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True Grace Preview

Rooster CogburnTom Chaney was a scoundrel of a man, wanted for murder in two states and on the run in the Indian territory.  Mattie Ross (the surviving daughter of one of Chaney’s victims) was determined to avenge her father’s murder; but before Chaney could be prosecuted, he had to be found . . . something that would prove difficult to accomplish against the backdrop of eastern Oklahoma pre-statehood.

To assist her in her search for Chaney, Mattie recruits an aging U.S. Marshall named Rooster Cogburn.  In the words of a local deputy, Rooster was “double tough — fear don’t enter his thinking.”  Mattie knew he was the man for her job.  Cogburn was a man of true grit . . . able to stand when others would fall, and such a man would be necessary to survive in hostile territory against a ruthless foe.

So goes the plot of the 1969 Academy Award winning movie “True Grit” starring John Wayne.  The characters and plot of this story have allowed it to outlive its era — spawning a sequel as well as a remake (2010’s True Grit directed by the Cohen brothers).  Both Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn are true protagonists, pressing forward where others do not.  We are attracted to their true grit.  As people who live in hostile environments of our own, we are inspired by their courage.

As intriguing as their story is, however, it ultimately is powerless to help us overcome the challenges we face in life.  Our world is increasingly disrespectful of God’s laws and antagonistic towards God’s people.  Disease, death, and discouragement are three outlaws who track us down on an all too frequent basis.  Where can we find the grit to stand in this hostile territory?

Our dilemma is not new.  From the very beginning, Jesus was preparing His followers for how to stand in a hostile land.  Jesus actually provides the way for people to not just survive but thrive, not just endure but rejoice, not be defeated but have hope.  His grace gives us the grit we need.

The Apostle Peter wrote a letter in 64 CE to a collection of Christians scattered across modern day Turkey to instruct them on how to stand in hostile territory.  Peter informs them (and us, as God preserved this letter for us to read today) of the “true grace of God” that we would “stand firm in it” (1 Peter 5:12).  This “True Grace” that gives the grit to stand in hostile territory is the subject of the book of 1 Peter.

Over the next 10 weeks, we will be walking through this short letter together seeing how the true grace of God provides hope and harmony (1:1-2:10), love and service (2:11-4:11), and leadership and life (4:12-5:11).  Join us through the sermon series at Wildwood Community Church (June 7 – August 9) as we explore these themes and see God’s truth for us.  Also, check back to this blog daily beginning June 1 (or subscribe in the side column) to receive personal and small group Bible Study prompts to help guide us toward a better understanding and application of these truths.  Finally, join me in praying that we would all embrace the “True Grace” of God that we would stand firm in it.

If your hope has been murdered, or your joy is on the run, allow Jesus to heal your soul.  He is the Son of Man with True Grace for our every need.

You Give Them Something to Eat – Sermon Audio/Video

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This past Sunday (April 12, 2015) at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Mark 6:30-44 entitled “You Give Them Something to Eat.”  This message was the final installment in the “Passion Road” series.  The audio and video of this message are posted below for you to watch or share with a friend.

 

If you want to listen to the message to the message online, use the online media player below:

 

If you want to download the message to listen to later, click on the following link to download:

You Give Them Something to Eat

 

View the sermon online via the embedded Vimeo Video:

“You Give Them Something to Eat” – Sermon Questions

Passion Final.001   On Sunday, April 12, I preached a message at Wildwood Community Church entitled “You Give Them Something to Eat.”  This message was the final installment in the “Passion Road” series and was based on Mark 6:30-44.  Below are a set of questions related to this message for further reflection or group discussion.   Sermon Questions:

  1. Read Mark 6:30-44
  2. What was the context of Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5,000?  (i.e. what was happening with the disciples at the beginning of this section?)
  3. I made the statement today that I believed this miracle was as much for the disciples as for the people that were fed.  Do you agree with this statement?  Why or why not?
  4. Have you ever fully realized that Jesus has invited you to be involved in His work in the world?  Do you feel as though you have answered this invitation?
  5. Many times, we feel as though we have inadequate resources for the tasks Jesus has called us to.  Recall a time when you felt inadequate for the serving task God was calling you to.
  6. Jesus is able to do through the disciples what they could never do by themselves.  He does this as they dynamically depend upon Him. What would it look like for you to maintain a dynamic dependence upon Jesus as you served Him?
  7. What stood out to you most about this message?  Anything you are taking away from this message and want to apply?

