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Sermon Series

 

November 20, 2016 A.D., by Pastor Ben Willis

Introduction
Our Scripture this morning is from Mark 9:1-13. The Lord Jesus has just been teaching His disciples about self-sacrifice, the importance of living according to the Father’s will and not their own, and telling them about His return, saying, “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when He returns in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 9:1-13 [NLTse]
Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!”

2 Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, 3 and His clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. 4 Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.

5 Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.
7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My dearly loved Son. Listen to Him.” 8 Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them.
9 As they went back down the mountain, He told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what He meant by “rising from the dead.”

11 Then they asked Him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?”
12 Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”

Sermon
With all of the busy-ness of life in the first-century world, and with all of the busy-ness that surrounded Him on account of people wanting to hear Him teach and come to Him for healing, the Lord Jesus valued time alone with His Father in Heaven. In our reading, the Lord Jesus has taken three of His closest disciples – Peter, James, and John – and hiked up a mountain to get away from the crowds and activity and the pressures and demands of the world to be alone together.

Luke tells us that the four men were praying, but that Peter, James, and John had fallen asleep. When they woke up they saw the Lord transfigured, as Mark describes Him: His clothes dazzling-white, and that looking at His face was like looking into the sun at its brightest!

Mark tells us that Moses and Elijah were there talking with the Lord Jesus when they awoke. (How they knew the two to be Moses and Elijah – if they heard the Lord call them by name, or if the Holy Spirit gave them this knowledge – we don’t know.) But Luke tells us that they were talking with the Lord about His soon-coming death and resurrection from the dead.

Mark tells us that all of the sudden they were enveloped by a cloud, but Matthew’s account makes clear that it was not a dark storm cloud or even a misty, foggy cloud. Matthew says it was a “bright” cloud, the shekinah of God – the cloud of His glory! The cloud that led Israel through the desert to the Promised Land. The cloud that rested on the Mercy Seat beneath the golden cherubim in the Temple’s Holy of Holies. When you see a halo around someone’s head, that symbolizes the shekinah of God. The Lord Jesus’ dazzling appearance here on the mountain is the shekinah of God showing the disciples His true nature! And Peter, James, and John heard God’s voice around them in the cloud, saying, “This is My Son Whom I dearly love. Listen to Him!” (But, “listen to Him” came with the nuance of not just always hearing what Jesus had to say but also always doing and acting on whatever it was He said.)

I quickly mentioned above that the Lord Jesus’ dazzling clothes and flashing, blinding face was the shekinah of God showing the watching disciples His true nature. This word “transfigure” that we use to describe the change in Jesus that took place on the mountain, comes from the Greek word metamorphoo, where we get our word “metamorphosis”.

Metamorphoo speaks of someone or something’s inner characteristics being made visible. When referring to a person, metamorphoo is describing how one’s outer appearance begins to more truly represent that person’s inner nature.

For instance, people who receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and who seek to follow Him daily as their Lord often become more joyful and peaceful inside. That inside joy and peace is often noticed by those around them in the ways these new believers handle difficult situations, and because they can tend to smile more and seem more relaxed. You can often hear of people asking new Christians, “It seems like there’s something different about you.” That is metamorphoo: There is an outside difference that is reflecting their new inside nature.

And the Lord Jesus was metamorphoo’d in front of Peter, James, and John.
The Lord Jesus’ outward appearance was that of the Man of Sorrows, the One acquainted with bitterest grief (Isaiah wrote of Him). To the world, the Lord Jesus was a travel-stained itinerant preacher claiming to be the Jewish Messiah. What the world saw was a peasant from Galilee, wearing homespun clothes, the son of a carpenter.

But in His metamorpho-sis, Peter, James, and John saw His true inner nature exposed: God the Son; the dazzling glory of the essence of His deity that He possesses co-eternally with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit! The Lord of Glory! It shone through His humanity and even out through the clothing He wore!

So, what are some ways that this touches us and our lives here today?
Well, first of all, the apostle Paul writes to the Colossians that each one of us who have given ourselves to Jesus Christ by trusting in Him to save us has Jesus’ nature inside of us, our “hope of glory” in this life; our “hope of glory” in the life to come! (1:27) The Lord Jesus told His disciples to expect Him to begin living in us – and to expect His glory to shine from us. He told them this on the night before He was crucified, when He prayed to the Father, “I have given them the glory You gave Me, so they may be one as We are one. I am in them [Father] and You are in Me.” (17:22-23) And as John wrote to the church in his first letter, “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is.” (3:2) So, there is an aspect of us, Christians, that is glorious right now, and yet an aspect of us that will not be fully glorious until Christ appears.

