Building the Kingdom

If you look carefully at this picture of rocks, you will notice some unnatural formations. They are pillars of rocks that people have artistically created. I saw these recently and wanted to capture the moment so I could admire these man/woman made structures. Why, because the next time I come through, I doubt they will be there.

Mark 13:1–2 (ESV) ~ And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

The fact of the matter is this — those small stone pillars will not last. Someone or something WILL knock them down. They may last for a while, but eventually they will come down. The same with any man-made kingdom of this world. No matter how beautiful, strong, respected, adorned or solid, it will not last. Only that which is built by God will last, and last forever it will.

Church buildings are only that, buildings — they are not the Church. The Church is built by God through faith in Jesus Christ and held together, not by mortar, but by the Holy Spirit. When we begin to worship and admire and build buildings, over and above God, then we are doomed to be thrown down with the rest of the stones.

So…

Whose kingdom is getting your attention: your kingdom or His Kingdom?
What kingdom are you fixated on building: your kingdom or His Kingdom?
In what kingdom do you want to reside: your kingdom or His Kingdom?

To God be the glory through Christ Jesus our Lord!

Never Forsaken

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” [Mark 15:34 ESV]

Have you considered and reflected on the forsakenness of Christ; those long, horrible hours on the cross? Have you? I mean, it’s one thing to be beaten to within an inch of your life but Jesus was also nailed to a cross after that to suffer an unimaginable agony. And now, on top of that, Jesus is forsaken by God to endue the weight of the sins of the world.

But consider the Psalm that Jesus is quoting from. Yes, this is more than a cry to his abba. It is a cry of hope…FOR YOU.
~ Yet you are holy (vs 3)
~ To you they (our fathers) cried and were rescued (vs 5)
And it goes on to talk about his suffering, BUT, ends with praise. God is doing something. Jesus cries out in agony, but, through Psalm 22, proclaims the Gospel in the midst of his agony.
~ For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. (vs 28)

What is awesome about Jesus’ suffering is that he was not focused on the suffering itself but rather on the victory that is coming. Even though God had forsaken him at that moment, Jesus was still looking forward to his redemption. This is not a desperate cry but rather a cry of salvation…FOR YOU.

In the midst of your suffering, look to your Father in heaven and know that you are NEVER forsaken. Jesus suffered the ultimate forsakenness that you would never have to. This momentary affliction is nothing compared to the glory that is to come through Jesus Christ.

Reflect on THAT and praise HIM always and forever.

Amen!

The Pastor -|—

Misplaced Fear

And Herodias had a grudge against him (John the Baptist) and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
Mark 6:19‭-‬20 ESV

Herod feared John.
Herod knew John was a righteous and holy man.
Herod listened to John.
Herod was perplexed by John yet gladly heard him.

THUS…

Herod protected John — for awhile — until his fear of man trumped his fear of John.

Hmmm…interesting, isn’t it. Herod feared and respected John the Baptist and gladly heard him, but nothing about fearing God. Nothing about wanting to know more about this Messiah to which John was pointing. Herod was simply fascinated with the man (John), not God, thus his “fear” was not firmly grounded.

And herein lies the issue — the fear of man verses the fear of God. The fear of man will only take you so far and will eventually betray you and/or the one you claim to fear. The faith-filled fear of God will keep you in awe and never betray you, and will rightly direct your worship.

It’s sad, really, as this worldly fear leads people into false worship. This is evident in how people view /think of Christian worship. The delivery or form or the service itself becomes the object of one’s worship. One’s fear of how worship is done soon captures their heart and veils the one they claim to fear/worship.
They fear not being entertained.
They fear something going wrong.

When these becomes the main fears, then God is not glorified. How can God be glorified when people want…

…entertainment, not worship
…form, not substance
…creature, not Creator
…words, not the Word
…Easter, not Good Friday
…absolution, not confession
…comfort, not suffering

They fear man, not God.

May you not adopt the ways of Herod but walk in the Way of Jesus.
May your fear not be misplaced.
May your worship be directed towards “entertaining” God not in being entertained.

