Monday, July 6, 2015

Sermon July 4-5, 2015

Title: Jesus was rejected so that you might be restored!
Text: Mark 6: 1-13

6 [Jesus] went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?
6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.
And he went about among the villages teaching.

G. Campbell Morgan was one of 150 young men who sought entrance to the Wesleyan ministry in 1888. He passed the doctrinal examinations, but then faced the trial sermon. In a cavernous auditorium that could seat more than 1,000 sat three ministers and 75 others who came to listen. When Morgan stepped into the pulpit, the vast room and the searching, critical eyes caught him up short. Two weeks later Morgan's name appeared among the l05 REJECTED for the ministry that year.

Jill Morgan, his daughter-in-law, wrote in her book, A Man of the Word, "He wired to his father the one word, 'Rejected,' and sat down to write in his diary: 'Very dark everything seems. Still, He knows best.' Quickly came the reply: 'Rejected on earth; Accepted in heaven - Dad.'"

In later years, Morgan said: "God said to me, in the weeks of loneliness and darkness that followed, 'I want you to cease making plans for yourself, and let Me plan your life.'" Rejection is rarely permanent, as Morgan went on to prove … [Serving for 25 years as pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, writing extensively, and receiving his Doctor of Divinity.]

Even in this life, circumstances change, and ultimately, there is no rejection of those accepted by Christ.

Rick Thompson.

Jesus was rejected so that you might be restored

6 [Jesus] went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?

As Jesus continues to go about his business of teaching the word, healing the sick and casting out demons … questions arise. Last week Jesus raised the little daughter of the synagogue ruler. Now, he finished the Gospel lesson from last week with these words:

43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Those who had been kept outside the little girl’s room knew she was dead and after Jesus went in to the room with her parents and his disciples the people, who had remained outside too saw the little girl going about. Nothing needed to be said. The miracle of her being raised from a death they were sure of … to life … spoke for itself.

“Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

The neighbors in Jesus hometown of Nazareth rejected him, who had grown up among them. He, who was known to them as the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon and his sisters? They knew his family and while the debate continues that Jesus was the only son of his mother Mary the term (brothers) can be connected with cousins and near relatives. These people knew Jesus and his family … And they took offense [not at them but] at him.

Jesus was rejected so that you might be restored!

Offense can come from those who know us, or can be directed at those we know. Being connected to Jesus and being Christian – in our day – is, for many, offensive. What we proclaim in Jesus, and the truth of God’s word that we hold to, are not in step with the culture. In years past when we spoke the truth of the faith it might have brought a giggle from those who oppose Christ or have no Biblical understand, but now the consequences for our faith are real.


Linda Barnette has issued marriage licenses in Grenada County, Mississippi for 24 years. On Tuesday, she resigned.
“I choose to obey God rather than man,” Mrs. Barnette wrote in her one paragraph resignation letter to the Grenada County Board of Supervisors.
“I am a follower of Christ and I believe strongly that the Bible is my final authority,” she wrote. ‘The Bible teaches that a marriage is to be between a man and a woman. Therefore, because of the recent ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, I can no longer fulfill my duties as Circuit Clerk and issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.”

Congregational Vice President, Bob Poe and I attended the Michigan District Convention in Ann Arbor this past Sunday – Tuesday and we heard concern for the issue of marriage redefinition as well as religious freedom issues we face now and will continue to face in the future.

Is our freedom as Christians to be pushed behind the walls of the church or kept within the confines of our own homes? When we enter the world is our faith and beliefs to be left home or at church and are we to only parrot the views of the culture and submit to them. These are hard questions that we each must look at and answer. The signs at many churches read as you leave the parking lot … “You are now entering the mission field.” Will it be changed to reflect … “You have now entered the civil realm?”

President Matt Harrison of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod concluded in his letter after the Supreme Court Ruling:

[However, even as we struggle as a church to come to a unified response to this blatant rejection of the entire history of humankind and its practice of marriage, “We shall obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). Christians will now begin to learn what it means to be in a state of solemn conscientious objection against the state. We will resist its imposition of falsehood upon us, even as we continue to reach out to those who continue to be harmed by the ethic of radical sexual freedom, detached from God’s blessing of marriage. And we will stand shoulder to shoulder with Christians, churches and people of good will who are resolute on this issue.]

Pastor Matthew C. Harrison

This is nothing new. Our Old Testament lesson for today reminds us.

3 And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. 4 The descendants also are impudent [not showing due respect for another person; impertinent] and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ 5 And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.

Friends, it is not just the culture that rebels against God, but we as the Christian church – you and me - who have rebelled. We trust not the word of God but the dictates of man. We see church attendance become an afterthought and not the gift God intends it to be, and we endorse living together before marriage as an accepted and normative lifestyle. If the word of God is used to call sinners to repentance it is largely unheeded and unheard. Those who listen but refuse to hear at times change churches rather than repenting and continue on as if it’s no big deal, or they ask the church to play along and get with the program … and we wonder why the culture doesn’t take us seriously.

6 And [Jesus] marveled because of their unbelief.

If the church won’t listen why would the culture?

And [Jesus] went about among the villages teaching.

7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.

Jesus sends the word out and he uses foolish things like pastors preaching and teaching. He uses water, bread and wine connected to his word and by his Spirit … Christ dwells … which really means to take up residence … to make your home, his home.

Dr. Reed Lessing pointed out in his bible study the difference between close friends and living room friends. He said that living room friends are those that you let into your home, but confine them to the living room, so that they won’t see the mess in your closets ,or the bathroom that isn’t clean, or the mess that needs to be cleaned up from the corners of the rooms and he puts this in contrast to friends that are welcomed into our homes – warts and all – having the privilege to go anywhere in the home, to eat what they want and to see the mess and to still be welcomed in.

Jesus wants to be that friend.

He wants to be part of your life. He wants to hear your repentance because he already knows your sin. He also knows that he has paid the price for your sin and he desires for you … in repentance … to see this too. By coming to him and confessing that sin he can comfort you with his blessed forgiveness telling you through the words of holy absolution that you, dear child, are forgiven.
As you celebrate today and tomorrow the freedom which is so important for we as Americans and as you remember those that came before us and paid a heavy price for the freedoms we enjoy.

I saw a wonderful sign online today that read:

The United States did not create Religious Freedom,
Religious Freedom created the United States.

Pause and also think about the one who brings true freedom for you and me who called you out of slavery to sin, death and the devil and gave you son ship in his name. Jesus has brought you peace with the Father by his very body and blood for you. He has given this for you to eat and drink and he keeps you, by his Spirit, pointed to Jesus.

Jesus was rejected so that you might be restored!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


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