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Jesus set and modeled clear priorities in life. By consistently spending time in a "secret place," He allowed God's Spirit to make Him an individual who was: a) in communion with the Father; b) devoted; c) disciplined; and d) living a life of self-sacrifice.
Jesus was Known for His Friendships with Sinners: What are You Known For?
Jesus, Two Groups and a Guy: The Danger of Lame Living
Baptism: What It Is and Is It for You? The Leper Revisited
The Leper Who Talked & the People Who Don't: How Disobedience Affects God's Purposes
If Busyness is Killing Your Heart, the Secret Place is the Solution
Do You Know Where to Take Your Suffering Friends?
The Testimony of an Unclean Spirit: Are Words & Information Enough?
Spirit Directed Fishing: Get Near Water, Get Your Line Wet, and Bait Your Hook
The Day All Heaven Broke Out
The Great Forerunner of the Great Servant: A Look at John the Baptist
In Mark, chapter 1, we're looking at the life of Christ. We're looking at this one who was the man in the middle. There are two great questions you must answer…Who is this Jesus? and…What was he doing on the cross? Mark is racing us towards both answers, and he's unfolding the story of this Jesus who came and whose call was commanding and unique, whose teaching was authoritative and created curiosity amongst those who heard it and who said this man teaches not at the scribes do but teaches with inherent authority and was a marvel to them.
We saw the compassion of the Savior, the call of the Savior, and now we're going to see the secret of the Savior. In verses 35 through 39 of Mark, chapter 1, there's not a whole lot that's there, but let's read it together. We're going to go through, and we're going to make some observations. We're going to grab some principal truths that are there, and then we're going to apply it to our lives. I will warn you. You're going to feel uncomfortable about what I have to say today.
It should disturb you. It should make you evaluate if everything is as it should be in your life. Do you want to know him? When you know him and when you meet him, let it not just be a casual glance, an informational exchange. Let it be transforming. He is not just our Savior. He is our model and King, so let's learn from him.
"In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place…" This is the end of a very long day. It started with the call of Peter and Andrew, of James and John. From there, he went to the temple, and he taught and ran into a man there who was demon possessed. He had a confrontation there with those, and people were at awe at what he did.
He left there and went to Peter's house, healed his mother-in-law, and then it says that, at night, they brought to him many at the end of the Sabbath day…many who were sick and demon possessed and needed healing, and he cared for them until late in the evening for sure. Then, as everybody went away and everybody got some rest, so did the Lord.
Then early the next day, it says, "…while it was still dark…" Before sunrise. "…Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, 'Everyone is looking for You.' He said to them, 'Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.' And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons."
See, Jesus knew why he came. He was not there to rally support for an upcoming election. He was not trying to garner votes or increase his popularity. He was looking to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom alone, and he was not going to be distracted from his divine purpose, even by success. The disciples didn't understand this. I mean, if Christ had come just to be coronated king, okay, maybe he wouldn't have come born in a humble way in a manger as we've seen he was, maybe he wouldn't have been from Nazareth.
We think he would have come in a more spectacular way, but nonetheless, now that he's come in this humble way, he's begun to act in impressive ways, and now people want to be near him. There is nobody in all the land who is as sought after at this point, in just one chapter…34 verses…as Jesus Christ, but Jesus is not impressed. He didn't come to have people clamor around him and speak of how wonderful he was and to be curious by his deeds and even by his teachings.
He had something else in mind. You see, Peter and the guys wanted to grab him and go back and repeat the glory of the previous day. I mean, it was a big win. Those guys cashed in very quickly on their agreement to leave their nets and their father, and right away, Jesus showed it was a good decision because, when this man went and taught, folks were inspired. They were changed, and demons confronted. In fact, demons were subservient to this man's authority. That's good.
They went to the house of one of them, and you saw right away that he was able to be compassionate and to care and protect and love those who Peter loved. That was good. Then the whole neighborhood came over, hearing about the good things that were going on, and as a result of that, Christ and the disciples were wanted men, and Peter had great dreams. He went to bed. He woke up early the next day and went to get Jesus so they could figure who they were going to have breakfast with and start to meet the important people of the city, and he was gone.
