Sermon Transcript – Lost in the Circles of Selfish Ambition

Series B – Seventeenth Sunday of Pentecost – Sunday, September 19, 2021 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
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Time StampTranscript
0:28the holy gospel according to saint mark the 9th chapter [Music]
0:39the disciples went on from there and they passed through galilee and Jesus did not want anyone to know for he was
0:45teaching his disciples saying to them the son of man is going to be delivered into the hands of men and they will kill
0:52him and when he is killed after three days he will rise but they did not understand the saying and they were
0:57afraid to ask him and they came to capernaum and when he was in the house he asked them
1:03what were you discussing on the way but they kept silent on the way they had argued with one another about who was
1:10the greatest and he sat down and called the twelve and he said to them if anyone would be
1:16first he must be last of all and the servant of all and he took a child and
1:21put him in the midst of them and taking him in his arms he said to them whoever receives one such child in my name
1:26receives me and whoever receives me receives not me but him who sent me
1:32this is the gospel of the lord in the name of Jesus all right so i grew up in the 70s and
1:3880s was one of those guys who watched the land of the lost remember the land of the lost with you know sid and marty
1:44croft with the sleaze stacks right they were terrifying right that’s you remember those things
1:50all right but there was this thing that happened in the 70s and 80s because the television shows all were recorded you
1:57know on sound stages you know in hollywood and if you ever had to have the people in the the in the show
2:04out and about traveling or maybe hiking or something like that and they get lost
2:09how would they depict using such small space right you know you only have so much so many camera angles to work with
2:16that these people are lost well the way hollywood would tell the story you’d have these guys basically out on a hike
2:24and they hike past the camera angle and then they come back around again and it looks like they’re hiking in circles
2:31right have you ever been in the wilderness and lost and like were wandering around in
2:36circles well here’s the thing i used to think that was just like a camera thing you know like a hollywood thing but
2:43roughly 10-ish years ago some scientists thought they would test this out and so they found some human guinea pigs people
2:49willing to be lost they put some they put some of them in like forests in germany others
2:55they took to the sahara desert you know and always during weather conditions when you couldn’t use the sun to guide
3:01you and guess what they got lost and they wandered in
3:06circles it’s true it happens and so i want you to note this
3:11in our gospel text today we see an example of the disciples
3:17wandering and being lost in the circles of sin of conceit selfish
3:24ambition and the juxtaposition is so bizarre
3:30i mean consider the gospel text here’s what it says they went on from there the disciples they passed through galilee so they were
3:36out on on some kind of a trip you know a little bit of a you know a vacation not really a working
3:42vacation for Christ he leaves judea and then comes back and they didn’t want anyone to know Jesus at this point is
3:48going to get really specific about what’s coming
3:54next you see the disciples at this time you know they
3:59were under the false impression because they were taught by the pharisees and others that when messiah shows up oh
4:05yeah he’s gonna he’s gonna do battle with the romans he’s gonna defeat them
4:10he’s gonna set up the davidic kingdom again and it’s going to be glorious all the sinners are going to be expelled
4:16from israel and the disciples we learned from some of the cross references it’s during this time they’re starting to
4:22jockey for like you know cabinet positions you know who’s going to be chief of state you know who’s going to
4:27uh it’s crazy all right but here’s what happens Jesus tells them these words
4:34the son of man is going to be delivered into the hands of men they will kill him
4:41when he is killed after three days he will rise
4:46now 21st century well catechized people can see what’s
4:52going on here Jesus is letting them know he’s getting ready to go to the cross
4:57and this is a good thing but i want you to also consider this who’s the one speaking these words
5:04it’s their god the one who said let there be light and there was light the one who spoke the
5:11universe and everything that you see smell taste touch everything into existence even the things you cannot see
