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Showing posts from February, 2019

“The Three Women”

BIBLE READING: Mark 16 DISCUSSION After Jesus was crucified in Mark 16, we read of his resurrection.We also read of three women that were there when Jesus was crucified, and when he was resurrected.These women were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome.In vs 2 we see the day after Jesus was buried in the tomb, they got up very early in the morning to anoint him with spices.They loved Jesus and were true followers of Him.The devotion of these women is an example for us all.Women can have such an impact in the Church today.Devotion and love for Jesus, that’s what these women showed.A lot of times we talk of the work of the apostles and all the wonderful things they did, but we should never forget these women that were followers of Jesus; they never left, they were there all along.

“Selfishness”

BIBLE READING: Mark 15 DISCUSSION In Mark 15: 1-15 Jesus is handed over to Pontius Pilate, the governor of Rome.He was in a powerful position.We see where Pilate asks Jesus a question “Are you King of the Jews?’Jesus replies, “as you have said.” He asked again and Jesus doesn’t reply. It says in vs. 5 that Pilate was amazed at Jesus.Pilate knew that Jesus had done nothing wrong.I’ve always wondered in the position he was in why Pilate didn’t just let him go.Sure, the crowds would have been upset, maybe caused a riot, but he had plenty of soldiers around him.So why didn’t he?He was selfish.Pilate loved power; he wanted to appease the crowd, keep them happy.He loved himself and his power far more than he could have feelings for an innocent person.Do we think of ourselves as Pilate did?Are we wanting to stay in power of our lives?Keep the crowds in our lives happy?We should never put ourselves over this innocent person who gave His life for you.

“Giving Our Best”

BIBLE READING: Mark 14 DISCUSSION
We read in Mark 14 of many things that occur right before Jesus’ death.He institutes the Lords Supper, tells of Peters denial, and we also read of Jesus’ betrayer and His arrest.This chapter is packed with so much that we sometimes underestimate the significant lesson at the beginning of the chapter. In vs. 3 we see how a woman anoints Jesus with a very expensive anointment.Well, what’s the big deal about that right?It was a very big deal.For this woman, the alabaster flask was likely a treasured possession.It was her best!She showed Jesus in this one action her love and devotion for Him.This is such a great example of how as Christians we should give our very best for Jesus.We need to realize He gave his all for us, so we need to give Him our very best.

“Stay Awake”

BIBLE READING: Mark 13 DISCUSSION In Mark 13 vs 32- 37 Jesus is explaining to his disciples the end of times.A word phrase that Jesus uses in these verses is stay awake. He uses this phrase 4 times!Why do you think he uses these words? Does he mean that there will literally be people asleep when he returns?Absolutely not.When I read this, I’m reminded of being in Spanish class in high school and my teacher telling me I needed to stay awake.Was I snoozing in class all the time, no.I wasn’t paying attention.I was staring out the window instead of getting prepared for the Spanish test which I totally should have been paying more attention and preparing for. I didn’t take it serious at all.That’s what Jesus is saying here.Don’t stare out the window and daydream.We need to pay attention.We need to be prepared.The ultimate test is coming and it’s one we definitely don’t want to flunk.

“Crowning”

BIBLE READING: Mark 8-12 DISCUSSION This week’s reading has spanned a time of Jesus’ earthly teaching and ministry, to his entry of Jerusalem for his eventual death on the cross. In Mark 9 we see a very crucial moment in this process. The transfiguration was an important landmark leading to his death. This was the “crowning” of his first part of his mission, realizing perfect life. Had it not been for that, the second part could not have been accomplished. Jesus’ death would have been invalid for the redemption of the world had it not been preceded by His perfect life. In a sense, the transfiguration divided the ways. The first mission was over, now the second one was to begin. As he descended from the mountain, He had to once again turn His back on the light of Heaven. His mind was now determined to finish the mission, death! Sadly, his closest friends still didn’t understand, but for Jesus there was no turning back. So, he set his face toward Jerusalem and set a determined course. The…

“The Little Things”

BIBLE READING: Mark 12 DISCUSSION Text: Mark 12:41-44 The story of the widow’s offering, or “mite”, as many of us learned growing up, is a well-known part of scripture. This bible story is so memorable for young children in bible class because they can relate to putting in a penny or some coins into the offering at some point in their young life. We really don’t know much about this woman, other than she was a widow. That fact alone tells us much about the likelihood of her life and what she didn’t have. The treasury was in the inner part of the temple where coffers were place around the room and contributions for different purposes were given. I’m sure there were a variety of attitudes displayed on any occasion when people would bring their offerings to this spot, but here we have a small, unnoticed, uncared for woman who hardly counted as a person in her society. The term “mite” is a word used in the King James bible to describe the equivalent of a few minutes work. No doubt this small…

