Mark My Words . . .
It’s a statement that people often make when they are making a prediction that may seem to others to be far-fetched. A sports announcer may use the phrase before predicting a long-shot to win a championship. A politician may use the phrase to pronounce the doom that will come if his opponent is elected instead of himself. The use of this phrase presumes some level of foreknowledge and authority on a particular subject.
Nobody has ever shown more foreknowledge and authority than Jesus Christ. In the week before His death and resurrection, Jesus made some “mark my words” statements to His disciples. When they were admiring the temple and all of its glory, Jesus said “not one stone will be left upon another.” When Peter suggested that he would never fall away from Jesus, Jesus replied, “Truly I say to you (mark my words) that you yourself this very night, before the cock crows twice, shall three times deny me,”
On March 15, I will begin a sermon series entitled, “Mark My Words.” Using the book of Mark, we will be looking at some ‘mark my word” statements that Jesus made in his final week of earthly ministry, and the implications they have for believers today.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
The above words are the favorites of many Bible students. They form the purpose for Christian ministry and are at the very heart of the Christian marriage ceremony. They come from 1 Corinthians 13 - the great love chapter in the Bible. The chapter begins this way: If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
Corinth was located on a major international travel route. The ability to speak to foreigners in their native tongue would have been very useful to the Corinthian Christians. For this reason, tongue-speaking was the supreme spiritual gift in the eyes of many Corinthian Christians. But Paul tells them that love is even greater.
Not only was love greater, but without love, tongue-speaking was nothing more than a bunch of noise. These same Christians had been converted from pagan religions that held to ridiculous practices. The ancients, when presenting sacrifices or seeking favor had a practice of banging on gongs in order to wake their pagan gods. The notion that worshipers were relying on a deity who could not even wake himself is sad. The image of religious priests garbed in sanctimonious clothing, swinging with all their might to stir imaginary gods and goddesses is at the same time humorous and pitiful. Equally pitiful to Paul was Christians who desired great gifts but cared little about using them properly.
I wonder how often modern church-going becomes little more than ancient pagan religion. Churches compete to have the biggest building, the hippest preacher and the skinniest “skinny jean” worship leader - all in hopes that they can have the largest attendance and be “in” church, while many who attend their weekly services remain on the outside wishing they belonged. How often is the weekly worship nothing more than a resounding gong or a clanging symbol?
The prophet Micah put it this way,
He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
We cannot be Christian if we cannot love others.
How do we as the Body of Christ demonstrate love?
Over the next few months we will be re-inventing our Care Ministry at Sebring Christian Church. Our goal will be to ensure that everybody who attends our services will understand that they are important to Jesus Christ, by showing them that they are important to His church.
The crucial word in that statement is “everybody.” It is relatively simple to express care and concern to the most active members. But people whose attendance is a little less regular can be more of a challenge. Expressing care to “everybody,” will require participation and organization. Our Care Ministry will implement new ministries, revive deceased ministries and incorporate them with currently functioning ministries.
Here are a few areas of the Care Ministry where we are seeking to involve people and would ask you to consider signing on to.
Worship Hosting - Worship hosts and hostesses will be assigned a section of the auditorium where they will get to know the people who sit there on a regular basis. They serve as the eyes and ears of the eldership and staff to keep them informed of health issues and other concerns. If you would like to serve as one of these hosts or hostesses, please see Tim McMillan.
Sending Cards - These people will take time to mail Get Well cards, Sympathy cards, “We Miss You” and other cards or simply write notes of encouragement. If you would be willing to serve in this capacity, please see Paula McDowell.
Praying - These people will take time to pray for the specific needs of the congregation from healing and grief to finance and stress. Please see Charlie Hardin if you would like to become part of this vital ministry.
Visiting - Prayers and cards are very important, but there are times when we need a personal visit. If you desire to show your care for others by visiting folks who are homebound or in the hospital, please see Phil Crosbie.
