Sunday Recap Vol. 1.51

FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR

Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap! 

The Sunday Recap includes an assortment of items to help keep the Gospel in front of you throughout the week. Most are from the previous Sunday while a couple look ahead to next Sunday. As you read consider these questions. Did anything land with you during worship? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?

Food For Thought:

Every call to worship is a call into the Real World.... I encounter such constant and widespread lying about reality each day and meet with such skilled and systematic distortion of the truth that I'm always in danger of losing my grip on reality. The reality, of course, is that God is sovereign and Christ is savior. The reality is that prayer is my mother tongue and the eucharist my basic food. The reality is that baptism, not Myers-Briggs, defines who I am. – Eugene Peterson

For next Sunday:

Sermon Text: 2 Kings 5:1-14

O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing - Adoration
King of Saints - Adoration
Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me - Grace
Streams of Living Water Flow - Response
Fountain of Grace - Communion
 

Suggested Resources:
I have two articles to share with you this week. The first you may have seen already but is worth a look if you haven't. This article details the 50 most segregating school borders in America and where Birmingham fits into that overall picture.

The second article is a blog post about parenting...especially when faced with how others may view your child and you as a parent. It asks some penetrating questions all with a view to helping you turn again to Jesus in faith for help and grace.

Sunday Recap Vol. 1.50

FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR

Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap! 

The Sunday Recap includes an assortment of items to help keep the Gospel in front of you throughout the week. Most are from the previous Sunday while a couple look ahead to next Sunday. As you read consider these questions. Did anything land with you during worship? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?

Rev. Alton Hardy, Pastor Urban Hope Community Church in Fairfield, AL 

This past Sunday our friend Alton Hardy preached on Galatians 2:1-10 especially verse 10: "Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." In addition to preaching the gospel of free grace as the only true motivator for loving the poor, Alton told us a little bit about the church he is planting in Fairfield. Urban Hope is a PCA church plant of Evangel Presbytery of which we are a member congregation. Some really beautiful things are happening in Fairfield through Urban Hope. If you would like to learn more visit their website. RMC has committed to financially support Urban Hope as part of our missions budget. But if you would like to give directly to Urban Hope you may do so here. Please pray that God would build a lasting relationship between Urban Hope and RMC for his glory and the good of our city.

Food For Thought:

My experience as a pastor has been that those who are middle-class in spirit tend to be indifferent to the poor, but people who come to grasp the gospel of grace and become spiritually poor find their hearts gravitating toward the materially poor. To the degree that the gospel shapes your self-image, you will identify with those in need…. In other words, when Christians who understand the gospel see a poor person, they realize they are looking into a mirror. Their hearts must go out to him or her without an ounce of superiority or indifference. – Tim Keller

Songs for this week:
Praise to the Lord - Adoration
Come, Christians Join to Sing - Adoration
Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder - Grace
My Jesus Has Done All Things Well - Response
Thy Mercy, My God - Communion

Sermon passage for this week: Psalm 95

Suggested Resources:
Bassey Etim writes a first person account of his experience growing up in Milwaukee, WI and the racial divide that characterizes the daily life and culture of that city. In light of Alton's comments Sunday evening, this seemed to me to be a very poignant piece. In a related article, the authors tackle the issue that segregation in American cities can't be explained by income alone. "Affluent black families, freed from the restrictions of low income, often end up living in poor and segregated communities anyway. It is a national phenomenon challenging the popular assumption that segregation is more about class than about race, that when black families earn more money, some ideal of post-racial integration will inevitably be reached....The [reality]: Nationally, black and white families of similar incomes still live in separate worlds."

Confession of Sin:

Prayer of Confession
Loving and gracious Father, the more we delve into the depths of our sin, the uglier and more heinous it becomes. If we promise to do better, we lie. If we try to clean ourselves up, we are frauds. If we give because we feel guilty, we are schemers. If we serve to feel good about ourselves, we are self-righteous. If we pray only to get what we want, we are self-serving. If we read your Word so you will be pleased with us, we are manipulators. The selfish motivations of even our best actions condemn us. They are un-holy, un-pleasing, and un-like the One in whose image we are created. Please forgive us and help us to look only to the life-saving, life-changing, life-giving power of your grace and mercy through Your Son Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
 
Words of Grace
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
 
Ephesians 1:3-7

Confession of Faith: The Children’s Catechism Questions 105-108

Q. 105. What is the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment is “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
 
Q. 106. What does the tenth commandment teach you?
A. To be content with whatever God chooses to give me.
 
Q. 107. Can you keep the Ten Commandments perfectly?
A. No. Since the fall of Adam, the only One who has been able to do this is Jesus.
 
Q. 108. Of what use are the Ten Commandments to you?
A. They teach me what is pleasing to God, and how much I need a savior.

Listen To This Week's Sermon: "Remember The Poor"

Sermon Text: Galatians 2:1-10
1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so thatthe truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had beenentrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

Sermon Outline

  1. Setting the stage
  2. The one thing to remember (v. 10)
  3. The only motivation for loving the poor (2 Cor. 8:9)

Reflection Questions

  1. What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
  2. What questions does this passage raise for you?
  3. Was there anything that bothered you?
  4. Given the context of Gal. 2:1-10 how significant or central is the request of the Apostles in v. 10?
  5. How does v. 10 make you feel?
  6. What did Paul understand about the gospel you need help to understand and believe? (2 Cor. 8:9)

Sunday Recap Vol. 1.49

FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR

Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap! 

The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?

Food For Thought:

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me who caused His pain!
For me who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be That
Thou, my God, should die for me?
 
