIV)

Meditation Passage: Joshua 4:1-7

Just Do It: Record the memory.

Tweetables:

Capture the moment. You don’t want it to fade from your heart to be replaced with something trivial. Click to tweet.

Believing: An Angelic Perspective

Believing: An Angelic Perspective

“While I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice.” (Daniel 9:21 NIV)

“The angel answered, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you [Zechariah] and to tell you this good news.’” (Luke 1:19)

“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” (Luke 1:26-27)

God calls us to walk by faith—and that’s not always easy. Not seeing, simply believing. I have my share of Thomas moments where I just want to see, to feel, to touch the One whom I believe in my heart to be true.

In studying the Gospels this semester, my prof pointed out how adamant mankind is about what they believe, in the face of evidence to the contrary. In Jesus’ time, even the demons testified to who Jesus was—the Son of God. Though truthful, that wasn’t the kind of press Jesus desired, so He shushed them. Still, throughout Scripture, we have not only the testimonies of the patriarchs, but that of the angelic host too.

The perspective of the angel Gabriel stretches me. Daniel’s stint in Babylon began in 605 B.C. and lasted into the 530’s. Gabriel’s appearances to Zechariah and Mary occurred a good 500 years later.

Does time pass quickly for Gabriel and the angelic host? Do the doors of heaven spin as one-by-one God’s children enter, or does time trickle by? Did Gabriel know and understand the details of the visions given to Daniel or is he, like us, watching things unfold in real time?

Is faith a concept difficult for Gabriel to grasp? How about unbelief? Unthinkable for one who stands in the presence of God.

How fickle we humans are. We have much to learn from those who have gone before us—those who literally walked with God and those who presently stand before Him.

Read Luke 1:5-20 where Gabriel speaks to Zechariah regarding John the Baptist. Focus on verses 18-20. I can almost picture Gabriel saying to Zechariah, “Dude, really? You’re going to question this? God Himself sent me, and you don’t believe my message? You want a sign? You got one, buddy. No speaking or hearing until the kid gets here. How’s that? Take the next nine months and work on your faith.”

Sheesh! Humans!

We humans are a hard-headed, hard-hearted bunch. May God soften our hearts and help us to believe, fully and actively, what the angelic host has always known.

Questions:

How much of Scripture do you really believe? So much so that you actively apply it?

What things in Scripture do you see more as suggestions than commands?

What things about God do you find difficult to wrap your head around?

What would strengthen your faith?

Wiggles and Worship

Wiggles and Worship

The wiggles. My kids were infected early. Squirming bodies. Kicking feet. Restless hands.

Today I’m the one with the wiggles.

Daily, God calls me to come. To sit with Him a while.

And I want to—I just get the wiggles.

Wiggle #1: The To-Do List

It never shuts up. Ever. Like a toddler, it screams for my attention, and my mind races through today’s tasks—and tomorrow’s—and next week’s. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

Wiggle #2: The Clock

I can hear it ticking like a 60 Minutes promo. God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) The clock taunts me. Sand doesn’t trickle, it pours through the hourglass. God waits. I squirm.

Wiggle #3: Productivity

A voice in my head tells me my time is better spent elsewhere. Doing something. Which will it be? Busy hands or hands raised in worship? God says, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22) Even sacrifice and service in His name.

My hands can and will do both, but there is a divine order. God tells me to seek him first (Matthew 6:33). And when I worship, the wiggles disappear. Because worship reminds me:

  • God’s agenda is more important than mine, and if I’m sensitive to His Spirit, my agenda will match His. (I’ve also found it helpful to keep pen and paper handy. When I think of something, I stop, write it down, and then return my focus to God. If I don’t, it drives me crazy, and God gets lost.)
  • God controls time. He can multiply it, make it fly, or make it stop. Only His peace can silence the clock.
  • Busy does not equal better. In fact, when He commands me to be still, doing is outright disobedience and rebellion. Busyness and constant doing must be replaced by the submission of my day and its agenda to Him.

Putting this into practice makes me feel like Indiana Jones must have when he took the step of faith in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Faith in God requires me to take a step too.

A step of faith that God will redeem the time.

A step of faith that what needs to get done will get done.

A step of faith that relationship time is productive even though it deals in intangibles.

Take time for Him today and worship through your wiggles. Your to-do list. Your clock. Your need for productivity or whatever keeps you from sitting at His feet.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Questions:

When you think of taking a block of time to sit before God—not with a devotional or an agenda—but for fellowship and worship—what is your response?

What makes you wiggle?

What are you gaining when you skip time with God?

What are you losing?

