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Missions In The Wild

Matthew 9:18-33

by Stuart Mains

October 23, 2022

Gracias por leer este sermón. Si lo que escucha lo conmueve y se encuentra en el área de Boston, ¡considere visitarlo en persona!

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It's been a great service and I am so grateful to be back here with you. It's been a couple of weeks since we have been back in the Hancock and can you guys hear me okay? Okay. It's been a couple of weeks since we've been back in the Hancock and I am so grateful to be back here with you, spending time with you. I heard the women had an incredible Women's Day last week, is that right? And I just want to lift up all the sisters that were armor bearers for my wife. I know that it was a lot of work, but it sounds like it was incredible. And the sharing, the testimonies, all of that was amazing. And so I just want to give it up for all the sisters that put on the Women's Day last week. And then the week before that, we had our vision service, our 2030 Vision service. And that was an incredibly inspiring time as well, but it was with 2,073 members of our church from around the Boston area. So this is a great time to worship here with about 300 of us, but it was 2000 of us and there's another like 200 online watching with us. And as we lay out the 2030 vision, I was incredibly inspired by what was talked about and I really look forward to seeing what God is going to do.

Mission in the Wilderness

You know, we are continuing on in our series into the Wild, and I don't know of you remember it's been a couple of weeks, but we're doing into the Wild. We're talking about the Book of Matthew. We've been doing it all year. We're continuing into next year, talking about the Book of Matthew, but we're in Matthew nine. And what we've been talking about is that Jesus was a man that was not just in the temple or not just in the church building at that time, but he was willing to get into the wild, get into the nitty gritty situations with people that were hurting, that need healing, that were spiritually sick and physically sick alike, and he was willing to deal with those issues. You know, Christianity can be kind of a thing where we don't want to touch the icky people of the world. And yet Jesus was not like that at all. Instead, he was the man that was willing to get into the nitty gritty with everybody. And we're thankful that he did because we ourselves have some problems and some issues.

But we're continuing this idea of getting into the wild, getting into this missionary focus, of being on a mission and getting out into the world around us. The mission is a wild place to be on, and I'm excited to see the Bolvis, even as they come back from Berlin and share the wild stories of what it was like. I was trying to think of the German words that I know is gutentag? OK, streusel? Is that- nein? Hey. Okay, there you go. I'm done. I don't know any other word, but there are a lot of adventures that happen when you go onto the mission. I went to Beirut, Lebanon in 2018, and our mission society back in California was the Middle East. And so we took 20 college students to the Middle East. We went to Dubai, to Amman, Jordan, and then we went to Beirut, Lebanon. And as we went to Beirut, I don't know how you feel about going to the Middle East. I was scared. I was a little freaked out. And when I got there, I realized in Dubai, it's a very controlled environment.

It's kind of like the Middle East version of Vegas, but elevated and, like, nicer and better hotels. Am I in America? I mean, it was just so pristine and nice. Then I went to Amman, Jordan, and it is even safer. At that time, they hadn't had, like, any terrorist attacks in ten years compared to America, where we had had a bunch. And so I was like, oh, what is this about? So we go into Beirut, though, and they had told me, it's a little bit different in Beirut. It's a little bit of the wild, wild west. 80% of all the military in Beirut is Hezbollah? A terrorist organization. It's just a different world when you go to Beirut. And so I'm going there. I get to the airport. I arrive, I go to the immigration area, and I'm with my mentor in the faith, and he has been here many, many times. He says, Why don't you just be quiet, don't say anything, and let me talk for you? And I go, that sounds great, because I'm kind of a little bit nervous. There's fights breaking out in the immigration line. I'm like, what world am I in?

And as I walk up, everybody's got these huge guns, and they look very intimidating. And the guy that's with me says, I'm here to be a spiritual counselor, a spiritual advisor, and my wife is as well. And they go, okay. And then what's he for? And he points to me, he goes, Him? Oh. He says, come closer. He is a terrorist. To the immigration woman. She looks at me and she goes, he's a terrorist. Welcome to the country that has terrorists. Come to Beirut. What? I don't want to go anymore. I don't want to go in the country anymore. I'm good. Get me on a plane out of here. And she goes, yeah, yeah, terrorists, yeah, right. Go ahead. Welcome to our country. And we spent another week and a half in this country, and honestly, the food was incredible. The adventure was definitely there more stories to come from that time, but it was a wild experience. I had to have a talk with a guy who said I was a terrorist afterwards, too. I go, don't ever do that to me again. I almost peed my pants. But being on the mission field is wild.