He was gone to a lonely place. Now let me just make a comment here, lest I forget it a little bit later. Those words there, lonely place or solitaryplace, show up already two previous times in chapter 1. In verse 3, it says, when John the Baptist was declaring the message of repentance, "…in the wilderness…" They show up again in verse 12, where Jesus was led by the Spirit "…out into the wilderness." They are the words used of the wilderness. Some say desert regions, or others would just call it a solitary or lonely place.
It's interesting, in Mark's gospel, whenever you see these words, it's always a place where the divine and the satanic vie for life. Reminder that. When you see those words in Mark's gospel, it's always a place where the divine is making a plea for the lost or where evil is making an attempt at seducing those who are pursuing righteousness. It is a place where the divine and evil vie for life, and Jesus went there, knowing that in the solitary place, the divine will always win when you turn to the Father.
Jesus wanted to make sure he was victorious in life and that evil did not reign in him or through him or around him, so you will find that he went at strategic times in his ministry to the wilderness or to the lonely, solitary place. This was his pattern. In fact, Mark really has it three times like you see in the verses right here; one in the middle of his ministry, one in the beginning right here, and one at the end; and every single time, Mark has him there when Jesus is confronted with an opportunity to accomplish his messianic mission without threat of suffering or cross.
Jesus knows that evil is trying to prey upon him and take him down a course he was not to go. He goes, and he gets away, and he gets back on track. He sits with the Father, and he listens to the Father, and he's reminded that the path that is narrow, the path that is hard, the way of the cross that he's not sure as a man that he wants to walk… He is reminded again that is the path God would have him on, and he wins that war. He walks in obedience.
He becomes a servant, humble even to the point of death, with confidence, knowing he's not there because of some rebellion or waywardness in his life but because that is the way of the Father to glory. Jesus needs to go again and again to be still and alone and to be reminded that is the place the Father has taken him and to not opt out for some popular, successful ministry but to stay on course.
Let me give you some applications through here. Here's the first one. Remember how we said Jesus was going to take Peter, James, Andrew, and John, and he was going to make them fishers of men? You'll see he has an intensive program of calling all men to be fully devoted followers of Christ, just like we're trying to do. He says, "I'm going to teach you how to be fishermen." Now good fishermen don't want fish who gather around and discuss the bait or admire the fisherman's ability to cast.
Good fishermen want to see the nets full, want to see the rod bend, want to see the line tight. They want fish that strike. Jesus was not looking to have a bunch of fish swim underneath his lure and come on over here where their little gills flap, and say, "You have to watch the way this guy in that boat handles that jig," and have an entire school of fish swimming around him going, "Look at that! Look at that! Isn't that amazing. Look at it! It looks just like a real worm, doesn't it? I've never seen anybody fish with such ability or with such authority."
I will tell you, there will be schools of fish all over this city and world today who are sitting underneath some men who are the Bill Dance of preachers. They will watch the way they handle that worm, and they'll walk out, and they'll go, "Did you see that? Did you see the skill at which he cast out that sermon? Did you see the way he took us to the pinnacle of joy and laughed and then, boom, he just punched us? Boy, it was convicting. Wasn't that good! That brother can fish!"
They will fill up no small room to be around him, but I will tell you, the purpose and the heart of a teacher who is like Christ, in my heart and the heart of everybody who stands here, is not that people would clamor to be underneath us or near us and to be excited about the method in which the gospel is communicated. We want fish that strike, and our heart is not that people would come and speak well of what we do. Our heart is that you would be confronted with truth and that information would lead to transformation.
We looked at this verse a couple of weeks ago, but look what it says in Ezekiel, chapter 33, verse 30. "But as for you, son of man, your fellow citizens who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses, speak to one another, each to his brother, saying, 'Come now and hear what the message is which comes forth from the Lord.' They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words…"
This is God talking to Ezekiel, who is a prophet who was incredibly descriptive and dramatic in the way he communicated truth, and folks always wanted to be around Ezekiel when he was teaching. He did some rather bizarre things, but nonetheless, he brought a crowd. Verse 31 says, "They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them…" They don't strike.
"…for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain. Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them." Do you know what the Lord says to Ezekiel? They're going to learn.
Do you know what the Lord says to Peter and Andrew, to James and John? "Hey, I'm not here to put on a fishing exhibition. I'm not here to handle the bait better than anybody else and to get a big school of people around me. There has been sufficient chum in the land. If the sharks are not coming, let's go chum somewhere else." Good fishermen don't just want folks to gather around who discuss the bait or admire their ability to cast. They want fish who strike, so Jesus stayed on course.
