Sunday – October 28, 2012

October 28, 2012 – Read the Word on Worship

Why Is Jesus So Cranky? from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Does Jesus ever get grumpy? Just wake up on the wrong side of the bed after dealing with the disciples with yet another problem? Maybe if we saw Jesus in His full glory on the Mount of Transfiguration we would understand what Jesus sacrificed to come to earth to redeem mankind. Join us this Sunday for our continuing study of the Gospel of Mark in Mark 9 verses 1 to 29 as we look at “Why Is Jesus So Cranky?”

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Mark 9:18-20
“I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!”

The pandemonium that greets Jesus and the three disciples when they come off the mountain might give Peter new incentive to return to the place of glory to build those shelters, far removed from the noise down below. Coming back from the glory of the Transfiguration and into collapse of the disciples’ failure to cast out the demon was not what anyone expected. How many times have we desired to retreat from life’s failures or from a faithless generation?  I am sure the disciples would understand the commercial that asks, “Want to get away?”

This episode is different from the other exorcisms we have already seen in the Gospel of Mark. The earlier encounters demonstrate the authority of Jesus over the demons but here Mark turns our attention to the failure of the disciples to cast out the demon and the father’s need for faith. The disciples are just like us – beset by failure, eager to engage in arguments, undisciplined in our prayer lives, and more interested in learning technique instead of taking the time needed to walk closely with God. This incident shows us how feeble we all are when we are running on our own steam.

To their credit, the disciples want to learn from their failure. Their question to Jesus reveals their assumption that it is all about their technique. They thought it was all about their skills and power, so the only reason why something went awry had to be the result of poor technique. Power in our spiritual lives has nothing to do with the right combination of words or actions. There is no lamp to rub to get our magical three wishes. The answer Jesus gives His disciples makes it clear that spiritual power has nothing to do with secret lore, techniques or incantations. They had trusted in themselves and their power rather than in God.

Only when we, like the disciples, come up short in failure do we realize that we posses no power in ourselves. Those who belong to the faithless generation do not cast out evil. God does. The power belongs entirely to God and must be received afresh from Him through a life of prayer and self sacrifice. We cannot take a course to learn the ins and outs of spiritual effectiveness, as if the power of God is earned like a merit badge. Our attitude must be like the father in Mark 9:24: “I do believe; help my unbelief.” It is only then we will be useful as healers and agents of comfort for those who suffer.

Sunday – October 21, 2012

October 21, 2012 – Read the Word on Worship

The Most Important Question from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

There are a lot of questions we ask ourselves about our lives. What will do to earn a living, how should we raise our families, how can we define success in our lives. But the most important question any one can ask themselves is who is Jesus of Nazareth? Who Jesus is and what you are going to do with that answer is the single most defining issue you have to make with eternity. Join us this Sunday as we look at "The Most Important Question" from Mark 8 verses 27 to 38.

Word On Worship – October 21, 2012 Download / Print

Mark 8:34-35
“And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it

If ever there was a man who could be right and yet simultaneously wrong at the same time, Peter must be him. In our passage, Peter makes his stunning confession of faith in Jesus being the Messiah. But then Jesus tells the disciples His path will lead to suffering, humiliation and ultimately death on the cross and Peter’s reaction is to tell Jesus no way! One can hardly blame Peter for missing the point since the cross was contrary to every interest in Peter’s life at this time. Are we any different than Peter today?

We need to remember the Jewish method of execution was stoning. When Jesus told them they would need to take up their cross to follow Him, they heard Roman execution. To be Messiah meant possessing the Wisdom of Solomon, providing bread in the Wilderness like Moses, leading in conquest like Joshua and establishing an eternal kingdom like David in the minds of the disciples. Nowhere in their job description for the Messiah was death at the hands of the same Romans they expected Jesus to overthrow. Jesus is heading to His own death and they will be following Him to the same destination.

Following Christ requires the believer to act in ways which are contrary to our basic instincts and interests. Jesus is not going the way our culture is going. That leaves us with the hard choice to follow our goals and self interests or to die to them by taking up a cross, a Roman method of execution. That certainly was no more popular in the minds of the disciples that in our minds today. The gospel is all about taking up our cross and embracing death. The result of following Jesus means our lives will turn upside down. No matter what our culture may be – American, Chinese, Islamic or even Jewish, when you come to Christ He will turn your values upside down. Following Jesus means we are going to die to the way we used to live our lives.