Now, we are not God, so we can not and should not expect the unbridled manifestation of the Lord Jesus’ metamorphoo, but Luke does add the detail that both Moses and Elijah were “glorious”, perhaps not to the same degree the Lord Jesus was blindingly glorious, but glorious nonetheless. And so – Christ in us and us in Christ – we, too, can expect the metamorpho¬-sis of gloriousness to shine forth from us – and more and more – as we live for Jesus and grow in Him daily.

And we do that, as the Father called Peter, James, and John to in the shekinah-cloud, by “listening to Jesus.”
As I quickly mentioned earlier, this phrase, “listen to Him” most literally conveys the idea of always listening to Him. And yet, it is not just the idea of always merely hearing what the Lord Jesus says to us in His Word or by the Spirit, but of, always doing and acting upon what He says.

Too often we, Christians, second-guess Jesus. “I know You’ve told me to forgive the person, Lord, but…” “I know You’ve told me to give generously to all those who ask, Lord, but…” “I know You’ve told me to bless those who curse me, and to pray for my enemies, and to do good to those who’ve harmed me, but…” “I know You’ve told me to stop getting drunk, but…” “I know You’ve told me to stop making work a priority over You and my spouse and my family, but…” “I know You’ve told me to never worry and to never fear this world, but…”

We know what He’s said to us across the Scriptures, but we make our excuses for not always doing and acting upon what He’s said. But all that keeps His glory from shining forth from us.

Of course, we can do the same thing throughout each and every day when the Holy Spirit prompts us to stop and pray for someone or to stop and pray with someone or to go here or to do that. Too often we can object, “But, Lord..!” ? We must not…

Jesus says, “Anyone who listens to My teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds [of life] beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears My teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods [of life] come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Let’s listen and follow.

Let’s be glorious!



November 13, 2016 A.D., by Pastor Ben Willis

Mark 7:24-37 [NLTse]
24 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know which house He was staying in, but He couldn’t keep it a secret. 25 Right away a woman who had heard about Him came and fell at His feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit, 26 and she begged Him to cast out the demon from her daughter.
Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia, 27 Jesus told her, “First I should feed the children—My Own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

28 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.” 29 “Good answer!” He said. “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.

31 Jesus left Tyre and went up to Sidon before going back to the Sea of Galilee and the region of the Ten Towns. 32 A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to Him, and the people begged Jesus to lay His hands on the man to heal him. 33 Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone. He put His fingers into the man’s ears. Then, spitting on His Own fingers, He touched the man’s tongue. 34 Looking up to Heaven, He sighed and said, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Be opened!” 35 Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly!
36 Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone, but the more He told them not to, the more they spread the news. 37 They were completely amazed and said again and again, “Everything He does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak.”

Sermon
Anybody here have a dog that you love?

I grew up with Baggie (named after the Jungle Book’s Bagheera the Panther). He was a black lab who was so very faithful! We went everywhere with Baggie, and as long as we were with him, my parents felt we were safe.

A bunch of years went by after Baggie’s death, and we got Brandy (short for “Brandywine”), a golden retriever. Brandy had a ferocious-sounding bark, but we always joked that if a burglar ever knew to call Brandy by name that he would take the burglar and show him where the silver was. ?

As our reading begins, the Lord seems to be trying to get away from all the crowds and paparazzi.
When He’d heard that John the Baptist had been killed, He tried to take the disciples away to a quiet place where they could all get some rest. But some 5,000 men – not including women and children – had gotten to the place ahead of Jesus and been there waiting. After teaching and serving them all in that secluded place, the Lord tried again to get away with His disciples. Sailing across the Sea of Galilee, He landed in Bethsaida. But when He arrived everybody recognized Him, and He attracted the attention of a bunch of Torah-teachers and Pharisees, who were Jewish religious leaders in those days.
In our reading from Mark 7:24-37, the Lord Jesus is fleeing from the crowds and from the hard-heartedness of the Torah-teachers and Pharisees, so He and His disciples have trekked 50 miles to the entirely-Gentile port-city of Tyre, on the Mediterranean Sea.

Although the Lord is trying to keep a low profile, some lady some-how finds out that He is in town. Her daughter was being demonized by an evil spirit, so she immediately went to get the Lord Jesus’ help. And she falls at His feet and starts begging Him to drive the demon from her daughter.

Now, the Torah-teachers and Pharisees Jesus had just traveled so far to get away from looked upon Gentiles as “dogs”, and they called them “dogs” – kuon. The idea of “mongrel”, “stray”, “mutt”, or “junkyard dog” was in mind, since loose dogs – wild kuon – were seen as scavengers and trouble-makers and dangerous and needing-to-be-put-down in ancient times.

