JESUS!

A sermon, a message of hope or anything of the sort can never, ever just assume Jesus (not mentioning his name) because people will never assume Jesus. If your message is truly about the hope we have through faith in Jesus, then say it.

Say, write, proclaim, shout, sing ~ JESUS!

Don’t tip toe around Jesus and be bashful. Be unafraid and bold.

JESUS!

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” [Mark 8:38, ESV]

You are sinful, but Jesus is not ashamed of you. I mean, just look at the cross. He did that FOR YOU. So you, don’t be bashful.

JESUS!
JESUS!
JESUS!

The Pastor -|—

Sermon Pondering ~ Following Jesus

Mark 8:31-38

Deny yourself
Take up your cross
Follow

Wow, this is not normal.

I like myself
I like my life
I like my stuff
So deny? Not normal.

And this cross business?
Carry mine?
That sounds like it could hurt. Again, not normal.

And then it gets even more not normal:
Want to save your life? Lose it.

Hmmm…

But what will it profit you if you gain the whole world and forfeit your soul?

Hmmm…

What will it profit me?
NOTHING

What will I actually get for gaining the whole world?
DEATH

But…

…if you lose your life for Jesus and for the sake of the Gospel you will save it.
(Actually, Jesus will save it through faith)

Die? Save your life?
YES

Follow Jesus?
ABSOLUTELY!!!

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

Prayer in Preparation for the Word ~ Open our Eyes

The following is the prayer that I wrote to be prayed before the sermon on Mark 8:22-30 (Jesus healing the blind man). It’s a prayer of faith; asking God to open our eyes to see Him. So may God open your eyes as you worship today and hear God’s holy Word proclaimed.

Let’s pray…

Oh God, You are holy and awesome and sovereign and worthy and wise. You are love. You are peace. You are hope.

Oh God, open our eyes so we may see; for you are the only one who can. You are the only one who can show us the truth. You are the only one who can show us the way. You are the only one we can ultimately trust with our lives.

Oh God, open our eyes.
Open our eyes to see your glory.
Open our eyes to see your beauty.
Open our eyes to see your love through the cross.
Open our eyes to see the truth that we may echo Peter’s confession and declare that Jesus Christ is indeed Your son.

And may we stand firm in our confession; not allowing Satan to get in between us and You. May we not find ourselves in the position to be rebuked as Peter was, but if we do, may we fall at Your feet in humble confession.

And so grant me wisdom, that only you can grant, as I unpack Your holy Word. May I be faithful, Oh God. Now may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O God, our rock and redeemer. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Good but short

And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” [Mark 8:4]

Much like me, these disciples have good but short memories. In chapter 6 they witness the incredible miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 men (add in the women and children who were there and you have close to probably 10,000 people). But numbers aside, this was an awesome miracle and display of God’s power through Jesus in which the disciples were amazed, but I wonder if they were really paying attention.

Now they are back in the wilderness with Jesus and have been there for three days with 4,000 people on some kind of retreat, as it were. Apparently there was no food committee because at the end of three days the people were hungry. But being the compassionate person Jesus is, he wasn’t going to send them home hungry, lest they faint on their way.

What shall we do? [of course Jesus knows]

Jesus, how can one possibly feed these people in such a desolate place?

Really? Did they just ask that question? Did they just wonder if Jesus is able to provide for a group of people much smaller than the one he fed earlier? Do they not remember the feeding of the 5000 (and then some)?

But we shouldn’t come down too hard on these guys because really, we’re no different. I mean, think about it. Aren’t there times you wonder if God will actually forgive you? Don’t you ever wonder at times if God is actually with you? Don’t you have moments of fear and anxiety over a situation, wondering if God will provide? Do you ever worry or doubt?

Of course you do.

And this is nothing more than sinful people forgetting about this awesome God of ours. You see, sin has a way of shortening our memories of the Gospel and therefore leading us astray. When we forget about God we turn inward and become selfish. When we forget about God we disobey and wander. When we forget about God his awesomeness and holiness becomes nothing more than a theological concept.