When I read through the Gospel of John, one of the key words is BELIEVE. But here in the Gospel of Mark the key word is FOLLOW. Many would like to apply this as a multiple choice where we can believe or follow Christ. Jesus makes it clear it is both to believe and follow. What do you believe about Jesus ? Will that compel you to follow Him? With what you know about Jesus, are you willing to get behind Him and follow His lead, even when the road He has chosen leads us to Golgotha? We must be ready to follow when Jesus leads us along the roads we would never have chosen for ourselves.

Sunday – October 14, 2012

October 14, 2012 – Read the Word on Worship

Lessons from the Leftovers from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Jesus is continuing His ministry in Gentile territory and after teaching for three days feeds the crowd of 4,000 people in attendance. But instead of seeing the sufficiency of Christ in their midst, the disciples connect all the wrong dots and worry about what they are going to do for lunch with only one loaf of bread in the boat. Let’s see if we can make the connections and learn “The Lessons of Leftovers” in our study of the Gospel of Mark chapter 8 verses 1 to 26.

Word On Worship – October 14, 2012 Download / Print

Mark 8:11-12
The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him. Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”

“Seeing is believing” is more than a Madison Avenue marketing ploy. We want to test the merchandise ourselves to see if it lives up to the hype. Our generation is seen in the actions of the Pharisees. The Pharisees are looking to dictate to God the terms and conditions under which they will believe or not believe. They want unequivocal, irrefutable and visible evidence that removes any doubt from the decision of faith. In reality, they are really looking for something from Jesus to eliminate the need for faith. But is our generation any different?

Jesus has proved His authority throughout His ministry. He sent the healed leper to them as a testimony of His power to heal. He confirmed His authority to forgive sin by commanding the paralytic to walk. He taught with authority that the people had never seen from the religious leaders. He broke Sabbath commands with Old Testament precedent for His actions. He commands storms to be stilled and demons to be removed. But the Jewish leaders have rejected the evidence and moved forward to plot His death. The response of our Lord is to deny them any further evidence since they refuse to believe no matter what He says or does.

The Messiah they want will never come. They want a compliant superman who has the power of heaven to fulfill their own earthly program. They dream empty dreams of overthrowing tyrants so they may be installed as the new tyrants. They want Jesus to give them proof of what they want to be true, without having to believe in Jesus as their Messiah. Does this sound like the Jesus our generation wants? This was the very temptation Satan used in the Wilderness.  For Jesus to resist such pressure and remain obedient to God required a clear vision of God’s will, unwavering dedication and continual prayer.

Today people still want convincing signs. If we were in the crowd when He was crucified, would we demand He come down in some dramatic show of force so we might believe He is the Christ? Each one of us must discern the truth of from the way He gave His life on the cross and the evidence of the resurrection. Scoffers will appear in every generation asking for signs only to ridicule faith in God against all evidence presented to it. Mark’s Gospel shows us the Creator does not bow to such demands from the created. We must follow the example of Jesus and demonstrate our faith by our commitment to obey God and giving ourselves as a sacrifice to others.

Sunday – October 7, 2012

October 7, 2012 – Read the Word on Worship

Does God Ever Lose an Argument? from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Does God ever intend on losing an argument? Do you think He ever changes His mind? After declaring all food clean, Jesus begins to go into Gentile territory to begin ministering to those who were outside the children of Israel. Will the ministry to the Gentiles be a second class ministry? Will Jesus with hold healing from the Gentiles or does He need extra persuasion? If you want to know the answers, don’t miss this Sunday’s message from Mark 7 verses 24 to 37 as we see “Does God Ever Lose an Argument?”

Word On Worship – October 7, 2012 Download / Print

Mark 7:26-27
She kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

Why would Jesus show such contempt to a woman only seeking help for her daughter and compare her to a dog? It implies the only legitimate diners are the children of Israel. If you are confused, you are not alone. The response of Jesus to this desperate mother has confounded readers, not to mention scholars, for years. The scene upsets our sense of justice. We do not mind when Jesus rebukes the Pharisees, because their sense of entitlement deserves condemnation. But the response of our Lord seems to be out of character for a mother interceding for her child.

To deal with this incongruity of Scripture not meeting our expectations, people have found many ways to excuse the perceived harshness of Jesus. Surely He must have used a gentle, maybe even humorous tone of voice to lessen the sting. Maybe Jesus was not convinced His mission was to include the Gentiles just yet?  Or could this be Jesus testing the faith of this woman? Others, with a low view of Scripture, argue this incident is merely an invention of the Church which was read back into the history of Jesus to demonstrate Jewish prejudice towards Gentiles.

