This bible study lesson on the Parable of The Mustard Seed is for those who are seeking information on
- Overcoming depression
- How to have more faith
- How to stop sinning
- Managing stress
- Overcoming anxiety
- Overcoming procrastination
- Overcoming bad habits
- Overcoming lust
- Overcoming Fear
- Overcoming Adversity
- Seeking and fulfilling God’s plan for your life
- How to be prosperous and successful in a conservative, biblical, and godly way
Now I wouldn’t dare giving you the above grand promises if I hadn’t received some major revelations from the Lord recently, which I believed would change my own life dramatically from now on.
I want to share this blessing with you, and the blessing of these revelations are meant for every Christian, and to a certain extent, even for the non-Christians. Everyone can receive the benefits of God’s promises. It makes me think of Psalms 119:130, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”
Mysteries of the kingdom of God revealed!
Jesus told the disciples that he had explained to them the mysteries of the kingdom of God (Luke 8:10). In other words, the mysteries that had been hidden since time of Genesis were revealed in his teaching.
Items 1 to 12 from the top of this post, and even more!
The kingdom of God is as close as you want it to be. From now on, stop acting or speaking like you don’t know how to live victoriously. Stop thinking that you shouldn’t be held accountable for things you don’t know.
Why do I say that?
Just days ago I was like most people. I was not above complaining about what I didn’t know, and what I didn’t have. I would say things like, “how do I stop sinning?”; “I am confused!”; “I don’t know why I am like this!”
The Kingdom of God is as close as you want it to be
Right after Jesus talked about this mysteries, he explained why the multitude didn’t understand his parables.
Luke 8:10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘ Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.
People who don’t really want to receive more from God will not receive. They see but they don’t see. They hear but they don’t understand.
In the kingdom of God, the more we have the more we will be given. It’s like capitalism.
For example, have you tried to repeat a refreshing conversation you had with a dear friend to another person?
If that person is a bad listener, or if he doesn’t have the intimate knowledge or experience your dear friend has, you would feel like your words get caught up in your throat. That person might think that he understands you, but your message is oversimplified and desensitized into something that is far less than the conversation you had with your dear friend.
It’s similar to when God is trying to reveal His mysteries to us. The more we have, the more He will be able to tell us things. The less we have, the less He will be able to explain deeper things to us.
An insincere, passive way of listening is not going to bring us far.
But you are not like that. You obviously want to know more. So don’t worry. You are going to understand the mysteries of God. God Himself guaranteed that. Seek and you will find! (Matt 7:7)
A perfect answer to the question “how?”
Sincere and God-loving Christians often ask “How?”, which is a good question. The fact that you are interested in finding out the answers to items 1 to 12 on top of this post indicates that you like How-to articles, right?
Great, I am a How-to kind of guy. I like clear step by step formula for spiritual matter.
God said, “sin no more!” (John 8:11) And I asked”How?”
God said, “Be joyful always” (1 Thess 5:16) I asked “How?”
God said, “Be perfect, because I am perfect” (Matt 5:48) “How?”
“Have faith in me!” “How?”
“Meditate in my words day and night, and you will be prosperous and have good success!” “How?”
“How do I stop this depressive thought?” “How do I get rid of this bitterness?” “How do I stop sinning?” “How can I become more diligent?” “How can I stop being lazy?” …
God always reveal the answer, although many times I didn’t get the answers quickly. It sometimes took years. God doesn’t answer my questions in essays. The answer often requires God using my own experience and adding bit and piece of enlightenment along the way, which eventually form a 3-D testimony of my own that finally give me the answer.
It’s like putting puzzles together into a picture.
Regarding the question of “how?”.
The perfect answer to the Hows is…
You don’t know how!!!
Yup, that’s the answer. That’s right, you don’t know how. I am not kidding.
Mark 4:26-27 And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.
If you ask God how this happen, how that happen, and how to do this or that, God might actually answer you, but usually the ultimate solution is “just be”.
The words of God change what you are. The Bible is not written to give us a list of How-to, but to give us life.
How often do you see the Bible give you a list of how-to and formulas? You can find them in a cook book, but probably not the Bible.
How does it related to the Parable Of The Mustard Seed?
The key is hidden in the seed.
You might never understand the hows, but if you plant the seeds, and wait patiently, they will give you a harvest. The seeds will change you from within, and release the power of God in everything God called you to do. Problems solved. No need for the hows anymore.
You don’t need to worry about the hows anymore. They are irrelevant.
You have everything you need already. The Bible says God has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)
What is life? Productivity certainly is. Joy, peace, health, and success are also important parts of life. Life isn’t just merely surviving and putting up with sins, defeats, and pains.
And there is godliness. Godliness is perfection and holiness. It’s living above sins!
Life and godliness are the solutions to items 1 to 12!!
