For the past 6 Sunday's, I have attended Lay-Ministries school as part of the United Methodist Church. The purpose of the program is to train and education lay-people for service in the Church. The course I took was the basic layspeaking course. Below are my “notes” from my first message/meditation.
Lay-Speaking Message #1
Verse by verse explanation:
(1) Mark begins the Gospel abruptly and authoritatively. This is “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” BOOM! He skips over the birth and starts with the beginning of Christ’s public ministry.
(2-3)To further explain what he is writing about, he mentions two portions of scripture, Malachi 3:1-6 and Isaiah 40:1-11. Malachi refers to John the Baptist preparing the way for Christ and Isaiah is referring to Christ as the shepherd.
(4)Now we see John in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance. John’s baptism signified cleansing and purifying, repentance from sin, but also forgiveness from that sin. Whenever we witness to others, we need tell people to repent or turn away from their sin, but also explain and give them hope in the fact that when they do turn from their sin, they will be forgiven.
(5) We then see the initial response and impact of John’s preaching. Many people were coming to John, listening to him and repenting of their sins. There was a lot of religious enthusiasm, but John had to warn the Pharisees to change their actions to go along with their words of repentance. (Matthew 3:7 – Brood of Vipers)
(6) Verse 6 describes John’s appearance, there is some symbolism here. John is wearing a coat made from Camel’s hair, according to the Levitical law, a camel was an unclean animal. This showed the Israelites were in rebellion against God and needed cleansed. John ate wild honey. Usually, honey is associated with salvation, however, in this case it is wild honey and shows that the Israelites were feeding on things other than God. Of course, locusts always signify God’s wrath or judgment.
(7) We see that John is a humble man and knows who is about to come.
(8) Mark finally tells us about the baptism that will occur. As we know, the word baptism means to wash, cleanse, or purify. It indicates that our sins have been washed away. Baptism with water and the Holy Spirit, are there two baptisms? No. Our sins are cleansed when we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Water baptism is an outward sign of the internal, spiritual washing that has been completed by Christ (1 Peter 3:21-22).
Another aspect of baptism, one that many people overlook, is the fact that you are part of God’s family and it is now your duty to proclaim His word. You are now “qualified” to declare His message of salvation to the world. Every believer has the responsibility of building up and motivating and comforting mankind (1 Cor 14:3).
In the Old Testament, there were only a few prophets, so there were few faithful believers. When Jesus came he trained the twelve and sent them out. They had limited success. Then there were 70 and then 500 after Christ’s resurrection, so there still weren’t many believers.
Then we read in Acts 1:4-5 about some final information Jesus gave His disciples. “He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which, he said, you have heard from me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Even though, they were believers, they still lacked something. The Holy Spirit was not poured out on them yet. When they did receive the Holy Spirit remember what happened? Peter preached one sermon and 3,000 people were saved (Acts 2:41). This shows the dramatic difference between their past and future ministries.
When you were saved, the moment you accepted Christ into your life, the Holy Spirit came to live with you. You were filled with the Holy Spirit. All Christians have the Spirit of God dwelling in them (compare Romans 8:9 and 1 Corinthians 6:19). The goal is to let that spirit, the power of God, to work in your life.
Everyday we make decisions in our life. The Spirit-filled life yields those decisions to the control of the Spirit dwelling in them. The only way to activate the power of the Holy Spirit is to ask. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.” This simply means to pray about everything that is happening in your life as well as the life of others. As you ask God for guidance and direction, He activates the Holy Spirit inside of you and empowers you. The Spirit-filled life is like living every moment as if Christ were standing next to you. Because He is!
All believers are qualified and commanded to share God’s word. Have you?
We thank you Lord, for sending us your Son, who is that Good News. Enable us to use the Spirit that you have placed in each of us to proclaim your Word to your people. We ask this knowing that this is what Jesus wants for our lives. AMEN.