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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 (Sermon for the week of October 1st)

Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus,
"Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."
Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"


The Gospel of Mark offers us more depth in some of the same events that the Gospel of Matthew records. So, let's start by reflecting on the first part of this weeks reading. There was a man "driving out demons" who was not one of the Twelve Apostles. This seemed to bother the Apostle John. I need to point out a few things with this verse. Back up a minute and realize that someone...was driving out demons! Yes, as to record it as a commonplace event...there was a person POSSESSED by a demon and someone was driving this demon out of the person in the name of Jesus Christ!! It is amazing to me that some read this passage and never comment about things of this nature in the Gospels. So, I am going to go more in-depth with this in the first part of this weeks sermon.

First, what is a demon? Is it a fallen angel? Do they even exist? Well, they
exist enough that John was bothered that someone else was driving it out of a person and he wasn't!! There seems to be a lack of a clear answer in our modern times, but believe me one can make a full study of the hierarchy of fallen angels and demons. Demons are lumped together with fallen angels and most call them the same thing. Well, I think it is important to know your enemy...but don't get to involved with this study. I will share with you what I know about this. There is a difference between a fallen angel and a demon. The difference is that demons are the offspring of the fallen angels. They are half fallen angel and half human or half of whatever the fallen angels had offspring with. The demons are the reason for the Flood. The "wickedness" of the world and why the Flood had to happen was due to the existance of demons living in flesh in this world. When they were killed during the Flood, their spirits went to hell (the place prepared for them and they are under the direction of fallen angels.) Since demons are half fallen angel, demons can seem to work miracles, that is , things which rouse man's astonishment by reason of the "work" or event being beyond mans power. For even a man doing what is beyond the power and knowledge of another man leads him to marvel at what he has done, so that in a way he seems to that man to have worked a miracle. This is the power of the magicians and it comes from hell. Demons obviously have the ability to possess people. If you were to ask me what would possess someone...a fallen angel or a demon...I would answer a demon. A demon is the natural born hater of mankind and are sent to "do the dirty work" of those fallen angels within the hierarchy of hell. For me, it was important to learn about this at one time in my life...I think it is important if you are "confronted" with a possession or are wondering about exorcisms.

Too much information? For many it will be...but this
information is hard to come by and should be readily taught when reading verses like this one allow an opportunity to discuss it.

I want to go a little further. Would you cast out a demon in Buddha's name, in
name, in Moses' name, or your own name? Try it?
(Actually, don't try it...I will tell you that the answer is No, and harm might come upon you). This is a great time to reflect on this. What do the other religions of the world say about Satan and the existance of demons...what do they do when someone is possessed...and are they able to cast these demons out without the assistance of demons themselves?? I know the answer...you should reflect on what you think.

Also, why does the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ have the power to cast out demons? Would the name of any man or woman in this world have the power to do this? Could it? Proof that Jesus IS THE CREATOR...and faith in THE CREATOR has the power to drive out the most vile and evil spirits of hell! The name of Our Lord has this power ALONE and is more than the sorcerers, magicians, and witches could ever tap into and will drive these spirits OUT...as long as you know (have faith) in the Lord.

That is the meaning behind Jesus' answer to John.

No one would be in front of a person possessed by an actual demon, have the desire to drive
that demon out, know how to drive that demon out by the name of Jesus...and do it without being a disciple of Jesus!!! IT could not happen if they were not a faith"er" in Jesus! Jesus said this to John..."There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me".

Faith (and that is key when driving out demons) in the Lord Jesus will drive
demons out...and you WOULD NOT know that if you didn't have faith and knowledge of Jesus. You COULD NOT speak badly about Jesus and drive out demons...WON'T HAPPEN! EVER!

It is my experience that there is a good amount of Christians that have some sort of run
in with demons...and if you haven't...don't fear it. Jesus will protect you and it may never happen...and if it does...know that the Disciples walking with Jesus saw it and have experienced it many times...you are NOT alone!!

Now for the second part of the sermon. Jesus warns about anyone leading "the little
astray. Allow me to present two points about this. Who is Jesus' talking
about? Is Jesus talking about children? It is my belief that Jesus is talking about those of "NEW" faith. Those who are "new" Christians. You may have been a Christian for 30 years and suddenly your eyes and ears are opened to a path of Christian faith like none other...these are the NEW CHRISTIANS...this also means the 13 year old who just comprehended for the first time that Jesus is the Creator of all things. It also means the every day Church goer who finally understands why Jesus died for your sins...these are all "little ones" and to lead them astray would be really, well...really BAD! So bad that tying a 80lb anchor to your neck and throwing yourself into a deep portion of the sea...may be a very close comparison of the consequences!

So, how could someone
lead new Christians astray? Let me throw out a couple of ideas:

1) Demanding, reminding, sending others to, or stating that you need money from your parish and/or it is commanded of by God. (This is Old Testament tithing...we as Chrisitans were never EVER instructed to take money...Our Lord and the Disciples lived poor)...and remember that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matt 10:25).

2) Telling the little one's to seek the direction and guidance of ANY man, woman or angel that has ever lived in place of The Lord Jesus. "But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matt 23:8-12).

3) Telling the little one's to do as many "good works" as you can throw at them in order for "God to like them, to see them, answer their prayers..etc". Playing the role as if YOUR will is God's will...or in another scenario...that all of your sins are paid for so who cares if you act purposefully poorly and do whatever you wish...

"They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient,
and disqualified for every good work." (Titus 1:16)
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)

Notice that I am talking about placing these "stumbling blocks" in the path of
the little one's from the perspective of a church leader...but do think of your place in the Lord's world and the stumbling blocks people may place in front of new Christians. Do you judge them? Look at them oddly because they don't seem to come from a "good home"? Question their beliefs in order to
feel superior?

Now, allow me to conclude this weeks sermon with a statement about Jesus' comments
about amputating limbs and hands. To instruct a "little one" that their hand must be cut off because it made them sin...well would qualify you for that 80lb anchor around your neck. I will not get caught in a "literal interpreatation" debate because there is knowledge in these verses. Are we as Christians convinced that we have a soul, that we will die (we may live 80 - 100 years or so), that there is another place that our souls go, and that Jesus is the Creator of All Things?

If we answer no,
are your answers final and complete so as to rest your soul AFTER this short life on Earth?? ARE YOU SURE?? What do you know about death? What do you know about
the place your spirit will go to after you die?

Is there hell? Where did hell come from? Who goes to hell?

Can't answer this? I kindly request that you keep an open mind and attempt
to answer these questions for yourself. No one needs to know...just start by trying to answer these questions...

If we answered yes, then we have faith that eternal life is at hand...

Which is more important: this life or eternal life?

So...if any thing comes in the way of us attaining eternal life...CUT IT OUT! QUICKLY!
Does your hand make you sin? No, YOU SIN. Can you cut out you? You can try but
you will not live and suicide will be the worse decision of...well...the worst decision that you could ever make in the existance of YOU! So, in a dramatic way...Jesus is speaking METAPHORICALLY and to take this literally will be...very painful. Believe me your other hand will eventually lead you to sin and you will have to cut it off... and the needless pain will continue.

But...eternal life is at hand! What do we need to do and what do we need to stop
in order to attain it? Faith is the key...and to have faith we will need to cut some things out of our life...QUICKLY!

Would you like a place to start?

What are you angry about? CUT IT OFF (out) IMMEDIATELY!

Resentful?? OFF (out) IT GOES!!

Do you need me to mention anything else that you should "cut off"??

God bless you and your families this week!!



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