5:17the visible and the invisible and he’s the one who breathed into the nostrils of the
5:23well the body newly constructed body of adam breathed into his nostrils the breath of life
5:30and the first thing that adam sees is the face of Jesus Jesus is king of kings he’s lord of
5:36lords he’s god of god light of light very god of very god we’re going to confess that shortly right that’s who’s speaking
5:43these words and the disciples they didn’t understand
5:49so they were afraid to ask him anything you just see them kind of looking at each other what does he mean he’s going
5:55to die and rise again on the third day what what’s he talking about i don’t know
6:00you ask him i’m not going to ask him you ask him right hey mikey let’s ask mikey you might be able to ask mike you’ll do anything
6:07right right well
6:13those words are quickly left their mind and so as they’re still traveling they came to capernaum
6:19and when they were in the house Jesus asked them what were you discussing on the way and listen to the words
6:26they kept silent for on the way they had listen to the word argued
6:33argued with one another about who was the greatest how did that go down
6:40all right so they’re they’re on the way and you know maybe Jesus is in the lead i don’t know where Jesus is as they’re
6:45walking you know on their journeys and then somebody belts out you know i’m Jesus’s favorite i’m the greatest in
6:52the kingdom of heaven and you just see something no you’re not i am i’m Jesus i’m the greatest no i’m
7:00what is going on here okay they’re lost going in sinful circles and don’t even
7:07know it they don’t even know how lost they are Jesus just told them he’s going to the cross
7:13we don’t get it my mom i’m the greatest
7:19this doesn’t make any sense at least it shouldn’t
7:25but here’s the thing if you’re honest with yourself yeah it actually does make sense because
7:31each and every one of us knows full well that we were born under the dominion of darkness and that our sinful passions
7:38have us well catechized in the ways of the devil the devil’s all about the devil and
7:44guess what you’re all about you i’m all about me you see scripture calls this what
7:52selfish ambition and Christ is not about selfish ambition
7:59well in fact we’ll look at it just another juxtaposition here but here’s where james is going to help us out here
8:04and don’t let anyone tell you those lutherans never preach from james it’s a lie okay
8:10let’s let’s take a look at what james does here because the theme works perfectly with our gospel text so james
8:16writing to Christians he he writes who is wise and understanding among you you Christians
8:22right you you folks from kungsvinger and emmanuel you guess who are visiting who’s wise and understanding among you
8:28well then by his good conduct let him show his works and watch the words
8:34in the meekness of wisdom meekness
8:41what good is meekness meekness doesn’t get anything done i’ve i’ve got plans for my life
8:48god whispered into my ears that he has a purpose for me he wants me to change the world i have to get other people to join
8:55in with the with following behind my vision that god has given me for my life i need to exert power
9:02authority right or how about in the in the corporate world is meekness rewarded in the
9:09corporate world when they give you your annual evaluation is meekness one of the boxes
9:16right no it’s not okay and i hate to say this but
9:22in so many institutions and sadly sometimes church ones ambition is
9:28rewarded ah i’ve always wanted to be and then what
9:33fill in the blank right oh that person is ambitious beware
9:39beware james here is saying who by his good conduct let him show his good works
9:45in the meekness of wisdom but there here comes if you have bitter jealousy
9:51and selfish ambition in your hearts do not boast do not be false to the truth and see
9:58that’s the thing you’ll note that those people who are ambitious and it’s bad it’s terrible when the ambitious ones
10:04are the ones who are pastors right what is the thing that suffers for the agenda of the selfish ambitious pastor
10:12the truth sound doctrine the gospel the sheep whom Christ has sent him to serve
10:19they’re the ones who suffer right you can always tell a wolf by their diet by the way
10:25let me explain wolves eat sheep they don’t serve them they serve them
10:30for dinner big difference selfish ambition is a bad thing so if
10:35you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts don’t boast and don’t be false to the truth
10:42this is not the wisdom that comes down from above
10:49let that sink in where did it come from then it’s earthly it’s unspiritual
10:57it’s demonic wait what
11:03i i thought i’m i’m super important no see that’s the problem you think you’re super important scripture warns