Be Uncomfortable

Being on the mission field is something where you experience things that you don't normally experience in this incubated situation. You know, the book into the Wild that was written by John Krakuer, I think is how you say his name. He writes in there the whole story about into the Wild is that he had his whole life figured out right after college, graduated college and decided, I want to go out to Alaska and live off the land. He writes in his book. Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which attempt, sorry, boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet the very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter, skelter style of life that will at first appeal to be crazy, but once you become accustomed to such a life, you will see it's full of meaning and it's incredible beauty.

He's writing this from his very shallow wisdom on the world as a 22 year old. But some of the elements that he's talking about there are things you can see in Scripture where Jesus says, you must lose your life if you're going to save it, you must not have security, right? He says, foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head. Jesus constantly is talking about us needing to step out of the monotony of our lives to get into the wild, to be on an adventure with Him. And yet, for too many of us, as we've shared and as we've talked about for the past couple of weeks, christianity is not adventurous. It's not something that excites us, and yet God calls us to be on an adventure with Him.

Mission not Worship

You know, this idea of being on a mission is talked about also in this book I've been reading called The Future Church. The author Will Mancini, he talks about this idea that if you want to see your church grow, you need to focus on mission, not worship.

And it's an interesting idea, because when we think about our purpose in life is to glorify God. But what he proposes is that if your entire church is centered around strictly worshiping God and not the mission of the words of what he called you to do, your church will go nowhere. You won't grow, and there'll be no real mission in any part of their life. If we are going to be a church that grows personally and numerically as a church, it's going to come through shifting our focus from just worship to mission. And what you see in Scripture is that actually worship comes after mission every single time. As people start to carry out the mission, they worship God. How did you come here? You came here because someone was on the mission. They listened to the spirit of God. They were taught how to teach somebody else, and then they helped you get here to worship God. Mission precedes worship. Mission always precedes worship. And if we are going to be a church that's in the wild, we must recognize that the mission is in the wild as well.

The title of today's message is Missions in the Wild. If we look at Matthew nine, verse 18, we're going to look at four different stories right in a row here. We're going to read a large chunk of scripture. Can you guys handle that? Okay, so we're going to read about 16, 17 verses here, and I want to put before you just for you to look at what are some of the observations that jump out at you when it comes to the mission and what God was doing and the people around Jesus, how they were interacting with Him.

In verse 18:

While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, my daughter has just died, but come and put your hand on her and she will live. Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. Just then, a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to himself, if only I touch his cloak, I will be healed. Jesus turned and saw her. Take heart, daughter, he said. Your faith has healed you. And the woman was healed. At that very moment.
When Jesus entered the synagogue leader's house and saw the noisy crowd of people playing pipes, he said, Go away, the girl is not dead, but asleep. But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went and took the girl by the hand and she got up. News of this spread throughout all that region. As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, have mercy on us, Son of David. When he had gone indoors, the blind man came to him and he asked him, do you believe that I am able to do this? Yes, Lord, they replied. And he touched their eyes and said, according to your faith, let it be done to you. And their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, see that no one knows about this. But they went on. They went out and spread the news about Him all over that region. No one's listening to him. While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out. The man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said, Is it by the Prince of demons that he drives out demons?

Faith Limits or Unleashes

We're going to look at three observations from these interactions where Jesus is a missionary. Jesus is on mission. He is focused on his purpose, of what he came here to do, to seek and save the loss, to heal those that were sick, to show the miraculous power of God, and that he is the power above all names. He is the name above all names, and the power above all powers, right? The three observations that I want to put before you. The first one is our faith limits or it unleashes. Our faith limits or it unleashes. As we look at the stories that we just saw, we see a name, a guy named Jairus. That's who the synagogue leader was. His daughter died, and he asked Jesus to come and revive her. And he says in verse 18, but if you come and you put your hand on her, she will live. He has this faith that you'll be able to do this. Had he heard of the stories that had happened earlier in Matthew eight or chapter nine, where he had done this and had a long distance healing of someone that he wasn't even near? Maybe, maybe not. But his faith was that God could do anything, even raise her from the dead.

