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The Unseen God 081711
Today’s verses from Matthew are the favorite of many—the story of the trusting centurion, who trusted Jesus’ ability to heal his slave—even when Jesus was at a distance from the paralyzed slave.
Do we need to see the object of our prayers taking effect? Do we need to see God walking among us? In last week’s sermon I spoke about the uniqueness of the original Judaic concept of God—how our God is unique in that we conceive of God as always present, always at work, but we have no altar, no physical likeness of God, and do not believe God lives in a temple or shrine yet is always with us as he was with the Jews. This God was with them in exile, with them as they were scattered throughout the world and yet always with them and by their side.
The first part of this mystery is faith. Faith is not believing in the invisible; it is more believing what we see in our heart. This faith begins with prayer. Like the centurion we believe that God, and Jesus do what we ask in their name. Often we don’t get to see the centurion’s slave jump up and run away from his sick bed, but somehow we know that God is in charge of the object of our prayers. Maybe the slave will be relieved of pain and will die. Maybe the slave also will understand that Jesus is taking care of him, and his pain eased.
God will take care of you, and your prayers will be answered, as you see in your heart.
Pray for the healing of those who have e-mailed the church asking for prayer for the sick loved ones. Pray for life, food and water for the people of East Africa, and pray we know in our hearts what we should do, and that we do it. Pray for children crying for food, and pray for their parents and family.
Pray for peace,
1Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
2Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
3If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
4But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
5I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
6my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
7O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
8It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.
18For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, 19and I will set a sign among them. From them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud—which draw the bow—to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20They shall bring all your kindred from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and on mules, and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring a grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. 21And I will also take some of them as priests and as Levites, says the Lord. 22For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, says the Lord; so shall your descendants and your name remain. 23From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the Lord.
8When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; 2and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” 3He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
5When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him 6and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” 7And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.” 8The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” 10When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.” And the servant was healed in that hour.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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