He wasn't going to be impressed that a school of fish swam underneath him. He was going to go and cast that line somewhere else. I'll give you another principle that's right here in this little section. People who are not like Christ, spiritual leaders who seek to perform miracles in a show-like atmosphere, who thrive in the spotlight created by God's power mightily at work through them, you have to beware of.
I mean, if you find individuals who are taking signs and wonders and taking atmosphere and just creating an atmosphere that draws you in and they're satisfied with your coming and satisfied with your giving to support their show, you have the wrong shepherd. Listen to what a man wrote…a guy who was a major influence in Charles Swindoll's life and in Luis Palau's life, if you know those names…a guy by the name of Ray Stedman who pastored a church for a number of years out in California, Peninsula Bible Church.
Ray wrote this one time. "…Jesus frequently manifested to de-emphasize the spectacular, to keep it under control, to play down deliverance from demons, and physical healing. On a number of occasions Jesus said to those he healed, 'Go and tell no man.' That is, 'Don't tell anyone about this. Just accept your healing. But don't spread the word around.' Yet invariably…" And you'll see this. It's what's called the silence motif, and you'll be confused by it. Why did Jesus tell them to be quiet?
There is a reason. Because, in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, he knew that if people went around talking of him as the great miracle worker, they would miss his message, and they would just want him to perform stunts and miracles, and he couldn't get the message out. Today, it's different. If God does something miraculous in your life, he says, "Lift me up!" because his work is done.
He knew, if too soon, the word went out around him, that the Roman authorities would be concerned that there was one who was gathering popularity in Jerusalem. He knew the Jewish leaders would be even more threatened by him if the affections of the people swung towards him, and he didn't want them to love him simply for the miracles that he did. The miracles authenticated who he was. He wanted people to respond to his message of life and hope and redemption through his blood.
Listen to what Stedman writes. "…invariably they disobeyed him, and soon it was recorded of him that he could no longer come and minister in the city because of the crowds that followed him. It is evident that Jesus did not want those crowds—not on those terms." Stedman writes, "What a contrast this is with some people today. There are healers who go about advertising their healing campaigns, and try to bring out the crowds on that basis, emphasizing the spectacular in what they do.
But you see nothing of this in the Bible. Even with the apostles, the physical healings that went on in their ministries were played down, just as in Jesus'. They never advertised them. There is no record in Scripture of people giving public testimonials in order to increase the crowds, or of being 'zapped by the power of God,' or any of the theatrics you see so much of today. These are totally unbiblical."
There's an idea that is out there. It's called power evangelism, and it's propagated all around this city and the world, and the idea is simply this. If people could see the miraculous works of God, they would believe. There are men, in fact in the last decade or so, very influential men in spiritual circles who have said and been on record of saying, "If they would just see, and we're praying that it will happen… If we could just see one man raised from the dead, then surely, they will believe," and I just marvel at that statement.
What's interesting is that it was said during the time of Christ. "Why don't you raise somebody from the dead, and then we'll believe." What did Jesus do? Raised somebody from the dead. What did they want to do to that gentleman that he raised from the dead? Did they believe? No. John tells us they sought to kill him, speaking of Lazarus. It doesn't sound like power evangelism was very effective then, and it wasn't God's plan then, and it's not his plan now.
In fact, there was one true resurrection, not a resuscitation because Lazarus died, but one resurrection. We'll talk about it next week. The question is…Are these men who believe that if they just saw a miracle, like one person raised from the dead, then they will believe? Well, it's happened, and do men believe? Do you believe?
You know, just yesterday… I don't know if you read it, but in the Religion section of the Dallas Morning News, you saw a big front-page thing that says, "Hungry for Heaven: Seekers of Revival Want the Real Thing, and They're Willing to Linger for It." I will tell you, they're willing to be duped to say they've experienced it, and they talk about some gentleman and his wife who are here for a while.
They have ministries like many others you'll see on TV, and they claim to be able to do miraculous things, and through these miraculous things, people can know that God is real because…watch this. And folks, I will tell you it's an unbiblical method, and it's a sham. Can God heal? Let me go on record as saying, "Absolutely." You heard us pray for it last week. I believe that God can heal, and I pray that God would heal those who are in our midst.
