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Saturday, 1 October 2016

Luke 17:5-10 Big Things Come in Small Packages

A wealthy man died and went to heaven. He was met at the Pearly Gates by Saint Peter who led him down the streets of gold. They passed mansion after mansion until they came to the very end of the street. Saint Peter stopped the rich man in front of a little shack. “This belongs to you,” said Saint Peter. “Why do I get this ugly thing when there are so many mansions I could live in?” the man demanded. “We did the best we could with the money you sent us!” Saint Peter replied.

Have you ever noticed that some of the greatest or most beautiful things in life come from things  that are very small?

Let me give you an example. How many of you plant vegetables or flowers? Plants and flowers start as seeds. Once these seeds are planted, they slowly grow into plants and vegetables of different sizes. All you have to do is look at pumpkins that are entered into various weigh-ins at this time of year. Some of them weigh hundreds of pounds, but they all started from a small seed.

Faith is like a seed. It starts as something small and over time grows into something larger that allows us to do great things in Christ’s name. Many people believe they would be better equipped to live the Christian life if God wold only grant them more faith. Jesus focused not on the quantity of faith but its character. More faith does not equal greater ability to accomplish things, since God is the One who does the work. The Lord is able to accomplish great things with only a grain of genuine faith. Even an small amount of faith can lead to remarkable results if it is the result of a genuine trust in God.

When we ask for more faith like the disciples did in the reading we heard from Luke 17:5-10 earlier in this morning’s service, it’s often because we are facing difficulties in life and we fear that our faith will weaken or that it won’t match the trials we are facing.  Jesus tells both the disciples and us that the quantity of faith we have is not important. What matters is the quality of our faith. A small amount of faith will enable us to do great things for God. Having faith does not mean that we will have the power to perform crowd-pleasing miracles. Sometimes the simplest things done in faith can have huge impacts. Our response to the gift of faith is the desire and ability to do what Jesus asks us to do, including great things.

Jesus illustrated His teaching on faith by pointing to a nearby mulberry tree-a large, stout tree know for its longevity and deep root system. Our faith is to be like the mulberry tree-large, strong, long-lasting and deeply rooted in the love we have for God.

When we struggle against life’s injustices and wrongs, we are reminded that the good work we do is a gift from God. That gift is sufficient to enable us to do what needs to be done to further God’s dominion on earth. Faith is putting one foot in front of the other and walking toward a future we do not see but trust that God is working. Faith is heading out the door every day looking for opportunities to do God’s work in the world. 

Christ’s standards might seem to be too high, but they represent the minimum duties for a servant of Christ. When we obey Christ, we are not to think that our obedience is meritorious.  Servants are expected to do the will of their masters or employers; their work is not a favour but a required service. A servant of God seeks to obey God’s commands without question and without bargaining for a reward. When we follow Jesus’ teachings, we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. God owes us nothing, and we owe him everything, even our lives. We are not owed any special favours or rewards for our good works. We will be rewarded in heaven.

When it comes to obeying Jesus, full faith is needed. If we want to increase our faith, we must understand what faith is, and we must be rightly motivated in wanting to see our faith increase. These motives are:

1.      Wanting to please God.

2.      Wanting to do good works of love, which is a mark of a true Christian.

3.      An effective prayer life.

4.      Wanting to live by faith.

God wants to strengthen our faith through the hardships He allows into our lives. God works in all kinds of circumstances, among all types of people, in all kinds of situations. He is with us wherever there is even faith as small as a mustard seed. He is alive wherever we practice the faith we already have.

There are two ways to build our faith-repetition and impartation from God. Our faith builds as we see God working in our lives and we come to trust Him more and more because we see that He is faithful to us. When God imparts faith to us, it is for a specific purpose or task. This is the type of faith we received when we trusted God to save us. When we act in faith, we will grow in faith. Faith is like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger it gets.

Faith isn’t a game plan for solving our problems. Faith does not mean understanding why things are the way they are. Faith isn’t about answers. It’s about the love of God through Jesus. It’s about being grasped by Jesus so that we know in our hearts and bones that our lives, his life and the world are mixed together. It’s about God working through us.

If we live our lives according to the pattern Jesus laid out for us, we should not expect any special commendations or rewards. Following His pattern is simply the way to live life. We are only doing what He expects us to do. It is the life we are expected to live by serving God. Faith is found in the ordinary, daily acts of doing what needs to be done, responding to the needs around us and caring for others.

Sometimes having faith means having our thoughts, feelings and actions transformed by God. It means being a “slave” to God and being wholly devoted to God’s purposes in the world. Faith is just doing our job, or our duty, not because of any sense of reward but simply because it needs doing.

God is gracious to us. Each day He gives us the faith we need to face whatever the day brings. We can grow weary, and we need to be waited on. That’s what God does for us. He has us sit around His banquet table. He serves us with a special chosen Word to encourage us. He gives us bread and wine to renew us with Jesus’ life. We are renewed and we can go back to everyday life.

 Bibliography

1.      Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp. 1419-1420)

2.      ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.

3.      Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, 27th Sunday -C-.” Retrieved from www.preacherexchange.org

4.      Larsen, B. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol.26: Luke (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1983, pp.248-249)

5.      MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Version (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)

6.      T.M. Moore, “Why More Faith?” Retrieved from noreply@ailbe.org
 
7.      Lois Malcolm, “Commentary on Luke 17:5-10.” Retrieved from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1785

8.      David Lose, “Everyday Faith.” Retrieved from http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=2773

9.      Bishop Kenneth Carter, “increase Our Faith.” Retrieved from www.day1.org

10.  The Rt. Rev. Porter Taylor, “Opening Up to Faith.” Retrieved from www.day1.org

11.  Preaching Magazine, Fall 2016 (Nashville, TN: Salem Publishing, pp. 67-68)

12.  Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, 27th Sunday -C-, October 2, 2016.” Retrieved from www.preacherexchange.org

13.  Richard Inness, “Exegesis for Luke 17:5-10.” Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.com


15.  “Pentecost 20 C: Every Day Acts of Faith.” Retrieved from noreply+feedproxy@google.com
 

 

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