11 September 2016

posted 9 Sep 2016, 04:59 by C S Paul

11 September 2016

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

The Fourth Sunday after Shunoyo/the Assumption of St. Mary

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 

And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 

Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 

Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 

And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.

God Wants You to Walk by Faith

by Pete Benson

When we lack faith, we don't trust in God, trust him for his word, don't believe in him, we're not going to see God do many works in our lives and through our lives. Jesus has gone back to his hometown with his disciples, back to the city of Nazareth. And as is his custom, has gone to the synagogue on the Sabbath and is teaching. Those hearing him and others were astonished. They're astonished by his wisdom. They're astonished by the mighty miracles he's performed. He's healed a few sick and they've heard of the things he's done before. They're absolutely amazed, just at the power that's working in him. They attest to the fact that there's power in his life, wisdom in his words--power and miracles that he's done. But as you read there, sadly those that have known him, known him when he was growing up, they take offense to him. Admittedly they're amazed by his power, the power of God working in him, but they can't seem to get beyond his humanness.

They grew up with Jesus, they saw him when he was a young boy, played with him on the playground, went to school with him. As his neighbor they saw Jesus as a young boy growing up, and they saw he was very man, very human. Indeed he was, but they didn't accept the Divine, they couldn't accept that he was the Son of God. So here, very sadly you realize, they rejected him. They saw him as this carpenter's son, that's all they could see him as. They saw that something was going on in his life, yet refused to put their belief in him. And as a result, you read there in those verses, that Jesus could not do any mighty work among them because of their unbelief. And that is a truth that you see in Scripture.

Faith pleases God. Without faith it's impossible to please God. Faith is the requirement to release the power of God--to release the power of God in salvation to us--but also just the power of God in our lives. There's a relationship there with faith. God will not work in our lives if we refuse to believe him for that work. Here, those that knew Jesus when he was young, they see his power, they see something is going on in him. They attest to that, and yet they refuse to accept him as the son of God, and for that he doesn't do many miracles as a result, and even marvels at their unbelief.

Only twice in Scripture do you see Jesus marveling, once here and another time he marvels at the belief of the Centurion. But Jesus didn't do much mighty works there because there was no belief in their hearts. To not place our trust in God, to not believe Jesus, is to not see the power, his power work in our lives. Again that includes his power in bringing us salvation, but also just in working in certain areas of our life.

Do you want to see the power of God manifested in your life? Well, blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. Believe him. Believe him for what he said he'll do in your life. Accept it in faith. Maybe you don't see it today. Abraham didn't see it at that moment, but he took God at his word and it was counted to him as righteousness. But he trusted God for his word. But if you don't want to see the power, if you want to miss out on the power of God, then don't believe, don't trust.

Has Jesus done a mighty work in your life? Or maybe you're caught in some kind of cycle, some kind of thing that just continues to spin around. Has Jesus done a mighty work in your home? Maybe there's a cycle that goes on, round and round in your home too. Could it be because you're not trusting God for what he wants to do?--not believing in him for what he can do? Maybe you're trusting in man instead and if you are, I'd exhort you, Jeremiah said, 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man, he's going to be like a starving shrub out in the desert if his trust is ultimately in man.' But blessed is the man who trusts in God. When we lack faith, when we lack belief in God, when we don't put our trust in him, we're just not going to see many mighty things take place in our life, as a result. Faith releases the power of God. God wants to work, but yet he's pleased by faith, and without faith he's not pleased.

You know, I've had the privilege of spending some time with a friend yesterday, a friend and his wife. They were part of our home fellowship (out in San Diego). And this man was just on a rocket ship of spiritual growth when I got to know him. His name means 'man of God' and he really is a man of God. As a young believer when I got to know him, in a short time he just grew in the Lord and became part of the staff out there and was given the job of being the principle of the church's school out there, which is about 1500 students, and just a big part of the ministry out there. Well he and his wife, a year ago--I was surprised to hear it--but they felt called by God, and God worked them through a situation to take them to the east coast and to work with a school, a Christian school on the east coast. Well he didn't quite know what he was getting into. But he went to this school that was supposed to be this Christian school and he said "Our motto is basically this, and this is going to be how I lead this school, but our motto is this: "Just Jesus."" We're going to teach these kids and we're going to teach them academics and all that, but the heart and the thrust of what we're going to do is "Just Jesus."

Well, believe it or not, people got very upset. A lot of teachers and staff were very upset. In fact they had a 25 percent reduction in the staff of this school that had hundreds of students. And as time went on, some of the local churches had trouble with that too and started to teach about him on the pulpits. It turned out to be a real challenge initially. This motto of 'Just Jesus.' But in time, folks began to leave, things began to transition (there was even a lesbian affair going on in the staff in this supposedly Christian school). The school, it was about 330 students I think, but the next year there was over 580 attending. That's significant growth for a school. But not only that, they had a $250,000 debt when they started and they ended up the year $15,000 in the plus. And by the end of the year 85 people--students and staff--had accepted Christ. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. He went on to tell me stories of getting there and the step of faith and just knowing God was going to provide and how they lived the first six months in a 2500 square foot home, but they only paid $300 (a month) for it--"but seek first his kingdom"--and God will just work in your life. It's a truth, it'll happen. I could tell you many stories, I'm sure you've seen many stories.

So maybe there's a cycle of something going on in your life and maybe you're even questioning the mighty work of God. God will do what he said he will do. He's true to his promises, but he wants you to walk by faith. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.

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