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
 
And Can It Be, verses 1 & 4

Confession of Sin:

Prayer of Confession
Heavenly Father, we confess that our glory has been our own comfort, rather than your Son's cross; that we have craved the fellowship of those already like us, rather than the fellowship of Christ's sufferings; that we have worked to save our own lives, rather than lose our lives for Christ’s sake and the gospel. Have mercy on us, Father, and grant us the gift of gospel repentance. Cleanse us by the finished work of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and restore to us the joy of your salvation. Amen.
 
Words of Grace
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
 
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
 
1 John 1:8-2:2

Confession of Faith: The Children’s Catechism Questions 101-104

Q. 101. What is the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment is “You shall not steal.”
 
Q. 102. What does the eighth commandment teach you?
A. Not to take anything that belongs to someone else.
 
Q. 103. What is the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment is “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
 
Q. 104. What does the ninth commandment teach you?
A. Never to lie, but to tell the truth at all times.

Listen To This Week's Sermon: "The Empty Tomb"

Sermon Text: Mark 15:40-16:8
15:40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
 
42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
 
16:1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back— it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Sermon Outline

  1. An authentic witness (15:40-41, 47; 16:1)
  2. The courage to stand with Jesus (15:42-46)
  3. The meaning of the resurrection (15:6-7)

Sermon Summary

Compared to the other gospels, Mark's gospel ends abruptly with the fearful response of the women after witnessing the empty tomb. Why does Mark end his gospel this way? When we look at the book as a whole a clear answer emerges. Throughout the gospel story when men and women are faced with the power of God they don't know how to react (e.g. 4:41; 5:15, 33, 36; 6:50; 9:32). For example, take Peter in Mark 9 when Jesus was transfigured before him and suggests building three tents: one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. "For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified (9:6)."

For many people doubt and disbelief in Christianity is thought to be a modern problem. A problem that educated, scientific people have but not more primitive, ancient cultures like the people you read about in the bible. While it is no doubt true that many modern people have trouble believing what the bible says, so too do the people we read about in scripture. Mark ends his gospel the way he does to show us that no one expected Jesus to rise again from the dead. In other words, the resurrection was as hard to believe for Jesus' followers as it is for many today.

So then what does Mark give us in this closing section that can move us from fear and doubt to faith and joy in Jesus Christ?

The first thing Mark gives us is evidence for an authentic witness, a reliable account of what happened. Notice three times (15:40-41, 47; 16:1) Mark mentions three women who witnessed Jesus' death, burial and empty tomb. Also notice all Jesus' male disciples have fled. They are nowhere to be found. The mention of three of these women by name means they were known by Mark's readers. They could go and ask these women what happened and what they saw. It's a way for Mark to cite a source for his information, like a footnote. However, there is a problem. In ancient cultures a woman's testimony wasn't allowed in court. Women were marginalized and not seen as reliable witnesses. So then why does Mark include them as the witnesses to the most significant events of Jesus' life? If you were trying to write an account to convince people of its veracity this isn't how you would do it. The only plausible explanation is that Mark isn't making this story up. He didn't feel at liberty to change what happened even if it would make it more "plausible" to his contemporaries. No, what we have here is an authentic account of what really happened and in a way consistent with the way God works: God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor. 1:28-29)

However, to begin to believe the story of the gospel means you will never be the same again. The story of Joseph of Arimathea illustrates for us the change that takes place when faith lays hold of Jesus. Joseph was a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, the most powerful religious body in Judaism, which condemned Jesus to death for blasphemy. However, we learn from John 19:38 that Joseph was a follower of Jesus, though secretly out of fear. But the time had come in Joseph's life when his love for Jesus displaced his power and prestige and even his political safety. He "took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus" (15:43). Think about it. Jesus was dead. He had been condemned for blasphemy by the religious leaders. He had been condemned for treason by the political leaders. Joseph had nothing to gain and everything to lose by identifying with Jesus and his cause by asking for his body. But that's precisely what the gospel does. It replaces what you most love, even really good things with a courageous, bold, fearless love for Jesus. You may have power and money and prestige but they are no longer who you are, the proof you matter. Joseph comes as a challenge to each one of us as Mark's gospel comes to a close. Where do you stand with Jesus? Who do you say that he is? Are you fearful and timid because you are building your life on something other than Jesus and you don't want to lose it. Or are you experiencing the freedom and courage that comes with throwing your whole life in with Jesus?

What's your reaction to Joseph? What did he understand that we need to understand if we are to move from fear and doubt to faith and joy? We need to understand the meaning of the resurrection. Jesus' resurrection means a new beginning, the old has passed away and the new has come. Death and sin have been vanquished in and through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Mark takes great pains to show Jesus really did die bodily and that he rose again bodily (15:44-45; 16:6). In other words, the resurrection is the beginning of the end. It is our assurance, that one day God will make all things new, even our very bodies (Rom. 8:18-25). The resurrection also means grace for failures. Jesus had promised that after he was raised up he would go before his disciples into Galilee (14:28). Here in verse 7, the young man in the tomb reiterates the same and specifically mentions Peter, who denied Jesus three times. Despite the fact that Jesus' disciples didn't keep there word (14:26-31), he kept his. He has come to forgive and restore! This reminds us again you are not saved by what you do. You are saved by what Jesus has done! Last the resurrection means there is hope for better things yet to come. Perhaps you feel like a failure, a traitor and you wonder if God could ever accept you. Notice what hope verse 7 holds out. You will see him again! This is the good news and the promise Jesus holds out to all who trust in him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

Reflection Questions

  1. What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
  2. What questions does this passage raise for you?
  3. Was there anything that bothered you?
  4. What stands out to you most about the ending of Mark's gospel and the role of the women?
  5. What is your reaction to Joseph and his courage?
  6. What do you most need to hear and believe from vs. 6-7 and why?

