“The word on the street is that faith is a potent mixture of intellectual and emotional self-control that when properly harnessed can literally change outcomes through positive thinking and clear visualization” (Larry Osborne, Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe). What is faith? And, can it really fix anything?
We look at Mark 7:1-23, and discuss what is it that makes a person clean or unclean. Do you consider yourself to be presentable to God, or do you think of yourself as defiled and “unclean”? How do you know? And more importantly, if you are unclean, how do you become clean? These questions are answered in Mark 7:1-23.
Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 2/11/2018.
Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, and I’m inviting all of you to join me in praying through Scripture during the Advent season. To do that, I will be sending out a passage of Scripture each Monday, along with a prayer I write based on the Scripture. Read the passage, think about what it means, and then pray from the Scripture. Feel free to use my prayer if it’s helpful. If you write your own prayer from the text, I’d love for you to send it to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) so you can pray my prayers, and I can pray yours as we both pray through God’s Word!
Below is the first passage, Mark 13:33-37, along with my prayer.
Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: “Watch!” (Mark 13:33–37, NIV)
Lord, I believe You will return, just as you promised in Your Word. Yet, even while You are gone, You are present through Your Holy Spirit. You have called me and others to be Your servants and Your stewards while we await Your return. Thank You for the great honor and privilege of serving You! Thank You for having a plan and a purpose for me, for calling me, and for pursuing me even when I ran from You.
I ask now for Your grace and for the Holy Spirit’s power to live a life worthy of the calling I have received while I await Your second coming– the second Advent. May I never grow complacent in my mind or sleepy in my devotion. Stir up a fire in my heart to pursue Your glory and Your will. I long for Your return and for Your Kingdom! Knowing that it could happen at any time, help me to be prepared to meet You, God my Savior.
“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
Mark 5:1-20. In this passage, Jesus invades the kingdom of darkness, binds the Strong Man, and destroys his legions with nothing more than a word of command! Jesus’s power is unlimited, and through our study of this text, we’ll learn how we can deal with demons in our own lives and our world.
Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 11/12/2017.
In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus and the disciples head out across the Sea of Galilee in their boats, only to run into a dangerous storm that threatens their lives. What Jesus does is nothing short of miraculous, and we learn how we can follow Jesus even amidst the storms of life.
Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 11/5/2017.
In Mark 3:20-35, Jesus’s own family says He’s crazy and the religious leaders accuse Him of being demon-possessed. But Jesus points out that while some may think He’s a lunatic and others that He’s a diabolical liar, those who seek to do God’s will recognize Jesus for who He really is, the Lord.
In Mark 2:13-17, Jesus once again breaks the rules. This time, He calls Levi, a tax collector, to follow Him, and He even goes to Levi’s house to eat with other tax collectors and sinners. How could Jesus, a good moral teacher, a religious leader, a respectable man associate with “those kinds” of people?
Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:15 NIV)
When I was a kid, it seemed like parents, teachers, and other adults were always talking about the danger of peer pressure. My dad often used to quote me 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Peer pressure could lead you to do things you’d never do on your own, it was full of pitfalls and evil influences and would cause you to turn your back on your family, your church, your God, and everything good in this world.
So, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration… but then again, maybe it’s not. I don’t know what they call “peer pressure” when you’re an adult, but I don’t think it’s any less real or dangerous. By all accounts, Pilate would’ve released Jesus to go free. However, he gave Barabbas to the crowd and condemned Jesus to crucifixion because he wanted to satisfy the crowd. He had an innocent man tortured to death because he wanted to please the people.
One of the greatest challenges pastors face is what I call the tyranny of man. It’s the desire to please the people, which isn’t necessarily bad until it conflicts with pleasing the Lord by being obedient to what He calls us to do. Rather than pursuing the path God has laid out for us and our churches, pastors often struggle with a desire to keep the peace, avoid rocking the boat, and hope that it all turns out in the end (because let’s be honest, most people really don’t like change–even good change). One seasoned pastor told me early in my ministry, “When you’ve got equal numbers of people mad at you on each side of an issue, you’re probably right where God wants you to be.” It’s funny but true!
No doubt it’s the same in your workplace, home, school, or circle of friends. Whether you’re a kid or a grown-up, we all battle with the need to be accepted, to be approved and to be included, and that can easily turn into the tyranny of man. We can revert to living at the beck and call of others, failing to set appropriate boundaries, and living in fear of letting someone else down, and even flirting with sin because we want to “satisfy the crowd.”
This verse reminded me of what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 NIV).
My prayer for us this week is that we will be servants of Christ, living for His pleasure and not by the tyranny of man.
This is the second message in a series through the Gospel of Mark. In this scene from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus encounters an untouchable–a man with leprosy comes and begs Jesus to make him clean. Jesus’s reaction to this unclean leper turns the world’s kingdom upside down and reveals that Jesus makes the unclean clean, and the unholy holy.
Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 10/8/2017.
On Sunday, we kicked off a new series through the Gospel of Mark, Who Is This Man? Jesus never wrote a book, but more books have been written about him than anyone else in the world. He never wrote a song, but more songs have been written about him than any other person in human history. He never traveled more than 200 miles outside his hometown, but he left his footprint on the whole earth. Who is this man whose life has changed the course of human history and inspired billions of people over thousands of years to follow him? Your answer to that question will change your life… forever.
“In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house” (Mark 3:27, NIV).
Jesus speaks these words in response to an accusation from the teachers of the law that he was using the power of Satan to drive out demons. But Jesus points out that the power of evil cannot be used for good. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Jesus is casting out demons and bringing freedom from oppression, not by the power of Satan, but by the power of God that has overcome the evil one. Jesus has come into the “strong man’s” house to plunder it. He has invaded the kingdom of Satan and is setting the captives free, healing the sick, caring for the poor and hurting, and generally wreaking havoc in Satan’s plans for evil.
These words called me to reflect on my own life. Am I a house divided? Do I ask God for redemption, but hold back areas I don’t want him to touch? Do I have “strong men” protecting things in my life I don’t want Christ to plunder? If I truly desire freedom and victory, I may need to deal with a “strong man” in my own life. My prayer for us this week is that we will tie up a “strong man” and allow the Lord to plunder our hearts, to invade our lives, and to wreak havoc in our sin. Because the thing about Jesus is, after he breaks up our sin and drives it out, he puts us back together and makes us new.