Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Measure

Romans 12:3
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

“The Measure”

The measure, the writer said. He didn’t say, “some measure” or “a measure.” He specified that it was ‘the’ measure. Why is this important?

Have you ever heard someone say that they wished they had as much faith as someone else?

Have you ever heard someone talk about the amount of faith another person has as if it were a great amount?

I want to look at the measure of faith.

The book of Romans tells us that God, who is no respecter of persons, gave to every man, the measure of faith.

How much faith did God give to Peter?

How much faith did God give to John?

How much faith did God give to Aunt Clarabell?

How much faith did God give to you?

Metron: an apparently primary word; a measure ("metre"), literally or figuratively; by implication a limited portion (degree):

Pistis: persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself:

Let us step back a couple scriptures:
Rom 12:1-2
1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Here is Paul in his letter to the church at Rome, extolling them to present themselves as living sacrifices.

I remember reading a story about a little girl that was very sick. She was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance to recover appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. He hesitated only for a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save my sister.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in the bed next to his sister and smiled, as all did, seeing the color return to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked in a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”

Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood. Even thinking this, he did it anyway. He was willing to be the sacrifice.

How do we present ourselves as a living sacrifice? How do we resist conforming? How do we renew our minds? He said it in the next verse. How do you do all those things? I am going to give you a measure.

Peter, the Apostle, was a fisherman. In the book of John, there was a time after the death of Jesus, that Peter and some of the rest were fishing on the sea of Tiberias. They cast their nets all night and didn’t catch one fish. The morning arrives to find Jesus on the shore. The disciples didn’t know it was him. He asked them if they had any meat. When they replied that they did not, even after a night of toiling, He instructed them to cast their nets on the right side of the ship. They did, and could nearly not haul the nets into the boats for the catch was so great. The followers told Peter that it was the Lord on the shore. Peter, in all his brashness, wrapped his coat around himself, and jumped into the sea to swim to his Lord.

The rest of the disciples followed (in the boat) and came to shore, finding a fire with fish lying thereon and bread. Jesus told them to bring the fishes they had caught and invited them to come and dine. The fishes they had caught came to one hundred fifty-three fishes. Let me assure you, this was a great thing to them. They were fishermen by trade. How did they support their families? How did they provide the necessities? How did they feed themselves? They did all of this by the fish they caught. This was one giant payday.

Allow me to suppose what might have been going on with Peter when Jesus began His questions.

Peter was counting fish. It is like people today counting hours or weeks. “If I work forty hours this week, I will be able to pay the mortgage.” Each one of those fish was part of something else. “These ten fish will let me pay for the repairs on the fishing boat.” “These twenty fish will provide meat and vegetables for all next month.” I can almost see Peter grouping the fish in piles according to needs in his mind.

“Peter, do you love me more than all of these?”

“51 .. 52 .. 53 .. 54 ..Yes, Lord, you know I love you”

“Feed my lambs”

“Peter, do you love me more than all of these?”

“79 .. 80 .. 81 .. 82 .. Yes, Lord, you know I love you>”

“Feed my sheep”

“Peter, do you love me more than all of these?”

“117 .. 118 .. 119 .. (Man, why does he keep asking me that question) .. Yes, Lord, you know all things. You know I love you.”

“Feed my sheep.”

What was Jesus asking?

He was questioning Peter to get him to understand that, regardless of how many or how few fish he had, his faith and trust had to be in God. He had a work for Peter. That work was going to require faith. That faith had to be there when there were 153 fish and when there were none.

What faith did Peter have? Peter had the measure of faith. You have the measure of faith.

Every one of us has the same number of muscles. Yet, Shane Hamman set a US record lifting 435 pounds in a snatch and jerk weight lifting event, while other men with the same amount of muscles (like me) can only lift 195 pounds. What is the difference?

Does Shane have a greater number of muscles?

The difference is that Shane has exercised his muscles. He has increased their mass by repetitive exercises that push them to the limit on a regular basis. He has, by his exercise regimen, extended the limits of his muscularity.