As we move forward to organize these teams there are two things to remember: 1) a person does not have to serve on a specific team in order to do any of the above, we all can pray send cards and visit a friend; 2) this ministry will function fully only when we are aware of a need. If you know of someone’s need, don’t assume that everyone else in the church knows. Call the office, send an email, call my personal cell phone. We Care!
Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to the family of faith. - Galatians 6:9-10
Edgar Whisenant was a former NASA engineer who wrote the booklet, “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Occur in 1988.” 1988 came and went but the church remained.
In the late 1970s, there was a British television program where nuclear waste stored on the Moon’s far-side exploded, knocking the Moon out of orbit and sending it, as well as the 311 inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, hurtling uncontrollably into space. The program was called “Space 1999.” The year 1999 is now history.
In the late 1980s, Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd starred in the “Back to the Future” movies where they found themselves On October 1, 2015 outside of Wrigley Field the night the Cubs won their first World Series in over a century. 2015 has blown by along with the Chicago Cubs’ world series championships.
The future has a way of piquing our imaginations.
What kind of life changes will take place? What will our homes look like? Where will our children and grandchildren live?
2020 is a year that many church leaders have used to represent the future. One of the most common church themes over the past twenty years has included the year 2020. Capital campaigns, growth goals, and other visions were to be completed by 2020. Many of those goals were accomplished. Some fell a little short. For all, 2020 will soon be a date in the past, like 1988, 1999 and the Cubs winning the World Series.
Long term vision is good to have because it shapes the direction of any organization. But of equal or greater importance what is being done now. 2020 is now. It’s not only where we’re going, its where we are today. While we should always have plans for tomorrow, the success of those plans are dependent on how we work them out today.
"In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Cor 6:2
Now that 2020 is here, lets take some time to focus on today. There are three things that you can do in 2020 to make our past vision become a current reality:
Pray - James, the brother of Jesus wrote, “you have not because you ask not.” He was not referring to possessions alone, but to all the desires of the heart, especially those that align themselves with the will of God.
Pray for Church Leadership. Pray that God directs our elders and staff in carrying out their duties.
Pray for Fellow Church Members. Pray for those who have illnesses, financial struggles and family unrest. Pray for those who are serving in the church that God would bless their efforts and encourage them.
Pray for Future Church Members. Pray that God would send workers to join us as we labor for Him.
Participate - Paul described the church as a body with interconnecting parts. Just as our own physical bodies are hindered when certain body parts fail to participate, the ministry of the church also suffers when church members become inactive.
Attend - Establish (or re-establish) the habit of weekly attendance. Attend special services and Bible studies. Your presence is much more encouraging than you may realize.
Serve - Find an area of ministry where ypu can serve. Whether its working in the kitchen, remodeling a bathroom, or assisting with the children, the reward is great for both you and the church.
Give - I’ve often heard the statement, “giving is between me and God.” But the truth is, the work of any church relies heavily on the giving of its members, and consistent generous giving is
Promote - The most successful companies in the world all have one thing in common. They spend large amounts of resources promoting their business. From advertising, to charitable giving to customer follow-up, these companies have succeeded because they have promoted their business. Hands down, the most effective form of publicity for any thriving church is “word of mouth.”
Invite - Invite your friends to church. So maybe they have told you “no” before. Sometimes it is your persistence that impresses them. Bring visitors with you. Tell them you will stop by and pick them up. Your relationship with others may be the most effective tool God has given you.
Compliment - Many people complain about their church or their minister or their worship. In fact, its something others have come to expect. When you brag on these things it piques the interest of others. When those people here another church member brag as well, the curiosity doubles.
Use Social Media - We complain that people today spend too much time on their cell phones. While that observation is probably valid, instead of bemoaning it, let’s use it as a tool for the church. Follow us on Facebook and share our posts about concerts, special events and sermon series.
Ready or not, 2020 is here. The future is now.
Let’s make the most of it.