Discover the Treasure within You
Part 2: How to Put Your Faith into Action

October 14, 2007

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

Luke 17:11-19

11On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" 14When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning. We’re talking these weeks about a series of sermons called, “Discover the Treasure within You.” And this morning’s sermon, part two of the series, is called “How to Put Your Faith into Action.”

 

We’re talking about a gift, a great gift of God that you and I have, that each person has. It’s a precious, precious gift that makes you very rich, whatever your bank account may be. It makes you rich, because it is a gift of the heart, like a sparkling, beautiful diamond within your heart. And what is this treasure? What is this great gift of God? Why, it is your faith!

 

Faith does remarkable things. In the Gospel this morning, Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well.” In the Gospel last week, Jesus said that if we had faith like the grain of a mustard seed, we could say to a mountain, “Move,” and it would be moved. I must tell you that in the days of Jesus a “mountain” was an expression for a very, very tough problem that seemed unsolvable.  But Jesus said even those can be solved through faith. Faith is a powerful thing; it’s a precious, precious gift.

 

And here’s the good news – you’ve got it! You’ve got it, because God put it in your heart. The only question is, will you let it stay covered up? Will you close your eyes to it? Or will you dust it off and let it shine? Of course, that’s my invitation to you, that you would dust it off and let your diamond shine brilliantly, that diamond of faith.

 

What is faith? Faith is simply trust, trust in God. Now, you may know people in the world who say, “I don’t have faith. I don’t want anything to do with faith.” Well, you know what? I think everybody has faith. You have to in this world. We trust that a little plastic card will represent our money. We go up to a machine and put that little card into it and trust that we will be given money. And we believe that there will be electricity to run the machine that we put our card into that takes care of those debts.

 

Some people say they have no faith. Huh! I would ask, did you ever get into a cab in New York City?  Now if that doesn’t take faith! Or, did you ever fly in a plane? Talk about trusting someone we don’t see! We literally put our lives into the hands of someone behind a closed door whom we probably will never meet. We have trust, we have faith, that this is a person of great training and competence. It takes faith.

 

You see, in so many ways, whenever we go out into the world, we exercise some degree of faith. My question is this – why don’t we put our faith into the Everlasting Rock, in the Lord? He invites us to do it. Things become so much more exciting and so much more fulfilling when we do. Take a look with me, won’t you, at the front cover of your bulletin. Here there are three translations of the same Bible verse.

 

First, from the King James Version of the Bible: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Beautifully and memorably put.

 

The other two quotes are from translations we’ll be using in the near future here at church. The New Living Translation: “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.”

 

And in the very modern language translation called “The Message”: “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.”

 

We are people of faith, and that’s the Hallelujah statement. That’s the good news – we have this wonderful faith inside of us. It’s what keeps us from undue worry; it’s what keeps us from anxiety about that which we cannot control, this faith that something good will happen.

 

There are three things I’d like to point out to you about putting your faith into action. How do we do it? May I suggest three things – we pray; we prepare; and we relax.

 

First of all, if you have a concern that you want to put to the Lord, if you have a worry, if you have an intention, pray about it, my friends. Pray in a very direct, simple conversational way with the Lord. Begin with a “Dear Lord”, end with “Amen”, and put your intentions right there in your prayer before the Lord. Tell the Lord what you need.

 

In the Gospel story that we read today, we see that happening. A group of ten lepers decided that they’d had enough with their condition, and they got together, and they went to Jesus. Now I have a theory about this scripture. I think there was an organizer within this group. I think one of them inspired them to get together and go to the Lord Jesus. To all their credit, they agreed, and they went. They went to Jesus and they said, “Lord, son of David, have mercy upon us.” They prayed their prayer. And Jesus said, “Go and show yourselves to the priest.” That means, go and get yourselves a clean bill of health that says you can work and be in society again. On the way to the priest, they were cleansed; they were made whole.  And one of them was confident enough to come back and say thank you to the Lord.

 

They prayed to the Lord. They prepared for a blessing. They got themselves together and they went to the Lord Jesus. One of the ways we can put our faith in action is to get prepared for a blessing. Do we prepare for a blessing, or do we rehearse worries? Do we rehearse the what-ifs, or do we place firmly in our minds what we are preparing for?

 

I’d like to tell you a story of a woman who was living in New York City in the late 1940s. She was living in midtown New York. She had a job as what they called a charwoman in those days; she was on the clean-up crew of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City. They worked in the middle of the night. And one night, as she was working on the huge, complicated machines that sorted and counted money at the Federal Reserve Bank, she said to a fellow worker, “Someday I’ll be working on one of these machines. I’ll be in charge of it,” she said, as she touched the machine she was there to clean.

 

Her fellow worker said, “Where did you ever get an idea like that? That’s impossible for the likes of you and me. You’re uneducated. You’re not even from this country. How could you ever think that you could get a job as important as that?”

 

Well, this woman prepared for a blessing and held fast to her dream. She was unswerving in her faith that she would rise in the ranks. And you know what? She did! Job by job, she rose in the ranks, until the late 1940s when she became a bonded specialist in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in charge of separating large denomination counterfeit bills from authentic bills. It was a good and important job. She did it well and was well-loved. She stayed with that job until the year 1951, when she left that job to have a little baby. Well, you know the rest of the story. She was my mother. And she held to her dream, she prepared for a blessing, and the blessing was hers.

 

 

So, put your faith into action by praying, by preparing for a blessing, and then, my friends, relax into it. You don’t have to overdo it. You don’t have to keep insisting on things. You don’t have to keep pounding at God’s door. Just relax into your blessing, and be thankful for all the wonderful gifts God is giving you.

 

Remember how the one leper came back to Jesus and said, “Thank you for the blessing.” Jesus said, “Oh my goodness, only one returned, and a Samaritan, this person who is usually rejected by society, this person who has so much going against him! Oh, friend, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

 

My dear friends, this is my prayer for each and every one of you: whatever the longing of your heart, whatever the need inside may be, whether for a healing or an uplift or an advancement in any way, I pray that you would dust off the treasure within you. Let your faith shine. Let it shine brightly. Pray; prepare for a blessing; and relax into it and be grateful. And may great and amazing miracles be yours! God wants to bless you, because God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.

 

© 2007 Anthony J. Godlefski