Summary: The power of faith
Intro: The story is told about the first time that actress Helen Hayes decided to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for her family. Before serving it, she announced to her husband and son, “Now, I know that this is the first turkey I’ve ever cooked. If it isn’t any good, I don’t want anybody to say a word. We’ll just get up from the table, without comment, and go to a restaurant to eat. Then she returned to the kitchen.
When she came back out to the dining room bearing the turkey, she found her husband and son seated at the table with their hats and coats on. Obviously they didn’t have much faith in her ability to cook a turkey!
Often we’re like that with God: We have problems and we pray to God for help, then we sit back and expect the worst to happen. Often we don’t have much faith in him. This morning we want to look at a man who was different. A man of great faith. In fact a man who Jesus stated as having the greatest faith in Israel. Who do you think it is: Peter? John? Nicodemus? The answer is really quite surprising. Let’s look at Matthew 8.
Read 8: 1-13 -- then pray
I have found it very interesting reading through Matthew this week. I did some extended reading in the first several chapters - reading several at one sitting. It is interesting to see the progression of events: The setting is laid - Jesus comes in fulfillment of prophecy. He is baptized to start his ministry. He gives the sermon on the mount: the guidelines of his ministry. Then he really goes to town, performing one miracle after another. They start here in chapter 8. We see faith to heal a leper, a centurion’s servant, a mother-in-law, the demon possessed, faith to give up homes, to leave families, to still a storm , faith to see God raise up workers for his harvest. It all starts here in ch. 8.
What do we learn about faith from the centurion?
I. Faith accepts differences - vs. 8 - don’t deserve to have you come under my roof
What is Christ’s claim - he hasn’t found as great faith in all Israel.
Who would you expect this to be? A Pharisee, a rabbi, one of his disciples?
Who does he use as a lesson of this faith? A Roman Centurion
A centurion was a seasoned soldier, a leader of 100 men. Centurions were not highly regarded by the Jews. The soldiers were a reminder that they were an oppressed people. They were a conquered people, able to live out their ways only as they fit in with the control of Rome. The Jews would have had no dealings with a Roman soldier; and the soldier knows this. Yet, he still turns to Christ for help.
Often those with the greatest faith are those outside of “mainstream Christianity.”
In prayer & healing - look in Charismatic circles - you can turn on the TV any day of the week and see faith healers - not that I believe they are of God - but the people there have great faith to believe that God is going to heal them
*Anderson, SC - witnessing - Christian - ambulance by - let’s pray for that person right now
In giving - we give our 2-3% Mormons often have 10% taken directly out of their pay for their church; in “the Way” people often sign over houses, pensions, bank accounts - I’m not saying we need to do this, but where are we at when it comes to giving?
In ministry - we think it great if we come out for a commission meeting once every few months.
I think about JW’s who go door to door week after week - even taking along young children, teaching them - I was at Wayne Putt’s house, and the JW’s came to the door - I don’t know if they’ve been back since - they’ve got dedication to service
In community - once again, the JW’s excel - Muriel’s daughter in SC - befriended by JW’s - won over by their sense of community --- Gangs: provide acceptance where others won’t
In conversions - Teen Challenge - going to see inner city gang members and drug dealers saved
In personal life - Muslims, pilgrimage to Mecca, walking on knees for miles
It is time to reclaim the power of faith in our Christianity.
Who is it that is the example of faith? One from outside the culture and circle of faith.
In Luke 10 Jesus gives an example of love and kindness: who does he use? A Samaritan - one who was shunned by the Jews.