Sunday, November 27, 2011

Msg: On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! - Week 10

     Today is the end of part one to our series on the Gospel of Mark. In the spring, we will look at the last 6 chapters leading up to Easter.

     In Mark 10, we see a series of stories about people's ideas about going to heaven or gaining eternal life. Don't miss the recurring theme here. People think they've got it all figured out, and Jesus confronts their misguided attempts.
     It starts with parents bringing their little children to be blessed by Jesus, and the disciples thinking this is too much of a distraction. Jesus rebukes His disciples and tells them, "Anyone who does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And there is the problem for so many people. We don't approach God the way little kids do, with awe, wonder, and a belief that He can do all things. We think we must figure it all out first, and many times give up because we think the Bible is too hard to understand.
     The next problem Jesus explains comes as a man questions Him about what he must do to inherit eternal life. Again, many think that if they "do" the right things and don't "do" the wrong things, then God will let them into heaven. Jesus plays along for a moment and asks the man about the "doing" things found in the ten commandments. And it says that, "Jesus looked at him and loved him." Jesus then points out the one thing he lacks - dependence on God instead of all he has. Jesus teaches that prosperity is not an indicator of God's love.
     After the story of two disciples asking Jesus if they can sit at his right or left when He comes into His glory, we see the most unlikely example of one who sees the way to follow Jesus. A blind man calls out for mercy as Jesus is walking by. He doesn't care what anyone else thinks, he knows that Jesus is the Messiah and only He can make a difference in this man's life. How about you? On your mark, get set, go!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Msg: On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! - Week 9

     In the beginning of today's message, we watched a humorous video to get us ready for Thanksgiving. As the sweet little girl prays with a thankful heart for many, many things, her family gets distracted by other things. Right near the end, her prayer turns to them and they stop to focus on what matters.
     As we get into the text of God's Word today in  Mark 9, we see some interesting contrasts. We start with what we call the Transfiguration. Jesus takes three disciples with Him up on a mountain and they experience something truly amazing. Maybe you've had a "mountaintop experience" with Jesus. But we all have to come down off the mountain at some point. And as the disciples do, they find a sharp contrast to what they have just experienced with Jesus. While they have been gone, a crowd has developed around the disciples, including a challenge from some teachers of the law. In the midst, they have totally lost focus on a man who has come for help for his son. The discussion that unfolds puts the attention back where it should have been.
     My hope is that today's message will help encourage you in how to handle the difficulties you face when coming down off the mountain. Like our theme in this series, after getting "set" and focused on following Jesus, it's all about what you do with the time between "on your mark" and the time He says "go" that makes a difference. Listen in and be encouraged as we near the end of our series.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Msg: On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! - Week 8

   Were you ever an athlete in school? I tried. My legs were a little shorter than I wanted. Although I ended up playing Golf, I did try to run track. One event – the 400m. But it was a distance for me, not a sprint like everyone else. I’ll always remember the change that happened around turn three, though. Once the end was in sight, I began to run faster.  It was the turning point from just running to running with a purpose. Like turn three for me, Mark chapter eight is a turning point in the disciples’ relationship with Jesus.
   The chapter starts out with the miracle of feeding 4000, then Jesus has a discussion about yeast and the disciples being dull. Next He heals a blind man partially and then completes it. All are neat stories with lots we could learn and apply in life today, but we won’t. The part we do look at today happens as Jesus is just walking around with His disciples. They are in a place called Caesarea Philippi, a place known for all of its pagan temples to so called gods. And in the midst of that, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” And after they give their responses, He makes the question personal and asks, “Who do you say I am?” 
   That’s the point of today’s message. We can’t live our lives based on the opinions and philosophies of others. We each must decide who we think Jesus is and respond accordingly. Peter is the one who speaks up and says, “You are the Christ.” How Jesus responds might surprise you at first. It marks the change in His relationship with them that each of us needs to experience. Listen in and be encouraged by God’s great love for you and what we must do in response to His offer of grace.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Msg: On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! - Week 7

   We all have traditions - things that are special to us. Many have been handed down to us from parents and grandparents. We have a certain way we do things and times when they seem important to do them. Traditions are more than just a habit, but can grow out of them. Traditions may be right or wrong. Your way of doing something may be different than mine, but does that make either of us wrong? We run into this in the church with music. Some prefer the older hymns, others like more contemporary styles with more instruments. Is either wrong? Is there some standard we can measure against?
   In today's message, we look at Jesus talking about traditions. He is challenged by the religious leaders around him because they say he is wrong for not following certain traditions. Jesus turns the story upside down on them. Their challenge is about what makes a person clean, and they think that the ceremonial washing they do makes a difference in a person's standing with God. Jesus gets to the real issue of what makes a person clean before God, and it isn't about what we do for a show to others. Jesus teaches here that what comes out of our heart is a better indicator of our spiritual condition than what we eat or other actions that try to look holy.
   What about you? Is your religion based on following actions that have been handed down to you, or is it about worship to Jesus because you have a relationship with Him that is real and personal? That's what makes the difference. Listen in and be encouraged today.

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