Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48
(Sermon for the week of October 1st)

Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
At that time, John said to Jesus,
 "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
   and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."
   Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him.
   There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
   who can at the same time speak ill of me.
   For whoever is not against us is for us.
   Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
   because you belong to Christ,
   amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
   it would be better for him if a great millstone
   were put around his neck
   and he were thrown into the sea.
   If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
   It is better for you to enter into life maimed
   than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
   into the unquenchable fire.
   And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
   It is better for you to enter into life crippled
   than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
   And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
   Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye
   than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
   where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"
The Gospel of Mark offers us more depth in some of the same events 
that the Gospel of Matthew records. So, let's start by reflecting
on the first part of this weeks reading. There was a man "driving
out demons" who was not one of the Twelve Apostles. This seemed to
bother the Apostle John. I need to point out a few things with this
verse. Back up a minute and realize that someone...was driving
out demons! Yes, as to record it as a commonplace event...there
was a person POSSESSED by a demon and someone was driving this
demon out of the person in the name of Jesus Christ!! It is
amazing to me that some read this passage and never comment about
things of this nature in the Gospels. So, I am going to go more
in-depth with this in the first part of this weeks sermon.
First, what is a demon? Is it a fallen angel? Do they even exist? 
Well, they exist enough that John was bothered that someone else
was driving it out of a person and he wasn't!! There seems to be
a lack of a clear answer in our modern times, but believe me one
can make a full study of the hierarchy of fallen angels and demons.
Demons are lumped together with fallen angels and most call them
the same thing. Well, I think it is important to know your enemy...
but don't get to involved with this study. I will share with you
what I know about this. There is a difference between a fallen
angel and a demon. The difference is that demons are the offspring
of the fallen angels. They are half fallen angel and half human
or half of whatever the fallen angels had offspring with.
The demons are the reason for the Flood. The "wickedness" of the
world and why the Flood had to happen was due to the existance
of demons living in flesh in this world. When they were killed
during the Flood, their spirits went to hell (the place prepared
for them and they are under the direction of fallen angels.)
Since demons are half fallen angel, demons can seem to work
miracles, that is , things which rouse man's astonishment by
reason of the "work" or event being beyond mans power. For even
a man doing what is beyond the power and knowledge of another
man leads him to marvel at what he has done, so that in a way
he seems to that man to have worked a miracle. This is the power
of the magicians and it comes from hell. Demons obviously have
the ability to possess people.

If you were to ask me what would possess someone...a fallen angel
or a demon...I would answer a demon.
A demon is the natural born hater of mankind and are
sent to "do the dirty work" of those fallen angels within the
hierarchy of hell. For me, it was important to learn about this
at one time in my life...I think it is important if you are
"confronted" with a possession or are wondering about exorcisms.
Too much information? For many it will be...but this information 
is hard to come by and should be readily taught when reading
verses like this one allow an opportunity to discuss it.
I want to go a little further. Would you cast out a demon in 
Buddha's name, in Mohammad's name, in Moses' name, or your own name?
Try it? (Actually, don't try it...I will tell you that the answer
is No, and harm might come upon you). This is a great time to
reflect on this. What do the other religions of the world say
about Satan and the existance of demons...what do they do when
someone is possessed...and are they able to cast these demons
out without the assistance of demons themselves?? I know the should reflect on what you think.
Also, why does the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ have the power 
to cast out demons? Would the name of any man or woman in this
world have the power to do this? Could it? Proof that Jesus IS
THE CREATOR...and faith in THE CREATOR has the power to drive
out the most vile and evil spirits of hell! The name of Our Lord
has this power ALONE and is more than the sorcerers, magicians,
and witches could ever tap into and will drive these spirits OUT...
as long as you know (have faith) in the Lord.
That is the meaning behind Jesus' answer to John.
No one would be in front of a person possessed by an actual demon, 
have the desire to drive that demon out, know how to drive that
demon out by the name of Jesus...and do it without being a disciple
of Jesus!!! IT could not happen if they were not a faith"er" in
Jesus! Jesus said this to John..."There is no one who performs
a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me".
Faith (and that is key when driving out demons) in the Lord Jesus 
will drive demons out...and you WOULD NOT know that if you didn't
have faith and knowledge of Jesus. You COULD NOT speak badly about
Jesus and drive out demons...WON'T HAPPEN! EVER!
It is my experience that there is a good amount of Christians 
that have some sort of run in with demons...and if you haven't...
don't fear it. Jesus will protect you and it may never happen...
and if it does...know that the Disciples walking with Jesus saw
it and have experienced it many are NOT alone!!
Now for the second part of the sermon. Jesus warns about anyone 
leading "the little ones" astray.

