From Empty to Excess

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As the widow found in coming to Elisha (2 Kings 4), God would not be held hostage by the expectations around her, he instead would set her free with the exceptions; however, in the end it would all come down to whether she would allow herself to go from…

Empty to Excess! (2 Kings 4:5-7) She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

Elisha didn’t magically give her enough oil to pay her bills; instead he reveals God’s plan was to allow her willingness to step out in faith to match his provision. God wasn’t something to be possessed, a check to cash, but took on flesh to be pursued!   Think about it, if she would have only gone out, sheepishly, nervously, uncertainly asking for a few jars—3 or 4 from only her closet friends because she was nervous of the result—nothing would have changed her situation for a lifetime. It was in the midst of her problem that God’s provision was given in proportion to her willingness to trust Him! Continue reading “From Empty to Excess”

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Faith of our fathers

faith of our fathers

Faith of our fathers, living still,

In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;

O how our hearts beat high with joy

Whenever we hear that glorious word!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!

We will be true to thee till death.

                       -Frederick William Faber, “Faith of Our Fathers”

Church Shopping: Laodicea

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A million dollars is a lot of money! What would you be willing to do for a million dollars? Would you move to Antarctica for 6 months? Take a soaking bath in manure? Would you randomly stand up in church and do the funky chicken and quack like a chicken? Let’s bring this into a little bit more serious challenge—Would you be willing to kill someone for a million dollars—if all you had to do was press a button. In 2009, Cameron Diaz starred in a movie called “The Box,” where she was offered a million dollars to press a button. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HT1K-XoREU. Let me take this social experiment one step farther, would you give up your faith in Christ?

 

Today, after visiting 6 different churches all over 1st century Turkey, we conclude our series with the church in Laodicea wrestling with that last question most heavily, is there a price at which Christ will be forfeited to win the whole world? Some of the churches we visited faced poverty, others persecution, some mild prosperity, but today we find a city sitting on gold and Christians who are considering whether to give up God. Laodicea was the banking center for their region, home for 40,000 people, with two good sized theaters outnumbering the 200,000 person town of Ephesus, had a booming marketplace, textile manufacturing, and a salve (eye treatment which brought people from far and wide). They had economic, medical, and manufacturing centers pumping the city with vitality, wealth, and prosperity, and yet despite everything seemingly perfect, Jesus begins his letter:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen (a title meaning God of truth), the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. Jesus is preparing the people: You might not like what I have to say, but you need to hear the truth, the people in Laodicea despite embracing self-sufficiency had a problem with their:

 

Bottled Water (Revelation 3:14-16) A sign of great wealth of our nation is that you can walk into any grocery store and find piles of fresh, clean, bottled water all ready to be consumed. Yet, you only need bottled water when your water leaves something lacking. Jesus uses the Laodicea water crisis to highlight their spiritual crisis:

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Laodicea was a city struggling with a water crisis. Just like Flint, MI where the water was contaminated, Laodicea had no natural source of water in the Lycus Valley, and the water they piped in was full of minerals, smelled horribly, and was tepid once it finally arrived in town in the hot Asian sun. The next town over Hierapolis being known for healing and hygienic hot springs while Colossae nearby got cool, crisp, refreshing water from the glacial melt. Jesus points out that like their tepid, room-temperature, nasty water; they had become contaminated by the comfort all around them. Hot water had a purpose—cold water had a purpose—but Jesus is saying pretty clearly, “You make me want to puke.” The people of Laodicea boasted in their self-sufficiency and yet they lacked the very thing that they needed to be self sustaining. Continue reading “Church Shopping: Laodicea”

Mark My Words-Crashing Waves

Today, it is as we continue in our sermon series Mark My Words, looking at Mark 4:35-41, we transition from Jesus telling us what heaven is like to showing us the power from heaven, and in the process revealing the answer to our question of God: “Don’t you care?”

Let me read you the story: 35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

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You probably can imagine being on the boat, water lapping over the edges, soaking your clothes, going from trying to enjoy the ride to just enduring it. Heart racing—body shuttering with the cold and the wind, and it is in the midst of this horrifying experience that we find our first truth revealed: Jesus meets our true needs when all we can see are our wants (Mark 4:40) He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Continue reading “Mark My Words-Crashing Waves”

Mark My Words- Compound Faith

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Carton-faith, Fridge-faith, what kind of faith do you have? (Check out earlier posts) Jesus has revealed faith that shines bright, faith that allows God to do more with us than we can do by ourselves but as we move forward wondering if there is enough evidence to be found guilty of following Christ—we find as Jesus tells us about a small seed

Compound Faith (Mark 4:30-34) 30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” 33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

Jesus tells us about the mustard seed, growing quietly and persistently, starting off as something that is easily missed or passed by into something that is impossible to ignore. From something the birds might eat if they found it on the ground to something which allows the birds to have a home. It is faith which grows by compounding, growing off what came before it! Think of compound interest, even a small amount over the years can grow into a huge sum, because what you built before is added to what is about to come!

Some time ago “Reader’s Digest” told the story about a company who mailed out some special advertising business post cards with a mustard seed glued to it with the following caption that went something like this: “If you have faith as small as this mustard seed in our (particular product), you are guaranteed to get excellent results and be totally satisfied.” — Signed, The Management Continue reading “Mark My Words- Compound Faith”

Mark My Words-Fridge Door

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Is there enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian? We want to remove the things that stand in our way, allowing as the children’s song goes: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine,” If you have been hesitant to let your light shine, wrestling with taking the next step, but it isn’t only about having the light bulb screwed in, sometimes people can wrestle with…

Fridge Light Faith which is contrasted by Jesus Growing Seed Parable- (Mark 4:26-29) 26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Here God is promising a gigantic and abundant harvest—if you are feeling worn out, take heart…Jesus makes it clear that even when you feel like you have a mini-witness, when you feel overwhelmed, or running out of steam, or powerless, that God can turn it into something abundant. The urge in those moments might be to become a fridge light…Think about it…When the fridge is open, being seen by the world, the light flies on as if it was on the whole time—it is on duty, people are watching, but when no one is looking, the light goes out! Instead of fridge faith—instead of abandoning the fields, we find that light shines best in darkness. Continue reading “Mark My Words-Fridge Door”

Mark My Words

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Ministry has always been messy, sometimes requiring digging through a roof, sometimes resulting in dirty carpet or smudged walls with finger prints, all a small price to pay in digging down deeper to bring someone before their Savior, but investing in the lives of always does more than just provides them an audience with Christ, but your…

Faith Acts as a Foundation (Mark 2:5) When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Continue reading “Mark My Words”