This is the third step in breaking the Rich/Poor barrier and one more secret never before revealed. Throughout decades of truth seeking I have never once heard the following interpretation of the well-known “Parable of the Mustard Seed”.
It's interesting to note that there are two totally different passages about the mustard seed. In Matthew chapter 17 verse 20, when Jesus’ disciples were unsuccessful in casting out demons from a lunatic, they asked him why they couldn’t cure the boy, yet he could. Jesus didn't say, “It’s because I am the Son of God and you can never hope to do what I do”. No, he told them they could do the same and more. Mt 17:20 “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
However, in Matthew chapter 13, we are given a different view of the mustard seed. Here is what Jesus says. Mt 13:31-32 “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”
Here is their similarity: both passages are about faith. On one level you could say that it doesn’t take much faith to plant a seed and then believe it is going to do what it is genetically programmed to do, become a mustard plant. On the other hand, since the mustard seed starts out so small as a seed, then becomes a tree, you could say this is indicative of how faith starts and grows.
For years, every time I read this passage I read it with that traditional understanding. Pastors and teachers in numerous religious circles have taught this for centuries. However, many years later, after working on various farms and nurseries, I began to question those interpretations and sought the Holy Spirit’s guidance as to it’s REAL meaning. You see, I’ve seen fields of mustard and a mustard plant, like the Bible says, is a herb. It does NOT grow up to “become a tree” in which birds of the air can come and lodge in it’s branches! A tree is a tree, NOT an herb not by any stretch of the imagination! An herb by definition is an herbaceous perennial; the above ground part of the plant dies back yearly and then comes up again the next year from the root.
I started re-reading and comparing Mt. 13:31-32 with the other gospels. In Matthew’s rendition, as quoted above, one could get the impression that Jesus was speaking metaphorically, as in the herb becoming like a tree. But in Lu 13:19 we read that the kingdom of heaven “Is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed * a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.” Notice here that Luke tells us that it grew into a great tree. I looked up the Greek word for tree and the Greek word for herb and they are entirely different. The Greek word for tree is used in many places in the bible and it always means a tree, not an herb, and mustard is clearly identified as an herb.
One day during meditation it finally dawned on me. Jesus was saying we should have faith like this: to believe that an herb plant can become a tree, something not possible in this natural world. In other words, when we tap into our supernatural connection to God, via faith, we can manifest in this natural world what would not normally come to pass.
Jesus talks about faith like a mustard seed in one passage and in another says the kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed (a single seed) that is transformed into a tree. Within the structure of a mustard seed, within its DNA is a pre-programmed script created by God, which says that when planted it will always sprout and grow into a mustard plant. That same script says it will never, ever become a tree. But if we had faith to believe that we could alter the natural order of things, even something’s DNA, so that it becomes a member of a totally different plant family altogether (from an herb to a tree) this would indeed be like saying to a mountain, be cast in the sea.
Now, transpose this to the realm of commerce. If you are poor you could consider yourself and your business, when compared to a large fortune 500 international corporation, as a single, tiny mustard seed. When such a large corporation sows seeds, it would be like sowing millions, not one single seed. When your single seed is planted it is naturally limited to a relatively small harvest, because it can only grow to be one single plant. Even if the harvest is 60 fold, or 100 fold, you still only get 60 seeds or 100 seeds in return. Now imagine what faith can do. It can transform a small herb plant into a magnificent tree, so large as to enable the birds to lodge in its branches. How mighty will be your harvest!!! I imagine its harvest would at least be 100,000 fold!!
Of course, an herb becoming a tree is not possible in the natural realm most of us live in… but neither is healing leprosy or restoring sight, or walking on water. Remember, if Jesus said that we shall do even greater works, at the very least this means we have the same supernatural powers available to us.
