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There’s A Better Way

There’s A Better Way

Jesus takes the disciples on a field trip as He begins His ministry. All very different places and experiences. It’s what we’ve been studying since we began the series on Mark. You can go back and binge watch this series. 

These disciples had seen the wedding and wine miracle. 

They watched in amazement as Jesus sent demons to pigs out of a mentally unstable man. 

A few of them who had great faith got a close up to seeing a dead pre-teen girl come back to life. 

The ones that were paying attention heard the life-altering conversation between the woman with the issue of blood and how it suddenly stopped when she touched Jesus. 

All of the disciples were fearfully present when Jesus calmed a storm they were on in the Sea of Galilee. 

They witnessed Jesus heal a man of leprosy. 

They had front row hillside seats to hear Jesus’ opening public sermon, plus all kinds of discussions with religious leaders. 

And the most recent that Ben taught us last week, the disciples witnessed Jesus, the Son of God, being rejected by his hometown people.

Would you agree that these disciples had seen a lot? 

When I read these encounters in the Bible, I have a tendency to elevate them to sainthood and they are incredible, but I also want to establish the emotional state of these guys at times. They didn’t always have it together. Their hearts were hard and cold at times towards people. (Mark 6:52 - their hearts were hardened) Like Atul said a few weeks ago, God uses imperfect people to carry out His perfect plan to this day - it’s still unfolding! 

Are you glad that God uses imperfect people? There is hope for us all!

In the text we will read today, on the front end of the passage, the disciples watched their Master experience rejection with the people who knew him the most. On the back end of the passage, the disciples learn of their friend and Jesus’ cousin being beheaded. To say they’ve got a lot going on is an understatement. 

Anyone feel overwhelmed with work load or emotions or keeping everything together? 

We need to have this understanding that these guys witnessed some of the most incredible miracles Jesus performed up close and personal, even though they didn’t always have the love of Jesus in them, and in the passage we will look at today, Jesus is about to cut some strings! In other words, He’s going to release them to do what He can do and Jesus can do anything!

Let’s stand to honor God’s Word and read Mark 6:7-13 and verse 30.

And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

And verse 30: The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught.

You can be seated.

Jesus is so good at this, He gives instructions for the disciples because they are becoming global influencers and He’s giving them incredible work to do, but at the same time, they are personally being changed and greatly affected. As we look at this text today, let me remind all of us that these are real people who are being healed and set free in the Name of Jesus. Their lives are changed because of Jesus. We can rejoice that Jesus has the power to set people free, heal the sick and draw people back to Himself. My question for us, Epic Church, as individuals in the room and watching online, Will you be changed by Jesus personally today?

Because I believe this is a word from God for us: There is a better way to go. There is a better thing to have and there is a better way to live. 

There is a better way. Let’s discover what it is, but first consider this prayer from our hearts: Jesus, as we look at this ancient text today, we believe by faith it’s true and pray You will speak to us through Your Spirit in these next few minutes. We ask for more of you, Jesus. We pray You will fill us with more of You. Amen.

There’s a better way to go.

There’s a better way to go. We go together. We do life in Christian community this year.

For both the Christian and seeker listening: God, the Father, Jesus, His Son, and the Holy Spirit never intended for us to do this earthly life and eternal life alone. Independence and self-reliance are worldly characteristics. Since creation, the Trinity has been creating community, calling us to Himself and sending us out together. Look back at verse 7.

“And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.” (Mark 6:7)

That’s a better way to go! As you go in pairs, attached to this community of faith, you are equipped and ready today to share whatever you know about Jesus. This is the powerful Good News of Jesus. 

Because He is enough, anything you say about Him is enough.

Now it was time for Jesus to use them. ‘Jesus sending them out’ - we want this for our kids: for them to learn from us and then apply themselves. We want this at work: for co-workers and employees not just to hear us but to put it into practice. We want this on our sports teams, with master classes and what we’re learning as a human race: to receive the teaching, but then to use this knowledge to make the world a better place. Why stop and ponder Jesus here? Why hesitant on practicing His teachings? 

Is it possible that because we’ve got other philosophies, other systems, our own self in our heads that we aren’t able to fully grasp the truth that Jesus sends us out in twos today with the same power and authority He sent the first disciples out with?

