Are You Listening?
Mark 4:10-12; 21-25 • August 12, 2018 • Pastor Ray Viola
Our study today revolves around the two themes. One is the mystery of the kingdom of God, and two is the importance of really hearing what Jesus said. Now when the subject of the kingdom of God is mentioned in Scripture, it is referring to the reign or rulership of God. This mystery of the kingdom of God was brought into light in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Light of the world and the King of the kingdom. All that Jesus taught and all the miracles that Jesus performed where manifestations of the kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven. However, this kingdom is only partially manifested today. It will be fully manifested in the new heavens and new earth. This once secret or hidden gospel of the kingdom is now to be openly proclaimed to every creature. According to Mark, Jesus said take heed what you hear. According to Luke, Jesus said take heed how you hear. Have you ever heard the expression, “If you don’t use it, you lose it?” Well beloved, that expression was “stolen” from Jesus. Jesus said, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath. This heeding what we hear has to deal with the principles of sowing and reaping as well as the importance of wisely stewarding what God gives unto us. How well we listen will be determined by what we sow into other peoples lives and by how wisely we steward what God has given unto us. Are you listening?
When Heaven Invades Earth
Mark 3:7-12 • May 27, 2018 • Pastor Ray Viola
Tragically, because Jesus was acting in ways that were contrary to the most influential, yet totally unbiblical traditions and interpretations of the religious leaders of the day, the battle lines have been drawn. Jesus was grieved at their cold and hard hearts. Jesus Christ is the express image of the will and character of The Father. He only said what He heard The Father say, and He only did what He saw The Father do. Thus, Jesus is the perfect example of the will of God on earth, as it is in heaven. Or to put it another way, Jesus is the Perfect Theology of heaven, manifest on earth. If you want to know what the will of God is on earth, as it is in heaven, look unto Jesus. Manifesting the compassion of The Father, Jesus went about doing good, healing broken people, and delivering those who were oppressed by the devil. How glorious it must have been to see so many souls delivered from lives of bondage by simply touching the hem of The Master’s garment. Jesus still manifests His manifold compassion towards those who are spiritually dead, or trapped by the powers of darkness, or suffering physical afflictions. Our study of the life of Jesus reveals to us what happens when the kingdom of heaven invades earth. May God rend the heavens and do those same things today as we call upon His Name in worship and prayer. Selah
The Parable of the Sower
Mark 4:1-20 • July 29, 2018 • Pastor Ray Viola
In the foundational parable of the sower taught by Jesus in Mark chapter 4, we discover that hearing God’s Word and bearing fruit is relative to the stewardship of our hearts. It is to be noted that the same seed that bears fruit in the one instance is the same seed that ends up being rejected, causes offence, or is choked in others. And where do these various responses come from? The heart. So we could also call the parable of the sower the parable of the heart. In John 15, Jesus tells us that it is the will of God that His branches be fruitful. In fact, the greater the pruning, the greater the fruit-bearing. Even a born again, regenerated believer has to deal with temptations, along with the hourly and daily assault of worldly and fleshly lusts that seek to undermine the word of God from taking root in our lives. So in this parable, Jesus lays out for us the kinds of things that prevent us from bearing fruit. We do well to take note of what these spiritual termites are that cause people to reject, run away from, or flat out choke the life out of the seed of God’s Word from bearing fruit in our lives. Like an airline security machine can scan the contents of my luggage, I need to allow the Word of God to scan the content of my heart. May The Spirit of God move freely and powerfully in our lives today, in order that we may be fruitful and bring glory to God. Selah
Trust and Obey
Mark 3: 31-35 • July 8, 2018 • Pastor Ray Viola
I remember singing that old Hymn “Trust and Obey” right after coming to faith in Jesus Christ. One verse says, “Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share, but our toil He doth richly repay: not a grief nor a loss, not a frown or a cross, but is blest if we trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.” That sums up what we will be studying in this morning. When Jesus was told that His mother and family wanted to talk to Him, He replied, “Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, ‘Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:33-35) Jesus was not advocating dishonor to our parents or telling us to shirk family responsibilities, but He was revealing to us that our relationship with Him must be primary and preeminent. But this relationship that we have with Jesus must be based on trust and obedience to Him. Trust and obey is more than a great hymn; it is a foundational part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus asked the question, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46) The point that Jesus is making is obvious. What is the point of calling Him Lord if you have no intention of obeying Him as Lord? James writes, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22) Jesus taught in the parable of the sower, the seed that is sown on good ground describes those who “in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15) May The Spirit of God grant to writer and reader alike an honest and good heart that hears, heeds, and brings forth fruit with patience for the glory of God. Selah
Blasphemy of The Holy Spirit
Mark 3: 20-30 • June 24, 2018 • Pastor Ray Viola
The Holy Spirit’s mission on earth is to point people to Jesus Christ. All of the miracles and wonders that were done by Jesus on earth were done by The Spirit of God. Demonic powers were cast out of people by the power of The Spirit. All manner of sicknesses and diseases again were healed by the power of The Spirit. The lame could walk, the blind could see, the dead were raised. So many miraculous things were done by the power of The Spirit that John wrote that earth itself could not contain the books to record them all (John 21:25). The purpose of every single one of these miracles was meant to bring God glory and reveal that Jesus is The One and only Savior of the world. The unpardonable sin is rejecting the truth about Jesus Christ. It is believing that all roads lead to God. It is believing that salvation is a reward that is given to those who do enough good works or adhere to particular rituals or sacraments. Salvation is only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ apart from any works (Ephesians 2:8-9). To reject that message is the blasphemy of The Holy Ghost and unpardonable.
The Calling of the Twelve
Mark 3: 13-19 • June 10, 2018 • Pastor Ray Viola
It is quite a remarkable thing to see the people that God uses to represent Him and proclaim His kingdom and glory. Think of it. Would you call King David a man after God’s own heart if that were not declared to be so in Scripture (Acts 13:22)? What about father Abraham, who put his wife Sarah in danger with foreign rulers - twice!! What about that murderer Moses and his anger that prohibited him from entering into the Promised Land? Today, we are introduced to 12 men whom Jesus ordained to be His apostles, or “sent out” ones. Jesus is going to call them to be with Him and send them out with power to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out devils and raise the dead! You could not get a more diverse group of men than these twelve. Judging them by worldly standards, the men Jesus chose had no special qualifications at all. They were not wealthy. They had no special social position. They had no special education and were not trained theologians. They were not high-ranking churchmen and ecclesiastics. They were fishermen, tax collectors, patriotic zealots; two wanted Jesus to call down fire from heaven and destroy a group of people (Luke 9:54), and one turned out to be a devil (John 6:70,71). Does that sound like the kind of staff that you and I would choose to start a spiritual revolution that is impacting planet earth to this day? Beloved, if Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life, He has chosen you, as imperfect as you are, to be a testimony of His grace, a witness of His resurrection, and to bear fruit by proclaiming His gospel with the power of The Holy Spirit for His glory and honor.