MISSION WOODS CHURCH
Worship Sunday January 31 2021
      • Bible Trivia
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      • Bible Trivia
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  • Sing Unto The Lord A New Song
  • Jesus Lord To Me
  • We Will Dance
  • Let’s pray:
    Sovereign God, we come before you in this place and we are wanting to hear from your Holy Word. Quiet our minds; still our anxious thoughts. Help us to focus on what you have to say to us. Give us ears to hear, minds to understand, and hearts to hold fast. We invite you to speak Lord, for your servants are listening. AMEN.
    Our Old Testament reading this morning comes from Deuteronomy 18, vs. 15-20. Deuteronomy is the 5th book in the Old Testament. It’s authorship is attributed to Moses, and at this point he’s been leading the Israelites after their escape from Egypt, through the Red Sea, and now in the wilderness.
    Deuteronomy 18:15–20 ESV
    “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’
    Our New Testament reading is from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, chapter 8, and I’m only going to share vs. 1-3.
    1 Corinthians 8:1–13 ESV
    Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
    And lastly our Gospel reading:
    Mark 1:21–28 ESV
    And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
    This is God’s Holy Word.
    Thanks be to God.

    Direction

    In our Old Testament reading we recount the Exodus from Egypt. Moses and the Israelites were led by a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. Moses often went to meet with the Lord on the Mountain, and those of you familiar with the story there would be a cloud and fire on the mountain and the people would become fearful.
    God understands, and so he gives them the promise to send prophets. People like Moses, and God will share his word with them. These prophets are to live by the words God gives them, just as much as they are to share the words with the people.
    How often have we been disillusioned by authorities who will say, “Do as I say, but not as I do.” All credibility is lost. And God himself says that those who do not speak God’s Word, but their own will die.
    As a pastor, as a preacher that weighs heavily on my heart.
    And I think of all the other (airquote) “Prophets” we have in our culture. the pundits on TV; celebrities; advertisements on billboards, radio, tv, and in newspapers; politicians; and even friends and family. These are places some turn to for the “truth”.
    In our New Testament reading from I Cor 8:1-13, I want to focus primarily on a line in that first verse that sums it up:
    1 Corinthians 8:1 ESV
    Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.
    Paul is speaking of knowledge about idols and food offered to idols. He gives us that context. And, more than that he reminds us that this knowledge can be like air in a balloon. It puffs up, it can make us feel superior, or better than. That’s not what it is for. Love, on the other hand, builds up.
    A parent, a teacher, a mentor, doesn’t say, “I know this and you don’t. Niener, niener, niener.” NO! They lovingly encourage and guide their charges through a process of learning, growth, and discovery.
    The prophets mentioned in Deuteronomy were in many ways forerunners of Christ, they anticipate Jesus as the final prophet. God’s prophet’s speak God’s truth.
    God’s truth is powerful! Because God has Authority!

    Authority

    For most of my life I have heard people questioning authority. I’ve heard people asking, “What is truth?” Where do you go to get an honest answer. You look at the magazine racks at the store checkout counter and you see headlines speaking of celebrities on their deathbeds on one tabloid, and the same celebrities super diet for long life on another. You hear about predictions for 2021 to be the best year of our lives on one and the worst on another. Nostradamus is another popular name for the tabloids to throw around with predictions and prophecies. And for many, this is counted as wisdom.
    Our doctors tell us we need to eat more fruits and vegetables, and try and walk 30 minutes a day to help improve our health; but our friends tell us to drink some concoction of vinegar, castor oil, and what not and we listen to our friends.
    I love our Gospel reading today. Jesus is in the Synagogue, and he’s teaching. If he’s teaching, you know he has some people who are listening to him. And they are astonished, because he teaches as one with authority.
    Mark 1:22 ESV
    And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
    You have to love the way that Mark’s Gospel is written. Everything has such urgency. Jesus is there teaching in the synagogue, the people are astonished, and then vs. 23
    Mark 1:23 ESV
    And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out,
    Immediately! And isn’t it crazy that the people in the synagogue aren’t sure who Jesus is, but the evil spirits are always very sure who he is?
    I see that in our culture today. Too often people quote the Bible or Jesus teachings as nice platitudes. I believe it to be much more than that. I believe Jesus to be more than just a “good teacher” that lived 2000 years ago, and was put to death. I believe what Paul said about him:
    Philippians 2:5–11 ESV
    Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    If we’re going to speak the language of faith, we need to also be able to understand the language of faith.

