Friday, July 28, 2006

Living in Turbulent Times

Some months ago I put together a list of sermons that we would work through this summer here at Smiths Grove Baptist Church. We've spent quite a while working through the Gospel of Mark. This week we are going to tackle Mark 13. This is a passage where Jesus talks to the Disciples about things to look for as this age comes to an end. It has been a bit overwhelming. I will admit that I have been a bit squeemish reading through this passage, then checking news-sites on the Internet and listening to news on the radio and TV. It's hard not to believe that we are living right in the middle of the time that Jesus is speaking of.

However, as I have studied, it occurs to me that there have been wars and rumors of wars since the time Jesus walked the Earth. It also seems that God's people have been targets of persecution in one way or another even before Jesus was crucified 2,000 years ago. So, I have been left to think of this passage from a different perspective. Instead of trying to think about this passage as being a "what are we supposed to be looking for" passage, I have approached it by thinking about how Christians should live when being a Christian is hard. Because of the battle against sin that rages within me, I find it is always hard to be a Christian. Yet, there are times when external pressures are greater than others. This passage is filled with encouraging words aimed at helping Christians with life and faith during turbulent times.

There are three things, that I would like to briefly note, that Christians should remember in Mark 13. First, for the sake of God's elect, He will cut short the days of suffering. The problems of the world all basically boil down to sin and its effects. Therefore, unless God puts an end to man's sin on Earth, this world will continue to spiral downward. Christians can find hope in the fact that God is not going to allow this behavior to continue forever. He will end it one day.

Second, the turmoil of this world will come to an end when Christ returns in the clouds with great power and glory. (verse 26) Scholars believe that Jesus uses this phrase concerning power and glory to connect the Disciples thinking about Him with the thinking of the Israelites in the Old Testament. You might remember in the Old Testement that God is so glorious that no one can look upon Him and live. While Jesus is very humble, and seemingly approachable during his time on the Earth, He is telling them that when He returns things will be different. His radiance will be bright and He will come with power to crush sin and the enemies of God. This is another reason that Christians should not lose hope during turbulent times!

Finally, there is a call by Jesus to Christians to, " on guard," in verse 23, and, "Stay awake," in verse 37. It ocurred to me that I have a job to be doing this week...and it is not listening to news every day so I can worry about the turmoil in the world. Christians have been called to be preparing for the return of our King! To do so, we need to invite everyone we meet to prepare to celebrate His return and we need to be joining with Him in the purification of our own hearts so that we will be the radiant Bride He desires (Ephesians 5).

Christian, there is more to be doing that worrying or dreading what will happen next. We are to be looking forward to a glorious Savior who will return to rescue His own. Come, Lord Jesus! And let us prepare as we wait!

Friday, July 21, 2006

What Does Your Giving Prove?

This week I have been thinking through Mark 12:41-44. In this passage, we find Jesus sitting across from the place where the tithes and gifts are collected in the temple courts. It is Passover in Jerusalem and the place is really busy. It is a big week of collection for the Priests.

As He is sitting there, He is watching how much individual people give to the collection. This leads to the place where I've been dwelling this week. How would our giving be different if we knew that Jesus was sitting across from us in the pew this week and He saw how much we placed in the offering plate. Would our giving be more than what we typically give?

There's more to it than this, though. Would your motivation for giving change? Think about this...if Jesus knows everything, then He also knows how much is in your checking account, savings account, money market account, portfolio, retirement fund, etc. He even knows your net worth when you combine everything you own with everything you earn. Therefore, He knows the proportion in which you are giving. And, this is a clear indicator as to what you are treasuring in life.

When you give to the local church along with other charities that benefit those in need, do you use that as a time to examine your heart? Do you use that time of writing a check to examine what it is you really treasure in life? Perhaps we should take advantage of opportunities to recalculate our treasure more often?

Monday, July 03, 2006

James Sermon Series

Earlier in 2006, we worked our way through the entire book of James at Smiths Grove Baptist Church. The entire series of sermons are available here at This is a wonderful book for spiritual growth and practical insight. May God increase your joy in Him through these messages!