Suggested Resources:
This is the 52nd Sunday Recap. Hard to believe I've been sending these for a whole year. In light of that fact, I would love to hear your thoughts on theSunday Recap. Here are some questions. Feel free to write back with any thoughts.

1. What have you liked about the recap?
2. How could I make it better or more useful to you?
3. How do you use the recap in your daily life?
4. Should I continue sending these out each week? (I don't want to add one more thing to your inbox.)

Songs for this week:
How Firm a Foundation
Psalm 130 (From the Depths of Woe)
O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
Come, Ye Souls by Sin Afflicted
Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Sermon passage for this week: Galatians 2:1-10

Until next time,

Will

Sunday Recap Vol. 1.48

FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR

Abide With Me

Verse 1

Abide with me; falls the eventide; 
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide. 
When other helpers, fail and comforts flee, 
Help of the helpless, abide with me.

Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap! 

The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?

Food For Thought:

Most of Scripture speaks to us; the Psalms speak for us. – Athanasius
 
After any sleep, there is cause for gratitude and trust; the moments of unconsciousness have ended and life resumes, only because God is the perpetual Sustainer. – Peter Craigie

Confession of Sin:

Prayer of Confession
Gracious God, we confess that we daily sin against you and our neighbors in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions. Our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment.  Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more into the likeness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
 
Words of Grace
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
 
Romans 8:1-4

Confession of Faith: The Children’s Catechism Question 90-94

Q. 90. What is the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment is “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
 
Q. 91. What does the fourth commandment teach you?
A. To work six days and keep the Sabbath day holy.
 
Q. 92. What day of the week is the Christian Sabbath?
A. The first day of the week, called the Lord’s day.
 
Q. 93. Why is it called the Lord’s Day?
A. Because on that day the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
 
Q. 94. How should you keep the Lord’s Day?
A. I should rest from my daily work and faithfully worship God.

Guest Preacher: Dave Driskill

This week we had Dave Driskill. Dave is an Assistant Pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Homewood. Below you will find a link to his sermon and the passage from which he preached.

Listen To This Week's Sermon: "A Shield About Me"

Sermon Text: Psalm 3
A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN HE FLED FROM ABSALOM HIS SON.
 
1           O LORD, how many are my foes!
                        Many are rising against me;
2           many are saying of my soul,
                         there is no salvation for him in God. Selah
 
3           But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
                        my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4           I cried aloud to the LORD,
                        and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
 
5           I lay down and slept;
                        I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
6           I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
                        who have set themselves against me all around.
 
7           Arise, O LORD!
                        Save me, O my God!
             For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
                        you break the teeth of the wicked.
 
8           Salvation belongs to the LORD;
                        your blessing be on your people! Selah

Reflection Questions

  1. What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
  2. What questions does this passage raise for you?
  3. Was there anything that bothered you?
  4. How does this Psalm help you battle fear?
  5. How does the Gospel deepen our understanding of what it means to have the Lord as "a shield about me?"

Songs for this week:
Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!
Jesus, I Come
Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners
Nothing but the Blood
There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy

Sermon passage for this week: 1 John 1:5-10

Until next time,

Will

Abide With Me

Verse 5

Hold Thou Thy cross, before my closing eyes; 
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies. 
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee; 
In life, in death, Lord, abide with me.

Sunday Recap Vol. 1.47

FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR

Hallelujah! What A Savior!

Verse 1

Man of Sorrows! What a name
For the Son of God, Who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim. 
Hallelujah! What a Savior! 
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap! 

The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?

Food For Thought:

I have known numerous persons who have been ‘looking for themselves’ for a lifetime without success…. In reflecting on my own life, I observed that those times when I have seemed most in touch with myself, when my self-identity has been most secure, have been those times when I was known by another—not by myself—and was accepted by that other. I then recalled someone [saying], ‘those who give their lives in search of happiness will find many things, but never happiness.’ Could it be that the issue of self-discovery is analogous? I believe it is. My assumption now is that one’s search for self ultimately is fruitless because it seeks to find that which can only be given by another. In short, we may seek self-identity and hope to find ourselves, but the hoped for result never occurs through our own efforts. We seek ourselves, but are finally found! One’s identity is the gift of another’s love. (Eugene Lowry)

Confession of Sin:

Prayer of Confession
We confess, our Father, that we do not live up to the family name. We are more ready to resent than to forgive, more ready to manipulate than to serve, more ready to fear than to love, more ready to keep our distance than to welcome, more ready to compete than to help. At the root of this behavior is mistrust and self-love. We do not love one another as we should, because we do not believe that you love us as you do. Forgive us our cold unbelief. And make more vivid to us the gift and power of your love at the cross. Show us what it cost you to give up your Son that we might become your sons and daughters. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our only righteousness.  Amen.
 
Words of Grace
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
 
1 John 3:2-3

Confession of Faith: The Children’s Catechism Question 88-89

Q. 88. What is the third commandment?
A. The third commandment is “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
 
Q. 89. What does the third commandment teach you?
A. To treat God’s name, word and works with reverence.

Listen To This Week's Sermon: "The Rejected King"

Sermon Text: Mark 14:43-15:15
43 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled.
 
51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.
 
53 And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. 54 And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. 56For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.  60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?”61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 65 And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.
 
