søndag 27. januar 2013

Mark chapters 8-16 Death brings life

Mark 8:29-38

This talk is like the guide book to a city: it’s only really useful when you’re actually in the city, experiencing its sights and sounds. So take this talk along as your guide book, and go and visit the city of Mark’s gospel tonight – hear Jesus, see Jesus, experience Jesus. And marvel at his magnificence, his glory, his love, his power, his sacrifice, his rescue plan. What God is this, who in such deep love, comes to die, even die on a cross, in order to rescue his enemies, we who have sinned against him, rebelled against him – he died for us! - in order to make us into his friends.

Tonight I’ve got three points:

1. Jesus is the Messiah (Christ) – that’s the great truth from chapters 1 to 8. Jesus is the promised rescuer, God Himself in the flesh, come to earth as a man to save us.

2. Jesus’ death brings life. Jesus came to die a sinner’s death. That is why he came. He does the impossible – he swaps places with us: he dies a sinner’s death, our death; so that we can get his life, holy, perfect, sinless. His death brings life.

3. Our death brings life. We have a new life in Christ. Our old “me-centred” life is dead – Jesus took it with him to the cross. We have a new God-centred life. If we try to hang on to the old life we will be dragged down to death. Put it to death, and live for Christ, and truly live!

1. Jesus is Messiah (Christ)

1:1 This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus is the Messiah (Hebrew) or Christ (Greek) which means the Promised Rescuer. He is the one promised in the Old Testament, the first part of the Bible, the one who will rescue us all from sin and death. Christ is not his surname but his job description. Jesus: saviour of the world!

As we read through chapters 1 to 8 we see a truly remarkable man. One with awesome power, truly terrifying power. We see the demons, evil spirits, trembling before him, so afraid. We see even his own disciples, dearly loved friends, terrified after he speaks to a storm and it obeys him. Who is this man? They wonder. Jesus is to be feared.

We see that Jesus has authority – authority over the spirit world, authority over Creation – the wind obeys him, the water obeys him; even death obeys him, sickness flees at a word from him. Only God has this kind of power. Only God is feared by the evil spirits. They would not fear an angel – they too are angels, fallen angels. But their Creator? Yes. They fall down at his feet screaming in terror “What do you want with us Jesus, Son of God.” Only God can command creation to obey him. Only God has power over death. Only God can forgive sins. All this Jesus does. And very significantly, he does this in no-one else’s name. He does not call on God the Father, he does not cry out O Great Jehovah, he does not say “in the name of… “. We do. We pray in the name of Jesus. We cast out demons in the name of Jesus. We pray for the sick in the name of Jesus. It is the name of Jesus that has power. No other name. He is God Almighty, and that’s why it is right that the glory goes to him.

In 8:29 Jesus asks his disciples: “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”

Who is Jesus? He is the Messiah, the Christ, the Rescuer.
He is the one who should be feared, the one with great authority, because he is Almighty God, holy and perfect.
Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. He is our Saviour and our God. But what does that mean? How is he going to save us? And what do we have to do? What does it mean to follow him? That’s the message of chapter 8-16.

2. Jesus’ death brings life

Peter has just made the good confession “You are the Christ!”. Yes! 8:31–33 (NLT) Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. 32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. 33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Peter had a different plan for Jesus, and probably, himself, as one of Jesus’ closest followers. Peter saw glory and honour – a victory procession into Jerusalem, Jesus the victorious King, riding into Jerusalem after beating the enemies of Israel and setting Israel free. That’s the Messiah he thought was coming.

But his point of view was too low, too human. God’s view is high and lifted up! Yes, there will be a victory procession: Jesus, beaten and bloodied, carrying his cross through the streets of Jerusalem as people jeer at him, spit on him, mock him. There will be a great battle: Jesus on the cross, refusing to give in to the temptation to “Come down from the cross, that we may see and believe” “Ha he saved others, but he can’t save himself” “Save yourself, “Messiah””. No. His love keeps him there, until he can give up his life with a loud cry, and descends into the darkness of Hell itself in order to defeat Hell, defeat sin, and defeat death itself: the great enemies not just of Israel, but of the whole world! Lift up your eyes, Peter, and see the great vision! Yes, I will suffer and be killed – but in three days will rise again. My death and resurrection will bring new life to all people throughout the world, through all time and space- this is what the Temple is about, the sacrifices all point to my sacrifice, the meeting place between God and man. This is what Moses looked forward to, what David was promised, what Abraham was promised. This is it! Lift up your eyes Peter.

This is so important Jesus says it three times. As we’ve just read in 8:31, then again in 9:31 (NLT) He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead.”

And again in Mk 10:32–34 (NLT) They were now on the way up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear. Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him. 33 “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. 34 They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.”

Jesus’ death on the cross was no mistake, no misstep by a popular teacher who made too many enemies and suddenly got trapped by them. No, this was the deliberate purpose of God, the great rescue plan made before the creation of the world, to showcase his glory, his love, his compassion, his power. What a glorious God we serve! Praise him!

Some say, no, it wasn’t Jesus on the cross, but God changed Jesus’ face to look like someone else, and someone who was a criminal had his face changed to look like Jesus. Why? Because Jesus was a good man, and God looks after good men.
Really? But then you make Jesus out to be a liar. You mock the reason he came. You destroy the great message of Christianity: Christ died for sinners. Grace is gone and we’re left with trying to be good enough for God, because God only looks after good men.
No, like Jesus, we must say “Get behind me Satan”. Anything that tries to take us away from the glory of our Saviour God upon the cross is Satanic. That is what Satan most fears. That is where Satan was defeated. At the cross is where we slip out of Satan’s grasp and into the firm grasp of Jesus, which never slips.