Hebrews 11 talks about what we call the heroes of faith. It states:

By faith, Enoch ..
By faith, Noah ..
By faith, Abraham ..
By faith, Sara ..
By faith, Isaac ..
By faith, Jacob ..
By faith, Joseph ..
By faith, Moses ..

And so forth and so on. In each of these expositions about the acts of one based on faith, the word is ‘pistis’. It is the same faith that we were given.

We know that the trying of our faith works patience. We know that we are to add to our faith virtue. We know that we are to hold fast to the profession of our faith.

In the book of Luke, the seventh chapter, there is a record of a centurion with a sick servant.
Luke 7:1-9
1. Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.
2. And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
3. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.
4. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this:
5. For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
6. Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
7. Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
8. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9. When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith , no, not in Israel.

The word for faith is our old friend ‘pistis’. The word for ‘so great’ is ‘tosoutos’ meaning “as large” He did not have more than the measure. He had the same faith muscle. He had exercised his faith. His faith was grown in strength.

In Luke 17, the apostles said to Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith.” The word they used implied a desire to have more faith laid alongside the faith they had. They wanted more than the measure given to every man. Jesus’ response to them was that if they had faith as a grain of mustard seed, they could say to this sycamore tree to be plucked up and be planted in the sea, and it would be so. He told them there was nothing wrong with the amount of faith they had. In all of this passage and anywhere else I have read in His word, I have found nowhere where the measure of faith was added to, in the light of getting more than the original measure. In Matthew, he tells his followers that if they had faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, they could say to the mountain, ‘be moved’ and it would be moved.

The measure of a mustard seed:
I have heard it said that: “Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed. “

Jesus refers to a mustard seed. It is the smallest of seeds. Yet, it grows into incredible sizes. Many are those that share the blessing of the measure of one mustard seed.

Do you understand it? You have all the faith you need. Already!

It is the measure of faith which allows us to believe in the grace of God.

How do we ‘beef up’ our faith? How do we ‘grow’ it?

We grow it by exercising it. We grow it by using it.

When David came to the place where he would face goliath, he told of how a lion and a bear tried to take his father’s sheep. He told of how he wrestled the lamb from the mouth of the lion and slew it. He told of how he saved the sheep. Each time, he took the experience and added it to his faith. He tucked it under his belt and went on to face the next challenge. It was not an untested, untried boy that stood on the battlefield that day. It was not an inexperienced challenger that rose up to meet goliath. Rather, it was a faith exerciser. It was a faith grower. It was a faith builder.

You must be a faith builder. You must be a faith grower.

The book of Romans tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God. When we read or listen to the words of God, we exercise our faith. When we hear how God delivered Daniel form a den of lions, we grow our faith. When we read how God parted the Red Sea and the Israelites walked across on dry ground, we grow our faith. When we read about all the miracles and provisions provided by God, we grow our faith.

In my opinion, and you can discard this or listen, people today, know that God can do all these things. The doubt comes in the will. God can, but will He?

I think this is one of the greatest battles a Child of God faces. We read, and we know He can. We hear, and we know He can. We see, and we know He can.

Will He?

What does His Word say?

Luke 4:18-20
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Why did he come? He came to preach the gospel to the poor; to heal the brokenhearted; to preach deliverance to captives; to recover the sight of the blind, to liberate the bruised; and to preach the acceptable year.

What is His will toward us? He wants us to have life and have it more abundantly.

What is His will toward the sick? If there is any sick among you, let him call for the elders of the church. Let them pray over them anointing them with oil. The prayer of faith (what faith?) shall save the sick.

He can.

When no-one else can, He can.

When no-one else is able, He can.

He will.

When you ask in faith, He will

When you have a need, He will.

He gave you the measure.

In the desert, on the way to the Land of Promise, he gave the Children of Israel daily manna. Every day, He gave them enough for the day. On the day before the Sabbath, He gave them twice as much, as they were not to gather on the Sabbath. If they tried to gather too much manna and save it, it withered away. Every day, He gave them a measure. Every day, it was enough.

Interestingly, the word manna simply means “what”.

When the Children of Israel saw it for the first time, they asked “What?”

Manna was what.

God provides the what.

Through His measure, given to us, whatever we need, we can have enough.

How is your measure today?

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