Sunday, April 30, 2006

Confronting our Unbelief & Hard Hearts

Relying on the Reports of The Resurrected One
sermon notes from Mark 16:4-14

Firsthand reports of eyewitnesses who were contemporaries of the event! We like to think that if we had that benefit we would believe with no trouble at all & never doubt again. Yet, the first ones to hear reports of the Jesus’ resurrection – His closest followers - responded unbelief & hard hearts. Jesus rebukes such refusal to believe – it is sinful.

Do you see a pattern, any repeated words or themes in Mark 16:9-14?

“Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

12 After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.

14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.” (NKJV)

The Resurrection reports are reliable & the facts more than sufficient, leaving all people responsible, without excuse (vs. 14; Rom. 1:18-23).

Personal turmoil and life disturbance (mourning and weeping – vs. 10) does not earn a pass before God for unbelief (Mark 6:1-6).

The problem is not our I.Q., but “I will / won’t” (Matt. 16:1-4;)
- Unbelief is a decision, NOT a result of being not persuaded (Rom. 1:18)
- A hard or resistant heart stirs a rebuke, a reproach from the Risen Lord

Unbelief is sin & faith is blessed (John 1:10-13; 3:16-18, 36; 20:24-31)

An Irony: We should hope & pray people believe our witness, but not be surprised when they do not. We are asking them to make a dead / alive-again Jewish Rabbi from 2000 years ago their life boss and God. This is no small step and the consequences are huge – submission & repentance.

Jesus has spoken to us things He wants us to believe, live and obey, yet we doubt His word & dismiss His messengers. Which of His promises would Jesus rebuke your unbelief & hard heartedness?

Feed your faith with these texts: 2 Corin. 1:20; Eph. 6:16, 17; Rom. 10; James 1:5-8 Heb. 4:1, 2; 6 :7-20; 11:1-6, 39-40; Mark 4:1-20; 9:24; Psalm 119.

Friday, April 28, 2006

A Reminder to Be Mindful of God

"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts.

"Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God" Colossians 3:1-3 (New Living Translation).

You never know when or where God will remind you of an important truth. A chance encounter at a hotel continental breakfast bar reminded me of God’s passion to teach us. It also reminded me of the need to be mindful of Him.

Our family was traveling back to Kingsport when my son and I met a kind retiree from Oklahoma. Coincidentally, she too who was on her way to Kingsport, to visit a daughter and family.

By the way, it is said that a "coincidence" is when God chooses to work anonymously. Lucky for us - yes, that was a joke- He does this often.

Having noticed that she looked Hispanic or Native American and that she had on a shirt saying "Mexico," I asked if she was Mexican or Cherokee. She was in fact first generation Mexican American and she then relayed an interesting life development.

Our new friend told how she used to think in Spanish as well as she could in English. But, in the past few years, she has noticed that skill slipping. At a recent reception, she was able to speak to someone in Spanish. Yet, much to her chagrin, she got stuck in efforts to communicate.

Having no one to speak Spanish to on a regular basis has made it harder to think in Spanish as easily as she used to. What used to be natural to her now takes effort due to lack of practice, less use.

Hmmm . . . With a long drive ahead and being a person prone to parabolize, and apt to allegorize, this got me to thinking about my thinking. (I will not be offended if you need to re read that sentence.) How fluent do I stay in my thinking about God, His word, His truths, His will and ways?

Can I, with Willie Nelson, sing to my sweet Lord, "You were always on my mind?" Being on the road again, I could not outlaw that line of thinking. (Tell me ya saw the puns...)

How consistently do I meditate on Him, His word, mulling Him over? How well do I think biblically? Have my skills and habits of thinking in God’s language – the Bible – stayed strong or have they slipped?

As God’s people, we have a dual citizenship, know a second language – His. We are to love God with all our minds, as well as our hearts, soul and strength. A lack of use of our language of re-birth can lead to one dimensional living and thinking - a life that is too earthy (see Psalm 1).

To my new friend, I say "mucho gusto, mucho gracias mi amiga y Dios Te bendaga." (I hope you are duly impressed, that is half of my Spanish. nd, yes, I had it double checked.)

To my Lord, who has provided cleaner, clearer thoughts for us to think, I say thank you for the reminder. Feel free to keep me mindful to keep you in mind.

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." Joshua 1:8 (NKJV)

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Jesus' Burial - sermon notes

Jesus’ Burial - from Mark 15:42-47

“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you… 2 By this gospel you are saved… 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Corin. 15:1-4 emphasis added - NIV).

Mark 15:42 “It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath).

· Unburied bodies polluted the land & were a sign of God’s curse (Ezek. 39:11–16; 1 Kings 14:11; 2 Kings 9:36–37)

42b So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, (cf Simeon– Luke 2:25)went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body.

· “a good and upright man” (Luke 23:50) & rich (Mt. 27:57)
· A secret disciple, feared the Jews (John 19:38-42; Mt. 27:57)
· did not consent to the Council’s “decision and action” (Luke 23:51)

44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.
· Not uncommon to stay alive on a cross 2-3 days (leg breaking)

46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
· Joseph’s family tomb & unused – no family buried in it yet (Mt. 27:60)
· Nicodemus helped him & brought spices (John 19:39; 3:1-16)
· Note the honor shown to the dead.

47 Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:1-3 - delivered by Jesus of seven demons)
and Mary the mother of Joses (Matt. 27:55–61)
saw where he was laid.” (NIV)

· Potentially, the saddest words in all history.
· Is He still dead to you?
· Have you died with Him (Rom. 6; Gal. 2:20)?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Back Home

Doing the wedding of two kids you saw grow up - indescribable.

Many thanks to all at GEFC who plugged holes & met needs while we were in IL

Dues to weather & lateness, we didn't drive through last night. We caught a room
in KY with a good breakfast, pool... ;-) & got in today about 3 PM. Kids missed school. Kudos to Kimsey & Karter for wanting to get home so they would NOT miss school.

A good trip: busy, encouraging & fun. Robin & I visited a critically ill dear
older friend on Thur. He went to be with the Lord Sat. AM. I was able to go and
be with the family Sat. AM as they waited for his body to be picked up (donated
to science). What an honor. He was a neat, godly, "salt of the earth"
man (a WWII vet).

Wedding went well (yes, I cried). Preached in both Sun AM services from Mark 14
- deja vu for the family - they cried ;-)

It is good to be back home.

I am proud of how GEFC ( stepped up, owned it, did it... I am not sure I can totaly say why, or describe how, but they seemed to step up, own it in a new way. Very encouraging.