Archive for the 'Lent' Category

Snapshots from Mark: Fanfare of the Fronds

Snapshots from Mark: Fanfare of the Fronds Sermon Audio Here

Mark 11:1-11

I’ve been watching the “House of Windsor” documentary. I’ve noticed that every time the Queen shows up somewhere, a fanfare is played. When do WE hear fanfares today? Olympics, and beginning of movies. What would a fanfare that reflected every day life sound like? Maybe THIS??

How Can We Join Jesus As He…

Prepares A Plan ~ Mark 11:1-6

  • 1/6 never forget: 1) the Lord has a plan;
  • 2) He doesn’t always share all the details – just enough to get us moving

Plans To Praise ~ Mark 11:7-11

  • 7/9 notice the evidence of forethought: these disciples KNEW they were going to be proclaiming Jesus in public
  • 10 signal the social setting: let the people know what’s coming (Messiah)
  • 11 Jesus goes to the TEMPLE, not the Palace (a clue: praise, not protest)

Jesus spent His life dedicated to the service of the Father. To make that work, He had to Pray (listen), Prepare (gather what was needed), and Perform (carry out the plan to praise). Our turn!


Snapshots from Mark: A Shout In The Darkness

Snapshots from Mark: A Shout In The Darkness Sermon Audio Here

Mark 10:46-52

If you have Dish satellite TV service, there’s a neat benefit you may not know you have: the Dish Remote locate button. It finds the remote even in the dark. In those times when you feel lost in the dark, don’t you wish the Lord had a button like that?

Are You Willing to Shout for God’s Help?

Share Your Need ~ Mark 10:46-48

  • 46 the blind man is paying attention to his surroundings
  • 48 he won’t shut up about his need

Follow His Lead ~ Mark 10:49-52

  • 49/50 when Jesus calls, JUMP
  • 51 what does a blind man want? Our need might be obvious to US from within it, but still needs to be shared
  • 52 what is Bart’s response? Follow Jesus after Faith works!

We know God is there, but let’s be honest: too often, we’re unsure whether we should call out for help, because we don’t know if God will respond the way we want. Here’s the example: call out to God in darkness BEFORE we know He’s going to respond. Don’t give up: ask, seek, knock… SHOUT.

Snapshots from Mark: Properness of Power

Snapshots from Mark: Properness of Power Sermon Audio Here

Mark 10:35-45

I watched a CAPTIVATING mini-series on History Channel, The Men Who Built America. One of the conflicts described the competition for bringing electricity to the American people. Which standard would be used? Direct Current (DC) or Alternating Current (AC)? I found it telling that the men involved in trying to bring power to the masses used their own personal power to bring about THEIR will. Their choices were less about what was good for the people, and more about what was best for THEM.

How Does Power Work in God’s Kingdom?

The Process of Preparation ~ Mark 10:35-40

  • 35/36 admission: how often do WE do this same thing? Try to take advantage of our relationship with Jesus to get Him to do what WE want?
  • 37 they want power; no ifs ands or buts
  • 38 Jesus response ISN’T AUTOMATICALLY “no”; instead, He asks if they’ve counted the cost
  • 39 they haven’t
  • 40 “fitness, and not influence, decides…it consists of service, and he who serves most is greatest, a greatness already determined by the service, and not to be changed by any personal equation.” (International Critical Commentary on Mark, pg. 201, Ezra Gould) THOUGHT: the places are prepared for the people… AND the people are prepared for the places. Both the Master AND the servant are at work here.

The Inverse of Authority ~ Mark 10:41-45

  • 41/42 Were the disciples mad because of what James & John did… or because they didn’t think of it first? Jesus sets them straight about authority
  • 43/44 servant=deacon/waiter vs doulos/slave; servant implies freedom to choose (you may serve, or not); SLAVE means exactly that, even with all it’s ugly-to-us history. A SLAVE has no choice to serve, because they are OWNED by the master
  • 45 Jesus sets the example: HE gave up His right to be Master to show us how to be Slaves for God. John 15:15 – Jesus elevates us from Slave to Friend… but we do not lose our doulos status.

