Sermon November 9, 2011: Praying with faith
- Presenter: Roberto Miranda
- Date: November 9, 2011
- Location: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA
Luke, chapter 7. In this time of intensive focus seeking the Lord this is a good time to renew our faith, that we trust in a great God who is trustworthy in any situation we face. And here what I want to focus on is the simplicity of prayer. That’s the word that God just planted in my heart for this passage this night.
Sometimes we make things more complicated than they need to be and with prayer sometimes we can be so religious and so complex and so profound, that we lose the simplicity of the kind of heart that God wants us to bring before him, simple attitude, simple faith that unleashes the power of God.
If you have it in English, guys, I know there’s English speakers, they’re people of the Bible, you’ve got your Bibles with you, right? Amen. You’ll be reading it as I read it in Spanish so we can economize.
It’s Luke 7, 1 to 10, just read along in English, he’ll say it in Spanish. You just read it in English.
You know, it’s the simplicity where he says, “Lord, I’m not even worthy to have you come under the roof of my house. Just give the word and my servant will be healed.”
So you know that these accounts of events in the life of Jesus are not there by accident. They are there to illustrate something about the ministry of Jesus and the dynamics of our own spiritual life today.
And this particular type of person that shows up often in the stories of Jesus and I would call that the foreigner, this is the person and there’s many different type of people fit that category, who for some reason don’t belong to the normal group of Israel that approached Jesus in some way.
We could think about the woman with the flow of blood who, because of her condition, was considered unclean and shouldn’t even approach Jesus. She was very much an outsider. Ceremonially, she was considered unclean.
You could think of Zacchaeus who was a tax collector, he was a sinful person, corrupt, politically and financially, he didn’t have a right to be near Jesus, really he was an outsider also.
You can think of the friends of the paralytic, the four friends who were carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t get in the house to see Jesus, they were literally outsiders, outside the house, separated from Jesus.
So many examples from the life of Jesus. Bartimeus, the blind beggar on the street who was an outcast from society. He was just crying out, Jesus, Jesus, have mercy on me. Again, someone who was an outsider, separated from the group.
The Siro Phoenician woman who was an outsider from Israel, a gentile who was pleading that Jesus would heal her daughter, and Jesus saying, we need to give to the children first, the children of Israel. She was an outsider, but she persisted in drawing near to Jesus.
And if you look at all these characters, they all have in common that none of them had a full right to be close to Jesus, there was always something that would disqualify them, but there was something that they all had in common, and that was faith that Jesus wouldn’t reject them.
In each one of these cases part of the simplicity of their faith showed up in their unwillingness to give up when they faced obstacles. Every one needed to push through obstacles and impediments in order to get close to Jesus.
And don’t we know that it’s like this in our own prayer life. I would love it if I could just come to God and start praying and before I’m even knocking on that door, it pops open to me, but the reality is we’ve got to knock, and knock, and knock and push until that door is finally open and we break through, so to speak, into the presence of God.
There’s an element of effort, there’s a physical component to prayer almost, of pushing, and pushing and not taking no for an answer, until we break through into that place where we see God moving in response to our prayer. It takes energy.
And it’s like that, if there is some area of your life, there’s some need, there’s some problem that just isn’t getting resolved easily, you know, sometimes you’ve just got to fajarte, you just got to put that effort in, you’ve got to… you got to girdle yourself, and I think that’s the idea in Spanish, actually. You got to girdle yourself, you got to kind of strengthen yourself in order to get what you are seeking for. There has to be a simple pushing, saying, I’m not going to give up. Yeah, there’s that expression in Spanish, fajarse, faja means like a girdle, you’ve got to put like a kind of girdle on to really get what you need. That’s important in prayer. You got to fight for your blessing, I’m telling you.
If you’re a wimp you don’t get anywhere in the Kingdom of God, that’s for sure. You got to fight your blessing.
But you know really, the most important part to me, one of the most important parts in this passage is this beautiful thing that this outsider, he is a centurion, he is a Roman, he has no right to ask of a Jewish Messiah anything. He doesn’t have right, and yet he knows that Jesus is merciful and loving, and so he dares to ask for a blessing.
How many of us feel like that, what right do I have to ask God for anything. Maybe I slept through church last Sunday, now, what am I going to do.
Maybe we committed some sin or had a bad thought or struggle with some sort of bondage or an addiction that it just can’t seem to break, who am I to come into God’s presence and ask him for anything?
