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Summary: Discussion of Jesus’ words after healing a boy possessed by a demon.

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Faith to Do the Work of Ministry

Matthew 17:14-23

May 27, 2007

I don’t know about you, but as I listen to what people say, read what they write, and see how they act, I get the impression that our world thinks that Christianity is weak faith.

That we’re really just a bunch of religious people who don’t have any real power or influence outside of trying to manipulate the political process.

The fact of the matter is that in many cases, the world is right.

There are plenty of people in the church of Jesus Christ who have never seen God do anything meaningful through them.

They’ve never seen real ministry success, and it leaves them wondering if God really has anything for them to do.

And so they’ve never developed a faith that God can do something through them and wants to do something through them.

They simply exist within the church, getting comfortable with a comfortable walk with God.

And you know what? Pastors aren’t immune to that, either. Plenty of pastors go through their week just trying to survive. Seeing God work through them is a thing of the past, if it was ever a real thought for them at all.

I’ve struggled with some of those feelings from time to time, even though God has allowed me to see Him work in numerous ways since coming here.

Sometimes I have to battle with the thought that maybe God can’t use me anymore, or that my days of effective ministry are over.

The unfortunate part is that God is looking for people to get involved, and He’s ready and willing to equip us with everything we need to get involved in kingdom work.

My hope is that you will leave here today excited about what God can do if you’re willing to step up and let God do His thing.

And maybe you’ll start a new chapter of exciting involvement in touching the world around you with the love and power of God.

Our passage today deals with the issue of being effective for God.

The disciples are confronted with a situation where they had had some experience and success, but for some reason, they couldn’t get the job done this go-‘round.

And Jesus gives them a lesson that I don’t think they soon forgot: that the faith of the worker is all-important in the work of the kingdom.

Listen to this passage, and see if you can hear what Jesus says about the importance of faith.

We’re going to read through the passage, and I’m going to be making a few comments as we go through it, because I want to point out a few things that we can learn that are related to the main point.

Matthew 17:14-23 (694-695) –

14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 "Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him."

I can only imagine what kind of anguish this father was going through, seeing his son suffer like that.

Medicine won’t cure demon possession. This father knew that so he sought out Jesus. Somehow he came across the information that Jesus could do something about it, and if Jesus could do something, maybe His disciples could as well.

But for some reason, it just wasn’t working, and this poor boy and his dad were running out of options.

This demon was out to hurt this boy, and unless Jesus intervened, it would just be a matter of time before the boy would end up dead.

So here’s dad – begging Jesus to do something.

Jesus starts off by talking about the faith of the crowd – or actually, the entire generation that has witnessed His ministry.

17 "O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?

He says they have no faith – they are unbelieving and perverse. Ouch. How would you like to have been part of that crowd and hearing that?

But I think that there are plenty of people sitting in churches all around the world and right here in Aberdeen, SD, who have no faith. How about you?

Jesus continues:

Bring the boy here to me." 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.

Can you imagine the relief of the boy? Knowing that from the moment Jesus spoke, he was okay and wouldn’t have to worry any more about the demon trying to hurt him.

I can tell you with pretty good certainty that the father’s response was to cry tears of joy, seeing his precious son set free. He would no longer have to watch the suffering of his son.

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