Category Archives: Gospel of Mark

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 -|—

Loving God and Neighbors ~ A Prayer

The following prayer is in preparation to preach the Word of the Lord from Mark 12:28-34. This is the account of a Scribe asking Jesus what is the greatest Law; which loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength AND loving your neighbor as yourself.

So may God speak to Your heart this morning and send you out to serve Him through loving your neighbor out of your love for Him.

Holy Father,
we would not know love outside of You
for You are love.
We would not know how to truly love our neighbor outside of You
for You are love.

Many who do not know You, love others
but not in the way that brings You glory.
And so I ask that those here gathered,
who do not know You,
may come to know You in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And in knowing You,
love others with a love that only comes from You.

May You fill hearts,
so much so,
that we are driven to learn and live You holy Law;
obeying You and thus
showing love to our neighbor.
May our obedience bring You glory
and may our love of our neighbors point them to You.
I pray this through Christ Jesus our Lord,
who loved us all the way through the cross and through the grave,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Worship prayers for 08-16-15 ~ The Image of God

I am back.

I was off last week for some continuing education and now I am looking forward to getting back into the pulpit and worshiping with the saints/sinners of Salem and Belmont. It’s nice to take a break once in a while but I do itch to get back into the saddle, as it were.

So here you go, the prayers/blessings I prepared for worship this morning. The preaching text is Mark 12:13-17 where Jesus responds to the Pharisees’ question about taxes: Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. What strikes me is that Jesus draws their attention to the image on a coin and then says render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But what is God’s? Well, we are created in God’s image, so therefore what is God’s is that which bears His image. You and me. So this morning I am playing with this glorious reality of being created in God’s image.

May your corporate worship time be pleasing to God Almighty and may you leave refreshed for ministry out in the world; bringing glory to God. Let us pray and praise our God…

Opening Prayer
Holy Father, we enter this time of worship with joy and thanksgiving. We come before with all that we are to perform for You. We enter this space with no other expectation than to sing praises to Your holy name. For this time is not about us. It is not about what we get out of it. It is not about us feeling good. This is about You and You alone for You are worthy of all our attention. You are worthy of all our focus. You are worthy. So may this corporate time of worship be pleasing to You and may our lives the rest of the week be ones that deflect all attention to You, oh Lord, as we continue our worship 24/7. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Prayer before Preaching
Creator God, you created us in Your most glorious image. You created us with a purpose. You created us to worship you. But many have turned to worship the creature rather than You, the Creator. Many have turned away, rendering to Caesar that which belongs to You. Holy God, loving father, may You send Your Holy Spirit that these words may pack the punch needed to turn people back to You and render to You that which is due to You. May people see You as Creator and redeemer, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Post-Communion Blessing
Now may the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ embolden your words and deeds as you live as forgiven sinners; saved by grace through faith, and proclaim the life and death of Jesus to the glory of God our Father. Let us pray…

Post-Communion Prayer
You have fed us with this holy food; the body and blood of Jesus, and now You send us out into this mission field. Strengthen our faith to speak boldly of Your Kingdom and may we be ever mindful of the fact that we are Your image bearers. To you be honor and glory, forever and ever, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Change

And going into the house they (The magi) saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. [Matthew 2:11-12]

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. [Luke 2:20]

And Jesus said to him (Bartimaeus, who used to be blind), “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. [Mark 10:52]

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he (Jesus) saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Jesus [Matthew 4:18-20]

What do all these texts have in common? It’s OK, you can go back and read them again. I’ll wait…

[Cue Jeopardy theme]

…waiting…

…waiting…

…did you see it?

In all these situations/encounters, the people leave changed. They encountered Jesus and they are changed. The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God. The Magi returned by another way (and I would say figuratively as well; meaning THE Way). Bartimaeus listened to Jesus and went “his way” which happened to be the way of Jesus. Peter and Andrew meet Jesus and when invited/commanded to follow, they dropped everything and followed.

And it makes sense, really. I mean, how does one meet Jesus and not be changed? How does one encounter the Son of God and return to your former way of life? How does one hear, “I love you and I forgive you” and say “That’s nice“? How does one receive the Gospel and not say anything about it?

Jesus changes people.

