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Summary: Faith is truly the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. But how is your faith? Faith never says, "I see", but it always says "I believe"

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WHEN YOU CAN’T SEE, JUST HAVE FAITH

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR AN EMPOWERED COMMUNITY:

MATT 9:27-31

(PREACHED AT THE VA. BAPTIST STATE CONVENTION MEN’S RETREAT - BY REV. W. D. SCOTT SR)

THE VERY REAL PRESENCE OF EVIL IN THE WORLD AND THE SINFULNESS OF HUMAN BEINGS, COMPOUNDED BY RAPID SHIFTS IN EDUCATION, INDUSTRY, TECHNOLOGY AND THE ECONOMY, CONTINUE TO EMBROIL OUR PLANET IN MASSIVE SOCIETAL CHANGES. INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES OFTEN FEEL POWERLESS AND VICTIMIZED BY SYSTEMS AND CIRCUMSTANCES OVER WHICH THEY PERCEIVE THEY HAVE NO CONTROL. WE ARE AN EMPOWERED COMMUNITY WHO HAVE TAKEN ON THE TASK OF EXTENDING THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST INTO THE WORLD OF SUFFERING. IT IS A MINISTRY OF COMFORT, OF EMPOWERMENT, OF LIBERATION AND OF RECONCILIATION. WE ARE REPRESENTATIVES OF A HEALING AND STABILIZING FORCE IN TIMES OF CHANGE. WHEN ALL IS TURBULENT ABOUT US, THE EMPOWERED COMMUNITY PROVIDES ASSURANCE THAT THERE IS ONE WHO SITS ABOVE THE TURMOIL OF THIS WORLD, WHO IS CHANGELESS AND WHOSE PURPOSES WILL ULTIMATELY PREVAIL. THE CHURCH SERVES AS A WATCHMAN IN SOCIETY AND AS AN EMPOWERING COMMUNITY, URGING INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES TO EVALUATE CONDITIONS AROUND THEM UPHOLDING THAT WHICH IS GOD, AND TRANSCENDING AND ALTERING THAT WHICH IS DETRIMENTAL. WE ARE STILL ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF TURNING THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN FOR THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS ITSELF AN AGENT OF CHANGE. IN THE GOSPEL THERE IS COMPASSION FOR HUMAN FRAILTY, AND AT THE SAME TIME THERE IS ENCOURAGEMENT TO FORM PERFECT RELATIONSHIPS WITH GOD AND WITH ONE ANOTHER. WE BELIEVE THAT THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, WE BECOME NEW CREATURES, AND ARE COME OUT OF THE DARKNESS INTO THE MARVELOUS LIGHT. WE ARE EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT WITH A CONTINUAL PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL RENEWAL THAT PERMEATES SOCIETY LIKE SALT PROVIDES SEASONING AND LIKE LIGHT PROVIDES ILLUMINATION. WE ARE EMPOWERED TO DO GREATER WORKS THAN WHAT THE TEMPORARY EFFECTS OF POLITICAL AND SOCIAL INITIATIVES ALONE CANNOT ACCOMPLISH. GOD HAS EMPOWERED US AS AGENTS OF CHANGE IN THE FACE OF MORAL AND SPIRITUAL DECAY. I PRAY THAT YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE UP IN YOUR MINDS, THAT I AM GOING TO LEAVE THIS RETREAT BETTER THAN WHEN I CAME. BECAUSE I AM IN AN ENVIRONMENT THAT WILL NOT JUST MAKE ME FEEL GOOD, BUT ENCOURAGE ME TO DO GOOD.

I. FOLKS ARE LOOKING TO "SEE" SOMETHING FROM THE CHURCH.

AS AN EMPOWERED COMMUNITY THERE ARE SOME THINGS THAT THE WORLD NEEDS TO SEE FROM US.

THE WORLD NEEDS TO SEE OUR COMMITMENT: IT NEEDS TO CONSISTENTLY SEE US LIVING OUR LIVES COMMITTED TO GOD. IT PROVIDES A POWERFUL TESTIMONY TO THE WORLD IN 2 WAYS,...FOR NOT ONLY ARE WE COMMITTED TO GOD, BUT GOD IS ALSO COMMITTED TO US.

