Sunday – September 23, 2012

September 23, 2012 – Read the Word on Worship

Connecting the Dots from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Jesus and His disciples are confronted with a unique problem. They are in the middle of nowhere with 5,000 men (not counting the women and children) at the end of a long day of ministry, when Jesus asks the disciples to feed the crowd. A miracle which is recorded in all four gospel. But Mark records what the discples did not get, because they could not connect the dots between the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on the water to the discples. To know who Jesus is requires us to connect the dots. The dots of His personal claims, miracles and teaching. But even more is the connecting of the Old Testament works of God the Father to the ministry of Jesus to see Jesus is the picture of what all the dots look like together. Join us this Sunday as we continue in our study of the Gospel of Mark in Mark 6 verses 30 to 52.

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Mark 6:41-44
And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish. There were five thousand men who ate the loaves.”

Why must scholars rationalize the miraculous? And if there is one event the intellectuals must rationalize away, the feeding of the 5,000 is it.  Jesus must have hidden food in a secret cave. The disciples must have given up the food they were hoarding. The size of the crowd must have been exaggerated. It must have been a sacramental meal — a mere token piece of bread alluding to the feast that is to come. Why are we surprised when God acts like God?

Here is the One who is like Moses but greater than Moses. Here is the One who is like Elijah and Elisha but is greater than all the prophets. In feeding the 5,000, Mark demonstrates Jesus exercises God’s power and uses it for the good of the flock. Jesus is the Good Shepherd of His people and He provides for all needs in this life and the life to come. Even today, we long for good news but sadly settle for merely good advice. The question of feeding the 5,000 is the question religion has wrestled with for millennia: Is the need of mankind spiritual or physical? God recognizes our needs are both spiritual and physical.

Neither sending the crowd away nor compelling the disciples to share what they have solves the problem because they are the solutions of men. This is why politics will never solve man’s problems because they can only offer man-made solutions: send the needy away or compel those who may have to give more to those who have less. The Church needs to learn from the example of Jesus Christ Himself; neglect neither spiritual hunger nor physical hunger. The command of Jesus to the disciples was “You give them something.” A disciple of Jesus Christ is always the servant of others. We are called to feed the sheep and not just ourselves. The lesson is clear for those who have ears to hear: there will always be enough to feed the Church.

Before we echo the words of the disciples about our inventory and conclude we do not have enough, we may need to step out in faith. When self-proclaimed Christians, on average, give 3% of their income to the church and even less of their time in direct ministry, we should see we have enough. God never sacrifices the physical need to satisfy the spiritual need. Nor will God ever sacrifice the spiritual need of humanity in order to satisfy an empty stomach. Both are important to Him. So how important are they to us?

Sunday – September 16, 2012

September 16, 2012 – Read the Word on Worship

Jesus Loses His Hero Status from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

This Sunday we continue our study in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus returns to Nazareth and finds the home town crowd is not there to support Him, but rather rejects Jesus looking for Him to do even greater miracles. Join us Sunday as we look at "Jesus Looses His Hero Status, John Looses His Head" in Mark 6:1-29.

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Mark 6:4-6
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.”

It is said, “familiarity breeds contempt.” That was true during the life of Jesus, just as it is today. In our passage Jesus returns home, not to where He was born, but where He was raised as the son of a carpenter and we see inspired teaching and miracles do not automatically produce faith. The response of the people of Nazareth stands in stark contrast to the faith demonstrated by Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage in Mark 5. Although faith is not a pre-requisite for miracles, the unbelief of the people of Nazareth is truly staggering.

Jesus is not there to demand respect and admiration from the hometown crowd. But the doubts and murmuring raised about the credentials of Jesus block the people of Nazareth from receiving God’s blessings through Him. I am sure there was no shortage of the blind, deaf and lame residing in Nazareth with a desperate need of healing. But the doubt and suspicion of some can affect the entire community. The reservations about Jesus seem odd when you consider they were already aware of His miracles. Only the handful who came for healing received the blessing. The blooms of doubt produced the fruit of unbelief in Nazareth.

There is a lesson to be learned from the indifference of the people of Nazareth. As we seek to share with people in our lives, indifferent responses will often come from where it is least expected. Failure to produce fruit in others is the common experience for all who sow the seeds of the gospel. But we are not to lose hope and stop sharing. While Jesus was amazed at their unbelief, He was not paralyzed by it and continued on to other towns and villages. This is a lesson for the disciples which we need to take to heart also as we are met with doubt, resistance and scorn when we share the gospel.

But our passage also raises a concern for those who have “grown up” in the church as Christians. Does familiarity with Jesus breed contempt in our lives? Have we become bored with Jesus, unless He performs for us in dramatic ways? It is a serious concern because we can have a fascination with the new and exotic, only to be lead astray by what poses as truth. This may lead us toward mirages that only take us away from the faith of our youth. We must guard against the attitude of the synagogue of Nazareth that says, “I already know Jesus from the Bible stories. What can Jesus teach me now?”


