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Learn to Discern: Knowing God’s Will

Learn to Discern: Knowing God’s Will Sermon Audio Here

Isaiah 51:1-6; Romans 12:1-2

I’ve been conducting an experiment on a new-to-me laptop. I’m trying to create a “hackintosh”: putting a Mac operating system onto an HP laptop. It’s challenging, because I’m having to learn an entirely new way of doing things. It requires me to learn brand new ways of using old hardware.

How Do We Learn To Discern? Watch For

The Functions Of God’s Will ~ Isaiah 51:1-6

  • 1 pursue righteousness
  • 2 Abraham: faith PLUS obedience
  • 3 equals COMFORT & JOY
  • 4 a) God’s Law goes out; b) Justice becomes light
  • 5 righteousness draws; salvation comes
  • 6 lift eyes=change your perspective; look at earth=from new viewpoint (Earth is TEMPORARY – not worth obsessing about; God is Eternal)

The Umption For God’s Will ~ Romans 12:1-2

  • 1 offer bodies=real life change: don’t expect to do the same things you’ve always done and somehow learn new ways of being!
  • 2 a) do not conform to the world (example of what NOT to do) b) change through renewed mind: SCRIPTURE, SCRIPTURE, SCRIPTURE!

If we say that we want to know God’s will, we have to investigate what God has shared with us: the Word. This is much more than reading an inspirational verse – this is about reprogramming your entire system.

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Snapshots from Mark: Directing The Disciples

Snapshots from Mark: Directing The Disciples Sermon Audio Here

Mark 16:9-20

This week, I had an interaction with a Petition Circulator. It occurred to me that the law of the land is designed to be WORKED WITH, not statically obeyed. What about God’s word?

What Can We Hear If We Listen Carefully?

The Editors Voice ~ 2 Tim. 3:16

  • Why this ending? Apparently, the early church decided it was needed ~  “the rest of the story”. They took later material (from Matthew and Acts) and added it to the end of Mark.

The Witnesses’ Testimony ~ Mark 16:9-14

  • 9/11 summary only: full account is John 20:14-18 LESSON: OTHER SOURCES can be used to illustrate what God does in our own lives
  • 12/13 summary of Luke 24:13-32 LESSON: we may not recognize what God is doing right away; still, we’re encouraged to pay attention even after the fact. “hindsight is 20/20”
  • 14 summary of Luke 24:33-44 LESSON: just “saying” you believe isn’t sufficient; we must USE our faith!

The Lord’s Affirmation ~ Mark 16:15-20

  • 15/16 Content of Good news process: 1) share Jesus’ word; 2) trust Jesus’ word; 3) obey Jesus’ word 4) Don’t reject Jesus’ word
  • 17/18 Indicators of Apostolic Work (Acts 2:4; 5:15-16; 28:3-5)
  • 19/20 Effective End of Gospel: a literary form (if the point of a gospel is to testify that Jesus is God’s work among us, then this ending shows that the work was effective)

God PARTNERS with humanity to do His work; Scripture itself is a witness, that while God INSPIRES it, humans hold the pens. So what? We know God COULD fix the world instantly, but then we’d lose out on partnering with the Lord. God’s will is done THROUGH US. It’s pretty important that we recognize that Kingdom work is an ONGOING PROCESS, not a finished accomplishment.

Snapshots from Mark: Misunderstanding The Miraculous

Snapshots from Mark: Misunderstanding The Miraculous Sermon Audio Here

Mark 16:1-8

Your body is lined with a network of fluid-filled cavities that—until now—were unknown to science. The team that made that discovery thinks the cavities qualify as a new human organ, which they’ve dubbed the “interstitium,” Live Science reports. After death, it isn’t visible. The first disciples didn’t understand the Resurrection: because they were looking for death when they encountered LIFE.

What Can Happen When God Does The Unexpected?