So what does one do? More fish oil to improve your memory?

Not exactly.

Rather you spend time with God every single day.
~ Keep His Word in front of you.
~ Set your mind on the things that are above.
~ Surround yourself with other believers.
~ Make sure that the Gospel is being proclaimed to you on a regular basis.
~ Ask someone to listen to your confession and pronounce the Gospel of forgiveness to you.
~ And, of course, read your Bible and pray.

Do these things and more on a regular basis to help with short-term Gospel memory loss. But be careful and don’t lose the sense of wonder. The disciples may have forgotten about the feeding of the 5000 but they had a chance to be amazed all over again. Don’t let familiarity with the Gospel take away the wonder.

Be amazed that God, through Jesus Christ, would forgive a sinner like you.

May you bask in the glory of God. May you remember his love and compassion. May you always know the hope of the resurrection through faith in Jesus.

And may God bless your day 🙂

In Jesus name, Amen!

The Pastor -|—

The things of God

The “assigned” Gospel text for Sunday is from Mark 8 where Jesus foretells his death; Peter rebukes Jesus; and then Jesus in turn rebukes Peter: “Get behind me Satan, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God but on the things of man.”

This “things of God” verses the “things of man” has got me thinking this week.

I started the week reflecting on Psalm 119:1-16 where it says:

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart.
3 They do nothing wrong;
they walk in his ways.
4 You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
6 Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
8 I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me. 

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, O Lord;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.

I have been soaking these verses in every chance I get this week.  When some down time presents itself to me I open my Bible to read and reflect.  I listen and then read again.  I ponder and wonder if I am indeed setting my mind on the “things of God” rather than on the “things of man”.  Do I mediate on God’s precepts? Do I take joy in learning God’s righteousness decrees?

You see ~ The “things of man” doesn’t encourage you to open your Bible during some down time.  The “things of man” doesn’t encourage you to just sit and listen, as a friend of mine so aptly wrote on his blog recently.  The “things of man” doesn’t tell you that God’s way is best.  And so I am encouraged:

I feel good about myself.
I feel justified that I am doing what I should be doing.
I feel like I am on the right path.

But then I also realize that I have my moments (actually…many moments) when I am setting my mind on the “things of man”.  In a lot of ways Peter and I are kindred spirits.

I want what I think is best without consulting God.
I want to find peace and contentment in the things of this world.
I want to rush in with MY agenda.

So then I feel discouraged that maybe I truly don’t have in mind the “things of God” 😦

But then in Romans Paul reminds us that this battle is never ending.  We are always going to be frustrated by the battle between the desire to set our mind on the “things of God” verses the “things of man”.  We are always go to be tempted to take the easy/pleasurable way over the productive/God-honoring way.  The battle is going to rage on and never calm down until that day when Jesus returns to take us home and redeem the pitiful state we find ourselves in.

So in the mean time, take every moment you can to immerse yourself in the Word.  Find quiet moments to listen to God. Remember to shut up and listen once in a while.  And don’t lose hope.  When you falter; when you revert to your “default” setting of the “things of man” remember the Good News ~ forgiveness through faith in Christ ~ and then update your settings to the “things of God”.

Praise be to you, O Lord; 
teach me your decrees. 
13 With my lips I recount 
all the laws that come from your mouth. 
14 I rejoice in following your statutes 
as one rejoices in great riches. 
15 I meditate on your precepts 
and consider your ways. 
16 I delight in your decrees; 
I will not neglect your word.

“Things of God”…CHECK 🙂
[At least for now]

Praise be to you O God!  Even though I falter and take you for granted, you don’t leave me orphaned.  Even though I often revert to the “things on man” you don’t cast me aside to fend for myself.  O God – I want to strive after your righteousness decrees.  Help me to keep my internal settings on the “things of God” that I may grow closer and closer to you.  Through Jesus Christ I pray…Amen.

edh -|—