Many people I’ve known, including myself, have had enough faith to literally create something from nothing. They defied the odds and even with bad credit were able to start capital-intensive businesses. My Internet high-tech business was such a business, normally requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars as a startup. Even though I had no money of my own and no experience as an Internet provider, I believed it would happen, not just because I wanted it to happen, but because when I came into God’s presence during my daily morning meditations it seemed it was already done. I felt this so strongly I believed it was already manifest in the spirit realm. So, I networked with the local town’s organizations, getting the town’s planning commission to invite their key members to meetings where I could help them believe too. The local newspaper ran some stories on those meetings; I applied for an Appalachian Regional Grant; I gathered what info I could on equipment to use and how to set it up. Eventually the grant was turned down, but I didn't give up. I convinced the local telephone company to buy the equipment I needed (because it meant a lot more sales of second phone lines for them) and the rest of my startup capital I obtained by pre-selling Internet accounts at a discount.
However, business is not primarily about how great and unbelievable a start a person makes. Neither is it just about turning a profit or running a quality service for many years (seven in my case, till I sold the business). Rather, it's about sustaining that profitability over the long haul. For what would it profit a man in the long run, if his business gains worldwide market share but then goes under, causing his family as well as all his employee’s families, to lose everything and become destitute?
During my meditations on this subject I gleaned the following Five Essentials for Transforming Natural Opportunities into Supernatural Successes™:
1.AN IDEA: Choosing the right idea at the right time; ideally your business is part of your purpose-driven life, and you have sought and obtained a vision from God.
2.A PLAN: A well thought out, written, business and marketing plan is not always a necessity, but it is always wise to create one (it helps one to organize their ideas and create a plan of action) .
3.THE KNOWLEDGE: Practical, street-smart business knowledge specific to your type of business. Mentoring is the best way to get that knowledge.
4.THE PERSEVERANCE: Patient perseverance that declares, “I’ll never give up”. This should include perseverance in one’s meditative prayer life.
5.AND THE FAITH: Faith is about taking risks, about stepping out into the unknown and it should extend into all areas of one’s life. People can have faith to believe in one area they’ve been successful in, while having great personal doubts in another. In the end it is our faith in God that sustains us through it all.
Jesus said, in Mt 16:26, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” If we truly want to be successful, to understand and partake of the vitality of both worlds, then it's important to keep this other-worldly perspective. Concerning faith, I have learned, as stated in James 2:20 “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” It is not enough to just believe. One must use their feet and hands and brains to produce the practical deeds that validate and give life to one’s faith.
I also learned in Galatians 5:6 that, “faith … worketh by love.” It is love of God foremost or it is just an empty humanist type of faith in mankind... and that's as good as no faith at all given the historical record of those societies based on atheism! With faith one can obtain supernatural vision from God to see well into the future. And with faith one can be sustained through life’s trials and tribulations. However, if one has all the faith in the world but fails to learn basic business knowledge, the business will most likely fail. It’s vital to understand things like cash flow and setting money aside to weather the inevitable financial storms that “rain upon the just and the unjust”. When it comes to faith and works it is not “either or” but “both and”.
Likewise, if one has all the faith in the world, but fails to learn the basics about how to love those whom God directs into one’s path, such a person’s business is at a distinct disadvantage, not to mention that their personal relationships will likely suffer. In the famous “Love chapter” we read, 1Co 13:2 “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” As everyone knows, charity is love directed towards other people and this is why this passage uses the word charity in place of the more general term “love”. Learning to manifest love towards others is part of the process of faith, part of the process of transforming one’s natural limitations supernaturally, part of building up one’s business in a way that serves the best interests of all (as in The Golden Rule; for if we would want others to be more loving towards us, should we not do the same?).
Here is one unusual historical example of how faith saved a business. There was no mention of God in this story, but it is obvious to me that God speaks to men and women in many different ways, through nature, through others, and in this instance, through a dream. This incident took place back in the early part of the twentieth century. Electric engineers understood the necessity of creating an electrical grid, to distribute the electrical surplus of some regions to regions that needed more. But there was a problem with the insulators. Every substance known to man was tried and failed. They would burn up, break down and disintegrate, or be impractical to manufacture cost efficiently. The head engineer for a major electric company (I forget exactly which one, but it was a common household name) was frustrated again and again by these failures and if he didn’t come up with a solution soon it could even mean the eventual loss of their company. Then one night he had a dream. He dreamt he went into the great pyramid at Giza, Egypt and scooped up some sand. He awoke with the impression that this was the answer. He finally got up the nerve to tell his boss, who surprised him by paying for him to travel to Egypt and bring back some samples of sand. Believe it or not, that sand contained the missing ingredient that allowed them to create super ceramic insulators that could withstand the tremendous electrical energy and heat of today’s high power transmission lines. True story.
