Sermon March 1, 2009 : Elements of faith
- Presenter: Dr. Roberto Miranda
- Date: March 1, 2009
- Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA
Children are experts at the illogical and the counteraction or the counterintuitive, they can enter into the magic of play and belief. That’s why it’s easier for them. It’s easier also for an artist to enter into the lane of faith and for a scientist because, you know, that’s the way it is. If faith is countercultural, counterintuitive and counter rational.
Six: Faith leads you to take risks based on your beliefs. Taking risks is the essence here of what I’m saying. The emphasis is there: taking risks. You have to take risks. Many times the walk of faith will ask you to take risks. Like, you know, Esther, the classic example: she has to come before the king and the law of the land said the king has to give you and appointment, he has to invite, never enter into the king without being invited. But she needs to because she has a pressing need. And what are her famous words? If I perish, I perish, but I’m going to go in. there’s a need and I have to… and faith is like that, you have to take risks.
Many times in Scripture people of faith needed to take risks. If you play it saint you’ll never get into the zone of power. Many times we have to risk everything in order to get what you need. Faith is not for the timid. Many times in Scripture you see faith if for the strong.
Nietzsche the great German philosopher, I don’t think he was so great by the way, he was an atheist. I don’t think that’ll be great, to be an atheist. But Nietzsche said that Christianity was a faith of weak and of slaves. He didn’t know what he was talking about. By the way, he died totally mad. I think that only a Hebrew can truly be a Christian and live by the Christian etos. It requires a great strength, great courage, because faith does take a lot of risk taking. So, faith needs you to take risks. Faith in your beliefs.
Number 7, I believe, is faith always leads to some sort of action. Here the word is action. It does not remain theoretical for long. If you have faith you will always act upon your faith. You know, light cannot exist without spelling darkness. I mean, noise cannot happen without asserting itself of the silence. Faith cannot exist and just remains kind in the theoretical realm, it always impels you to do something, decide something, say something, think something. Faith is always action as well, that’s what Apostle Paul said, he said, faith without actions is nothing, it’s empty.
Eight, faith impacts life, conduct, relationships, moral beliefs, world view, destiny, both temporal and eternal. You know, faith impacts all those areas. You cannot faith and not have your moral life impacted, your relationship, social relationships, your conduct, your world view, your destiny, everything, faith covers every aspect of one’s life. I mean, you cannot be a part time believer, you cannot be a part time Christian, you cannot sort of keep your faith compartmentalized, that’s the word I was looking for. Faith permeates every area of the human existence. You cannot be a Christian and have faith, Christian faith without having every area of your life colored and impacted by your faith. That’s what makes it so hard many times. That’s why people are always looking for cop outs and ways and playing all kinds of games, particularly in our modern time to escape the absolutely dominant role of faith in human life. We try to find all kinds of intellectual excuses. No, faith is absolutely resistant and it colors everything, it just you know, it’s like those moles, it just penetrates everything until it settles, every area of its influence.
Nine, whatever it is. Faith can be costly and leads you to risk or give up things that are precious to you. It can be costly. Abraham, give me your son, says God, and sacrifice him for me. And Abraham is willing to kill his own son and yet, when he’s going to do that, God says, stop. I just wanted to check on you, just to see wheter you truly are committed to me.
But, you know, faith can be costly. He was giving what he adored and loved most and many times faith, don’t believe anybody who says to you, well, that is you believe in Christ you’re going to have a great life, you’re going to have two cars in your garage, a beautiful house, three kids and a dog. It just doesn’t work that way. Many times, your faith will lead you to pay a big price and in those moments you have to assert your faith. Your faith that should carry you to that stormy time and hold on to it.
Ephesians, chapter 6 speaks about when the evil day comes, strengthen yourself, arm yourself with all the armor of God so that after you have gone through that evil day, you can remain standing. After the storm has passed you still are on your feet because faith has carried you through that time. It can be costly.
