Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Pentecost 20

"Mustard Seed Faith"

Luke 17:6

October 2, 2016

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you said out loud, "I have to have that!" This is the story behind today's Gospel reading. The disciples are awed at the miracle working power of Jesus. He has taught them about the importance of faith. Now, they are asking for some of this miracle working faith.

We shouldn't be surprised at this. Many times, we also have felt that our faith was lacking. Sometimes, we get discouraged by what we feel is our small faith. Like the disciples, we'd like to have some of this miracle working faith. Yet, in many ways, we are in good company because even the 12 disciples asked Jesus on more than one occasion to increase or strengthen their faith. On one such occasion in response to this request, Jesus told them.

Luke 17:6. And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you.

Faith is not something that you can generate. You don't create your faith it is a gift from God. All Christians have faith. Why is it that some people seem to exhibit a stronger and deeper faith than others? Faith has been compared to a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. The disciples had faith. You have faith. Yet, for most of us this is humble, ordinary not miracle working faith.

Should you be discouraged that you don't have the wonder-working faith the disciples saw in Jesus and wanted for themselves? No. Your faith simply needs to be exercised as you grow in the Word and learn the discipline of prayer. As you do these, you will discover that even your seemingly small faith is capable of accomplishing remarkable things.

Someone did a study of what coins people will stoop down to pick up off the street. The researchers found that the majority of people wouldn't pick up anything less than a quarter. Maybe this is why we tend to regard small as unimportant or not particularly significant. It is a fact of life that when small things are added together they can do much more than if they had remained alone. Yet, our Lord doesn't regard small things given and done in faith as insignificant or of little value.

This is why Jesus explained that even with a little mustard seed faith great things can be done. In our Lamb's Lesson, we talked about the mite box. You can't buy much of anything for a dime but when the dimes are pooled together, they add up. The mite boxes may not contain a lot of money but when they are all added together, they end up funding the many important mission projects supported by the LWML.

The LWML mites are an example of mustard seed faith. What one cannot accomplish alone, many can achieve together. The mite offerings added together accomplish much as they fund a number of different mission projects. The small change of the mite boxes gathered together do many wonderful things.

As we celebrate the work of the LWML, look at the various displays around the church. You see quilts, layettes, and school kits. These represent the accumulated small gifts that are brought together. The small individual contributions make larger gifts that are shared with those in need. This is the Gospel in action. As James reminds us in his epistle, when we take care of physical needs, it opens the way for those who have received to hear the wonderful promises of the Gospel.

While the world tends only to value the large, big and flashy, Jesus does not ignore the small. He wanted the little ones, small children to come to him. On more than one occasion he reminded His disciples that they should seek to have the simple, trusting faith of a child. Jesus embraced the believing little ones and rejected the cynical, callous adults who didn't understand what true faith was.

He disregarded the show of wealth by those making large gifts in the Temple and focused on the widow's offering of her small mite. It wasn't that the large gifts were not important. They fell into the category of that to whom much was given, much also was required. The wealthy were simply doing what the Law required. Yet, Jesus noted, they were giving out of their surplus while the widow gave out of her need.

When Jesus speaks of exercising faith, He adds, "it would obey you." Obey is a strong word that people most often don't like to hear. Yet, Jesus often uses this word. The disciples had seen examples when the forces of nature obeyed Jesus. Twice He calmed storms threatening to capsize their boat. They had seen the unclean spirits cast out. Jesus made what seemed the impossible to obey Him. In doing this, He connects us to the power of God.

Here is the key. The power belongs to God. He determines what our faith will accomplish. Each of us simply exercises the faith we have been given. The Lord does the real work. Any prayer that is answered, any good that we accomplish is the Lord in us and through us. We cannot take the credit.

The Lord comes to us today with His gifts and blessings. As we come to receive the sacrament this morning, we are reminded that the Lord comes not only to assure us that our sins are forgiven but at the same time strengthen our faith. With the strengthened faith, we are enabled to live as His witnesses in the world.

You may not have awe-inspiring faith but you do have faith. The Lord will strengthen that faith, and ordinary earthen vessel that you are, accomplish what He wishes in and through you. Thanks be to God. Amen.


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February
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January
01/31/2016
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October
10/25/2015
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August
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July
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June
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May
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April
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March
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February
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January
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December
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12/07/2014
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10/12/2014
10/05/2014
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09/28/2014
09/21/2014
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09/07/2014
August
08/31/2014
08/24/2014
08/17/2014
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08/03/2014
July
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07/20/2014
07/13/2014
07/06/2014
June
06/29/2014
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06/08/2014
06/01/2014
May
05/11/2014
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04/20/2014
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04/06/2014
March
03/30/2014
03/23/2014
03/16/2014
03/02/2014
February
02/02/2014
January
01/26/2014
01/19/2014
01/12/2014
01/05/2014