“Trash Talk”

BIBLE READING: Mark 11 DISCUSSION The headings most bibles start Mark 11 with, is the title “The Triumphal Entry” or something very close. Jesus was walking from Bethany, toward Jerusalem, which would end with him being nailed to the cross and dying. No doubt Jesus had a lot on his mind as he was walking with the disciples. One thing on his mind was food. Jesus was hungry. Naturally, he looked where anybody from that area would have looked, a fig tree. A fig tree in this region begins to have early or smaller figs that grow from the previous year’s sprout. These early figs would typically appear at about the same time or even before the new year’s leaves. These smaller figs were known to supply the poor and hungry with quick sustenance as they traveled about. The large figs wouldn’t have been found until later in the year, around August. The setting here in chapter 11 would be late March or early April near the Passover. Are you seeing the connection yet? Jesus was expecting this tree t…

“Dig in Your Heals”

BIBLE READING: Mark 10 DISCUSSION Text: Mark 10:46-52 Many in our society today struggle with disabilities. Some have mild disabilities, such as learning struggles, but sadly we know others that deal with various serious disabilities. Whether physical or mental, we understand that life can be very difficult for the individual and their families. In our text for today, we are introduced to someone with a disability. Bartimaeus, or Blind Bartimaeus”, as our children may have been taught in bible class, is the central character in verses 46-52. Bartimaeus literally means “son of Timaeus”. He, like many figures in the bible with a disability, was a beggar. It was his only livelihood, and most likely dependent on others. People with disabilities in this age were most likely looked at as a burden on society and outcasts. On this particular day, Bartimaeus had to make something happen. He had heard and believed in this man Jesus. In fact, he cried out “Jesus, son of David”. He knew he couldn’t …

“Back Up”

BIBLE READING: Mark 9 DISCUSSION Text: 9:43-44 Jesus had a way with words, no doubt! I’m pretty sure the things he said in our text probably turned some heads and caused people to say, “did he really just say that?” Cut off your hand! Cut off your foot! Tear out your eye! Wow! The truth is, Jesus was the only one speaking about sin like this because he was the only one who truly understood the horrible consequences of it. He knew just how horrible the eternal punishment was, the temporal “joy” of indulging sin. I’m sure that on that day many began to understand the gravity of sin. I’m confident many more people went about their day afterwards taking the common attitude I see today: “Yes, sin is bad, but Jesus is just a little extreme. A little here, a little there, under control, is not what he’s talking about. Sure, if I was going to kill someone I should cut off my hand, but my thing isn’t like that.” The bad news is, your thing is that bad. My things are that bad. Sin is bad. We don’t …

“How Much Does It Cost?”

BIBLE READING: Mark 8 DISCUSSION Text: Mark 8:27-38 I would imagine we have all asked the question, “how much does it cost?”, at some point in our life. Most likely, we hope the answer is “not that much.” Throughout Jesus’ life he gives the answer that most of us wouldn’t want to hear. Following Him costs “a lot!” By Mark 8, it was becoming increasingly obvious that this man, Jesus, was different and special. The natural result for many was to follow him or want to be with him. The problem came in the amount it would cost them to be followers of his. And just like Luke referenced in Luke 14:28-33, once they considered the cost, many chose to go another route. Jesus called to crowds in Mark 8:34-35 and explained “deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me” and would go as far as saying you might lose your life for following me. These were hard sayings for these people. Today, it’s easier for us to say “amen” to a scripture like this because in the back of our mind we know dying fo…

“What To Do When You Face Rejection”

BIBLE READING: Mark 3-7 DISCUSSION As a young man I can remember putting myself out there when I would confess what I thought was my undying love to the young girl of my dreams by sending her that note that read, “I like you! Do you like me, yes or no?”  I can vividly recall the increasing speed of my heart and I anticipated her response, only to open the note to see “NO!”.  No one wants to be rejected, yet it is a fact of life that we will all be rejected.  When it comes to the Gospel, it seems that we are dealing with rejection more times than not.  So, how are we to handle it?  Don’t people understand that we have the greatest gift that the world has ever and will ever know in Jesus Christ?  Don’t they understand that they are missing out on a wonderful life?  Can’t they see that they will have to give an account for how they live their lives?  Why are they so dead set on rejecting the Good News about Jesus?  It is very easy for us to get so depressed because we tie their rejection o…