Ten, faith remains despite uncertainty, lack of clarity, contradiction, delay or unexpected results. The key here is remaining. Faith remains despite uncertainty. Faith is hardy, faith is resistant, faith is obstinately strong. It just remains. You know, many times in life your life is not going to go the way you expected. You’ll get to age of 60, or 70 or 50 and you thought that by then you’d have a million bucks in your account, and you’d be retired and then a recession comes and you lose all your money. And what are you going to do? Faith, true faith remains despite all of that, despite all the complexities of life. Faith is a journey, is a zigzagging journey, multifaceted, indefinable, many times, unpredictable, uncontrollable. And if you just to get what you want, and to get where you want and to get the result you expected, forget about it, just get off the bus right now because that’s not the way it is. God will not be a controlled, God’s purposes are unfathomable, complex many times and it takes you to a risk where you didn’t want to go many times, and you to choose to believe and stand firmly on your faith.
Also, faith can be obstinate, desperate, focused, persistent, forcible, confrontative and violent. Memorize all of those things. The point here, you know, faith is a forcible thing, faith is a violent thing, faith is sometimes aggressive, faith is militant, faith is dynamic. The Bible says that the kingdom of heaven proceeds with violence, forcefully, and forceful men and women lay hold of it. The Kingdom of God is something that is irresistible. If you want a nice, happy, smooth ride, again, get off the bus.
You see, many times in Scripture you see obstinate people get what they need, like this woman. Desperate people like this woman, 12 years with the disease, she gone to every doctor in the land and nothing, she has spent all her money and she still has this debilitating sickness that is also humiliating and isolating, and renders her ceremonially impure and unclean. She’s desperate, she has nowhere to go, she has nothing to lose. What if they kick out of the crowd? They’d done that ten times before. She has nothing to lose.
Bartimaeus screaming, Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me. He screams, he screams, he screams. People say, shut up, don’t disturb the master. He screams even louder, he knows he has one opportunity in his whole life. He hears that Jesus is passing by, he keeps screaming and Jesus finally hears this. Stop, bring him to me. And he leaves that day with his healing, because he was desperate.
Zacchaeus gets up on top of the tree, he’s desperate to see Jesus and he gets what he needs. Desperate, obstinate, insistent, persistent people. Faith has that quality, wherever you see that often faith is there. You know, please, do not give up, you tried once, try again. You know at a door, know again. You tried something and it didn’t work, get back on the horse, try a different perspective, try it again, tweak it. If God has spoken to you, if you believe that there is a God keep at it. If God has given a call in your life and you did something and it didn’t work the first time, keep at it. It is one of the qualities of our faith. Jesus said, knock and it shall be opened to you, seek and you shall find, ask and you shall receive.
The Bible speaks about insistence, the man in the midnight who knocks on his friend’s door. I have friends who have come and I don’t have sugar, can you let me a little bit? Now, I don’t have mustard, do you have any? Yes, you know, the guy doesn’t open, two hours he knocks and then finally he says, let me open the door for this guy so I can go to sleep. Jesus says, that’s what faith is. Faith is persistent, insistent, obstinate, focused, desperate. You know, all these things, it’s that quality in your life? How dynamic are you? How insistent are you? How focused are you? How pressing, pressing are you in your goals in your life? God doesn’t like passive life, but he loves them anyway. But he doesn’t appreciate them as much. And he doesn’t do as much through them, God likes people who are a little bit pushed, you know, in your faith kind of people, those are the people that God uses.
I’m serious, I mean, over and over again. You know what? What does he say to Joshua? He says, ¿cómo es que le dice en español? En English, be strong and, be courageous and what else? Ok, whatever, you heard. It’s this idea, you know, I know it in Spanish but even that is not coming to me right now, but mira que te mando que te esfuerces y seas valiente. I am commanding you this day, be strong and be of courage.
You know, and over and over again, what does he tell to Timothy? He says, Timothy, I encourage you to stow the fire of the gift that is in you because God has not given us a spirit of weak, of timidity, or call it weakness or fear, many words that go in the Greek word, of timidity, but a spirit of what? Power, of love and of self control. There’s a whole sermon there, we don’t have time to dwell on that, but it’s this idea. You know, don’t be timid, don’t be shy, don’t be passive, you know, take hold, take authority as believers we need to do that.
