Blessings Cooksville Family!
Below is the link to this week’s service:
As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.
And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.
And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.
Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – email@example.com
September 12, 2021
Sunday Worship Service
Prelude: Sleepers, Wake! A Voice Astounds Us melody by Nicolai; harmony by Bach; arr. by Gilbert Martin
Opening Video: Psalm 19
Welcome & Greeting:
Lighting the Christ Candle
Hymn: “God Of Wonders”
Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:
The Lords Prayer
Mark 8:27-38 New International Version
27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” 30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. 31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” 34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Solo: Agnus Dei – from Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – by Charles Gounod
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us and give us peace.
It’s Worth The Risk
A man named Fred was named in a large inheritance – He would receive a large parcel of land – and had to decide if he wanted some land in Chile or Brazil. He chose Brazil.
Unfortunately – if he had chosen Chile – he would have received his inheritance in land on which they had recently discovered gold and silver.
Then he had to decide if he wanted to plant coffee or nut trees – he chose the nut trees – but the bottom fell out of the nut market – just as coffee futures were going up – and he lost the farm because he couldn’t pay his property tax. He was left without a penny.
Fred pawned his gold watch and had enough money to fly to either Montreal or Toronto – he chose Toronto. When the plane for Montreal arrived – it was a brand spanking new airbus. And after several hours of delay – the plane that arrived to take him to Toronto was an old propeller driven clunker that looked like it was held together with wire and duct tape.
Over the mountains – one of the engines fell off – and Fred – finally learning from his earlier bad choices – took both of the parachutes offered to him. He jumped. He immediately pulled one of the rip cords – but nothing happened – he pulled the other cord – and it broke.
In desperation – the poor man cried out – St. Francis – save me! A great hand from heaven reached down – seized him by the wrist – and left him dangling in mid-air. Then a gentle but inquisitive voice asked – wait a second – did you mean St. Francis – Xavier or St. Francis of Assisi?
The poor guy couldn’t win for losing – but that’s life sometimes. Life is risky – because it’s full of choices where we don’t always know the outcome.
It’s the same with choosing to become a Christian. There’s always risk – because we don’t always know how other people are going to respond to that choice. Some people may appreciate the choice because of the changes it brings into our lives. But others may very well reject us for choosing to follow Jesus – because they don’t like those very same changes.
Following Jesus is risky – but is the risk worth it – is it worth the risk of rejection to go where Jesus leads you to go – to do what Jesus leads you to do – and to be what Jesus leads you to be? Is it worth the risk of rejection – from a large percentage of the world – to let Jesus change you from the inside out?
Well – in our reading today – Jesus asks His disciples to take that risk. In Mark 8:27-29 we hear that – Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”
Before we consider the risks in following Jesus – we first have to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ – the Messiah – Anointed One – the Prophet – the Priest – the Ruler of All!
You see – people in Jesus’ day thought He was just another prophet – perhaps Elijah or John the Baptist come back to life. I don’t know about you – but if people said that about me – I would be very flattered. If people said – Wow! He preaches like Elijah Himself – my head would swell so much that I’d have trouble getting through the door.
But not Jesus – He’s greater than any political power – and He’s greater than any prophet or priest that ever lived.
When Peter said – You are – THE – Christ – he was saying You are THE Prophet – the one who speaks the words of God. In fact – Jesus is the Word of God Himself – according to John 1.
As we consider the risk of following Jesus – we must acknowledge the same thing – we must acknowledge that Jesus is – the Christ – and not just some popularized version we hear about from people today.
In a posting on his – Restless and Reformed blog – Kevin DeYoung describes what people say about Jesus today.
“There’s the conservative Jesus – who’s against tax increases and activist judges – for family values and looking after ourselves.
“There’s liberal Jesus – who is against big Wall Street and Wal-Mart – for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money.
“There’s Therapist Jesus – who helps us cope with life’s problems – heals our past – tells us how valuable we are – and not to be so hard on ourselves.
“There’s Starbucks Jesus – who drinks fair trade coffee – loves spiritual conversations – drives a hybrid – and goes to film festivals.
“There’s Open-minded Jesus – who loves everyone all the time no matter what (except for people who are not as open-minded as you).
