Mark 1:1-20

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We have looked at Mark 1:1-20 over the last two weeks in Sunday School at Grace Community Church.

First, Mark 1:1-13 sets the stage for the entire Second Gospel by showing how everything begins and revolves around God keeping His promises. The Old Testament builds the hope and expectation of Someone who is coming, and in particular, someone will prepare the way for His arrival. Mark describes the fulfillment of all this in the coming of John the Baptist to herald the advent of Jesus.

Then, Mark 1:14-20 gives the transition from the Old Testament prophetic ministry to the new ministry in Jesus Himself.

Throughout Mark, His primary purpose is to force us to see Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God (1:1).

Mark 1:1-13 Notes and Audio

Mark 1:14-20 Notes and Audio

Patrick Beard from Indigenous Outreach International

Yesterday (June 14, 2015) we had the great privilege of hearing from Patrick Beard, director of Indigenous Outreach International. We at Grace Community Church support two Ethiopian pastors through IOI, and Patrick spoke to us from his experience of answering the call to missions and the work being done through IOI for the last 16 years.

It’s a powerful word of God’s patient love, sense of humor, and matchless grace.

Listen to Part One here.

Listen to Part Two here.

Doctrine of the Holy Spirit: Creation

We continued our series on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit by looking at the Spirit’s role in creation. The Bible shows us that the Spirit gives life (Genesis 2:7) and beauty (Job 26:13) to all of God’s creation, and He does a parallel work in giving life (John 3:5-8) and beauty (2 Corinthians 3:18) in the New Creation.

You can listen to the audio and read my teaching notes here.

Why We Sing

And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:18-21 HCSB)

Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16 HCSB).

Singing is an important part of the life of the church. At Grace Community Church, we sing for many reasons, which can be remembered by the acronym FIRE: we sing to feel, instruct, relate, and exalt.

We sing to feel. In Ephesians 5:19, singing and making music is “from your heart to the Lord.” The psalms, which are themselves songs, are a library of emotions. We sing as a way of expressing to God and each other what we or others (or both) are feeling. We sing when we are

  • sad (Psalm 6:6-7)
  • thankful (Psalm 9:1)
  • feeling alone and forsaken (Psalm 13:1-2, 22:1-2)
  • trusting God (Psalm 23)
  • confident in God’s protection (Psalm 27)
  • forgiven of sins (Psalm 32)
  • confused and angry about evildoers’ success (Psalm 73)
  • broken and repentant (Psalm 51)
  • depressed and don’t know why (Psalms 42-43)
  • attacked by hateful people (Psalm 52)
  • thankful to be saved (Psalm 63)
  • sharing the gospel (Psalm 67)
  • amazed at who God is (Psalm 93)

Throughout the Bible, God’s people have turned to singing and music to express their hearts to God and one another. Singing is not a way of plastering over how we really feel with a veneer of happiness; rather, we sing from the way we feel now, and many times singing can be a way of moving to the way we want to or should feel.

We sing to instruct. Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 both describe the purpose of singing as “speaking to one another” (Ephesians 5:19) and “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). In fact, the Colossians passage specifically says that singing with each other is a way of soaking ourselves in Jesus’ word.

Putting things to music is one of the most common ways of learning things. The tune sticks in your head, and that tune gets associated with the words of the song. Learning rich, God-honoring songs–both the ones in the Scriptures and ones written by believers after the Bible was finished–is a way of keeping the truth about Jesus with us all the time.

What’s more, when we sing together–which is particularly what Paul has in mind in Ephesians and Colossians–we’re teaching each other, not just ourselves. We sing to remind each other of what is true because we’re weak and frail sinners who forget.

We sing to relate. Many of the psalms include instructions such as “To the choirmaster” or “for the flutes,” indicating that they were originally intended for a group setting. And, in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, Paul tells them to sing with one another and to one another.

We sing together, because we are united in Christ as His body. We can sing sad and joyful songs, because we weep with those who are sorrowful and rejoice with the joyful. We teach one another by our songs, not only ourselves. And by hearing so many others sing the same truths, we’re reminded that we’re not alone.

We sing to exalt the name of Jesus. Whether rejoicing or weeping, we sing because of who Jesus is and what He has done. All throughout the Old Testament, songs are used to celebrate God’s saving power and loving mercy to them. Moses sang a song after the Red Sea crossing (Exodus 15); David wrote many of his psalms as a response to how God had delivered him from enemies like Saul.

Our singing, whether together in a worship service or individually during the week, is always and only possible because Jesus is our Great High Priest, interceding for us because of His perfect obedience, atoning death as our Substitute, and resurrection to the right hand of the Father. Jesus is the Worship Leader, and He gives us new hearts that want to sing.

Faithfulness and Visual Media

At Grace Community Church, our current Sunday School class is a discussion about various aspects of life that may seem too small to be of any significance or so big as to be overwhelming. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about music and visual media. Specifically, our discussions center around how to wisely and faithfully honor Jesus with the music we listen to and the shows we watch.

Unfortunately, the first week wasn’t recorded (it helps when I actually hit “Record,” as it turns out). Yesterday we continued the discussion by talking about visual media–TV and movies, especially, but also some insightful comments about video games and other media as well.

You can listen to yesterday’s discussion here.

Grace That Isn’t Free Isn’t Grace

I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to preach occasionally at Grace Community Church over the last five years. It’s a high honor for me, and one I thoroughly enjoy.

One of my favorite sermons is from October 2009 on 2 Kings 5 and Naaman the Syrian. You can download the sermon here and the manuscript here.

I pray this sermon encourages you in spite of its speaker and because of its Jesus.