66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.”  72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
 
15:1 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
 
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Sermon Outline

  1. The ugliness of sin (14:11; 14:55 & 15:10; 14:72; 15:11,13; 15:15)
  2. The faithfulness of Jesus (14:49, 61-64; 15:5)
  3. The gift of grace (14:72; 15:6-13; Eph. 2:8)

Sermon Summary

Jesus had predicted his suffering and death three times earlier in Mark's gospel (8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34). Now we come to the actual events that culminate in his crucifixion: the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. Everyone in this passage, in one way or another, rejects Jesus. Judas rejects Jesus out of greed. The religious leaders reject Jesus out of envy. Peter rejects Jesus out of cowardice. The crowd rejects Jesus out of love for human opinion. Pilate rejects Jesus out ofambition. While not exhaustive, this passage paints a comprehensive picture of the ugliness of the human heart and the sin resident therein. But it also reveals precisely what Jesus came to do. Jesus willingly absorbs our sin so that, through faith in him, we might become the righteousness of God.

In order for us to apply this passage to our lives it's important to let scripture define and deepen our understanding of sin. While we see many flavors or facets of sin in this passage there is a common thread that runs throughout in the word translated to betray, or to handover. Judas handed over Jesus to the priests (14:11); the priests handed over Jesus to Pilate (15:1); and Pilate handed over Jesus to the soldiers to be crucified (15:15). Therefore, the essence of sin, in whatever form, is to hand Jesus over, to betray Jesus, to sacrifice Jesus for something we love and treasure more than him. It is a culpable and personal affront to a personal God.

However, as ugly and devastating as sin is it stands it stark contrast to the faithfulness of Jesus. Anyone looking in on these events would no doubt conclude the wheels are coming off. Everything Jesus said and did was all for naught. But that's not how Jesus sees it. The betrayal, the kangaroo court, and the political maneuvering are for Jesus how the scriptures will be fulfilled (14:49). Jesus yielded to his Father's will by seeking to fulfill the great story of redemption through his suffering. He remains faithful in two key ways. He makes a true confession despite the efforts of religious leaders to falsely accuse and kill him (14:61-64). Second he does not defend himself but instead continued to entrust himself to him who judges justly (14:61; 15:5; 1 Pet. 2:23). In other words, Jesus came to do for us what we can't and wouldn't do. He obeys his Father's word no matter the cost. He owns his true identity and mission no matter the cost. He does not seek revenge but faithfully endures suffering for the joy set before him (Heb. 12:2).

In other words, the faithfulness of Jesus becomes to us the gift of grace for all who trust in him. How do you know if the gift of Jesus' faithfulness has broken into your life? It begins with true spiritual conviction for sin. Consider Peter (14:72). Peter thought he had what it took to remain faithful even if he would have to die with Jesus (14:29-31). But alas, he was sorely mistaken. He did not see how spiritually needy and self-absorbed he really was. Have you ever been cut to the heart by the gospel of grace? Have you come to see your absolute spiritual poverty? However, as necessary as a true conviction for sin is to saving faith in Jesus, it is not based on that. The gift of grace is based on an exchange. Here in story form we see the very heart of the gospel. Jesus trades places with a murderer and insurrectionist. Jesus takes the place of the condemned and the condemned and guilty goes free. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). What should you do in light of the ugliness of sin in your own heart and Jesus' willingness to trade places with you? Receive the gift of grace by faith. To have faith in Jesus means, the quality of your life is no longer the measure of your worth. Now the measure of your worth is the quality and beauty of Jesus' life received by faith. This marks the end of the toilsome, endless need to prove yourself or to get others to approve of you. Faith means letting go of all your attempts to justify yourself, to establish your worthiness. Faith means accepting the righteousness of God, Jesus the beloved Son in whom the Father delights. Faith means accepting the gift of another's love, despite the fact you don't deserve it. Have you been found out by this gift? Do you know the comfort and assurance and hope found in Jesus willingly absorbing your sin, so that through faith in him, you might become the righteousness of God?

Reflection Questions

  1. What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
  2. What questions does this passage raise for you?
  3. Was there anything that bothered you?
  4. What impresses you most about Jesus in this passage?
  5. Which aspect of sin, of "handing Jesus over," pierces you the most?
  6. How does the exchange of Barabas for Jesus reveal the gift of grace you must receive by faith? 

Suggested Resources:
For those of you wrestling with the question, "how do I live a life of faith in Christ as an active participant in the culture in which I live?" Or to put the question in more personal terms. "How do I live a life of faith and integrity as a neighbor to anyone regardless of their beliefs or practices?" I don't think there is a silver bullet for these kinds of questions. They take wisdom, humility and confidence that only the gospel of free grace can bring. At the same time one way we grow in these things (wisdom, humility and confidence) is trying to make sense of the opportunities and complexities before us. If you are looking for a clear and helpful book to orient you to the relationship between the gospel and culture let me suggest to you this book by D.A. Carson.

Songs for this week:
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
For All the Saints
Amazing Grace
Abide With Me
Jesus is Our Great Salvation

Sermon passage for this week: Psalm 3

Until next time,

Will

Hallelujah! What A Savior!

Verse 2
Bearing shame and scoffing rude, 
In my place condemned He stood; 
Sealed my pardon with His blood. 
Hallelujah! What a Savior! 
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Sunday Recap Vol. 1.46

FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Verse 1

The King of Love my Shepherd is, 
Whose goodness faileth never; 
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.

Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap! 

The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?

