Hunger can be an amazing gift. The filling of God meets us. John Mark was a man who left his calling, but he was restored by the Good Shepherd.
This Mark wrote the gospel record according to Peter. Prayer is our response to God’s initiation. Psalm 23; Genesis 1:3; Acts 12-13; 2 Timothy 4:9
Speaker(s): Justin Schaller, Thomas Schaller
06:30 PM on 8/28/2022
P. Schaller –
Turn with me please to Genesis 1 for an introduction. Wow. Yes. Praise God! In the beginning. Gensis 1:1, 3, here’s a
picture and this is from the morning message, and in a way we could draw it this way. Here’s a
man in his world and it’s so easy for us to live in our world, speak from our world, speak from
our feeling, our experience, our language that comes from our own hearts and our experience
in life. But then there is the new birth.
You are born again and the Spirit of God comes into your heart and God speaks. This is
different. God said. This is not “I said.” This world is “I said.” I said I am hungry. I said I need
more money. I said I failed. I said that I’m discouraged. I’m lonely. I am anxious. I have a broken
heart, broken relationship. I have a broken life. I said. I said. There’s a lot of talking that
happens in our world that comes from our life and being a human being. Nothing wrong with
The psalms actually, the book of Psalms – Calvin said it’s the – I’ll read it to you. Calvin called
the psalms “an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.” The psalms, an anatomy of all the parts of
the soul. My mind, my emotions, my volition. The psalms kind of allow us to live as people and
to speak from our hearts prayers. Prayers that are said. These prayers that are prayed and
sometimes as a pastor I am asked to pray. Pastor, could you lead in prayer for the meal? Could
you pray for my daughter? She is sick. Could you pray for my family? And of course, these
prayers are valuable and important.
But there is another part of prayer that I want to introduce to you and that was this morning in
the message. It doesn’t start from me. It doesn’t start from my life. It starts rather from outside
of my life. It starts from God. God said let there be light and there was light. Even Jesus said
don’t pray like the barbarians who are repeating their prayers for your heavenly Father knows
what you need before you ask. Meaning he knows us. He knows what we need and he wants to
introduce us to something greater. I want you to think of it this way.
The message I got to say this morning and the message Wednesday night was really moving in
my spirit and in my heart, cause I feel we are touching something bigger and more. Something
transcendent. Something beyond us. God said. This is it. God speaks.
I want to say he initiates. It’s his business, his plan. It’s his love. It’s his authority. It’s his word.
He speaks. So, prayer now for us in our world – this is our world – and now it is actually a bigger
world. Cause now it is a response to God. In other words, I listen. I don’t speak. I listen to what
he says, right? What does he say? He commands the light to shine in darkness and has shone in
our hearts. What does he say? I send the Comforter. He will teach you all things.
What does God say? He says to the man at the pool, take up your bed and walk. But the man
could have countered. I have been here 38 years and I have no one to carry me down to the
pool when the water is moved by an angel. But Jesus comes from another. He comes from
outside and says take up your bed and walk and the man does. In other words, prayer isn’t
always me initiating to God as much as it is me responding to his initiation. He tells me. He
speaks to you. He says come unto me. You respond to him. You are listening. This new life gives
us ears. We didn’t have them before.
Did you ever notice how much in the world – look up at the diagram – how much the world is
talking like here. Have you ever had a conversation with somebody. I got to talk to you. And
they’re on the phone and you put it on speaker phone and go about your business and they’re
talking and talking and you are paying attention but wow! They have a lot to say. They have a
lot to say.
It happened to Job in the book of Job. And when God finally got his attention, Job said I put my
hand on my mouth. I’ve talked way too much. I’m shifting. I’m listening. I want to hear you.
This is a new kind of prayer. This is a prayer where you in your heart here when you are
responding to him and maybe it is why Jesus spent so much time in prayer. He was so occupied
with the Father. Maybe it’s the reason why in Luke 6:12 all night in prayer.
