Posts Tagged 'dealing with the unexpected'

Holy Week Thoughts: Friday’s Trial

Mark 14:53-64
Do you know how olive oil is made? It’s not just a matter of squeezing an olive; the process needed to extract the valuable oil is extensive. First, the olives are crushed. Traditionally, a large press is used to grind the olives into a paste, and then the paste stays under pressure for a length of time. Next, the paste is spun in a centrifuge, which adds even more pressure to the crushed olives. This separates the oil from the water contained in the olive itself.

When I consider what pressure Jesus voluntarily placed Himself under as He headed for the Cross, I am stunned. Jesus gives himself over to those whom He knows will place Him under pressure unlike what He has ever experienced. In Mark 14:43-52, we see Jesus being taken into custody. Unlike many people who have been held for trial (a very stressful time), Jesus does not overcome through strength; rather, He allows the process to happen because of the agreement with God the Father in the garden of the olive press. The parallel is too poignant to pass up: Jesus knows He’s going to be pressed, and yet He does not give a defense.

In fact, in verses 53-65, we see that Jesus is put through an illegal trial. This kangaroo court contrived by the Jewish leaders was in violation of Jewish law and culture. Nevertheless, Jesus allows it to continue. When accused of being the Christ in verse 61, He admits the unpopular truth.

The leaders can’t stand to hear Jesus’ reply, “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Notice the leader’s response: they rend their clothes, shout accusations, and condemn Jesus.

Consider this: if anyone else had said the same thing, the high priest would have been right. But the priest was so focused on his own role that he was unable to consider that Jesus was telling the truth. When we face pressure, are we willing to be crushed so that the truth would be made known? Or would we rather hold a position that doesn’t consider any other view except that which we already believe to be true?

Lord, as we enter Good Friday, please help us remember that the very existence of pressure doesn’t mean that we’re wrong. It also doesn’t automatically mean we’re right, either. It may just be the circumstances that You’re allowing to let Your glory and Your work be seen. Help us to look to You, no matter what we’re experiencing. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Road To Resurrection: Contains Potholes

The Road To Resurrection: Contains Potholes

John 7:40-52

Have you heard about Domino’s Pizza “Paving For Pizza” advertising campaign? It’s gaining mindshare by fixing potholes in towns all across America. Is this a good or bad idea? Depends on your point of view, and how much you like pizza…

Problems With Potholes During Our Journey Of Faith

Thrown By A Wrong Theory ~ John 7:40-44
(we can’t rely on mere human knowledge)

  • 40 cf. Deut 18.15-18; Jesus’ reference to speaking from God would certainly call this prophecy to mind {some rely on tradition about Jesus}
  • 41/42 Messiah comes from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); they thought Jesus was BORN in Galilee since He lived there {some rely upon hearsay about Him}
  • 43 they made up their minds on PART of the story; we still do this today! {without the whole story, they’re stuck}
  • 44 the crowd couldn’t decide who He was… so they couldn’t decide what to do. THIS is true today, too!

Stuck With A Wrong Source ~ John 7:45-52
(we can’t rely on sheer human power)

  • 45/48 POWER frustrated when they can’t control Jesus for their own ends
  • 49 POWER dismissive of those who DO follow Christ
  • 50/51 notice SOME in power still investigate Jesus (but it’s rare)
  • 52 POWER gets stuck in hearsay too!

We must NOT assume that a life with Jesus is going to be a life without difficulty. Our Road to Resurrection Contains Potholes – how we DEAL with these difficulties shows what we really believe about God.

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

A Thief in Thessalonica?

A Thief in Thessalonica Sermon Audio Here

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Have you ever been burgled? Home security systems make a big deal of fear to sell you their product. That’s all about preparing for something you DON’T want to happen. But what about something you DO want?

Preparing for the Positive Surprise

Start NOW to Get Ready ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5

  • 1/2 Church KNOWS not to watch times and dates; WE FOCUS on the valuable
  • 3 destruction=because they refused to prepare (silly image: pregnant woman who ignores oncoming labor pains – not stopping that baby’s arrival!) WE WAIT
  • 4/5 DARKNESS; God puts His light in us: WE SHINE (so don’t focus on darkness)

Stay On Guard ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:6-11

  • 6 let us=WE CHOOSE to be aware
  • 7/8 WE GIRD ourselves, dress like a watchman (defensive armor)
  • 9 Jesus wins, we’re on His team; amount of playing time isn’t the issue
  • 10 We are DESTINED TO WIN!
  • 11 encouragement LEAKS! Remember how Paul told them to encourage each other just a chapter ago?