Allow me to present two points about this.
Who is Jesus' talking about? Is Jesus talking about children?
It is my belief that Jesus is talking about those of "NEW" faith.
Those who are "new" Christians. You may have been a Christian
for 30 years and suddenly your eyes and ears are opened to a
path of Christian faith like none other...
these are the NEW CHRISTIANS...this also means the 13 year old
who just comprehended for the first time that Jesus is the
Creator of all things. It also means the every day Church goer
who finally understands why Jesus died for your sins...these
are all "little ones" and to lead them astray would be really,
well...really BAD! So bad that tying a 80lb anchor to your neck
and throwing yourself into a deep portion of the sea...may be
a very close comparison of the consequences!
So, how could someone lead new Christians astray? Let me throw 
out a couple of ideas:
1)Demanding, reminding, sending others to, or stating that you 
need money from your parish and/or it is commanded of by God.
(This is Old Testament tithing...we as Chrisitans were never
EVER instructed to take money...Our Lord and the Disciples lived
poor)...and remember that "It is easier for a camel to go through
the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of
God" (Matt 10:25).
2) Telling the little one's to seek the direction and guidance 
of ANY man, woman or angel that has ever lived in place of The
Lord Jesus. "But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have
one teacher, and you are all brothers.And call no man your father
on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be
called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.
The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts
himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be
exalted." (Matt 23:8-12).
3) Telling the little one's to do as many "good works" as you 
can throw at them in order for "God to like them, to see them,
answer their prayers..etc". Playing the role as if YOUR will is
God's will...or in another scenario...that all of your sins are
paid for so who cares if you act purposefully poorly and do
whatever you wish...
"They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being 
abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work."
(Titus 1:16) "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
(Ephesians 2:10)
Notice that I am talking about placing these "stumbling blocks" 
in the path of the little one's from the perspective of a church
leader...but do think of your place in the Lord's world and the
stumbling blocks people may place in front of new Christians.
Do you judge them? Look at them oddly because they don't seem to
come from a "good home"? Question their beliefs in order to feel
Now, allow me to conclude this weeks sermon with a statement about 
Jesus' comments about amputating limbs and hands. To instruct a
"little one" that their hand must be cut off because it made them
sin...well would qualify you for that 80lb anchor around your neck.
I will not get caught in a "literal interpreatation" debate
because there is knowledge in these verses. Are we as Christians
convinced that we have a soul, that we will die (we may live
80 - 100 years or so), that there is another place that our souls
go, and that Jesus is the Creator of All Things?
If we answer no, are your answers final and complete so as to rest 
your soul AFTER this short life on Earth?? ARE YOU SURE?? What do
you know about death? What do you know about the place your spirit
will go to after you die?
Is there hell? Where did hell come from? Who goes to hell? Can't 
answer this? I kindly request that you keep an open mind and
attempt to answer these questions for yourself. No one needs to
know...just start by trying to answer these questions...
If we answered yes, 
then we have faith that eternal life is at hand...
Which is more important: this life or eternal life?
So...if any thing comes in the way of us attaining eternal life...
CUT IT OUT! QUICKLY! Does your hand make you sin? No, YOU SIN. Can you cut out you?
You can try but you will not live and suicide will be the worse
decision of...well...the worst decision that you could ever make
in the existance of YOU! So, in a dramatic way...Jesus is speaking
METAPHORICALLY and to take this literally will be...very painful.
Believe me your other hand will eventually lead you to sin and you
will have to cut it off... and the needless pain will continue.
But...eternal life is at hand! What do we need to do and what do 
we need to stop in order to attain it? Faith is the key...and to
have faith we will need to cut some things out of our life...QUICKLY!
Would you like a place to start?
What are you angry about? CUT IT OFF (out) IMMEDIATELY!
Resentful?? OFF (out) IT GOES!!
Do you need me to mention anything else that you should "cut off"??
God bless you and your families this week!!

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