And then some of us are perfectionists by nature and we really feel that we’ve got to have everything together, and in order before we have a right to ask God and to have him listen to us.
And how many of us have had this happen, it’s by our own dumb decisions that we end up in certain messes and then we think, I got myself into this, who am I to ask God to get me out of it? I’m here because I asked for it.
The devil is more than happy to help you feel this way. He’s more than happy to make you feel too guilty to come into God’s presence.
How many parents, how many of us have made mistakes with our kids? How many of us as parents, maybe we made all kinds of mistakes with the kids when they were young, maybe we didn’t know the Lord, when they were younger and they didn’t grow up in the kind of atmosphere we would have wanted to provide for them. and then, when they’re older, and they’re teenagers and they are rebellious, and we’re feeling guilty because, well, I should have done things better and so we think, who am I to ask God to help me with my teenagers now, when it was my own decisions that to some extent they caused these wounds and problems.
Maybe some of us made less than wise decisions about the person we chose to marry. Maybe we went against what our parents suggested, what the pastor suggested. We did it anyway, and then we figure, well, not I got myself into this, I deserve what I’m getting, I should just suffer, I shouldn’t even bother asking for God to help the situation get better.
But you know there’s something I really believe, that God has taught me over the years, is that the heart of God is more simple that we give him credit for being. Understand me, I’m not suggesting that we try to take advantage of the mercy of God, we’re not talking… okay, do whatever you want and that’s not the idea.
The more and more I live and do ministry, I know that what God is looking for is a contrite and broken heart that knows that I don’t have a right to come into God’s presence, nobody has a right to come into God’s presence and that’s really what it’s all about.
I think all too often we think we need to beat ourselves up, we need to do penance, we need to grovel in God’s knees and he’s just up there chilling, saying, hey, it’s okay, just come into God’s presence and I just love them. I mean, God is chilling and [Crosstalk] relaxing. That’s right.
We really make life very difficult. God’s heart is a simple heart, God’s heart is a generous heart. God’s heart is a fatherly heart.
And I think if we appreciate more that simplicity, that generosity of God, not only does it cause us to rest and relax more, but will motivate us to be holier and to make better decisions and help us change.
God is infinitely complex but also humble and simple of heart. God is looking for that kind of childlike free heart that says, I don’t deserve anything from you, God, I don’t have any right to come to your presence, but you love me, you’re my Father and we think, come before God as a child, as a grandchild with that kind of simple, humble, free heart.
When your heart is whole-heartedly devoted and giving over to the Lord, even when we mess up and make mistakes and blow it, even then the heart of God is there to restore us and just help us, just come back to him and that is the patter throughout Scripture.
When we learn to rest in an atmosphere of the acceptance of God and we grow to really be at home in that acceptance of God, it actually frees us to make better decisions and to live a more holy life because we’re relaxing in his presence, we’re not living a tormented life of self down and anxiety. No, no, it’s about just relaxing in the presence of a God who loves us.
If you turn with me to Mika chapter 6, and these are the kinds of concepts that we think are New Testament concepts, but not at all, this idea of grace, and God’s mercy is throughout Scripture in the Old Testament, as well the New, Mika chapter 6.
40 minutes more and I’m done.
“…With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow down before the exalted God. Shall I come before him with burnt offerings and with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of realms or with ten thousand rivers of oil?...”
And that’s what we think. We think we got to be crazy heroic before God and just cut ourselves up and then bleed for God to loves us and you have to… oh, okay, you’re really suffering, I’ll listen to your prayer. That’s what we think.
He has shown you, oh man, what is good. God has already shown you this. This isn’t something so complicated, God’s already shown us what he wants.
There is a little, just a hint of impatience, this isn’t rocket science. It’s like, man, look… what does God really want of you? I mean, what has he asked you for? Only, only, to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
We can do anything, you can pray and fast and pray all week. You can be here every day, face down, you can stand on your head, it’s not just what God’s looking for.
All too often we think that if we do all these things, we’re going to somehow bribe God and just sort of force him to love us more. The heart of God is more simple than that. God is looking for simple, true, merciful, devoted heart, when people come into his presence with all that they are and just be before him, that is what our God is looking for.
