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Showing posts from June, 2009

What is going on when prayers are not answered?

Mark 5:21-43 We are looking at a subject today that for some people here will be very painful. This is a story about the healing of a woman who had suffered greatly for 12 years, and the raising of a 12 year old girl from the dead. The passage is answering a question that the disciples ask in Mark 4:41: We looked at it last week. The disciples see Jesus calm the wind and the waves, and they ask, 'Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him'. In the next few verses (Mark 5:1-20), we read that Jesus has authority over evil Spirits, and today we read how Jesus has authority over sickness and death. And I think that the key verse here is an echoe of a verse in Mark 4. In Mark 4:40, Jesus says to the disciples, after he has calmed the storm, 'Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?'. In Mark 5:36, Jesus says to Jairus, before he raises his daughter, 'Don't be afraid, just believe'. Two things are going on here. 1. We are being shown that Jesus is

Jealousy: What it does and how to deal with it

Genesis 37:12-36 Two shopkeepers were bitter rivals. Their stores were directly across the street from each other, and they would spend each day keeping track of each other's business. If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at his rival. One night an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, "I will give you anything you ask, but whatever you receive, your competitor will receive twice as much. Would you be rich? You can be very rich, but he will be twice as wealthy. Do you wish to live a long and healthy life? You can, but his life will be longer and healthier. What is your desire?" The man frowned, thought for a moment, and then said, "Here is my request: Strike me blind in one eye!" Jealousy is intensely powerful. This is a story of what jealousy can do. Joseph has just told his brothers - in his diplomatic way - that one day they will all bow down to him. And in Genesis 37.11 we read 6 words - devastating - 'His brothers wer

The inevitable growth of the Kingdom of God

Mark 4:26-34 These parables are great news for pastors; they are great news for control freaks; and they are great news for people who despair about the future. They are great news because they tell us that the Kingdom of God is like a seed that has been sown. It will grow. So there is no need to be anxious and no need to think that it all depends on me. It will grow whether we worry about it or not. It will grow whether we fuss over it or not. All that it needs is space and time. So what is this Kingdom of God which will come? The Old Testament looks forward to the establishment of the Kingdom of God , the rule of God, on this earth. It will be a Kingdom which will be ruled over by a king, a descendant of David; and he will reign for ever. The Jews knew that person as the Messiah, the anointed one of God. He would establish righteousness and justice and freedom. Creation, and the laws which govern creation, will be reordered. Power structures will be transformed; those whose sur