Sermons

Summary: Jesus’ words challenge His people to renewal, purity, and dedication.

Mushrooms or Maple Trees:

Spiritual Growth as God Intended

Sermon #7

Sermon Objective: Jesus’ words challenge His people to renewal, purity, dedication.

PRE-SERVICE INTRODUCTION

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, on the other hand, 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. 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)

2. A life that follows Him in Full Surrender (8:34-38)

3. A life that follows Him in Obedience (9:1-8)

4. A life that follows Him in Close Connectedness (9:14-29)

5. A life that follows Him in Humility (9:30-35)

6. A life that follows Him by Welcoming Others (9:30-50)

Today we will discover that a life that pleases God is a LIFE THAT FOLLOWS HIM IN PURITY (9:41-50)

Mk 9:41 I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.

Mk 9:42 “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.

Mk 9:43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.:47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where “ ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ 35

Mk 9:49 Everyone will be salted with fire.

Mk 9:50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Have you ever noticed that Jesus always told his friends the truth – the hard truth – even when it was unpleasant? Have you ever noticed it drew them closer to him? They knew that even though he reserved his harshest criticism for them he loved them and valued them as friends!

This passage is a perfect example.

JESUS BEGINS BY ILLUSTRATING THE CHARACTER AND DEMEANOR OF A MATURE CHRIST-FOLLOWER -- a maple Tree if you please (verse 41).

Mk 9:41 I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.

The mature disciple is one who is being transformed into a servant. The idea of giving others cups of cold water was foreign to the thinking of the disciples. That becomes clear in the verses that precede.

A life reflects that character and passion of Jesus serves. A mature Christ-follower does not consider himself/herself above serving others but sees each individual as someone for whom Christ died.

HE PROCEEDS TO SHOW HIS FRIENDS THE DANGER OF RESPONDING IMPROPERLY TO OTHERS (VERSE 42).

Mk 9:42 “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.

With great compassion and genuine warning, he “shoots straight” with them. He exposes their heart – the real them – their basest motives. He shows HIS DISCIPLES (HIS FRIENDS) what he has been talking about since this passage began in 8:27.

God have mercy on us if we hurt His people spiritually. The word for “sin” is “skandalizein” and means to prevent other from acting in Jesus’ name … to cause them to stumble. Maybe even to cripple.

When my son was 12 he fell from a tree and broke both his ankles and feet in 8 places. Vickie and I were two days journey away and could not be there for the emergency surgery. The breaks in Craig’s feet were along growth plates and the orthopedist feared that his feet would not grow properly if they were not addressed immediately.

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