Jesus’ death brings us life.

To help us grasp the significance of this, that GOD is the one doing the saving, not us, I want to remind you of a familiar verse for those coming to the Bible studies: Rom3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Some have described salvation as 1000 steps, where God has taken 999 and we must take the last one.

Well, if that were true then, according to Romans 3:10, we are all doomed! The Bible is very clear – none of us would take that last step, not one, and we would all be condemned to hell. We are weak, dead, in slavery, in bondage, unable to turn to God. Praise God for his goodness and mercy that in his sovereign power he comes down to us to do the impossible.

If you are a Christian today you are one because God took action to rescue you. Jesus came for you, awakened you from spiritual death, and made you alive to God. And he did this not because you were special or fantastic or because he knew you would choose him (whoever heard of dead people making choices – they’re dead!)) but because of his great love and mercy and his sovereign power to rescue sinful people. And if he loved us so much as his enemies, how much more, if we have accepted Christ and are counted as his friends!

Do not be afraid. You are secure in Christ.

So then, what does it mean to follow this great Saviour, our Rescuer, our God, our King? It means we must die.

3. Our death brings life: we must die to ourselves to truly live

Mk 8:34–38 (NLT) Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

You know, it’s a tragedy when people die for the wrong reason. I remember one of my classmates got high on drugs, got into his car, sped down the highway with no seatbelt on, and smashed into a tree. Dead. What a foolish way to die.
I remember reading about a man trying to impress his friends with a chainsaw, said “Ha, watch this!” and swung it at his own head. Obviously, he died. What a tragedy.
To die for the wrong thing is a tragic. It’s foolish. And Jesus says the only wise thing to die for, is him. Everything else is folloishness. Because if you don’t, if you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. Even if you gained the whole world, what benefit is that if you lose your soul? How many of the rich and famous feel empty, lost and alone. How many artists, actors, top sportsmen confess to reaching the top to find nothing there except anxiety – worry about the next person who’s going to come and take the crown from you. What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?

There is only one way to save your soul, your very life – and that is to give it up to Jesus. We were designed, created to obey God. Our reason for existing is to glorify God. That is our purpose.

But we stepped away from that purpose when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, broke his command, and decided for themselves what would be the way to live. They wanted to be God instead of God – and all of us are exactly the same. We want to determine what is right and wrong in our lives. We want to live life our way. Frank Sinatra sings “I did it my way!”. What a great expression of our rebellion against God. We want to be God, to do things our way.

That’s why following Jesus is both the easiest and hardest thing to do. Easiest because everything is done! He died for us, he rescued us, he brought us new life, his Spirit is given to us to live a new life, and he will take us to Paradise. And nothing we do can separate us from that, because it is guaranteed, underwritten, by his blood.
But it’s the hardest thing because we have to give up pretending to be God. We have to acknowledge our dependence on him. We have to obey him, to live life as HE wants, not as we want. That’s hard, and that’s why Jesus describes it as taking up your cross – that’s dying! 9:35 Give up your life for my sake. We must nail our old life, our selfish ambitions, our foolish desire for self-determination (that’s deciding for ourselves) – nail it to the cross! Say I am dead. Jesus lives instead. I am his. Imagine if all of us really started living like that. Let it start tonight. Make a decision to die to self, and live for Jesus. Because if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And if you don’t the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

You know, it’s no mistake that the first story after Jesus says these words is the transfiguration, where Peter, James and John see Jesus in his glory, beautiful and mighty before them.
He is God. You are not God.
They then come down the mountain and the other disciples have been trying to cast out a demon – but they can’t. Jesus says “this can only be cast out by prayer”. What is prayer? Prayer is acknowledging our dependence on God. It’s not telling him stuff he doesn’t know! He know everything. Prayer is us reminding ourselves that we need him, that we are under him, that he is God and we are not. That’s why we find it hard to pray! It cuts right at our sinful heart pretending to be God. And that’s why we must pray!

Prayer is summed up by the man, the father of the boy with the demon: “I believe, help me in my unbelief”. It is total submission to Jesus. Help me! I want to serve you but I can’t. Help me. And Jesus answers that prayer.

We then see the children in chapter 10, helpless, dependant, compared to the rich young ruler – confident in his own righteousness, a “good man”. And Jesus shocks everyone by saying the Kingdom of God belongs to… ah, not the rich, powerful, “good” man, obeying (some) of the 10 commandments. No the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like little children. Mk 10:15 (NLT) I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

The Pharisees, the religious leaders, had tragically got that wrong. They were living for the wrong thing. They were trying to do what only Jesus can do – live a perfect life by obeying God’s perfect law perfectly. They wanted to EARN their salvation rather than receive it.

Why? Because if we EARN it, then we’re OWED it – and then we have power over God. He owes me. And then who’s God.
If I have power over God, who’s God. That‘s why law-keeping, being good, is oh, so attractive to us.
It’s why other religions exist – they are all about being good, earning your own salvation, giving the gods gifts to make them do things for you. And why it keeps sneaking back into the Christian church: in Catholicism, in false sects like Jehovah’s Witnesses, in churches preaching “be good, be moral, behave yourself” – there are many such churches, even in Norway. There’s no gospel in that!

And so, in chapter 12, Jesus tells the story of the vineyard: Israel. Israel is being lead astray by the wicked farmers, the Pharisees, the religious leaders, who seemed to love God on the outside, but actually hated him and, in the end, murdered him on the cross. Religion without the grace of Jesus will lead you away from God. Being good, being religious – these lead to death. Why? Because it’s our sinful hearts trying to be God over God. If that’s your attitude – kill it! Nail it to the cross. Only submitting to Jesus brings life.

