Preacher's Blog

Our preacher, Mark Stinnett, publishes articles for the church bulletin each week. These articles are designed to teach, encourage and challenge the members of our congregation. His latest articles can be found below with the most recent at the beginning of the list. Mark has archived all of his articles on his personal blog 'MicroMarks' which can be accessed at: micromarks.blogspot.com.

  • Manna for Today

    Jesus taught his disciples to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.”


    Bread? On many Sunday afternoons our bread is served with butter and jelly and there is much more than a meager serving. Our bread also comes with a table full of food: beef roast with vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, and more. We all leave the table satisfied, often with leftovers. What a feast! What a blessing!


    Daily Bread? I am certain that Jesus’ audience remembered the daily bread that Israel ate while in the wilderness. Shortly after their deliverance from Egypt the people grumbled about their provisions. They accused God of bringing them into the wilderness to die. They remembered how they had had enough food to make them full...when they were in Egypt. So, God responded through Moses:


    “I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

    —Exodus 16:12


    That very evening God caused quail to cover the ground so the people could literally walk out and gather their meat. The next morning they found a “fine flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground” for bread. The people didn’t know what it was; they called it manna, which was literally a question in the Hebrew language meaning: “What is it?” (The next mealtime your teen asks, “What is this stuff?” you can answer, “Manna.”)


    God did not provide just enough, but  rather, an abundance. However, God instructed the people to gather only what they needed for that day. On the sixth day they were to gather a double portion since there would be no manna on the Sabbath. God was testing them to see if they would follow His instruction. He wanted the people to recognize their dependence on Him and revere Him for the provision of their daily bread. He wanted them to know “I Am Who I Am, your God.” As they received their daily bread they were reminded of God and His care for His people; and they were taught a lesson in contentment.


    As Americans we have a proud heritage defined by hard work, perseverance and independence. It is easy to forget that, even with our effort and ingenuity, it is still God who provides the sunshine and rain that make plants grow. It is God who provides the natural resources to produce all of our modern “stuff.” It is God who gives us the ability to make a living. So ultimately it is God who gives us our Sunday dinner, whether at home, at a friend’s house, or in a restaurant.


    We can be thankful to God whether we enjoy a Sunday dinner feast or meager leftovers; whether our clothing follows the latest fashion trend or is drab and outdated; whether we live in a three-story mansion on ten acres with a lake and a pool and an entertainment room and a guest house, heated garage and, and, and; or a small broken-down rental in a crowded part of town. You see, daily bread is not just about being content with the food we receive each day, it extends to all that God provides. He provides for us each day so that we will know that He is our Lord and our God.


    If we are to pray, “Give us today our daily bread,” then at the end of the day would it not be worthwhile to pause for a brief moment and with contentment thank God for the daily bread and other provisions He has so freely given?


    Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

    —Ephesians 5:16-18



    Mark Stinnett

    February 25, 2024

  • Expert or Apprentice?

    Solomon wrote about wisdom...again and again and again: 

       For wisdom will enter your heart, 

          And knowledge will be pleasant to

             your soul.

                                        --Proverbs 2:10


    This statement indicates a
    result. It gives the very clear indication of transformation. Transformation is not about possessing wisdom as if to suggest that at one time a person did not have wisdom and then suddenly did. Rather, the contrast is in the person who has wisdom, but will later possess it in their heart. They possess knowledge now, but it will be pleasant to their soul. The transformation is from merely possessing wisdom to internalizing that wisdom into the inner person.


    Consider an illustration: The difference between an expert and an apprentice is the transformation from possessing knowledge and skill to that knowledge and skill becoming a natural part of the individual. An apprentice, though successful, will have to stop and think at times. He may struggle through tasks. The expert performs a task effortlessly, seemingly with no thought, as if he was born with the knowledge and skill.


    Knowledge and skill are embedded deep within the expert so that an onlooker might describe it as “second nature.” Yet, knowledge and skill become second nature only after years of careful observation and experience.


