Faith Without Control


Message Title: Faith Without Control
Theme: Faith
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: Hebrews 12:18-29;
Scripture Reading: Luke 13:10-17 Jesus is lord of sabbath (he is the priest)
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; Isaiah 58:9b-14; Psalm 103:1-8; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17
Focus: God is in charge of creation’s cleansing & restoration.
To release our need to control the Gospel and have faith in God’s plan & timing.
Other Notes:
faith practiced in life- chairs, traffic, supply chains, utilities, politicians, fencing

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 13:10-17 10 Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 A woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and couldn’t stand up straight. 12 When he saw her, Jesus called her to him and said, “Woman, you are set free from your sickness.” 13 He placed his hands on her and she straightened up at once and praised God. 14 The synagogue leader, incensed that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, responded, “There are six days during which work is permitted. Come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath day.” 15 The Lord replied, “Hypocrites! Don’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from its stall and lead it out to get a drink? 16 Then isn’t it necessary that this woman, a daughter of Abraham, bound by Satan for eighteen long years, be set free from her bondage on the Sabbath day?” 17 When he said these things, all his opponents were put to shame, but all those in the crowd rejoiced at all the extraordinary things he was doing.

FAITH IN LIFE: Invisible Fence & HOAs

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How many of you have dogs?
    1. Is your system successful at keeping your dog from running away?
  2. Faith in the Invisible Fence – our new home doesn’t have fencing, it has an “invisible fence.” Fortunately, we have a coward for a Great Dane. She’s yet to get shocked because the auditory warning scares her enough that she runs back to the door. But Invisible Fences aren’t fail proof; technically a dog can run right through them. They also don’t prevent other animals from coming into your property. You can only have so much faith and so much control with an Invisible Fence.
  3. So why do we use Invisible Fences? They’re already there. It costs too much money to install a privacy fence. Our HOA doesn’t allow privacy fences. We are creatures of control; HOAs are a great example of that truth. We love to control fence designs, paint colors, or even grass height.

TRANSITION: In our text for today, the author is contrasting their audience with the controlling attitude of the Exodus Generation.

Are we practicing faith if we always have 100% control 100% of the time? Will we need control like the Exodus Generation or can we embrace a lack of control through faith in God?

MAIN TEXT: Hebrews 12:18-29 18 You haven’t drawn near to something that can be touched: a burning fire, darkness, shadow, a whirlwind, 19 a blast of a trumpet, and a sound of words that made the ones who heard it beg that there wouldn’t be one more word. 20 They couldn’t stand the command, If even a wild animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.[b] 21 The sight was so frightening that Moses said, “I’m terrified and shaking!” 22 But you have drawn near to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, to countless angels in a festival gathering, 23 to the assembly of God’s firstborn children who are registered in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous who have been made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks better than Abel’s blood. 25 See to it that you don’t resist the one who is speaking. If the people didn’t escape when they refused to listen to the one who warned them on earth, how will we escape if we reject the one who is warning from heaven? 26 His voice shook the earth then, but now he has made a promise: Still once more I will shake not only the earth but heaven also.[c] 27 The words “still once more” reveal the removal of what is shaken—the things that are part of this creation—so that what isn’t shaken will remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken, let’s continue to express our gratitude.[d] With this gratitude, let’s serve[e] in a way that is pleasing to God with respect and awe, 29 because our God really is a consuming fire.


  1. GOSPEL:
    1. Just before this passage was a parable about giving more time for fruit to flourish
    1. Jesus was teaching on the Sabbath
    1. Jesus healed an un-named woman on the Sabbath
    1. Synagogue leader rebukes him for “working” on the Sabbath
      1. …. So healing is “work” but “teaching” isn’t? …. As a pastor… teaching is work.
    1. Jesus rebukes the rebuke by referencing the common breaking of Sabbath by caring for animals.
    1. The author of Hebrews tells their audience that they will be different than the Exodus Generation.
      1. The Exodus Generation wanted to keep God at arm’s length because they were scared by God’s methods. They didn’t want to be involved. “We might die if we talk to God directly…. So, Moses, you talk to him FOR us!”
        1. “God’s rules scare me, keep Him away!”
      1. This new generation would be invited to God’s holy mountain and be present in the holy places. The new generation was going to see how God transformed things with God’s justice.
    1. God’s doing a cleansing thing (shaking foundations, rocking the heavens)—Think like a giant etch-a-sketch. God’s resetting things and making it new.
      1. No fear, instead confidence and certainty in God’s plan.


    1. The synagogue leader clung to his enforcing of the Sabbath laws. However, he missed the essence of the law. Compassion is permitted on the Sabbath. – you can feed your animals or care for your animals on the Sabbath…. Sooooo…. Why can’t you HEAL A HUMAN on the Sabbath? Shouldn’t we help those bound by Satan whenever possible!?!
      1. This synagogue leader seems like the type of person who would LOOOOVE to enforce HOAs.
    1. HOAs sure make for pretty neighborhoods… but they can also make for hostile neighbors.
      1. The goal of HOAs is to protect the value of homes in a neighborhood. If everyone keeps up with things, then everyone’s home maintains value. Everyone wins.
      1. BUT sometimes people Major on the Minor with HOAs and neighborhoods become tense or even hostile to anyone that toes the line.
  2. Exodus Generation & HOAs
    1. God gave the Exodus Generation the law to help guide them. This law was to help flourish their faith in God and their relationships with each other.
    1. God did not create a law to take away our fun. God did not create a law for us to follow the letter of the law while ignoring the essence. God did not create the law for us to be the police.
  3. No HOAs, Only God: God is the one with the plan. God is the one who designed it all. God is in charge of the purifying, cleansing, justifying. God’s law sets people free and flourishes relationships. We are not the president of the HOA. We don’t get to decide who is in and who is out. We don’t get to decide if someone is redeemed. Redemption is defined by God’s standards, not ours.


  1. Control in Church-
    1. Story of control: Back at the church I grew up in, they had a coffee bar for the guests in the foyer. The intention was to provide a welcoming atmosphere. However, one particular person wanted to put up signs controlling how much people could take. … like “creamer is limited to 2 pumps.” Does that give an atmosphere of welcoming?
      1. Imagine instead of creamer, we expect guests to dress a particular way or only sit in the “guest seats.” DON’T TAKE MY SPOT!
        1. Silly Challenge: Next week, everyone will sit in a spot different from your “regular” spot.And, no, not your “back up” spot.
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How could we be more hospitable on a Sunday?
      1. Greeting new people; Sitting with new people; Introducing them to others
      1. Go out to eat with them after church.
  2. Control in the Message- No HOAS
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How do we cling to our roles as Christ followers BUT release control of the Gospel?

CONCLUSION:  How do we show love and generosity while letting go of control of the Gospel?

What is the difference between letting go of control and apathy or even lethargy?

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