11:09us in the last days that in the church the doctrines of demons would be preached from the pulpit i cannot think
11:16of a more demonic thing to preach than to fill people’s vain glorious selfish ambitions
11:24and tell them that god is all for that because he’s not selfish ambition is
11:30demonic you’re most like the devil in that way where jealousy and selfish ambition
11:35exists james says there will be disorder and every vile practice but the wisdom from above
11:43listen to the list it’s a wonderful list the wisdom from above that comes from god that comes from Christ that is
11:49exemplified in Christ remember who was talking to the disciples who
11:54were arguing it was Jesus king of kings and lord of lords the wisdom from above is first pure
12:00peaceable gentle open to reason
12:07i feel like i can preach a whole sermon on that one right there open to reason have you noticed when you are your most
12:15vain glorious when you are your most ambitious and the most self-centered are
12:20you open to reason the exact opposite you don’t like to be questioned you
12:27don’t like to be challenged you just want to silence people and get them in line get behind me satan you say to the
12:32person who wants to speak reason to you right nonsense
12:38wisdom from above is open to reason it’s full of mercy and good fruits it is
12:44impartial and sincere and a harvest of righteousness is sown in
12:50peace by those who make peace
12:56now here comes don matson’s famous text right one that we’ve heard a lot from him over
13:02the past few years and rightfully so listen to the question what causes quarrels and what causes fights among
13:08you who’s he writing to Christians so let’s just be blunt here what causes
13:15church fights isn’t that the question on the table right have you ever been involved in a
13:21church fight they’re the worst by the way absolutely the worst what what’s the root of all of
13:27that well here’s what scripture says is it not this that your passions are at
13:33war within you what causes church fight is sinful natures run amok
13:39not restrained not put off ah but letting letting them go to seed you
13:45desire and you do not have so you murder let that one sink in all right
13:51i want blue carpet at church no i want red carpet no i want blue carpet i kill
13:58you right it really gets that bad
14:05and then if they if they’re afraid to actually get out a knife and stick it in the back of the person who wants the
14:10carpet color different than they do they do the next best thing they take their name and they kill it
14:17destroy their reputation through slander and gossip did you hear that that lady
14:23who wants the blue carpet oh my goodness she’s a drunk did you know that okay and this is how
14:29the people behave can’t murder them don’t want to go to jail so we’ll just kill their reputation
14:37cannot obtain so you fight and you quarrel you do not have because you do not
14:43listen to the word ask how many people nowadays think they’re
14:50praying to god and they’re not even asking him for a single thing
14:56salient example ida was coming towards louisiana all
15:01right we have people that we serve down in new orleans and join us for church
15:07and as ida was getting ready to strike i was in contact with our people
15:14praying with them pleading with god asking that god would have mercy on them
15:20right and then they got word that they had to leave they ended up being evacuated on headed off to houston to
15:27ride out the storm took him 11 hours to get there and the whole time what were we doing we were asking god
15:34to protect them to give them strength to give them peace to not let their property destroyed while this was going
15:40on cat curve the new apostolic reformation she took to the interwebs and she put a video together where she
15:47claimed that she has authority over hurricanes and what did she do she says i refuse to
15:54tolerate ida to destroy anything or to kill anybody so i decree i declare i
16:01command i control how’d that work out it didn’t okay saw the destruction
16:07firsthand but i can say this that the people that we serve
16:13that god heard our humble petitions and they were we were totally at the
16:19mercy of god we asked god to protect them and their property and when i called them after
16:26the storm had dissipated to find out if their neighborhood had been flooded
16:31they were happy to report that god had mercy that the only damage was a tree
16:36it had fallen over and was leaning against their house and unlike when katrina hit their their neighborhood was
16:42not flooded and what did we do we dropped to our knees and we thanked god that he had mercy
16:50don’t think for a second that prayer isn’t important we’re going to hear next week that the