Family Application:

Discuss the need to make time for relationships—with God, with family, with friends.

What time currently spent elsewhere would you be willing to trade for relationships—beginning with God?

Consider a specific time the entire family takes to be alone with God individually.

Tweetables:

Daily, God calls me to come. And I want to—I just get the wiggles. Click to tweet.

God’s agenda is more important than mine, and if I’m sensitive to His Spirit, my agenda will match His. Click to tweet.

God controls time. He can multiply it, make it fly, or make it stop. Click to tweet.

Busy does not equal better. Click to tweet.

When I worship, the wiggles disappear. Click to tweet.

Add To Your Faith: Theory vs. Application

Add To Your Faith: Theory vs. Application

In 2 Peter 1, the apostle gives us a building block list of add-ons. Of note is the first, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness.” (2 Peter 1:5 NIV)

Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Faith is belief.

Belief that God will do what He says.

Belief that what He says is good.

Belief that leads to action. Hence, add to your faith goodness, because faith without action is simply theory. Or as James puts it, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17b NIV)

Like my abs.

I can believe that sit-ups, crunches, and planks will strengthen my core, but until I do them, I’ll be a couple shy of the six-pack I want.

I can believe classes on biblical finance will help my money management, but nothing happens until I write my tithe check and create a budget.

I can believe more time with God will deepen my relationship with Him, but until I schedule the time and show up, the relationship will feel distant.

So, what place in your life is marked by theory? In what place is your application vibrant and consistent?

Look at those areas of strength. What are you doing here that you could apply to a struggle spot?

Choose one area where your head knowledge trumps your heart knowledge. For me, I struggle with sharing my faith. I have dear friends who do not have a personal relationship with God, and I’m afraid to talk to them about it. My action step? Prayer. For a prepared heart, for both of us, and for courage to speak.

What’s yours? Move out of theory today. Own it and add some action.

Questions:

In what area do you have heart knowledge? How do you apply it?

In what area do you have head knowledge only?

Ask God to reveal the hang-up and how to overcome it.

What action step will you take?

Family Application:

Read James 2:14-17. Talk about head vs. heart knowledge.

How can your family add goodness to your faith? (A service project?)

Have each member name a specific application.

Tweetables:

Belief leads to action. Hence, add to your faith goodness, because faith without action is simply theory. Click to tweet.

So, what place in your life is marked by theory? In what place is your application vibrant and consistent? Click to tweet.

Move out of theory today. Own it and add some action. Click to tweet.

 

Is Your Shield Up?

Is Your Shield Up?

Photon torpedoes blast. Sirens blare. The crew of the Starship Enterprise prepares for an attack. As the alien force hammers away, the bridge shakes and shudders. Thank goodness for seatbelts.

The first concern? Are the shields are still up and how much damage they have sustained? Vital information. Without them, the Enterprise and her crew will be captured by bad guys or blown to smithereens.

Are your shields up? Your shield of faith, that is. Ephesians 6:16 (ESV) reads, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”

Did you catch the first part? It caught me—by surprise.

“In all circumstances.”

Any Trekkie knows to get the shield up when danger lurks on the horizon, but in all circumstances?

Sometimes I forget, or worse, I don’t sense the need.

Why might I need my shield up in good times, in times of peace, with no Klingons in sight?

Credit Where Credit is Due

Keeping my shield up keeps me honest. When I’m flying friendly skies, I can take credit for the good stuff instead of acknowledging that “every good and perfect gift” comes from Him. Faith keeps me centered—on Him.

Watch Your Back

Though life may be going well for me, the battle still rages. If I leave myself unprotected, I might take a flaming arrow in the back.

I’m Not On Leave

Keeping my shield up reminds me who I am—a warrior. And there’s no leave ‘til the Commander sends me home for good. I can’t afford to sleep when I’m supposed to be on guard duty. There’s too much at stake for my family and for me.

So let’s get our shields up. Let’s look for spots where our faith is weak and work with God to strengthen it.

The photon torpedoes are coming.

Questions:

Where do you struggle in regard to faith?

What would help you keep a battle mindset?

Have you ever been caught with your shield down?

Family Application:

What is a shield for?

What happens if you don’t have one?

How does faith protect you?

What might a flaming dart be?

Can you match a truth that will extinguish that arrow?

Tweetables:

Any Trekkie knows to get the shield up when danger lurks on the horizon, but in all circumstances? Click to tweet.

Though life may be going well for me, the battle still rages. Click to tweet.

I can’t afford to sleep when I’m supposed to be on guard duty. There’s too much at stake. Click to tweet.

The photon torpedoes are coming. Click to tweet.