Coming back to centurion it does relate. So the centurion here, he’s sent people to talk to Jesus, even though he know he doesn’t have any right to do so, he’s not a Jew, but he sends people to talk to him. Jesus starts moving all the machinery of the Kingdom of God, this committee Jesus coming with his Apostles to heal the servant.
But then the machinery comes grinding to a halt as if this centurion says, wait a minute. This isn’t all necessary. All he’s got to do is say the word, he could stop right, give the word and my servant will be healed.
This centurion had a noble heart. He was a centurion but he still built a synagogue for the Jewish people. He loved his servant, a rich centurion could have just said, get a new one. But no, he loved his servant like a son. He had a noble heart and a simple heart as well.
He says, Jesus, I’m a soldier, I know I give orders and those under my authority obey immediately, it just happens. And he was a humble man, he said, I know I don’t deserve to have you come to my house. All you have to do is say the word and it’ll be done.
He didn’t need all kinds of religious ceremony, all kinds of protocol, he wasn’t a Jew, he didn’t know how to pray and the Hebrew style. None of that was necessary, all he needed to do was understand how God works, the simplicity of Jesus’ authority, that’s all it took.
And in this text we don’t see Jesus giving a big discourse, centurion, as you have asked and all this big presentation about his healing the servant. We just don’t read that here.
In this text he was so amazed by the faith of this centurion that’s almost like he forgot about, okay, why was I coming in the first place? His amazement, his delight at the faith of this centurion just so blew him away, just thinking about that. We don’t even him giving the word that he was asked to give. It’s almost as if just the joy, the amazement of him seeing this faith, just did it. it just happened.
I would want my faith in God to be so great, sometimes I wouldn’t even have to pray. And sometimes I believe that that can happen. I believe that the faith of a person’s heart sometimes can be so strong that it’s like a silent prayer, a person doesn’t even need to go through the emotions, it’s just a faith that unlocks the blessings of heaven, it just happens before it because that faith is there.
Now I don’t want to get too Zen on us here or anything, but sometimes the most powerful prayers are those that are not even spoken verbally. There’s just a faith, there’s a certainty so profound that God desires and will do something that it’s just a prayer that’s just before God out of our heart.
Sometimes, there are specific moments when I feel God tells me, you know, don’t even say it, you don’t even have to ask verbally, I just know the request that is in your heart, just believe me and just rest in that, silently.
Sometimes there’s a time when we have prayed and prayed and turned something over and asked God in Greek, in Hebrew, in English, in Spanish and whatever, it comes a time when God says, just be quiet, rest and give thanks, trust me that I’ve heard you.
Simplicity of the heart of God tonight, so we remember. The miracle of that sanctuary is done. now we move in that certainty, we move, we take action, but we do so from a position of rest, knowing that it’s done, it’s in the hand of God.
If you may have a request, a big, serious, important request in your heart, rest in the Lord, you got to trust him, trust him.
Now, in that simplicity of heart, we stand before the Lord and maybe just silently, we just say, God, I know that you see this request, you see what is in my heart. It’s before you, Lord.
Rest. I don’t say you don’t pray. Amen. We pray but from a posture of rest, posture of confidence, knowing that it’s done in the Lord.
Father, in the name of Jesus we hold on to that faith of the centurion tonight, we thank you that we live a life of victory to victory, power to power, glory to glory, you will give us the desires of our heart. Thank you that we don’t have to twist ourselves and exert ourselves, you desire God, you don’t have to be forced, you desire to bless us.
Thank you for your love for this congregation. Thank you for the dreams that you have sown in our spirit, Lord. Thank you that you bring us from victory to victory, from new heights to new heights, Lord. We believe in the generous heart of our Father who desires to give good things to his children.
Thank you Jesus because you’re a merciful God with us. Fill us tonight with the joy your heart. We bless you in the name of Jesus. We declare de grace of the Lord over our lives, Lord. The joy, the peace, the blessing of God, prosperity and power, the desires of your heart, the blessing that God desires [inaudible], bless your land and heal your home and your body, give you his peace tonight.
I declare the good purposes of God over your life tonight. I declare the breeze of God that just blows away all that is evil and not of him. I declare blessing and peace and hope over your life. Thank you Jesus, we love thee, we praise you, we bless you, you are good, and your mercy endures for ever, Lord.
|Sermon delivered by Roberto Miranda November 9, 2011 at Congregación León de Judá||Oir|||||Ver (100K)|||||Ver (400K)|
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