To us when we think about prayer and I got to bring my petitions to God and
I’m talking about everything that I need or other requests that are being made. To be honest I think that’s why
people don’t go to prayer meetings. Their grocery list prayer meetings. But what if a group of
people gathered to be quiet in the presence of God and to hear what God has to say to them.
Or perhaps it is like us when we assemble and we’re opening our hearts and ears to what the
Spirit is saying to the church.
Like tonight. What does he have to say to me? I want to listen to him. Waiting on God, right?
Psalm 27, Psalm 25, waiting on God. Psalm 123, like the maid waits on her mistress so we wait upon you
all the day long. We are anticipating.
Prayer is not always me initiating to him but it’s me being sensitive to what he’s saying. Nine
times in the book of Genesis chapter 1, nine times it says “God said.” Nine times in the first
chapter. I like this as a way of life for us. Let’s shift to what God is saying. I believe if this is the
living God who created the fish and the stars and the sea and the cosmos and bacteria and
viruses and plant and dirt and fire; if this is God who made the eyeball and the ear and the
heart, and gave us speech. I mean that’s a total subject in itself. Let me say something about it.
Here’s a parent with a little baby, new born baby child. Not speaking. Making sounds. One year
old, two years, three years.
Where did they learn to speak? From listening. How did they learn?
They sift through words. They find nouns and verbs and soon adjectives and they find speech
coming together. What an incredible phenomena that is, that a child would learn how to talk.
Where does it come from? Why do we have that gift? Why do we have the ability? Because God is a speaking God. He is called “in the beginning was the word and the word was with God
and the word was God. And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Those words are
what we are listening to in our church and reading in our Bible. We are picking up words. We
are learning vocabulary, spiritual language that comes from God. And God said, let there be
light. And there was.
God saved you. You are born again. The psalms are filled with words so that we could be human
beings and God would give us prayers. In our pain, we have a psalm. Psalm 73, Ps. 77. In our
temptation, we have psalms. Psalm 101, Ps. 56. In our hunger for God, we have Psalm 62, Psalm 63. In
our instruction, we have Psalm 119, Psalm 19, Psalm 17. In our need for comfort, we have Psalm 23. And
the need for the Messiah, we have Psalm 22, Psalm 68, Psalm 69, Ps. 110. These are words. They are
meditations. They are prayers. It’s our new life.
You never get bored with God. God cannot be boring. The space is too big. The sky is too
expansive. The ocean is too deep. With God, it’s overwhelming. It’s amazing. We’re never bored
or frustrated with God. In his presence is the fullness of joy. We are fully satisfied. At his right
hand are pleasures forevermore, Psalm 36:9. I want you to think about prayer in a new way. I want
you to think about prayer as listening and then responding. It is as you said, God. That’s a
prayer. You gave a promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 and you did it and you gave him a son.
Did you know that all men more or less would like to have a son and a piece of land? They’d like
to have a farm or a piece of land and somebody to pass it on to.
A son or a daughter. Abraham had neither. He’s 99 years old. He had neither. But he did have. God gave him the land. He never had the legal title deed except the grave for his wife and he didn’t have any children until
Sarah miraculously had. So, what’s our prayer? The word said and it happened. And what’s our
prayer? Halleluiah! The Hebrew for “praise the Lord.”. Halleluiah! And amen. It’s a response.
You see what I’m saying.
You can go all through the five books of Moses and point out many different things that
happened with the nation. Then you can go to the five books of psalms and you can find psalms
that relate to everything and more or less in principle and you can say the psalms are the
prayers in response to the things that God has said. Beautiful. Well, that’s all. Let’s have a
prayer right now.
