Graduates: Make Your Mark!
Opening Illustration: Make Your Mark
The Davidson home, my home, has a pretty common tradition. When you walk into the house through the garage, you pass through a short hallway into the den area. On the right door post of that hallway, leading into the den, are marks.
These marks are significant because they represent growth. They represent maturity. They represent time. Starting very low are Jett’s marks. He is behind my first two boys. However, he has been home with us now for 3 years and his marks are inching higher and higher. He is getting bigger, stronger, more mature with each passing day.
The next set of marks is Jack’s. Jack was two when we arrived on the Eastern Shore. Two years old then and now 8. He has eight years of growth marked on that door post. Every time we measure him, he passes marks left behind by his oldest brother Jay. Jack has probably grown the most of all my boys. He came as a toddler and now is a big, strong, strapping kid.
The last on the post is Jay. Jay was 5 when we came here. Today he is 11. His growth is also measured on that post. It is hard to imagine how big and strong he has gotten in that time.
All three boys are leaving their marks on my home. They are leaving marks on my heart and the heart of their mother. They are leaving their mark on our church and it is my prayer that they leave Christlike positive marks here in Daphne. It is also my prayer that God will use them to one day leave a mark on this world.
Students, you have left your mark here. You have grown. You have received teaching and guidance. You have done great things and your upcoming graduation is a momentous mark. I want to remind you though that as great as this mark is, you have even greater marks to make.
Students, Jesus is calling you today to make a mark!
Look at the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Look at His disciples. You could hardly say that Jesus picked the best and the brightest.
Andrew, Peter, James and John were mostly uneducated fisherman.
Matthew was a crooked tax collector who robbed his own people blind.
We are not really sure what the occupation of the other disciples but let’s just say that no one was hiring them to be on their team…except Jesus of course.
Yet, look at what the disciples were able to achieve with the Lord’s help. Look at the mark they made. Quite literally, the disciples turned the world upside down. The message of the Gospel was powerful and God used the least to achieve His greatest.
It reminds me of the words of Paul captured in I Corinthians 15:9-10
I Corinthians 15:9-10 ESV
9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.
Indeed the grace that found Paul led Paul to do great things. Students, you can do great things as well. Whether you are the valedictorian or the goat of the class, God has big things in store for you.
You might be thinking, how can God use me to turn the world upside down? How can God use me to leave a mark on this world for Him? Im a nobody. Im unqualified.
“Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossip, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Abraham was old,… and Lazarus was dead. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the CALLED!”
My answer to these questions is this:
Students, Jesus Has Qualified You To Make A Mark!
Today we are reading from Mark 6. For the first 5 chapters of Mark, the disciples have seen Jesus do some pretty amazing things. Jesus has healed people. He has cleansed lepers. He has given reanimation to the paralyzed. They have seen Jesus replace withered limbs. They have seen Jesus’ control over the wind an the waves. Not only have the disciples seen, but they have heard as well. Jesus taught the disciples constantly. They have followed closely behind Jesus watching every move.
Now it was time for Jesus to push the birds from the nest. As they have seen Jesus heal and teach, it was now their turn to model Jesus’ example. This brings us to Mark 6. Jesus calls together His disciples and sends them out on a mission.
Friends this is not that different than what you are experiencing today. The disciples were experiencing a graduation of sorts. They have seen Jesus work. They had heard His teachings. Now it was time to take what they have seen and heard and turn it into practice.
Imagine what the disciples were feeling.
“I am not ready for this.”
“Wait Jesus you are not going with us?”
I can remember reading “Oh The Places You Will Go” by Dr. Seuss when I was a child. I will tell you a small secret, that book scared me to death. Do you know why? It is because of one statement.
(Place Quote On Screens)
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”
Excuse me, Im on my own. That’s terrifying. Thats the hardest part of any graduation is coming to grips that I am on my own. Is that true?
As you will see, fear is a pretty normal response to any graduation. Think about it, you are graduating from High School. However, it will not be the last graduation that you ever experience. Hopefully you will graduate from college. You will graduate one day to a new job, a new family, parenthood, and one day, each of us will graduate into death.
