Summary: A New Year message to encourage, edify, and empower.

Well each New Year persuades us to leave behind the old stubborn stains of yesteryear and look forward to the new unvarnished canvas with anticipation. Like a new brush with fresh oil in hand, we are ready to paint a future with brighter outlook and better prospect. For some of us, the New Year creates new energy to venture ahead with new vigor - personal, professional, relational, intellectual (academically). And no matter how bleak things were from the previous year/s, we still demand that the New Year brings more cheer, more joy, more favor. We want more wins, less disparity; more peace, less divisiveness; more progress, less setbacks. We pray for more vitality in health, more meaning in life, and more fruitful in ministry. Well if 2022 is going to be anything like 2021 (God forbid) which was a replica of 2020, the question is, will you remain steadfast to God? Will you still thank Him, keep following Him, and continue serving Him?

I was especially happy to see the graphic as the background for today’s livestream. What a great reminder for us who are here and those online as we enter into 2022. That only through the person of Jesus, we have a direct relationship with God. And that symbol next to his name, is more than a religious emblem. It represents the magnitude of God’s love. Sin separates us from God and Christ became sin for us. 2 Cor. 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, (Jesus had no sin, committed no sin, was holy, blameless and pure) so that in him (because of his unblemished and perfect nature, he became the only acceptable sacrifice, suffered and died on our behalf, so that) we might become the righteousness of God." Brother Cameron taught on “The Self-Giving Love of God” from John 3:16. Jesus bore our guilt on that cross and when he breathed his last, sin loses its grip on those who believe.

I was at a toss between the word believe and belief when working on the title. I know it’s grammar 101 but bear with me as I learn the difference:

Belief is a noun: A word that refers to a person, thing, a system, a


Believe is a verb: A word or phrase that describes a condition,

action, decision, confidence in the truth.

The great theologian Charles Spurgeon claimed that 98 percent of the people he met -- including the criminals he visited in England's prisons — told him that they believed the Bible to be true. But the vast majority had never made a personal, life-changing commitment to Jesus Christ. For them, "believe" was not an active verb.

Is Christianity a belief that you wear as a badge? Or are you a Christian who believes and honors the life, death and resurrection of God’s only begotten Son?

On this day as recorded in Mark chapter 9, a crowd had assembled and some of Jesus’ disciples were surrounded by an aggressive mob.

v14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. Earlier, Jesus had taken Peter, James and John to be alone with him at a distant mountain where these three disciples witnessed the magnificent transfiguration of Jesus. We’ll dive into that some other time but to give you an idea the Greek word in English is metamorphosis which means transformation. As they rejoin the other disciples, they saw a crowd, heard a commotion, and instead of walking away or pulling the other disciples away, Jesus confronted by asking v16 “What are you arguing with them about?” which brings us to our story for this morning.

17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 

18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

Story Illustration: One of my favorite t-shirts is a gift from a co-worker. I found it on my desk one day with a sticky note that says, “A wise man once told me when I asked him a question.” The shirt says, “Idk … Google it.” I have worn it many times and many people at work associate me with the trademark. When I wear it at the grocery store people comment “I like your shirt.” It’s funny, but it can also be somewhat embarrassing.

The disciples probably wished they were wearing this shirt when they could not fulfill the request by the man to drive out the spirit from his son. Listen to Jesus’ response: v19 “You unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” To whom is Jesus addressing? The teachers of the law - experts but unbelieving; the people who were “overwhelmed with wonder” - impressed but unbelieving; yes, the man with a demon possessed child - desperate but unbelieving; and last but not least, the disciples.

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