Then, as they're walking, there's a crowd pressing around him. And Luke talks about this account where there's a crowd pressing around and people are all over Him. During the fellowship break, maybe you experienced that kind of crowd that Jesus was going through, but they were pressing against Him as he's trying to get to Jairus's house. And there was a woman that was there that had been bleeding for twelve years. You imagined the hopelessness she must have felt. If any of you deal with chronic pain, you know the dulling effect that it has on your soul, you know the dulling effect that it has on your ambition or desire to do anything for God, anything in life, really. She had been bleeding for twelve years, and you think that you have things going on. At least we have the medical field that we have now. She didn't even have the answers that we would have right now. But she reasoned in her mind, she said, if I just get close enough to touch his cloak, if I just get close enough to touch his cloak.

Well, how does she hear that? Where does she hear that from? She didn't hear that from anywhere. That was just her faith that said, if I can just get close enough, he'll heal me. Verse 22, Jesus turned to her when the power went out from Him, and he says,

take heart, your faith has healed you.

You know, Jesus makes a point to say it was her faith that healed her.

Now, we know that God is all powerful. We know that God has power to do all things. But he wanted to make it known that her faith in Him is what helped heal her. Then he keeps going. He goes to Jairus's house. He walks in and the girl is dead there. And people are playing these funeral songs and he says, she's just asleep. And everyone just erupts in laughter at him. Who do you think you are? He pushes them all out of the way. And I've wondered why he did that. Why did he push them out? It may have been even because our lack of faith affects the things that he can do. And so he wanted them out of the room. He said, Get out of here. I don't want you even near what I'm about to do, this miracle. He takes her by the hand and she immediately gets up. And what he said was proven to be true, that she must have been just sleeping in the spiritual sense, because she was dead. She didn't have a heartbeat. And yet God revived her through Jesus. Then he leaves.

I mean, at some point you've got to think Jesus was exhausted. I mean, with all the things that were happening, the crowds that he was pressing up against them, the needs that were pressing out against I don't know. I never had power come out from me, you know what I'm saying? But that may have been exhausting for Him to experience that. And as he's going, then there's calling and shouting from these blind men. In fact, he doesn't really readily go to them. It says that they had to follow Him into the house that he was going into and then he heals them. But what does it say there? What's the reference? He says, do you believe that I'm able to do this? Yes, Lord. Then he touched their eyes. Look at this. According to your faith, let it be done to you. What does that mean? Does it mean that they could have been sort of healed? I believe so. Does it mean that because of their faith or lack of faith, could they have been halfway better? I don't know how your eyesight is, but some of you guys are blind without your glasses or your contacts, right? You know what it would be like for God to halfway heal those men, right? We are like, don't you dare have me take off my glasses and try to drive somewhere, especially at night. It will not go well. He says, According to your faith, let it be done.

The Influence of Our Faith

Then it goes on and he goes and he heals this demon-possessed man that had been mute. To be honest, the more that I was studying this out, it made me uncomfortable to even make the point that we have an effect to limit God's power. Does that make sense? Like it's a weird thing to write down. You feel like, is this blasphemous? Like, am I going to get struck dead saying this point? It's kind of a weird thing because it sounds almost like, do we handcuff God right by our lack of faith? Is that what's taking place in Matthew 13 verse 58? When Jesus is going back to his hometown and he's trying to heal people, they know who he is. They knew him as a kid. And so they're like, yeah, this Jesus, we knew what he was like when he was a 13 year old kid. We knew what he was like. When he was nine years old, we changed his diapers. Yeah, right. He's healing people.