I told you last week, when my kids get sick, before I give them Motrin, I give them time on my knees with them, praying for them, to the point now where we'll give them medicine and, if I've forgotten, they say, "Daddy, you didn't pray for me," and I'm grateful for that. I want my kids to know that the power of God is unlimited and it hasn't become less because we live in the year 2000 than if we had lived in the time of Christ, but the things that you see people claiming as evidence of the power of God are a mockery.
I don't have time to tell you some of the stuff that I've seen. There's a friend of mine, an investigative reporter, who asked me a number of years ago to go behind the scenes of one of these healing ministries with him to try to expose some of the bad magic that is being passed off in the name of the power of God. It's embarrassing, people. Names you know, ministries that I pray none of you have supported, are a crock. That's about as sanctified a word as I feel like I can use right now.
The article talks about this gentleman here. It says, "He emphasizes experience and sometimes includes uncontrollable laughter and shaking, healings, and the sudden appearance of oil and gold and dust." Believers say, "All of this is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit," and I say, "That's not what I see the Scriptures say are evidence of the Holy Spirit. I see the Scriptures say that the evidence of the Holy Spirit will be a transformed life that walks in humility and with a servant's heart.
I see evidence of the Holy Spirit being that individuals are indwelled with gifts that they use in order to serve others as a manifold witness of the grace of God. I see evidence of the Holy Spirit not being your ability to speak in some language which no one can understand, but biblically, I see evidence of the Holy Spirit being that you can control the tongue that's already in your mouth. I see evidence of the Holy Spirit being love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control."
In fact, Paul said, "What are you all doing acting like that? People are going to walk into your body, and they're going to think you're crazy." I will tell you, that's what I'd think if I went over there and watched people go throwing themselves on the floor for 30 minutes, laughing hysterically and saying it's some manifestation of the Spirit of God. I do think it's the manifestation of a spirit, just not the one we're seeking to worship in here.
This man apparently is known for bringing healing to the deaf, and the feature of this whole article is that this guy has brought some healing to this young woman, and he says, as this man anointed of God, that nine out of ten people he prays for get healed. Well, how about that? You know, I happen to see Jesus not shooting 90 percent in the gospel. I don't see him come out and go, "That's a bad headache in there. We're not going to be able to get rid of that one just now."
It's a mockery to the power of God when you say, "Sometimes." You should see, gang, the staging and the manipulation that goes on and the people who are seriously sick and hurting who are walked by to go to somebody who has a disease that no one can see. I don't think Jesus walked past people who were lame because they were tough to heal and dealt with somebody who had shin splints so they could run up and down the stage. No. He took them all, and he spoke 100 percent healing into their lives as evidence that he was God-man.
Listen to this. It says this women, since she's been healed of her hearing loss, has heard a cricket and the beeping of her mother's cell phone and had to ask her family to turn down the TV once so she could sleep, but she and her mother acknowledge that the healing is far from complete. She still cannot hear well enough to be interviewed by telephone and relies, instead, on email message exchanges only. It goes on. She says, "We have to believe. We have to have hope," and I want her to have hope.
I have to tell you, Jesus could heal her ears like nobody, but he doesn't need to…just like Kelli doesn't need to lose her MS for us to know that he is King. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is what guarantees our eternal health, and that is evidence that the Spirit of God is there, that we are people of hope even in the face of adversity. Do we pray for healing here? Fervently. Will we lower and mock God, and will we try and exalt ourselves, create some spotlight if God's power mightily works in us? No. I think not. Beware of those kinds of leaders.
The secret to Jesus' compassion, devotion, discipline, self-denial, and sacrificial death was the secret place. Listen, this is the most confusing thing when you look at the life of Christ. Jesus is fully God and fully man. It was this thing we looked at a couple of weeks ago, and it was a big theological word that we were uncomfortable using here called the hypostatic union, that both natures continue to fully exist without comingling and Jesus remains fully man and always was and always will be fully God.
I can't explain it. I just know the Scriptures teach it. As the Son of God incarnate, as the Son of God who walked on this earth identifying with you and me, he humbled himself and "…did not regard [his] equality with God a thing to be grasped…" Meaning he did not selfishly rely on his own deity but, as a man, depended upon the Spirit and power of God to be the individual who would testify to the greatness and glory of God and to live a life of perfect obedience through which he might ultimately be our sacrifice, and people misunderstand this.