    What about wisdom and knowledge?

    Before thinking about our ‘efforts’ we would do well to recognize the source of wisdom and knowledge.

       For the Lord gives wisdom;

          From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

       He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;

          He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.

                                                        --Proverbs 2:6-7


    God’s wisdom and understanding are not for just anyone. It is not by breadth of experience, depth of study, or sheer strength of will that a person attains wisdom. God is the source. He gives, and He gives to the upright.


    Yet, a person does play a part. After all, God does not simply pour his wisdom into a person’s head while he sleeps. Consider our part in attaining the wisdom offered by God based on Proverbs 2:

    •  Receive my sayings (v. 1);
    •  Treasure my commandments (v. 1);
    •  Make your ear attentive (v. 2);
    •  Incline your heart (v. 2);
    •  Cry for (v. 3);
    •  Lift your voice for (v. 3);
    •  Seek as for silver (v. 4);
    •  Search as for hidden treasure (v. 4).








     

    God offers true wisdom. We prepare ourselves by being upright. Then we must pursue wisdom in God’s holy word The result is the difference between being a mere apprentice in life and being an expert.


       For wisdom will enter your heart, 

       And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.           

     

     

    Mark Stinnett

    February 18, 2024

  • Pursuing Christ

    Folks say that when pursued, there is a natural fight or flight response in animals and humans.


    One of my children had hurt one of her sisters. As soon as I was told, I was angry and I immediately sprang to action. I can still hear my thoughts, “Where is she; we are going to deal with this right now!” In this case, I was in hot pursuit.


    In a jealous rage King Saul threw a spear at David in hopes of killing him. King Saul’s jealousy stemmed from David’s popularity as Israel’s beloved warrior. David had to run for his life. However, King Saul discovered David’s hideout and took his army to destroy him. He was in hot pursuit of David; the hunter in pursuit of the hunted. (Read about this in 1 Samuel 18-24.)


    A word was used in New Testament to describe one who is in pursuit of another: persecutor. Examples from Ancient Greek literature include a hunter chasing after his prey, or someone avenging the murder of another. In a legal context the same word was used for a prosecutor.

    When “I” am the one being pursued, the terms persecutor and prosecutor seem quite fitting.


    Jesus taught his followers:

    Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

    —Matthew 5:44-45


    Enemies are those who are hostile toward you. They may not carry pitchforks and torches, wave swords, or fire guns, but they have turned against you. They may not physically chase after you, but they persecute you. They are in pursuit!


    Jesus asked his disciples to do something that was unnatural and difficult. It is easy to make rationalizations and skip over His teaching:

       “Love my enemies!?”

       “Pray for those who are in hot pursuit of me!?”

       “Absurd! They don’t deserve it! I’m the victim.”

       “How can anyone be expected to follow through on such a teaching?”


    Most of us can think of a time when we could have been described as a persecutor; perhaps like my parent-child illustration. It is my guess that whenever we are the one in hot pursuit, we believe that we are justified in our action.


    Now, consider a question:

    Is it possible that when we have been persecuted, the persecutor believes they are justified? Even in a fit of jealous rage, it is possible that they just don’t realize what they are doing?


    These questions are raised, not to imply that an evil person is not responsible for their sin, but to lead us to the solution that Jesus chose, a solution motived by love:


    And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” 

    —Luke 23:33-34


    Jesus, the Son of God, put into practice the very words he taught. As Christians, we are children of God. For that reason, we ought to have the same attitude as our older Brother, Jesus. But how?


    When we set our gaze on the cross of Christ, we will be able to see souls instead of the pain we feel from others. We will recognize that the difficulties that our enemies cause pale in comparison to what the enemies of Jesus did. When we die to ourselves and surrender to Jesus, we will draw strength and courage from Jesus to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. It is ultimately dependent on what we chase in life.


    May we choose to pursue the character of Christ.



    Mark Stinnett

    February 11, 2024