Food For Thought:

Jesus was about to be exposed to the one thing in life he really feared…the indescribable experience of feeling himself to be God-forsaken. He felt he could not live—indeed, that life was not worth living—without the consciousness of his Father’s love for him. Yet the fact that he entered that darkness and experienced such grief is the source of all our comfort. It assures us that he understands our darkest hours. But more, it means that he has drawn the sting from our darkest hour for he has entered our God-forsaken condition so that we might share his God-accepted relationship to the Father! – Sinclair Ferguson

Confession of Sin:

Prayer of Confession
Father in heaven, we need to be forgiven. We have tried to work off our guilt and shame; to pile up good deeds that outweigh our sins. We have tried to change through our own efforts. When this doesn’t work, we turn to denial and distraction, leaving some of us arrogant and the rest of us anxious and depressed. Forgive us for thinking we could save ourselves rather than resting in the merits of Jesus Christ. Forgive us for our pride. Forgive us and heal us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
 
Words of Grace
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
 
1 Peter 2:21-24

Confession of Faith: The Children’s Catechism Question 84-87

Q. 84. What is the first commandment?
A. The first commandment is “You shall have no other gods before me.”
 
Q. 85. What does the first commandment teach you?
A. To worship the true God, and him only.
 
Q. 86. What is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
 
Q. 87. What does the second commandment teach you?
A. To worship God only as he commands, and not to worship God by using statues or pictures.

Listen To This Week's Sermon: "Not My Will, But Your Will"

Sermon Text: Mark 14:12-42
12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
 
17 And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18 And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
 
22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
 
26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.
 
32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

Sermon Outline

  1. The context of prayer (v. 12, 22-25, 18, 27)
  2. The practice of prayer (v. 35-36)
  3. The hope of prayer (v. 28, 25)

Sermon Summary

The back drop for this entire passage is the great work of God's salvation celebrated in the Passover meal (Ex. 12). However, this great celebration of God's saving work takes on a whole new meaning in the presence of Jesus. It no longer celebrates something in the past but something new; not the sacrifice of a passover lamb, but the substitutionary sacrifice of the Son of God, symbolized in the bread and the wine of the last supper (v. 22-24). Jesus, with the bread and the wine, is saying to us, "this is it, the sacrifice you need, the salvation you can't live without, and the destiny you long for."

However, this pivotal meal takes place in the midst of betrayal (v. 17-21), abandonment (v. 26-31), failure (v. 37-38) not by strangers but by the twelve, those closest to Jesus. As awful as that was and as awful as his suffering and death would be, what most affects Jesus is the prospect of being abandoned, forsaken by his Father on the cross. For some this is a very hard part of the Christian message to accept. How could God do that? Because only the perfect Son of God could pay the penalty for sin and secure the Father's acceptance at the same time. Theologian John Murray writes, "God loved the objects of His wrath so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of His wrath. It was Christ's so to deal with the wrath that the loved would no longer be the objects of wrath, and love would achieve its aim of making the children of wrath the children of God's good pleasure."

Here we get an upfront and personal window into the feelings of Jesus in his darkest hours. Mark tells us he was greatly distressed and troubled, very sorrowful, even to death (v. 33-34). At the very same time we see where Jesus goes with his distress, fears, and longings...to his Father (v. 36). It is in reflecting on this moment in Jesus' life that Peter later writes, "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps." (1 Pet. 2:21) Clearly what Jesus does here is unique and unrepeatable. And at the same time, Jesus shows us how to handle our darkest most terrifying seasons of life. He teaches us how to pray. He shows us the beginning of prayer, the confidence of prayer, the need of prayer, and the obedience of prayer. Prayer begins with a relationship; knowing God to be your Father through faith in Jesus Christ. J.I. Packer in answer to the question, “What is a Christian?” writes, “the question can be answered in many ways, but the richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God for his Father.” Because God is his Father, he also prays with confidence because "all things are possible for him" according to his will. Prayer trusts in God's power, wisdom and goodness at work for the good of his children. At the same time, prayer is honest and vulnerable, freely making known the desires of our hearts..."remove this cup from me." Jesus is asking, "Isn't there another way?" Have you ever asked that question? Jesus understood what the "cup" was. It was the symbol of God's judgment against sin and to drink it meant shame before others and alienation from God. Jesus shows us it's perfectly ok to ask God to take away our suffering and anguish. And finally prayer yields to God's will at the cost of our will. "Yet not what I will, but what you will" (v. 36). Perhaps the most sobering and yet life-giving aspect of Jesus' prayer is he honestly pours out his request to his Father and the Father says, "no"...for us. Everything in Jesus longed to escape from this terrible experience. Have you ever felt that away? You are not alone. And at the very same time, everything in Jesus longed to obey his Father. Do you need help to do that? Do you even want to do that? Look to Jesus! "Never in the Gospel does the humanity of Jesus shine through more clearly; never in the gospels does his holiness appear more forcibly." (Ferguson) Jesus on the night he was betrayed in this brief prayer opens up to us the essence of what it looks like to know God as your Father and entrust yourself fully to him. Perhaps you are thinking, "I can't do that." Well...of course you can't...that's why Jesus had to for you.


 

Reflection Questions

  1. What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
  2. What questions does this passage raise for you?
  3. Was there anything that bothered you?
  4. What do you learn about prayer and following Jesus from his prayer in v. 36?
  5. Where do you find hope in this passage through looking to Jesus (v. 28, 25)? Try to unpack the hope you find. How does it cultivate patience in the present and longing for what will be?

Suggested Resources:
Tomorrow night we will be hosting our first Gospel & Life Series meeting. These meetings are an opportunity for teaching and discussion about the Gospel and ministry covering a wide range of topics that have a bearing on our understanding of the gospel and its implications for ministry to the place God has called RMC. Tomorrow night we will spend time discussing the question, "How to build a missional community?" If you are interested in a good exposure to this topic part 6 of this book is an excellent place to start.

Songs for this week:
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
Dearly We’re Bought
Hallelujah! What a Savior! (Man of Sorrows)
Be Thou My Vision
How Great Thou Art

Sermon passage for this week: Mark 14:43-15:15

Until next time,

Will

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Verse 2
Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth, 
And, where the verdant pastures grow, 
With food celestial feedeth.