We do what we see Jesus do, what we read Jesus did, what other disciples have done for centuries. Do you believe you have the same power as the first disciples were given? If you did believe you had the same power, what would this change for you? 

What have you seen Jesus do? 

We really need to not let this question just be something we read on the screen. 

  • I clean my face like I saw my mom clean her face for years.
  • I pack our car like I watched my dad pack our car growing up.
  • I host like I learned from Kellie and Ken over the past decade.
  • I even wear red lipstick like I see my friend Bea do!

So much of life we put into practice what we’ve been taught.

What have you seen Jesus do that you can do?

Church, I’ve seen how He loves me and forgives me and still loves me. I’ve experienced His peace in hard times. Jesus has helped me find joy when my circumstances were anything but joyful. I can love. I can forgive. I can be a peaceful presence in someone’s life. I can voice words of encouragement and prayer and Scripture to a friend who is in hard circumstances. Jesus sends us out to do what He can do and He can do anything! 

He loves the individual and commissions the team.

Saying yes to Jesus is a solo decision. Every one of us has to make the decision to believe in Jesus and put our faith in Him. In my experience, after I said yes to Jesus and started to follow Him, he has always sent someone. At the very least, He promises us His Helper, the Holy Spirit. But in moving out here to San Francisco- he sent us people. 

If you walked in and are planning to get out of here because you don’t know anyone and no one has had the opportunity to meet you, make a courageous decision to introduce yourself to a staff person in the lobby after this service. If you’re watching online, join the chat, introduce yourself. 

Today is the day to start looking over your schedule and the many small group options and not just join a small group, but let them be your people this spring! 

The Christian life is best understood in Christian community. 

Henri Nouwen wrote,

“We keep forgetting that we are being sent out two by two. We cannot bring good news on our own. We are called to proclaim the Gospel together, in community.” 

Let me warn you about the insulated life though. In the insulated life you are not in need. If you need it, you just go and get it. This is where you work hard not to be dependent on anyone. 

Jesus said we need two people, not two coats. Some of you today need to make a shift in your perspective about Christianity - you’ve got plenty of coats - you work hard to be safe and secure financially for your family. You’ve got layers of insulation. This life is keeping you from what Jesus intends for you. What you need is Christian fellowship and you’re in the right place to get it established or reestablished today. 

What you also need is a break from your independence pursuits. How many of your 2022 goals require another person, team, or outside source to make them possible? You are accustomed to setting up life independent of anyone. I can do it on my own. I control my goals and I’ve got what it takes to bring them to fruition. 

Jesus’ instructions encourage, dare I say, command dependence. 

There is a better way to go. There’s also a better thing to have. 

There is a better thing to have.

What we need more than anything is an awareness of God’s presence and our dependence on Him.

Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, humanity tries to do life without God because we’ve bought the lie that we can. Let us remember He made us and wants to do life with us - how foolish we are to choose to do His created life without the Creator. We fool ourselves into thinking we need worldly add-ons, gimmicks, and updated editions of everything. 

I was with one of our teenagers at the mall a few months ago getting him a new phone case and I thought, while I’m here I’ll update my phone case. So I picked up a case for the latest phone and asked the employee if he had any for my model. Let me just say my son did everything he could to keep me from asking this question to the sales associate, but I was determined to hear the truth from him. Ma’am, yours is outdated. Yes, I know that, but you telling me that in a store that prides itself on being the leading world force in sleek, innovative, modern, futurist technology, just told me I’m outdated. 

I’ll show you outdated, sir. No I didn’t say that! 

What I say to us today is we will never be outdated if we pursue God’s presence and live a life of dependence on Him.

Let’s revisit his instructions to the disciples:

“He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” (Mark 6:8-11)

Any over packers present? I’m always packing extra. Just in case is always my rationale. But I get to a place and, if you’re like me, we rewear articles of clothing or end up not wearing all we brought.

Jesus’ travel tips: 

Travel light. 

Be hospitable. 

Go where it’s open.

Jesus’ travel tips are His instructions:

Travel light. We are to be dependent on Him. (V 8)

Be hospitable. We are to stay until He says go. (v 10) 

Go where it’s open. Be bold in sharing your Jesus story. (v 11) 

Jesus has already demonstrated this and now he sends them out the same way he goes; you don’t need anything, you don’t need to bring anything with you. But honestly, we’d rather we need to bring something. None of us feels comfortable showing up empty handed. Yet Jesus sends them out empty handed. 