And it says in 13 verse 58:

and he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

You see, Jesus, he's laying out a point and he's saying that we do have influence on the level of power and healing that takes place in our own lives. We do have influence, not because God is not powerful enough to do it, but because he gives you free will to choose whether or not you'll be healed. It's not a statement against God's power. It's about his love and his grace to give us free will, to have an opportunity to whether or not we're going to accept his healing hand or not. My wife, I don't know, sisters in the room, what would really fire you up for a special time, but my wife Mani-pedis, they don't do it for her in the same way as driving fast cars. They don't do it the same way as driving fast cars. We were going on a marriage retreat a couple of years ago, and I don't know if you've ever used the App Turo, but you can rent like Teslas, Lamborghinis, Bentleys, whatever on there. And I found a Tesla for $50 a day. A Model Three. If you don't know what a Tesla can do, it can go zero to 60 in 3.1 seconds. That's like right in the Lambo range. I brought this car for our marriage retreat and she was like, yeah, come on, baby. She jumped in. There was not a question, who is going to drive? She was driving and she gave me the key. We couldn't figure out how to get in because it looks like a credit card. The key is kind of weird and we try to get in, but finally we get in the car and, man, we're going and she just guns it off a stop sign. Your head goes back super fast. I mean, you feel the speed. And if you ever driven a fast car before, you know it's exhilarating. There is something about driving a fast car, whether you're the driver or you're a passenger in a fast car, that makes you feel alive in a different way.

And so we're driving and we're like, just ruining the battery. We're just going like, zero to 60 every stop sign. Zero to 60 every stop. I mean, we were like just slowing up, really. The Herky jerky because we're going so fast and don't realize it. And we're going and we're going and going, and it was one of the best times.

Fast things, they make us feel something that we don't feel when you're driving a minivan. Her soul died a little bit when we bought a minivan. When we found out we were pregnant with our fourth kid, she said, okay, I'll give in. I'll get a minivan. But that was not her one. That was not her desire. And praise God, I can't afford a Tesla. So we weren't even going to look at those. But there is something different about driving a fast car. But they just passed a law in July of 2022 that every modern car now needs to be equipped with a governor. You know what a governor is? A governor is something that stops your max speed from going to insane levels. And so there's these governors that go and are put on cars because they know that people are crazy and are going to try to push the limits. If it says 160 on there or 140 on there, I'm going to see how far this car can go. And so what happens if it gets to a certain speed, whatever it is, 90 miles an hour, 95 miles an hour, 100 miles an hour, it hits that limit, it starts to decelerate very, very quickly.

God, I think, has shown us through some of these passages that we can be a governor on our own relationship with God and the pace that we're going at with God because of our lack of faith. That we can limit Him. We don't limit Him in general. We limit Him in our lives. We don't limit his power abilities, but we limit the effect that he's going to have in our lives.

As You look at the different stories that we have here time and time and time again, we see men and women of faith that say, you can do it. I know you can do it. I believe you can do it. You are all powerful. I know that what you're saying is true. And you have the ability to do it from long distance or close, to revive the dead, or to help me from chronic pain or bleeding or sickness or leprosy, whatever it is. I know you can do it. I know you can do it. And nothing about these poor people limited what Jesus could do.

But are we governors in our own spiritual lives? Are we limiting God? I think for too many of us, the answer is yes, we're limiting our own souls from being able to be on the adventure with God. What is it for you? Is it doubt that gets in the way of limiting.

There's so many people studying the Bible right now making decisions in their lives to see whether or not they want to give their entire life to Jesus Christ and become a disciple of his. But at the same time, there can be doubt that creeps in that is a governor on all that God wants to do in your life that stops and prevents you from going all the way to the limit, to feeling that acceleration, to feel that exhilaration of a Christian life because I don't know I don't I'm not sure. I'm not completely, I don't know if I want to do this.

Fear can be another governor. It can get in the way. Control can be a governor in our lives. I want control. And if I give it up to Jesus, I don't know if I'm going to be able to control it. And the answer is you won't. And so we can limit what we do in our relationships with God.

We have incredible examples of men and women in our congregation that have said, I'm not going to allow there to be any kind of governor on my faith. I love the COAL interns that we have in the Boston Church. COAL is called Chance of a lifetime. They spent three months, they spent three months in Philadelphia and they were serving at a youth camp and in the inner city and doing all kinds of amazing things. They're spending nine months here in Boston serving in the fulltime ministry for peanuts on the dollar. I mean, they are not getting paid very well at all, but their hearts are in it and fired up about it for nine months. And then three months are going to be serving abroad somewhere. You know, we have Sam Baronson here in the downtown ministry and I'm so proud of Sam's spirit and his heart and the ways that he's plugged in immediately into our group.