“There’s Touchdown Jesus – who helps athletes run faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls.
“There’s Martyr Jesus – a good man who died a cruel death so we can feel sorry for him.
“There’s Gentle Jesus – who was meek and mild – with high cheek bones – flowing hair – and walks around barefoot – wearing a sash.
“There’s Hippie Jesus – who teaches everyone to give peace a chance – imagines a world without religion – and helps us remember that – all you need is love.
“There’s Yuppie Jesus – who encourages us to reach our full potential – reach for the stars – and buy a boat.
“There’s Spirituality Jesus – who hates religion – churches – pastors – priests – and doctrine – and would rather have people out in nature – finding – the god within – while listening to ambiguously spiritual music.
“There’s Platitude Jesus – good for Christmas specials – greeting cards – and bad sermons – inspiring people to believe in themselves.
“There’s Revolutionary Jesus – who teaches us to rebel against the status quo – stick it to the man – and blame things on – the system.
“There’s Guru Jesus – a wise – inspirational teacher who believes in you and helps you find your center.
“There’s Good Example Jesus – who shows you how to help people – change the planet – and become a better you.
And then – DeYoung says – there’s Jesus Christ – the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonderworker.
He was the one they had been waiting for – the Son of David and Abraham’s chosen seed – the one to deliver us from captivity – the goal of the Mosaic law – Yahweh in the flesh – the one to heal the sick – give sight to the blind – freedom to the prisoners and proclaim Good News to the poor – the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world…
This Christ is not a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own desires. He is the Father’s Son – more loving – more holy – and more wonderfully terrifying than we ever thought possible.
As we consider the risk of following Jesus – we must give up our own notions of what we want Jesus to be and acknowledge Him for who He truly is. We must acknowledge that He is indeed – THE – Christ.
But that’s not all – we also have to consider that that Jesus – is headed for the cross. Jesus isn’t pursuing any type of glory – He’s following a path that will lead to suffering and death. Jesus is not pursuing a crown – He’s pursuing a cross.
In Mark 8:30 – Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. Why? Because if people knew who Jesus was – they’d raise Him up as their King – they’d elevate Him to power – but that’s not why He came.
Our reading says that Jesus – began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
You see – Peter – like the rest of the disciples, wanted to follow Jesus to glory. They wanted to share in the prestige and power of His reign – but they didn’t care too much for the pain necessary to get there.
Peter’s attitude was not only selfish – Jesus thought that it was satanic. Peter wanted to pursue more power and glory for himself – but that’s not where Jesus was headed. Jesus was headed for a cross – and if we want to follow Jesus – we need to be prepared to head in that direction too.
In the 1950’s – Parker Brothers came out with a game for church families called – Going to Jerusalem. Unlike Monopoly – the playing pieces weren’t – a top hat or a Scottie dog. In – Going to Jerusalem – a player got to be a real disciple. Each was represented by a little plastic man with a robe – a beard – sandals – and a staff.
In order to move around the board – players looked up answers to questions in a little black New Testament that was provided with the game. Everyone started in Bethlehem – and then made stops at the Mount of Olives – Bethsaida – Capernaum – the stormy sea – Nazareth – and Bethany. If a player rolled the dice well – he or she won the game by making it to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem – but no one ever got to the Crucifixion or Resurrection. There were no demons or angry Pharisees.
Players only made their way through the nice stories. It was a safe adventure – perfectly suited for a Christian family on a Sunday afternoon walk with Jesus.
But that’s not what following Jesus is all about. Jesus is headed for a cross – so traveling with Him isn’t safe! Traveling with Jesus isn’t meant for plastic disciples who look up verses in a little black Bible. Traveling with Jesus is meant only for those who are willing to take a real risk with their own lives.
Then this passage tells us that in order to follow where Jesus travels – it will definitely cost us. We must realize that we will have to pay a price to go with Jesus. In verse 34 Jesus – called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
What does denying oneself mean – there was a man who loved chocolates – he’d eat a big – pot-o-gold box each week. Every year during the weeks of Lent leading up to Easter – he would open up a box of chocolates – look inside – and then tell the Lord that he would not eat any candy as a token of his love for Jesus. He called it – denying himself – and – taking up his cross.
