Before we read our text and get into the message here tonight, we must first lay the foundation, groundwork, and background for not only this message but for what will, Lord willing over the next few months become a series of messages entitled “Strengthen The Things Which Remain.”
Back in October, I brought a message entitled “Autopsy Of A Dead Church” from Revelation 3 and in that message we touched on a phrase found in verse 2 of chapter 3 which was “Strengthen The Things Which Remain.” Now, when I went home and was going to file that message away, I as I sometimes do, decided to reread not only the message but the passage that went with that message. And it was this phrase of “Strengthen The Things Which Remain” that stood out and stuck with me.
A few weeks later, I came in and asked Pastor if he had given any thought to the theme for 2014 which would also be our 205th year as a church. He said no so I suggested the theme of “Great Things The Lord Hath Done.” Now that would have been an appropriate theme given the 205 years that this church has existed. No doubt, God has done great things for the congregation known as Third Baptist Church and now Lighthouse Independent Baptist Church. But Pastor said no, let’s think on it some more. So I went home and didn’t really give it to much thought for a few days when again the phrase Strengthen The Things Which Remain” came back to my mind and heart. So I came in and suggested this to Pastor and he said yes, let’s go for it!
Strengthen the things which remain simply means that what graces and Christian life remain, cherish and strengthen them before they disappear entirely. And folks, there can be no doubt in our minds that it is imperative for us as Christians to cherish and strengthen our precious faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Especially in the day and age that we are living. You see it more and more with each passing day, the powers that be in this world would like nothing more than to erase God, His Book, His teachings, and dare I say even His followers from today’s world. They want nothing to do with God! Sin is rampant in world today! If God is against it, it seems this world is for it!
We had our theme. So I began to work on logos, calendars, bulletin shells, and banners to match our now theme for 2014. But once I finished all of that, it dawned on me, well what are some of the things that we must strengthen? What are some of the things that we must build on and upon? What are some of the things we must hold onto? What are some of the things that we must hold fast to and not let slip away? What are some of the things that as Christians we must strengthen in our lives to better live for our Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ? What are some of those things? Almost immediately, three thoughts and messages came to mind. More have since come to my mind but for tonight we will be concentrating on just one.
As we approach the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, I could not think of a better starting point or subject for a message than the one that we will be looking at here tonight. Which brings us to the Gospel of Mark. Of the four Gospels, Mark may be considered a condensed version of Matthew. The Gospel seems to focus on Christ’s ministry as “the servant of God.” Mark also provides no genealogy of Christ. And though the smallest of the gospels, he presents details not found in the others. Mark begins with the ministry of John the Baptist and ends with comments of Jesus not found elsewhere. Mark was written by John Mark. It is thought that he was a nephew of Barnabas. He also traveled with Paul for a season and is mentioned in a number of places in the New Testament.
Chapter 14 where we will be tonight deals with the final day or two of Jesus’ life prior to His crucifixion. Included is Jesus being anointed in Bethany, the last supper with its associated events, Gethsemane, and His arrest and initial proceedings followed by Peter’s denial. For our purposes here tonight, we will be looking at the portion that deals with Jesus being anointed in Bethany.
I would like you to notice if you would please, two phrases found in this portion of Scripture we just read. The first in verse 6, Jesus said she hath wrought a good work on me. The second in verse 8, Jesus said she hath done what she could. With these phrases in mind, I’d like to speak to you for a few moments on the topic of “Strengthen The Things Which Remain: Our Best.”
One of the things that the Lord not only deserves but expects is the very best of every person that claims His son as their Saviour! He does not expect any half heartedness when it comes to serving the King of Kings! If you are going to claim Christ, you give your best, your all! We see a picture of that here in our text tonight and we want to look at it a bit closer.
The village of Bethany is near Jerusalem as a virtual suburb. It was to the east of the city, just behind the Mount of Olives which faced the Temple complex. Mark notes that He was seated in the home of “Simon the leper.” Now, nothing else is known of this man. However, it may be assumed that Jesus had healed Him for he now was at home in his house. That would not have been possible if the leprosy were still active.
Mark does not identify the woman. It has been assumed by some that the woman was Mary, the sister of Lazarus as noted in John 12:1-8. However, the similar incident in John 12 took place prior to Jesus’ triumphal entry. Here, it took place thereafter. The simple reconciliation of these two accounts is that two different women did so. In John’s account it took place at Martha’s home. Here, it was at Simon’s home.
The word translated as sat at meat actually has the sense to ‘recline’ at a formal dinner. It was the custom of the day for formal meals to be eaten from a semi-reclining position around a low table. The idea was of rest and comfort as a full evening meal is slowly partaken.
So while Jesus reclined around the table, the woman came “having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.” The word spikenard refers to a fragrant eastern perfume which was costly. An alabaster box was a container carved out of alabaster in which the ancients kept expensive perfume. To break the box probably referred to breaking the seal of its lid.
