Sermon: It's not twelve o'clock yet


Have you ever asked why God has not answered a prayer? Does he care? Could it be that it’s too early for him to answer? Could it be that he plans on answering at noon, but it’s not twelve o’clock yet? 


I want us to understand the power of the one who answers prayer. 

Sermon Plan 

We will discuss how God provides even sexually, the abundant life, who is the Jesus here, not missing the real deal and the timing of God’s providence. 

God Provides even Sexually 

One of the readings for today covers David’s mistake with Bathsheba. Do we trust God to provide even sexually? In this week’s Gospel lesson is an example of how God provides (Mark 6:1-21). Of course we usually think that applies to food, but it also applies to other aspects of our lives. David did not trust God to provide for him sexually and so took a woman who was not his right to have (2 Samuel 11:1-15). Throughout life we will all be tempted just like David was, but the consequences of giving in to that temptation, of not trusting God to provide, are destruction of our own lives. That is why it is so important to be reminded by the Lord’s Prayer to pray constantly not to be led into temptation. God will provide, even what we need in our hearts (Ephesians 3:14-21) “to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine”. 

What is the Abundant Life 

Do we trust God’s way as leading to the abundant life? Jesus promised the abundant life (John 10:10). As our Great Shepherd he promised to lead us to a spiritual pasture that provides real food to fulfill our most important needs and our deepest longings. In the beatitudes, Jesus promised real happiness in his kingdom, real comfort in a world of joy, a permanent inheritance in the land. He promised we would be filled, receive mercy, that we would see God and be called the children of God (Matthew 5). Mark 6:1-21 reveals a theology of abundance as God provides food when the cupboard is bare and we need to feed a small army. He provides buoyancy when sinking seems inevitable. Though our physical resources are small, God can multiply them. Though our physical abilities would not normally allow us to walk on water, with God’s help we can. 

Who is the Jesus here 

In one church where we attended, some of the people wanted to organize a 500 mile trip to hear a certain evangelist. I was not interested and told them I prefer Jesus and him I find a lot closer to home. We often look to mere human beings to save us. Sometimes we even rely on our own strength to save us. Yet, who is the Jesus here? As we examine the story of Jesus feeding the great crowd of people with just five loaves and a couple of fish and Jesus walking on the rough and windblown waters during the night (Mark 6:1-21), perhaps it is good to ask, who is the Jesus here? When we need miraculous provision of urgent needs or to walk on water, let's remember who is the Jesus here. It is not us. 

Let’s not miss the real meal 

As we read of Jesus’ miraculous provision of physical food (Mark 6:1-21), let’s not miss the real meal. Physical provision lasts a day. Spiritual provision lasts forever. After Jesus’ had miraculously provided for the nourishment of a large crowd, he withdrew to a mountain alone. They wanted to make him a king. They looked to the material world for answers, a physical meal and a worldly king. Yet Jesus was the king of kings, the bread from heaven. Digesting Jesus is hard even for Christians. A materialistic health-wealth gospel is more readily popular than the gospel of Jesus. The outwardly visible icing on a church’s cake is often more popular than the message of the kingdom within. It is easy to get caught up in the music, liturgy, politics, fellowship and pot-luck meals and miss the bread of heaven. 

It’s not twelve o’clock yet 

Through prayer alone George Müller trusted God to provide. For 64 years he “cared for and educated over 18,000 children; educated over 100,000 more in other schools at the Orphanage's expense; distributed hundreds of thousands of Bibles and tens of millions of religious tracts; supported about 150 missionaries; travelled over 200,000 miles as a missionary himself; and shared the Gospel with over 3 million people around the world.”[1] He prayed and God provided. By the time he died at age 93 God had supplied the equivalent of $150 million in today’s money. Once close to lunchtime there was no food to feed the orphans and a worried assistant came to Müller who replied, “It’s not twelve o’clock yet.” Then a truck filled with needed food arrived unsolicited. God provides in impossible circumstances (Mark 6:1-21). 


God provides. He does care. He wants us to experience the abundant life. Sometimes we have to wait until his time. It’s not twelve o’clock yet.

Why Go to Church


Have you ever asked yourself why go to church? Wouldn’t it be easier just to stay in bed a little longer? What do you get out of church? Why should we attend church weekly? Why should we spend time with God’s people? 


I want us to understand the importance of regular church attendance. 

