Deep down we all want to fight for what’s right. But truth be told, sometimes we fight over the wrong things and we make drama over the silliest and most ridiculous things. What’s even more tragic, is when we don’t take a stand over what really matters.
Mark 11:15-18 is the remarkable story of Jesus clearing the temple. Jesus is the standard in fighting for what really matters and He tells us and shows us how to do it.
We fight and win the battles that matter most by:
1.) Fight for causes that are greater than ourselves
2.) Fight against dangerous attitudes
3.) Fight to let the Holy Spirit lead rather than our emotions
4.) Fight to refuse the small compromises
5.) Fight to surrender our life to God every day.
Not only must we live like Jesus, but we must fight like Jesus for the battles that have eternal value.
Why do we hurry? Why do we strategize? Why do we compete? Because we want to be the hero, the star the victor. We want to win and we’re not alone in that pursuit. Jesus disciples stumbled into that scenario on multiple occasions. In Mark 9 they are trying to decide which of them is the greatest. In Mark 10 James and John are trying to call dibs on the two most important positions in Jesus’ eventual kingdom.
Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush in either of these situations. He gives a new paradigm where everything is up-side-down. When we fall into comparisons we create competition. When we strategize we cause suspicion.
Jesus wanted to set all of us free from the race to the top. We learn to let go of being first when we pursue being last through servanthood. We can stop fighting for position when we realize there are countless openings at the bottom. There is not battle over serving.
Mark 10:42-45 (NASB)
42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 “But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Jesus not only called us to serve as God directs us, but He modeled it for us as the greatest servant of all.
Peace is something that has been sought after by people everywhere through all generations. Yet conflict is far more common. We’d all like to know how to get there, and there is a strong tendency to believe that if our situation would change or if people would cooperate then peace would be attainable, but that’s not the path to peace that Jesus gives us.
Mark 9:38-50 starts with a situation. People besides Jesus’ immediate disciples are using the authority of his name and battling demonic possession. The disciples want Jesus to intervene, but instead Jesus taches them some very important lessons about conflict in our world:
1. There are only two sides (with Jesus and against Him).
2. We don’t need to fight other believers.
3. We need to keep a sharp eye out for sin in our own lives.
4. God must purify me, so I can live at peace.
This past Sunday’s sermon was from Mark 8:27-38. In these 12 verses, Jesus is calling normal, average people to pursue an abnormal bold life of following Him. Jesus is calling all of us to become His disciples and to give up our selfish personal mission and pursue the mission that He has for us.
This whole series we are doing on the gospel of Mark has to do with living like Jesus. To live like Jesus, we need to truly answer and realize who Jesus is, and when we do, things have to change in our mind and hearts. Why? Because we are not blank slates. Our culture and our flesh influences us with all kinds of wrong ways of thinking and acting. And Jesus needs to break that slate into pieces and start over. And that can be a painful process. But, that kind of pain is ultimately good for you!
Who is Jesus to you? What does Jesus require of you? How you answer these two questions will dictate your life mission here on earth and in eternity.
When we feel pressure about what people think of us, we’re almost always focused on the external. In order to get the affirmation we all need, it can be tempting to perform and present a fake version of ourselves. But ultimately playing this game causes us to value the wrong things.
Jesus confronts this issue in Mark 7:1-23 when His disciples are being criticized for not fitting in with the Jewish traditions. Jesus wasn’t concerned with approval for fitting in. He was concerned about what was happening in the heart.
We have a tendency to focus on the external because we can see it and we neglect the internal because we can’t. But maybe we should be paying a lot more attention to what’s happening on the inside.
It might be good to do some heart healthy exercising. 3 things we can pray for heart health:
1. Soften my hard heart (Ez 11:19, Ps 51:17)
2. Clean out my crowded heart (Ps. 51:10)
3. Give me a good heart (Jer 24:7, Lk 8:15, Lk 6:45, Mat 5:8)
God wants to soften our heart. He wants to cleans our heart. And He wants us to have a heart that is good. What’s happening in our heart is far more critical than what is happening around us. If the heart is moving in the right direction…Everything else will follow.
Empowering Others was the focus of our 4th message in the Live Like Jesus Series. In Mark 6:7-13 we see Jesus begin sending out the 12 Apostles to do ministry on their own. As those representing Christ there was an obvious danger here that they could mess things up for Jesus. But Jesus didn’t send them out to make him look good or to impress people. He send them out with a message and He send them out so that they could grow.