We Miss the Miracle ~ Mark 16:1-3

  • 1 Doing what is expected: anointing the body for long term burial
  • 2/3 Focused on their duty, they’re unprepared for obstacles

We Misunderstand the Miracle ~ Mark 16:4-7

  • 4 God’s already taken care of the obstacles
  • 5/6 young man=unnoticed angel; the message is more important than the messenger (true for us, too!)
  • 7 remind others the truth of what Jesus has already said (Mk 14:28)

We’re Muted by the Miracle ~ Mark 16:8

  • 8 They don’t do what they’re told because they don’t understand

WE don’t require understanding of God’s ways for obedience. Wwe may WANT it, but it’s not required!
1. Acts 9: Ananias told to pray for Saul, is told WHY;
2. Acts 10: Peter is given a vision, is told the message, and STILL DOESN’T GET IT

Snapshots from Mark: Highlights in Darkness

Snapshots from Mark: Highlights in Darkness Sermon Audio Here

Mark 14:27-38

In 1942, an experiment was devised to determine how sensitive our eyes can be. We’ve learned that the human eye can recognize as few as 9 individual photons in a completely dark room. (1 photon~2 thousandths of a millimeter). The farthest away we could see a candle in the dark is 2.76 kilometers. But what about when our SOUL gets dark?

What Are Some Bright Spots In Our Darkest Times?

Knowing Trouble Is Coming ~ Mark 14:27-31

  • 27 Zechariah warns Israel that they would turn on the Good Shepherd; He wouldn’t be accepted (Jesus KNEW trouble was coming)
  • 28 He ALSO knew He’d come through it (Meet ME in Galilee – where are you meeting Jesus?)
  • 29/30 Good intentions aren’t enough to protect us from our own weakness
  • 31 this is a blind spot for us; we think we’re more competent than we really are (Dunning-Kruger effect)

Showing Trouble Who’s In Control ~ Mark 14:32-38

  • 32/33 Jesus “distressed”=amazed, STRUCK at the weight of the task ahead (ever feel overwhelmed, inadequate to face a tough time? Jesus has been there!)
  • 34 soul is “grieved all around” NO WAY OUT
  • 35/36 caught between God’s ABILITY and God’s CHOICE: Answer? Surrender to what God wants
  • 37 Peter has the ABILITY to stay awake, but doesn’t CHOOSE to exercise it (opposite of Jesus)
  • 38 Problem: It’s easier to give in than to give your all

An effective answer for blind spots in driving: S.M.O.G: Signal, Mirror, Over the shoulder, Go
What’s an answer for blind spots in our darkness? Talk about our blind spots; encourage each other; decisions in community: in other words: S.O.S: Speak truth; Offer support; Stand together

Snapshots from Mark: Stay Awake

Snapshots from Mark: Stay Awake Sermon Audio Here

Mark 13:24-37

I found this WONDERFUL way to remind myself of things: WakeUpDialer.com Just listen… Now, wouldn’t it be great if God gave us wake-up calls? Well…

Jesus Gives Us All A Wake-Up Call:

A Call For Caution ~ Mark 13:24-27

  • 24 This refers to The Day Of The Lord cf. Isa. 13:9-10
  • 25 CODE: not actual destruction of stellar objects; language used to denote the end of a ruling era (cf Ezk. 32; Amos 8; Joel 2 – diff. Kingdoms, same ending language)
  • 26 God WILL REIGN (cf. Dan 7:13)
  • 27 cf Deut 30:3-6 (God will gather & restore His people);
  •    Jer. 32:37 (God will bring us back to Himself);
  •    Ezk 34:13, 36:24 (God will bring His people to His land);
  •    Zech 2:6 (God scattered His people to the ends of the earth because of their disobedience, and He calls them back home)

A Call To Clarity ~ Mark 13:28-31

  • 28/29 Cause and effect: summer follows winter; God’s plans bear fruit
  • 30/31 “this generation” = within the lifetime of His followers. A.D. 70 certainly was; hold onto Jesus’ enduring word

A Call Of Self-Control ~ Mark 13:32-37

  • 32 that Day under control of the Father
  • 33/34 each with his assigned task: God has tasked US to be His servants
  • 35 four watches of the night, 6pm-6am
  • 36/37 “to watch for him is to… use the time that remains before his coming in the work of winning others for him. It is to recognize him gratefully in his intermediate comings in the persons of the least of his brethren.”1

We do not need to wait until Jesus’ return to live as Kingdom people NOW.

1. (Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary; St. Mark, by C.E.B. Cranfield, p. 412)

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

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.


Pastor Ed Backell

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