The disciples had to learn what it means to die to yourself, to pick up your cross: it means service. In chapter 9:33 we see them arguing about who is the greatest. Mk 9:35 [Jesus] sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

In chapter 10 Jesus has to again remind them of this lesson. To follow Jesus means to live for HIM, not for yourself. Mk 10:42–45 (NLT) So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus served us, even to the point of death. We are called to the same path of service. We serve because he first loved us. We serve because we belong to him. We serve because we have a new life – the old selfish life is gone, nailed to the cross. Remember this!

søndag 20. januar 2013

Mark chapters 1 -8 Who is Jesus?

Mark 1:1-15, Mark 8:27-29

What I am going to try to do tonight is actually quite difficult, I ‘m going to try to sum up the first 8 chapters of Mark’s gospel in 25 minutes! Trying to get at the key themes, the key moments that answers the question “Who is Jesus?”

It’s like in school when you had a set book to read – some people got the summary version. This is the slimline summary version – but I hope it inspires you to read and understand the real thing! My prayer is that you go home tonight and read Mark’s gospel and marvel at our amazing Lord and Saviour.

For who is this man who can speak to wind and waves and they obey him; who can create food out of nothing for thousands of people, and can walk on water as if it were dry land?
Who is this man who can teach with authority, speak to demons that they obey, heal sickness with a word, who can give sight to the blind and make the deaf hear, and even raise the dead back to life!

Who is Jesus?

That is a question that each and every one of us must answer. These miracles happened. These are eye-witness accounts. People saw these things and could not believe their eyes. But everyone around saw it happen too. And it wasn’t just in a special staging area – like David Copperfield walking through the great wall of China or other magicians doing magic tricks! No, Jesus was called by desperate people in desperate situations. Jesus, my daughter is dying, come quickly. Jesus I am blind, help me. Jesus, Son of the Most High God, I beg you, don’t torture me! (say the demons). These miracles happened right in front of them – in crowds, in marketplaces, in the synagogue, in people’s houses. Wherever Jesus went, he went with power.

Jesus spoke, and people listened. He was in the local newspapers, the “Telen” in the towns around Galilee. “Jesus raises girl to life. Exclusive interview with the parents” “Jesus: Could he be the Messiah” “Jesus: preacher, prophet, miracle-worker” or “Nazarene troublemaker once again in city” “Businesses complaining local preacher crowding up the marketplace with followers” “Religious authorities in Jerusalem condemn Jesus as a demon-worshipper”.

Jesus disrupted the “status quo” (the way things are), and so became very unpopular with those in power: the religious leaders, especially those called the Pharisees. They were the good people, the respected people, the important people – and Jesus was messing that up. People were following HIM instead of them, listening to HIM instead of them. And so they plotted to destroy him.
And one of the first things they had to deal with was his awesome power. If there had been any trickery, they would have found it! Jesus’ fame had spread to the top religious leaders. How long do you think a magician today could keep his trick a secret if the FBI and CIA and police were all watching him, analyzing every move, filming his hands in slow-motion, looking at all his gadgets? Well, Jesus had the 1st century version of the FBI all over him – and their conclusion? His power was real. Even Jesus’ enemies believed his miracles.

For who is this man? Mark sets out right at the beginning who he thinks Jesus is: 1:1 This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.
Jesus is the Messiah, or Christ (Messiah or Christ is the same word (Messiah is Hebrew, Christ is Greek) and is a title meaning saviour, ruler, rescuer as promised in the Old Testament, the first part of the Bible – it’s not Jesus’ surname). So Mark is saying Jesus is the Promised Rescuer – and more than that he says that Jesus is the Son of God. He is our Saviour and our God.

We’re going to look at this question “Who is Jesus” under four headings:

1. Jesus is to be feared.

2. He has authority.

3. He is God.

4. He has compassion.

So firstly

1. Jesus is to be feared

This might seem a strange place to start. Jesus? Feared? Really? But he’s such a nice guy. Isn’t that the picture we have of Jesus? The smiley man who hugs children and bunnies with a glowing light behind his head, often in fields full of flowers with a rainbow or two in the background. But if you actually read the eye-witness accounts that Mark has put together fear was a common reaction to Jesus. And that stands to reason: Jesus had incredible power. People with awesome power are feared. Here was a man who could restore a shrivelled hand at a word – what if he commanded my hand to shrivel up again. What if Jesus was against us – what would happen?

Well, we see that in the response of the demons, the evil spirits, to Jesus. They are afraid of him. In 1:24 a man with an evil spirit shouts “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. 26 At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him. Fear.
In 3:11 we read whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!”

And in chapter 5 Jesus meets Legion, a man with two thousand demons – an army of demons. One lonely man versus an army? The text tells us that no-one could subdue Legion, and all the people were afraid of him. But not Jesus. When Jesus arrives it is Legion who fears Jesus: 5:6 When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. 7 With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!”

They are afraid. These forces of darkness, with awesome power over people – are afraid of Jesus. Who is this man who makes the demons afraid? A prophet? A teacher? If you know your Bible, tell me which of the prophets of old ever had demon fall at their feet and beg them not to torture them? None. In fact, the Bible barely speaks about demonic activity, until Jesus arrives on the scene. He is something different, someone different, someone they are terrified of: The Son of the Most High God.