Before I go on about actually planting the seeds and getting a good harvest of life and godliness, let me develop my case a little bit better.
How come some Christians are more Christian than the others?
This is the question I had for years. I often heard that some spiritual giants had a major revelation and suddenly they no longer sin. (such as Watchman Nee, Hudson Taylor)
I had been seeking this elusive, mysterious revelation for years, but I didn’t really understand. I read their testimonies but I didn’t see through the surface. I heard but I didn’t understand. (Luke 8:10)
If you have the same experience, welcome to the club! Congratulation because my years of struggles may serve you well!
I often asked Christians whom I admired questions such as “How do you keep yourself from sinning?”, “How come you are so self-disciplined?” “How do you manage to achieve so much within so short a time?”
I’d even asked pastors about this, but they didn’t really answer my questions.
For the victorious Christians, often time they really don’t know how they came to be victorious. They simply are what they are.
I know it’s not about self. It’s about relying on God. I rely on God, too! But how come I fall short while some people always do better than me? And they don’t even know how it happened!
Look into the seeds!!!
The mustard seed has faith, power, and transformational properties within it
Just scatter the seeds (The word of God) on the ground (Your soul: your heart and mind), preserve them with a good heart, and you will reap a harvest. (Luke 8:15)
The mustard seeds are the word of God.
Your faith will increase simply by listening to the word. (Romans 10:17)
Every word of God contains power. (Hebrews 4:12)
The word of God can be implanted into your soul, and save your soul through its living, growing, and transforming power. (James 1:21)
The word of God will accomplish everything it says it will accomplish. (Isaiah 5:11)
How come I don’t experience the word of God that way?
If God’s word has the aforementioned properties, then why do I go to the church so often, read the Bible a lot, and hear the sermons so many times, but still get stuck with certain struggles in my life?
The main reasons can be found in the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-20, Matthew 13:1-23, and Luke 8:1-15) You and I know that only good seed (not to be confused with the mustard seeds) who persevere, who refuse distractions, who suffer persecutions, and who listen to word of God with a “good heart” will produce a great harvest in the end.
What else? The rest of this post will focus exactly on that.
For the sincere Christians who seem to belong to the category of good seeds : they go to the church, they study the Bible, and they do this, this and that, but they still had problems with lust, depression, laziness, sickness, fears, and etc.
You have to unlock the powers within the mustard seeds!!!
God has done His parts, and the only part left is ours.
The Bible says, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3)
God has already given us everything, absolutely everything that pertain to life and godliness. He doesn’t need to give us more. We have enough. We should.
So how do you unlock the power of God’s word? How do you get the seeds working?
Simple. So simple that it’s almost hard to understand.
#1, speak the word of God in faith and speak it often. (Joshua 1:8)
I don’t mean intellectual conversation or discussion. We can study God’s word intellectually, but that’s another subject. Here I want to let you know that even simple, verbal declaration of God’s word can trigger the power of God.
God said, “Let there be light!” and there was light. The physical world didn’t ask “how?”. It simply obeyed. There was nothing too intellectual or too complicated about it.
Jesus rebuked the sea and the wind, and they listened to him. (Matt 8:26)
The principle of faith is that if you confess with your mouth and agree in your heart the things you want, they shall be given you. (Romans 10:10; Mark 11:22-24)
Jesus taught us this,
Mark 11:22-24 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever SAYS to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he SAYS. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
Matthew 17:20-21 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
You can speak God’s word. You can pray God’s word. One thing is necessary here, faith. If you say it and believe it in your heart, God’s word will manifest.
Don’t pray in a way as if God’s promise isn’t there. For example, don’t pray for victory over sin, or strength over sin, because the Bible say that you and I already connected with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and therefore we also shared His victory over sins. (Romans 6; Galatians 5:24)
Miraculously, whenever I speak Christ’s victory with all my heart, temptations and the power of sins would collapse and victory would manifest. It isn’t about my willpower. The victory has already been won so don’t attempt to win it again.
If you believe that God’s promise isn’t what it says it is, and pray or speak in a way as if His promise is powerless, then the reality will come out that way.
If you say, “I really don’t know…” or “I am just confused…”, then you will indeed become “don’t know” and confused. You put faith in the words of doubt, so your faith in the negative and your negative words work against you.
Word of faith works in both negative and positive. The negative side of faith is doubt. Doubt means negative faith. It’s one kind of faith. It works.
“I am tired” So you get tired. “I think I am sick” So you get sick. “I don’t know why things get so bad lately” So things get bad and you don’t know why.
In the past many years, I often talked about my sins, my bad habits, and my confusions. I had tried many formula, listen to many godly men and their teachings, but the perfect formula still eluded me. So I kept talking about my sins, my bad habits, and my confusions, and they remained with me faithfully for as long as I talked about them and put my faith in those words.