Our Faith is Contagious

But you know, it's infectious when you see people with that kind of faith. He is a presence in the congregation, not just because he's 6'8", but that doesn't hurt, right? But just because of the impact that he's trying to make when people make those kinds of decisions and they say, man, I want to be all in for God, I want to have an effect, I want to be different than the rest of the world. It's contagious. And that's our second point. Our faith is contagious. Our faith is contagious. You ever heard the saying hurt people, hurt people? The same is true for healed people, heal people. Healed people, they heal people. Verse 26, after the miracles that were done, it says, news of this spread all throughout that region. Verse 29 but they went out and spread the news about him all over the region. You know, when people get healed, when people get healed, there is something about expressing what's been done that they just can't contain it. Healed people freak out and want to tell the entire world about what's taking place.

Now we have the medium of social media, and you have all kinds of people. Some, it feels like are fake. Some are real. Sharing about how they've been healed. As long as they're not trying to sell you something on the end of that, it usually feels like, oh, maybe this is true. But people want to talk about what's happened. My wife has shared a lot in this congregation about how she had all these migraines. She couldn't get rid of her chronic pain. She read this book. She put it into practice, and now she's been healed. And it's hard for her not to share with people, I've been healed. In fact, it's hard when people share different things and you go, I don't want to be that person that just keeps saying it because I'm saying it so much. I've got the answers for you. I know how to heal you. Healed people can't contain it.

We had the new pros come over for a dinner at our house, like, three weeks ago, and I made some chili. I wouldn't say my chili is famous. I would say it's mediocre. Okay? But as I was making this chili I don't know if you ever heard of Cincinnati Skyline Chili, okay? But Cincinnati Skyline Chili is, like, one of my favorite meals out, and you can buy it in the cans. And so when I go back home to Cincinnati to be with my family, I go to the Walmart, and I get, like, 30 cans of this to bring home. What they do is they put it on spaghetti, and they put it with kidney beans, and they put it with a bunch of cheese, like, this much cheese across the entire thing. Shredded cheese, yes, it would give you a heart attack, but it's delicious. And some onions on it. But so I was making this chili, and I poured a can. I want to elevate my chili. And so I poured a can of this skyline chili in it, stirred it up, made the rest of the chili like I normally did, and Ghazi comes in to this time, and Ghazi, he starts to eat it. And you could tell from the first bite, it hit him. It was an experience. He took a bite of the chili, and he was like, what is this? And then he just kept eating and kept eating, and he smashed his first bowl in record time of anyone eating chili. Chili's not a fast eating thing, right? But he eats the chili, and then he starts persuading everyone who's already eating chili how good the chili is. Have you ever eaten chili like this in your entire life? Then people are coming late, and so they come in the room. He cuts them off before I hug them to welcome to my house. He goes, You've got to try this chili. This chili is ridiculous. Come on. Come over here. He's like boxing me out from hugging them. He's like, should he show you the chili? I wonder. I was trying to think, what was he doing? I think he was trying to get people to eat the chili so that he could have seconds and thirds and that could all be done. But you couldn't stop him. You couldn't shut him up about the chili. When people get healed, they don't shut up. When people have a good meal, they don't shut up. When people have a good experience, they don't shut up about it. But too many of us are shutting up about the relationship we have with God because we forgot we got healed. We don't feel a sense of healing anymore.

And for those of us that have just become disciples, it's fresh and you go, how am I ever going to lose this? I've been transformed in my life. I have never experienced what I'm experiencing right now. These real relationships, these real, pure dating relationships, these incredible marriages that I'm seeing around me, that they're not perfect, but they're wrestling through it and they're committed to each other till death do them part, right? They're in it for the long haul. I love what I'm seeing here. How can you forget about this? And that's where you see young Christians all the time bringing out all kinds of friends because they've been healed and they remember they've been healed and you can't get them to shut up. In fact, Jesus has commanded them, please do not tell anybody. They're like, Nah, let's talk. Let me tell you.

When is the last time that you felt healed? When's the last time where you felt like, oh, man, I got to talk about this. You won't believe that what's happened to me. You see, Jesus healed these people and they immediately had to start talking. This is not a point to bash you over the head about. Start talking more or else. This is something for you to be able to deeply look inside and go, is the reason that I'm not talking to people about what's happening is because I don't really remember or feel actively healed on a consistent basis.

