Pastor Kirk

Reflections from a spiritual pilgrim in Toledo, Ohio

Homecoming: Amazed & Faithless, 8 October 2017

Homecoming: Amazed & Faithless
Series—
Mark’s Gospel: The Real Jesus
Mark 6:1-6

Series Big Idea:
The shortest gospel is filled with good news about Jesus!

Big Idea: Faith is a precious gift from God we must exercise.

Introduction

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

We talked about love last week. God’s grace enables us to love one another. Today we are looking at faith. In many ways, it is what brings us together. We are a family of faith, a community of faith. There are “faith healers” who say with enough faith the sick can be healed and the poor can become rich. There are doubters and skeptics who may struggle with notions of faith. Faith is linked to trust, yet it is different. Faith is a precious gift from God we must exercise.

Where does faith originate? How can we grow our faith? What even is faith, and what difference does it make? My name is Kirk and as we resume our series on the book of Mark, a biography of Jesus, we’re going to examine faith and, I pray, strengthen yours.

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. (Mark 6:1-2a)

Several weeks ago, we finished the fifth chapter of Mark where Jesus had healed a bleeding woman on the way to raising a dead girl to life. Then he goes to Nazareth, his hometown, and amazes those in the synagogue with his teaching.

Jesus was a remarkable teacher. Last Sunday we looked at the Golden Rule, words quoted thousands of years later, even by non-Christians who think it’s a good idea to “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:2b-3)

Imagine showing up to your high school reunion in a fancy sports car with a gorgeous spouse on your arm, a Rolex watch on your wrist, and the finest of clothes. Many of your colleagues will be…jealous. After all, they came from the same town, attended the same school, and their lives looked like that?! I can just imagine the commotion:

“Jesus never spoke like that in high school speech class.”
“ I remembering praying with him for his sick dog in seventh grade and it was healed, but now he’s raising the dead?”
“He made me a nice kitchen table a few years back, but when I went to buy matching the matching chairs they said he moved away.”

Nobody knows you like family and close friends. There’s an old expression that an expert is someone with a briefcase who is more than 50 miles from home. It’s easy t fool strangers but hard to fool your neighbors and kinfolk.

People change, of course, but our roots and family of origin matter and often influence us throughout our lives. These people couldn’t believe their hometown carpenter had become a teacher, a healer…a celebrity.

Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” (Mark 6:4)

They were skeptical, perhaps understandably. I’ve heard stories of people who grew up in a church as children who struggle to get respect as adults because everyone remembers “little George” or “little Mary.” But honor wasn’t the only thing Jesus failed to receive. The people lacked faith.

He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. (Mark 6:5-6a)

This is an incredible text. First, Mark nonchalantly says Jesus only healed a few sick people. That’s more than I’ve done today…this week…this month…this year? But his lack of power seems to be connected to their lack of faith, something which amazed Jesus.

I would love to amaze Jesus…but not because of my lack of faith.

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. (Mark 6:6b)

Jesus hit the road in search of people with faith.

So What?

What does this mean? If I have enough faith I can heal or be healed, but without faith I’m hopeless and helpless?

What is faith?

The faith chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11, famously begins…

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith is a gift. We are saved through faith…by grace.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

This is a perfect bridge to our previous series on grace. We are not saved by our good works. We can’t be good enough. Every other religion emphasizes trying hard to be good enough for a holy God, but none of us is perfect so without grace, we’re all hopeless. We are saved not by works but by grace through faith, putting our trust and faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in his sacrifice on the cross, believing in his resurrection, and making him LORD of our lives, surrendering our will and desires to his.

Faith matters. But love is the greatest of all.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)

This addresses another issue from last Sunday, the propensity of many to love God but not their neighbor, to believe the right things in their head but fail with their mouth, heart, and hands.

But how do we obtain faith, especially if it’s a gift? Romans says in regards to the proclamation of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ,

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Our faith grows as we study God’s Word, the Bible, as we pray and see God’s activity in our broken world, as we are encouraged by others who are encountering God, and as we trust Him for our daily bread.

Claro Update

One of the seven core values of The Alliance states,

Achieving God’s purposes means taking faith-filled risks. This always involves change. Hebrews 11:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Do not be anxious about…anything! My wife put these words in our bathroom:

Worry about nothing. Pray for everything.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

God is clearly on the move and we’re just getting started! I can’t wait to hear and share more stories in the coming days of God’s goodness not only financially but also with transformed lives. May we have increasing faith in our faithful God! The best is yet to come.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

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