Sunday Recap Vol. 1.45

FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR

How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

Verse 1

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap! 

The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?

Food For Thought:

Faith and discipleship are not ideal realms, what we might like to be and do; they are absolute realities, who we are and what we are able to give. In Jesus' sight an act has value according to its motive and intent, and that--not its material value--is what makes it serviceable in the Kingdom of God. When one acts thus, no gift, not even a mere two lepta (Mark 12:41-44), is meaningless; and no gift, even a year's salary, is wasted. - James Edwards commenting on Mark 14:1-11

Confession of Sin:

Prayer of Confession
God of mercy, we humbly confess our need of your pardoning grace. We shelter arrogance and pride in our hearts and believe that our efforts are good enough to secure what only you can give us. We are quick to judge and grumble when our plans, pleasures, and preferences are threatened. We are slow to offer mercy, both inwardly and outwardly, towards those people you have placed in our lives and called us to love. Forgive our self-righteousness and our self-absorption. Fix our eyes on our savior, Jesus Christ, that we may become enraptured with Him, for it’s in his name we pray. Amen.
 
Words of Grace
[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
 
Romans 5:8-11

Confession of Faith: The Children’s Catechism Question 76-83

Q. 76. How many commandments did God give on Mount Sinai?
A. Ten Commandments.
 
Q. 77. Why should we obey the Ten Commandments?
A. Because God is our Creator, Savior and King.
 
Q. 78. What do the first four commandments teach?
A. What it means to love and serve God.
 
Q. 79. What do the last six commandments teach?
A. What it means to love and serve my neighbor.
 
Q. 80. What do the Ten Commandments teach?
A. To love God with all my heart, and my neighbor as myself.
 
Q. 81. Who is your neighbor?
A. Everybody is my neighbor.
 
Q. 82. Is God pleased with those who love and obey him?
A. Yes. God says, “I love those who love me.” (Prov. 8:17)
 
Q. 83. Is God displeased with those who do not love and obey him?
A. Yes. “God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Ps. 7:11)

Listen To This Week's Sermon: "The Sacrifice of Faith"

Sermon Text: Mark 14:1-11
1 It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, 2 for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”
 
3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
 
10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Sermon Outline

  1. The definition of faith (v. 3)
  2. The significance of faith (v. 4-8)
  3. The eyes of faith (v. 6-9)

Sermon Summary

Chapter 14 marks a new section and the final section in Mark's gospel. After a series of debates with the Religious Leaders in the Temple in Jerusalem, the story of Jesus now takes a more sinister turn. The chapter opens with the intention of the Religious Leaders to kill Jesus (v. 1-2) coupled with Judas Iscariot's willingness to betray Jesus to them (v. 10-11).

However, sandwiched in between, is a remarkable story of faith in and love for Jesus not by a Religious Leader or even one of Jesus' disciples but by an unnamed woman who receives Jesus' highest commendation (v. 9). We see three things from this story about faith in Jesus.

First we learn what faith is - pouring out on Jesus all that matters most to us because he is that precious to us. While reclining at table, the woman pours out her precious ointment all over Jesus. Mark tells us the ointment was very costly and those looking on valued it at a year's worth of wages. This was no ordinary flask of perfumed ointment. This was most likely a family heirloom that was passed down from generation to generation, like an inheritance. It told a story about where she was from and promised a measure of security for the future. Flasks such as these were single use items because they were sealed up to preserve the precious ingredients inside and were only ever used on the most special of occasions. In the eyes of this woman Jesus was THE special occasion! The woman's anointing of Jesus with her most precious possession serves as an acted parable of faith. One writer comments, "She had poured out her future and her security on Jesus." (Ferguson) Do you see what kind of faith the Gospel creates? It creates a total transfer of all our trust and confidence from ourselves, our possessions, and even other people to Jesus and him alone!

Second we learn the significance of faith from the responses we see in the passage. Those looking on berate this woman for, in their estimation, wasting something so valuable when it could have been put to better use (v. 4-5). However, Jesus comes to her defense and says she did a beautiful thing to him. The others - including the twelve disciples - viewed this woman as a fanatic. She was taking her religion too seriously. But Jesus doesn't see it that way. He says, "she did all she could (v. 8)." When contrasted, the woman and the other dinner guests highlight the all important question. How valuable is Jesus to you? Is he your greatest treasure and therefore worthy of all your treasure? Gospel faith always looks strange from the outside. It even looks fanatical. But to Jesus it is beautiful and he always nurtures it...in whatever form it comes.

Third faith sees what others don't. The central charge against this woman was at best neglect of the poor and at worst injustice toward the poor. It is difficult not to see a thread of irony when the concern for the poor in verse 5 is compared to Judas' willingness to betray Jesus for money in verse 11. However, what does the woman see through the eyes of faith that no-one else sees? Jesus points the way to the answer in verse 7. "For you always have the poor with you...but you will not always have me." The woman recognized in Jesus the one who has and would give up all for her (Mk. 10:45; Phil. 2:8). In other words, the woman did give to the poor. She understood the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9; Psalm 41:9). This is the reason why Jesus commends her and promises that wherever the gospel is preached, her story will be told in memory of her. Is Jesus saying that somehow she earned her salvation through her gift and that's why he honors her? Absolutely not! Rather, the point is that her response to Jesus tells the story of free grace through the response of faith, of unmerited favor. Or to put it another way, her life points to the cross of Jesus Christ and the good news it brings to undeserving sinners.

