How to Strengthen Faith

  • October 17, 2018
Wednesday 17

Matthew 17:14-20

How do you know whether your faith is strong or weak? We realize that as believers, we’re supposed to trust God with every aspect of life, but circumstances may cause us to waver. This is not a new problem—five times in the book of Matthew, Jesus pointed out examples and symptoms of what He called “little faith.”

Anxiety. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed people who were worried about their basic needs being met (Matt. 6:25-34). He assured them of divine provision if God’s kingdom was their top priority.

Fear. When a storm arose, the disciples were afraid even though the Creator of the wind and the sea was with them, asleep in the boat (Matt. 8:23-27).

Focus. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he had faith to walk on water. But when he focused on his circumstances, he began to sink. (Matt. 14:24-33).

Forgetfulness. Despite the feeding of thousands, the disciples failed to remember Christ’s past provision in their current situation (Matt. 16:5-12).

Inadequacy.  Although Jesus had given His disciples authority to cast out demons, they felt inadequate and lacked divine power when faced with a particularly difficult situation (Matt. 17:14-20).

In each case, the wrong mindset resulted in a lack of confidence in Christ. Diminished faith begins not with circumstances but with our thinking and focus. Therefore, if we want to increase our trust in God, we must fill our minds with the truth of Scripture, remember our Father’s faithfulness to us in the past, and look for His hand working in our present situation. When our minds are renewed, our faith will be also.

Bible in One Year: Mark 10-12

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14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying,

15 Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.

16 I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him."

17 And Jesus answered and said, You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me."

18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, Why could we not drive it out?"

20 And He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

25 For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,

29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

31 Do not worry then, saying, `What will we eat?' or `What will we drink?' or `What will we wear for clothing?'

32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

23 When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.

24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.

25 And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, Save us, Lord; we are perishing!"

26 He said to them, Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.

27 The men were amazed, and said, What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

24 But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.

26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear.

27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."

28 Peter said to Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."

29 And He said, Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me!"

31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, You are certainly God's Son!"

5 And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread.

6 And Jesus said to them, Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

7 They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, He said that because we did not bring any bread."

8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?

9 Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up?

10 Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up?

11 How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

1 Getting up, He went from there to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan; crowds gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them.

2 Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife.

3 And He answered and said to them, What did Moses command you?"

4 They said, Moses permitted a man TO WRITE A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY."

5 But Jesus said to them, Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.

6 But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE.

7 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER,

8 AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.

9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

10 In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again.

11 And He said to them, Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her;

12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery."

13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.

14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all. "

16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

18 And Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.

19 You know the commandments, `DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'"

20 And he said to Him, Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up."

21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!"

24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!

25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, Then who can be saved?"

27 Looking at them, Jesus said, With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."

28 Peter began to say to Him, Behold, we have left everything and followed You."

29 Jesus said, Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake,

30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

31 But many who are first will be last, and the last, first."

32 They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him,

33 saying, Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles.

34 They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again."

35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You."

36 And He said to them, What do you want Me to do for you?"

37 They said to Him, Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory."

38 But Jesus said to them, You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"

39 They said to Him, We are able." And Jesus said to them, The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.

40 But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."

41 Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.

42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.

43 But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;

44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

46 Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road.

47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

48 Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

49 And Jesus stopped and said, Call him here. " So they called the blind man, saying to him, Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you."

50 Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus.

51 And answering him, Jesus said, What do you want Me to do for you?" And the blind man said to Him, Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!"

52 And Jesus said to him, Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.

1 As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples,

2 and said to them, Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here.

3 If anyone says to you, `Why are you doing this?' you say, `The Lord has need of it'; and immediately he will send it back here."

4 They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it.

5 Some of the bystanders were saying to them, What are you doing, untying the colt?"

6 They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission.

7 They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it.

8 And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.

9 Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD;

10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!"

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.

12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry.

13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.

14 He said to it, May no one ever eat fruit from you again!" And His disciples were listening.

15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves;

16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple.

17 And He began to teach and say to them, Is it not written, `MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS'? But you have made it a ROBBERS' DEN."

18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.

19 When evening came, they would go out of the city.

20 As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up.

21 Being reminded, Peter said to Him, Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered."

22 And Jesus answered saying to them, Have faith in God.

23 Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

24 Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.

26 [ But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions."]

27 They came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to Him,

28 and began saying to Him, By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?"

29 And Jesus said to them, I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things.

30 Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me."

31 They began reasoning among themselves, saying, If we say, `From heaven,' He will say, `Then why did you not believe him?'

32 But shall we say, `From men'?"--they were afraid of the people, for everyone considered John to have been a real prophet.

33 Answering Jesus, they said, We do not know." And Jesus said to them, Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things."

1 And He began to speak to them in parables: A man PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT, AND DUG A VAT UNDER THE WINE PRESS AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey.

2 At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers.

3 They took him, and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.

4 Again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully.

5 And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some and killing others.

6 He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, `They will respect my son.'

7 But those vine-growers said to one another, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!'

8 They took him, and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.

9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others.

10 Have you not even read this Scripture: `THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone;

11 THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES'?"

12 And they were seeking to seize Him, and yet they feared the people, for they understood that He spoke the parable against them. And so they left Him and went away.

13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement.

14 They came and said to Him, Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?

15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?" But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at."

16 They brought one. And He said to them, Whose likeness and inscription is this?" And they said to Him, Caesar's."

17 And Jesus said to them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him.

18 Some Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection) came to Jesus, and began questioning Him, saying,

19 Teacher, Moses wrote for us that IF A MAN'S BROTHER DIES and leaves behind a wife AND LEAVES NO CHILD, HIS BROTHER SHOULD MARRY THE WIFE AND RAISE UP CHILDREN TO HIS BROTHER.

20 There were seven brothers; and the first took a wife, and died leaving no children.

21 The second one married her, and died leaving behind no children; and the third likewise;

22 and so all seven left no children. Last of all the woman died also.

23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, which one's wife will she be? For all seven had married her."

24 Jesus said to them, Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?

25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

26 But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, `I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB'?

27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken."

28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, What commandment is the foremost of all?"

29 Jesus answered, The foremost is, `HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;

30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'

31 The second is this, `YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

32 The scribe said to Him, Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM;

33 AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE'S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God." After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.

35 And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?

36 David himself said in the Holy Spirit, `THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET."'

37 David himself calls Him `Lord'; so in what sense is He his son?" And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.

38 In His teaching He was saying: Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places,

39 and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets,

40 who devour widows' houses, and for appearance's sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation."

41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.

42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.

43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury;

44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on."

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Publish Date October 17, 2018
How to Strengthen Faith

We know our faith in God is growing stronger when it doesn’t change with our circumstances.

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