The sermon for September 16th 2018 is now available on the New Life web-site.
In this sermon, which is based on Mark 8:27-38, I talk about Real Discipleship.
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
Jesus asks His disciples who people say He is. They offer various suggestions, and then Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Peter replies, “You are the Christ.”
Jesus then begins to teach them that He must be crucified. Peter begins to rebuke Him. Jesus tells Him, “Get behind me Satan!”
Jesus then tells the crowd that whoever wants to follow Him must take up their cross and deny themselves. If anyone is ashamed of Him now, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His glory.
There is a stark choice that confronts every disciple of Jesus. Will I seek the comforts of the world or will I be faithful to Christ?
Jesus says that it is pointless to gain the whole world but to lose your soul.
The world offers many temptations and attractions. We might pursue a career that offers us a comfortable lifestyle. If this involves compromising the gospel or denying a call that God has on our lives, then it is the wrong choice and a futile reward.
What is the benefit of a million dollar lifestyle if we end up in hell? Surely the goal of this life is to prepare for eternity lived with God. To exchange eternal joy for a few years of fame and fortune is the height of foolishness.
My calling is to follow Jesus regardless of where He leads me. He promises that if I seek first Him and His Kingdom in all I do, then He will make sure my daily needs are met.
Given a choice between the call of Jesus and the pleasures of this world, Jesus always comes first.
Lord, there are so many temptations and distractions in this world. Please help me to remain faithful to you always. Amen.
The people were absolutely beside themselves and astonished beyond measure. They began to declare, “Everything he does is wonderful! He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Here we have descriptions of the healing of two Gentile people.
In the first, a Syrian Phoenician woman comes and pleads with Jesus to heal her daughter who is demonised. Jesus banters with her at first, seemingly to test her faith. He then declares that the daughter is healed.
In the second incident, a def and mute man is brought to Jesus and receives healing. The people are amazed at the power that Jesus has, and they declare that everything Jesus does is wonderful.
Everything Jesus does is wonderful. That should be our testimony.
We can find sometimes that the pressures and disappointments of life can take our attention away from Jesus. Perhaps prayers go unanswered and we start to suspect that Jesus is less than wonderful.
Faith clings to Jesus and says hat everything He does is wonderful.
We must regain that sense of astonishment at a God who heals even deaf and mute people.
He healed the Gentile woman’s daughter; will He not heal my daughter? He healed a deaf man; will He not heal me of my affliction?
Everything Jesus does is wonderful. He still raises the dead, removes demons, gives life to sinners, and heals the sick.
All of these wonderful deeds are signs that the Kingdom of God is already here in our midst.
Lord Jesus, everything you do is wonderful. I thank you for dying for my sins. I thank you for healings received in the past and healings to come in the future. You are awesome in grace and power. Hallelujah! Amen.
Deeply grieved, the king regretted his promise to her, but since he had made his vow in front of his honoured guests, he could not deny her request.
King Herod hears about Jesus and what people are saying about Him. Some people insist that he is John the Baptist resurrected. Herod believes this and becomes disturbed.
Previously, Herod had had John arrested because John was publicly rebuking Herod for his immorality in marrying Herodias. At a feast for Herod’s birthday, his stepdaughter danced for the assembled dignitaries. He was delighted and promised her whatever she requested. At her mother’s urging, she requests John’s head on a platter. Reluctantly, Herod acquiesced to her demand.
Our words can imprison us and others so we should be careful about what we say. Where the text says “The king regretted his promise,” an early Syrian version says he was “tied in a knot,” a very graphic description.
Our words have power to free us or enslave us.
A year ago I made a promise to “try to” do something. It seemed impossible at that point, but the promise seemed to be led by the Holy Spirit. For six months, I prayed daily for the grace to do what I had said I would try to achieve. Finally a breakthrough came as the Lord lifted me to a higher level of faith.
A vow uttered from the human soul constricts us or “ties us in a knot.” A godly promise can take us upward and higher. The difference is the source of the promise, whether it is energised by the spirit or by the flesh.
When we discover that we have spoken foolishly we should immediately take it to the Lord and seek His direction. His ways are higher than our ways, and His wisdom exceeds all human wisdom. He will show us how to be free of a fleshly promise or vow.
Thank you Lord that you set me free from foolish vows and promises. Help me to control my tongue and only make declarations that honour you. Amen.
Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand.
Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a farmer who sows seed. Without any intervention the seed grows and matures until harvest time.
The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that grows and becomes a bush.
Jesus used many stories to describe the kingdom, but He always explained them to the disciples.
The kingdom of God is like a farmer and it is like a tiny seed. How can it be both?
Jesus knew that we relate better to stories than to theological doctrines. We need the doctrines for knowledge but the stories speak to our heart.
The kingdom of God is organic and relational. It is also unstoppable.
These are the messages in these brief stories. We can see in our mind the farmer planting, the shoots emerging and the harvest taking place, all without human strategy or plant growth conferences.
God’s kingdom has been growing for 2000 years. Of the increase of His government there shall be no end.
My testimony of experiencing God’s grace in Christ is one of the stories that God can use to bring people to faith. It is not enough by itself because people need to relate to Christ, not just to me. But it is a powerful expression for people who have never related to Jesus.
The kingdom of God is like a young man who refused to believe in God. One night he had a dream…
Every story is different because every person is different. The story of grace remains the same and expresses itself through our individual stories.
Thank you Lord for the power of stories especially the story of the kingdom. Help me to share this story with others. Amen.