A Tale of Two Men
Mark 6: 14-29 • November 25, 2018 • Pastor Ray Viola
Amongst the beatitudes we read, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12). John the baptizer paid the ultimate price of persecution and righteousness because he rebuked Herod for his ungodly and immoral relationship with Herodias. The Lord Jesus told the suffering saints in Smyrna, “… be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10) Those who born twice will only die once. John will receive the crown of life. The other man in our study is King Herod. He was anything but godly. He was an immoral man, who was ruled by his passion instead of his conscience. Herod had John beheaded at the bequest of his step daughter Salome, who was influenced by her wicked mother Herodias, who had it in for John because he had the audacity to say that her relationship with Herod was ungodly and against the moral law of God. Unless there was an act of God that brought Herod to saving faith in Jesus Christ, he, like all who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ, will be lost for all eternity, for those who are only born once, will die twice. May writer and reader alike be amongst those who can say, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:20,21)
Mark 6: 1-13 • November 18, 2018 • Pastor Ray Viola
At the start of His public ministry, Jesus declared that He was the Christ, and that He came to fulfill the prophecies regarding Him (Luke 4:16-21). He was rejected (Luke 4:28-29). Now, as He is drawing towards the latter part of His earthly ministry, Jesus returns to the synagogue in Nazareth, only to be rejected again. The first time, Jesus went alone, He had no followers. This time He brought His disciples with Him. They heard the crowd question the nature of His birth. They could not deny the wisdom and power of God’s Spirit upon Him. But, as far as they knew, He was a carpenter with no rabbinical or theological training. Where then did He get such gifting? There were only two options: God or Satan. Amazingly, even His brothers and sisters did not know who He was. But Mark tells us that His disciples followed Him. He was teaching them both by precept and example that following Him at times includes being rejected, in spite of being in the center of God’s will and calling. To follow Jesus means that He is The One we look to for a perfect example of what the will of God looks like, on earth, as it is in heaven. When He sent them out with the authority to anoint with oil and cast out devils, they were learning that the power of God is released in His Name, even when He is not present physically. Whenever Jesus is praying, teaching, washing feet, or ministering to the multitudes, He is providing us the example that we are to follow. The apostle Paul told the Corinthians to follow him as he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Beloved, we are first and foremost followers of Jesus; we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Christ has purchased us for His glory. Our assignment here on earth is to re-present the life of Jesus in everything that we do. May God grant us the grace to remember that we live to follow and please only One, and His Name is Jesus. Follow Him.
The Healing Touch of Jesus
Mark 5: 21-43 • November 11, 2018 • Pastor Ray Viola
I love to read the gospel’s and “see” how Jesus ministered His healing touch to those who were in humanly impossible situations. As we move ahead in our journey through Marks’ gospel, we come to the place where Jesus is met by the ruler of a synagogue by the name of Jairus, whose twelve year old daughter is at death’s door. He asks Jesus to come to his house and heal his daughter. On the way to his house, Jesus is thronged by a multitude. Amidst this great crowd is a woman with a critical internal bleeding problem. She has gone to doctors for help for twelve years, but to no avail. Because of this bleeding condition, she was considered unclean and was ostracized from society. She was at her wits’ end. Can anyone relate to her? Presumably having heard of His power to heal, she determined that she was going to touch Jesus, assured, like Jairus was, that just by His touch she would be made whole. And she was right! The very moment that this woman was miraculously healed by Jesus and told to go in peace, a contingency from Jairus house told him that there was no sense for Jesus to come to his house now because his daughter was dead. Immediately Jesus said to him, “Do not be afraid: only believe.” (v.36) Arriving at the house, they are met with a crowd that is mourning over the little girl’s death. Jesus then is laughed to scorn because He declares that she is not dead but asleep. After removing the scoffers, Jesus raises this precious little girl from the dead. Are you or any of your loved ones in a dire situation this morning? Let’s unite in prayer that the same healing touch of Jesus will come upon all those who are in humanly impossible situations. Selah
Jesus Christ, Our Mighty Deliverer
Mark 5: 1-20 • October 14, 2018 • Pastor Ray Viola
God tells us through His Word that one of the reasons He came to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ was to “destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8b) That part of Jesus’s mission on planet earth was to directly oppose the devil’s works is confirmed in Acts 10:38: “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” While the primary mission of Jesus was to redeem mankind from the debt and crippling power of sin, there is no doubt that a significant part of His coming was to set people free from the powers of darkness as well. In our study this morning, we see The Lord Jesus setting a man free from the grip and torment of demonic possession. This man dwelt among the dead. Because they had no ability to help the man, they tried to bind him with chains, which he “plucked asunder” (KJV) by supernatural powers of demons. But Jesus commanded the Legion of demons to release their stronghold upon the man, the result being that he was “clothed, and in his right mind.” (Mark 5:15) The Father sent His Son Jesus to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8b), not you, my friend. Jesus still delivers people from the kingdom of darkness today by the power that is in the gospel that bears His Name. Praise be unto His Name!!!
Mark 4:35-41 • August 26, 2018 • Pastor Ray Viola
Every follower of Jesus is going to encounter storms in life. Some of them are caused by unwise choices that are made outside of the will of God. Some of them are the result of being in the very center of the will of God. In every storm, there is the purpose of God, the will of man, and the counterattack of the enemy. Jesus had been teaching the disciples the word, and now He would give them a practical test to see how much they had learned. Thus, He tells them to get into a boat and launch to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. No mystery or cryptic message here. Thus, they launch out, and suddenly they find themselves in the midst a great storm. Their boat is being tossed to and fro, filling with water. The experienced fishermen - Peter, Andrew, James and John - are unable to control the boat, let alone the storm. The frightened disciples wake Jesus up from a sound sleep and ask Him, “…do You not care that we are about to perish?” (Mark 4:38) Where is Jesus during this storm? He is with the disciples but is sleeping. (He is not bothered or threatened by the storm,) Where is Satan? He is in the midst of the storm. Jesus wakes up and He rebukes the wind and tells the sea to be still. The words that Jesus used to rebuke the storm were also used for dispossessing a demon of his power in Mark 1:25. No doubt the enemy was seeking to thwart the purposes of God. But as soon as Jesus spoke those words, the storm was muzzled and there was a great calm. One word from the lips of The Master can turn a great storm into a great calm. The Lord God rules and reigns over every demon and storm of life. Jesus then asked the disciples why they were afraid and of little faith. Beloved, chances are that some of you are in a storm of some sort today. Look to the Savior, not the storm. Your times are in His hands. Selah
Mark 4:26-34 • August 19, 2018 • Pastor Ray Viola
Jesus likens the growth in the kingdom of God to a farmer who plants seed into the ground. The farmer does not need to be able to explain all of the germination process that is in the seed for it to bring forth fruit. He simply plants the seed into the ground and believes that there will be a harvest. The farmer is responsible to plant the seed, add fertilizer and till the soil, but the farmer cannot produce the harvest. Likewise, we are responsible for sowing the seed of God’s Word in our hearts, and obey the teaching or believe the promise, but we cannot produce the fruit. God produces the fruit in our lives to the extent that we sow the seed and heed what God says. The prophet Isaiah wrote in chapter 55:10-11: “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” When the word of God is planted in our hearts and acted on, the very DNA of that seed will bring forth fruit - 30, 60 and 100 fold. But the key is to keep on sowing and trusting God for the harvest, in spite of the “inclimate” circumstances or feelings. Sow the Word, beloved. Pray it. Sing it. Meditate on it. Speak it. Selah!
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