Yes, those things can be scary but remember this promise, The Lord is with us every step of the way. No matter what we are graduating into or from, God is not going to leave us. Remember His Word found in Deuteronomy 31:6
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
So, let’s read about the disciples graduation and what the Lord is expecting of them.
Mark 6:7-13 ESV
7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
Make A Mark For Jesus In Your…
I. Occupations vs. 7-9
Mark 6:7-9 ESV
7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.
What Did Jesus Call The Disciples To Do?
A. Partner Up
Remember the disciples. These guys were fishermen, tax collectors and had various other trades. Most of these men had not journeyed more than 10 miles from from their homes. They were not world travelers. They were not communicators. They were not teachers. This was totally out of their realm of experience. Talk about scary. So, what was Jesus calling them to do anyway?
First, Jesus was calling them to reinvest. Notice that Jesus calls them out 2 by 2. This is still a model that the practice in this church when we go out on visitation. We partner up. Sure, the disciples had seen and done some things together but this was an entirely new level of companionship and friendship. This would mean that each of them would have to reinvest in each other like never before.
Friendships are very important and can lead us down good and bad roads. God knows how important it is to find partnership in our lives. God does not intend for you or me to walk this journey of life alone or by ourselves. We were crafted for companionship. From the very beginning, Adam had Eve. In Genesis, God even states that it is not good for man to be alone.
Brothers and sisters, graduates, it is not good for you to be alone either. Just listen to these words found in Proverbs…
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Here are the words of King Solomon
Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Some of the greatest examples of friendship are found in God’s Word. Of course you have Ruth and Naomi. They sure did stick together. Then you have David and Jonathan. Then you have Elijah and Elisha.
Even C.S. Lewis new the value of good friendships.
“Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?”
Graduates, when you depart from this place, remember, God sends you out on your journey prepared to make good, Christ like and Godly friendships. Remember, that the power of God is best seen not in the individual but in the partnership. Who is your partner today? What type of friendships will you cultivate.
B. Build Up
Next, Jesus gives them the occupation of building up. Jesus gave the disciples power over the spiritual elements of this world. He gave them power over the unclean things that manifested themselves in people’s lives. The disciples literally had the power to help people rebuild their broken lives. The had the power to restore marriages, heal damaged friendships, and bring forgiveness to those hurting.
Friends, you think that this world is not broken? Just turn on your televisions and look what is happening in Baltimore. Looked what happened in Ferguson. There is something terribly broken in our country. We need people, we need disciples who are committed to healing and removing the unclean things from our society.
This is our new job. This means that we have to go deeper with people than ever before. This means that we have to get our hands dirty. This means that we have to set aside all of our prejudices to reach people for Christ. Yes, it is difficult but it is what Christ has called us to do.
Matthew 10:8 NIV
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
C. Look Up
Lastly Jesus calls us to look up. Remember He gave them very little for their journey. They had very little resources. Why? The reason is that He wanted His disciples to be totally dependent on God’s grace and mercy to fulfill their needs. Are you so different today? Does God not want us to be totally dependent on Him today.
I can remember what it felt like when I graduated from high school. I felt that I was not prepared for college. Then college happened and I was afraid I was not prepared for grad school. Then I graduated from grad school and I felt that I was not prepared for church life. These are all just tricks of the devil. Remember, God does not call the prepared, He prepares the called. He will prepare you as well. Trust in Him and lean on Him to meet your needs.
Proverbs 35-6 ESV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Make A Mark For Jesus In Your…
I. Occupations vs. 7-9
II. Obstacles vs. 10-11
10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”
Rest assured that you will have plenty of obstacles. You will see some successes but you will also see failures. Some people will welcome you and what you believe to be true and some will doubt you and try to discredit you. Look what Jesus said to the disciples, some people will receive you and others will not.
Following Christ is not going to be a walk in the park. Anyone that tells you that it is is lying to you.
Every disciple that Jesus had either was martyred or exiled. Stephen was stoned. Paul was beheaded. Remember, no one was better at being Jesus than Jesus and they crucified Him for being…well…Him.
When failure comes knocking at your door, and it will, it doesn’t mean that is the end of the story. When people say “no” or give you the “whatever” gesture, you are not alone. Lots of people have tasted failure and gone on to do tremendous things.
Thomas Edison: In his early years, teachers told Edison he was "too stupid to learn anything." Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.