Meaning of Apostle

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 introduces us to the apostles. In the original Greek the word was apostoloi plural of the word apostolos which, when it was written did not have the overblown meaning that we have attached to it today. It simply meant a messenger.[1] The apostles were first called such when they were sent out. Should churches call some ministers apostles today or is a humbler word like delegate, missionary, envoy or messenger more appropriate? The twelve had a special place, but the word apostle was used of others even in the Bible. Can we attach too high a meaning to the word letting it become a tool of self-promoting egotism for those who use the word to describe their ministries? It is symptomatic of our human vanity. Importantly, Jesus set us an example of humility (Matthew 11:29). Yet on the other hand, what is important is the message. It is simply the most important message in the world and to miss out on it week after week leaves a big hole in our lives. Like the original messengers (apostles), one important reason to go to church is to meet with Jesus and report in.

What Kind of Vacation

What kind of vacation is best? The commercial world entices us to all kinds of exotic and expensive vacations so they can make a living, but is that the kind of vacation that we really need? Is it to experience new cultures and excitement? That is okay and has its place. What is the purpose of a vacation? What kind of vacation do we really need? Most of us occasionally need a rest, time out. In Mark 6:30-34, 53-56Jesus introduced the concept of a quiet place to get some rest. Rest for the body and mind are good. But, the author of Hebrews described a place, the promised land and a time, the weekly rest as not that true real rest. Each of them was a mere foretaste of a place of eternal resting with God (Hebrews 3-4). Another important aspect of rest is time with God and an important part of that time is in the company of the saints at church each week. Like the original disciples, we need a rest and part of that rest is to be with other disciples.

Why Go to Church

Why go to church? Statistics prove that those who attend church regularly actually live longer and so do their children. Regular church attendance also reduces our children's risk of involvement in drunkenness, drugs or suicide. They rebound faster from depression, have lower risk of crime, better odds for a happy life, have a nurturing family atmosphere, and better odds of an active church life in their adults years.[2] I go to church to be a part of God’s kingdom on earth, to live and learn the Gospel, worship God, to encourage and be encouraged, to pray, feed my soul.[3] [4] Even in the most boring sermons I hear God’s voice, I learn to forgive and be forgiven, to rest with the disciples of Jesus and touch his cloak so that I may be healed (Mark 6:30-34, 53-56). One of the more important reasons to go to church is to touch the cloak of Jesus and be healed.

What Did We Do Last Week

What did we do last week? What do we have to report to Jesus? Did we spread the message? The word apostle was not originally so much a title as a descriptive term of what people did. It meant a person sent out with a message. In that sense, we are all sent out with a message. Could it be that apostolic succession is wrongly defined? Could it be that all Christians are assigned to go out with a message after having met with Christ each week? Could it be that we have gotten church wrong? Could it be that we are here to be debriefed by Jesus (Mark 6:30-34, 53-56)? Are we here as a social club to meet with each other or to meet with Jesus and then leave with a message to take to the world? Fellowship is an important aspect of church life, but the most important part is the message that goes with our lives as we leave. 

CEO or Shepherd

Of all the titles that the corporate world has chosen for leaders, I cannot recall anyone using the word pastor or shepherd. Imagine a leading company headed by a corporate shepherd. It just does not seem fashionable. Jesus was pleased to be called the Great Shepherd and was saddened by large crowds who were like sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:30-34, 53-56). What would corporate life be like if earthly CEO’s behaved more like caring shepherds? Would they rob mom and pop investors of their modest investment portfolios by stealing from them grossly excessive salaries? Would they feed their flocks crumbs while they dined opulently and sacrifice them all just for greed? Or, would they be selfless shepherds like Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd and CEO of the universe, and be willing to suffer so that others may live? We cannot learn to be the right kind of leaders (shepherds) unless we are hearing from the Great Shepherd each week.


Attending church each week is an important reminder of the Gospel message. An important part of rest is time together as God’s people. Let’s be a part of God’s kingdom on earth and be at church as often as possible. 

Sermon: Silencing the Messenger


How difficult is it to tell others about our faith? In North Korea and Iran and Afghanistan it could get you killed. In China it could get you imprisoned. In American and Australia it could get you laughed at or defriended on Facebook. People have always tried to silence the Gospel.


I want us to understand that the greatest news of all time is bad news for some people and that they will try to silence us. 

Sermon Plan 

We will first look at the politics of hate, suspect interpretations, Herod, how truth can be offensive and silencing the messenger. 

Politics of Hate 

Murder and hate go hand in hand (1 John 3:15). Murder of a political enemy is a common theme of history. French royalty used the guillotine. British royalty had enemies pulled apart by four horses, drawn and quartered. Our politicians use their tongues to destroy each other. The cause of John the Baptist’s death was the politics of hate (Mark 6:14-29). Herod had him beheaded and presented his head on a platter. Are we any different? Politics manipulates the truth and we believe it. We don’t know all the facts, yet politics has incited us to hatred because the more we hate the more we will vote for the other party. When we allow hatred of one another, hatred of a political party, hatred of even our enemies to enter our hearts, we are no different than Herod. 