16:56prayer of a righteous man availeth much and you as that righteous man or woman
17:02because you’re clothed in the righteousness of Christ god doesn’t will for us to command or control or decree or declare he wills
17:09for us to ask humbly ask him for things but note here
17:15in the context then of our text you don’t have because you do not ask
17:20and i would point that out to the decreers and declarers out there you’re not asking god for anything but this is
17:26the context of selfish ambition and then you ask and you don’t receive
17:31because you ask wrongly in order to spend it on your passions lord don’t you think it would be a really good idea if
17:38i had an aston martin world’s most beautiful car right it’s
17:46gorgeous it’s like what it’s a michelangelo on tires right
17:53the lord wants me to have an ass no he doesn’t really he doesn’t
17:58okay what’s the purpose of an aston martin to let everybody know how wealthy and
18:03rich you are it’s a status symbol isn’t it yeah that’s exactly what it is
18:10so you ask you don’t receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions you
18:16adulterous people uh oh james is about to get canceled you
18:21talk like this okay you adulterous people do you not know that friendship with the
18:28world is enmity with god and note the context here the context
18:35isn’t merely talking about bringing the world’s trappings into the church you
18:40know i’m so thankful that i’m not required to wear skinny jeans very thankful about this all right but
18:47all that being said this is in the context of the world’s values selfish
18:52ambition vain conceit people stepping over others not being
18:58meek or humble or serving instead being well tyrannical
19:03oppressive abusive controlling bringing the world’s values in and then slapping
19:10Jesus’s name on it as if somehow he’s all for it
19:15you say to the pastor you say you know pastor you’re twisting up that scripture he says touch not god’s anointed
19:22it’s an example of this really you think god is going to justify and defend you when you’re teaching falsely and messing
19:28up his word it’s the same system it’s the same values it’s the demonic values of self-exaltation self glory
19:36but in this context then consider the anecdote the antidote you know what
19:42you get what i’m saying you know the anti-venom to this poisonous doctrine that runs through each and every one of
19:48us me and you included that Jesus was the one on in our gospel text saying to
19:54the disciples i’m going to be killed i’m going to die rise again on the third
20:01day why is this important because that’s the gospel why is he going to be killed he’s going
20:07to be killed and he’s going to die so that those yahoos who were just arguing with themselves about who was the
20:13greatest can be forgiven for that utter blasphemy and idolatry
20:18because they need it in the worst way they’re lost and they don’t even know it they’re going round in circles talking
20:23about delusions of grandeur and Jesus is on basically going i got to bleed and die for this
20:30right so consider that we noted that Christ is the one who is there king of kings lord
20:36of lords our god in human flesh says here’s what paul says regarding Jesus in
20:42philippians 2. do nothing
20:48let the word nothing roll around there for a second do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit
20:56it doesn’t say some of that’s okay you’re gonna know the way people compromise you say you know it’s a
21:02little extreme for you pastor to say that we should do nothing from selfish ambition don’t you think that’s
21:07unrealistic wouldn’t it be okay if i just did a few things from selfish ambition
21:12no the text says nothing nothing do nothing from selfish ambition
21:17or vain conceit but in humility oh there’s that meekness stuff again in
21:23humility count others as more significant than yourselves
21:30but if i do that i’m going to be at the bottom i’m not going to be at the top i’m not going to
21:36be in control other people are going to be in control of me and i’m going to be taken advantage of and i’m never going
21:41to get what i want good right
21:47count others as more significant than yourselves
21:53so then let each one of you not look only to his own interests but for the interests of others
22:00and have this mind among yourselves which is already yours in Christ Jesus
22:05and here it comes now before we get to this part of the text think back to the
22:10garden of eden there’s adam and eve minding their own business wandering around naked with fruit trees and things like that and
22:17there’s a tree they’re not supposed to touch or eat actually eat of it the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and
22:22the serpent shows up and he tempts our first parents by basically slandering god