Stop making excuses for Jesus and His response.  A dog is a dog, whether they are pampered pet or feral street hound. No matter how Jesus said it, to call this desperate woman a dog is not a term of endearment. And if this is a test of faith, why does not Jesus commend her faith when it was proved true?  Mark may not be aware of the problems which step on our political correctness, but surely the Holy Spirit who inspired Mark’s account is. We come to the Scriptures with our own bias, expectation and selfish desire. Our bias is to make Jesus more Gentile than Jew because we received Him gladly.  Our expectation is for Jesus to be more favorable to Gentiles because so many Jews have rejected their Messiah. And our selfish desire obligates Jesus to respond to every request made upon Him because we expect Him to respond to our every beck and call.

Our problem with this response of Jesus is we do not understand who we are, unlike the Canaanite woman. We are self-deluded to think Jesus accepts us just as we are. When Scripture filters out our selfish expectation, we see all of our righteousness is like filthy rags and God accepts us only as Jesus is – holy, righteous and pure. We are ready to begin talking about the grace of God in the Person of Jesus Christ only after we know what we truly are without Him. Never forget the only solution for our sin is the harshness of the cross. The cross is the only way sin, Jew or Gentile, could be dealt with to be accepted by God.

Sunday – September 30, 2012

September 30, 2012 – Read the Word on Worship

Why Religion is All Washed Up from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Let me say from the start- I am a HUGE fan of hand washing. And I am sure Jesus would say amen when restaurant workers read the sign in the bathroom and wash their hands. But in our passage in Mark, Jesus is not talking about hand washing from a health point of view, He is talking about hand washing from a ceremonial point of view. And this is a Supreme Court decision about washing and food. Join us Sunday in our study of the Gospel of Mark and see why “Religion is Washed Up” and let’s connect some dots to see why the menu has changed in Mark 6 verse 53 to Mark 7 verse 23.

Word On Worship – September 30, 2012 Download / Print

Mark 7:8
“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

From our position in history, we see how the Pharisee’s tradition strangled faith. We dismiss their traditions about the washing of hands as obsessing over the gnats and missing the camels of the faith. But to connect the dots to our lives today, we must realize the honest concerns behind the traditions. The Law required the priests to wash their hands to be ceremonially clean and that standing was required for anyone in their household to eat their share of the sacrifices. The Pharisees’ tradition extended this requirement to all Jews. The desire of the Pharisees was to strive for holiness above what the Law prescribed. Since the command of God was “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2), the Pharisees saw purity as essential and it did not stop at the doors of the Temple.

For the Pharisees, the washings belonged to the traditions of Moses and became doctrine. They sought to fill in the gaps by careful analysis of the Law of Moses, as given by God. Their doctrines, which were based on these traditions, were rooted in Scripture and equal in authority in their minds. Their goal was giving practical application of the Law so lay people could live a life of holiness and purity outside of the Temple. A second benefit was protection against the influence of the world around them from watering down Judaism. It made sure people could clearly set themselves apart from the ungodly influences of those who were destined for destruction because of their moral corruption.

Now fast forward 2,000 years to the present. What doctrines have we developed from tradition to fill in the gaps of Scripture to direct what we should do (or not do) to remain holy? Before you scoff and say, I would never be so caught up in rules based on tradition, consider this: Should we tithe gross income or net income (assuming you do)? Does that include the money we get from recycling and credit card reward money? Does it include fruit and vegetables we grow in our home gardens? These are not silly questions. We use a tradition which tries to honor God’s requirements and then apply them to guide us in how to respond in situations which are not clearly spelled out in Scripture. Or is our Pharisee moment to emphasize one area of holiness over another to reinforce our being separate from the world? Because we do not engage in “this” sin (usually one which holds no sway over us) we are not like “them” who would never darken the doorway of a church. But what is our response to direct biblical direction regarding lust, anger, covetousness or gluttony? Is our answer, “Well that may be in the Bible, but it is not really for us already in the church”?

Many Christian traditions have direct parallels with the Pharisees’ concerns. If things are not done in a certain way, they are perceived to be violations. Whether it is baptism, communion, music style or use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; we must guard against the temptation to focus on the details so much that we miss the grand design of God. Jesus Christ came to make God accessible to everyone. The intent of the Pharisees was to make God accessible to everyone by obedience to the rules of the priests in the Temple, but being in the Temple has nothing to do with access to God. What matters is the righteousness of Jesus Christ which comes from His work on the cross of Calvary – not ours.