Does your life do that? If not, why not? What do you think you either don't yet understand or all too often forget that prevents you from seeing the beauty and the poverty of Jesus for you? What would it take for you to be able to daily pour out your future and your security on him? How would your life be different if you did?

Reflection Questions

  1. What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
  2. What questions does this passage raise for you?
  3. Was there anything that bothered you?
  4. How would you define religion based on the response of those looking on?
  5. How would you define faith based on the gift of the woman?
  6. Why do you think Mark sandwiches this story of the woman anointing Jesus in between the plot to kill and betray Jesus?

Suggested Resources:
How precious is Jesus to you? Are there specific things he said or did or promised that lead you to delight in him? Have you ever had an experience of faith like the woman we read about in Mark 14:1-11? How does that happen? Or to ask the question slightly differently, how does one grow in love for Jesus? There is really only one answer: to meditate on and delight in the person, words, and work of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you are asking, "How do I do that?" Well the simplest way is to read the scriptures and ask God to show you the glory of Jesus. What if you need help to do that? Let me suggest to you this very readable and yet substantial little book on deepening your love for Jesus.

Songs for this week:
Arise, My Soul, Arise
God of My Life, to Thee I Call
The King of Love My Shepherd Is
Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts
Thy Will Be Done

Sermon passage for this week: Mark 14:12-42

Until next time,

Will

How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

Verse 2
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
'Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Sunday Recap Vol. 1.44

FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR

He Leadeth Me

Verse 1

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Verse 3
Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

 

Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap! 

The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?

Food For Thought:

[Jesus] can make the dry parched ground of my soul to become a pool and my thirsty barren heart as springs of water. Yes he can make this habitation of dragons, this heart, which is so full of abominable lusts and fiery temptations, to be a place of bounty and fruitfulness unto Himself….
 
The more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world. It will become to me like something dead and putrid, impossible for me to enjoy. – John Owen

Confession of Sin:

Prayer of Confession
Merciful Father, forgive us the sins of our tongues—for deception and untruthfulness in our dealings with others; for resentment, coldness, impatience, and ill temper. Forgive us for the sins of our eyes—for impurity in our glances and imagination; for pining after more beauty, comfort, status, and wealth than you have given us. Forgive us the sins of our hearts—for hard-heartedness toward you and our neighbors; for pride, self-absorption, self-pity; and above all for rebelling against you and doubting your love. Father, remove our fear, envy and pride and melt our hearts with the good news of the Gospel. Transform us by your grace to live wholly for your glory. Take away our mourning and replace it with songs of joy, for it is in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
 
Words of Grace
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
 
1 John 2:1-2

Confession of Faith: The Children’s Catechism Question 73-75

Q. 73. Why do you need Christ as your prophet?
A. Because I am ignorant by nature.
 
Q. 74. Why do you need Christ as your priest?
A. Because I am guilty of breaking God’s law.
 
Q. 75. Why do you need Christ as your king?
A. Because I am weak and helpless.

Listen To This Week's Sermon: "The Savior of the World"

Guest Preacher: Tom Franklin, RUF at Birmingham Southern
This week we had our friend Tom Franklin preaching. You can listen to his sermon by clicking above and reflect on the text he preached from with the reflection questions below.

Sermon Text: John 4:1-42
1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making andbaptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
 
7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12  Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
 
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive thatyou are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say thatin Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
 
27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.
 
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reapthat for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
 
39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Reflection Questions

  1. What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
  2. What questions does this passage raise for you?
  3. Was there anything that bothered you?
  4. Put yourself in the Samaritan woman's shoes. What do you imagine it would be like for you to encounter Jesus like this?
  5. What do you find most astounding or impressive or comforting about Jesus? How many claims does he make (explicitly or implicitly)?
  6. What do we learn about "giving a reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15) from this story?

Suggested Resources:
This past week I and Ruling Elder, Miles Gresham were at the General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church in America. Each year this national meeting is hosted in a different city and this year it was hosted in Mobile, AL. There are a lot of moving parts to GA and the part Miles and I played was to serve on what is called the Overtures* Committee. The committee had 63 overtures to consider and a little over 40 of them spoke to the issue of racism, racial diversity, confession and repentance. After many hours of debate and amendment the Overtures Committee and subsequently the entire GA approved overture 43: Pursuing Racial Reconciliation and the Advancement of the Gospel. Subsequent to GA a fellow African American PCA Minister wrote ahelpful article reflecting on this significant moment in the history of the PCA. You will also see in this article links to the original overture and to the final approved overture.

*An “overture” requests action from the General Assembly on a specific matter. Overtures normally come from presbyteries (regional bodies of church elders) and are submitted to the General Assembly for deliberation during the annual meeting. Depending on the topic, the overture goes to the Committee on Overtures during the General Assembly. The committee then makes a recommendation to the broader assembly which votes in the affirmative, the negative, or sends it back to the Committee.

Songs for this week:
Holy, Holy, Holy
Depth of Mercy
The Gospel is Good News Indeed
How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds
Fairest Lord Jesus

Sermon passage for this week: Mark 14:1-11

Until next time,

Will

He Leadeth Me

Verse 4
And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Sunday Recap Vol. 1.43

FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR

All Things New

Verse 1

Come, Lord, and tarry not;
bring the long looked for day;
O why these years of waiting here,
these ages of delay?
Come, for Thy saints still wait;
daily ascends their sigh;
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come”;
does Thou not hear the cry?

O come and make all things new. Come and make all things new
O come and make all things new. Build up this ruined Earth,
Come and make all things new.

Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap! 

The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?