You see, the idea of I'm an introvert doesn't cut it when you've been healed. The idea that I don't like talking to people, it doesn't cut it when you've been healed because you go, I've been healed. I got to share. These kind of situations are talked about all over the place by people with your personality, with your makeup, with your way of doing it. It has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with, do you remember that you've been healed and you've got to share about it. Faith is a contagious thing. I'm going to bring up Ashley to be able to share for a second here.

By the way, it was delicious chili, so Ghazi it was good. I honestly love thinking about this idea of faith being contagious because sorry, honestly, it's one of the reasons why we wanted our kids in the service, because sitting there and holding them as we were worshipping God together, we want them to see your faith. You came into this room, you decided to come. You may even feel like, I don't even feel very faithful, but for you to come and show up and for these kids to not even know the words, not even know how to read all of them, but to watch you guys sing about God and sing about how loved you feel by God, it does something to their little hearts. We can only hope that they're looking around, seeing you guys and being inspired by your contagious faith. And, you know, they come home from school and they're like, you guys don't understand. Like, we are the only kids that believe in God or don't say bad words. Like, we feel so alone when we go to school. You know, some of you feel that in high school, some of you feel it in college.

But we're able to come here and have this contagious faith and learn from each other and be inspired by each other. So I just want to say thank you for allowing us to kind of do this experiment and see how they do in these services. But you also may be feeling like, I don't know if I feel kind of this miraculous healing that I have felt this with Jesus or I don't see these miracles happening in my life. And I just want to encourage us that, honestly, talking to one another, it spreads. Because some of us in the room are experiencing those things they are having, they're stepping out on faith, and God is moving, and God is doing miracles in their workplace and in all these different settings.

I have the privilege every other week of meeting with about ten professional women. We call it our Catalyst Team, and we're just thinking of ways to catalyze faith, encouragement, change within our professionals ministry. And yesterday was such an inspiring day for me, and we kind of opened the discussion of how do we feel like we're personally doing in our faith and sharing that faith with other people.

And honestly, all of us were in a different place. But it was so inspiring to hear how many of these women are having these heartfelt, deep, spiritual conversations with people around them and what God is doing to their hearts. That conversation after conversation was, are you serious? Like, you have this kind of marriage. Are you serious? You feel secure, like dating guys and that they're not expecting more from you. Like, you can have spiritual relationships? All of these things were foreign to people that have never seen God and His Word really lived out in this way. And to see kind of those of us that felt like, I haven't really stepped out on faith, I haven't been having these conversations feel inspired to. Like, how can God work through this person in the cubicle next to me? I believe that God can do it. If it's working for you, it can work for me. And if you're coming here for one of the first times and trying to explore a relationship with God, I just encourage you to open those conversations, to open the Bible with people, because all of us remember what it was like to not know God and to not feel his power and to feel so distant from God. You're not alone. Open up those questions, open up those conversations. We're here to do this with you because faith is contagious.

What Are You Spreading?

You know, in a world that we live in, with COVID, having just been here, the idea of contagious, we're pretty well attuned to what that means. But I want to ask you, what is your faith spreading? What is your faith spreading about what God has done? You know, what reports are you giving about what God has done in your life? You think about the report that you're giving of the church, the report that you're giving about what the church is doing, the report that you're giving about what the vision service was like, or what your personal walk with God is like, or the report that you're giving about taking up special missions and what this Sunday service meant to you. What's the view that you're giving off? And the report that you're giving and spreading around about your relationship with God or the people in your life, it is contagious both ways. Your faith or your negativity, your faith or your critical nature, the things that you spread, they spread like wildfire. And we know bad news travels faster than good news. And so if you are in a negative vent of thinking, it can spread very fast like wildfire and taint everybody else's perspective.

But what these men and women did is they spread the good news of what God has just done, the healing that had taken place in their lives. We must be men and women that heal people because we ourselves have been healed.