May you be greatly “perplexed” about God, so much so, that you are driven, more and more, to hear God, more and more gladly, so much so, that your holy fear of God is nurtured and cultivated in such a way that God is glorified in every way in your life.

Amen!

The Pastor -|—

Ascribe

Holy God, loving Father,
You anointed Jesus in the Jordan River
and proclaimed him Your beloved Son,
but all too often I overlook this very important fact;
that Jesus is not just your Son
but Your Son who died as the
perfect,
spotless lamb
for the atonement of our sins.
May I be drawn into an ever deeper understanding
of the divine nature of our Lord and Savior,
so much so,
that I ascribe to You what is due Your holy name;
for to see and know Jesus
is to see and know You.
All glory, strength and honor
be ascribed unto You,
oh God,
through Christ Jesus my Lord.
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Seed Sowing in Satan’s Face

In reading the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-20, I am quickly reminded that the call and the joy of the Christian is to sow the Word of God. The joy comes from the fact we are sinners but that God offers forgiveness of our sins by His grace through Jesus Christ. And through this forgiveness, we have the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.

This is the Gospel.
This is the Good News.
This is AMAZING news!

And yet, we often see evangelism as a chore or as something to do later if we have time or something reserved for a certain committee or (and this is my favorite) it is something reserved strictly for the pastor.

Maybe this inattention to evangelism comes from the fact that, more times than not, you get beaten up when you try to seed sow. Maybe someone strongly rejects your Gospel presentation. Maybe someone tells you to keep your faith to yourself. Maybe someone argues with you to the point of exhaustion. Maybe you have been shot down too many times to count and you’re just plain tired of getting hurt or embarrassed. Whatever the case, it serves as a reminder that Satan is hard at work. Whenever you are sharing your faith or trying to present the Gospel or stand up for what you believe, Satan is right there to make life difficult. And he should because the Gospel threatens Satan.

But we must keep seed sowing.
We must keep spreading the Gospel.
We must keep telling people that there is hope.
We must keep showing people Jesus.

For when we stop, Satan wins and thus he laughs.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, seed sowing is hard but look at the bright side. If seed sowing is difficult and it feels like you are being resisted every step of the way, then maybe you’re doing something right. In that case, keep on going in the strength of the Lord and mock Satan knowing that Jesus stands with you and that Satan can not possibly win.

And that is cause to laugh in Satan’s face and praise be to God always and forever!

The Pastor -|—

Waiting ~ A Prayer

The sermon text for today is Mark 13:32-37. May God be praised as you worship.

“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.
[Mark 13:32-33]

Creator and Redeeming God,
from the beginning of time;
when sin entered this world,
You have been guiding us to redemption.
You sent Your Son, Jesus,
to live and die and rise
that we may be forgiven and thus brought back to You.

And now,in the interim, we wait.

We wait for the glorious coming of our Lord.
We wait with longing expectation.
We wait with eagerness.
We wait with hope.

And when Jesus does return,
may we not be found lacking.
May we not be found sleeping.
May we not be found distracted.

When Jesus returns,
may we be found doing the very things that we should be doing;
glorifying your most holy name.

So tune our hearts to You as we hear Your Word.
May we always live with joy in our hearts at the coming of our Lord
as we live each day as THE day of Jesus’ return.

All glory,
honor,
praise
and worship
be to You now and always,

Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Soon and Very Soon ~ A Prayer

A prayer before preaching on Mark 13:14-31…

Heavenly Father,
Holy God,
Mighty Lord,

we praise you, this morning,
that through faith in Jesus Christ
we can sing with all confidence:
Soon and very soon,
we are going to see the King.
A place where there is no more dying or crying.

What great joy it is to sing this hymn;
hearing You speak words of reassurance through our song.

May we cling to this hope
and may we look
and wait
with longing expectation
the arrival of our King,
Jesus Christ.

May we not grow complacent
and may we not lose hope through tribulation.

And so speak to us.
May Your Spirit move through Your holy Word,
bringing faith to to those who do not believe
and increased hope and confidence
to those who call upon Your holy name.

And so may the words of my mouth
and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable to You,
oh God,
through Christ Jesus our Lord
and coming King,

Amen.

The Pastor -|—