I want to note two things before we carry on:

1. Jesus is more powerful than demons. Much more powerful. If you belong to Jesus, if he is your Lord and Saviour, you do not have to fear evil spirits, fear the darkness. There is no power on earth greater than Him. And if you have been involved with the occult, with evil spirits, or been cursed, or been involved in witchcraft – come to Jesus, for only he has the power to break the demon’s hold over you. Jesus is more powerful than the demons.

2. Jesus does not pray or cast out the demons in the name of God. He simply commands them himself. We can cast out demons in Jesus’ name. He is the one with authority over the spirit world. And in the Bible, there is only one ruler of the spirit world: God Almighty. Jesus does not need to appeal to God because he is God.

So demons fear him, and with good reason. But not just demons! His followers are afraid of him, particularly on two occasions: when Jesus walked on the water towards them and, unsurprisingly, they thought he was a ghost and were terrified. Who has power over the sea like that? Only God, who can part the Red Sea so that the Israelites can cross the water as if it were dry land. And Jesus commands the water to obey him and walks across the sea as if it were dry land. Who is Jesus?

4:37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. 38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” 39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

In the Narnia books there is a Jesus-figure called Aslan. Aslan is the King of Narnia, its creator (he sings it into existence), and its saviour. And he is a lion. A huge, powerful, lion. And as one of the characters says to another “He is not a tame lion, you know. Beautiful, but terrifying!”

Jesus is to be feared. Demons obey him. Creation obeys him. Be afraid, because God is amongst us.

2. Jesus has authority

Jesus didn’t exactly act like the uneducated bastard child of a carpenter from the backwater town of Nazareth! When he spoke, he expected people to listen - and they did. Simon and Andrew were fishermen until 1:17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
When he taught, 1:22 people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.
In 3:13 Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. 14 Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles.

This man had authority. And he was audacious (recklessly daring, bold) – to the point of blasphemy (mocking God, if he isn’t God). When he arrives on the scene he says 1:15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near (lit: has come near)! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” That’s an audacious thing to say at the start of your ministry. I am here. God promises are fulfilled. God’s kingdom is here. Seriously? Old Testament prophets never even came near to trying to take God’s glory for themselves – or even appearing to try. They were always very careful to give God the glory.
But Jesus? Jesus wants the glory himself. That would make him a terrible prophet, a fallen angel, a rebellious man – or God Himself, in the flesh.

He has authority over sicknesses, healing so many that 3:10 all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him. In 3:5 we see a man with a deformed hand – restored. In 7:35 a deaf and mute man is healed – he can hear and speak! 7:37 The crowd were completely amazed and said again and again, “Everything he does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak.”
Who is this man who has such power, such authority, other than the creator and sustainer of all things? Note that he never heals in the name of another – but his own name. As Christians when we pray for healing, or cast out demons, we do it in Jesus’ name. That’s where the power and authority lies. Jesus.

He even has authority over death. 5:39–43 [Jesus said] “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” 40 The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. 41 Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” 42 And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed.

Jesus’ authority is endless. There is nothing he does not command, does not control. His authority is limitless. Not death, not disease, not evil spirits, even the words of God bow to his authority. And unlike an angel or a prophet or a king of God’s people, he is happy to take the glory for himself, happy for people to worship him, to come to him, to listen to him. In fact in 3:35 he says that listening to him is doing God’s will.

Jesus is to be feared, and Jesus has authority because

3. Jesus is God.

Jesus is not a good teacher. He is not a prophet. He is not an angelic messenger. He did not leave those options open to us.

He acts like God. He commands evil spirits. He commands creation. He commands sickness. And all this he does in his own name, his own power.
He teaches with new words from God, adding to the Bible. He says things like “You have heard it said, but I say” (Matt 5).
In 2:8 He knows people’s thoughts, and he forgives sin, which only God can do.
And he calls out for himself a new people of God: calling on mountain, feeding in wilderness, walking on water – it’s the new Exodus.

Jesus is God. But the God of the Bible is holy, good, perfect! Jesus being God does not necessarily sound like very Good News at all. Mark begins by saying the Good News (Gospel) about Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, but what we hear from Jesus’ lips is not good news. We are rebels against God. We are sinners. We do what is evil.

Mk 7:20–23 (NLT) [Jesus said] “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” Defile means dirty – we are dirty in God’s sight. Unclean. Sinners.

And 7:6 (NLT) “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me

He begins his ministry by calling on us to repent, which means to turn away from evil and turn towards good, towards him. 1:15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

Good God. Evil men. This does not sound like a good combination. We saw what he did with the demons. So why is it Good News, and not Very, Very Bad News for us? Because

4. Jesus has compassion

There were two things that struck me in reading through Mark’s gospel about Jesus: one was his obvious power and authority – the other was his compassion and kindness.

Now those two characteristics don’t normally go together. Absolute power is normally bad news for everyone else, not good news! Stalin was not known for his compassion, nor Idi Amin, or Pol Pot, or Kim Jong-Il, or Saddam Hussein, or Gaddafi. And Jesus has more power in his little finger than those fools!

We see how Jesus has compassion on the sick, the injured, the demon-possessed. He sets them free. People come to him and he heals them. He does hug the children, and maybe he did hug bunny rabbits as well with a rainbow in the background! He is compassionate and kind.
But what those pictures get wrong is the kind of people hanging around him. Because it wasn’t the good, the groomed, the well-dressed, the religious, the priests, the perfect. It was prostitutes and sinners, the sexually immoral, adulterers, swindlers, thieves, tax collectors, people who knew they weren’t perfect. People who felt dirty inside. Those with dark secret pasts. The imperfect. Those who’ve fallen short. In other words, all of us. We make mistakes, and hurt people and lie and are impatient, and rude – not all the time, no, but we’re certainly not good all the time with a little halo around our heads. And even if we might seem good on the outside, like the Pharisees our hearts are far from God. Listen to this fantastic, glorious good news:

Mk 2:16–17 (NLT) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw [Jesus] eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” 17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Church is not a club for the religious, but a home for the forgiven. Forgiven! That’s why Mark says it’s the Good News about Jesus. That’s why Jesus says 1:15 The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!