So, it’s unfortunate that most translations of this verse have the Lord Jesus calling this woman a “dog”, when He says, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs,” (v. 27) because the Lord doesn’t use the word for “mongrel” or “mutt” here. He doesn’t call this Gentile mom a kuon. No. The Lord Jesus calls her a kunarion.
When He tells this concerned mother that He shouldn’t be “taking food from the children and throwing it to the dogs,” He’s speaking of her and her fellow-Gentiles – these dogs – most literally as doggies, little dogs, puppies, treasured household pets. The Lord says, “No,” to this woman, but not because He sees her as some kind of mutt – a kuon –He says “no” to her using a picture of giggling young children sitting around the dinner table with their playful pups – their kunarion – lapping and nipping at their dangling feet.

Even so, this woman might have responded in all sorts of ways. I mean, “beloved pup” is better than “stray mutt”, but some might argue that it’s not much better. But the desperate mom chooses to humble herself to the Lord and God’s order of things: “To the Jew first, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16) And she takes this picture the Lord has offered her – she accepts it – and then shares the reality that, because of the love that exists between children and their pets, that little dogs always get to eat the little bits that the little children feed them from their plates. “Okay, so I may be a pet in your eyes,” she seems to be saying, “but throw me a scrap, Lord. I’ll be satisfied with a scrap of Your mercy.”
And the Lord Jesus responds – on account of this woman’s attitude and her answer – the Lord tells her that He had, in that moment, cast the demon out of her daughter. When she goes home she will find the child well.

How does this connect with us today? As I’ve already said, this woman could have taken offense at Jesus’ words, labels, the truth as He saw it and put it forth. But she didn’t. She knew Who Jesus was. (Even if she didn’t completely recognize His deity, she clearly recognized the Almighty God’s hand of power upon Him!) And she doesn’t respond to Him in the trite ways so many across our culture want to come to Jesus: Demanding their own way, like they have a right to come before Him; forcing their own agendas, as though what’s important to them ought to set the schedule for God Almighty’s day; … Western people tend to make God out to be some sort of warm-fuzzy, sickly-sweet deity who should do whatever we want whenever we want it done; a god who’s concept of life and love should be exactly the same as ours; and who is pushed around and influenced by us, as though He were some kind of eternal people-pleaser.

But He is not! He is God Almighty! The Most High God! He is wonderful and terrible in His love and wrath! (As C. S. Lewis has so famously written of the Lord when asked if God was safe. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course He isn’t safe. But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” [The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe])

And this woman, without perhaps fully recognizing Jesus to be this awesome One in the flesh, at least recognizes the hand of that awesome One upon Him. And she does not get upset with Him or argue with Him that He has spoken to her as though she were a little dog or called her by such name. She accepts His description. She embraces His depiction. The Lord Jesus spoke and she didn’t try to rebuke Him (the way Simon Peter did when the Lord first spoke about His crucifixion), she didn’t try to correct Him (the way we can sometimes edit what the Bible says to make it better fit what we think is right about God or what we think is more true or more reasonable about God). No. She accepts His Word and humbles herself to the order of things as He stated them: “To the Jew first.” (Romans 1:16) And yet, in that humbled place she was still able to see the grace of God offered to her and her fellow non-Jews. She basically says to Jesus, “It’s okay if God has chosen to deal with the Jews first, but surely God has enough for all the rest of us, too?”
As a mother she trusted that God must love human beings at least as much as she loved her little girl!

The first step to a new life in Christ is knowing and accepting the truth about our life apart from Christ. Without Jesus – apart from the cross – we are sinners, separated from God by our sins.

Religion is such a huge part of human life – no matter our culture, no matter our status, no matter our language or our education – religion is a huge part of life for every people, for every person. Even atheists, whose religion is all about denying religion.

The science of Sociology shows human beings to be religious creatures – even defines us as religious creatures. Humans seem to be uniquely aware that there is some universal, ultimate, eternal standard of behavior – of morality – and we all seem to be aware that we are not living up to it, and longing for a way to, somehow, be at peace with the One who established it. (Or the ones who established it, for peoples who believe there to be many gods.)

Sinners, missing the mark of perfection, that’s who human beings are apart from Christ. People are not basically good. People are basically bad. And our basic “badness” separates us from God because He is perfectly and completely good. The apostle Paul describes this in Ephesians 2: “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. (He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.) All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.” (Vv. 1-3)

And that’s why I love this Gentile mom: She knows who she is, and she knows Who God is. She doesn’t make herself out to be better than she is and she doesn’t make herself out to be worse. The Lord Jesus tells her what she is. She accepts His assessment. And that brings her into that place where she can cry out to the Lord for a miracle and be heard, and have her miracle be granted!

