Read thru the New Testament 2018
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids
Bible Reading: Matthew 17
Sometimes we get confused about how faith operates. We’re not sure if we are supposed to work it up, or if we have enough, or if we can just claim anything we want by faith and God is obligated to do it. In this passage, the disciples were confused about faith. For some reason that makes me feel a little better. I’m not the only one who has questions. From what it says, they must have thought that their faith would be the cause of the healing of the boy. How did that work out? Not very well. The reason. That’s not the way faith works. Faith is the not the cause of any miracle. God is. But God uses our faith as a catalyst for Him to perform a miracle. It is also a focal point. Why? Because when we state by faith that God is going to perform a miracle…it directs attention to God as the cause of the miracle. That is important because otherwise someone might say, “That was quite a coincidence.” Or, they might attribute it to something, or someone, else. Our faith in God directs attention to God as the cause of the miracle…and He gets the glory. Wow! That means that my faith has an even far greater purpose than to just see a miracle performed. My faith is a catalyst for the glory of God! “God, give me more opportunities to practice faith…so that You will be glorified.”
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
The other day I was watching an old movie. They were mining for gold during the California Gold Rush (1848–1855). The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. Sutter’s Mill was a water-powered sawmill located on the bank of the South Fork American River. The flowing water of the river turned a big water-wheel that then turned a huge saw blade that was used to saw up logs into boards that were going to be used to build a flour mill. James W. Marshall was a construction foreman at the sawmill. One morning, he was inspecting the flow of the water in the river that turned the water-wheel. Everything seemed okay…and then he saw something shiny on the bottom of the river. He reached down and picked up a rock about the size of a pea (about 1/3 of an ounce). As he looked closer, it seemed to shine when the sun hit it. Marshall had discovered gold. Now, that small nugget of gold was worth about $5.12 (in that day). That may not seem like much to us, today…but that was a good amount of money, for back then. And, where there was one nugget…there could be more. People started looking and they started finding more, and more, and more gold. Suddenly, overnight, people were finding gold and becoming unbelievably rich. By 1852, they had found over $2 billion worth of gold. Now that is a chunk of change…I don’t care when you live! The news of the discovery of gold brought over 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and around the world (there were only about 700 non-native people there before 1848). Marshall’s one little nugget of gold…was a catalyst for a huge gold rush.
Do you know what a “catalyst” is? A catalyst is something that has an affect on something else. One of the ways that they mine for gold is to blow up the side of a mountain with dynamite. You make dynamite explode by putting a flame, like a match, to it. The flame is the catalyst for the dynamite. But there is a problem. You can imagine…that if the dynamite can blow up the side of a mountain…you don’t want to be too close when it explodes. So, you can’t use a match. Instead, they use a long fuse. The fuse is kind of like twine, or very thin rope, that burns easily. They dig a hole into the side of the mountain and put the dynamite into it. Then, they put one end of the fuse into the dynamite and carefully unwind it, letting them get far enough away for it to be safe when the dynamite explodes. Then, they light the fuse and…well, you’ve seen it on television. They watch as the fuse burns. Smoke is rising up from the fuse. Slowly the flame is getting closer, and closer to the dynamite. And suddenly, “Boom!” The dynamite explodes and the side of the mountain comes tumbling down. The flame is the catalyst that causes the dynamite to explode. It’s just a small flame…it doesn’t take much to make the dynamite explode. However, if at any time along the way, the flame goes out…then the dynamite will not explode. The dynamite has the power to blow up the side of the mountain. But it will not explode without the flame. It’s not enough to just light the fuse. The flame has to burn the fuse all the way to the dynamite. Then, “Boom!”. The flame is the catalyst that causes the dynamite to explode. But, no flame…no boom.
Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John on a short trip. When they returned to where the rest of His disciples were staying, a large crowd was gathered around them. All of a sudden, a man burst through the crowd. He told Jesus that his son was very sick and that the sickness sometimes caused him to fall into the fire and into the water well. The father was very worried and upset. Then he told Jesus that he had asked His disciples to heal his son…but that they couldn’t do it. Jesus used two words to explain why the disciples could not heal him. They were “unbelieving”…that means that they did not have faith. And, they were “perverted”…this word means “to stop going in a particular direction and to turn around; or, to stop before arriving at a destination”. What did Jesus mean? Well, evidently, it took faith for the boy to be healed. But something had happened to their faith that kept it from having any effect. Their faith had stopped too early, or gotten focused in the wrong direction. Their faith stopped before the boy was healed. Hmmm, no flame…no boom. No faith…no miracle. Just like the dynamite had the power to blow the side of the mountain off…God has the power to heal the little boy. But, their faith did not make it to God. For some reason…it stopped short, it fizzled out before it reached God. Jesus gives us a hint of what might have happened. A few verses later the disciples asked Jesus why they could not heal the boy. He told them it was because of the “littleness your faith.” The word “littleness” can mean size (how big it is), or duration (how long it lasts). Here, it means duration. In other words, it stopped too soon. Then, He tells them that they only need faith “as a mustard seed”. The mustard seed was the smallest seed of any plant in Israel. It was tiny…about the size of a pinhead. Jesus told them that they don’t need a lot of faith, or huge faith…just a little faith. Why is that? Because faith is the catalyst…not the cause. God is the cause. God has the power. Faith is the catalyst. It only takes a little flame to cause a huge explosion…because the power was not in the flame, but in the dynamite. And, it only takes a little faith to cause a miracle…because the power is not in the faith, but in God. Faith is the catalyst…God is the cause. Perhaps what Jesus was saying is that the disciples thought that they had to have big enough faith to cause the miracle. That would mean that they thought that their faith was what caused the miracle. They had to have faith…in their faith. And they knew that they didn’t have that much faith. That tells us that their faith was focused on themselves…not God. And, their faith fizzled because it didn’t have the power to heal the boy. But they were mistaken. It wasn’t their faith that caused the miracle…it was God. Their faith was the flame, the catalyst…and it only takes a small flame to ignite the power of God.
Sometimes we can get confused like the disciples. We have a big problem…so, we think that we’ve got to have a big faith in order to make a miracle happen to solve the problem. That’s just not so. Jesus said that a small amount of faith (the size of a mustard seed) could result in a huge amount of miracle (the size of a mountain)…because it isn’t our faith that causes a miracle to happen. God does it. It is His power that causes the miracle. It isn’t the size of the faith in the miracle that matters. But it is the size of the God in the miracle that matters. And we have a huge, mega sized God! And the amazing thing is this…God has chosen to include us in His work here on earth. Most of the time He chooses to work through us, instead of around, or without us. This is where our faith becomes active. The Holy Spirit speaks to our heart and makes us aware of something that God wants to accomplish. In response, we pray, “In the name of Jesus I have faith that this is what God is going to do…” That faith is the catalyst that ignites the power of God. God performs a miracle. And when God performs the miracle…God gets the glory. God is all the bigness you need. Put your faith in Him. Your faith is the catalyst…God is the cause. Boom!
Love you more than bunches and bunches,