I want to read from Stedman one more time. This will transform your lives, people. Listen to what he says. "I do not know any more confusing doctrine in Christendom today—one which has robbed the Scriptures of their authority and power in the minds and hearts of countless people—than the idea that Jesus acted by virtue of the fact he was the Son of God…" Meaning that he was God himself, which he was. "…that the authority and power he demonstrated were due to his own deity." Let me tell you, that is not the case.
"'The Son by himself can do nothing,' (John 5:19)." The words of Christ. "Why do we ignore his explanation, and insist that it is he, acting as the Son of God? He tells us that 'it is not I; the Father who dwells in me, he does the works,' (John 14:10). And all the power that Jesus manifested had to come to him constantly from the One who dwelt within him. The reason Jesus stresses this is that this is what he wants us to learn. We are to operate on the same basis.
Response to the normal, ordinary demands of life, and power to cope with it, must come from our reliance upon him at work within us. This is the secret—all power to live the Christian life comes not from us, doing our dead-level best to serve God, but from him, granted to us moment by moment as the demand is made upon us. Power is given to those who follow, who obey. The Father is at work in the Son; the Son is at work in us."
The Son is a Spirit-directed vessel, fully God, who laid aside that deity, though fully containing it, so he might be an example to us of what the perfect man and woman walk like. In order to be an individual who communes with God and is compassionate and is devoted and is disciplined and lives a life of self-denial and self-sacrifice, guess what he had to do often? Go to the secret place.
Look what it says in Isaiah, chapter 50, starting in verse 4. In Isaiah 50, verses 4 through 7, what you have in the second part of the book of Isaiah, this Old Testament giant of a prophet who writes in the second half of his book about the coming suffering servant and what he would do for the people of Israel and, therefore, for the whole world…
He says, taking on the attitude of this servant, who Jesus became, "The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple." This is prophecy that is being spoken of of what the Messiah's life would be like. Mark, three different times…the beginning, the middle, and the end…as a type of what was true of the pattern in Christ's life, shows us that this is what Jesus did so that we might do it also.
"He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not disobedient nor did I turn back. I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting. For the Lord God helps Me, therefore, I am not disgraced; therefore, I have set My face like flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed."
What did I tell you happened in the lonely place? What happened in the lonely place is that evil and deity warred with one another to see who would reign. Evil wanted Christ to compromise, wanted him to cash away from the cross and to take a crown early in a different way, and Jesus had to continually go to the Father and be renewed and encouraged by the Spirit as the God-man so that he might stay on course and do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit with humility of mind and consider others as more important than himself.
The way that he did that is by going away often to a lonely place. If you are struggling to live that way in your marriage, to be that at work, to be that in your community of friends, it is because you are failing to go to the lonely place to meet with God and to ask him to sustain you and strengthen you for his Spirit to be mightily upon you and to meditate on his word and to carry it throughout the day and to pray without ceasing. We are told to continually be walking with the Spirit, but we are also told to sometimes pull away to the silent and secret place, just like Jesus modeled.
Do you see how Jesus set his face like flint? Do you see why he didn't cash out? Because the Spirit said you're right where I want you, and I will be with you even to the end. Are you struggling in your life with compassion, devotion, and discipline? It's not because the Spirit doesn't have enough discipline and compassion. It's because we're not available to him. It's because we don't go to the secret place. It's because we have not met God the Father.
Well, you may not be surprised to know that, if the secret to Jesus' life is the secret place, that the Enemy's great plan and his source of victory in our lives…the means that he uses to cause us to live a life of selfishness, wavering, and worldliness…is his strategy to keep us from the secret place, and anything he can do to keep us from that secret place is a victory to him.
I was talking to my friend Carolyn a little bit ago about how, in the Chinese language, they don't have letters, so to speak. They have characters. Some call them pictographs. Certain pictographs or different characters represent words…no letters…in Chinese. You've heard some of these. For instance, some of these characters are a combination of two other characters or two other words.
The character for crisis in the Chinese pictograph is a combination of two other characters. It's the combination of danger and opportunity. Isn't that what crisis is? It's brilliant, and they took those two characters, and they merged them into another character that became the word for crisis. When you have a crisis, you have the possibility of danger and the possibility of opportunity.
Let me tell you one I came across this week I have never known before, and it taught me the brilliance of the Chinese all over again. The character for busy is a combination of two Chinese character words. One is heart and the other killing. Heart…killing…busy. Let me read you this. "Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, 'We can't keep the Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth.