The question you now need to ask yourself is this: do you have this supernatural transforming faith that looks at the impossible and sees possibilities? Not just impossibilities within the world of business, but also impossibilities in the inner world of your personality. If you hesitated and wondered if you possessed that kind of faith, you don’t possess that kind of faith. But this too is a good thing. With that awareness you can do something about it.
I cannot complete this chapter on the supernatural transforming power of faith without mentioning that the increase of our faith depends on our relationship to God. Faith is not something you can just go out and buy and it is not something you get just by wishing for it. A person who has no light of understanding about God cannot obtain spiritual faith just by saying they want it.
I agree with John who wrote in John 1:9 “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” And if everyone of us is given some measure of that Light when we come into this world, that can explain how everyone has some measure of faith, whether they believe or not. There are countless examples of people who are good in business but who do not believe in Jesus Christ, or who belong to another faith, or who profess to not believe in God at all. Obviously, one does not have to be a believer to be successful in business. However, regardless of what family or culture you were born into, each of us still retains some measure of that light which “lights every person that comes into the world”. It is for this reason that no one is without some measure of faith. The question is not whether or not we have faith, but rather how we may increase our faith.
Here is what the Apostle Paul told the Romans about obtaining faith: Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Now I don’t believe for a minute that this means you can only obtain faith through the reading of scripture! The bible as we know it didn't even exist until 350 years after the death of Jesus Christ. And because there were no printing presses back then, most Christians wouldn’t have regular daily access to copies of the writings circulating during those first three centuries. However, the more time one spends listening to God (hearing), the greater will be one's faith.
One of the deeper, more revolutionary insights I have been given is concerning the word of God. For a more in-depth study, please visit my Wisdom Blog, "Transform Yourself" and read my 4-part series, "What is the Word of God?" (just scroll down to find it). But for now, suffice it to say that the purpose of the written word is to point us to the living WORD, which is the Spirit of God as manifest by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Bible tells us that all of nature is witness to the fact of God’s existence, so that even among people who have never heard of Jesus Christ they still believe in God because of what nature reveals. Therefore, whether or not one understands the significance of Jesus Christ and his teachings, I believe a person can still “hear” the WORD of God and have faith, albeit somewhat incomplete. So the question remains. Do you have this supernatural transforming faith that looks at impossibilities and sees possibilities?
The truth is, few of us take time from our hectic schedules to spend time with God. By our example of spending so little time with our creator we reveal that our first love is NOT God, but all the people, all the worldly impositions that are forced upon us, all the entertainment, all the things we spend so much time acquiring and tinkering with. We’ve allowed those things to crowd out God and thereby have chosen to limit our faith.
To hear more from God one must pray daily and sufficiently long to quiet one's mind. It is obvious that few people pray daily. Therefore one can safely conclude that few understand the importance of meditative prayer. It is a rare individual who spends an hour or more a day with God, and would focus on listening instead of petitioning their creator. And fewer still would take the following passage to heart, for it breaks with the tradition of religious men, those who believe that in order to teach others about God one must first go to a bible college, theological seminary or other religious institution and get a degree. 1Jo 2:27 “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need * not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
Soon after I had my rebirth experience I read that passage in 1st John. I believed it with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind. I can’t tell you exactly why, but I did. I was into meditation long before I became a Christian, but I had abandoned it because most of the church was preaching against it (somehow ignoring King David’s admonition to meditate!). But once I had that experience in 1983, when I was homeless and God revealed how important it was to spend at least an hour a day alone with God, I began to realize this was another key to success: my spiritual success, emotional success and financial success. May it also become the key to your success. Believe and it shall be so.
The next step is to daily choose to continue this process of inner transformation by feeding your mind… which brings us to Chapter 7: “Renewing Your Mind and The Kingdom Leaven Hidden Within”.