Summary: A life that pleases God is focused on the person and words of Jesus Christ.
Mushrooms or Maple Trees: Spiritual Growth as God Intended
Sermon Objective: A life that pleases God is focused on the person and words of Jesus Christ.
We are in a sermon series called Mushrooms and Maple Trees. Mushrooms sprout up overnight and then wither away in a matter of days. Maple trees grow gradually while learning to withstand the forces of nature that threaten their existence. They result in a majestic fruit bearing entity that lasts for generations.
So it is with people who follow Christ too. Unfortunately some, wither away very rapidly; but others grow deep and strong and produce the fruit of life that God designed for them.
In chapter 8 and 9 of Mark we are discovering elements of a Christ-follower that produce this depth and substance to life.
Just as Jesus was preparing and grooming the first disciples to be Maple Trees so we will discover that as we apply the lessons to our lives we too will grow in kind. Maple Tree style followers live lives that please God.
In past weeks we discovered that a life that pleases God is:
1. A LIFE THAT FOLLOWS HIM PERSONALLY (8:27-33)
We cannot follow just any image of Jesus … the journey begins with:
(i) an accurate understand of Jesus as the suffering servant who died for our sins and
(ii) our willingness to accept Him as Savior
To begin anywhere else circumvents the process. It nullifies all other attempts to please God because we are still at odds with Him … we are not yet His children apart from a born-again experience.
The true disciple will follow Jesus because He is the Son of God.
And as we will see today … true disciples will follow Jesus regardless of what this life offers.
A life that pleases God is:
2. A LIFE THAT FOLLOWS HIM IN FULL SURRENDER (8:34-38)
Such a life has taken Jesus’ instruction to heart and has yielded to the hard sayings of:
#1. DENY YOURSELF –Wave Your Sovereignty
#2: TAKE UP YOUR CROSS – Welcome the Shame
#3: FOLLOW ME – Walk in His Steps
Today, we will move into chapter 9. We will look at a third component of a life that pleases God.
3. A LIFE THAT FOLLOWS HIM IN OBEDIENCE (9:1-8)
Read Mark 8:27 –9:8
Comments I have heard from Christians:
• “I know I wasn’t in church Sunday, Pastor. But God told me to stay home and mow the lawn”
• “God has told me to divorce my wife. He told me I would be more effective in my youth ministry when I do.”
• “God told me a disaster was certain on January 1, 2000 (Y2K). God told me he wants you to tell the congregation to sell their stocks so they don’t go bankrupt.”
• “God has told me he is returning in 1988. I have done the math, I know this is true.”
• “God wants us to kill the abortionists. It is a proper defense of innocent life.”
Have you ever heard comments like these? I hope not; but I suspect you have. Sometimes even well-meaning people get wrapped up in the moment or energized by emotion and say / do rash things.
Sometimes it is harmless … sometimes.
Religion is a dangerous, powerful, and unique thing.
• It can highlight neurosis or make a man whole.
• It can evoke unrest and anxiety or it can instill peace.
• It can set one on a path to destruction or it can point one towards Heaven.
Observing a concoction of religious fervor, human rationale, and a little bit of truth is a scary thing!
• It can make someone strap a bomb to their chest or blow up a building
• Or it can make them run into the desert and establish an isolated commune.
God understands the power of religion. God understands what can happen when someone makes decisions about truth while acting outside the boundaries of truth’s instructions. That is why God has, throughout human history left nothing for granted. Today’s story gives us some insight into this.
Religious fervor was at a high for the disciples and it was going to get even more so after the resurrection. If there were not clearly understood parameters for life and mission then the sure-to-come claims of Christ’s disciples being nutcases would be justifiable!
Peter learned a lesson or two here about what a life that pleases God look like. I trust we will too.
He gets a further glimpse at how to become a Maple Tree instead of a Mushroom.
You see, PETER’S VOICE GIVES US WORDS OF RELIGION (VV. 5-6). He recognizes the supernatural element when he sees it. This moment is unlike any other he has experienced. He speaks the voice of “experiential enthusiasm.” He is dedicated, sincere ... and wrong.