Countless Christians speak in words of defeats, of their bad experiences, and of their feelings, than they speak in the word of God in faith. No wonder their situations never change. (Me included)
It doesn’t matter how godly you are, how sincere you are, or how much you love God, if you apply this spiritual principle of spoken faith, this principle will work.
You can apply this spiritual principle in ignorant, but this principle doesn’t filter the results base on what you really want. Like electricity, it can hurt you or serve you.
When you speak the word of God often, you hear it often. When you hear it often, your faith increases often. Faith comes by hearing. (Romans 10:17)
I learned to stop trying to find faith from within. I learned that I was only given faith that was the size of a mustard seed. I need to speak it and exercise it to release the faith of God within it.
#2, Deal with the tongue
People often want to know how to have better self-control, productivity, and all that. They also wonder why they don’t have the full life that Jesus promised. (John 10:10)
Some Christians even struggled with bondage such as suicidal thoughts, depressions, angers, bitterness, and all sort of things.
Christians who are willing to obey everything God ask of them might still live a powerless and unfulfilled life, and most often the source of problems trace back to their tongues.
James 3:2-6 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.
Psalm 34:12-16 Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit.
Proverbs 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
The Bible says that evil words of the tongue came from hell!(James 3:2-6) Hell is the home of demons, and there they torture the damned souls whom they had successfully deceived till the end of their earthly life.
For example, people who had self-hatred, suicidal thoughts, and depression were actually victim of demons. They planted these thoughts and deceptions in their victims’ minds.
The purposes of the demons are to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) The Devil can only achieve that by planting evil thoughts and deceptions in people’s minds. The demons will move on to the next victim after they have done their planting, and they will come back to check their work from time to time. (Job 1:7; 1 Peter 5:8)
If these victims died in sins, or died without Christ, the demons that tortured them on earth will continue their torments in hell.
The tongue is a battle field of the Holy Spirit, the flesh, and the demons. ( Gal 5:17) The demons want to use our tongues to curse, to defile our whole body, and set things on fire!!
Sounds crazy? One time Jesus rebuked Peter with these words, “Get thee behind me Satan!” (Matt 16:23) Peter was just trying to talk Jesus out of the Crucifixion, but Jesus identified the true author of this plead as Satan himself.
The heaven and hell know that if they can control your tongues, they control your whole body.(James 3:2) Which side do you prefer to yield your control over?
When Christians speak evil of any kind, even if they think it’s just harmless venting or teasing, they are actually giving power to the enemy. Words of self-pity, doubts, complains, condemnation, and idle words make the Devil powerful.
The Devil has no power over us unless we give it to him. The Devil cannot order the mountains to move, but we can. The Devil knows it. Therefore, he works very hard to get us to say things that he wants us to say.
Through self-inspection and revelation from God, I learned that I had a pattern of self-fulfilling prophesies. I used to talk about my fears a lot. I was taught to tell things as it is. I was taught to vent it out. For every 1-2 years, some of my worst fear would come to pass, exactly the way I didn’t want it to happen!!
For example, I predicted that since I was so bad in self-discipline (A result of self-fulfilling prophesy in its own right), I would probably suffer lack of achievements. And I predicted that if my dream girl came along, I would be so inadequate and unproductive that I won’t deserve her.
Since immigrated into Canada, I had always worried about my broken English and the fact that I was too lazy to improve it, and when I did meet a dream girl (Second one, see below), she did loath at my accent!
The snobbish attitude that girl had toward me was part of my self-fulfilling prophesy as well. Prior to meeting her in reality, and after I met her, I had been talking about my inadequacy, broken English, and lack of social grace for so many times. I also kept saying and thinking that if I met a dream girl she would probably see through my inadequacies.
A couple of dream girls did come along(Respectively, each for 2.5 years, with 1 year of break in between, so my torments lasted for 5+years), and it did happen the way I predicted. “Better guys” beat me to it, except that the guys weren’t even Christians. They weren’t really superior than I was, but I prophesied my own defeats and contributed to it by the words of my mouth.
It didn’t help when I had been complaining about the snobbish attitude the second dream girl had occasionally expressed toward me, what was I thinking? You can’t get something you really want by complaining about it!!
Side note: Don’t complain about people. Don’t gossip. The more you condemn, the nastier those people would become. Your verbal curses can make people worst than they already are.
Side note#2: I know a lot of failures can be attributed to others, but talking about their incompetence, problems, and attitudes will not make things work. It will actually deliver your worst predictions- “Oh! because so and so … [have done something or failed to do something], it’s going to be … [thousands words description of how bad consequences are going to be]…”
You have faith on the negatives, and you speak it often, so it shall be done for you.
[Back to topic.]