He came, not to condemn and destroy, but to preach, to proclaim this good news! Come to Jesus and find forgiveness! Come to Jesus and be accepted. Come to Jesus and be washed clean.

How? Next week we’ll see how, as we look at what Jesus came to do, and what it means to follow him. The theme there is death that brings life. He came to die in order to bring us life. He did the impossible on the cross, the Holy God dying the death of unholy sinners like you and me, to make us holy and acceptable to God.

But that’s next week. This week we know only this: that somehow this Jesus is the Messiah, the great rescuer, the Son of God. I’ll end with Peter’s great declaration of truth in 8:38

Mk 8:27–29 As they were walking along, [Jesus] asked [his disciples] “Who do people say I am?” 28 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.” 29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”

Who is Jesus? He is the Messiah, the Rescuer.
He is the one who should be feared, the one with great authority, because he is Almighty God, holy and perfect.
But he is also the one who has compassion, and has come not to condemn, but to rescue. And he has come for people like you and me: imperfect, making mistakes, sinners, some of us with dark secret pasts – he has authority to forgive sins, to wash us clean, to wipe away the dark past.

Come to me, he says.

Repent and believe the Good News, my Good News.

Jesus, Messiah. Jesus, Son of God. Praise him!

mandag 14. januar 2013

Audio recording: Thanksgiving! Phil 4:1-9

Download link here
As usual, don't worry about the automatic virus waring (Google can't scan big files.) If you need more help see this post.

søndag 13. januar 2013


Phil 4:1-9

Yesterday we were sledding at the farm. The kids had run ahead and I was chatting with a friend when we heard shouting and screaming. We ran around the corner to see my kids halfway up the slope punching and kicking each other and yelling in each others faces, tears streaming down, miserable, sad, faces – but neither of them would let go of the sled they both wanted. Mine!

Selfishness. Worry. Me first. That’s our world, isn’t it? Partnership, working together, serving each other – that’s hard for us. Easy to look out for my own interest – hard to put others’ before me. And that’s what the letter to the Philippians is about. The big theme is partnership, working together in the gospel. It’s about thinking of others, before yourself: serving the Lord as you serve other people.

Service is a word that’s gone a bit out of fashion nowadays – except when we are demanding good service from others. But me, serve? You must be joking!

But service, or servant-heartedness, the willingness to put someone else’s needs before your own, lies at the heart of Christianity. God has a servant heart. He has designed the universe to function this way – creation joyfully serving humanity, humanity lovingly serving creation by caring for it; wives serving their husbands, thinking how best to help him in his tasks, husbands lovingly serving their wives in leading the family, taking responsibility for the life of the family: food, shelter, spiritual leadership, children, everything!

The key verses of Philippians are in chapter 2. Turn with me to chapter 2, and let’s read together. 2:3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

That’s what we’ve just been seeing in Mark’s gospel: the great God of the universe, Jesus with awesome power to work miracles, to command evil spirits, to heal people miles away with a single word, to even raise the dead! This Jesus lays aside his power, tells his disciples to put down their weapons, and goes out to be arrested, beaten, spat upon, pronounced guilty by a corrupt court even though he was innocent, and then to take up his cross, and to die upon it. To face the blackness of Hell, and go through it.

Why? Because he did not think of his own interests, but of our interests! We need a Saviour. We are doomed without Jesus, there is no hope! (And if you think there is hope, then read Romans 1-3 again – it’ll soon put your thinking right. Or have a couple of kids, and watch them sledding!) We are sinners, rebels against God. We think of ourselves first, look out for number one, and we ignore our King, our Creator, and shake our fist in his face and say “NO! I won’t listen to you. I’m my own boss, the captain of my own destiny.” Like rebellious children we run away from home and are lost and alone, adrift with a broken relationship. And because of that broken relationship with God, all our relationships are broken.

And we see that in our passage tonight. It opens with an argument, and then gives us the solution: rejoice, and be thankful. So let’s look at those in turn: first, Rejoice.

1. Rejoice! Again I say rejoice!

Phil 4:1-9 (NLT) Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work. 2 Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. 3 And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News.

V2 and 3 are a word to two women who are arguing, obviously quite publically, with each other – and this is distracting the church, disrupting their focus on spreading the gospel. How often is this the case! The devil’s greatest weapon to stop Christians telling people about Jesus is to get us to argue amongst ourselves. We get offended. We find things that make us angry. We think the worst of each other, particularly leaders. We are thin-skinned – and we don’t take it up with the person involved – no, we gossip with others, spreading our discontent, our poisonous words. And instead of people hearing about Jesus, and growing in faith and love, there’s bitterness, fighting, and the church is split down the middle. Evangelism stops, people don’t want to come to church, and we can’t invite anyone because of the selfish, angry atmosphere. Pray for this church, that we don’t fall into that trap. It’s so easy. It’s in our hearts! Pray for the Holy Spirit to keep us from arguing and fighting.

The antidote? V4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.