Passion Road Feedback

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Over the past 40 days leading up to the Easter holiday, I  have posted devotionals from Jonathan Holmes and myself here on this blog to help center our thoughts and hearts on Jesus this Easter season.  These devotionals (and the accompanying sermon series at Wildwood Community Church) were titled “Passion Road: Meeting Jesus on the Way to the Cross.”

As we wrap up this sermon series this Sunday, and as the devotionals ended last weekend, I wanted tot make a minute to get some feedback from you on the series.  Please take a moment to fill out the linked anonymous survey below.  It will only take you a few minutes to fill out.  Thanks!

My hope in getting this feedback is to understand how God is using the devotionals and sermon series to help me better serve others through these mediums in the future.  Thanks for taking a minute to let me know how God used it!

In Christ,

Mark

Easter 2015 Sermon Audio/Video

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Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015, I preached a sermon at Wildwood Community Church based out of John 20:11-18.  This message was a part of the Passion Road series, and was entitled “Whom Do You Seek?”  In case you missed the message, or you want to listen to it again, I have included the audio and video below here on my blog:

If you want to listen to the message to the message online, use the online media player below:

If you want to download the message to listen to later, click on the following link to download:

Whom Do You Seek? Easter 2015

If you want to watch the sermon video, watch the Vimeo video below:

Easter 2015 – Sermon Questions

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On April 5, 2015 (Easter Sunday), I preached a message out of John 20:11-18 entitled “Whom Do You Seek?”  Below you will find a series of questions for further reflection on group discussion based on this message.

 

Sermon Discussion Questions:

  1. Read John 20:11-18
  2. This section of the Gospel of John highlights Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus just outside the garden tomb early on Easter morning.  Based on what you heard this morning and your knowledge of the New Testament, who was Mary Magdalene?
  3. In what ways does Mary show her love for Jesus through her actions in John 20:11-18?
  4. If someone were to observe your life, would they be able to tell your love for Jesus?  How does a love for Jesus translate into the lives of people today?
  5. Mary is so blinded in her grief that she fails to see the obvious (to us) signs that Jesus is risen!  Has there ever been a time in your life where grief blinded you to seeing the goodness of God?
  6. Jesus obviously loved Mary.  What can you see from this passage to help confirm to you Jesus’ love for her?
  7. Jesus’ resurrection is the focal point of this passage.  What does the resurrection of Jesus mean to you?
  8. Jesus asks Mary the question, “Whom are you seeking?”  What do you think He meant by that question?
  9. What evidence do you have that Jesus loves YOU?
  10. What difference does it make that Jesus is alive?
  11. Have you ever placed your faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins?  If so, when?  If not, why not?
  12. What stood out to you most from this passage?  Any particular applications you will take away from this passage/message?
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A Tale of Two Tombs

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[The following devotional is a part of our 2015 Easter Season Devotional Book “Passion Road.”  We will be posting a devotional each day on this blog between February 18 – April 5, 2014.]

 

A Tale of Two Tombs by Mark Robinson

Read:  John 20:1-10

In the heart of Moscow’s Red Square looms a large building with an even larger line to get inside.  People line up for hours on selected viewing days to enter the tomb of the fallen Communist leader and revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.  Hard to believe that people would wait in line for the chance to enter into an above ground grave, and gaze at the very dead body of a very dubious historical figure.  Hard to imagine . . .except for the fact that in the summer of 1995, I was one of those in line.  And I got a good long look at Lenin’s Tomb.

What I saw surprised me — a lifeless decaying man, entombed in glass and preservatives.  That is what I waited in line to see?!?  Now, as I reflect back on this event twenty years later, I am amazed, not by the line, but by the contrast.  The contrast with another tomb of a famous historical figure.  But this tomb is not from the twentieth century, but from the first.  This tomb is not in Moscow, it is in Jerusalem.  This tomb is not built out of marble and glass, but out of rock and clay.  This tomb is not Vladimir Lenin’s, but Jesus Christ’s.

People go to Lenin’s tomb to remember the death of the Romanov dynasty, and the birth of the U.S.S.R.  People go to Christ’s tomb to remember the death of sin’s necessary reign, and the birth of resurrection life.  People go to Lenin’s tomb to pay homage to a man who set the stage for the conquering of nations, and the creation of the Eastern Bloc.  People go to Christ’s tomb to pay homage to the man who conquered the god of this age, and created the Body of Christ.  People go to Lenin’s tomb, and see that it is occupied with a lifeless dictator.  People go to Christ’s tomb, and see that it is empty with life-giving power.