And I did suffer financially and academically because my lack of discipline. I had talked about my lack of self-discipline so many times for so many years, but I had rarely talked about the fruits of the Spirit, which include self-control.
For the 3 years that followed, I cut back on negative words and thinking by listening to God and believing in His perspective on things, rather than in my own perspective– my perspective always lean on the worst angle.
The cut back helped a lot. My depression stopped.
Recently, when I finally had a better understanding of the principle of speaking faith and used it to serve me, bad habits and laziness lose their grips on me!! It’s magical.
Control your tongue, and speak the word of God, and you will get the power of God’s word to work for you. God’s word always deliver when you speak it in faith.
An article I find helpful:
#3, Have Faith
Have you ever asked God to increase your faith? When the disciples did this this was Jesus ‘s reply.
Luke 17:5-6 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
John 14:12-14 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do,
Everybody has faith. If someone believe in doubts, rather than in truth, that person is putting his faith in doubts.
If we believe in our feelings, circumstances, and ourselves, more than we believe in the words of God, then we are putting our faith on these things rather than on God.
Jesus didn’t grant his disciples the request for more faith, but he told them how they can exercise the faith they already had by speaking it.
Faith is like a mustard seed. It’s alive. It can grow.
It grows by hearing the word of God. Faith comes by hearing. (Romans 10:17)
The more we speak our faith, the more powerful our faith become as we listen to our voice of faith.
As we experience the power of God, victories will begin to manifest, and the more we experience victories, the more our faith would be strengthen. It’s a positive circle.
We can duplicate what Jesus did, and even more, if we exercise our faith properly.
# 4, Persevere
Luke 8:11-15 11“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
Perseverance is perhaps the most important key to get the word of God to work in your life. People who just try and see what happen will not last.
The Bible says life’s distraction and time of testing will come. It will look confusing. There will be unpleasant feeling.
After we plant the word of God into our souls and into our circumstances, things probably aren’t going to look very different immediately. It might actually seem worst than before.
The longer you have been a Christian, the more boring things will look like in the short-run. The honeymoon with God has long passed, but if you persevere, God will deliver His promises.
God doesn’t want whiners who whine at the first hint of hardship. God want us to speak the word of faith regardless of our circumstances.
Hebrews 11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 Corinthians 4:13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,”we also believe and therefore speak,
When situations look bad, and when you feel negative from within, keep speaking the word of God.
You might feel sick, but if you know in your heart that God has promised you healing, then keep speaking your healing out loud. If you are unemployed, but know in your heart that God is giving you a good job, or income of any kind, keep speaking abundance.
When I feel like procrastinating or being lazy, I speak out what I am going to do and why I am able to accomplish the tasks. Although I still feel lazy, my body and mind would find new energy that push me onward, and go ahead to do the tasks that I used to procrastinate under similar situations.
Romans 4:17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
The proper way to do it is to calls those things that are not as though they were. You don’t call things that are as though they are. You call thing that are not as though they were.
Man of faith call things that are not as though they were, until they are!!
Man of Doubts call things that are as though they are, until they are.
# 5 , Walk with the Holy Spirit
To be filled with God’s word is to be filled with the Spirit. You can’t have one without the other. Only the Holy Spirit can help you control the tongue.
Go to How to Live A Spirit Filled Life for deeper discussion on the Spirit.
Without the Holy Spirit, we are only as good as non-Christians who practice positive thinking and affirmation. This is why there has been a lot of buzz with The Law Of Attraction and all sort of new age techniques that have to do with verbal affirmation.
You see, many non-Christians can also create abundance and influence others by speaking positively about their situations. They have observed that there was this phenomenon, but they didn’t know why. It was like the discovery of the law of gravity.
The Bible says,
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
1 Corinthians 13:2 and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
It is possible to have the faith of God without obedience!! It is also possible to have perfect faith without the love of God.
The principle of spoken faith can work for you in this life, but without obedience to the Holy Spirit and the love of God, one will lose his heavenly reward, and it might even be possible to lose his salvation.
Therefore, even a non-Christian can be blessed in this life by the principle of spoken faith. No wonder there are so many successful non-Christians out there who rely on their own strength and their idols.
We as Children of God have much more powerful allies– God’s word and His Spirit– and if we work with them to our full capacity, we will indeed overcome this world and be on top of things. (Deu 28:13)
God does not show favoritism, whoever obeys His law of spoken faith will receive its benefits, but whoever violates this principle will suffer loss. In terms of this principle, it is not how much you love God or how sincere you are that counts, it’s whether you work with this principle that determines whether this principle serves you or hurts you.
Other resources that I find useful
Coming Next: Testimonies Of Faith
The best way to learn a spiritual lesson is combining both scriptural teaching and practical experiences. In the next post I am going to show you the testimonies of faith in actions– How people recover from terminal illness, handicaps, sins, demonic influences, and financial hardship.