Rejoice! It’s not a suggestion, it’s a command. Christians should be full of JOY. Not walking around with a glassy smile on our face, but a willingness to serve no matter the cost, a deep sense of knowing our identity as loved sons of God. V5 Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Our Servant King, the one who loved us enough to go to the cross, through hell and back again. He is coming soon! Soon, so soon, we will see him face to face. When will you die? Who knows? Could be tomorrow, could be in 50 years. But someday you will see Jesus. Perhaps today is the day he will return and the world will be renewed? Rejoice! That is our hope. This world is passing. Let us rescue all those we can from the flames and spend ourselves for Christ for our reward is coming soon. Paradise with God, when there is no more crying, no more sadness, no more death, no more sin! Rejoice!

V4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

2. Be thankful!

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

When do we worry? When we forget what we have, when we forget who we belong to. We have a loving Heavenly Father who spoke the world into existence! The word of his mouth keeps this universe going. He loved us enough to go to the cross. He lives within us. What on earth are we worried about?!

When I was little, if I was with my Dad, I was never afraid. He was strong! He could keep me safe from everything. If something broke, he could fix it. If I tripped, he would keep me from falling. He could protect me. And that’s our Heavenly Father. So be thankful!

Thankfulness works because it takes the focus off us and put it back on the Lord. We belong to Jesus! He is the King. We have blown-up egos, always focused on ourselves. Thankfulness gives us the freedom of self-forgetfulness. Thank you Jesus, for what you have done on the cross. Thank you Jesus that you are the king.

Mark Driscoll says “We/I deserve Hell. Everything else is a gift. That’s a lot of gifts!”

Whenever you find yourself drowning in self-pity, or consumed with worry, or are angry about having to serve someone or something – pull out your list of 5 things to be thankful for, and say a little prayer of thanks. Keep it with you. Remind yourself of God’s goodness. Remind yourself that he’s your Father – there’s nothing to fear! Remember the cross of Christ, and KNOW that you are LOVED so, so deeply. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And why not add to that list, as you think of more and more gifts that you have been given. Add some Bible passages, like Rom 8:38-39 “nothing can separate us form God’s love”. Or even the Psalm we’re going to end with tonight Psalm 100. I thought a good way to end would be for us all to say “Thank you!” to God together.

Psalm 100 is the last of a group of Psalms (from 93–100) called ‘Jerusalem Praise’, all praising God for his Kingship. These are the hymns of the Great King. So let’s say this Psalm together, declaring our love for and praise for our great King.

Ps 100 A psalm of thanksgiving. 1 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. 3 Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

søndag 6. januar 2013

Audio recording: Mark 15:42-16:8 Jesus is risen!

download mp3 here (if you have trouble, see this post for help).

Mark 16: Jesus is risen!

Mark 15:42-16:8

What does the average man in the street believe about Jesus? Probably something like this: “Jesus is a myth. You seriously believe all this stuff?! Why would you do that? Obviously some guy just made it up. When? Uh, I’m not sure.”

Maybe if they know a little bit of church history they’ll say “Oh, ja, I think it was when the church leaders got together, all the bishops and stuff around 300 A.D. and, like, made the Bible by taking out all the documents that made Jesus look normal and selected all the ones where he’s like, God and stuff.”

If they know a bit more they might say “Do I actually believe Jesus DID exist? No! I, um, I dunno.”

Well, that seems to be what the average man in the street knows about Jesus. Not very much. And almost all of it is wrong. I’m going to spend a bit of time on this now, so bear with me. First, we’re going to look at the argument that the evil bishops made up the Bible at the First Church Council. Then we’ll examine if there’s any historical evidence that Jesus actually lived and died and rose again from the dead. And then we’ll examine what Mark chapter 16 tells us: that no-one expected Jesus to rise from the dead! “They ran away and were afraid” is not the way I would have written a document to convince people that Jesus was God! Unless that’s what actually happened!

1. The message of the resurrection powered the growth of the early church

Let’s take the Church Council argument first: the evil bishops got together and edited the Bible to favour Jesus’ divinity (that is, that Jesus is God) and throw out all the stuff that said he was merely a man. The council they’re talking about was the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea under Emperor Constantine. This was the Council that met decide two major arguments: 1. Did Jesus claim to be God. 2. Which documents that were floating around the churches were actually historically reliable, written by the apostles, and therefore should be included in the Bible.

So did the bishops all get together and decide to make up a powerful myth about Jesus?

Well, the first problem is that the Council met in 325A.D. THREE HUNDRED YEARS after Christ’s death and resurrection. So, where did all these bishops come from? Where did the church come from if they only made up this powerful message in 325AD? Because in 300 years it rose from being a tiny sect in a tiny part of the Roman Empire, utterly despised and hated by the Roman authorities because they worshipped the Emperor of Rome as a god, and Christians claimed there was only one God, Jesus, and did not worship the Emperor - to being the official religion of the entire Empire. That’s incredible growth. From a handful of Christians to millions! That’s real power at work. Whatever the message that was being preached – it was powerful! It took over the entire known world in a few hundred years.

So, if these bishops really were evil and just trying to grab power for themselves, and if Constantine was trying to find a message which was powerful enough to control his entire Empire, which message would they choose? Some rubbish about a dead man coming back to life? They would have been laughed out of the Roman Empire! Romans and Greeks, the intellectuals of the Ancient World, believed in the resurrection even LESS than we do! It was nonsense to them. So why would the Church Council have settled on that message: that Jesus rose from the dead and is now seated on his throne in heaven; unless it was that message which had spread so powerfully through the entire empire.