This was convicting for me as I prepared this message. 

“Have I not worked hard? He asks himself, assessing his own spiritual worth. Have I not been a man of my word? Have I not lived a disciplined life, and fought down temptation, and cultivated virtues, and been assiduous in the ordinances of religion, and paid my debts, and given to charity, and honored all men, and loved the brotherhood, and feared God, and honored the king? These are the things we carry in our hands right up to the throne of grace, as if they gave us a claim upon God, and earned us favorable consideration, and merited salvation. See, Lord, we exclaim, all this in my hands I bring! I would not dream of coming empty-handed. All this can go down to the credit side of the account…Our very spirituality, if you will understand me, is robbing us of God’s Spirit.” James Stewart, a Scottish pastor 

Jesus goes with us (there’s a better way to go) and with His instructions (there’s a better thing to have). Keep the Word of God in you. The Bible is all-encompassing - it covers all our emotions, trials, dreams and experiences. His instructions are living and active and are just as much for the disciples as they are for us today. 

Because the disciples saw what Jesus “could not do” (v5) in his hometown because of their unbelief, they were sent out with that previous experience and learned to look for open hearts, open doors. Open doesn’t mean clean. Open doesn’t mean easy. Open doesn’t mean bright. Open will be demon possessed. Open will be homeless. Open will be childlike. Open will be in places least expected. 

Let me address the darkness we see in our beloved city of San Francisco. And perhaps you see this in the communities you are from if this city is not your home yet! Darkness isn’t a sign that it’s done - that power can’t get there, that the electricity isn’t working. Darkness is a sign of what’s missing. So when you see darkness you do what Jesus would do and Jesus can do anything. As the disciples had watched Jesus perform miracles, they learned not to look at leprosy or deafness or even death as final, but to be dependent upon the power of the Name of Jesus who worked the miracles and healings and teachings.

What Jesus said of not being welcomed, He had just experienced in his hometown. You and I don't experience anything that Jesus is unaware of. There's a better thing to have and that is a dependence upon God. There’s also a better way to live. 

There’s a better way to live.

If you opened up your news of choice today and the title read: do this one thing and you’ll find fulfillment and purpose for your life…and the subtitle read: it will be the hardest thing you’ll do because of everything else around you and in you. Would you be up for it? Look at verses 12-13.

“So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.” (Mark 6:12-13)

When you’ve got Jesus in the flesh performing these signs and wonders, your confidence has to be pretty high. Jesus is now sending them out in pairs without Him, yet with Him, and they did it! They preached repentance, cast out demons and healed people! 

We are messengers of hope, cheering on others whether they follow Jesus or not. We speak blessing over people whether they treat us well or not. We are messengers delivering the Good News whether they choose to believe or not. Perhaps it’s your encouragement as they head out to another cancer treatment, parent an autistic child, get off a call with their prodigal son, return to an unhappy home, battle depression or alcoholism, they hear you. But it could be 3-4 encounters later and 18 months from now that another messenger speaks Good News and they hear it again and they are ready to respond, to love Jesus back. Because it’s not always a destructive habit gone bad, but it’s coming to the end of a false reality of control, a surrender to Someone Who Just Might Have My Life In Better Hands. 

We need to preach repentance. I’m advocating for normalizing repentance. It’s a regular practice of Jesus for His people. Repent means to change your mind and go the other way. It doesn’t mean you understand it all or can see clearly the path back to God, but it’s a decision you make to consciously turn back to God and His ways. As Christians, we are to practice repentance and we are also to teach repentance. To teach there is another way than the direction you are going. To teach its not meant to be “this way” of self-reliance, workaholism, shame, driven by guilt, isolation, dependence on unhealthy relationships, barely surviving parenting and paychecks.

But because God is holy, I can’t come back and stay as if I can keep sinning and living my way. No, repent means I’m coming back to God and leaving the sin, lie, habit, destructive behavior and giving it to God. Sometimes I don’t know how to leave it, I can give it to God and He knows what to do. Nowhere in Scripture do they pull the demon possessed man aside and say, ‘hey, get this sorted out and then let me introduce you to Jesus.’ No - they speak to Jesus, bringing the Name of Jesus into the realm where the demon/sin resides. Jesus is that powerful!

