- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2001

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Stephen E. Brimmer at Fairfax Assembly of God in Fairfax, Va.

We begin this series on Mark by going behind stage, where God is director of Jesus' life. This plan has been revealed to Mark in some supernatural way, and we read it in the first 13 verses. "Here begins the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the son of God," Mark says.
Right at the start, three characters come together. Mark says the prophet Isaiah, who came 700 years before Jesus, had prophesied to that event. The minor prophet Malachi will also look ahead and say Elijah will return to herald the Messiah. God has planned this for a long, long time.
Blueprints are filled with detail. The may seem all mumbo jumbo, with lines and symbols. The architect knows, however, that much time and many people's knowledge went into it. With God's blueprint, we begin to see that detail with the arrival of the second character, John the Baptist.
Mark says the people felt God was with John, so they traveled into wilderness to repent and be baptized. John wore animal skins and ate locusts and honey. That reminded them of something in God's plan. The Scripture said Elijah ate the same, and Elijah comes before the Messiah.
Who is the third character? In verse 9, when Jesus comes from John's baptism, "He saw the heavens split open, and the Holy Spirit descended like a dove." The Holy Spirit joins the plan. It's as if the curtain of heaven split open, and we see God, the director, behind the scenes. Immediately, the Holy Spirit directs Jesus into the desert, where he is tempted by Satan.
Now, you may be saying, "Very interesting Pastor Steven. But how does that relate to me?" In its simplest form, it is all about trusting God. First of all, we can see that God has a plan for all of our lives. His love brings us through. Sometimes, life just doesn't make sense. When you lose a loved one, or a job. The rejection of divorce or betrayal by a friend. God does not cause those things, but He has a plan that is greater than all of this.
You saw the paper footprints all over the church today. Some lead right up here. God has led me to be here, but not by a straight path. I recall years ago, I was in my prime, just graduated with honors from Bible college and married, but every door to ministry shut in my face. We got an apartment in Chicago, and for the next year and a half I worked in a factory.
The manager asked me just one thing: "Can you read and write?" They put me in the stock room, where I read work orders for hydraulic cylinder parts. The workers couldn't read. One day I was digging through a skid of parts, and couldn't see from the tears. "God I'm so confused." I can now see God's plan. I made a dear friend in the factory, and we brought others to Christ. We can sense God's plan if we don't get too caught up in the dirty details of the moment.
We can see in Jesus' life that God can work things out immediately, even tomorrow. The Scripture gives no indication that Jesus knew He would be led to the Jordan River that day. But there is every indication He was at peace with Himself. He trusted what was coming. Some of us worry even when things are going well. You may be right. That wall you're up against may be unsurmountable. But God can make a way for you.
That's a final thing we see in Jesus trust in God. In the wilderness, Jesus faced physical danger, but it says God's angels protected Him. We may not see this with human eyes, but God is at work in these situations. And how did Jesus respond when He was tested by Satan? With verses from the Bible. He trusted its authority; you and I should be willing to do likewise. He said it will never fail, and it will endure for eternity. God says here, "I will never forsake you." The emphasis is on "never."

Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Scott Alexander at River Road Unitarian Church in Bethesda.

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