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Sermon For This Week:

     Mark 6:14-29  -  Sermon #1  How Life's Pressures Affect Good Judgment
     Mark 6:1-13   -   Sermon #2  Our Human Predicament

Sermon #1: In the opera Faust, there is a fight to the finish between Satan and the young man Valentine. During the course of the fight, Satan breaks Valentine's sword and he stands poised to slay him. But the young boy takes the two pieces of his sword and fashions them into a cross. Confronted with this symbol of faith, Satan becomes immobilized and Valentine is saved.


It is an interesting concept: A dramatic demonstration of faith. Unfortunately such resolution of faith does not always save you. In fact, it might be your deathbed. It was John's. Take a look at the story with me. John has been arrested by King Herod. And why? Because John kept reminding Herod that even the king is not above the law. He said, ďIt is not lawful for you to have your brotherís wife.Ē


So this was the kingís egregious sin. He had stolen his brotherís wife, Herodias. Now, it would be understandable if this were where the story ended. The king didnít like a desert preacher calling him a sinner so he had him beheaded. Simple enough. But life is not always simple. There is usually more to a story than meets the eye. And in this case we learn that Herod actually liked to listen to John, thought he was a holy man, and protected him. Perhaps, in Herodís mind, putting him under lock and key was a way of removing him from harms way.


So if the king was offended by Johnís outbursts, it was not enough to warrant death. The king feared the prophet and dared not harm him. But life has a funny way of pressuring us to do things we would not normally do. This is a story about a man who caved due to social pressures. Let me ask you: How do lifeís pressures affect your judgment? What can we learn form this deplorable moment in the life of this king, this moment when the king caved? We learn that...


1. Puzzling problems require conscientious decisions

2. Promises made in haste create great waste

3. Pressures in life can affect good judgment


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Sermon #2: In his sermon at the hometown synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus preached to the hometown folks -- family and friends who rejected him. One of the reasons for rejection was apparently overfamiliarity. Jesus went about healing, casting out demons, and preaching the need for repentance. Some people rejoiced. The hometown folks were offended. Jesus was rejected in his own hometown. Therefore Jesus made plans to send others out in his name. We pick up the story in verse 6: "And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits."


When Jesus was rejected in Nazareth, he saw it as a sign of what was to come -- his suffering, death, and resurrection. When he was gone, others would have to carry on the work of salvation by offering healing, casting out demons, and preaching the gospel. Jesus began to execute a new plan by sending out the twelve apostles two by two. Later he would send out seventy (Luke 10:1-12) and then commission the whole church to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). The plan of bringing salvation would be the same plan Jesus followed. Jesus' followers are called to heal the sick, cast out demons, and preach about repentance and forgiveness, just as Jesus himself did; but before receiving the Good News, people would need to be aware of their need for salvation. People would need to know their need before they would accept Christ's way of salvation. They would need to know their sickness, their struggle with demonic forces, and their sin before they would accept salvation from the Savior. People would need to become aware of their predicament.


In his sermon to the graduates of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, theologian Paul Tillich preached on the theme of healing, casting out demons, and leading people to faith. He told the graduating seminarians that they would experience difficulties as they went to their new parishes with this message of healing, casting out demons, and repentance. Why would there be difficulties? Many people say that they do not need to be healed; many laugh at the absurdity of casting out demons that rule their lives; and many reject the idea of their need to trust in Christ for salvation. "Therefore," Tillich said, "the first task of the minister is to make people aware of their predicament."


So, what is our predicament? Looking at the human condition all around this world what are the basic issues which confront us? I would say... 


1. First, the Predicament Of Sickness

2. Second, the Predicament Of Evil

3. Third, the Predicament Of Sin


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Grace and Peace,

Rev. Brett Blair
ChristianGlobe Network presents Leonard Sweet