    When You Ask for Direction

    All of my working life I have had some role in passing information on to others, teaching them a new skill. My first jobs were about teaching: swimming, and skiing. Not at the same time.
    In one of the trainings for our ski school, we were each to get up in front of the group and teach them something, anything. One guy got up and taught us all something that would be very important were we ever to get to the Netherlands. He taught us how to ask, “Where can I find the bathroom?” in Dutch.
    Fast forward a couple of years and I find myself in the Netherlands with 32 other high school students and graduates. We’re touring western Europe as part of a student ambassador program. After several hours on a bus we made a stop, and for many of my fellow ambassadors nature was calling.
    Several of the boys and I made a bee line for lobby of the hotel and the concierge desk. I was excited to show off my linguistic skills, but even more eager to find a restroom. As I blurted out the phrase I’d learned it suddenly dawned on me I was familiar with the words to ask the question, but totally unfamiliar with the possible words that would answer this very important question.
    Hearing the answer, I quickly thanked the concierge and began leading our little band deeper into the hotel. One of the guys asked, “Did you understand what he said?” to which I replied, “Not a word, but he pointed this way and to the left.” To everyone’s relief, we were able to find the restroom based on the concierge’s pointing.
    Here’s my point. I knew the right words to say, in fact to this day I can still rattle off the phrase: “War kann ick de W.C. finden?” and perhaps even come across as if I know the language. But even though I knew the right thing to say, I was clueless as to how to understand the answer.
    Is that how you are in your faith? Do you know the right words to profess faith, the right “Christianese” to impress. Or do you have that relationship with God.
    Jesus gave the unclean spirit two clear commands. “Be quiet!” and “Come.”
    In the Psalms we read in Psalm 46:10 - Be still, and know that I am God.”
    Throughout the Bible God invites us to “Come”
    Isaiah 1:18 ESV
    “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
    Matthew 4:19 NIV84
    “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
    Matthew 11:28 ESV
    Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
    As I stand here as your pastor, as I stand here as a preacher of the Gospel I believe that God is calling you into a deeper relationship with Him. Not one of superficial platitudes and good inspiring sayings, but one of an eternal relationship. One in which we can walk in the light, and not walk in fear. On in which our hope is certain.
    It’s all a matter of learning God’s language, and we do that by becoming familiar with God’s Word. I really want to encourage you to be intentional in your relationship with God.
    We’re all busy people. What if we weren’t intentional in our relationship with our spouse, or our kids, our family, our boss. And yet so many people just expect God to always be on their side. The neglected savior who will run to our rescue whenever we need help.
    I want something better for you. I think you do too. So, here’s my challenge.
    “Take up and read.” Those were the words St. Augustine heard. And he did, and some would say it changed history.
    Take up your Bible and read. Read a chapter a few verses a day, a chapter a day, or read it like a book. Maybe you want to read the books of the Bible in order? Maybe you want to randomly pick different books and read them on their own? The key is to read.
    Ask God to help you understand - and read. I like to read it aloud, it helps me focus. When I read it in my head I can get distracted with other thoughts, but as I read aloud it blocks out the distractions.
    And when you’ve read, spend some time thinking on what you’ve read. Don’t just put it down and be done, think about it.
    I know God is going to bless you.
    So, let’s “Be Still” and “Come” to Jesus. Let’s pray:

    When You Ask for Direction

    Lord, we come. We come to hear from you each Sunday. Give us the willingness, the discipline and all of that to come to your word daily. And Lord, help us to be attentive, to be open to change, and to be led by Your Holy Spirit. We ask this in Jesus Name. AMEN.
      • Deuteronomy 18:15–20ESV

      • 1 Corinthians 8:1–13ESV

      • Mark 1:21–28ESV

      • 1 Corinthians 8:1ESV

      • Mark 1:22ESV

      • Mark 1:23ESV

      • Philippians 2:5–11ESV

      • Isaiah 1:18ESV

      • Matthew 4:19ESV

      • Matthew 11:28ESV

  • Freely Freely
  • Lord Dismiss Us With Your Blessing

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