Our Faith Has a Pace

The third observation is our faith has a pace. Our faith has a pace. You can see throughout Matthew, especially now. It was interesting, if you read through the book of Matthew, it kind of goes in these ebbs and flows of slowing way down and getting really deep. Like the sermon amount from Matthew five to Matthew seven. And then now we're like flying through story after story after story of healing and healing. You know, Matthew, he goes through it so fast that he actually leaves out a lot of details. Even though Matthew is the longest gospel that we have, he leaves out a lot of details because he just wants to go through so many stories. Have you ever been like that, where you're telling a story, just dropping details left and right because you just want to get it out. You're so excited about it. That's kind of what Matthew is doing is he keeps going through and then he did this and then he did this. This is all in one day. He did this and this and this and then it happened again. He's trying to help us recognize that when you are faithful, there's a certain pace in your life that is starkly different than the pace of life without faith. That when you have faith, the pace of your life is starkly different than the pace of life you have without faith. Right? Each sport we play has a pace. Some of you hate baseball. And why do people hate baseball? They go it goes so slow. They don't do anything, right? I mean, I heard Babe Ruth back in the day, he'd have a pregame snack. He would take pickled eels and he'd put them into ice cream and mix them up and eat it. Drink a beer, smoke a cigarette in the locker room and then come out and play the game. If you can do that, it's hard to say it's a sport, right? I mean, like, why did you do it? That's why he had to hit the home runs. Because he had to hit it. Because he couldn't run around the bases. He'd be winded by the time he got there if he had to go fast, he was so out of shape, right?

But we say, oh, it's so slow. Some of us love soccer or basketball because it's constantly moving. It's going all the time. I was talking to someone that's not from America, that hated American football. I was like, Why? Because I view it as so fast paced. But they're like, they stop. It's like 4 seconds and then they stop again. And then 4 seconds of playing, they stop again. I'm like, never thought about it that way. Guess I you're right. I've always seen it going pretty fast. But there's paces to life, there's paces to game.

What does the pace of your spiritual life tell you about your faith? What does the pace of your spiritual life tell you about your faith? And we're not talking about a frantic, unhealthy kind of way of living your life. That's not what we're talking about. And with you being in your stage of life, it's going to look different. There is a pace of life that a college student can have that me with four kids can't have. Are you with me? There is a pace of life that you that are battling some different illnesses you can't carry in the same way on a physical sense.

But there is a pace of faith that's different. A pace of faith is not always quantifiable by doing more stuff, but allowing yourself to be opened up to the pace and rhythm that God has designed for your life. The pace that you're running at is going to be your own personal pace with God, but it's going to be the pace of faith. There's a runner that broke the record for the marathon running. I'm going to butcher his name Elud Kept. Kepajog. Kepchogi. Thank you, favor. Appreciate that, brother. Elud, is that you? Say his name Elud? I'm feeling good. Elude okay. But he broke the world record for a marathon 26 2 miles. He did it in 2 hours and 9 seconds. I mean, that is flying. But he wanted to beat the record. I mean, he might beat the record. He wanted to beat the two hour mark and he wanted to get under it. And so what he did I find this so interesting. I didn't realize that this was a thing. But what he did is he went to Vienna and he got these pace runners that were not going to run the entire race with him, but they were going to run extremely hard at a very, very fast pace. And then they couldn't keep it up because nobody has. So they would peel off and another one would go and they'd peel off and another one would go. It's so effective that they deemed it it can't be a world record. Even though he ran with that going on an hour and 59 minutes and 40 seconds, they said this can't be the world record number because pace setting matters so much. It's so effective in helping you break through the barriers in the record that we have that we can't count that. We only will count those that run a normal race with people that are running the entire 26.2 miles.

There is a pace setters effect that happens on the field there as they're running and the track, but also in our relationship with God. There are pace setters in this room that are setting a pace. It is not a crazy frame glasses, but somewhere in the middle that God is saying and doing something to have a massive impact on the world around us.

I don't know if you know if you've seen the movie Zootopia, but in Zootopia there's a scene where the rabbit, who is a cop wants to get a license plate number and they go to the DMV. Here's the clip right here.

[Clip plays]

As you look at that clip, I mean, it's painful. I wasn't even watching it. I was saying this has taken so long and she's dying over there. Please just get to it. But there is a pace that we expect people to go even at the DMV or RMV, right. That we expect them to go and actually get the job done, would you please just put it in? Spiritually, in the same way some of us are moving so slowly and we are so, such molasses in our spiritual lives that God is sitting there and God's kind of like the buddy going, come on, I have all these plans for you. Don't you know how awesome it's going to be? And you're like, I may serve. Do you have a joke? That's how we can be with God. God's screaming, I got a vision. I got all these plans. Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, do it with me. Do it with me. And we just have excuses or we're slow.