The pouring of this perfumed oil upon the head of Jesus was an anointing of Him in every sense of the Old Testament tradition regarding anointing. Of further interest is the title Christ (Cristov christos) which literally means ‘the anointed one.’ If at no other time, Jesus was here anointed. This very likely may be a foreview of Him being anointed as priest and king prior to His passion. Jesus Himself noted a few moments later that the woman had anointed Him prior to His burying. However, not all were pleased.
Matthew notes that the some were a portion of the disciples. Though not noted by name by Mark, John notes that Judas was the ringleader of this grumbling. Three-hundred pence was a significant amount of money. In modern terms, it would approximate a year’s wages. That is a great deal in any economy. The word translated as murmured actually has a stronger sense of ‘snorting with anger’ or to ‘sternly challenge.’ Judas saw money flying away which he could have embezzled. He unfortunately infected several other disciples with his attitude. His protest about it being given to the poor was a sham, he most likely wanted it for himself. Jesus quickly picked up on this however and came to her defense.
He promptly rebuked His grumbling disciples. The woman indeed had wrought a good deed upon Him, probably more than she understood. Her anointing of Jesus likely was not happenstance or coincidence. She likely had been led of the Spirit of God to do so for the profound implications pertaining to Jesus. He had already fulfilled His ministry as a prophet. He was about to enter into His work as priest. He someday will return as King.
Though by no means a teaching on economics, Jesus noted that there always will be the poor. Poverty stems in some measure from unfortunate circumstances in which people find themselves. However, it also is caused by sin and laziness. All of those factors remain to this day. Jesus reminded His disciples they could help the poor anytime, but they would not long have Him in their midst. They did not understand that, but hindsight allows us the realization how true it would be. Jesus goes on.
It is likely, as noted earlier, that which this woman did was by the leading of the Holy Spirit. She likely had no inkling that Jesus was about to be put to death other than she undoubtedly knew that He was wanted by the authorities at Jerusalem. However, Jesus fully knew what was going on. He knew that He was being anointed for burial before the fact.
It was the custom of the Jews to anoint a dead body with perfumes as they wound it in cloth for burial. The perfume helped to mask the odor of death as well as show respect to the deceased. Jesus again foretold His death, though few if any present picked up on it.
Our Lord foretold that in the ages to come as the gospel would be preached the world around, what this woman had done would be told over and over again. Truly, her kindness bestowed upon Jesus that fateful day has become a memorial to her name from that day to this. Why?
Because of two phrases spoken of the Lord about this lady. The first in verse 6, Jesus said she hath wrought a good work on me. The second in verse 8, Jesus said she hath done what she could. She didn’t know how much of a good work she was performing for our Lord, she just did it! And dear friend here tonight, that is the encouragement and challenge do good works, do what you can! You may not always see the results but give of your best! Give it your all! There are people all over that need your help, care, and compassion! Give them your best! There is a church right here that needs your service, your help, your willingness! Give it your best! Do what you can!
Notice again those phrases in verse 6 and 8, “she hath wrought a good work on me” and “she hath done what she could.” This ointment was very expensive, precious, and the very best that she had to offer. Not only was it the best she had to offer, it was all she had to offer but yet it was her best. Christian here tonight, you don’t have to be involved in everything but be involved in something! Give of your best to the master, do what you can for Christ and His cause.
Sadly however, the problem today is not Christians doing what they can, it’s Christians not even doing that! There are things you could be doing yet aren’t! That’s the problem today! Too many have gotten saved and that was the end for them. Christian here tonight, Salvation is not the end, it’s just beginning! Too many are simply sitting, soaking, and souring. What’s worse is the fact that many are content with it. May that not be true of the membership of Lighthouse!
“She hath wrought a good work on me.” “She hath done what she could.” Could that be your testimony here tonight? Or could your best use some strengthening? Very quickly here tonight, allow me to give to you four areas, four ways in which you can strengthen your best for the Lord for all four of these areas are needful for the health and well being of not only the Church but the Christian as well. May these be found in each of us here tonight and going forward into 2014.
Faithfulness to what you ask? Your faithfulness to the services of this church.
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
When the doors of the church are open, God and His church must take priority! If you’re too busy to get to church for three services per week, you’re too busy! God and His church should always take priority over whatever you may be doing if at all possible! Now listen, I understand those that have to work and those that are sick but folks if you can be here, BE HERE! Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and any special meetings/services we may be having.
Folks, I know it may not seem like that big of a deal to you but notice verse 25 of Hebrews 10 and the big deal it is to God – SO MUCH THE MORE – not so much the less! We are given a clear instruction by God that we are to be having more church, not less! Strengthen your faithfulness to the services of this church.
Folks, did you know that coming to church is not a spectator’s sport? And contrary to what some would have you believe, coming to church does not mean coming to sit, soak, and sour getting nothing out of the services! Listen folks, your involvement is needed! How?