At the heart of Christianity lies an empty tomb that is able to make our hearts full with the knowledge of God, and a life that is in fellowship with Him.  The Apostle Paul writes, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)  This Easter, walk up to the empty tomb . . . there is no need to wait in line.  Christ has prepared the Way.  Take a good long gaze inside.  What you do NOT see will give you life.

Question:

  • At Easter, we celebrate the EMPTY TOMB!  What does the Empty Tomb tell you about Jesus Christ?
  • How does this message encourage you today?

Prayer:

  • Ask God to work in an area of your life were you currently feel helpless.  He can do more than we ask or think!  The God who can raise Jesus from the dead, wants to work in your life as well.
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Crossing the Finish Line

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[The following devotional is a part of our 2015 Easter Season Devotional Book “Passion Road.”  We will be posting a devotional each day on this blog between February 18 – April 5, 2014.]

 

Crossing the Finish Line by Mark Robinson

Read:  John 19:28-42

It was a cold, dark December morning in 2009.  The wind was blowing out of the north driving the wind chills south.  Along with a few friends, I was on a 20 mile run to Lake Hefner and back.  My friends and I endured it because we were training for a marathon together.  Running a marathon is an interesting experience.  I like it because it feeds my desire for goal achievement.  You don’t wake up today and decide to run a marathon tomorrow.  You have to train for those events for months at a time.

On race day, there are tens of thousands of fellow runners and nearly 100,000 spectators, however, on cold December mornings, marathoners often find themselves alone.  When you run like this, you are not racing against a competitor, you are playing a game with your mind.  If you decide to cut a corner to shorten the distance, no one would ever know.  If you decide to just stop running altogether, no one is there to call you a failure.  Marathon runners choose to keep running because they want to finish the marathon.  If corners are cut in training, a runner will never cross the finish line.

When Jesus came to the earth, He humbled Himself:  the immortal God became clothed in mortality in Bethlehem’s manger.  For 30+ years Jesus lived out His life on the earth while being confronted with a steady set of temptations.  Jesus was “running” the marathon of life, knowing that at any moment, He could take the easy way out.  Satan tempted Him to place His physical needs and desire for personal comfort over God’s will for His life:  offering the crown without the cross.  Jesus did not bite.  He did not cut that corner.  When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion, He prayed asking that the “cup” of crucifixion might pass from Him (Luke 22:39-46).  However, as that night turned into early morning, Jesus did not hit the snooze, but got up and walked forward in “Thy will” being done.

Jesus stayed the course because there was a finish line He wanted to cross.  If Jesus had sinned with Satan or run away from the Garden of Gethsemane, He would have missed out on accomplishing His mission.  Jesus came to the earth to live a perfect life and to die on the cross for our sins.  Because Jesus lived a perfect life, the punishment He endured on the cross was not a penalty for His own transgressions.  In the sovereign plan of God, the sin of mankind was placed on Jesus back and His righteousness has been offered to be credited to our account (2 Corinthians 5:21).  If Jesus would have cut a corner and avoided the cross, then you and I would not have an opportunity to have our sins forgiven.  However, Jesus endured to the finish line.  At the point of His death, Jesus even cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).  He knew that He had run the good race, and with His death purchased salvation for the souls of those who would embrace Him in faith. Cross(ing) the finish line at Golgotha was the ultimate accomplishment, but Jesus did not just wake up on Good Friday and decide the save the world.

Question:

  • Have you ever stopped to realize that Jesus’s 30+ years of righteous living were necessary for our salvation?  (If He had sinned in His life, He could not save us.)

Prayer:

  • Thank Jesus in prayer for staying the course to finish “the race.”
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History’s Hinge

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[The following devotional is a part of our 2015 Easter Season Devotional Book “Passion Road.”  We will be posting a devotional each day on this blog between February 18 – April 5, 2014.]

 

History’s Hinge by Mark Robinson

Read:  John 19:1-27

Certain events are so important you can mark time by them.  For instance:

  • 9/11/01 is a date that changed modern American history (like Pearl Harbor before it).
  • Many can mark time by family status (pre-married, post-married, pre-kid, post kid, etc.)

Because of the impact of certain events varies from person to person, in a sense, we are all living on different calendars.  While Kimberly and I measure time pre and post transplant, you probably don’t.  Further, even though some events impact all of us in some ways, the same event does not impact all of us equally.  9/11 has an even greater weight in the life of a family who lost a loved one on United Airlines Flight #93 than it does on me.

However, there is a single event in history that equally impacts all mankind.  Truly our calendars count years up to and away from this significant event.  It is the events of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  These events are the most critical in history, dividing the world into “B.C.” and “A.D.” epochs.

The New Testament books Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John detail and recount for us the earthly life of Christ in general, but are laser focused on the end of Jesus life even more than His beginning.  Don’t believe me?  Check the evidence:

  • 25% of Matthew deals with the last week of the life of Christ.
  • 33% of Mark focus on the period of time between Palm and Resurrection Sundays.
  • 62% of Luke is spent with Jesus “setting His face to go to Jerusalem” where He would die on the cross (see Luke 9:51-ff.)
  • 43% of John zeroes in on Holy week events
  • Every major sermon in the book of Acts expounds upon the crucifixion/resurrection.
  • Paul says in 1 Cor. 15 that our “faith is in vain” if Christ is not raised from the dead.
  • In the book of Revelation, Jesus appears as the Lamb that was slain . . .

The crucifixion/resurrection of Christ is THE KEY event in history, and it impacts all humanity.  At first glance, it may seem that it impacts only Christian people.  Certainly the Easter events mean so much to me . . . I trusted Christ as Savior on Easter Sunday 1990.  However, a deeper gaze at the cross helps us see that the events of holy week impact all in an intense way.

On the cross, the innocent/perfect Son of God died.  As He died, God poured out His wrath concerning sin on Jesus, making His death even more horrific spiritually than physically (if that is possible.)  Any who place their faith in Jesus Christ will see their sins forgiven and paid for by Jesus’ atoning work, while any who reject Him must face the same spiritual punishment Jesus endured after their death.  In this way, all humanity hinges on the cross . . . not just for this temporal calendar but for eternity.  What you do in response to this critical event is the single most important thing about you.

Question:

  • In what way is the death/resurrection of Jesus the central event of YOUR life?

Prayer:

  • Thank God for the forgiveness He offers us through the death of Jesus Christ.
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My Kingdom is Not of This World

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[The following devotional is a part of our 2015 Easter Season Devotional Book “Passion Road.”  We will be posting a devotional each day on this blog between February 18 – April 5, 2014.]

 

My Kingdom is Not of This World by Jonathan Holmes

Read: John 18:33-40

Jesus was arrested in the garden, interrogated by the High Priest, and then presented to Pilate for questioning. Since the Jewish council did not have the legal jurisdiction during this time to exercise the death penalty over Jesus, the case has to be brought to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Pilate had a private interview with Jesus and simply wants to know if He is attempting to lead an uprising against Rome. Jesus answers Pilate saying, “my kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting that I might not be delivered over to the Jews…” Jesus wasn’t looking for victory over the Roman people. He came to defeat sin by crushing the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15) and defeating death.

Jesus didn’t come to setup a physical kingdom here on earth, rather He established the eternal spiritual Kingdom of God. Jesus affirmed pilate’s question, “So you are a king?” with a resounding yes! Jesus is King, but His kingly reign is not in a geographical location. Jesus is reigning King in people’s lives. You don’t become a citizen of the Kingdom of God by living somewhere or earning you set. King Jesus prepares a place for all who believe and trust in His name. Pilate was concerned that Jesus was building a physical kingdom, but Jesus responds saying, Yes I am a king, but my Kingdom is not of this world. Jesus didn’t come to defeat the Roman empire that was physically oppressing Israel. He came to defeat the power of sin and death that reigned over all people.

The Kingdom of God was established through the life, death, and resurrection of King Jesus. As we continue to move closer the Good Friday and Easter be reminded of the eternal Kingdom that you are welcomed in through the blood of King Jesus.

Questions:

•If you were to picture your heart as a throne, who/what is sitting on the throne? To discover this, ask yourself, who is controlling your life? What do you love most? 

•Does it give you hope that Jesus provides the way to “crush the head” of sin and its effects in your life?

Prayers for Lent 

•Thank the Father for the sending the Son to establish the Kingdom. Thank the Son for humbly sacrificing Himself for the Kingdom. Thank the Spirit for continuing the work of the Kingdom in your own life.

•Ask God to show you areas in your life where you resist His Kingship.