P. Justin Schaller – Okay. Good evening. Do you want to stand just for a moment? We can just
pray. Isn’t that true about prayer what we just heard in the sense of not coming with the list,
laundry list. I like to think of Php. 4 with Paul in that famous passage where he’s talking about
being anxious for nothing and he says let your prayer and supplication be made known unto
God. And you think well God already knows the prayer, so what’s the point of it? Have you ever
thought that? He already knows. What’s the point of it? I think the whole point of it is to go to
him and realize he already knows and you’re not in control whatsoever.
And that is what is the peace that guards you, your understanding that he is ultimately the one who is on control. Isn’t
that a nice thing to have in our life? Very much so.
I’m not going to speak to long. Just shortly. Let’s open up in prayer. (Prayer). So, I’m just going
to just shortly read Psalm 23, and then we’ll look at a few places. You may be seated. That would
be great to just keep you guys standing the entire time! So, Psalm 23. Isn’t it great to be hungry?
Do you guys like being hungry? Do you like eating? Isn’t hunger a privilege? Yes? If you weren’t
hungry, you wouldn’t have a desire to eat. It’s actually a blessing for us. It’s something that God
has designed us naturally that we have this ability that when our body needs nourishment, that
we have this response, we have this sensation that we’re hungry. And if you go a few days
without eating, it’s amazing! It doesn’t matter if it’s like cabbage or a raw onion! It’s just
I remember years ago as a little fellow being with my dad somewhere in eastern Europe and
being just we were hungry. I remember eating this stew. It was like cabbage, a mixture of
cabbage and carrots. I was like this is like cheese cake! This is the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted
Do you know that hunger spiritually is an amazing gift. Have you ever noticed that when you
are satisfied in life, maybe your spiritual life isn’t so vibrant. But do you notice when you are
desperate, when you are searching, when you were looking, that God has given you that
capacity to hunger after him. If you’ve been following Christ for 40 years, 30 years, it’s because
of your hunger. It’s your spiritual hunger. It’s your emptiness and then it’s your filling. And it’s
the same process again and again and again where you get filled up and then you are hungry
and you’re searching and you’re crying out and you’re listening and you’re seeking. Isn’t that a
beautiful thing? Don’t despise those times. Don’t we sometimes can despise those times in our
Psalm 23 we know this passage very well. But God is our Shepherd. Vs. 1. That means that if God is
your Shepherd, even when you are hungry, you have zero wants in the sense of externally.
You’ve had this understanding. You’ve had this experience. You’ve had this privilege to be led
by the shepherd who has provided sustenance for you your entire life and so when you are
hungry, you still can say I shall not want anything. I feel that’s what spiritual life is. He’s bringing
us to a place that I can say 1 Timothy 6:6 godliness with contentment is great gain. If I have my
Shepherd, then I have enough.
Then he says in vs. 2. I was in Israel a few years ago. I remember driving from Tel Aviv up to
Jerusalem, and when you are going there you get the tour as you’re going. This is this place.
This is that place. You’re just going through Bible history the entire time, and then you see
where the shepherd brought the sheep. And you go where is the grass? I don’t see it. I see
sand. I see rocks. I see mountains and hills, but where is the green pastures? I think every Sunday school room across this country has a picture of a sheep in ten foot grass just lying
there. This is where the Lord has brought us. You are a sheep and he’ll lead you to luscious
But where David is, he’s in the wilderness. And in Deuteronomy it says the same thing that I am
your God. I have led you through the wilderness and you shall not want because I have
provided for you in the wilderness. If you look in the wilderness of Judea, you can see that
there’s little patches of grass. Just little patches. So, the shepherd’s job day to day is to lead the
sheep to little patches of grass. Just enough to be able to get enough sustenance to get back in
the sheep fold for the night and get back out in the morning. The shepherd is directing these
little sheep day by day to little places of little substance and to go to the waters and drink and
to be maintained. Vs. 3. How does he restore our soul but by giving us Christ. I don’t have too
long here but I just want to show you a few different things.