First, it starts at home even before you leave and start your trip here. You must do your best with the Lord’s help to have a good spirit! Make sure your heart is right, ready to receive what God has for you! Don’t come to church with a spirit that’s ready to point out all that went wrong today or to complain about something. Don’t have that kind of a spirit coming to God’s house!
Secondly, once you get here, have a smile on your face, a pep in your step. You say, well I had a bad week, that’s okay; you’re in church, ready to meet with God and worship God! Ready to fellowship with fellow believers in Christ! Show some excitement and joy, it’s okay, really!
Thirdly, once the service begins, get involved in the service! Sing! You say, I can’t sing, that’s okay! Nowhere in the Bible does it say you need to know how to sing, it just says make a joyful noise! When you’re singing, O! Say, but I’m Glad, for the love of God look like you’re really happy and glad for what Christ has done for you!
When it comes time for the offering, give and do so cheerfully! When it come times for Isaac, Ligaya, or someone else to play the offertory, say amen, encourage them, let them know you’re thankful for their ministry to us!
When the choir is to sing or someone sings a solo, duet, or any other kind of special music, again say amen, encourage the folks ministering to us, let them know you’re thankful for them!
When it comes time for the preaching, say amen, encourage the preacher! It’s okay folks, we won’t get mad because church should not be dead!
Fourthly, get involved with first time visitors when you see them. Make each one feel welcome and at home! No visitor should ever sit alone, get to them, and get to know them. Make sure when visitors come in those doors that they know they are coming into a friendly, warm, and welcoming church!
Fifth, get involved with each other! We should not just come to church to get in and get out, stay, take the time to find out what is happening with your other brothers and sisters in Christ here at Lighthouse! Folks, “how are you doing?” on Sunday morning should not be the extent of your conversation with your church family! Get involved with one another!
Sixth, when a need is announced or you see a need, get involved and seek to meet that need! You see something that needs to be done, get it done! Classes, ministries, books, Bible helps that are made available to you, take advantage of them and what your church offers you!
And finally under this point of getting involved, above all else with whatever it is that you’re involved with here at Lighthouse, do it joyfully, with the right heart and spirit! Strengthen your involvement.
There are two ways in which you can support your church.
First is financially so that the church can keep running, seeing lives changed, and souls saved as a result of this church’s ministry to this city and beyond. Your support financially is needed for faith promise and to keep the missionaries on the field reaching foreign lands for Christ!
Malachi 3:10. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
I Corinthians 16:2. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
The second way to support your church and perhaps even more important than your support financially is your support prayerfully! Listen folks, your pastor, deacons, and leadership need your prayers daily! For family, church, work, health, and the list goes on and on!
You can give all the money you want but if you’re not praying for this church, this church will fail! The leadership of this church will fail! Because they face an enemy that doesn’t care about how much money is given and that is the devil. All the devil wants to see is the pastor, deacons, and leadership fall and fail and as a result seeing the church fall and fail right along with them!
1 Thessalonians 5:17. Pray without ceasing
Luke 18:1. And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
James 5:16. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Strengthen your support!
4. Faithful Labor
Folks, there is much to do both within the church, jobs and projects that need to be done, and without, soul winning, witnessing, handing out tracts, and getting the Gospel to a loss and dying world! Yet one person, two, or even three can’t do all that needs to be done alone and that is where you and your faithful labor are needed and must be strengthened! And notice I said faithful labor! Not slothful, and lazy; get half the job done labor but 110 % faithful labor!
Matthew 9:37-38. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
Also may I say if you’re not currently doing something in the church, get to it! You know the needs here, don’t be one of these people who have to wait to be asked to get involved and help, just get involved and help! Get the job done!
May I go even a step further and say, don’t be one to just sick, soak, and sour in a church pew for all of your Christian life! God did not send His son to save you so that you could sit, soak, and sour! Jesus Christ, our Lord did not suffer, bleed, and die on a cross to save you to sit, soak, and sour! No, rather He saved you to serve Him both in the church and out of the church getting the Gospel to those that are lost just like you were! Strengthen your faithful labor.
As we close here this evening, I began thinking we must strengthen our best, our faithfulness, involvement, support, and labor. I found two verses that sum up both our purpose as a church and why it is we are to do what we do pretty well.
Ephesians 3:21. Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Our best, faithfulness, involvement, support, and labor must be strengthened so that Christ gets the glory and we as a church have a testimony that is glorious, with no spots, no wrinkles, holy, and without blemish! This is why our best, faithfulness, involvement, support, and labor must be strengthened. This is why we do what we do. This is why when people come into this church for help, we should be seeking to help them. We never know what a little help can do.
May I ask you here tonight, how is your best doing? “She hath wrought a good work on me.” “She hath done what she could.” Could that be your testimony here tonight? Or could your best use some strengthening? As we close here tonight and prepare for 2014, may I encourage each of us to not only strengthen our best but seek to strengthen the things which remain!
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