Food For Thought:

The life of faith is not an exemption from adversity but a reliance on the promise of God to bear witness to the gospel in adversity, and to be saved for eternal life through it. – James Edwards

Confession of Sin:

Prayer of Confession
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not one day of my life has passed that has not proved me guilty in your sight. Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart; my best efforts to love you and others are but filthy rags. All things in me call for my rejection but all things in Christ plead for my acceptance. I appeal from the throne of perfect justice to your throne of boundless grace. Grant me to hear your voice assuring me of the gospel of your Son: that by his stripes I am healed, that he was bruised for my iniquities, that he was made sin for me that I might be declared righteous before you, that my grievous sins, my many sins, are all forgiven. I am guilty, but pardoned, lost, but saved, wandering, but found, sinning, but cleansed. Give me perpetual broken-heartedness, keep me always clinging to the cross of our Lord and Savior in whose name we pray. Amen.
 
Words of Grace
He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
 
1 Peter 2:22-25

Confession of Faith: The Children’s Catechism Question 68-72

Q. 68: How many offices does Christ fulfill as the promised Messiah?
A. Christ fulfills three offices.
 
Q. 69: What are they?
A. The offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king.
 
Q. 70: How is Christ your prophet?
A. Christ teaches me the will of God.
 
Q. 71: How is Christ your priest?
A. Christ died for my sins, and continues to pray for me.
 
Q. 72: How is Christ your king?
A. Christ rules over me, the world and Satan, and he defends me.

Listen To This Week's Sermon: "Stay Awake"

Sermon Text: Mark 13:1-37
1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
 
3 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
 
9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
 
14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.
 
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
 
28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
 
32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or atmidnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

Sermon Outline
1. The paradigm of the Temple (v. 1-4)
2. Two keys for understanding: a framework and a clue (v. 4, 30; v. 32; v. 17, 19, 24)
3. The coming of the Son of Man (v. 24-27, 32-37)

Sermon Summary
Mark 13 is a riveting passage with glorious things to behold and to take to heart as we wait for that great day when Jesus returns to make all things new. Therefore, in this passage, Jesus gives us all we need to face the future with confident hope no matter what comes through faith in him.

The context for this passage comes from a question asked by the disciples about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which took place in A.D. 70. (v. 1-4) The Temple in Jerusalem was the largest and grandest Temple in the ancient world. Therefore, its destruction was a cataclysmic event for those to whom Jesus' is speaking. As such it also becomes a paradigm for reflecting on and understanding various trials and tribulations for God's people between Jesus' first and second coming.

In order to understand this passage Jesus gives us a framework and a clue. We need to notice three key phrases. The first is the phrase "these things" found in verses 4 and 30, which refer to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The second is the phrase "that day or hour" in verse 32, which refers to the return of Jesus at the end of history, what the Old Testament prophets call "the Day of the Lord." The third is the phrase "those days" in verse 17, 19 and 24, which refer to the period of history between the "these things" in vs. 4 and 30 and "that day or hour" in vs. 32. In addition, Jesus gives us a clue to understand this framework in verse 8 and the metaphor of "birth pains." As one writer put it,  "labor pains certainly indicate that a birth is about to take place. But who knows how long a woman’s birth labor may be? The birth pains indicate that childbirth has begun, they do not serve as a prophecy of the exact moment of delivery. This ‘beginning of birth pains’ does not tell us whether the end will be tomorrow or next century." (Ferguson) The metaphor of birth pains also gives meaning to the variety and intensity of experiences we can expect to face as followers of Jesus this side of heaven. (v. 7-23)

However, as important as the framework and clue are for understanding this passage, it's not enough. Jesus repeatedly commands us to be on guard, to stay awake. And so we need to know for whom we are waiting. Verses 24-27 are vivid verses with the furthest possible ramifications! But the beauty of these verses is the coming of the Son of man, the only chosen King, who came to suffer and die and rise again and ascend to the right hand of God to one day come back and gather his people while making all things new.

This is a passage that confronts us with the need to trust God with what we don't know. We all struggle with that. But we also must see what Jesus says about himself. "But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come." (v. 32-33) Do you see what Jesus said? He doesn't know the day or hour. In other words, he is in the same place you and I are. In fact, that is what he came to do; to identify with us, to stand where we stand in our humanity in order to save us through his perfect life, death and resurrection! In other words, if we need help to be on guard and to stay awake we need only look to Jesus for grace and help to do so! Jesus trusted his Father with what he did not know even to the point of dying on the cross (Mk. 14:36). This is the good news we need as we wait and as we live for God and his glory looking to Jesus' return to make all things new.

Reflection Questions

  1. What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
  2. What questions does this passage raise for you?
  3. Was there anything that bothered you?
  4. In verse 23 Jesus says, "be on guard, I have told you all things beforehand." What do you wish Jesus would tell you that he has not?
  5. What reasons do we see in this passage for Jesus' command to be on guard, to stay awake and what help and hope does he give?
  6. What difference does belief in the return of Jesus make for living your life today?

Suggested Resources:
This week I, along with Ruling Elder, Miles Gresham, am in Mobile, AL to participate in a denominational wide church meeting called the General Assembly. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to point you to a basic article on church government for any of you interested in learning more about the church of Jesus Christ and the way in which he set it up.

Songs for this week:
Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates
How Firm a Foundation
He Leadeth Me
Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me
Come Ye Souls by Sin Afflicted

Sermon passage for this week: John 4:1-42

Until next time,

Will

All Things New

Verse 2

Come, for creation groans,
impatient of Thy stay,
Worn out with these long years of ill,
these ages of delay.
Come, for love waxes cold,
its steps are faint and slow;
Faith now is lost in unbelief,
hope’s lamp burns dim and low.

O come and make all things new. Come and make all things new
O come and make all things new. Build up this ruined Earth,
Come and make all things new.