Archive for the 'Easter' Category

Snapshots from Mark: Watch Closely

Snapshots from Mark: Watch Closely Sermon Audio Here

Mark 13:14-23

Secretary Brunnell Declares Fake News About His People is Being Telegraphed Over the Country.
—Cincinnati Commercial Tribune (Concinnati, OH), 7 Jun. 1890

The definition of “fake news” is not new: it’s been around a lot longer than we think. So if we’re supposed to watch the signs of the times… how do we know which signs can be trusted?

For What Signs Are We Supposed To Watch?

Signs That Point Out Local Problems ~ Mark 13:14-18

  • 14 historical background on “abomination” (168 BC desecration of the Second Temple by the erection of a Zeus statue by Antiochus Epiphanes. Later, during the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, The Temple Mount was covered over with rubble and a pagan temple dedicated to Jupiter was built when Hadrian became Caesar. Hadrian installed on the mount two statues: one of Jupiter and another of himself; this was seen by the Jews as idolatry.)
  • VERSES 15-18 have BOTH historical warnings AND lessons we can implement in our Christian lives RIGHT NOW:
  • 15 move out IMMEDIATELY; don’t delay (If God is prompting you to do something, don’t wait: obey right away)
  • 16 don’t go backwards (our Spiritual Growth isn’t found in our past; it’s in our FUTURE. What does God expect NEXT?)
  • 17/18 notice some will be caught in a tough spot: HELP THEM

Signs That Present The Bigger Picture ~ Mark 13:19-23

  • 19 until now-and= transition verse: Jesus moves from talking about the fall of Jerusalem to the Day of the Lord: there will be similar events, but not the same thing (cf. Daniel 12:1)
  • 20 this is a prophetic ECHO: it has happened AND it will happen again; God has cut short the number of times it will happen again (those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it)
  • 21/22 just like vs. 5-6, people will try to use false religion with a twisted idea of Jesus to lead people astray
  • 23 BE ON GUARD: if anyone claims to teach a Jesus that is NOT the same as the Biblical Jesus, who was Himself giving this warning, THEY ARE FALSE – DO NOT FOLLOW FAKE JESUS

We’re stuck in a paradox: we’re called to BE the Kingdom of God right here and right now; and yet, the fully realized Kingdom won’t happen until AFTER the Day of the Lord, and only God knows when that will end. BOTH ARE TRUE; Live for Christ TODAY & Every Day

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Snapshots from Mark: Listen Carefully

Snapshots from Mark: Listen Carefully Sermon Audio Here

Mark 13:1-13

Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie: the ending is ODD; they wanted to film a battle, but ran out of money, so they just had the police show up and shut down the movie. It was completely unexpected and out of “character”. Do you realize that God will, essentially, do the same thing? End everything in an unexpected way?

How Do We Prepare For THE End?

Teaching Moments on Time ~ Mark 13:1-4

  • 1 disciples caught up in appreciation of human achievement
  • 2 warning: human achievement won’t last
  • 3/4 disciples: end of the world is SOON?

End of the World Warnings ~ Mark 13:5-8

  • 5 some WILL try to deceive
  • 6 some WILL attempt to misuse Jesus’ name
  • 7 “end is still to come” There is MORE THAN ONE ENDING:
    • 1) Jerusalem (where the Temple was)
    • 2) The Day of the Lord, from Joel, Amos, Zephaniah
  • 8 This is probably reference to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70; (Scholars note that between this prophecy by Jesus in A.D. 30 (or 29) and the destruction of Jerusalem there were at least 4 earthquakes and 4 famines)

Acts of Proof ~ Mark 13:9-13

  • 9 Acts 5: apostles arrested & flogged; Acts 23: Paul handed over to Governor Felix
  • 10 Acts 2: gospel preached to people from all over Empire (“all nations”)
  • 11 Acts 23: Paul speaks at his trial
  • 12 Emperor Domitian, in his hatred of the Christian name, slew cousin and niece; Emperor Diocletian slew his own wife, and other relatives.
  • 13 “be saved” not spiritual salvation, but will escape the destruction of Jerusalem (Greek tense gives this away)

Jesus sits His disciples down to show them the ending is NOT like what they assume; He still does that for us today. We live our lives like actors in a play THAT IS STILL BEING WRITTEN. What a joy that the Lord knows how the End will play out – and what our part will be.