And what people forget is that we don’t have to guess what the bishops were doing at that council. We have records of the meetings. We know what they were talking about and what their decisions were! The major argument was, indeed, about Jesus’ divinity (that he is God), and those arguing that Jesus was not divine lost, because the earliest manuscripts, the one we have in our Bible, clearly state that Jesus is God. They lost the argument on the basis of evidence. There’s was weak. The evidence that Jesus is God was overwhelming. And that is the message that turned the world upside-down.

The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the church in Corinth, written around 55A.D. – only 20 years after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection: 1 Co 15:17–20 (NLT) If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. 20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.

Christ is risen from the dead. That is the message the early Christians went out with. That is the message that got them killed and tortured for almost 300 years by the Romans. Christians were being killed up to the Edict of Milan in 307AD issued by Emperor Constantine. Nobody, I mean, nobody became a church leader to grab power – it was a death sentence, not a life of luxury. Between around 30AD when Jesus died and rose again and 307 AD over 880 THOUSAND Christians were martyred (killed for their faith in Jesus). Dan Brown’s idea of the powerful Church fathers meeting together in luxury and wealth, sniggering through their beards as they decide how to rule the world is pure nonsense.

The reality is much better: heroic men who put their lives on the line to preach the truth about Jesus. Just like many bishops in Nigeria today, and in Myanmar, China, Pakistan, India, and so on. Praise God for men (and women) who are willing to follow in Christ’s footsteps and sacrifice even their very lives in order to preach the truth, the hope about Jesus: that though we are sinners, rebels against God, Jesus loved us when were his enemies, loved us enough to go to the cross and give his life. He gave up his life as a swap for ours, he swapped places with us, taking the punishment we deserved, going even into the darkness of hell for us. And we get his perfect life in return, his perfect relationship with the Father. In Christ our sins, all our sins, are gone. If we trust Jesus as Saviour and Master, King, we have full assurance of salvation – we are seated in Heaven NOW, says the Bible. That’s how certain it is. Because it depends, it rests, on what JESUS has done, not what we do or have done. That’s GOOD NEWS!

And, of course, Jesus didn’t stay dead. As we saw over the past few weeks in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus was innocent. He was sinless, perfect – he died because he took upon himself our sins. But he had no sin, and therefore death had no claim on him. Death is a result of sin – no sin, no death. So Jesus breaks the power of death because he is sinless. That’s why the resurrection is so important. You are not a Christian if you don’t believe in the resurrection. As Paul says, you are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. Jesus’ resurrection proves that he is sinless, that he defeated death, that he is God, that we can be saved. Without the resurrection, we have nothing.

So we’ve seen that the resurrection message powered the church from a band of 11 frightened men who had run away from Jesus when he was arrested, plus a bunch of equally frightened women, to a world-wide organisation, with churches in every major city, all the way up to the Emperor, with millions of people worshipping Jesus as God. And all this while under severe persecution. This was not faith by the sword – but faith in spite of the sword!

This resurrection message was not made up by the First Church Council, but simply affirmed by them. To find the truth we have to go deeper, earlier, to the earlier manuscripts. And the earliest is Mark. Maybe Mark is the liar. Maybe Jesus didn’t exist and he made him up.

2. The message of the resurrection is true: it really happened!

Well, let’s answer that by having a look at tonight’s passage. We continue where we left off last week: at the cross, just after the Roman soldier who put Jesus to death sees how Jesus dies and declares “Truly this man was the Son of God!” The first man to believe in Jesus is the one who put him to death. You have got to love the mercy of God! If that man can be saved, even you can be saved, even I can be saved! There’s hope for EVERYONE.

So, some women see him die, plus a religious leader, Joseph of Arimathea, who seems to have been a secret believer. He takes a risk and asks for the body, probably wanting to honour Jesus as a great teacher in his burial. Pilate is surprised as people normally took days to die on a cross – Jesus gave up his own life after a few hours. So he double-checks with the Roman officer in charge – is he really dead? Yes, says the officer.

This helps knock on the head the ideas that “it wasn’t Jesus on the cross” or “he didn’t die, he just fainted”. Seriously? The religious leaders hated Jesus so much they got him crucified. They didn’t make a mistake! And this Roman officer was an expert in death, in crucifixion. He wouldn’t be fooled by someone fainting.
No, Jesus died. He was dead. Truly dead. And he was buried. Even the Christians thought he was dead. They thought it was the end. Look at verse 1 of chapter 16: Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. They didn’t go with a sixpack of beer, party balloons, whistles, and a banner saying “Welcome back Jesus!”. They went with burial spices! They thought he was dead. Sure, he said he would rise again, but really, who believes that? When people die they stay dead!

There also wasn’t a plot to get the body. The disciples were depressed! Peter had denied Jesus! These guys were finished. They couldn’t even be bothered to help the women anoint the body – so they were worried about moving the big stone out the way - 3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”

Of course, when they get there, they are “shocked” to see the stone rolled away, and an angel sitting there. And even when the angel tells them the good news v6 “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. 7 Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died” – well you would expect Mark to report that they were rejoicing, singing the Hallelujah chorus! And if you were making this up, you certainly wouldn’t have them do what Mark writes that they do v8 The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.

You see, you’ve got a real problem if you say this is all made up. Let’s pretend Peter and the disciples got together and agreed to make up this story about Jesus. Now, there’s a rather huge problem: the modern way of writing believeable stories, with real historical detail mixed in with fiction, made-up stuff, like Dan Brown or JK Rowling with Harry Potter or most of the authors today –that way of writing hadn’t been invented yet. It was totally unknown. Myths were myths and written like myths. History was history and written like history. No-one would ever or had even thought of writing myth like history. That would be the ravings of a madman!

