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The Faith To Call Jesus Lord!

Today’s blog contains the sermon manuscript and video for a message preached July 5, 2015 at the Patterson Avenue Baptist Church, Richmond, VA.   You can also find an audio of this sermon by visiting the church website and subscribing to our podcast.  The sermon is titled:  “The Faith to Follow Jesus as Lord” based on Mark 6:1-13

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You can watch the video below and/or read the manuscript.

 

The Faith To Call Jesus Lord! – Mark 6:1-13

 

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

 

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

 

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

 

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

 

These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

 

They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

 

 

In John’s Gospel, Jesus makes an incredible offer.  He says: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14) Of course there is a caveat included within the promise.  Jesus says we must ask in his name.  That means we ask in accordance with His will, his teachings, his way of life and example.  “In Jesus Name!” is not a magic phrase we tack on to the end of a religious incantation to gain our wants, whims, and wishes.  Jesus is not our genie in a bottle. Jesus continues saying that this promise is given so “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”  Jesus life, ministry, and teachings all point to the Father.  The Father is revealed in the sacrificial love, mercy, grace, and inclusion revealed in Jesus.  When we ask for that which will advance this message of the gospel, Jesus promises that such requests will be granted.   “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

 

This is a pretty powerful promise, so I propose that we take Jesus up on this offer.  What can we ask, in the name of Jesus that would bring glory to the revelation of the Father expressed in the person of Jesus?

 

We could ask for things like….

 

  •  An increased passion for the message of grace
  • Improved unity within our fellowship
  •  Greater resources to advance God’s Kingdom
  •  More conversions to Christ’s teaching, will, and way

 

 

These simple request fit with the attitude of Jesus and would bring glory to the Father.  These prayers answered would advance the gospel.  So, I propose that we take Jesus up on His offer.

 

But here’s the thing.  Many of us have been offering these requests already.  We see small indications of Jesus blessing these requests, but something is still missing.  So we have to asking, was Jesus lying? Or does He simply not have the ability to back up His offer?  Or is something else going on?
Maybe today’s scripture passage can help us find an answer.

 

Jesus goes to Nazareth.  He speaks there about the grace of the Kingdom.  He offers healing love.  He’s ready to work miracles.  Yet even something is missing.  He could only do a few miracles.   Even Jesus was disappointed.  The text says, “He was amazed at their lack of faith.”

 

It’s not that we don’t confess a laundry list of beliefs. We believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.  We believe in Jesus Christ the Father’s only Son.  We believe in the Holy Spirit.

 

We have a long list of “beliefs.”  We have dozens of doctrines that we will confess at the drop of a hat.  But something is still missing.  We’ve got our dogmas lined up and they sound pretty orthodox.  We can tell you what we believe about Jesus.  Somehow, however, that just doesn’t seem to be enough.  Our belief is not enough.  The evidence is plain to see.  As with the hometown crowd in Nazareth, Jesus doesn’t seem to be able to do many miracles among us.  As with the folks in Nazareth, Jesus is (I believe) “amazed at ‘our’ lack of faith.”

 

There is a difference, I submit, from believing some doctrinal statements about Jesus and having the faith to actually follow Him as the Lord of our lives. We believe lots of things about Jesus.  We believe he is the Son of God.  We believe Jesus is the revelation of God the Father.  We believe He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.  But do we express the faith to follow Jesus as Lord.

 

Modern evangelical religion (especially among us Baptists) has made belief synonymous with faith.  But belief and faith are NOT the same thing.

 

We can talk about what we think about all day long.  That’s belief.  But talking about what we think about Jesus is not enough – it’s not faith. This truth is revealed in what happens next in the text.  After being amazed by the lack of faith among his home town friends, Jesus commissions His disciples and sends them into their mission field, and as they go, they cast out demons and heal the sick.

 

Here’s the point:  as the disciples follow Jesus’ instructions – expressing by action their confidence, trust, dependence – miracles begin to happen.  The disciples had something MORE than a belief system.  They had faith. It’s funny how little the disciples had it together when these miracles stated happening.  They had not known Jesus long.  They had some doubts and questions.  They didn’t have it all figure out.  But they got up and started following Him as Lord.  When they did, the Spirit moved and miracles happened.

 

Think about who the disciples were.   Some were watermen who probably smelled like fish that had been sitting in the sun too long.   Some were zealots – religious and political hotheads itching for a fight.  Matthew was a tax collector, considered a traitor because he’d made a living working for the evil Roman empire.

 

But there was something that set them apart from the people in Nazareth – and it was not their belief systems or religious doctrines.  What set them apart was that they were willing to get up and go when Jesus sent them into the mission field.  They did more than gather and listen for a few hours on the Sabbath.  They got up acted on the instructions Jesus had given.  That’s when the miracles started to happen.  They cast out unclean spirits.  They brought healing and hope to those who were sick and broken. There’s more.  They didn’t wait for provisions – spiritual, psychological, emotional, or material.  They didn’t figure they needed to get their act in gear before they could trust and obey.
The went without money, without extra clothing, without an overnight bag with personal care items.  They trusted that God would provide.  They entered the mission field to serve.  And the resources were provided.  They were actually out there in the mission field,  not inside their little religious community.   There was no special prayer formula that would make stuff appear.  To find those resources, they’d have to go.

