Purpose and Presence Mark 2:1-12 WBC 10 Aug 2003 am
I want to speak this morning about the importance of us being people, and a church, with a Purpose… but who also seek the Presence of God
It’s very easy for us as individuals to fall into one of two camps:
- ‘I’m an active kind of person. You won’t really find me coming to prayer meetings and so on- but give me a purpose… a hammer’
- “I believe in seeking the presence of God’
It’s funny how we so easily like to ‘type-cast’ ourselves. Maybe ‘limit’ ourselves, even
Actually- this kind of dichotomy exists in the western Christian world, at the moment!
- Rick Warren ‘Purpose Driven Church’
- Tommy Tenny : the God chasers
Having a purpose is great! WE have a purpose:
- ‘building a community, empowered by the HS bringing: glory to God, people to Jesus, believers to maturity, God to the world’
o it keeps us focussed… balanced… on the rails-
o makes sure we’re seeking to achieve GOD’s purpose for us
can’t go into it at length: but as a CM has made us realise we need to look at doing an Alternative Service – for all those around us we’re not reaching
• maybe midweek- for those who would be reached by a short, half an hour, lunchtime service?
Focussing on purpose is great! I fully believe Jesus was a man with a mission. A focussed man. A purpose driven man
- “I have come to do the Father’s will”. ‘repent and believe!’
The only problem is:
- PEOPLE who focus only on this can end up- dry spiritually. Missing intimacy with God. The presence of God
- Churches can end up like business
o More important ‘hosting the lost’ than ‘hosting the Lord’
- And for both churches & individuals: our spiritual life and church dynamic can become more like ‘entertainment’ than ‘encounter’ with God
Here’s the truth: we need both. YOU need both
- what’s the good of having plans, purposes, structures… a fireplace- if you like- but no fire!
Think about this- which is more important to YOU? Purpose or presence of God?
- which kind of church should we be?
The answer is: BOTH. It’s NOT either/or
I want you to understand, from this passage, this morning –that the presence of God is the answer to so much of what we seek
Jesus combined purpose and the presence of God. A man with a purpose who carried the presence of God (Mk1:7, 8)
And look what happens when this man (Peter?) invites Jesus into his house
- yes, the roof gets torn off! (nothing tame about inviting Jesus in!)
- but Mk 2:2 ‘packed with visitors’. Mk 1:33 ‘the whole town gathered at the door’
There’s nothing wrong with good publicity, artwork etc. In fact- we want them!
- but truth is- when Jesus is in the house… the presence of God is there
o the crowd gathers!
- you get the people! Because people, inside, are hungry for the presence of God. The real thing
o the publicity happens! 2:1 AV ‘noised abroad!’
With the presence of Jesus come the people
- ‘if you have the cloud, you get the crowd’
And when the presence is there- that’s the time for preaching
Truth is- a lot of our evangelistic preaching falls on deaf ears, nowadays (in OUR culture)
- people don’t want anyone telling them anything. Even if it’s the way to be saved!
o That’s why testimonies are powerful! (more!)
People are nosey!
They’ll listen to your story
Folks want to know this stuff WORKS!
• They (esp Gen X) want experience
• Again= why the presence is so important
But if the presence is there- they’ll listen to the word. They’ll be spellbound.
- nothing beats the anointed preaching of the word!
- the presence doesn’t negate preaching… it’s the platform for it
o cf the day of Pentecost
Oh, Lord- we need the word in your anointed presence!
But it’s so easy just to be satisfied with a bit of preaching…. When we need the presence as well
- because ‘preaching’ can be safe: ‘oh, very nice’
o but then leave and act exactly the same
- if Jesus is in the house- you will NOT leave the same
So- we need the presence, but we need to teach folks as well
Another thing that happens in the presence of Jesus is
Often we can think- oh, shouldn’t have this kind of stuff around ‘unbelievers. They’ll think you’re out of your mind’
- that’s not what the Bible says, nor experience shows
o that’s true only if badly managed. Out of order
Robert came to faith hearing tongues
Know of others who have started their journey because God spoke to THEM by way of prophecy
Truth is- it’s only some stayed Xians who don’t like it and make these over-cautious statements (It’s about THEM and their comfort!)
- many folks left church because they were sick of hearing about a Jesus who never DID anything!
o THEY expect the supernatural in church
And doesn’t the Bible say-
1 Cor 14:24 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"
They recognise the PRESENCE!
The power of prophecy is seen, here (and remember- Jesus is not only our Master but our Model!)
- these Seekers are desperate for the touch of God. To hear His word
o they rip off the roof. A bit discourteous (truth is- culture and Rabbi’s would normally say ‘that’s not on!’)
- Jesus sees their HEARTS…and the REAL issue (by proph’y)
o ‘Son, your sins are forgive’
o oh- how we need the Living and Active word of God that gets to the root of people’s issues!
- And again- He knows the discourse in the Rabbi’s hearts
o And demonstrates that he has the right to say ‘your sins are forgiven’
‘which is easier- to speak or to heal’
- well, get up, take up your mat and walk’
Now- am I saying we should spend all our time seeking these things? Have I said that? No!
- I’m just saying that with the presence of God will come the people, prophetic ministry and the power
o They’ll just happen!
o You’re not spending all your time seeking them
They are a by-product. A sign of the presence of God. Of Jesus being in the house
They FOLLOW the word (the preaching)… the people of God
o Seek the FACE of God, and the hand… arm of God… will be outstretched as a natural by-product in His time
Healing is not the issue. Jesus is. His presence is
- in fact- it’s POSSIBLE Jesus would have just left the person crippled, here…,
o knowing that their greatest need… the salvation of their soul and knowledge of acceptance and forgiveness had been achieved
- That’s POSSIBLE. As that IS more important
And sometimes Jesus doesn’t heal our bodies
o (but you know what I think. I think Jesus knew that once the root had been dealt with they would walk before too long, anyway. He just accelerated the process)
But, whatever- note the response of the crowd that have gathered in the ‘cloud’
- v12 ‘they are AMAZED. Astonished.
o Naturally, as a response- praise GOD
o Say ‘we have never seen anything like this’
You know- generally- our praise is really pretty good.
- but sometimes it’s a BIG weight on the shoulders of our worship leaders to get things ‘started’
o like jump starting an old car on a frosty morning
But- get the presence of God- and whether the projector malfunctions, or you don’t know the words won’t matter one bit!
- I have worshipped in Siberia with one out of tune guitar, no words and the marvellous, tangible presence of God
o And there’s nothing like it!
You have to understand this: the presence of God is the answer
- to praise: ‘lost in wonder love and praise’
- in your life
- for us as a church
EX 33:15 Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?"
EX 33:17 And the LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name."
EX 33:18 Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."
EX 33:19 And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence
And God’s presence will make sense and give power to all our planning and purposes
- without it…. Him… we are barren!
Friends: put God’s presence FIRST, and pursue it. Him. His FACE
- everything else will fit into place
(with thanks to Revd Mark Stibbe for many of the concepts in this sermon)