Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 4:13-25 in the New International Version. Note 1- 3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Mustard seeds are gigantic! When compared to quarks.
When Jesus said that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains from here to there, or plant mulberry trees in the sea, He was speaking to His unique audience. Today, with a more modern audience, He might use an example like a gluon, or a grain of space-time foam, or the singularity of a black hole. He wasn’t saying the mustard seed is the smallest thing there is. He was saying that with any faith at all, nothing is impossible.
Have you ever tried to measure your faith? Is it tangible? Can you touch it, or see it, or give some of it to someone else, or pile it up on a table? In Hebrews 11:1, Paul claims faith is a substance (or does he?). Jesus tells the disciples (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6) and the father of a deaf and dumb boy (Mark 9:23-25) that they need more of it. So where do we get it? How can we grow it?
With apologies to Paul, faith is not a substance, like Jell-O is. In fact, Paul never said it was. The Greek word he used, ὑπόστασις (hypostasis), is still used in medicine today, although rarely. It describes the settling of fluid due to gravity when blood flow diminishes or stops. It literally means something that underlies or “stands under” something else. That’s why it was later translated into Latin as “sub-stance.” That makes sense in Latin, but not in English. The Greeks, though, used hypostasis to describe title deeds for property. They were the basis for, or that which stood under, their confidence in the business transaction.
Biblical faith, then, describes that which underlies, and supports, our confidence in God.
Earlier, we learned another word for faith is trust. I find that to be a more meaningful word. Trust is also intangible, but quantifiable. I can’t see it, or touch it, but I have much more trust in my bank than I do in Congress. I trust some people more than others. Trust can grow or diminish, based on experience. The more I’ve gotten to know my wife, the more I trust her. The more she’s gotten to know me . . . well, you get the point.
And if I have any trust at all in God, He can do wonderful things in my life.
Recalibrate: Has God given us enough evidence on which to build an intelligent faith? If so, where is it found?
Respond: Ask for the “eyes of faith” that allow us to see the evidence of God in the world around us.
Research: List the sources of trust in your everyday life, and compare them to what is needed to build trust in God.
Remember: “So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift . . .” (Romans 4:16, NLT).
Dr. Mark Johnson is executive director of the public health department in Jefferson County, one of the most populous counties in the state of Colorado. He received his medical training at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University and is board certified in preventive medicine and public health. He is chair of the vision board at Boulder Adventist Church where he is a regular preacher. Mark is married to Diane Johnson and they have two adult children and three granddaughters.
Find a picture book or search online for images of your child’s favorite animal. (My granddaughter loves kittens, so I search YouTube for kitten videos to show her.) Talk about how amazing the animals are. Talk about where the animals live and who looks after them. Talk about how God made them and wonder about what they will be like in heaven. Make a habit of pointing out the awesome world God has made for us to enjoy.
Get creative today and make a poster, write a rap, create a work of art, or build Lego that is inspired by living love. Here are some things that the Bible says love is: patient, kind, good, self-controlled, full of joy, peaceful, and gentle. You can design graffiti-style words to remember for Romans 4:16. Take a photo of your creation and send it to me.
Paul tells us that God accepted Abraham’s faith and that He also accepts our faith. Take five minutes to write down what your faith in God is like this week. Do you feel like it’s really strong, really weak, or normal? What are some things that God has said that you believe with confidence? What are some of the things God has said that are really hard for you to believe? Sometimes we think that because we have questions, doubts, or find it easier to trust other people over God, that we are failures at having faith. Remember how Abraham is praised for his faith? Read Hebrews Chapter 11. This chapter is full of people’s stories and how their faith in God was strong. None of these people were perfect, but rather leaned on the perfection of God and His promises. At the end of Hebrews 11, the writer tells us, “All these people are known for their faith. But none of them received what God had promised. God planned to give us something better. Then they would be made perfect, but only together with us” (Hebrews 11:39-40, ICB). God has made a lot of promises in the Bible, but there is one that is better than all the rest.