What are your goals? What has God spoken to you in your life? What do you envision for yourself in the future? Well, stay on that thing until it comes through. Or God gives you something different and you realize that it was better than what you wanted in the time, because sometimes that happens as well.
I’m coming to the end here. Say amen and thank you God. The last one I think is number 12: faith is the only way to get to God and to receive anything from him. Faith is what provides access to God. It is as I said, that conduit par excellance of access to God and his power. If you don’t have faith, if you are doubtful, if you are kind of wavering the Apostle James says that a double minded person is inconstant, in all the ways do not expect that you’ll receive anything from God if that’s the way you are. God appreciates clarity and decision and faith, a faithful attitude.
Ok, now, you know, I could stop there and that would be it. But how does this apply? Give me ten more minutes, how does this apply to this woman here? You will recognize many of these qualities in the way that this woman acted, and you will recognize it in the way that David and Abraham, and Moses, and Esther, and Ruth and Daniel, and Paul, and Peter, and well, all the Apostles, wherever, I mean, any person in Scripture that is somehow elevated and commended for their walk and their action bears some of these qualities.
And our life has to incorporate some of these qualities if we are going to be truly people of faith. But you know, take a look at this woman for a moment: number one, this woman believes that Jesus can heal her, there’s a element of belief and conviction here. Faith is belief in something. What it says? The conviction, it is the hope that you have that something is going to work, something that you’re waiting for, you’re seeking, you’re expecting that is going to come true. It is conviction.
And this woman has a conviction: this man has the answer to my problem. I don’t think that this woman understands all the theological complexities of Jesus’ person, we don’t even today with all the Scripture that we have, she had nothing except a raw belief that this man, I don’t know if her faith was a little bit occulted, I believe that she had a magical attitude to Jesus. It’s like, you know, many people who go to see Benny Hinn and others’ campaigns. Many of them, they don’t even know, you know, they are not even Christians as a whole, but they feel this man has power and I don’t care, if they get from the demon or from whoever, I need to get healed so they go.
I think this woman, she knew that Jesus was a good man, he was a rabbi, but I don’t think that she knew that he was the Son of God, etc. but she believed that Jesus could heal her.
Number two, she believes that he is so powerful that even a slight touch from him will heal her. I mean, she’s convinced of this, she says, if I can only touch the hem of his garment I will be healed.
Also, she takes action; you see what I’m talking about? Faith never remains in the realm of pure theory and belief. She takes action and doesn’t remain at home wondering, oh, man it will be great to see this guy. Maybe I’ll send him an email and maybe he’ll read it or something. Maybe if I put my hand on the television, you know, he’ll heal me. Whatever. No, she takes action, she plots, she plans, she knows that he’s going to come to the city and she calculates where’s the best place in the street where she can kind of get herself into the crowd and what her methodology is going to be. She has a plan and she takes action. One day she dresses herself to go out there and there’s a vast realm of uncertainty that opens up to her, but she’s going to do it.
You know, sometimes I found that the most difficult moment to undertake anything great in life is when you break the absolute inertia of zero, you know, I remember years ago the day that I started my carpenter career, the first I did anything of carpentry in my life and it was a big thing, it was actually putting together a room for our second daughter, and I had to break a whole wall. It was too expensive at that time for us to pay the carpenters to do it, some several thousand dollars and we didn’t have that money. And I remember the shear terror that I felt when I took that hammer in my hand and I hit that wall the first time, and I knew there was no going back, it was a big hole out there, and I knew man, I sweat like crazy, I said my wife will never forgive me, she’ll never let me live this down. My whole self esteem is implicated in this moment here. You know, but then as I went along things got better and surely enough there was a room there for our daughter to be born and to come into our house and be there for many years, but you know, just at that moment you have to take action, at some point you have to take the hammer and hit the wall and begin the journey and the process.
And you know, this woman took action. Don’t let inactivity and just fear, keep you, many people want to change a job, they want to change a profession, they want to travel to another country, whatever, they want to speak to a friend about something and they always remain in the realm, should I do it, should I do it? And days pass and they never take action. At one point you got to just commit yourself, take the jump in the name of the Lord and say like Esther, if I perish, I perish but at least I tried.