It's funny. The people that are doing the most are often the people that feel the most invigorated, right? It's the people it's not the people that are doing the most that feel the most exhausted. It's always the people that are doing the least that keep bringing up how exhausted they are. This is true in every area of life, not just spiritually. It's that I'm doing so little that I'm getting progressively more tired. Right? The people that are actually doing a lot of stuff, they're an invigoration that takes place that you go, I want to do this. I love what I'm doing. I'm excited about my job. Yeah, I'm worn out. Yeah, I'm tired, but I'm ready to do it.

Ashley and I really had, like, the two weeks of recovery after the vision service because there was so many things that we were doing on this vision service. Murphy was super involved in it, Katie was super involved in it, and we were exhausted at the end of it. But there was also a side as we were doing it that goes, this is awesome, what we're building, what's happening here. There is a pace of faith, but are you running at that pace? Are you running at the pace of faith? Are you running, in a way, the rhythm that God has placed in your life that says, I'm faithful, I'm excited, I'm on the edge with God, even though it's not going to look the same as it did 20 years ago, or it's not going to look the same as it did at a different stage of life, I can still run at the pace of faith.

Jesus was running at the pace of faith, but you never look at Him and say, he was out of sorts, he was frantic, he was panicked. That's not what we're talking about, but we're talking about speeding up the pace of your life in the faith department to allow God to do the things that he wants to do.

You know, Cedric Viserra from the prose ministry has been a total light. He moved to us from Phoenix, like, four months ago. And Cedric has been just it feels like he knows everybody, has been to everyone's house already for meals and things. And he has been a part of our Catalyst group in the pros ministry of trying to help the ministry get more evangelistic and reaching out to people. And so we had to bring our Neighbor Day a couple of weeks ago and he said, I don't know, I don't know how I'm looking. I want to bring some friends out, but I don't know. And we started talking about sharing your faith at work and getting involved with people at work and talking to them about what we're doing at church. And so he does, and he talks to his entire little cohort there on his floor. There's six of them. And they all go, yeah, all we'd love that. One by one, bing, bing, bing. They all go, yes. Yeah, sign me up. When is it? Let's do it. Save the date. And all six of his friends come with him to the Bring your neighbor Day, watching him trying to fellowship with six people simultaneously and make them feel taken care of and loved, it was hilarious, but it was also incredibly inspiring. Cedric did not walk away from that service going, that was just exhausting. I wish only two came. What he felt was God's using me. And yeah, I'm tired, but it's awesome.

Sam Finley is another pace setter. Sam is a silent servant. You don't know when he's serving, how he's serving, what he's doing, but he's always serving. If you don't know Sam, he's right there in the back, in the blue. There he is. But the way that Sam serves doesn't look like how everybody else serves. It's the way that he can serve in his stage of life, in his way. You need pace setters in your faith that you can find. They're all around us in the room, men and women that are going to the rhythm that God has placed for their life.

Are you running at the pace of faith?

As we close out here and take communion? Jesus was running at the pace we see in Matthew nine, but then later on in Matthew 26, he's in the garden of Gethsemane. That was also the pace of faith. And the moment that God had placed before him was to die on the cross. And so his pace of faith was crying out to God in Gethsemane. His pace of faith was suffering and being sacrificed for our sins. His pace of faith was not a rah rah moment, but it was steadily staying in there and sacrificing for our sins. Paces of faith come in all different shapes and sizes.


At this time we're going to pray and take communion as we meditate on what Christ did in his pace of faith. Let's pray. Dear God, thank you for this time to take communion, for the opportunity to think about the sacrifice your son made. Thank you for all the ways that you are working in our church and in our lives. God, at this moment, I pray that you help us to be still. I pray that you allow the faith pace to be one of stillness and meditation. To examine our lives, to examine where we've fallen short this last week. To not take communion life, rightly? But to be able to meditate on what it means to have a savior sacrifice his life for us. We love you. In Jesus name. Amen.

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