 

It wasn’t going to be a rosy scenario all the time.  Jesus was pretty open about that.  Some would reject their message.  That wasn’t to hinder their faith.  They needed to stay the course.  Don’t stay and argue.  Don’t waste time complaining about how bad things were or how crazy the world seemed.  Shake off the dust!  Move on to the next person, place, and people.   There is somebody out there who needs healing, hope, and reconciliation.  Find that person.

 

That’s what it means to follow Jesus as Lord, rather than just believe some doctrines and dogmas about Jesus.  We pattern our lives after Jesus example when we enter our mission field.  In his book Anchored, my friend Steve McVey puts it like this:
Let’s act like Jesus, even if the Pharisees don’t like it. Let’s just love people indiscriminately. Let’s love them whether they’re pimps or preachers—whether they are crack-heads or corporate heads— whether they are drug addicts or deacons, whether they are immoral or moral. Let’s just love them all!

 

Our God-given goal is simply to reveal His love to others. If we began to accept people wherever they are and love them the way Christ loves them, we might be surprised by what happens in their lives. While we certainly don’t condone sinful behavior, we must remember that we are to express the love of the one “who came not into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). We neither condemn nor condone those who sin. We just love them as God loves them.

 

Love people. Just love them. Love them radically. You don’t have to offer an opinion about everything everybody else does. Just love them. You don’t have to condone or condemn them. Just love them. Love them when they don’t deserve it. Love them if they act responsibly or repulsively.

 

Let’s love people to the point that some won’t understand it and the Pharisees will think it is shameful. When we love that way, we are in good company and, if you listen carefully, you may hear a still, small voice whisper, “I’m so proud of you. You look and act just like Me! Now, together let’s love the world.” people wherever they are and love them the way Christ loves them, we might be surprised by what happens in their lives. While we certainly don’t condone sinful behavior, we must remember that we are to express the love of the one “who came not into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). We neither condemn nor condone those who sin. We just love them as God loves them. Love people. Just love them. Love them radically. You don’t have to offer an opinion about everything everybody else does. Just love them. You don’t have to condone or condemn them. Just love them. Love them when they don’t deserve it. Love them if they act responsibly or repulsively. Let’s love people to the point that some won’t understand it and the Pharisees will think it is shameful. When we love that way, we are in good company and, if you listen carefully, you may hear a still, small voice whisper, “I’m so proud of you. You look and act just like Me! Now, together let’s love the world.”

 

What Steve is describing here is the lifestyle Jesus sent his followers out to live as they entered their mission field.  It’s the same lifestyle He invites us to live out when we enter our mission field.

 

So, here’s what I where I want us to put our faith.  Notice I did not say belief.  Belief is part of it for sure, but believe is not enough.  I want us to have the faith to follow Jesus as Lord.

 

First, let’s have faith that Jesus meant what he said:  “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14) Second, let’s have the faith to follow Jesus as we enter our mission field.  This is an important mental shift.  Many of us were raised to think our mission was to get people in the world connected to the church.  But that has never been the way of Jesus.  The doors to this building are not the world’s entrance to the church.  They are entrance into the mission field filled with people God passionately loved.  The missional call is that we building connections outward toward our world.

 

The doors of this building are our entrance to the mission fields  of Short Pump, Mechanicsville, Shoko Bottom, the Fan district, and the Near West End; to the places we work, live, and play.  And as we go, Jesus is commissioning us to love everyone, radically, unconditionally, and passionately. We are not fully prepared.  I know that.  But we need to go anyways.  Jesus will give us the words.  And I know we do not have all the resources on hand to be the church in their communities.  But we need to go anyways, with the faith that Jesus will provide what we need on the journey.

 

Yes, yes, yes…I know.  The world is a messed up place.  Honestly, it always has been.  Nothing has changed about that except that the mess looks different now than it did.  But Jesus still loves this world and every messed up person in it.  Even you and me.

 

Jesus sends you right now into His mission field.  Just go.  Stop looking for reasons to believe you are ill equipped or unprepared.  Just go.  Have faith in Jesus and get up and go.

 

Declare God’s goodness and grace.  Tell the world that in Christ they can experience God’s love in ways they never dreamed could be possible.  Invite them to repent – to change the way their see God.  Invite them to see that God is revealed in Jesus Christ, who was never vindictive, hate-filled, or prone to offering condemnation.  “God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

 

Have faith that as we go, miracles will happen and Jesus promises will be fulfilled.    Here’s what happened when the disciples went as Jesus instructed them:

 

They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

 

That can happen here.  That will happen here.  All it takes is the faith to get up and go, following Jesus as Lord.

 

 

 

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