22:29which is how the devil operates oh god doesn’t want you to eat of that fruit because he’s he’s jealous of you he’s
22:35intimidated he doesn’t want you to reach your full potential dear so you go right ahead because here’s what he said god
22:42knows that the day you eat of that tree you’re gonna be just like god
22:51well you know i’ve always wanted to be a deity you know okay right
22:56so note watch this human beings who were by nature
23:02not god thought that equality was a god with god was a thing to be grasped
23:10so what did dev do she grasped the fruit and she ate of it
23:16she didn’t become like god she became like the devil her husband did the same
23:22right who by nature are not gods thought equality with god was a thing to be grasped now hear it from philippians
23:29have this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus who though he was by nature god he didn’t count equality
23:37with god a thing to be grasped Jesus is the opposite of adam and eve the opposite of you and me
23:43he didn’t think that quality of god was a thing to be grasped instead he emptied himself
23:48by taking on the form of a slave king of kings lord of lords the god who
23:54spoke the universe into existence he left his throne and humbled himself and
24:00was born to poverty-stricken parents in judea
24:05under the boot of the roman empire and he came and he did this to be a
24:11servant so that you and i can be forgiven in other words when the world tells you
24:18to follow after your selfish ambition you’re number one you need to look out for you
24:23right everything’s upside down backwards and inside out
24:29the king of kings and lord of lords where did he go all the way to the
24:35bottom to save us who in our demonic delusions
24:42think that we’re in the top and we’re not he emptied himself taking on the form of
24:48a slave being born in the likeness of men and being found in human form he
24:53humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death even death on a cross
25:02so that you and i can be forgiven now we’ll come to the next part of this in a minute because i’m trying to work
25:08through the text text in a way that makes some sense so note here james is really going after us hard
25:16calling us adulteress people who follow after our own selfish ambitions and don’t think that you’re immune from that
25:22you’re just as guilty as the rest of us just as guilty as Jesus disciples of this friendship with the world is enmity
25:29with god whoever therefore wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of god
25:35and then he asked these questions do you suppose it’s for no purpose that the scripture says that god yearns jealously
25:40over the spirit that he has made to dwell in you he reminds these Christians they are indwelled by the holy spirit
25:48what does the holy spirit do produces the fruit of the spirit in our lives convicts us of our sin through the law
25:54of god and so he’s reminding them you have the spirit listen to what the spirit says
25:59the spirit says you are sinning that this is demonic so repent
26:05but he gives god gives more grace yeah you’ve screwed up badly this is an
26:10example of sins that begin in the heart and the mind then play out in our actions but god gives more grace
26:17therefore it says god opposes the proud and instead he gives grace to the humble
26:24so submit yourselves therefore to god resist the devil he will flee from you now we’ve all heard those words resist
26:30the devil he will flee from you but have you did you note that resisting the devil and he will flee from you is in
26:35the context of humbling yourself confessing your sins acknowledging that you have adopted and
26:44believed the world’s self-ambitious systems so resist the devil how by confessing
26:51your sin draw near to god he will draw near to you and today you drew near to god and you confess that you were by nature
26:57sinful and unclean and by doing so you have resisted the devil
27:02and by doing so you have heard that god’s grace applies even to you and therefore your hands have been cleaned
27:10you sinners your hearts have been purified by the blood of Christ you double-minded
27:16so we are to be daily humbly confessing our sins to god
27:22consenting ourselves to be wretched and mourning and lamenting our sin and letting our laughter be turned to
27:28mourning and our joy to gloom and humbling ourselves before our lord and when we do this you’ll note that
27:34scripture says he will exalt you he will
27:39and Jesus exemplifies this perfectly but back in our gospel text here you got
27:45Jesus you know basically saying what were you guys arguing about and they had an argument
27:50about who was the greatest so here’s Jesus’s solution he sat down and he called the twelve and then he said to