Snapshots from Mark: The Cost of Copper

Snapshots from Mark: The Cost of Copper Sermon Audio Here

Mark 12:38-44

The article “Keeping Score Matters, But Not How You Think” mentions the first ever sports psychology experiment: does a cyclist go faster when riding against their previous best time? Or against someone else?

Does God Keep Score With Our Offerings?

Warnings About Values ~ Mark 12:38-40

  • 38 Warning signs about religious people in power:
    • 1) fancy dress (to look special)
    • 2) salutations (to be recognized)
  • 39
    • 3) first seats in synagogues (to be counted as extra-holy)
    • 4) first seats at dinner (to be considered worthy of honor)
  • 40
    • 5) misappropriation of gifts (subverting offerings into their own pockets)
    • 6) surface words for show (to pretend closeness to God that isn’t there)

Various Worth of Gifts ~ Mark 12:41-44

  • 41/42 setup: as Jesus watches, rich people give abundantly, while a poor woman gives a tiny amount
  • 43 it’s worth noticing to Jesus: He calls the disciples attention; how does God measure our gifts? It goes beyond mere copper/silver/gold
  • 44 this offering is a gift of TRUST; she is trusting God to provide, even as she provides what she can for God’s work. (God can do more with our money than we can)

The gifts of the rich, though large, were easy gifts: the widow’s gift, though tiny, meant a real surrender of herself to God and trust in him, and therefore an honouring of God as God, as the one to whom we belong wholly and is able to care for us.”1


1. (Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary; St. Mark, by C.E.B. Cranfield, p. 387)

Snapshots from Mark: The Main Thing

Snapshots from Mark: The Main Thing Sermon Audio Here

Mark 12:28-34

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Steven R. Covey, Scott Krippayne But ZEROING in on the main thing is no easy thing: the Choice is between good, better, and BEST…

What’s The Main Thing?

Love God ~ Mark 12:28-30

  • 28 Good question: what IS most important? Let’s be honest: we spend a LOT of our lives searching for meaning and purpose… and all too often, we leave God out of the picture
  • 29 Reminder: LISTEN (Shema) Important to listen to what God says to us
  • 30 Love God with EVERYTHING you have: not just a Sunday/Easter/Christmas thing. ALL IN (you can’t be a little bit pregnant: you either are, or you’re not)

Love People ~ Mark 12:31-34

  • 31 Shema was the most famous OT quote to Israel; Leviticus 19=more obscure (e.g., don’t wear clothes made of two kinds of material; don’t shave; don’t eat fruit from a new tree for 3 years) AND YET nestled in this obscure chapter Jesus says is found the second most important part of the entire Torah: love of neighbor
  • 32/33 the questioner agrees with Jesus: LOVE more important than religious duty
  • 34 “not far from Kingdom of God” – not enough to KNOW – we actually have to CHOOSE LOVE DAILY

Not a typical Easter sermon. We’re in the midst of a study in the book of Mark, and this is just what came up in the text. But it’s incredibly appropriate for Resurrection Sunday: Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross showed how much God loved us to make a way for us to love Him back; Jesus’ Resurrection showed that God loved us enough to show us that He wants us to know Him as FRIEND, not just Savior.

Posts from 1 Peter: Resisting and Restoration

Posts from 1 Peter: Resisting and Restoration Sermon Audio Here

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11

We can’t resist something if we can’t recognize it as something worth standing against. Hardship isn’t often welcomed, but it does have the power to CHANGE who we are.

What Do We Hold During Hardship?

The Questions Of Suffering ~ 1 Peter 4:12-14

  • v12 Suffering is NOT strange; it’s status quo (like it or not); what are you learning through it?
  • v13 How does your suffering intersect with Christ’s?
  • v14 when it does, YOU ARE BLESSED (beatitude); Spirit rests on you like glory shining from Moses’ face: he was in God’s presence and it changed him. THAT is what happens when you suffer in Christ; He is present in your suffering
  • How is it changing you?