So if the disciples made up the gospels we have to assume that they were able to find a literary genius in the backwater province of Judea, a man so clever that he invented modern literature 1700 years early – but never wrote anything else and was totally unknown in his lifetime and afterward!

I think CS Lewis, Cambridge professor of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature, sums it up well: “I have been reading poems, romances, vision literature, myths and legends all my life. I know what they are like. And I know none of them are like this. There are only two possible views of these gospel texts. Either this is reportage pretty close to the facts, or else, some unknown writer in the second century without known predecessors or any succesors suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern novelistic, realistic narrative. The reader who doesn't see this simply hasn't learned how to read."

The other problem is all those pesky NON-Christian guys writing about Jesus within a few years of his death. You’ve got Mara bar Serapion writing in 73AD, about the Jews executing their own “wise king”. Josephus the Jewish historian mentions Jesus twice (around 100AD). Tacitus, also around 100AD, Rome’s great historian, mentions the facts about Jesus in an attack on Christianity. Pliny the Younger mentions that Christians worship Jesus as God in 110AD, and Suetonius, the Jewish Talmud, and Lucian of Samosata all mention details about Jesus’ death, crucifixion, and claim to be Almighty God.

Again the message is very clear that Jesus’ claim to be God was not a later addition but the very start, the very heartbeat of Christianity.

There are no professors of history at any university world-wide who deny that Jesus lived in Judea (Palestine) during the reign of Emperor Tiberius, that he was a teacher, had a reputation of doing miracles, was called the Christ by some, that he was crucified under Pontius Pilate

And then we can’t simply ignore the Bible because we don’t like its message. You know, I admire Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, but when his biographer Walter Isaacson reports that he had a daughter from an earlier relationship I can’t just throw that out because I’d prefer to picture him with a happy perfect family life. We can’t just ignore what the gospels report about Jesus because we don’t like it! There is MASSIVE, overwhelming evidence that what we are reading today is what Mark wrote down 2000 years ago. Again, no professor of history would disagree.

There was a British documentary a few years ago where they had some “professor” on saying the gospels were unreliable and made up and blah blah blah. The truth was that this professor was, in fact, not a professor of history, but of some other, unrelated subject. Despite trying very hard, they couldn’t find one professor of history who would deny the reliability of the gospels. They are our most reliable ancient documents - so if you lose them, you lose all of history!

So what we are reading here is what actually happened. The message of the resurrection is true: it really happened! We can’t pretend it didn’t happen. We weren’t given that option. What we can do, must do, is decide what we do with Jesus. Because if he is who he says he is, then that changes everything.

3. What are you going to do with Jesus?

There’s some debate as to why Mark ended his gospel so abruptly (v8 and following were added later – see the notes in the Bible. They are a summary of parts of Luke and John and Acts.). Well, maybe it so that one of the apostles, who were still alive and actively preaching when Mark wrote his gospel, could appear at the end and give their personal, eye-witness account of meeting the risen Lord Jesus. There were many that met Jesus in the 40 days after his resurrection – a crowd of 500 people saw him and spoke to him at one point. It wasn’t a kind of there’s a man in the shadows speaking in a muffled voice saying “hey, I’m Jesus”. No, he was amongst them saying touch me, feel the scars in my hands and feet, he was with them in daylight on the beach eating breakfast, and he was with them on the mountaintop in Galilee when he rose up to heaven before their very eyes.

So maybe it was that – the eyewitnesses would fill in the gap. Or maybe Mark simply wanted to end with a punch, a challenge to us, the reader, the listener. What are we going to do with Jesus?

So what are you going to do with Jesus?

We can’t pretend he didn’t exist. Well, we can – a lot of our media, books, and so on pretend that he’s fictional. But that’s because it’s much easier than to face reality. But God gave us brain to use not to turn off! Look at the evidence! Make a decision! You don’t have to “just have faith” and believe in a fairy tale. No! The evidence is here. The fairy tale is believing what the media is saying. That’s where people are saying “just have faith”. Just have faith, believe the fairy tale that Jesus doesn’t exist!

No, friends, that is dangerous. For he does exist, and he demands a response. He came once as a servant, the Suffering King who would die to take our place, so that everyone, even me, even you, can be forgiven, can be set free. But that was once. Now he sits again enthroned in heaven, and when he returns he will return in glory as the conquering King – and if you’re still foolish enough to still be believing fairy tales, pretending he doesn’t exist, then you will feel the full force of his wrath, his anger, his judgement, and will be cast out of his sight forever.

This is not a game we’re playing. This is Reality with a capital R.

Make a decision. Turn to Jesus now. He is no fairytale. He is the King.

And if you already belong to him, well, praise him for his resurrection, thank him for dying for you, and have confidence in the truth of what you believe.

torsdag 3. januar 2013

How to download the mp3 sermons (audio recording)

If you want to listen to the Bible talks from Sundays, here's how!

When you click the link, it will open a new window or tab like this:

Click the little "Download" button at the top centre of the screen (a down arrow with a line underneath). That will then open this screen:

Click "download anyway". (the warning is there because the mp3 files are quite large, and Google doesn't scan large files for viruses.
Don't worry, there's no viruses - I scanned them and secured them before uploading!)

Some of you might have your browser set to play the mp3 immediately in the browser. If you'd rather save it to your computer so you can transfer to iPod or your phone simply right click on the "download anyway" link and select "save as". This will save it in your default "Downloads" directory.

(Note: if you try to play the file directly from your browser, you get this error screen (it won't play directly because it is too big)
Just click the "download" button and proceed as above.