So, this woman takes action, doesn’t remain at home wondering what would happen if. Also, she goes through a lot of effort to get to him. Faith usually asserts herself by overcoming obstacles, dangers, opposition. There’s whole element, people, you know, throughout Scripture overcoming obstacles and going through a lot of efforts, she had to plot, she had to get through the people, she had to.. I think she touched the hem of the garment of Jesus, not because that’s what she wanted to touch, I think she would have wanted to embrace him and grab on to him, but her circumstances only allowed for that, I think that she kind of stretched through 3 or 4 people and they were kind of complaining, what are you doing woman? And she just, ….., there it is, she touched, she knew that that’s about all she could get, but she felt if I can only do that, that’ll be enough. So you know she had to overcome obstacles.
In life if you’re a man, a woman of faith, you got to believe that with God all things are possible as the word says. Don’t let anything deter you from pursuing great goals, even in your Christian life or in your secular life just because it’s difficult, because there are obstacles. Persist, that’s the whole thing, get through the difficulties and grab on to Jesus grace and power.
Also, she risks censure by mingling with the multitude. Remember what we said about risk? We said we had to take risks. You know, a woman with a flow of blood was ritually impure according to Jewish law. Anybody that she touched by definition became ceremonially impure. So, a woman like her, just like a leper was prohibited from having contact, physical contact with other people. it was a terrible experience for this woman, 12 years of her life totally isolated, looked down upon, the reputation that probably run through her neighborhood and she was not supposed to be there, religiously speaking and yet she decided, I’m going to go anyway, I mean, this people don’t know what I’m suffering. I’m going to break through that difficulty. She took a risk.
And you know, as I said, risk sometimes implies that you look to take risks. She risks censure in this case. Sometimes you’ve got to commit yourself to the shear grace of God. If you are not willing to sacrifice your reputation, your good name, your self image, or your public image in the wake of some impulse that God puts in you, don’t try, don’t live a life of faith. You won’t be able to, you have to take risks many times and you have to just commit yourself to the grace of God.
Another thing, reason and prudence dictated that she stayed home. You know, think about it, she had been sick 12 years, number one, number 2, she had tried through many physicians and none of them could cure her. Actually she had tried and lost all her money. She could get directly to Jesus to speak to him, she had no connection. She didn’t have an insider to tell her, hey, come and I’ll put you in the head of the line, I’ll connect you. Yes, I know him, he’s a good friend of mine and I’ll tell him about you and you know, come. She had no way, she was just a nobody. She was just an outcast.
You can imagine if it were me and I started thinking about all those things I tried before, nothing happen, I’d gone to the best doctors and nothing happen, I’d been around for 12 years with this thing and it’s gotten worse. I’m poor, I’m a woman, I’m ceremonially unclean, all of these obstacles that she was facing and you know, I think the reasonable there for her to say, hey, you know, forget about it. It’s not going to happen; I might as well just stay home. Why submit myself to possible disappointment and more suffering and failure in my life? I think the reasonable thing for her to have done is to just become used to her condition and to try to live the best way that she could and she just threw all of that to the wind. That’s why I say, faith can sometimes be unreasonable.
Many times I’ve undertaken things in my life and in my ministerial journey that I fell like a fool, and I said, Father, I just pray that I just won’t break my head, you know, and that people won’t laugh at me at all, but I just learned that you got to do sometimes foolish, risky things in order to obtain things from God, because sometimes there’s a crucifixion that takes place, when you sacrifice your reason, when you sacrifice your self image, when you sacrifice your pride. These are many of the things that prevent us from doing great things in the Kingdom of God that prevent us from becoming powerful men and women. You got to break all of that.
I think one of the biggest things that need to break is our need for everything to make sense and to be perfectly explainable before we do something, and there’s a crucifixion, there’s a breaking that takes place, and the more you do that, the more supple, the more agile you become in the walk of faith. That’s what Jesus said, if the grain of wheat doesn’t fall to the ground and break and die, it remains alone, but if it breaks it bears a lot of fruit. Why? Because that external covering of human self sufficiency, pride, need to everything be correct and accountable and explainable, it’s a crust that prevents the life, the inner life of God from expressing itself to you. That has to crack in order for the life of God in you to emerge and go out and bless others, and also bless you.