When Jesus began empowering others it came with three things:
1. Opportunity – You can’t grow without one. If we never give people the chance to do something they will never know if they can.
2. Community – Jesus sent them out in pairs to do ministry. Two are better than one and a cord of 3 strands is not easily broken.
3. Authority – Jesus sent them out with His power at work in and through them. They had this because they had relationship with Him.
When He equipped them he also cautioned them on things to avoid:
1. Over preparing – Jesus told them not to take stuff with them, but to depend on Him. Sometimes we can be so concerned with having all of our ducks in a row that we’re paralyzed and we don’t ever go.
2. Applause – Jesus told them not to take the upgrade bait. When they stayed at a house, even if ministry exploded and better offers came, stay put.
3. Dirt – If ministry didn’t go so hot (or downright badly), they were to wipe the dirt from their feet and move on. Don’t let other people’s junk keep you from God’s calling. Too often our critics or our opposition are given way too much power in our lives. Wipe it off and keep going.
We should not only embrace these principles in our own life and ministry, but we should encourage others to do the same and in that way we’ll be living like Jesus.
We continued our sermon series entitled “Live Like Jesus” from the gospel of Mark. We studied Mark 3:7-35 with the issue of “Who are you going to follow?”
Many people wanted to be around Jesus and were clamoring for His attention (the general crowd, the 12 disciples, the Pharisees, and Jesus’ earthly family which consisted of His mother, and siblings). Jesus calls each one of us to follow Him with true belief in who He is, and to have the faith to live that out. All of our thoughts, words, and actions should be dedicated to Him.
The truth is: Jesus desires an intimate relationship with you. He calls you, summons you, and appoints you to Himself! He wants you to be a part of His intimate family!
Are you going to follow Jesus all the way? In deep waters? Full strength?
We’ve probably all been guilty of not really following a rule the way it was intended to be followed. Sometimes that’s done on purpose or on accident by people who are way too literal. Sometimes our interpretation of a rule can be totally different than what was intended. Because of this the heart behind any rule should inform it’s interpretation. Without the heart or original intent bad things start to happen and the effects of this were evident all over Israel when Jesus began His ministry.
There was no issue where this was more prevalent than in regards to the Sabbath rest that God had ordained and that the Israelite people were trying to practice. But the applications of this rule were completely missing the mark. That’s why Jesus began challenging it. At the end of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3 Jesus starts breaking the Sabbath…or at least breaking it the way the Pharisees had interpreted and enforced it.
When we begin to see God’s heart on the rules He gave it changes everything. Suddenly we begin to see that Satan is usually the one yelling about the rules and God is inviting us to draw near, to know His heart and to be blessed. What is really more important our heart or our behavior? Our behavior may be more measurable, but that’s not where true change takes place. Will changing your behavior change your heart? Probably not. Will a heart change, change your behavior. It almost certainly it will. Jesus revealing this changes everything about how we look at our own sin and how we deal with the sin of others.
A heart must encounter Christ and be changed before behavior will really change. If we do it the other way around we’ll get nothing but rule abiding and rule enforcing Pharisees. That’s not the abundant life Jesus promised.
Mark’s Gospel is one of action. Jesus is doing things and right out of the gate we see Jesus following a path of obedience to the Father in baptism, but that baptism was all a part of the bigger picture where Jesus is going to establish a new Kingdom. In order to establish the new Kingdom the old one must fall and his ruler must be defeated. That sets up the battle in the wilderness between Jesus and Satan.
Satan’s plan is to get Jesus to take a short cut. To ignore God’s will and arrive at the destination in his own way. God sent you out in the wilderness to fast, but you’re starving and maybe God doesn’t care about you. God sent you hear to reign, but we don’t have to fight about it, I’ll give you the whole world, if you just bow down to me. Let’s not make a bloody mess of this Messiah thing, reveal who you are now. All three temptations were encouraging Jesus not to trust the Father.
Jesus came and won a great victory for us, so that we could live in freedom and live life abundantly. Are we? Or have we possibly signed up and agreed to one of Satan’s lies?
Living like Jesus means living in His victory and living in full surrender to God the Father. It’s been won for us. Why would we settle for less? It’s possible we haven’t really evaluated what is going on in our lives, but we should. Just like Jesus we need to expose and reject the lies that Satan is trying to sell so that we can walk in obedience and victory as well.