Orville and Wilbur Wright: These brothers battled depression and family illness before starting the bicycle shop that would lead them to experimenting with flight. After numerous attempts at creating flying machines, several years of hard work, and tons of failed prototypes, the brothers finally created a plane that could get airborne and stay there.
Jerry Seinfeld: Just about everybody knows who Seinfeld is, but the first time the young comedian walked on stage at a comedy club, he looked out at the audience, froze and was eventually jeered and booed off of the stage. Seinfeld knew he could do it, so he went back the next night, completed his set to laughter and applause, and the rest is history.
Elvis Presley: As one of the best-selling artists of all time, Elvis has become a household name even years after his death. But back in 1954, Elvis was still a nobody, and Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after just one performance telling him, "You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck."
Tom Landry: As the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Landry brought the team two Super Bowl victories, five NFC Championship victories and holds the records for the record for the most career wins. He also has the distinction of having one of the worst first seasons on record (winning no games) and winning five or fewer over the next four seasons.
Recently I ran across a video that I had never seen before. The video is taken from the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. The video captures the greatest athletes at the time running the 800 meters. Dave Wottle, an American stood in the outside lane because he had barely qualified to run in the race. Wottle was not expected to place. In fact, Wottle had tendonitis in his knee which hampered his ability to run. Well, let’s take a second to see what happens.
Play Video: Wottle’s Run
Students, you are going to face obstacles. You will see hurdles. You will suffer set backs and endure pain. That’s life. However, you can have victory. Wottle chose to run. He chose to compete. You can do the same. Know that you will suffer setbacks, failures and frustrations but God is on your side. He is with you in every obstacle. Every setback has a point and plan.
So how do you handle failure? How do you handle the difficult people you run across? Follow the example of Jesus. Jesus forgave them. He forgave Nicodemus who was religious to a fault. He forgave the woman at the well and she was an adulterer. He forgave the thief on the cross and he was a robber. He forgave the soldiers at the foot of the cross and they were killing Him. He forgave Peter and Peter betrayed Him.
Jesus forgave. Over and over again He forgave. Know this, forgiveness is not the same as frozen. Jesus encouraged the disciples to move on. If people refuse to listen or they turn a deaf ear to the message, move on. Sure, ours is a ministry to people but the Gospel is always moving. It cannot be paralyzed into staying still.
Mark 11:25 NIV
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. "
Jesus Is Calling You To New…
I. Occupations vs. 7-9
II. Obstacles vs. 10
III. Obedience vs. 11-13
12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
So they went out. They graduated. They put their knowledge into practice. They obeyed. Students, this will be the challenge for you. You will be challenged to obey and obedience will not come easy for you. You will want to embrace rebellion. You will want to chase the lie of freedom that this world sells you. Let me tell you, obedience to Christ is the only path to leaving a mark on this world.
Point: Obedience To God’s Call
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognizable landmarks on the planet. Built as the grand entrance to an 1889 world trade fair, the tower receives thousands of visitors every year and is a favorite spot for romantic rendezvous. Alexandre Eiffel, made it his mission to build something that would cause men and women to look to the sky. It was his mission to make something that would cause people to look to the heavens, to look toward God.
But when it was built there was ferocious opposition. A group of leading artists and writers, including the author of “The Three Musketeers”, Alexander Dumas, filed a petition that read:
“We, the writers, painters, sculptors, architects and lovers of the beauty of Paris, do protest with all our vigor and all our indignation, in the name of French taste and endangered French art and history, against the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower.”
History vindicated Alexandre Eiffel. He made his mark in spite of the naysayers. In 1889 he was roundly condemned. Today he is praised. His story shows us that what matters is not the opinions others have of us and what we do – these will change according to what is culturally fashionable – but holding onto what we believe to be the values and wisdom of God..
I am reminded of the words of Paul found in Galatians 2:20
Galatians 2:20 ESV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Paul understood that obedience was the only way to truly honor Jesus. The disciples obeyed Jesus and their obedience left a mark on the society around them.
Graduates, I challenge you today to obey Christ. Make your mark on people. Heal. Restore. Build up. Remember, we are about people. You are called to people. Take your calling seriously as there will be challenges. However, Jesus is with you.
Make Your Mark Today!