READ: Matthew 17:14--18:14
THINK: Among the biggest lies and deceptions Satan uses is to convince people that he doesn't exist. But the Bible talks a lot about the devil and his forces of evil. While Jesus' followers need to be sober and aware of the devil's tactics, they do not have to fear evil. In fact, Jesus expects His followers to use the power and authority He gives them to defeat evil, but they must demonstrate uncompromising faith in God. The amount of faith is not the main issue; it is the focus of the faith and how we respond to the opportunities God gives us to demonstrate His power (see 17:20 note). God must be both the source and the focus of our faith in order for it to be ultimately effective.
RESPOND: Why do Jesus' followers often lack the faith, power and influence that characterized Jesus during His time on earth? What was Jesus point in saying that His disciples needed more faith, but then saying, "if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, ... Nothing will be impossible for you" (17:20-21)? How can you grow in faith? (See 17:20 note.) In what ways is God's measure of "greatness" vastly different than the world's standards? In what ways must people become "like little children" in order to be part of God's kingdom? (See 18:3 note.) In what ways might people cause others to sin, and why is that such a serious offense against God? (See 18:7 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to remove anything in your life that may be hindering your faith and to build your faith as you spend time in His Word. Ask Him to keep you humble and childlike as you depend on Him.
ACT: Think of something that you are trusting God for right now. Make sure that the focus of your faith is not so much the situation or need, but in God himself. Leave the situation in His hands and begin praying that God be honored in the situation. Also, examine your life to see if you need to deal with and remove anything that could possibly cause another person to compromise their conscience and defy God.
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