Suspect Interpretations 

Human agendas make biblical interpretations suspect. For example, women’s liberation theology claims that Mark 6:14-29 has nothing to do with sexual exploitation of women. Calling historical assumptions into question is fair, but drawing the opposite conclusion here is also without evidence. Was the girl’s dance seductive or not? It is true that the Greek word forgirl is also used for the little 12 year old raised by Jesus (Mark 6:22). However, it is also used in the Greek Old Testament for the maiden (Esther 2) when she was brought before King Ahasuerus. Interestingly, the King also promised Esther half of his kingdom (Esther 5:3). The evidence for either conclusion is scant. We read the Bible with the lenses of our own experience. Be careful of interpretations by those with agendas and that is all of us. 

Which Herod 

Which Herod murdered John the Baptizer? Here is a brief look at the Herodian dynasty. Herod the Great was a madman who murdered his enemies and even members of his own family. He was client king to Rome over Judea. His son Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Galilee. A tetrarchy is a “government by four persons ruling jointly” ( It was Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great who killed John the Baptist. When Herod Antipas divorced his first wife Phasaelis to marry his niece Herodias, John the Baptizer condemned it as evil (Mark 6:14-29) and was murdered for his comments. The divorce incited war with Phasaelis’ father the King of Nabatea, which Herod lost and that provoked the bloodthirsty Roman Emperor Caligula to charge him with treason and send him and Herodias into exile in Gaul, where Antipas died. 

Offensive Truth 

Telling the truth is not always popular. It can even get you killed as John found out (Mark 6:14-29). Does that mean that we become so “tactful” that we avoid the offense of the cross (Galatians 5:11)? Jesus said that peacemakers will be blessed (Matthew 5:9) and yet he caused great offense to others at times (Matthew 13:53-58; Luke 5:29-30; John 6:60-70). We are not to cause offense (1 Corinthians 10:32), but the truth will. If it is our tactlessness or faults which cause offense that is one thing, but if it is the truth of the Gospel, we cannot avoid it. Persecution and tribulation cause offense (Matthew 13:21; 24:10), Jesus offends religious leaders (Matthew 15:12; ) and he is a rock of offense (Romans 9:33) because of the truth. 

Silencing the Message 

God’s message of repentance and hope is not always popular with power brokers, both political and religious. John found that out (Mark 6:14-29) and Jesus was crucified for similar reasons. The church has two messages. One is the good news of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23) and Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1) and salvation (Ephesians 1:13) and peace (Ephesians 6:15). It is good news to the poor (Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 11:5; Luke 4:18;7:22) but bad news for those who profit from this world’s dog-eat-dog Babylonian system (Revelation 18). Just as then, the church today has a message for the power hungry on both sides of politics, for the greedy merchants of Babylon and those who use religion for personal gain: repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 3:2). 


The greatest news of all time is bad news for some people and they will try to silence it. It is news which offends those who are deluded by this world’s Babylonian ways. Yet for anyone who understands how irredeemably corrupt this world’s ways are, it is wonderful news of salvation for all humanity, the world’s only real hope. Don't let that message be silenced.

Sermon: Honor the Local Prophet


How difficult is it when a friend or neighbor is elevated above us? Yet, if we want God’s blessings showered upon us, we must overcome the jealousy. 


I want us to understand that God can use anyone, even our closest friends to lead us. 

Sermon Plan 

We will first look at the tendency to cut others down, honoring local prophets, women pastors, honoring God in his leaders, missing God’s blessing by rejecting God’s prophets and dealing with rejection. 

Cutting Others Down to Size 

Why do we do it? When others are elevated we seek to cut them down to size. Such is also the fate of the prophet in his hometown (Mark 6:1-13). It takes a big man and generous woman to honor a friend who is promoted. Most of us react by belittling them and finding reason why the promotion was not deserved. All the Hollywood schmoozing aside, that’s not life’s reality. The truth is that most people are jealous. We covet their successes and secretly undermine them in conversation. We find honor to be such a rare commodity that we offer it to strangers more readily than neighbors and friends. Perhaps that is why Peter had to encourage churches to honor all (1 Peter 2:17). Honor is in reality not a limited commodity. It can be spread to all. 

