“Victory in JESUS” Mark 5:18-20 FBC RHINELANDER
There is one truth that is a guarantee and that is of human failure. However the question is, when people fail, what is our attitude toward them? When they fail continually, when they blow it, when they make the same mistakes over and over again, how does a Christian, a person who believes in God respond? And the answer is “faith in God”.
Failure is endemic to mankind; frankly we all are experts at it.
After a series of experiments that had failed to achieve the results for which Thomas Edison sought. A friend spoke up and tried to console the inventor “It’s too bad”, said the friend, “to do all of that work without results.” To which Edison replied, “oh, we have lots of results. We know 700 things that won’t work!”
The Bible says none of us are ever a complete success. We will never reach perfection this side of Heaven. However no person is an irredeemable failure either. While there are plenty of examples of failure; we also have plenty of examples that are cause for hope, examples of the change that God brings in the lives of individuals.
As your pastor, I hope that our church can embody these three pillars of a true Christian: We need to have the ability to forgive others, we need to maintain fellowship with others, and we need to hold to a faith that believes God is always at work in the lives of others.
During our last communion we briefly looked at forgiveness. For this communion worship, I would like to explore faith. And use this short episode of this man in Mark 5 as a starting point. Read 5:1-8; 18-20
They put this man in chains to try and keep him away. The people of this area were afraid of the demonized man but most of their fear was for their safety and comfort. They chained him, cast him out of civilization and cut their contact and communication with him.
I’m not saying we are to necessarily invite trouble into our lives. This man in chapter 5 is an extreme case. I am trying to say that we need to practice God’s love to believe “all things” and that is faith!
Faith is an ingredient essential to living, to well-being, to God-pleasing! But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
Some time ago, a hydroelectric dam was slated to be built across a valley in New England. The people in a small town in the valley were to be relocated because the resulting reservoir would flood the town. During the time between the decision to build the dam and its eventual completion, the town fell into severe disrepair. What had once been a beautiful little town ended its days as an eyesore. Explaining this, one town resident said, “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no work in the present.”
When Paul says, “love hopes all things” in 1 Corinthians 13:7, he isn’t just calling people to be optimistic, he is challenging Christians to believe that God is working even when we can’t see that actually happening.
Today when we celebrate communion we are reminded that God’s love toward us should cause us to nurture faith, hope and love towards others. These characteristics are intertwined in waiting in expectation for God’s faithfulness.
Faith means not to give up on another person. Instead we might think; “yeah, I know God can forgive and restore, but from where that person is, it’s far away.” But they are not beyond hope! Not even close! We might not have much faith in them, but we know that we can rely on God to change them!
There are few things in life that should encourage us more than to be able to look at a person and to say, without any doubt, that God is doing an amazing work in that person’s life. How can we not be filled with hope when we see God working in the lives of people of whom humanly speaking we might have said, impossible?
Before the encounter of this demon possessed man, the disciples in Mark chapter 4 should have learned that faith in God should give buoyancy and stability amid the storms of life and that God rescues people.
The Bible tells us that our faith will sustain us in the most difficult situations of life.
A B-17 bomber flew a bombing run over Germany during WW II the plane was hit several times by shells and flak, with some of the hits taken directly to the fuel tank. Miraculously, the aircraft didn’t explode, and when it landed, they ground crew found 11 unexploded shells that were removed from the fuel tank. The shells were dismantled and, to everyone’s amazement, were all found to be empty of explosives. Yet inside one shell, though, was found a note written in Czech. The note said, “This is all we can do for you now.” It was written by a member of the Czech underground, forced to work in a German munitions plant and secretly left the explosives out of shells that were assembled on his line. On he toiled, never knowing if his subversive efforts would have an effect on his Nazi captors, yet he was spurred on by the faith that what he was doing would in some way make a difference.
Communion is the celebration of Jesus who is the object of our faith. He is the anchor of our soul. Having faith in God working in others’ lives means as a Christians we shouldn’t love others because we see a reason to do so, that is the world’s way. We must love others because we have faith in Jesus Christ, and it is the Holy Spirit Who enables us!
We shouldn’t have poor attitudes towards people, or see them as a hopeless situation, as one beyond change or beyond redemption; or even look at the world like a lost cause. We must have hope despite appearances, (faith) because we know that Jesus can change a life and that He is always caring for each soul.
1 Peter 2:25 “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”
To have biblical faith means that we will have the privileged to see the power, plan, and purpose of God. One of the aspects of the communion table should remind us to place faith in the Lord who works all things for His good and glory (Romans 8:28). We need to look at life through the eyes of faith because God is the God of the impossible. He is able to do, as in one rendering of Ephesians 3:20, “exceeding, abundantly, above all we ask or think.”
The main idea for this communion is that our thoughts shouldn’t be how others have failed; our thoughts should be on faith in God’s grace and because of God’s grace we have faith. Therefore we should keep on praying. Keep on working. Keep on giving. Keep on trusting. Keep on believing. Keep on keeping on. The very fact that that the Bible—a book written to all of us, shows we are abject failures who were sinning all over the place but importantly, God—didn’t consider us a lost cause. With faith, hope and love we believe all things are possible!
I like to us to think about the fact that the communion table can remind us that God continually blesses us with His forgiveness, that should strengthen our faith and promote fellowship with Him and others. We celebrate the fact that Jesus died on the cross, He offered forgiveness for everyone who believes (“faith”) and then we are able to gather at the table (“fellowship”).
God’s mercy is the most dominate theme throughout the Bible. When we celebrate Communion it should remind us as much as the man in Mark 5, to go and tell how much the Lord has done for us and what mercy he has shown us. And to have compassion on others.
Galatians 6:1: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.”
It is the attitude of arrogance that moves a believer to be right rather than to be helpful. Pride makes us want to feel like we are on the “right side,” while humility wants us to serve as God’s voice of healing to those who are on the wrong side. A self-righteous person often will maintain a critical spirit and judgement of other people. But God’s grace gathers sinners together around the foot of the cross.
A question I would like you to consciously answer? Does what I say publically or privately help bring someone back, or does it push them further down? I’m grateful that God has and still does win me over with the kindness that leads me to repentance (Romans 2:4 do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?) Therefore, we each should have the same attitude of mercy towards others.
Communion is a time when we remind ourselves of the faith that we have in Jesus Christ. Join me at the table, will you?
(Moment of Mediation)
Would the servers come forward at this time please … and as they come I would remind you that the elements on this table, the bread and the cup that you will soon hold in your own hands, is a tangible reminder of our forgiveness found in Jesus sacrifice, and to remember to have faith in God’s work in the lives of others.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 11:23:
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;
24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
To conclude our communion we take a collection. This offering is for needs for our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is a voluntary offering and we ask that you give as you are led. We base our giving on the Scriptural text:
I John 3:17-24 “But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.