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Sermon Discussion + Prayer: "What Difference Can We Make?"

In chapter 7, Mark sets the scene for a conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders over ceremonial washing. Instead of answering the Pharisees’ question, Jesus addresses the true nature of defilement before God; a sinful heart. Remarkably, Jesus declares all foods clean and all human hearts unclean. As J.C. Ryle wrote, “Every man has within him the root of every sin” which demonstrates our need for heart-cleansing mercy. Only Jesus could address our fundamental problem, and only Jesus provides the solution in his death and resurrection. Today, God has entrusted his Church with this solution as our only hope for reconciliation with himself and with each other.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does Mark 7:14-23 help you to understand God’s perspective of your own heart and this world?
  2. What controversies threaten to distract you from Jesus’ perfect solution to our fundamental problem? Instead, how should Jesus’ “heart-cleansing mercy” refocus our thoughts and actions?
  3. CJ mentioned that we generally need more time in Scripture and less time on social media. Where will you add a few more minutes of prayer and Scripture reading to this week to remember Jesus’ powerful death and resurrection?
  4. In what ways should this passage stir up empathy in us for one another as fellow sinners? How can we pray for one another?
  5. This week, who will you share the good news with that Jesus came, died, and rose again in order to reconcile us with God and one another?

Praying the Passage:

Please open to Mark 7.14-23 and allow this passage and the quotes and prayers below to guide your prayer.

In this passage, Jesus puts his finger on the root cause of all the turmoil in our country. This text actually diagnoses all the conflict and anger and oppression and violence that has ever occurred in human history.
Father, as I review the conflicts and crises of human history - whatever and whenever - help me to see beyond the political, the economic, the social, or the racial, to the biblical and theological issues of the human heart. Help me to see biblical causes in the present crises, so that I can pray for biblical solutions.

More than ever in the church we need theologically discerning voices, not culturally conforming voices.
We need the written word of God revealing the incarnate Son of God, because only He has the wisdom and power to fix this.
Lord, may my responses to current events - whether internally or conversationally - be humble, patient, compassionate, and biblically informed.

In the midst of a crisis we need more time in Holy Scripture and less time, much less time on social media.
Father, help me to wisely redeem the time as I pursue information, so that I spend more time in the Word and prayer for biblical resolution.

“Life, death, hell and worlds unknown may hang on the preaching and hearing of a sermon.” Charles Spurgeon
Father give me creative ways to point others to messages, sermons, and quotes that are Scripturally informed.

“And he said, ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, our of the heart of man come…”
“But every man has within him the root of every sin.” J.C. Ryle
Search me, Oh God, and know my heart.  And where you convict me of any of these sins amid this turmoil, also remind me of the solution and remedy you have provided for all defilement, the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.

The word racism is not found in Scripture, but the sin God abhors is on the list and the sin that informs racism is “pride.” (Self-exaltation)
And the “ism” in “racism” hides what is really at work: it is a perspective: it is hatred and hostility, rooted in pride that judges another as inferior.
Lord, show me, with the help of those closest to me, where I can have a tendency to pride, self-confidence, or self-exaltation in any form.

The gospel not only reconciles a defiled heart to God but also reconciles those once divided by the wickedness of ethnic superiority and hostility.
So, let there be hope!  And let’s not miss this gospel opportunity.
Father, for whom can I pray, and with whom can I speak and share about the love of God who has provided, and who only can provide true reconciliation.
Help me to share that God, having resolved the most wicked of all enmity and alienation, is able to bring peace through the gospel of his Son Jesus Christ.