Honoring a Local Prophet 

Why do locals not support a prophet who is one of their own (Mark 6:1-13)? There may be two connected reasons. When Jesus went to his hometown to teach and perform mighty works many were offended at him and Jesus also marveled at their lack of faith. We are no different. Why is it that when a local person is used by God, we lack faith? Perhaps we are offended that God would promote one of us. Perhaps we are offended that God chose someone other than us. Can we overcome this tendency? Jesus did lay hand on a few locals and heal them. Can we be one of the few who believe? We can if we realize ahead of time that God can and does use “one of us” and be prepared to show that person our full support. 

Honoring Women Pastors 

Ought we honor a woman pastor? Paul enumerated qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 not as law excluding women, nor to call women leaders sinners. Even conservative theology teaches that we are under grace not law. But, we hypocritically turn historically and culturally bound case-studies into law. Yet, the only law of Christ is love. Even under the Old Testament law, a woman could be a judge and a prophetess. The quote that this was so because “there was no man in Israel” is from the Talmud not the Bible. The New Testament brings freedom not harsher, even more-enslaving law (Galatians 4:5, 25, 5:1-3). If a woman believes that she is called by God to spiritual leadership, let us not be like the people of Jesus’ hometown (Mark 6:1-13). Let us honor and support her. 

Honoring God in His Leaders 

When Jesus was dishonored in his hometown (Mark 6:1-13), people pointed to their intimate knowledge of his family. Jesus never sinned, but the rest of his family surely did. Some of this was known in the community. Over the years I have heard many stories of local people who became church leaders. We locals love to say that we remember when... What do we remember? We remember when so and so did something stupid, immature or otherwise embarrassing. It is our way of dishonoring the prophet in our midst. Perhaps we do so because we don’t believe that God could use somebody just like us for pastoral ministry. We place pastors on an impossible pedestal but that is not reality. We honor God’s pastors not because they are perfect. They are not. We honor them because we honor God. 

What a Shame to Miss Out 

Because Jesus was dishonored in his hometown (Mark 6:1-13) he did not do many powerful things, not many mighty works there. That is the meaning in the original language. Those dynamic deeds would have included healing lives and conquering the evil one. What a shame to miss out because the one through whom we could have experienced a substantial miracle was a close, personal friend or neighbor. We allow the humanity of church leaders to be a stumbling block. So many pastors hide behind titles and collars and robes to try and overcome our weaknesses, but such barriers only last so long. Eventually, we see through the external trappings to the weak humanity of our spiritual leaders. When we do, do we also still see God and allow him to use them mightily? What a shame to miss out! 

Reactions to Rejection 

What do we do when we face rejection (Mark 6:1-13)? We could pout, get depressed, pray or gossip about how hard done by we were. Jesus gave none of that as advice to the disciples. He told them to shake the dust off their feet. Any door-to-door or cold-calling is a difficult job. Those who are experienced at it know that it is just a numbers game. A “no” is a good thing to those with a positive mental attitude. They know they don’t need to waste anymore time, but just get on to the next place. If a salesperson is involved with a product that they are genuinely proud of and not just chasing a commission-check, then they are not ashamed of rejection. Those who preach the Gospel know that there is no better message to spread. 


How difficult is it when a friend or neighbor is elevated above us? Yet, if we want God’s blessings showered upon us, we must overcome the jealousy. We will be tempted to cut them down, dishonor them, but if we do we will be missing God’s blessing. Let’s love all God’s leaders and so be blessed by God.

Sermon: Fixing America, Part 11 — The Healing Touch of Jesus


Many people today are worried that the American dream may be sick or dying. We have sought solutions from political doctors on the left and right but they have not helped us and our debt just keeps rising. Does the Church have an answer? 


I want us to understand that there is an answer in the healing touch of Jesus. 

Sermon Plan 

We will first look at the text and notice a few interesting highlights. Then in a week when we celebrate nationhood, let’s examine how the text might apply to us individually and nationally. 

Reading & Commenting on the Text — Mark 5:21-42 

Seeing the Light 

Do we see the light of Christ, or do we only see a Jesus made powerless by human skepticism? The story in Mark 5:21-42 reveals Jair or Jairus as the father of a dying girl. Jair means “Yahweh enlightens” or “he gives light.” Some theologians dismiss his name as a pseudonym given by the author for editorial reasons, ignoring another possibility. Could Jairus’ name have been God-inspired at birth just for this purpose? Either way, a devout man’s daughter was brought back to life not by pure religion or human intellect, but by Jesus. Jair may have been devout and practiced the selfless life that both Jewish and Christian religions demand. However, even pure religion can be practiced by those who have not yet seen the light. Jair recognized the light and for his daughter sought the healing touch of Jesus. 

