First Fruits Publishing

According To Your Faith Be It Unto You:
Understanding the Power of Faith

by Kwanza

Jesus said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20, NIV). A mustard seed is generally 1-2 millimeters in diameter. That is very small in size but that size faith is great; it is enough to move mountains. In Matthew 17:14-20, KJV, Jesus had just come down from the mountain where He was transfigured. He took with Him Peter, James and John. When they came down from the mountain and joined the multitude a man came to Jesus and said, “Lord have mercy on my son he is lunatic, and sore vexed.” The man continues, “I brought him to the disciples and they could not cure him.” We can assume that the disciples that the man was talking about were the other nine who did not travel on the mountain with Jesus. In any case, Jesus expressed His frustration, “Oh faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you?” The Bible goes on to say that Jesus rebuked the devil and he immediately departed from the boy and the boy was cured from that very hour.

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    The disciples asked Jesus, “Why couldn’t we cast him out?” and Jesus responded, “Because of your unbelief.” Then Jesus says, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, ‘and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20, KJV). It was their lack of faith that rendered them ineffective against the enemy. Jesus said if they had faith the size of a mustard seed then they could have rebuked the devil and cured the boy. Romans 12:3 tells us that God has dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:3, KJV). What this means is that we all have faith; the measure can be debated but if a mustard seed size faith is enough to move mountains, surely whatever measure of faith that God has dealt to every man is enough to move debt, depression, disease and doubt.

    Faith is about setting an expectation and believing God for the results. One day I was called to attend an early morning meeting in Virginia. I was immediately irritated about the meeting because I knew that the commute to Virginia from my Maryland home would be taxing. I had to start my day extra early, I had to drive an hour through congested Maryland traffic, and then I had to take two trains to get to my destination. I was not looking forward to this meeting at all. The morning of the meeting I took all of the necessary precautions to ensure that I arrived my preferred fifteen minutes prior to the meeting start time. When I arrived I was told that the meeting was postponed to 10:00am as opposed to its original 8:30am start time. I was beside myself, what in the world was I suppose to do for an hour and a half?

    I decided to return to the underground train platform to find something to eat and somewhere to sit until my meeting time. I text my husband and shared with him the change in schedule and expressed my frustrations. We exchanged text messages for a few minutes; he was trying to encourage me, but I wasn’t receiving any of it I was too angry. Finally, I said, with great expectation, “God must have something really good down here for me today.” I set an expectation and believed that God was going to meet it. I purchased a muffin and an orange juice from one of the train station vendors and found the only empty space on a bench next to an old man. The gentleman appeared unkempt and ragged, homeless even and there was a strong familiar smell of incense emitting from him. My final text to me husband read, “I am going to sit next to an old man. He looks like he might have some wisdom to share -lol.” I sat down next to the gentleman and offered the greeting of the day, “Good morning Sir.” I nodded. He returned the gesture. He continued to read his newspaper and I began to eat my muffin and orange juice before settling into a book. For the next hour or so we sat in silence. Finally, he got up and began to gather his things. While he folded his newspaper, he hummed a tune. It was a tune that I was slightly familiar with, though I couldn’t quite figure it out, so I asked, “What are you humming?”

    “Because of Who You Are by Vicki Yohe.” He replied. “Do you know her?”

    “No.” I said, “But I am familiar with the song.”

    “Oh you have to hear Vicki Yohe sing it.” He said in excitement, “She is so anointed.” He began to dig through his bag and pulled out her CD case; he offered it for me to look at. We talked briefly about the song and the artist then he said, “When you sat down God told me that I would have to talk to you. And I said, ‘Lord you are going to have to open the door.’ So when you asked what I was humming God said, ‘There’s your door.’” I was shocked. Had God really told this man that he would have to talk to me? I wondered and if He did tell him that was it before or after I set an expectation to hear from God? Or was this one of those divine appointments that I’ve heard people speak of? Whatever it was there was no question within a few minutes of our conversation that God was absolutely in this and so was I. With all parties completely committed to the assignment, the man committed to teach and I committed to getting the lesson, God stopped by and had His way as only He could.

    For the next thirty minutes this man of God prophesied to me. He shared divine scripture with me. He prayed with me and if all of that wasn’t enough this man of God shared a worship song with me that caused me to fall out in the spirit right there on a bench, in the underground train station in Crystal City, Virginia. And there was more, as we held hands and prayed he began to speak in tongues. My ears were hearing the utterance just as he was saying it, but my spirit understood everything that he was saying as if he was speaking my language. I remember thinking, in the midst of his prayer,

    “How am I able to understand him?” and in that very same breath he said,

    “Lord thank you for the interpretation.”

    I set the expectation by my words and God far exceeded my expectations. I believe that our faith is rooted in our expectations, what we believe. The only thing that gets in the way of us getting what God has for us is our expectations. Sometimes the only thing that we have to do to change our experience is to set an expectation. To expect is simply to hope. The Word of God says, “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:26, KJV). Peter encourages us to, “gird up the loins of our minds, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1Peter 1:13, KJV). Hope is an element of our mustard seed size faith. And what is faith but “the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV).

