Welcome – Hi everyone, my name’s Bryony and I’m a member of STC and it’s my privilege to bring this week’s podcasts to you.
This week I want to explore what it means to have power and exercise it well. Now every week at the moment we are reminded how little power we have in our own lives. However as I’ve been reading this week’s passages which come from Matthew 17-19 I’ve been struck over and over how Jesus’ life and teachings still call us up and out, even in these Covid times.
Today we begin with a passage from Matthew 17:14-27. The disciples have been travelling with Jesus for a while they have seen and being part of his ministry and miracles. In chapter 16 Peter has made his confession that he believes Jesus is the one they’ve been waiting for. Jesus then goes up a mountain and before three of his closest disciples he is transfigured, he glows, Moses and Elijah appear, then they hear the voice of God. Jesus then wanders back down the mountain and is met by a scene of chaos.
Jesus is faced with a boy who is having dangerous seizures, the disciples have tried to heal him but haven’t been able to help. In verse it reads, Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” .
The disciples are confused, they’ve healed people before what was wrong this time? Jesus doesn’t unpack it alot but he points to their lack of faith. As we read Jesus’ words we hear two truths about faith, firstly that faith matters, it’s the key component here. And secondly that you don’t need a lot of faith to be able to activate it.
A few weeks back I headed for some introvert time at Derwent Edge, it’s my absolute favourite spot in the peaks, the views take my breath away every time and for me it’s one of those places that feels like it’s easy to experience God’s presence. I left my home in Walkley in glorious sunshine and headed out towards Lady bower. Half-way there the fog closed in, it was thick and damp and as I pulled up to park I was feeling just a little sad, no view for me that day. I decided to climb up anyway, I’d driven all the way. The walk was cold and wet but as I neared the top I broke through the cloud and honestly had to stop in awe. The view was suddenly cleared, I could see the peaks for miles all bathing in glorious hot sunshine. I was looking down on the cloud I’d just walked through, I took my raincoat off and that day I even got a little sunburnt! I started my decent back down into the cloud. I passed several walkers and in my glee kept saying, ‘keep going, the view up there is amazing!!’. When I changed my position and perspective the view in front of me completely altered.
Faith, the act of putting our trust in something, is in proportion to what we believe about the object of our trust. From putting my faith in the chair I’m currently sitting in, to having faith my money is safe at the bank, I exercise trust and therefore faith everyday. When Jesus calls out the disciples lack of faith he is pointing to the truth that they don’t really understand the source of their faith. He could also have said ‘don’t you know who I am’. They were saying they had faith but Jesus knew that their view of who he was and what he can do had become obscured. They were wandering in the cloud at the bottom of the hill missing out on the spectacular view up top! They were seeing God and his power through their circumstances rather than seeing their circumstances through God’s power. So Jesus calls this out in them, much like he did on the boat in the middle of the seas of Galilee he points out their focus on themselves and their own fear and failing rather than his power and authority.
Jesus doesn’t leave them or us in that place of despair, he says ‘you only need faith the size of a mustard seed’. That is a tiny, tiny seed. Glimpse Jesus’ power and authority and you will have the faith you need. Once we’ve seen the source of our faith we can then activate our faith. We can tell the mountain to move. I’m currently sat on a chair, now I saw my husband put this chair together, I could have told you that it was stable and secure, I could say I have faith that this chair is ok. But it’s in the sitting down that that faith is activated.
We can say we have a faith in God but until we choose to activate it, until we ask the mountain to move, until we follow God’s instructions, until we trust him with our family or our finances, until the moment of activation our faith is really not faith at all, it’s just a set of intellectual beliefs. And the result of stepping out, of activating faith? Well, we put ourselves in the place for God to give us his power and authority, or in Jesus’s words the mountain moves.
I believe that God is wanting to give his church more power and authority in the season but to see that we need to firstly know God’s faithfulness, his goodness, his power, we need to get up above the clouds and secondly we need to activate our faith.
Those of you who know me well know I’m all about the practical application of challenge. So here’s my questions today – how are we going to make God the filter we see our situations through and not the other way round today. Here’s a few simple ideas – why not read a Psalm as a prayer at some point today, delare the truths about God over your heart. What about silencing voices that promote your worry, maybe come off social media or give the news a break for today? What about writing down, right now, 10 truths about God and what you know of his character? These are all small actions that will help us get above the clouds.
Finally how can we activate our faith today? Or put another way where are we going to say ‘yes’ to Jesus today? This will be different for each one of us but I would encourage you to ask God to reveal where you need to put your faith in action today. We might already know, in fact it might be something that we’ve been avoiding for a while. Whatever it is, let’s resolve that this will be a day we start putting ourselves in a position where God can fully reveal his power in our lives.
Jesus, thank you for your word and that it reminds us that faith is something you desire for your church. Help us today to get a clear view of you, help us start to see our circumstance through you. And please would you gracious show us the places where you are longing to see us activate the gift of faith that you have given each of us. In your precious name. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 17:14-27
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. ‘Lord, have mercy on my son,’ he said. ‘He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.’
‘You unbelieving and perverse generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.’ Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’
He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’
When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.’ And the disciples were filled with grief.
After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, ‘Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?’
‘Yes, he does,’ he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. ‘What do you think, Simon?’ he asked. ‘From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes – from their own children or from others?’
‘From others,’ Peter answered.
‘Then the children are exempt,’ Jesus said to him. ‘But so that we may not cause offence, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.’