We can't even keep them from conservative values. But we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to church. Let them have their conservative lifestyles. But steal their time, so they can't gain that experience in Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day.'
'How shall we do this?' shouted his angels. 'Keep them busy in the nonessentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds,' he answered. 'Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then, borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work six or seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work.
Over stimulate their minds so they cannot hear that still small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive, to keep the TV, VCR, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their homes. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ. Fill their coffee tables with newspapers and magazines. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day.
Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogues, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering, free products, services and false hopes. Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week.
Don't let them go out in nature to reflect on God's wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead. And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotion. Let them be involved in soul winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Christ.
Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family unity for the good of the cause.' It was quite a convention in the end. And the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there. Has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge."
Been to the secret place lately? It took me three weeks to get eight hours in one day to do that. I knew I was teaching on this three weeks ago. I've had guys, five guys, my closest friends in the world, praying for me that I'd be disciplined to do this, for three weeks. I finally did it Thursday. I can't wait three weeks. You can't wait three weeks. Are you busy? How about this definition for busy? Being under Satan's yoke. How about this definition for busy? Heart killing.
Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.
Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask 'How are you?', do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.
Ever told your child, we'll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
'cause you never had time to call and say hi?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
it's like an unopened gift thrown away.
Life isn't a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.
Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy
You won't be feeling groovy, but you will be feeling the power of God in your life. There's no other way. Has Satan been effective? You bet he has. Can I tell you something that I'm convicted of? You want to know one of the signs that we are fully devoted followers of Christ at Watermark Community Church? You want to know the ways that we're going to be different? Our testimony in the world is that we are not a slave to the schedule that this city called Dallas, Texas, pins on us, and I think we're lousy at it.
We are just as harried, just as pressured. We have as many activities and boards and functions to go to as the lost person, and we have no sign of life and order and discipline in our world. In fact, all we have is something else in our schedule called church, and I think it's a problem, and I think it speaks to the powerlessness in our lives.
One lady wrote this. "I do not mean to make an idol of health, but it does seem to me that at least some of us have made an idol of exhaustion. The only time we know we have done enough is when we are running on empty and when the ones we love most are the ones we see the least. When we lie down to sleep at night, we offer our full appointment calendars to God in lieu of prayer, believing that God—who is as busy as we are—will surely understand." No, he doesn't.
The God who is as busy as we are had order in his life, and he did not let the spirit of the age sweep him into that current. Jesus says in John 17, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do."
Has that been your experience? Can you say that night after night, or do you lie in bed like in that poem we just read thinking of all the things you didn't do today and all the things you have to do tomorrow, or do you lie in bed every night and say, "Everything that you wanted me to do today, Father, I have done?" See, the greatest confidence that we have that we can do something is that God has asked us to do it.
I will tell you that we have been charged, gang, to rule our world and not let our world rule us. If you don't set your own priorities, somebody else will set them for you, and they will not have your best interests in mind. What I offer you today is the priorities that the Savior has set for you and that he has modeled for you. He can in every way empathize with your weaknesses, and he can emphasize with the temptations and the pull.
Some of you are very powerful, gifted people. Some of you are needed by the world but no more than him, and you can pull away if you want, if you know the need to do it. There's a great song that's out there by Ty Herndon. You guys who know me well know that I think, next to the Scriptures, country music has more good revelation than any other source that you can come across. Ty Herndon is writing a little song about how the world just lost two lonely people, the world just lost two broken hearts, and he goes and talks about how sweet it is to be with this lady.
He gets to the chorus, and he says, "And when they carve my stone all they'll need to write on it is 'Once lived a man who got all he ever wanted' Tell me something, who could ask for more? Than to be living in a moment you would die for." Well, I have one for you, Ty. How about if I told you that I would give you a moment that Christ died for, that I could give you a moment that he died to give you…not a moment that you'd die for as an expression, a colloquialism, a proverb in our day.
We say, "Man, I'd die for that!" No, you wouldn't, but you're saying that's the pinnacle of something or the glory and the credit that you can attribute to something for an experience. Do you know there's one thing that God died for? What is it? It is to give you access to him in the secret place.
It is to give you the privilege of coming into his presence and not being consumed in wrath but be welcomed as sons, so if we don't do, if we fail to live in the moment that Christ died for, we are culpable and have no one but ourselves to blame. Let me just give you some verses very quickly. Listen to this. This is what Paul says.
"Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called 'Uncircumcision' by the so-called 'Circumcision,' which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."
Do you see what that says? "For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall [of hostility] …" It talks there between the Jew and the Gentile, but there's another dividing wall that's been broken. It's the dividing wall between a holy God and sinful humanity, and this week, we celebrate the fact that Christ's death has torn the curtain, and now we can come before his presence without fear and trembling, but boldly before that thrown of grace.
Look what it says down there in verse 17. "And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father." It's the moment that Christ died for us, so it's no small idea in Scripture. Look what else is says in another place.
This is Ephesians 7:12. "…of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power." This is Paul saying, "I get to preach this." "To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things…"
His intent was that, now through the church, "…the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. ** This was **** in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him."** It's a moment that God died for, that you can approach God.
One more, Romans 5:1-2: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith…" How are we doing taking advantage of that access into that quiet and lonely place? If we don't live in the moment that he died for, we have nobody but ourselves to blame…nobody, and we fall prey to the schemes of the Enemy to keep us powerless. That's where we're going today. That's the whole message.
I want to offer to you simply this. If you're frustrated, if you are powerless in your Christian life, if you're not growing as a devoted follower of Christ, if you're not sure there's a God who is there, get to a lonely place and ask him to speak to your heart, to convict you of sin and to reveal himself to you. If you do know him, you have to be still with the Savior.
I put together something a while back that I want to make available to anybody who will do this. It'll guide you through a day in prayer, how to spend some time alone with the Lord, a half day, four hours, where you'll go away… Have somebody else babysit your kids, moms. Dads take a half day of work or leave early or go home a little bit later one day. Your wife will support you. Some time in the next two weeks, will you live in a moment that God has died for?
If you're committed to doing that when you walk out today, on the welcome table and a number of different places, you'll see this little packet for you. Just grab it. As I thought, "God, what do you want me to give to folks this week? How can I serve the body of Christ among me?" the answer that came to me was this.
He said, "Todd, you exhort them to be attentive to me. You exhort them to follow their Savior and to model his life by going away to the secret place and to live in a moment that I died for." It is the Holy Week. It is the week that we celebrate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, who has broken down the barrier, that we might draw near with confidence.
The question I have to ask you is, "Will we do it?" Will we do it, or will we be too busy and, therefore, powerless? Are you under Satan's yoke? Let's exhort one another unto love and good deeds. Let's exhort each other to manage our world and not let our world manage us. Let's grab the sovereignty that God gave us as people to be people of peace and rest and not harangued and hurried and occupied with the good things that make us miss the best. Let's pray.
Father, I thank you for this text…how alive it is, how applicable it is to our lives. I thank you that we can just come, and we can be convicted and instructed by Christ that we can see that, in fact, yes, we too have been prodded and pushed by pressures and popularity. Oh, we have so many things to do. Our kids are so wanted on this soccer team and that soccer team. We're wanted to speak at this, to serve on that board. We can't miss that TV show. We have to read that new book that's out. So many people vie for our affections.
Father, what we say this morning is that we see that there is one thing in all of history that you have died for, one thing in all of history that you say, "This is something worth me making the great sacrifice for my children, that they might have access to the throne of grace and that we might be in the secret to experience the secret of powerful living. I pray that evidence of the Holy Spirit would be on us as a body, and that evidence would look like love, joy, peace, patience, goodness…all the fruit, Father, of your Spirit.
We know that it won't be there if we don't spend time in community with you. Might we exhort one another towards that purpose. Jesus, we need you. Holy and Anointed One, might it be true of us this week that your name is like honey on our lips, that your Spirit we seek because it's like water to our soul. O Jesus, would you do that? Would you teach our hearts' affections to be like yours? In Christ's name, amen.
The most influential person in history is also the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Two thousand years after He walked the earth, Jesus of Nazareth is still a mystery to many people. Whether you admire Him, worship Him, despise him or simply don't know about him, it's difficult to deny that any other single person has had more influence on our world than Jesus has. But how do we come to understand a man who is so commonly misunderstood? Join Todd Wagner for a walk through the Gospel of Mark and look into the life of one man who changed the entire course of human history. See Jesus for who He truly is and learn how He can change the course of every individual life that understands, responds to and trusts in Him. This volume covers Mark 1:1 through Mark 2:17.