    I was early for my earthly appointment but God had me in Virginia just in time for this divine appointment. I had the most amazing time in the Lord that morning. This experience is forever etched in my spirit. It is a constant reminder to me that God is in control of everything we just have to allow Him to have His way and trust that His way is better than our way.

    “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8, KJV).

No Greater Love

by Kwanza

Emanuel sat at his desk with his eyes glued to the computer screen. But for the glow from the screen the office was completely dark. A cup of cold coffee sat on top of a pile of drawings, sketches, and storyboards that he had designed for various projects. Emanuel was completely focused on the work before him. It was effortless for him to tune out the world around him, but when he was working it was even easier. Emanuel was oblivious to his secretary’s tap on his office door.

“Mr. Rivers?” she called out. “Mr. Rivers?” she called again as she pushed open the door. Mona peaked around the door to see Emanuel sitting at his desk. “Mr. Rivers?” Still no response. It wasn’t until she flicked on the light that Emanuel acknowledged her presence.

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    The disciples asked Jesus, “Why couldn’t we cast him out?” and Jesus responded, “Because of your unbelief.” Then Jesus says, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, ‘and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20, KJV). It was their lack of faith that rendered them ineffective against the enemy. Jesus said if they had faith the size of a mustard seed then they could have rebuked the devil and cured the boy. Romans 12:3 tells us that God has dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:3, KJV). What this means is that we all have faith; the measure can be debated but if a mustard seed size faith is enough to move mountains, surely whatever measure of faith that God has dealt to every man is enough to move debt, depression, disease and doubt.

    “Mona, please turn the light back off,” he demanded as he rubbed his aching eyes.

    “I’m sorry. I just wanted to check in on you to see if you are okay.”

    “I’m fine.” Emanuel replied without taking his eyes off of the computer screen.

    “Can I get you anything?” Mona inquired.

    “No,” he said sharply. “I’m trying to focus; I’ve been working on this slogan all morning.”

    “All morning?” Mona wanted to say, “It’s only 8:30.” But she refrained and turned off the lights as he requested. She assumed, based on his tired eyes and his 14-hour workdays, that he wasn’t getting very much sleep. Mona had been Emanuel’s secretary for two years, so she knew the man that he was prior to Jada’s death, which gave her the patience necessary to deal with who he had become – aloof, easily agitated, and anti-social. Emanuel could be difficult to deal with at times. Over the summer, during her two-week vacation, Emanuel had gone through four different temps; the ones that he didn’t fire ended up quitting. Khadir called Mona, because Emanuel refused to, eight days into her vacation practically begging her to come back to work. And so, she packed up and returned the next day, no questions asked. Mona was old enough to be Emanuel’s mother, and for that reason, it was very difficult for her to not act motherly toward him.

    “Mr. Rivers, reading and writing in the dark is not good for your eyes. Why don’t you just let me turn on this lamp?” She wobbled her round lumpy body toward the glass console, tapping the base of the lamp with her heavy hand. The light wasn’t too bright, but it gave off just enough of a glow so that Emanuel didn’t have to strain his eyes to see. Emanuel looked up at her and blinked hard as his eyes tried to adjust. As Mona looked at her boss she could see that he had been crying. His eyes were red and puffy. The sight of him in that state caused her heart to sink. She wished so desperately that there was some way to ease his pain. Emanuel had always been a tall handsome man with broad shoulders and unbelievable confidence, but over this past year Mona watched as he slipped deeper and deeper into despair. “Why don’t I get you a fresh cup of coffee?” Without giving him a chance to respond she leaned over him and picked up the cold cup and in doing so she gently placed a hand on his shoulder. “You have a meeting with Greenberg at nine in conference room A. You have about fifteen minutes to get yourself together and be ready to present your advertising strategy.” Mona walked out of the office with out looking back at Emanuel; she knew that he heard her because the only time he listened to her was when she was talking business.

    Emanuel closed his eyes and rested his head in the palm of his hands; his head throbbed. He rubbed his temples in the hopes of easing the pressure just a little bit. He looked over at the clock on his wall it was 8:43.

    “Fifteen minutes,” he laughed, “more like two-minutes.” Emanuel stood up from his chair his six-foot two-inch frame loomed over the desk. He turned and walked a few steps over to the window and drew the curtains. He attempted to let some light in, but the cloudy April day lacked sunshine -- its gloom did not offer him any escape from the depression that consumed him. Despite the cloudy skies and the lackluster mood of the morning he continued to stare out the window. He watched as busy Philadelphians raced up and down the city streets to destinations unknown. He wondered how many of them would die before the day was over. How many had plans and appointments scheduled weeks in advance that they would miss because of this untimely, ill-logical thing called death, this death that did not care whether or not you had plans or promises to keep. This death that did not take into account the fact that one was young or old, rich or poor, married or single, happy or miserable. These thoughts brought tears to Emanuel’s eyes and placed a lump in his throat the size of a golf ball. He wiped away a single tear before it began its journey down his cheek.