What about us? Do you hear the Lord Jesus telling you that you are a sinner but respond saying, “No, not me. I’m not so bad.” Or do you hear the Lord Jesus telling you that you are sinner and respond, “I’m worse than that, Lord. I’m horrid! And I know You hate me and want to have nothing to do with me because I’m such a miserable wretch!” Too often we make ourselves out to be better than Jesus says we are, on the one hand, or make ourselves to be worse than He says we are, on the other.

The Lord Jesus is telling you and me that we are sinners, today. And He is telling us that our sins have separated us from God. But Jesus goes on to say that He has come to repair the breach between us and God Almighty. He has taken our sins to the cross with Him and put them to death when He died there. Because of that, He can invite us back to God. There’s plenty of Him for the children and for the puppies at their feet! Plenty of Jesus – plenty of grace – for you and for me, for one and for all!

Will you accept who Jesus says you are so that you might become who Jesus has died to make you to be? He calls us to come to Him as the doggies we are because He wants to make us sons and daughters in the family!



November 6, 2016 A.D., by Pastor Ben Willis

Introduction
We’ve been reading through the New Testament as a congregation this year. We started at John and read all the way through Revelation, and have come back to the beginning, this past week finishing up Matthew and moving into Mark.
There’s a lot going on as we begin reading through Mark this week. One thing I want to highlight for us as we read a variety of excerpts from across Mark’s opening chapters today is the Gospel’s portrayal of Christ in us and us in Christ.
In the Book of Acts (before the apostle Paul has become a Christian, but is hunting down Christians) the Lord Jesus blinds Paul and brings him to his knees. And the Lord says to Paul, “Paul, why are you persecuting Me?” And yet, Paul had not, at that time, been persecuting Jesus. The Lord had already ascended into Heaven. No, Paul had been persecuting Christians! But the Lord Jesus recognizes no distinction between Himself and His people. Christ in us and us in Christ. And Mark demonstrates this across his Gospel. When the Lord Jesus is on the move, Mark is also calling us to be on the move with Him. For instance…

ELDER READS: Mark 1:9-11 [NLTse]

9 One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized Him in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came up out of the water, He saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on Him like a dove. 11 And a voice from Heaven said, “You are My dearly loved Son, and You bring Me great joy.”

PASTOR: Sermon
? Acts 10:38 makes clear that Jesus’ baptism with the Holy Spirit was when the Lord received God’s power to do good and heal all who were oppressed by the devil. The Lord Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River and His baptism with the Holy Spirit sets the standard for believers: When we come to trust in Jesus Christ, He wants us to be baptized with water to show that we’ve repented of our sins and turned to God to be forgiven, and He wants us to be baptized with the Holy Spirit to empower us so that we might join Him in doing good and healing those who are being oppressed by the devil today.
Who, here, has been baptized with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? … Who, here, has been baptized with the Holy Spirit for empowerment? …
And as we hear the Father’s words spoken over Jesus, know that He wants us to hear and know ourselves that – Christ in us and us in Christ – we are His dearly loved children, and that we bring Him great joy!
(Has anybody here made any really big mistakes lately, or done something you really regret? We are not treasured by God on account of what we’ve done or not done. We are saved by grace. Know that you are dearly loved and that you bring the Father great joy!)

ELDER: Mark 1:12-13 [NLTse]
12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where He was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of Him.

PASTOR: Sermon
During times of temptation we can be brutally aware of Satan’s presence: Everywhere we turn, the enemy of our souls seems to be there in our faces, hemming us in, deceiving us, and baiting us to sin. Likewise, as the Lord Jesus was out among wild animals during this time of temptation, we, too, when we’re being tempted, can be so very aware of all manner of beasts surrounding us and snapping at us. Times of great temptation always seem to be accompanied by struggles in our relationships, financial troubles, health concerns… all trying to wear us down and have us sin. But here we see a fuller reality than what we ordinarily acknowledge and are aware of: Just as the Father’s angels were caring for the Lord while Satan and the wild things were assailing Him, just so, hosts of Heaven are also near to us during our times of being tempted, speaking God’s truth, granting us comfort and the grace we need to overcome.
Satan and his goons seem to pile on us during times of trial, but remember that God’s sent warriors to us during those times, as well. In Christ and Christ in us, there’s always more for us than against us!

