Pastor Leslie Brown | Good, Good News
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Pastor Leslie Brown

Stay Close | Mark 16:9-11

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The death of Jesus, let us never accept His sacrifice as common. 

The resurrection of Jesus, the one thing that separates Christianity from every other religion. 

I'd like to focus on verses 9 - 11.

"Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it."

A woman? Jesus first revealed himself to a woman?

Why not John 'the beloved?' Why not one of the other two men from the inner circle, James or Peter? These three men would be the top choice, right? Or one of the remaining eleven disciples? Some would even think appearing to his mother would have made the most sense, so why Mary Magdalene?

Could it be because she was the only one who would have no doubts? You see, it is very commonly believed Mary Magdalene is the one who washed Jesus' feet with her tears and dried them with her hair before anointing them with her alabaster jar. Mary had such a deep love and admiration for Jesus because of her past he freed her from. 

Personally, above all mentioned, I believe Mary was the only one in recent days who had been so close to Jesus' feet that there was no way she wouldn't recognize every curve and detail, even with the presence of scars. You see, in order to wash someone's feet with your tears, you have to be close. And Mary stayed close even after that encounter. We see in the gospel of John, Mary stood at the crucifixion until the end. 

We also see at the beginning of chapter 16 Mary was at the tomb with more spices on the Sabbath morning before he appeared to her, so she saw the open and empty tomb and heard the angel's declaration. 

Because Mary stayed close, she never missed out. 


Mary Magdalene was with Jesus before, she was with Jesus until the end, she was present after he died, and she was the first person Jesus revealed himself to. Even in the face of mass mockery that Jesus wasn't who he said he was, "proven" by his death, Mary was there. SHE KNEW. 

Because Mary stayed close, she never missed out. 

She came close to Jesus in her sinful state and became free.
She stayed close to Jesus, even until his death, because she believed and never abandoned or denied.
She stayed close, returning to the tomb because she loved Jesus and wanted to care for him even in his death.
And Jesus came close to her, first of everyone. 

The Widow's Offering | Mark 12: 41-44

The Widow's Offering | Mark 12: 41-44
By Pastor Leslie Brown


Pastor Josh preached a bit on this in his most recent message, but I want to revisit the Widow's Offering. 

Mark 12: 41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

Giving is something that has always been a part of my life since I was a child, and I am thankful my parents instilled into me the importance and biblical mandate of tithing. I remember often giving my $0.10 from the dollar I would receive as an allowance as a small girl, but like any child, sometimes I kept my ten cents, partly because it felt so little to give. Or, I would often make the excuse, "How do I give ten cents at church when all I have is a one dollar bill? How am I supposed to make change and not spend it all before I give my tithe?"

If we are honest, I think most of us would say, "Those are totally accurate thoughts for a child. Surely, God isn't holding children to the tithing standard." But if we are truly, brutally honest with ourselves, we often continue to use little excuses like this into adulthood concerning our giving and tithes. 

What I am so blown away by in the widow's offering was she gave ALL SHE HAD. Remember the rich young ruler from Mark 10? Jesus told him to sell all he had and give to the poor, but he couldn't do it. Here, we see a poor woman do the very same thing, yet we seem to minimize her sacrifice because she was already poor.  

A tithe is a tithe, 10%, no matter your income. And though the rich people in the temple that day were scoffing such a "ridiculous offering" and had technically put in "more money," Jesus knew the unseen: the hearts behind the giving. 

I want to encourage you to look at your giving habits. Are you withholding your tithe out of fear of not having enough to pay the bills? Have you tithed for so long it's simply routine, and you have lost the joy in partnering with God? And are you willing to give when it empties the bank and causes people to judge your giving? 

The Lord knows your heart, and giving is ALWAYS to Him, and for Him, to advance his kingdom, so please know this isn't a ploy to "get more money." Don't withhold because it's "too small" or "too scary." Only you and God know the value and depths of your giving. Partner with Him and see His faithfulness and pleasure pour out in your life. 

Don't withhold because it's "too small" or "too scary."

Sin | Mark 9: 42-47

Sin
By Pastor Leslie Brown


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We all do it whether we are willing to admit it or not. I think for the most part, the majority of Christians don't come face to face with the opportunity to sin and make the conscious decision to disobey. But we aren't as innocent of those tiny "little sins" we do day in and day out. We get so comfortable with our disobedience, we stop seeing it as so. 

I'm honestly not sure where the "big sin, little sin" mentality came from. If anything, because of this poor mindset, many of us are probably guilty of committing sins on a daily basis: slander, gossip, disrespect, anger, to name a few. As a mother, I must be aware of what I portray to my children as acceptable and unacceptable. If I am not intentional, my passivity in allowing little poor behavior in my own life and their lives only reinforces a false sense of "big sin, little sin."

Unlike us, I do not believe God stops focusing on the little things and only worries about the big things.

In Mark 9: 42-47, Jesus gets brutally honest about sin. "If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell..."

Intense. 

Here, Jesus addresses FIRST the issue of causing "the little ones" to sin. Could it be, there is a greater emphasis on causing others to sin than committing it ourselves? How do you cause someone else to sin? What we teach, by word or action, is a big deal to the Father. 

Jesus goes on to talk about extreme measures to stop sinning in order not to be separated from God in heaven for eternity. This correction isn't a, "You should really stop that, Son," treating sin a "little," it's, "Don't allow anything to keep you from the Father."

It is interesting also how the words and thoughts of Jesus wrap-up in this portion of scripture in verses 49 and 50. "Everyone will be salted with fire.
Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?"

Could it be, by allowing the "little sins" to become such a routine part of our lives, we grow so comfortable and complacent and are no longer able to be the salt of the world to those around us: children, peers, the lost? I don't know about you, but this statement of losing my ability (saltiness) to influence the world for Jesus and the thought of being unable to regain that ability to influence those in my life is a major gut check to see what I'm allowing in my life, even if it is something I have begun to look at as  a "little sin." 

Could it be, by allowing the "little sins" to become such a routine part of our lives, we grow so comfortable and complacent