Reason and prudence, in this case, needed to go by the way side. Despite thousand obstacles she took action and made every effort to get to Jesus, you’ve seen that already.
There’s 3 more and then I’ll stop here. Her faith opened access to the power in Jesus. Remember what I said? Faith is the conduit, when you believe in God despite everything you just break through into the realm of the divine.
Also, it made her different from everyone. Faith is what differentiates each and every Christian from a Christian of power and effectiveness. This woman touched Jesus and there were hundreds of people touching him and Jesus felt the difference. And he said, who touched me? Now, when he said touched me, I think he meant, who Touched me? with a capital T, because this woman touched him with a quality that was her faith and that’s why among all the touches, among the wide noise of touching that was around him, her touch penetrated Jesus consciousness and he felt somebody touched, and you know, people looked around, they waited, nobody said, I touched you. And then this woman finally, who expected to just leave kind of quietly and scurry out of there with her victory in her hand and then go back to her life of anonymity. No, she had to stop, she said, ok man, I don’t want to risk this healing to go away. No, ok Jesus, I did it. All right. This woman, her touch was unlike any other touch.
What differentiates her from the multitude? What differentiates her from all the people who come to church and who try to get something from God? It’s your passion, your need, your humility, your persistence, your risk taking, your willingness to break, to fail, and you believe that God will honor your faith if you undertake something. That’s what makes her different from the crowd. 90% of believers in the Christian faith will not get very much from God, except a religious warm feeling, fuzzy feeling when they come to church. That’s about it. Only people who have true faith would be differentiated.
And then finally, it overcame all obstacles, all the obstacles were overcome by her faith. So let me just stop here, there’s a few more things, but maybe some other time we’ll be able to get through all these other things.
The dynamics of faith, they’re so beautiful. Faith is the most absolutely complex sophisticated thing that you can image. We have made it something very superficial. But the Bible is just full of beautiful teaching and if we apply these principles in our lives, I tell you, our lives will be revolutionized; each one of us can become someone very powerful. It doesn’t matter whether you are a new believer, it doesn’t matter whether you are a woman or a man, it doesn’t matter whether you are Latino or Anglo European, it doesn’t matter whether you come from a family that has had several generations of college graduates or whether you are the first high school graduate in your generations. It doesn’t matter whether you speak well or not, whether you have great gifts or not, and the only important question is how great is your faith, what is the quality of your faith. There are many diamonds in the world but there are diamonds that are so pure and so crystal like in their ability to reflect light that they are unique and precious beyond mention. This is what you, how’s your faith, how pure is it? What point of clarity have you brought your faith to in your life? That will make all the difference whether God acts in you and through you to others.
So, I pray this morning that these words of the Lord will dwell in your life and become powerful, powerful presences in your Christian walk.
Madeleine, I know that we are recording these things, they will be in the Internet, right? In the page, the web page. So, if I was going too quickly for you and I mentioned some things and you were unable to take note and you’d like to come back and dwell on those things, go to the church web page which has an English component as well, León de Judá.org and in a couple of days, 3 days or so, you will be able to have a transcribed version of this message. So, I bless you in the name of Jesus Christ.
Father, we pray now for wisdom, many things that were mentioned some of them perhaps not totally what you wanted to, they may not be perfectly able to correct in our spirit anything that needs correcting and also to affirm anything that needs to remain there, and I pray that your understanding Lord would be upon your people, right now, your full understanding, your blessing upon your people, Father. Greater and mini, mini communities among this nucleus and that will bless this city. We pray your joy, your power, your energy to fill our lives, make us powerful men and women of love so we can serve you, we can be effective servants for the Kingdom of God.
We thank you, we bless in the name of Jesus. Alleluia! Amen. Give the Lord a big hand clap. Let’s just stand for a moment. Alleluia! Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
|Sermon delivered by Dr. Roberto Miranda
taped March 1, 2009 at Congregation Lion of Judah