27:56them all right listen if anyone would be first he must be the last of all
28:03and the servant of all isn’t that Jesus wasn’t Jesus the last
28:10and the servant of all yes he was
28:15and he was for you so that you can be forgiven of your demonic ambitions
28:20he was the servant of all and so Christ now is trying to get something into
28:25their head he takes a child and puts the child in the midst of them and taking him by his arms and kind of a tender
28:31moment here Jesus says whoever receives one such child in my name receives me
28:37whoever receives me receives not me but him who sent me and you could see the disciples who had
28:43just been arguing no i’m the greatest do you think one of them was saying no no no peter really he’s the grace you
28:49need to no they were all they were all looking after themselves right
28:54Christ has put it all away and he points to a child why
28:59well have you noticed that children have to be taken care of
29:05did you know that children can only be given to children don’t have any power and don’t
29:11don’t even get me tired about the schoolyard because the schoolyard didn’t exist back in the day right
29:16yeah the play yard maybe okay play yard politics is one thing but children have to be given to they have only received
29:24they don’t have power over adults adults have total control over them
29:30take out the papers and the trash or you don’t get no spending cash right
29:36yakity yeah don’t talk back just saying okay
29:44kids have to be taken care of and so you’ll note then that Christ is
29:51telling us to stop being selfishly ambitious because the self-esteem ambitious are the ones who care for
29:58themselves instead be cared for by god trust Christ in this capacity
30:05humbling yourself before god is exactly the way then your needs will be met
30:11he’ll take care of you you are his children adopted back into the family of god
30:17so the call then is for us to repent to repent to repent of all the ways in which we
30:23have embraced the world and these demonic doctrines of self-ambition and to humble ourselves and to be forgiven
30:30and embrace the model that Christ gave us
30:36to consider others as more important than ourselves i always remind people you know because we
30:42lutherans get a bad rap we get a bad rap because you know the pastor wears a uniform and i i wear a dress you know
30:49during you know during the service and stuff like that but this is kind of an important thing
30:54there’s a reason why and let me remind you again about the uniform
30:59the black reminds you that i’m a sinner this is a slave shackle
31:06and every day that i serve here i’m shackled i am not
31:14i am not here to rule
31:44there we go start over
31:49mark you are a sick man okay take two there we go
31:55so reminding you again of the uniform the black is to remind you guys that i’m a sinner this is a slave shackle i serve
32:03the congregation right the all is to cover up my sin right and
32:08in case you’re wondering what this is all about this think of like oxen right
32:14this is a yoke so i am the church’s beast of burden
32:20right and if you ever get a pastor here who doesn’t embrace being a stinky ox get rid of him get get another guy get
32:27the guy who wants to serve from the bottom right that’s the idea and so Christ then
32:32he is king of kings and lord of lords yet he is the one who humbled himself became obedient to the point of death
32:38even death on a cross so that we can be forgiven and then here’s the resolve therefore god has highly exalted him and
32:45bestowed on him the name that is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven on earth
32:52and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is lord to the glory of god the father you see the
32:58greatest is the servant of all the greatest is Jesus and he served every single one of us and he’s the one who
33:06leads us out of the lost circles of conceit and the vain ambition and he’s the one who is rescuing us and
33:13taking us from this valley of the shadow of death which is really what what this is
33:19into his glorious kingdom of light he’s the only one who can rescue us from the lostness that we are in and the sad part
33:26is so many of us don’t even recognize that we’re lost and yet it’s true
33:33so let us rejoice Jesus has done so well he did what the disciples didn’t
33:39understand he went to the cross bled and died for your sins and mine rose victorious from the grave and he’s
33:46ascended to heaven and god has exalted the humblest and the greatest servant of all so that we can be forgiven and serve
33:53each other and him in his here now and also then in eternity in the name of
33:59Jesus amen
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