Sunday – September 09, 2012

September 09, 2012 – Read the Word on Worship

Devinely Designed Delays from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Ever get stuck and in a traffic jam and missed an appointment? How about when that phone call comes in just as you were preparing to leave to meet a friend who had a problem? The frustration we have for delays can drive us up the wall. Or it could be a divine delay. Jesus knew all about delays in travel and ministry itineraries. But they were never a cause for concern, but an opportunity for God to demonstrate His sovereignty. Join us Sunday September 9th as we continue in our study of the Gospel of Mark and look at “Divine Delays” in Mark chapter 5 verses 21 to 43.

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Mark 5:35-37
While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?” But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.” 

The theme of belief runs through the gospel of Mark. But belief is one of the least understood concepts today. We have confused biblical belief with opinions, personal desires, and the evaluation of people and situations. When we lump the belief in Jesus Christ with our belief in a political philosophy, our plans for the future and the likelihood of our favorite team making the playoffs, is it any wonder we do not see the power of God in our lives?

Belief opens the door to the power of God. By it, divine power is given to those who are utterly powerless. Faith can be bold; it can be halting; it can be imperfect and it can be filled with trepidation. All that is needed for it to be effective is for it to be directed to Jesus Christ. When faith is in the person of Jesus Christ, it overcomes obstacles. The woman worked her way through the crowds and overcomes any sense of shame she had to reach out and touch His garments. The synagogue leader had to overcome the peer pressure of the other religious leaders who were already conspiring how they may put Jesus to death and humbly ask Jesus for the healing of his daughter.

Belief is not invisible, but always demonstrated by action. It is seen in the men digging through the roof to lower their friend to Jesus. It kneels, begs and reaches out to touch. It is not merely belief about Jesus that brings about healing, but a faith in Jesus that causes action which does. Neither Jairus nor the woman identifies Jesus as Messiah or even as a prophet. But they believe He has the power to heal and are willing to put their faith to the test to come to Jesus. Faith does not wait for the sea to divide before stepping out. Belief steps out, trusting God will do what is needed.

Belief is not a magic bullet to receive everything we may desire. Evil, illness and death still continue in our lives. Not every touch will bring healing, and those with great faith still hear the dreaded words from the doctor, “Your daughter is dead.” A miracle does not occur in every situation, but it does not diminish God’s power to save. If God intervened in every situation we asked of Him, we would never have to exercise faith. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego expressed the only kind of faith that will carry us through tragedy when they declared, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18).

Sunday – September 2, 2012

September 2, 2012 – Read the Word on Worship

What Demons Dread from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Have you ever wondered what demons dread? Jesus had already earned the reputation of casting out demons, but in Mark 5 He kicks it up a notch to deal with Legion- and Legion dreads it. Mark’s gospel takes the time and space to deal with the issue of demons in greater detail than any of the other gospel. Join us this Sunday for an interesting look at “What Demons Dread” as we continue into Mark 5 verses 1 to 20. See you at 8:45 AM this Sunday.

Word On Worship – September 2, 2012 Download / Print

Mark 5:2-5
When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.”

Today’s society disregards most of our Christian fear regarding the influence of demons. We still watch movies or read novels that contain a supernatural evil residing in the populace to do harm in some arbitrary way. In their make-believe narrative, some seemingly indestructible “force” appears to transform into whatever shape is needed to destroy individuals and eventually the earth itself. This movie monster somehow has many extra lives enabling it to come back for the sequel by some man-made wizardry that allows the movie to end without fully resolving the problem.

The gospels present quite a different picture of the source of evil and how it is overcome. In the movies, humans have the power and the ingenuity to recognize and expel evil. Jesus reveals evil comes from a demonic source that preys upon human presumption of its own strength and ingenuity. Satanic influence isn’t something humanity can defeat on its own. It can only be overcome with something greater than ourselves — the power of God. Martin Luther was correct when he penned, “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.”

The greatest proof of this striving against the wind are those who need the greatest deliverance. They often offer the greatest resistance to being set free from their captivity. People pay professionals for advice to change their lives but then resist any change required. We surrender to the demons we know because we are too afraid to live without them. I take great comfort from the persistence of Jesus against Legion. Jesus is not put off by the evasive tactics of the enemy or the people. He is willing to cross a stormy sea just to free this one man from the bondage of his tormentors and to reveal this truth to a community afraid of that deliverance.

Only in Christ can we find shelter from the blast of the enemy and the power to overcome demonic forces that swamp not only individuals, but entire nations. Only in Christ is there deliverance from the powers and principalities which we face in daily battle. This power is not based on the sheer might of Jesus, but in the mercy (5:19) God shows all who come to Him by faith and found only in Christ. We need to be a people who have met with Christ and allowed Him to transform our lives. And then have the courage to bring Jesus Christ to those who are still captive to this enemy of cruel hate. Again, as Luther wrote, “We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.”

— Pastor Andrew Kikkert