Very briefly, if you can turn to the book of Acts 13. Acts 13, we can see in Acts 12. Let’s just took
there briefly. Acts 12:12 the first part of Acts from Acts 1 to 13, this is really Peter’s time. That
is, his time of preaching in Israel. Judea, Samaria. Acts 14 is Paul’s missionary journey, Paul and
Barnabas and this is to the uttermost parts of the world. In Acts 12, Peter is thrown into prison
and when he's in prison he’s a threat because there’s thousands upon thousands of people
being converted to Christianity to follow Christ. The authorities feel threatened so they throw
Peter in prison. And Peter when he’s in prison, he has no issues. He’s sleeping. He knows that
God is in control. Vs. 7-8. An angel wakes Peter up. He’s delivered from the prison.
Vs. 11. The first place that Peter goes is to the house of Mary. Another Mary just to confuse us.
Vs. 12. This Mary, it would be the man that would be mentioned if it would be the house of the
male but it must be that this woman is a widow and she has a son and her son’s name is John
whose other name is Mark. So, Peter goes to this house when he’s delivered from prison. He
goes to Mary’s house, Mary the mother of John Mark. So, this must have been a place where
the church was gathering. This was a place where Peter was well known.
Vs. 13. Peter is there. He just fled prison. He’s standing in front of the gate. She won’t let him in
because she’s so overjoyed that she just loses her mind and doesn’t let him in and goes in the
house. In the house is the church and they are praying. And what are they praying for? They’re
praying that Peter would be delivered from prison, but they didn’t even believe their own
prayer. What do they say when she came in and said that? They said to her, you are out of your
mind! Can’t you see we’re having a prayer meeting and we’re praying that Peter would be
delivered? You’re out of your mind to say that Peter was delivered! Isn’t that how it goes a lot
of times with our prayers.
But Peter continued knocking. Peter comes in. vs. 16. Peter has this relationship with this
family, with Mary and this man John Mark. He’s a young man. If we go to the end of the chapter in vs. 25, now here’s Barnabas and Saul. They return from Jerusalem. There was a prophet that
said there was going to be a famine in Jerusalem so the word got to Antioch. Antioch sent
Barnabas and Saul, Paul, down to Jerusalem to bring resources for that famine that was going
to come in the future. Paul says in Colossians that John Mark was Barnabas’ cousin. Barnabas
knew his character. Saul, Paul, respected Barnabas’ advice and this man, John Mark came with
them. And we see in chapter 13:5, that they go on the first missionary journey and they had
John Mark to assist them. John was a helper. He wasn’t a preacher. He wasn’t a teacher. He
wasn’t a leader. He was a helper. He was there to assist them.
If you read through Acts 13, things get pretty dicey. Things get hard and we see at the end of
this chapter that John Mark in vs. 13 they set sail and it says that John left them and returned to
Jerusalem. Things got hard. John Mark left the missionary journey. He had a job to do but he
left them high and dry. If you look in Acts 15:36, we can see the reason why he left. He pops up
again. Vs. 36-37. John Mark is back in the picture but Paul thought best not to take with them
one who had withdrawn from them. He defected. He was out of there.
Acts 13, if you read it, things got really dicey, really hard and he said, I quit. I don’t want to do
this. He didn’t go back to Antioch. He went back to Jerusalem. He must have been ashamed.
But in Acts 15, we see he pops back up and Barnabas, his cousin, wants him back on the trip.
Paul doesn’t want him. He says this guy defected. He left us high and dry. He left the calling, the
mission, the will of God. We’re not going to take him. The argument got so hot between Paul
and Barnabas, that they both separated. It says in vs. 39 there was a sharp disagreement, so
they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark. Paul took Silas and they left.
