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Summary: What prepares a person for effective service to the Lord? How do you come from a place of accepting Christ as your Savior to being used by Him for His glory? What is it that can turn an ordinary, dull, routine Christian walk into an extraordinary, exciting and adventurous Christian life?

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(2) Mark 1:9-15 6-23-13

What prepares a person for effective service to the Lord? How do you come from a place of accepting Christ as your Savior to being used by Him for His glory? What is it that can turn an ordinary, dull, routine Christian walk into an extraordinary, exciting and adventurous Christian life? I suppose all of us want to be involved in living a life that counts. We all want to be involved in effective, fulfilling service. So, what is it that gives our service to the Lord its power? What kind of preparation is necessary?

Most Christians never give their preparation for serving God very much serious thought. And if they do, they usually think in terms of study or other academic endeavors. But the real preparation of God, without which no other preparation counts for much, is an inward preparation of the heart. It is a preparation which must take place on the inside; a preparation of the soul.

Jesus Himself gave us a vivid example of that preparation in this passage in Mark. As we consider this passage, we shall see several important truths. We will come to understand the truth that inward preparation of the soul is a must for every believer. And, we shall also see that this kind of preparation has always been the method of God in dealing with people.

Our text concludes with the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. In Mark, the details concerning Jesus' activities between His wilderness temptation and ministry in Galilee have been omitted. Other Gospels include it. But Mark does not. So what we have is an account which presents his baptism, temptation and ministry in sequence. I believe Mark had a purpose in ordering these events in this way.

What we have here is a principle of how God deals with men. In the baptism and temptation of Jesus, we see an order of preparation which God has used from the beginning of His dealings with man; from Adam, to Abraham, to Joseph, to Moses, to Israel, to Job, to David, to Christ, to Peter, to Paul, and even today. This was and is the method of God in preparing His servants for effective ministry.

We shall examine two processes of preparation today. Firstly, we shall observe the process of preparation through obedience. Secondly, we shall discern the hand of God in the process of preparation through opposition. And we shall see how they are essential for our lives today.

Preparation Through Obedience

"And it came about in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: 'Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased.'" (Mark 1:9-11)

In these verses, we see the process of preparation through obedience. This was an essential step in the preparation of our Lord for His public ministry. And it is also an essential step in the preparation of every believer for ministry in His name.

There are four words I would like for you to consider. The first is obedience.

The first step in our preparation is the step of obedience. This is what we see in the baptism of Jesus. We see His obedient submission to God. You see, Jesus did not come to be baptized because He was repenting of His sins. He had none. By John's own admission, Jesus did not need to be baptized. But Christ came anyway. In coming, He said that it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness. But what did that mean "to fulfill all righteousness?" How could Jesus' coming to submit to a baptism He did not need fulfill all righteousness? In order to understand that, we must realize why He came. What was His motive in coming?

His motive was obedient submission to God. We are shown a glimpse of His motivation in Matthew 21:25, where he asks, "The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?" Here we find the motive of Jesus. His obedient submission was to that which was "of heaven" or "of God." The baptism of John was ordained of God. You see, that is the real question for us. Is it of God? If a thing is of God, then we are called to obedience. The question is not one of our need, but of God's work - whether we are for it or not.

This brings us to our second word: identification. Jesus identified with what God was doing. This was the underlying motive of His baptism. John's baptism was of God and Jesus identified with that which was of God. By His coming to submit to baptism, He said by His presence that He recognized God was in this thing. You know, we can say much to others by what we identify with. This is one of the grounds by which many fundamentalists preach the teaching of separation, which says that when you go to a Hollywood movie, you are, by your presence, identifying with all that Hollywood stands for; or that when you attend heathen event, you are identifying with all the drinking and carousing which goes on in such places.

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