And so I am lead to conclude that if you are not making your way the way of Jesus then maybe you haven’t met Jesus yet. If you are not proclaiming the Gospel through word and deed then maybe you haven’t received it yet. If you are just going with the flow of culture then maybe you haven’t been confronted by the Son of Man. For you see, when the Good News of Jesus Christ takes hold of you, it takes hold of you. I am not saying that you will be perfect in your following but at least you will know where to turn when you do fall. You will care about the fact that you sinned against God and therefore will seek reconciliation through the blood of the Lamb. Repentance will be your desire. Holiness will be your goal. Worship of God Almighty will be your life.

Jesus changes people.

Therefore I can’t imagine peering into that manger stall without being blown away by the love that had just entered the world through a tiny baby. I can’t imagine standing face to face with Jesus and not dropping everything to be near him. I can’t imagine being powerfully healed by Jesus and not shouting “Alleluia!” for all the world to hear.

Jesus changes people.

I look at what is going on in the world and it saddens me but I am not angry with people. I am not angry with our government. I am not angry with our leaders. I am just saddened because I am part of an institution that has not done enough to introduce people to Jesus. But instead of just sitting here feeling sorry for myself, I need to do a better job of introducing/proclaiming Jesus.

~ Being more bold in my faith
~ Being more bold in practicing forgiveness
~ Being more bold in encouraging people
~ Being more bold in calling people to repentance
~ Being more bold in advocating for the Word of God
~ Being more bold…(God, You fill in the blank)

Change me, oh God, to be who You need me to be for the sake of the Gospel.

Meet Jesus and then “go your way“; following the one who has redeemed you from your sin and show people the love our your Savior. Let the Holy Spirit work through your life and give praise and glory to God our Father.

Let Jesus change you that he may change the world.

Holy Father, send Your Spirit to change people. Send Your Spirit to embolden people. Send Your Spirit to save people. And in the end may Your children praise and worship You. Glory be to You, oh God, through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Worship prayers for 06/28/15 ~ Spiritual blindness

Good morning and happy Lord’s Day.

The sermon text for this morning is Mark 10:46-52. This is Jesus’ encounter with blind Bartimaeus on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. This is the last healing story of this Gospel as we head into chapter 11 with the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem (what we call Holy Week). My focus will be on spiritual blindness and the Church’s call to seek the blind with the Gospel of Jesus Christ; for when one calls out to Jesus in faith, he will stop, as he did for Bartimaeus. So the prayers are written with that theme in mind.

May your Lord’s Day be blessed as you worship our awesome God.

Let’s pray…

Opening Prayer
God of Hope, in a world filled with spiritual blindness, we come looking for Your guiding hand; seeking Your forgiveness; seeking Your Truth. For You are God almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
You are our King.
You are our Life.
You are our Light.
And so we plead with the words of the blind Bartimaeus, Lord, have mercy on us. We humbly beseech You to stop and turn to us as Jesus did on that Jericho road.
Receive our worship.
Receive our praise.
Receive our thanks.
Restore our sight.
For You are worthy and thus we are worthy of judgment, but have mercy upon us as You heal our blindness and make us so bold that our way becomes the way of Jesus. So here we are. May our worship be pleasing to Your ears, in the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Prayer before Preaching
Mighty God, our great Physician, You are the opener of eyes, the healer of faith and the giver of hope. Through Jesus Christ You heard the call of the blind man and did for him what he had asked through faith, that You may be glorified. You then sent him on his way; healed and redeemed. And so we gather here on this dusty road of life as blind beggars; seeking Your Word and healing touch. May all who hear Your Word cast off all that would hinder their coming to You and may they run with haste to get a taste of Your glorious Word. So I humbly ask that You would send Your Holy Spirit to open our eyes that we may proclaim the glories of Your awesome name. Heal all the ails us, not according to our will but may Your will be done. Drive away despair. Bury our sin. Grant us hope through Jesus Christ our risen Savior, Amen.

Offering Prayer
Holy Father; giver of life, nothing we give compares to what You have done for us through Jesus Christ, but it is not about trying to out give you but rather express our thanks through our worship. So receive these gifts collected this morning as our worship to You for the advancement of Your Kingdom, and in turn, may You continue to bless us that we may bless others; for this ministry is not ours but Yours. Let our lives be a living worship service unto Your glory as we serve our neighbors in love. Through Christ Jesus our Lord we pray, Amen.

Benediction
As Jesus opened the eyes of the blind,
may your eyes be opened to the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May you see your lives as fleeting in this world but held secure in the arms of God.
May you see the plight of your neighbor and reach out with the love of our Lord.
May you see the strength of our awesome God as your strength.
May you see the spiritual blindness in this world as your calling to live boldly for God.
And may you see the way of Jesus as your way.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen