Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Avoid Idleness

Already But Not Yet – The Day of the LORD
Avoid Idleness

2 Thessalonians 3

Good Day… the Lord has created and called it into existence!  What are you going to do with it that reflects his good gift?  This week we entered into Lent season 2021.  Lent has been a space and place in the church calendar year when God’s people around the globe enter into a time of repentance, reflection, and renewal.  It is a time of preparation of the heart for Passion Week culminating in an Easter celebration.  It’s a great opportunity every year for recalibration when it comes to all matters of faith and life.    

This year we will focus on the Book of Hebrews during Lent.  The Book of Hebrews functions much like an apologetic writing.  It is dominated with vignettes of illustrating Jesus’ superiority and centrality, stacked up one after the other.   I have never spoken a series of messages from the Book of Hebrews.  Excited to do so.    

I am looking forward to exploring in greater depth the various areas of Jesus’ superiority the writer expounds on.  I also believe this will be a great focus for our faith community at this time in history.  As everything is questioned today, including basic tenets and beliefs of Christian faith, Hebrews will be apropo in grounding us in the centrality of Jesus Christ in all things. This should also help us focus on the purpose of Lent.  

Before we dive into Hebrews, one more week of The Day of the Lord to complete the series.  Our text for Sunday is from 2 Thessalonians 3, Avoid Idleness.  We will explore the concept of work in our exploration of the text.  What do you think?  Is ‘work’ good or bad?  What are the purposes behind ‘work’ and some of its goals?  What do you think was the main problem in the Thessalonian church that Paul addresses in this chapter?  

See you Sunday!  
   Pastor Mark  

In case you missed it, review Mark’s Ash Wednesday meditation, here.          

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Watch Out for the Man of Lawlessness

Already But Not Yet – The Day of the LORD
Watch Out for the Man of Lawlessness

2 Thessalonians 2

Our journey continues on the concept in Scripture of the Day of the Lord with a final two week look at the Book of 2 Thessalonians.  Two themes are prominent: Avoid the man (or spirit) of lawlessness and avoid idleness.    

Early church believers experienced the same things we do today.  The tendency toward rebellion against God is great.  The temptations to manipulate the natural order abound.  The treachery of ignoring God’s moral order is easy to do.  The worship of ‘self’ in the place of God is fashionable.  These things were the same then as they are now.  And Paul pleads with the church to be watchful, on guard and hopeful.  

We are not to be ‘surprised by it.’  We are to be discerning about it.  People have tried to identify the ‘man of lawlessness’ in the movements of history.  Yet, we would be better served to focus on the ‘spirit of lawlessness’ at work in the world and in each of us.  Paying attention to the ‘spirit’ instead of identifying a ‘man or woman’ of lawlessness will lead us to a more faithful walk with God.  

Our text for Sunday is from 2 Thessalonians 2.  Can you see the ‘spirit of lawlessness’ at work in our world today?  Forces that seek to deceive, divide, and devour truth?  Forces that prop themselves up in the place of God, manipulate the natural order and defile or seek to abolish the moral order?  Do you notice any of those tendencies at work in you?  All of these things are spawned from the ‘spirit of lawlessness.’  If we entertain it, allow it, act on it.  

Where does Paul end this conversation on this topic?  Wonderfully!  “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word!”  (2 Th 2:16-17). 

Great place to conclude!
Grace and Peace to you in the name of Jesus!
Pastor Mark          

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Sheep and Goats

Already But Not Yet – The Day of the LORD
Sheep and Goats

Matthew 25:31 – 46

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The text for this coming Sunday is the 3rd story in a row Jesus told after teaching about the coming of the ‘Son of Man,’ to describe what it will be like.  The emphasis of all three (Ten Virgins, Bags of Gold, Sheep and the Goats) is a WORD to be watchful, ready, and prepared for his return.   

In the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46), Jesus describes the separating of sheep and goats on the criteria of evidence of ‘sheep-like or goat-like’ behavior.  It’s interesting that the sheep and the goats both are surprised at Jesus’ words of blessing and warning based on their behavior.  The surprise on the part of the sheep is beautiful.  The surprise on the part of the goats is tragic.  

I also found it worthy of note that in our ‘woke’ society of today, where we accentuate differences between one another on just about anything and everything, Jesus doesn’t separate sheep and goats based on skin color, type of fur, whether one has horns or not, ethnicity, political affiliation (you name it) – separation is based solely on behavior and character.  Instead, Jesus separates sheep from goats based on whether or not they did these things (fed hungry, quenched thirst, clothed naked, visited sick or in prison) to the least one of these brothers and sisters of His.  The separation is based on behavior and character – evidence of belonging or not belonging to Jesus.

Matthew and his use of ‘least’ and ‘brothers and sisters’ throughout his book should give us the right direction.  If Jesus means to emphasize the behavior and character toward brothers and sisters of faith, how might that understanding give interpretation to the text?  I found this insight to be enlightening (like lightning).  

‘See’ you Sunday,
    Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Bags of Gold


Already But Not Yet – The Day of the LORD
Bags of Gold

Matthew 25:14-30

Why does Jesus tell stories to illustrate his coming again that end with phrases like, “Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” or “Truly, I tell you, I don’t know you” or “They will go away to eternal punishment.”

It seems that when Jesus tells us a story about a future Day of the Lord, he is seeking an effect/affect in the lives of his hearers in the present.  That would be true of us today as well.  Why tell us stories of what it will be like on that day with stories about Ten Virgins and the need for oil in their lamps, or Bags of Gold and what people do with them, or Sheep and Goats in the ways that they behave?  

I think Jesus is giving us a heads up.  We have a life to live.  One that is a gift from God.  One that has been redeemed by God.  One that can be lived for light or darkness.  One that serves the Master or one that serves mammon or self.  In these stories of Jesus about what it will be like when he returns, he provides an opportunity for change and direction in life for the present.  

What is God’s will for our life in the here and now?  How ought we to live today in a way where God will say on that ‘Day’, “Come to the wedding banquet.  Well done good and faithful servant, come, share in my Master’s happiness.  Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world”?

Jesus’ parables in Matthew 25, about the Day of the Lord, stimulate repentance, commitment, and faithfulness to the Father’s will in the here and now.  Sunday, we look forward, so that we may know how we ought to live now.  Sunday, the 2nd of three parables from Matthew 15:14-30, Bags of Gold.  

Come and join us as we sit at Jesus feet,

Pastor Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Ten Virgins


The Ten Virgins
Matthew 25: 1-13

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, this week we continue with our theme, Already, But Not Yet – The Day of the Lord, by looking at three parables of Jesus over the next three week: The Ten Virgins, Bags of Gold, The Sheep and the Goats.

Context matters in order to better understand any text of Scripture.  In preparation for Sunday’s message, read Matthew Chapters 23-24.  These chapters set up the next three weeks of parables from Matthew 25.  Looking forward to diving into the text with you from Matthew 25:1-13.  What does it mean to be ready for Jesus’ return?  How does it look?  What does it mean and look like to ‘put oil in our lamps’?  See you Sunday, online or in person, we will engage the Word together, anyway we can.      

In the name and power of our risen Lord Jesus,
Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Day of the Lord


The Day of the LORD
1 Thes 5

Here we go, “for such a time as this,” we begin a series of messages on The Day of the Lord.  We will begin Sunday with an overview of where The Day of the Lord fits in the Biblical Worldview.  This is good, informative, and useful information to know.  And more than that, it calls us to engagement with our world and others.   

We will not be engaging in predicting the future.  We will be engaging God’s word to better know how to live now.  On the scope of history, we live in the Already, But Not Yet, the time between Jesus 1st and 2nd comings.  This series will give us a good understanding of ‘what time it is’ in terms of both history and what we are called to do and be in the present.  

In Scripture, there are references to The Day of the Lord in almost every book of the Bible.  We will take a look in this series at only a handful.  May the Lord lead us.  In addition to setting the framework of Biblical Worldview for this series, I will whet your appetite by taking a brief look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11.  See you Sunday!

Pastor Mark