Remember our Job passage? Where were you, O human, when God put the universe together?

Answer: we were NOT. We had no power, no ability, no authority… no EXISTENCE. The bottom line: If Jesus is your Lord, YOU are His SLAVE. Time to ask ourselves: are we serving Christ, or our idea of Christ? James & John wanted power and influence, but they didn’t know the cost. The ACTUAL cost? ALL of you, ALL the time.

Snapshots from Mark: Weighing Wealth

Snapshots from Mark: Weighing Wealth Sermon Audio Here

Mark 10:17-31

I recently read an article about a math whiz taking advantage of a lottery; he amassed millions before being shut down. He was more upset about losing the opportunity to use a mathematical loophole than he was about not making money. His attitude reminded me of this section of Scripture…

Warnings About Wealth From The Word

The Problem of Self-Measurement ~ Mark 10:17-22

  • 17 inherit= recognition of relation to God; if God has adopted us into His family, it’s reasonable to ask HOW that is accomplished. THAT is what the man is asking: Do I really belong to God?
  • 18/19 Jesus responds with “keep the Commandments”
  • 20/21 Jesus challenges him to go BEYOND the expected observance of the law, and to give his very SELF away: get rid of everything, and come and follow me. Jesus gave this invitation to very few people directly.
  • 22 Face fell: notice the wide swing of emotion – man ran up and threw himself of Jesus feet in excitement… and then slumped down dejected. Is it possible this man was paying more attention to how he FELT about following Jesus than actually following Jesus? Is that possible for us?

The Paradox of De-Treasurement ~ Mark 10:23-31

  • 23/25 difficulty for the rich to let go of being defined as “rich”; money **shouldn’t** be the thing you use to measure your self-worth, but often is. THAT’s what Jesus warns us about, because if He is to be LORD, that means He gets control of ALL of your life – including what you use to define yourself
  • 26/27 Peter points out this goes against our human nature; Jesus agrees, but the whole POINT of salvation is the REPLACEMENT of our human nature with our SPIRITUAL nature
  • 28/30 Pete: “what about us?” Jesus: yeah, you’re in… AND you’ll receive real-world benefits as well, although that’s not the point – eternity with God is the goal

31 The invitation to the rich man must have shook the disciples (based on Peter’s reaction); Jesus is reminding them that God’s Economy isn’t based on wealth, or status, or worldly measure. We give up our SELVES so that Christ is LORD. That’s how it works.

Snapshots from Mark: Matters of Marriage

Snapshots from Mark: Matters of Marriage Sermon Audio Here

Mark 10:2-16

To talk about marriage today is to navigate a mine-field. To even BEGIN a conversation, terms need to be defined. In fact, **contexts** need to be defined before terms can be decided. Are you talking about marriage as a social construct? Then which society will you use as the base model? Are you talking about Biblical marriage? Then which example will you use, because the Bible alone contains more than one example of various “kinds” of marriage. I think it’s helpful, as followers of Jesus, to ask this question:

How Does Jesus View Marriage?

Sidesteps the Set-up ~ Mark 10:2-9

  • 2/5 intent: trap Jesus into dismissing Mosaic Law
  • 6/8 original intent for marriage
  • 9 NOTE: Jesus affirms biblical pattern for marriage as one man/one woman; and then turns right around and admits that God allows other than His best intentions to be carried out (divorce) The IDEAL is life-long marriage; the reality is sometimes less than that

Stresses the Seriousness ~ Mark 10:10-12

  • 10/11 Leviticus 20:10: “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife– with the wife of his neighbor– both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.” Adultery was SERIOUS; Jesus equates divorce with adultery.
  • 12 It’s so serious that it transcends the male/female dynamic; if EITHER party initiates it, it’s the same as adultery: worthy of death

It’s my belief that Jesus is applying a Rabbinical Corrective here, just like He did in the Sermon on the Mount (“you have heard it said ___, but I say to you ___”) It’s just not possible to fully live God’s intended standard of holiness WITHOUT GOD’S PRESENCE. The whole point of the Law is to show that we need GOD, not the Law itself!