Jesus was Glad she Came 

When we our lives are broken, we are often reluctant to go to church. Some people don’t attend because they have either experienced judgmentalism or are so ashamed that they avoid people altogether. Some of us don’t like people, perhaps because people say hurtful things and life has wounded us so deeply that we avoid the possibility of more pain. Perhaps the reason is that we are so ashamed of our lives and afraid that others will judge us. Perhaps that is why the woman with the hemorrhage approached Jesus secretly (Mark 5:21-42). Her covert approach did not bring condemnation from Jesus. Rather, he commended her for her faith in coming. Let us not be concerned whether or not we are wearing the right clothes, don’t feel like smiling, or that God might judge us. Our Lord is glad that we came for the healing touch of Jesus. 

Sometimes Faith Breaks the Rules 

Many think that law is the answer. Sometimes rules don’t work and make matters worse. In Mark 5:21-42 we find a woman who broke a rule, by faith. She was sick and hemorrhaging for a dozen years. The Old Testament law demanded that she was to live in quarantine until examined and officially approved for reentry into community life. Yet, in faith she thought outside the box. Her thoughts were not on rules, but on desperate faith. She reached out and touched Jesus’ cloak. The Old Testament taught to touch nothing unclean. Yet in faith, this woman disregarded her quarantine and touched Jesus. When asked, the woman confessed to Jesus the whole truth. What was Jesus’ reaction, one of legalistic, letter-of-the-law judgmentalism or one of compassion? Because love is the highest of all laws, sometimes faith breaks the rules to seek the healing touch of Jesus. 
Application to Us and America Today 

Two Sick Sides of National Leadership 

As with all democracies since ancient Athens, America has two sick parties. The one is diseased and hemorrhaging government. Human administrations have mostly failed. Despite rare moments when healthy, godly rule existed, for most of history human governments have been unhealthy. The other sick party has been the wealthy, sick with greed and excess. As an ancient model of democracy, Athens struggled with equality. They found that democracy tends to degenerate into oligarchy, rule by the wealthy. Government of the people tends to degenerate into unjust government by the wealthy for the wealthy and we are no exception. Our national leaders in government and business are unhealthy, two parties sick with a covetous lust for power and mammon oppressing a third party, everyone else. Just like the two parties in Mark 5:21-42 our national leaders can find the answer in the healing touch of Jesus. 

America Sick & Dying 

America is like the dying girl and the sick woman in Mark 5:21-42. We have been bleeding for a dozen years or more. We have been under the care of doctors on the left and on the right. We have spent all that we have and instead of getting better we have only gotten worse. Some people have told us that America is dead. Why bother with Jesus! Like the young, twelve year old girl, America is in some ways young. Europe and China are old civilizations. We are a young child, but our dream of freedom is as ancient as the Exodus. Though the message has been weak and mixed with false gospels, we have heard about Jesus. Will we secretly grab a hold of his cloak or openly invite Jesus into our homes to heal our land? Will we seek the healing touch of Jesus? 

Two Sick Sides of Church Leadership 

Ever since the east-west schism the Church has had two sick parties. The one is the oldest and proud of its orthodoxy. The other claims the seat of Peter and is proud of its size. Both are filled with wonderful Christians, yet also contain grave human errors. A Catholic priest once described it as the church being sometimes the Great Whore of Babylon and sometimes the Bride of Christ. Power politics, bossy control-freak traditionalism and sin are mixed with the grace and love of Jesus Christ. Our church leaders are often unhealthy, with a covetous lust for power and mammon oppressing the church more than nurturing. Just like the two parties in Mark 5:21-42 our churches can find the answer in the healing touch of Jesus. 

Living the Dream 

In Mark 5:21-42 we read of a healing of two ladies by a two-step process, the act of healing itself could be seen as the first step. Both females had been ostracized by quarantine laws. Reinstatement to normal life was an important second step after healing. Today, many people believe that the American dream is no longer normal life, but sick or maybe even dead. Any suggestion that our dreams are not dead, but merely asleep may invite the same kind of ridicule that Jesus received in the story. The American dream is the same as the Chinese, European, Canadian and Mexican dream, to live an abundant life. We look in all the wrong places to revive that dream. The great secret of the universe is: that dream of life is available in the healing touch of Jesus. 


Money and legislation are the answers that many people think America needs. But money is a root of all evil, not a solution to evil. If Old Testament law did not save Israel, then more national laws will not heal our nation. As the two ladies in the story teach us, the answer lies in the healing touch of Jesus. National repentance and national faith begin with you and me. Let us look to him to touch us and revive our personal and national dreams. Let us reach out for the healing touch of Jesus.