The Answers To Suffering ~ 1 Peter 5:6-11

  • v6 we jump to verse 6 because Peter addresses all of us here: Answer: that you are not God
  • v7 cast anxieties: not throw away, but lay them down where they can be carried (coats on the donkey’s back for Jesus): Answer: you aren’t supposed to carry your cares
  • v8 “enemy” from opponent in a lawsuit; the devil will say terrible things about you, and try to get you to believe them: Answer: DON’T Listen to the Devil; HE LIES!
  • v9 resist=stand against, not just talk; standing firm WHERE YOU ARE (we don’t need to wait for a specific circumstance or situation; Answer: we can stand and resist right here)
  • v10 restore=complete His work, set you in place, make your foundation secure and strengthen you through HIS work
  • Answer: cooperate with God’s work IN PROGRESS
  • v11 We say this as a doxology at the end of the Lord’s prayer.

Psalms 68:34-35~ Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the skies. You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!

It means God started it, God will finish it!

Posts from 1 Peter: Reasons for Hope

Posts from 1 Peter: Reasons for Hope Sermon Audio Here

1 Peter 3:13-22

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed, unsure, or at the end of your rope, remember your hope!

Remember Your Reasons To Hope:

1st: YOU ARE NOT ALONE WHEN YOU SUFFER

  • v13/14 you ARE blessed, not you would be; from the Beatitudes: God notices you in your suffering;

2nd: YOUR HOPE IS REASONABLE

  • v15 set apart/sanctify=for a holy and specific use (Good china)
  • (our hope is based in something real; not ridiculous or random)

3rd: YOUR HOPE DOESN’T NEED POWER

  • v16 meekness, respect, confidence
  • you do not need to be in a position of power to exercise hope

4th: GOD VALUES YOUR LIFE

  • v17 the good we do is worth any suffering that the Lord allows

5th: JESUS ALREADY PAID FOR YOUR SIN

  • v18 YOU don”t have to carry it

6th: STUCK? JESUS CAN FREE YOU

  • v19 if Jesus can free souls stuck in DEATH, He can certainly free you

7th: GOD PREPARES WAYS TO RESCUE HIS PEOPLE

  • v20 he did with Noah, and he did with Jesus

8th: GOD RESCUES FROM BEING OVERWHELMED

  • v21 get in the Ark!

9th: JESUS IN THE PERFECT POSITION TO SAVE: AT THE TOP

  • v22 He is above Angels, Authorities, Powers, and Problems!

Posts from 1 Peter: Placed for Praise

Posts from 1 Peter: Placed for Praise Sermon Audio Here

1 Peter 2:2-10

Praise seems pretty important to God. Even Jesus said that if people didn’t praise God, even the stones would cry out.

Why Should We Care About Praise?

You Have A Reason To Be ~ 1 Peter 2:2-6

  • v2 There’s a word not explicitly translated in the NIV: “OF THE WORD”; Peter isn’t calling us babies; he’s saying that in the way a baby craves milk, we need to crave the unadulterated Word of God; simple and pure; as babies grow when they drink milk, Christians grow when they take in the Word
  • v3 when we recognize God’s goodness, graciousness, THEN we can accept His word; if a person only ever sees a distorted picture of the Lord, they won’t want God in their lives – why would they?
  • v4 “as you are coming” (emphasizes participation)
  • v5 “you are being built… to be” as you show up, God notices and uses you; PRIESTHOOD – the group of people who represent God to humanity, and humanity to God
  • v6 As we are connected to Christ, and He is the Cornerstone, God builds His Temple on THAT foundation. The purpose of a temple: to meet God and interact with Him there. Our praise, our worship, our lives are a part of how the world understands who Jesus is.
=> Bad news: we can get in the way, and become the distorted picture of Christ that people reject. Good news: we’re the example that God will save ANYBODY!

God Has A Role For You ~ 1 Peter 2:7-10

  • v7 the world rejects Jesus because He is the standard… and they want THEMSELVES to be the standard; they have to admit they’re out of alignment, and that’s tough to do
  • v8 when they can’t accept the Word, they stumble; when they stumble, they fall – that’s how it works
  • v9 BUT YOU (hallelujah!) have been chosen to PRAISE

CLOSE: v10 “once upon a time” – you can tell the story, the old old story of Jesus and His love that saves (present tense) you!


Pastor Ed Backell

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