THE WORLD NEEDS TO SEE OUR GOOD WORKS: OUR WORKS ARE OUR FAITH IN ACTION. OUR WORKS SHOW THAT OUR FAITH IS REAL, NOT JUST PHILOSOPHICAL. WHEN THE WORLD SEE OUR GOOD WORKS, THEY WILL SEE THAT OUR FAITH HAS TRANSFORMED OUR LIVES RESULTING IN OUTWARD ACTION. AND THE WORLD NEEDS TO SEE OUR FAITH: ..IT NEEDS TO SEE THAT WHAT WE PREACH AND TEACH IS BEING LIVED OUR IN OUR LIVES EACH DAY. IT NEEDS TO SEE THAT WE DON’T JUST TALK ABOUT TRUSTING GOD, BUT THAT WE ARE EXAMPLES OF TRUSTING GOD, BECAUSE OUR FAITH IS REAL. AND WE HAVE A FAITH THAT WORKS IN ALL SITUATIONS BECAUSE WE SERVE A GOD WHO HONORS OUR FAITH.

NOTICE SOME THINGS FROM THE BIBLICAL TRADITION CONCERNING FAITH.

THE STORY:

THE SIGNIFICANCE OR MEANING OF THE HEALINGS OR MIRACLES IN THE BIBLE ARE NOT LIMITED TO THE SPECIFIC CONDITION OF THE PERSON HEALED OR MINISTERED TO, BUT THEY ALWAYS DIRECT US TO A LARGER TRUTH. THEY BRING US FACE TO FACE WITH THAT WHICH IS MORE EXPANSIVE, MORE COMPREHENSIVE THAN THE PARTICULAR PERIPHERY OF WHICH WE READ. THE STORY OF THE WOMAN WITH THE ISSUE OF BLOOD FOR 12 YEARS, SPEAKS NOT ONLY TO THOSE WITH A CONDITION BUT SPEAKS TO THE ISSUE OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SUFFERING FOR A LONG TIME. AND THE STORY OF MAN WHO SAT BY THE POOL OF BETHESADA FOR 38 YEARS IS NOT JUST FOR THOSE WHO MAY BE CRIPPLED PHYSICALLY, BUT IT SPEAKS TO ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN VICTIMIZED BY A CONDITION IN THEIR LIVES AND BEEN RENDERED HELPLESS AND IT DIRECTS US TO THE PRINCIPLE OF LEARNING HOW TO MOVE BEYOND OUR LIMITATIONS. THE STORY OF LAZARUS’ BEING RAISED FROM THE DEAD IS NOT CONFINED TO JESUS ABILITY TO RAISE US FROM THE DEAD, BUT IT DIRECTS US TO THE POWER OF CHRIST TO RESURRECT US FROM DEAD SITUATIONS IN OUR LIVES. SO THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS PASSAGE IS NOT JUST IN THE ABILITY OF JESUS TO GIVE SIGHT TO THOSE WHO ARE PHYSICALLY BLIND, IF THAT WERE THE ONLY MEANING, IT WOULDN’T BE MUCH OF A SERMON, FOR IN THIS CROWD, IT WOULD BE FAIR TO SAY THAT ALL OF US HAVE A REASONABLE PORTION OF OUR EYESIGHT, AND YET ALL OF US AT SOME POINT, ARE UNABLE TO SEE. WE CAN BECOME BLINDED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR LIVES. ALL OF US EXPERIENCE MOMENTS, DAYS, SEASONS WHEN WE CANNOT CLEARLY SEE. SOMETIMES ITS HARD TO SEE THE POSSIBILITIES IN OUR LIVES, BECAUSE WE BECOME BLINDED BY OUR LIMITATIONS. WE CAN’T SEE A BRIGHTER DAY, BECAUSE OF THE CATARACTS OF OUR YESTERDAY. WE CAN’T SEE A NEW HORIZON BECAUSE OF THE GLAUCOMA THAT DIMS OUR VIEW. WE CAN’ T SEE HOPE BECAUSE OF THE THRIVING PAIN IN OUR HEART. CAN’T SEE THE MORNING, BECAUSE THE NIGHT IS SO DARK. CAN’T SEE THE ANSWER BECAUSE WE ARE BLINDED BY THE QUESTION. OUR MINDS GET DULLED, OUR SPIRITS GET CLOUDED, OUR THOUGHTS GET CONFUSED, OUR WAY GETS BLEAK, AND OUR PATH IS CLUTTERED BECAUSE WE CAN’T SEE!!! WE ARE BLIND UNABLE TO SEE OUR CHANGE, A DIFFERENCE CIRCUMSTANCES, CAN’T SEE HOW WE ARE GOING TO GET THRU, GET OUT, GET OVER...WE CAN’T SEE THE HOW, THE WAY,....IF YOU LET THE DEVIL BLIND YOU YOU CAN’T EVEN SEE GOD. WHEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR LIVES RENDER US BLIND, WE NEED TO PUT OUR TRUST OUR HOPE OUR FAITH IN JESUS.

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