Denying oneself – and taking up one’s cross – does – NOT – mean giving up chocolates. It means giving up your life. When someone took up a cross in Jesus’ day – it only meant one thing – they were going to die!
A Pastor had a man knock on his office door and ask him for some bullet points on Christianity. You see – His wife had just become a Christian – and he wanted help in making some sense of the dinner conversations he was having with her. He made it clear he was a very busy – very successful man – and didn’t really have time to study what it meant to be Christian – he just wanted the bullet points.
The Pastor told him – I can see you are a very busy – very successful person – so I don’t think this is a good idea. Why? – the man asked in frustration.
Because – the Pastor replied – If I only gave you the bullet points – and you really came to understand them – they have a way of working into a person’s life so significantly that your life could really get messed up. You would have to rethink the meaning of success – of time – of family – of everything really. I don’t think you really want to do that – do you?
Well – as it turned out – the Pastor’s response peaked the man’s interest – and after many more conversations – he joined his wife as a dedicated follower – and it truly – did – change his life.
How about you and me? Do we just want the bullet points every Sunday morning – a quick executive summary? Or do we really want Jesus to change us from the inside out? Do we really want Jesus to mess with our lives and rearrange our priorities so much so that we’d give up everything for Him?
That’s what Jesus is talking about here. If we want to follow Him – we must be willing to lose our lives – as we recognize it. Jesus is the Christ headed for the cross – so it will cost us to follow Him – but the cost is worth it.
Following Jesus is well worth the risk of losing your life. In fact – it may be riskier to try and save what you think of as your life. Look at what Jesus says in verse 35 – For whoever wants to save his life a will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
In other words – He’s saying – If you want to really live – then give up your life for my sake – risk it all in the cause of the Gospel.”
Tyrtaeus – a Greek – wrote something very similar to what Jesus said here. He said – The one who risks their life in battle has the best chance in saving it – the one who flees to save it is most likely to lose it.
Statistics from World War two actually back that up. A psychologist made a study of the top pilots who fought over the Pacific Ocean. There was one common trait he found among all of them – they were risk-takers.
Throughout their lives – they kept testing the limits of their abilities – and yet they were highly resistant to accidents. In fact – during the war – they suffered fewer casualties than pilots who were inclined to play it safe.
The psychologist concluded – Living itself is a risky business. If we spent half as much time learning how to take risks as we spend avoiding them – we wouldn’t have nearly so much to fear in life.
That’s interesting – people who play it safe are actually at greatest risk – but those who take great risks are actually the most secure. Or as Jesus put it – Whoever wants to save his life will lose it – but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Jesus goes on to say – What good is it – to gain the whole world – yet forfeit your soul? – what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
The word Jesus uses for soul here – is the same word He uses for Life – Jesus is not talking about losing – souls here – He’s talking about losing our lives by wasting them in the wrong pursuits.
In 1867 – Swedish chemist – Alfred Nobel – invented dynamite. He hoped that his invention would make war too horrible to ever happen again. However – he soon realized the truth. He made a huge fortune from its sales – yet was horrified with the suffering and misery it caused. But what was he to do?
Towards the end of the 19th – century he awoke one morning to read his own obituary in the local paper – Alfred Nobel – the inventor of dynamite – who died yesterday – devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before. He died a very rich man.
Actually – it was Alfred’s older brother who had died. The newspaper confused the two. But the account had a profound effect on Alfred. He decided he wanted to be known for something other than developing a means to kill people efficiently.
As a result – he initiated the Nobel Prize – an award for scientists and writers who foster peace. Nobel said – Everyone ought to have the chance to correct their epitaph in midstream and write a new one.
How about you? Are you going to wake up one day to regret what you did with your life? Or can you honestly say – I’m living the life I really want to live. Sure – sometimes it’s a tough life – but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
If you can’t honestly say that – then I encourage you to take the risk and live your life following Jesus. Acknowledge that He is the Christ – and that He is headed for the cross. Appreciate the cost of following Him and go for it. For then – and only then – will you truly live!
Hymn: “The Wondrous Cross”
Video: Dream Again
Hymn: “At the Name of Jesus”
Benediction and Commissioning
Postlude: Sacred Heart of Jesus – Joseph McGrath