Scolds The Cold Shoulder ~ Mark 10:13-16

  • 13 “were bringing” = ongoing thing; annoyed the disciples
  • 14 indignant = GREAT translation; He was deeply offended and frustrated!
  • 15 important to Jesus that little kids have access; this is the example of the Kingdom of God which WE NEED TO SEE CONSTANTLY
  • 16 “blessed” = compound word: against + good + word = He laid the good word on them!

Marriage, then, seems to emphasize the ongoing choice to commit instead of quit; to be willing to die than to give it up; and to be a means of blessing for offspring, and the gathered people of the Kingdom of God.

Lent: Our Reception

Lent: Our Reception Sermon Audio Here

Matthew 21:1-11

In computer terminology, a “handshake” is an exchange of signals necessary for two-way communication. How does God “signal” us that He is at work?

God Readies His People To Receive

Notice the Preparation ~ Matthew 21:1-5

  • v1/3 Jesus functions as PROPHET; because of vs 3 “IF anyone says anything”
  • => PROPHET – one chosen by God to listen for and tell others the Word of the Lord
  • v4/5 Prophecy points to Jesus as KING; segue to next section

Notice the Reception ~ Matthew 21:6-11

  • v8/9 Crowds received Him as KING: cloaks on the road just like King Jehu in Old Testament (2 Kings 9:13)
  • => KING – one invested with authority
  • Crowds received Him with joy: palm branches as expressions of joy (Lev. 23:40; 1 Maccabees 13:51)
  • v10/11 Crowds recognized Him as PROPHET

Final questions:
1) Since Jesus is Prophet: How will you LISTEN for God’s Word?
2) Since Jesus is King: how will you FUNCTION under God’s authority?
3) Since Jesus is Savior: How will you WELCOME Jesus as He approaches?

Lent: Our Struggle

Lent: Our Struggle Sermon Audio Here

Romans 8:6-11

When your engine making weird noises, or your computer is behaving strangely, or there’s a sudden change in health status; It’s important to pay attention to what’s going on internally!

Why Is The Spiritual Life A Struggle?

We’re Stuck With Two States ~ Romans 8:6-8

  • v6 “mind of the flesh” to live according to that state; “mind of the Spirit” to live in the state of the Spirit
  • v7 description of the meat-minded: hostile/OPPOSED; it wants its OWN way, not God’s, and it CAN’T choose God on its own!
  • v8 NOT merely “controlled by” but IN THE FLESH; there’s no separation. We do NOT have a neutral nature that is somehow influenced by a bad fleshly side and a good godly side

we are either living led by the Spirit, or we are quite literally meat-heads

We’re Settled By One Spirit ~ Romans 8:9

  • v9 IF the Spirit lives in you, you aren’t “of the flesh”; Spirit brings life and peace to the spiritually dead (God breathed the Spirit-becomes a living soul); CONVERSELY, if the life lived isn’t of the Spirit, that means the Spirit isn’t present = meat-minded

If a person can’t live led by the Spirit, they’re lost

We’re Saved To Serve Forever ~ Romans 8:10-11

  • v10 NOTE: your body is dead because of sin whether you have the Spirit or not; all flesh dies. The point Paul makes here is that even though your meat-tent will pass away, what is YOU, your SELF, doesn’t need to: when you allow the Spirit to make Your life His HOME, He brings you to life, KEEPS you alive, and produces His righteousness IN you to show you it works
  • v11 God’s Spirit OVERRIDES death; we no longer need fear it, because we will live THROUGH/PAST it; our bodies will still fade, but they are merely temporary dwelling places for our SELVES which have been joined to the Spirit. And since the Spirit (our roommate in us) will live forever, so will we!

Ezekiel 37:14~ I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'”

God DESIRES to bring us to life: but we have to receive what He gives on His terms so we know HE is at work, not us.

Pastor Ed Backell

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