St. Matthew’s Sermon 09-08-2019


St. Matthew’s Sermon 09-08-2019

Faith

Isaiah 41:8-13, Hebrews 11:1-40, Matthew 17:14-20

Note: in Pastor Ron’s absence this message was developed and delivered by Bryan Ellis; I offer Bryan my gratitude.

 

So today we are going to talk about Faith.   Not the girl that lives down the street.    Not how the Eagles are going to do this season but for you the most important and powerful thing you have.  Did you listen to Jesus just now.  For all of us if our faith were the size of a mustard seed you could command a mountain to move and it would.  How powerful is that.  Mountain, move over here.    And it would.   You could Part the Red Sea.    You could walk on water.  There is literally nothing that you couldn’t do with a faith of only this much. 

 

But here we are.   Most of us don’t have that much.  But we could.    Daniel did in the lions den, Noah did when he built the arc, Joshua did as he went into battle at Jericho.  What was different?

Where does faith come from?  Well it comes from our relationships with God.  The closer you are the more faith you have to call upon when you, like Moses, need to Part the sea.    When you like Peter need to walk upon the water.  Some of you thought I was talking about Jesus walking on water didn’t you.     You’ll notice I use Peter not Jesus here.  You’ll note I use Peter in my example instead of Jesus.   That’s because for Peter walking on water was faith.   The difference between Peter and Jesus is faith.  Faith, you see, comes from a belief in something that you can not and will never be able to prove scientifically.   It comes from believing in something that you can not “know”     It is faith that carried Joshua, Daniel, David, Noah, and Abraham through their challenges and it will do the same for us. 

The mustard seed.   It is so small, yet this much faith is so powerful. For most of your life you don’t need to move mountains, to walk on water, to sleep with lions.  The faith we have is enough to be the most powerful of any of our attributes. 

 

It is likely that through life, faith will wax and wane.  There will be times when people are angry with God.    It is OK to be angry at God.   He loves you anyway.  It’s OK to be angry when bad things happen to good people.    It’s ok to be angry at the senselessness and randomness of the world.   And yes, God could change it.  He could change humanity and make us automatronic. He could change every ill intent.  He could move us out of the way of natural disasters.     But so can we.  And we don’t.  It was mankind that sent us down this path by taking the fruit from the Garden of Eden.

 

   God is all knowing.  He knows where our path will go.  Often we will run into roadblocks that will defeat us.  We allow them to beat us down.   Because we try to do it alone.   Faith comes from our relationship with God and part of that relationship is talking to God and listening when God talks to you.   Make no mistake.  God is trying to talk to you.   But we humans tend to act like spoiled brats.   We often refer to God the father.  And it’s a good imagery to use here too.  As a father when I talk to my children when they are young they always listen to me.  They may not always do what I say but I know when I say something to Gabriel he hears it.  As they grow older, well I’m not sure Ben and Quinn even listen to me all the time.   It’s a common complaint for parents of teenagers that we don’t have the lines of communication that we used to.   If we think of humanity, the Old Testament prophets seemed closer because they were always talking to god.   And more importantly hearing him.  Now they didn’t always listen (ask Jonah how well that worked) but the lines of communication were open, much like they are with our young children.   Today, we are like the moody teens.   Trying to prove we can do it all on our own.  Churches stand empty as the lines of communication are shut off.    Even those who attend don’t remember or don’t know how to listen.   But we can.   Not only can we but we need to.  We need to open up our communications with God again and that requires listening on our part.      We all have opportunities to change where our life is going if we listen.

 

Take the mustard seed and cut it in half, then in a quarter and again into an eighth.  How small is that.  That little amount of faith will carry you through.  And there will be challenges.  There will be hardships.  Faith will carry you.  No matter how much or how little you have.  Even in those moments when you feel it is gone entirely.

 

Isaiah 41:8-13

8 But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend;

9 you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”;

10 do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

11 Yes, all who are incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish.

12 You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all.

13 For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”

 

Hebrews 11:1-40

1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 Indeed, by faith a our ancestors received approval. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable a sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith b he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old–and Sarah herself was barren–because he considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”

13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, 18 of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” 19 He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead–and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, “bowing in worship over the top of his staff.” 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his burial.

23 By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.a 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered abuse suffered for the Christ b to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger; for he persevered as though c he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.

32 And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets– 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two,b they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented– 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

39 Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.

 

Matthew 17:14-20

14 When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, 15 and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a c mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”