ELDER: Mark 1:14-15 [NLTse]
14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where He preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” He announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

PASTOR: Sermon
Notice, the Good News is not just that the Kingdom of God is near. And, notice the Good News is not just that God has forgiven our sins on account of our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Along with God’s Kingdom arriving and advancing, and our being forgiven so that we can draw near and be a part of it, the Good News brings a constant and ongoing call to: “Repent of your sins!”
We have been born-again – brought back to life – through our faith and trust in Christ. We have died to our old, sin-filled way of living. So, how can we go back to it? The answer, of course, is, we can’t. We must keep on repenting! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

ELDER: Mark 1:16-20 [NLTse]
16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow Me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed Him.
19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. 20 He called them at once, and they also followed Him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.

PASTOR: Sermon
Does your work seem like it’s keeping you from following Jesus? Well, if it’s truly getting in-between us and our Savior, some of us may need to leave our work to find other work where we can follow Him. Others of us may, simply, need to look at our work differently. (For instance, if you’re a builder, to begin seeing yourself not just a builder, but as building the Kingdom of Heaven! Or, perhaps, you’re a teacher. Christ is calling you to start seeing yourself as one who is pointing your students towards the Teacher! If you’re a lawyer, you’re not just a lawyer. You are fighting for the Truth! You are not just a cashier, you are not just a secretary, you are not just a nurse… Acknowledge that you are where you are, doing what you are doing, because Jesus Christ wants you there to do what you are doing for Him!
Likewise, do family obligations seem like they are keeping you from following Jesus? For some of us, that may mean setting some healthy boundaries between you and your family members. Others of us may, simply, need to look at our family obligations differently. That is, it can be a world of difference between taking care of our elderly parents because nobody else will and taking care of them because we want to honor them, as Christ has called us to. A world of difference…
Also, Luke and John give us a little bit of background to know that Jesus had encountered Simon and Andrew and James and John before this interaction where He called them and they dropped what they were doing to follow Him. Likewise, who around us do we believe God is calling to Himself? (I’m not asking who around you you want to become a Christian. I know many of us long to have our kids or our folks or other family members or friends become Christians. I’m not asking you about them. Who around you do you believe the Lord is calling to follow Him? On account of Christ being in you and you being in Christ, whoever might be coming to your mind as I ask you that question, I think you need to go tell them that the Lord wants them to become one of His followers; to join you in following Him…

ELDER: Mark 1:29-31 [NLTse]
29 After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s home. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. 31 So He went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.

PASTOR: Sermon
When Jesus, James, and John saw that Simon and Andrew weren’t at church, they went over to Simon and Andrew’s house after Worship to check on them. It seems that the brothers had stayed home because of their mother’s illness. And when Jesus, James, and John heard about their mom’s illness, they all went to pray for her. And she was made well.
We should do likewise: We should check on our brothers and sisters when we notice they aren’t in Worship; we should gather together to pray for one another and our loved ones as soon as we hear that someone is in need. Christ in us and us in Christ, the Lord Jesus and those first disciples are showing us the Way…

ELDER: Mark 3:20-27 [NLTse]
20 One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon He and His disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. 21 When His family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of His mind,” they said.
22 But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where He gets the power to cast out demons.”
23 Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” He asked. 24 “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. 25 Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. 27 Let Me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

PASTOR: Sermon
Three things… First, don’t be surprised when people around you get hostile or call you crazy when you talk about Jesus or do things in His name. People, even religious people, got mad at Jesus. It only makes sense that folks will likely get mad at us, too.

Second, don’t be surprised when you find yourself out-of-your-mind busy on account of ministry! It doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing something wrong or need to make changes. Sometimes, there’s just a lot going on around the Kingdom, and you are in the thick of it. Seek the Holy Spirit’s empowerment for what you need and His contentment through it all. Such times come and go…
Lastly, there will be times when you need to fight the devil in order to have him give up someone he’s been oppressing. Christ in you and you in Christ, you are stronger than the devil. In Jesus, you can tie up the devil – binding him and taking from him those he doesn’t want to let go. Your prayer might be as simple as, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I bind you from SO-AND-SO, Satan. He (or she) has chosen Christ and you have no right to oppress them any longer.”
Our nation is in a world of trouble. We live in the best of times! And yet it is also the worst of times! The Lord Jesus Christ has overcome death to empower us for Kingdom work! You and I have resurrection-power to be loving, joyful, at peace, and patient. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is ours so that we might be supernaturally kind, doing good, trustworthy, gentle, and self-controlled. The Lord Jesus wants to continue His work in you and me: Doing good and healing those oppressed by the devil.
When you live in Christ and Christ lives in you, nothing is impossible for you! Go and do likewise!