So, we don’t see John Mark. We don’t actually see Barnabas for a period of time. These guys
have basically just fallen off the map other than knowing they went to Cyprus. But we see that
in 1 Peter if you turn there with me. 1 Peter. Just a couple more minutes here. Peter is writing
this from Rome. We see in vs. 13 (chapter 5). Babylon is a code word for Rome. John Mark my
son. Why is Peter calling John Mark my son? It’s because that Peter’s ministry in Acts 12 is what
brought John Mark to Christ. You can see that Peter has this great affection, this great love for
If we look at 2 Timothy at the end of Paul’s life, Paul the one who really didn’t want John Mark
in the ministry because of his defection. In 2 Timothy 4:9-11, it’s amazing that John Mark is a young
guy, cousin with Barnabas, gets called in the ministry, and he’s on his first missionary journey
and completely defects with the great Apostle Paul. Not only that, but he’s coming from a
church, Antioch, who is pushing out all of the first missionaries into the world. What kind of
reputation would you have when you go back home?
But there must have been something in John Mark that was looking for restoration. This is just
the point I want to make tonight. If you’ve been born from above, you have been gifted hunger.
And there’s many people that can leave the church. They can seemingly leave the faith and
you’re thinking where did they go? They have disappeared. But all throughout the Bible, you
see the faithfulness of God to keep his people. And here is John Mark and you have to think,
can I even show my face to Paul? Sometimes I think of Paul as kind of being intimidating
somewhat because he was so fervent, so passionate, so focused, so set on one goal and that
was to gain Christ and preach the gospel. And here I am little John Mark and I just want to go
home and be with my mom! I can’t handle this. I’m a wimp. I’m spineless.
And you know why John Mark is in the Bible? Because that is every single one of us. Who is
John Mark? John Mark is in Rome with Peter. That little period of time there’s like ten years you
don’t see John Mark. Where is he? He’s in Rome with Peter with the church and he’s getting all
the information of the day to day life that Peter had with Christ and he’s writing it down. And
when he’s writing it down and giving an account of everything that happened in Christ’s life, it
was the account of Peter that he was writing down. That account is the Gospel of Mark.
And you have to think at the end of Paul’s life, he’s about to lose his head in Rome, what is he
saying at the end of his life? He says bring Mark. Everyone else, they have gone on to their
ministries. Demas who was with me that should have been my assistant, he loved the world
and he is gone. But the one who used to love the world the same way, bring him. For he’s now
mature and he’s useful for the ministry.
He’s so useful that the Holy Spirit is going to come upon him and he’s going to write out the
God-breathed words that we call the Gospel of Mark. Not a preacher. Not a teacher. Not a
leader. Not an apostle. Not a disciple that walked with Christ, but just a young boy that
stumbled across the Apostle Peter, that came in and he preached the gospel and he gets saved.
He’s stumbling along in his Christian life but at the end of the great Apostle Paul’s life, he says
the one guy that is useful is that little guy John Mark.
That’s what the ministry is made of. You know why John Mark is so great and he’s a hero in the
sense of having the Gospel of Mark? It’s because he had a great Shepherd. And that great
Shepherd brought him from one patch of grass and as he’s going to the next patch of grass, he
kind of wandered and lost his way, but guess who was there when he wandered off and that
was Christ. And that little lamb knew it needed something. You know what it needed? Just give
me another patch of grass.
How much is that like your Christian life? Our Christian life isn’t like the Apostle Paul, I’m going
to go out for the next 50 years and preach the gospel. But it’s rather like a little sheep. Alright.
This is the grass that you’re giving me. Are you sure it’s enough to get to the next patch, cause it
looks like it’s pretty far away. And our Good Shepherd is saying just eat your fill and follow me
and trust me and you will be one who is hungering and that’s a gift, but you shall not want because you know that I’m your Good Shepherd. I’m going to lead you to the end. That’s who
our Shepherd is.
I love the fact that we can rest in the fact that this Christian life isn’t based on us. But it’s based
on him who is sustaining us from one point to the next until we finally get to that Sunday school
patch of grass called heaven! Finally, I don’t have to walk anymore. I can just lay down in this
patch of grass. Amen. Amen.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace