Gounded in the Gospel: Have salt among yourselves

Preacher: Gordon Hay

Verses: Joshua 14:14-24; Mark 9:49-50

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!”

This passage in Joshua 24 has always been one that has struck me.

Joshua has led the Israelites into the Promised Land. He has done all that he was called to do. Undertaking much of this at an advanced age.[1] As he is nearing the end of his life he gathers the tribes at Shechem and he addresses them. He does two things: he first recounts what God has done for them, and then challenges them.

And the challenge is one that I go back to time and again, and that I want us to examine.

Joshua describes the history of what God has done, and this is detailed from the time of the flood, escaping from Egypt right up to where they are at that point in time.

They have crossed into the Promised Land, have conquered many nations and taken cities.

Joshua 24:13 : “So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.”

 

[1] See Joshua 13:1

Grounded in the Gospel: Faith Challenged - The Transfiguration of Christ

Preacher: Jones Liwewe

Verses: Mark 9:2-13

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The transfiguration of Christ marks a major turning point in the gospel narrative, for Jesus was now getting closer and closer to His suffering and death on the cross. Already, there was rising opposition against Him, but despite all this, he had set His mind on Jerusalem, where shame, humiliation and death was waiting.  Jesus was ready and willing to face His death head on because He knew the impact His suffering and death would have on the nation of Israel and the entire world.

The disciple’s faith was challenged by Christ’s suffering and death

Unlike Jesus, the disciples were struggling to grapple with the idea of a suffering Messiah. They did not yet understand why Jesus had to suffer and die. The message of Jesus’s suffering and death caused unsettling, confusion and discouragement to them, to a point where Peter even tried to talk Jesus out of it, but was rebuked by Him.

 

Grounded in the Gospel: The Heart of the Matter

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 7:1-23

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Jesus was known as the Prince of Peace, full of grace and truth.  Why then did controversy pursue him and conflict dog his steps.  From the moment of his birth King Herod tried to eliminate him.  Throughout his public ministry the religious leaders pursued him relentlessly, culminating in his death by crucifixion.

 

The conflict wasn’t political.  Last week we noted that Jesus resisted the call of the crowd, after he fed the five thousand, to become a populist liberator from Rome.  Nor did Jesus directly confront the social structures of the day.  “My kingdom is not of this world”, he said and “those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword”.

Grounded in the Gospel: Amazing Compassion

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 6:30-56

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Mark describes two banquets in chapter six.  One was held in a fortress-palace, the other in the rolling hills of Galilee.  One led to the death of John the Baptist, the other to the feeding of five thousand.  The hosts were poles apart.  Herod was prompted by self-serving power, Jesus by compassion and care.

 

The feeding of the five thousand is recorded in all four gospels, indicative of its importance. 

Grounded in the Gospel: Mounting Opposition

Preacher: Jones Liwewe

Verses: Mark 6:1-13

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Mark 6: 1-13 shows us how Jesus carried His mission in His hometown and how people responded to His ministry. Christ has commissioned us to carry His mission into our hometown, our families, and the rest of the world. This passage therefore, helps us to understand the purpose, the offensiveness, and the nature of Christ mission.

Grounded in the Gospel: Authentic Listening

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 4:1-20

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A parable can be likened to an audiology test. Hearing, or better heeding, is the only way to understand the parables of Jesus. Parables are like stained glass windows; dull and opaque from the outside, brilliant and shining from within. Jesus in this instance speaks of a sower indiscriminately scattering seed which falls in turn on the pathway, rocky ground, among thorns and good soil. The farmer is excessive and almost wasteful. So intent is he on a harvest, that he sows in every corner of the field. Even so, typical of the austere farming conditions, rocks, thorns and adverse elements see three quarters of his labour lost. Hardly encouraging odds. But the parable does not end on a discouraging note. The good soil produces a breathtaking harvest with amazing results in spite of poor beginnings....

Grounded in the Gospel: From Fear to Faith

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 5:1-20

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Jesus’ encounter with a demonized man is a salient reminder of two extremes to be avoided. Some dismiss the devil as a mythological character personified as a cartoon character, others have an unhealthy preoccupation with his dark world. In the preface to his “Screwtape Letters”, CS Lewis writes, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”...

Grounded in the Gospel: Following Jesus

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 3:7-35)

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Wherever Jesus went crowds followed him.
They saw him as a celebrity, itinerant rabbi. Attracted by his miracles and healing they gathered in Galilee from far and wide: Jewish people from Judea and Jerusalem some 140kms away, Idumea and Transjordan culturally diverse, Tyre and Sidon some 70kms away majority Gentile. However, Mark regards the crowds as passive onlookers at best, obstructive obstacles at worst...

Grounded in the Gospel: The Power of Forgiveness

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 2:1-17

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The funeral of Mrs. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela last Saturday has placed forgiveness and reconciliation front and centre in South-Africa. On a global scale we have seen governments and countries engage in potentially deadly tit-for-tat retaliations. Many people regard forgiveness as a sign of weakness. Revenge for them is the only moral way out. People who live that way tend to think that God is like that too. As Tom Wright put it, “Forgiveness is the most powerful thing in the world. But because it is so costly, we prefer to settle for second best.”
Not so for Jesus...

Grounded in the Gospel: Jesus Proclaims the Kingdom & Calls His Disciples

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 1:14-20 & Jonah 3:1-10

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In both texts, Mark 1:14-20 and Jonah 3:1-10, the writers (Mark & Jonah) are trying to show us two important things:

  1. The necessity of the gospel
  2. The nature of discipleship

The story of the City of Nineveh is one that shows the impact that proclamation of God’s message has on a life of sinner. Firstly, it brings salvation. Secondly, it demands repentance—a radical change of heart. The content of the message shows the problem of humanity (sin), its consequence (impending judgement), and solution to the problem (God’s plan of salvation). It is a message of hope—the forgiveness of sin. The story also shows us that without God, man is lost, and without hope. Salvation of man is the work of God alone.

Grounded in the Gospel: The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 1:6-13

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Of all the gospel writers, it is Mark who affirms the humanity of Jesus in a compelling way. Having highlighted the divinity of Jesus right at the outset as “the Messiah, the Son of God” (1:1), he underscores the humanity of Jesus. Jesus grows hungry and thirsty. He falls asleep in the prow of the disciples’ boat. He is unaware of things on one occasion. Mark invites us to enter the drama of his gospel by following the actions and activities of Jesus. The pace is breath taking at times as out preconceived ideas about Jesus are challenged to the core. Mark is more concerned with what Jesus does than what he says...

Grounded in the Gospel: John the Baptist Prepares the Way

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 1:1-8

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Mark tells us upfront and centre what the gospel is.
It is the story of Jesus; not a mystery story in which we must piece together clues to discover its meaning, not a test of dates and places, not a mere system of thought or speculation. He writes for Roman Gentiles under the direction of Peter. He uses Old Testament quotations sparingly. Remarkably he begins his story with a tapestry of three Old Testament verses from Exodus, Malachi and Isaiah. He reminds us that the gospel is only understandable in light of what God has done in the Old Testament Jesus is not an afterthought of God, plan B as it were as if an earlier plan of salvation had gone awry.

John’s calling is to ‘prepare the way’ for the One to follow. He is identified with Elijah who did not die but was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). The expectation was that Elijah would return as a forerunner of God’s kingdom in the final day (Malachi 4:5)...

The Great Comission

Preacher: Jones Liwewe

Verses: Mark 16:15-18, Matthew 28:18-20

Matthew 28:18-20 is perhaps the most well-known version of the Great Commission but each of the Gospels expresses it in different ways. In Mark 16:15-18, for instance, we are told to "Go into the entire world and preach the gospel to all creation (all people)". In Matthew 28:18-20, the instruction is to "Go and make disciples of all nations (all peoples)". I believe that the Holy Spirit inspired each writer of the Gospel to write in the way they did. I also believe that what they wrote was in line with what Jesus commanded them. So the command therefore is to go into the world to preach the gospel to every creature, and to make disciples of all nations