Have you experienced a better way to live? If so, are you in the practice of inviting others to experience a better way to live?

Alfred Delp wrote this while in a Nazi prison before his execution. I believe the Holy Spirit will cause you to feel this: 

“If you have received the message, the Good news of Jesus, you have an inner security that is unshakable even in the hardest of times. The world today needs people who have been shaken by ultimate calamities and emerged from them with the knowledge and awareness that those who look to the Lord will still be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth.” 

I’ve not tried to skirt around the issue that the 12 disciples were fully human and yet they cast out demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them. Supernatural is needed for this to happen. And if you were to ask me is this still possible today - for disciples of Jesus to cast out demons and heal the sick in His Name and with His power, I’d say yes. Some days my answer would be yes because I want it to be true - that the Scriptures weren’t just for 2000 years ago but are active and alive today. Other days, my answer would be yes because I’ve heard stories and I’ve seen life transformation and it must be Jesus!

Talking with Hal Donaldson, founder of Convoy of Hope, an organization we partner with through the Hope Project shared his story, but I approached him afterwards and said, Hal, the heart you have for the poor, I want for the people of San Francisco. He told me, you don’t want my heart - it’s imperfect. You want God’s heart for your city, but let me tell you something specific about San Francisco, the supernatural will be needed there. If you get a crazy idea, run it by God, but you can be certain, it’s gonna take crazy ideas to see God’s love come to SF. 

Church, I want to be a part of a faith community that obeys Jesus together! I want to go into our city on a daily basis under the authority of Jesus Christ with His power to tell others that there is another way to live, to speak His Name over the dark places, and to pray for healing over the sick. But I’m not called to go alone. Is there someone else in this room, watching online who will say, He’s sending me too!

Look at what happened on the other side of the disciples going in pairs fully dependent on God believing for themselves and teaching that there is a better way to live? 

“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught.” (Mark 6:30)

Did Jesus know what all they had done in the time they had been away from Him? Of course He did! 

Just like you know your child just did the slide by themselves but you are overjoyed when they tell you!

When you make the first transaction, close the first deal, hire the first person on your team, and can’t wait to tell your boss!

This is what gratitude in prayer looks like - God, thank you for my work and the people I work with. You’ve given me this job and I want to honor You in it. Father, thank you for my friendships. For people who won’t let me fall away from You. 

When you see Jesus working in you and through you, tell someone! 

I hope when you look at my life, you see there’s more that is possible for you all because of Jesus Christ. 

I hope when you look at your life, you see there’s more that is possible for you all because of Jesus Christ. 

While our worship team begins to play…

If this is your first time at Epic this morning or first time back in a while, I agree with Ben, our church is stronger than we thought it was, and we’re more bold in our faith than ever before which will make what we’re about to do a bit easier. So before you think you can’t stand in this room, I want you to look around you. You and I are in the most encouraging environment we will be in all week. 

I’m going to ask you to boldly stand in any of these declarations we talked about today. Even if you are watching online, stand up. Our Father sees the commitment you are making: 

I want to be more attached to this community of faith and I stand to say I will seek out friendship and accountability and will choose to live out my faith in this city with this church family this year.

You can be seated.

I got stuff in my hands that keeps me from being fully dependent upon God. I stand with my hands open to give Him what I’ve been holding tight to and in my stance, I choose to be empty handed and dependent on Him for all the things this year. Yes, I’m with you.

You can be seated.

I stand to say I’m coming back to God. Repentance is the most freeing feeling in the world! When you stand in this declaration, you will feel weight fall off and His arms around you knowing in your heart what you are repenting of! 

You can be seated.

There are a few of you listening who’s heart is pounding because God has got certain people coming to mind who you are called to have conversations with this year. You’ve got this message: There is a better way…and it’s for them to hear and receive this year. By your standing, we want to pray for open doors for you to have these conversations. 

This altar is open for you to come and become empty handed before God.

Signing up for a small group on your phone while the rest of us sing is allowed! 

You approaching a friend in this room and praying that God will use you both to be sent out in this city this year is allowed! 

If you are returning to God or giving your life to Him for the first time, find our pastors up front here or in the lobby after service. 

But don’t do nothing right now. Do something.

Because there’s a better way to go.

There’s a better thing to have.

There’s a better way to live.

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