This is an ONGOING TASK: guard duty means choosing to be alert for others’ protection and benefit. HOW? WE SCHEDULE this! We make room in our lives to protect each other.

Theory of Thanatos in Thessalonica

Theory of Thanatos in Thessalonica Sermon Audio Here

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

It seems that every time we watch the news or read the paper, we learn about some new tragedy. Death occurs with astonishing regularity, even if the circumstances surrounding it become more and more bizarre.

How Can We Respond When Faced With Death?

We Can Have Knowledge AND Hope ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

  • 13 WE GRIEVE DIFFERENTLY
  • 16 NO SECRET~ ALL WILL KNOW GOD IS AT WORK:
  • 17 WE JOIN JESUS AFTER HIS RETURN:
    • Day of the Lord order: Return of Jesus FOLLOWED by resurrection of dead in Christ FOLLOWED by our joining Christ in the clouds
  • 18 This is GOOD NEWS: we haven’t missed it!

The Thessalonians were concerned because they’d received differing accounts of Jesus’ return. Paul writes to them to set them straight… and we can be reassured as well: Jesus WILL return, and He WILL take us home: that’s all we need to know, and that’s what gives us hope!

Gems from Genesis: God Is Aware of Our Situation

Gems from Genesis: God Is Aware of Our Situation Sermon Audio Here

Gen. 37:12-28/Rom. 10:5-15

tools needed at beginning of the job/items packed before you leave on vacation. Hindsight doesn’t help when you’re stuck at the BEGINNING of a problem!

Faith Isn’t An Infallible Shield

Righteousness Doesn’t Automatically Protect Us ~ Genesis 37:1-17

  • Summary: Joseph is naïve AND seventeen: doesn’t self-censor, doesn’t think about the impact that his truth will have on those around him.
  • Just because we try to do the right things doesn’t mean that we’ll never experience rough times; righteousness is not armor. We’re not guaranteed that if we’re good, we’ll never experience the bad. Let’s face it: there are bent people who do bad things, and we can get caught in the crossfire.

Belief Doesn’t Always Lead To Prosperity ~ Genesis 37:18-24

  • 18/20 Joseph is clueless about the trap he’s walking into
  • 21/22 Joe has unexpected ally, but not a strong one
  • 23/28 Joe still gets stuck in bad situation
  • We can honestly and sincerely believe the best of people, and still be badly let down

Being Saved Isn’t Just About Eternity ~ Romans 10:5-15

  • 5/9 Our salvation isn’t a reward for what we do; it’s who we trust
  • 10 we ARE (present tense) saved, not just saved from our past, or saved for our future
  • 11/13 our status doesn’t count; our background doesn’t count; our old self need not weigh us down, and we don’t need to worry about pretending to be perfect
  • We’re rescued right now for real life today; not just in the sweet by-and-by

Faith IS a shield (Ps.91:4, Eph.6:16) but just HAVING the shield doesn’t protect you. Use it: you WILL take the hit; but you are protected in ways you can’t comprehend!

Gems from Genesis: God Hears Our Laughter

Gems from Genesis: God Hears Our Laughter Sermon Audio Here

Genesis 18:1-15

Long-time actress and comedienne Gracie Allen once received a small, live alligator as a gag. Not knowing what to do with it, Gracie placed it in the bathtub and then left for an appointment. When she returned home, she found this note from her maid: “Dear Miss Allen: Sorry, but I have quit. I don’t work in houses where there is an alligator. I’d a told you this when I took on, but I never thought it would come up.

What Happens When God Shows Up On Your Doorstep?

D.A.D. (Do what Abraham Did) ~ Genesis 18:1-8

  • v1/2 identify God’s presence (who are the three men? Trinity? [no – vs 22, 2:13 shows the LORD+2 angels])
  • v3 invitation to stay (we invite God to stay with us)
  • v4 inducement to rest (we interact with God in HIS terms)
  • v5 insistence of service (we offer real-world benefits to God – feed the poor)
  • v6/7 inclusion of others [wife, servant] (our spirituality isn’t intended to be private and singular; involve others in serving God)
  • v8 wait on the Lord

Be Ready For The Unexpected ~ Genesis 18:9-15

  • v9/10 God prepares us for the unexpected
  • v11/12 unexpected can cause disbelief
  • v13/14 disbelief opportunity for reminder: God CAN
  • v15 God knows our fear; works with us anyway

Romans 5:1-2 ~ Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.


Pastor Ed Backell

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