“Empty Words”

BIBLE READING: Mark 7 DISCUSSION Jesus quotes Isaiah when talking to the Pharisees and describing their vain worship. The Pharisees were great at keeping the law, but the law had no deeper meaning because they did not have love. They were guilty of going through the motions. Their legalistic mindset and rule-following helped them to feel holy, but they had no true, personal relationship with God. The same can be said of us when we try to check all the boxes of “religion.” We may try to honor God with our actions, but actions done without love are empty. The prophet Amos tells the Israelites that God hates their feasts and festivals because His people don’t know the reasons for celebrating. Be sure our thoughts, words, and actions celebrate Jesus every day.

“Hardened Hearts”

BIBLE READING: Mark 6 DISCUSSION
In chapter 6 when Mark says that the disciples’ hearts were hardened, this means the disciples did not realize Jesus’s true power. They had not taken in the true power Jesus had to feed the thousands. Jesus’s true identity was hidden to them because they did not truly grasp his. If they had realized it, then Jesus walking on water would not have surprised them. For them, Jesus’s previous miracle of multiplying bread was not enough for them to realize just how much power and authority He had. It's like Pharaoh. When Moses’s staff became a snake, Pharaoh saw it as a simple magic trick that his magicians could easily reproduce. Therefore, his heart remained hardened to the realization of whom he was dealing with, and so he wouldn't let the Israelites go. His heart wouldn't allow the truth to come in. A hardened heart is one that is hard to be penetrated with truth or belief.

“Jesus’s Healing Touch”

BIBLE READING: Mark 5 DISCUSSION In Mark chapter 5 Jesus has sailed to the other side of the sea and a great crowd has gathered to see his power. After Jesus has healed a demon-possessed man the crowd grew even larger. As he was making his way through the crowd this is when the woman with the issue of blood reached out and touched Jesus. Her healing and the raising of Jairus’s daughter both were reliant on the faith these people had in Jesus’s power. The power of Jesus’s touch is even greater now. The power of Jesus’s cleansing touch at baptism gives us power over sickness and death because it gives us eternal life. True, it would be awesome to witness the miracles that Jesus did while on Earth, we all witness the most powerful feat of all – overcoming sin. There is true power in that.

“The Mustard Seed”

BIBLE READING: Mark 4 DISCUSSION
The Mustard Seed – the smallest seed of all….right? As any master gardener could tell you, the mustard seed is not actually the smallest seed in the plant world. There are several orchids and other plant seeds that are smaller. So why use the mustard seed as an example?I believe the reason to be twofold. First, in the Middle East 2,000 years ago that was about as small of a seed as they had. So to their knowledge – yes everyone got the illustration. Second, the mustard tree is not the biggest tree. In fact, it is more of a shrub. It is not the most visually appealing plant. Much like the apostles that Jesus chose – it was somewhat ordinary. However, it was well known for its flavoring and also medicinal purposes. Similar to the church not being the flashiest organization, it is designed to be simple: to grow where planted and to make people’s lives better. We should heal and we should season people with the Christ that we show others.

“Would Jesus have chosen you?”

BIBLE READING: Mark 3 DISCUSSION In Mark chapter three Jesus chooses the men that he will spend the next three years of his life with. He will lead these men, pray for them and ultimately pass on his mission to them. So, why them? Why did he choose these specific twelve Galileans? The answer: because he could work with them. Jesus knew these men were not too proud to pattern their life to fit God’s plan. In Isaiah 64:8, the prophet talks about how we are formed by God’s hand. None of us are created as a finished product. Jesus chose these twelve men because they were open to change. They were open to allowing the Potter to continue crafting his workmanship. These men were not the wealthiest, the most popular or even the most talented; they were everyday, ordinary people like us. If God could change the world through just these twelve, the possibilities are limitless if we will only understand that God is still shaping us.

“WHY BARABBAS?”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 26-Mark 2 DISCUSSION The story of Barabbas has always intrigued me.He is only mentioned in the story of the cross, but he is mentioned in every one of the Gospels.Honestly, if we have no mention of him or his story; the story of Jesus is still the same.Jesus would have still been arrested, still scourged and still hung on the cross for our sins.None of those primary aspects of the Gospel would change at all, so why did God see fit to intertwine His story with Barabbas?Just think for a moment, Barabbas was guilty of a crime and was awaiting his justly deserved punishment.Yet through a series of events, Barabbas is granted mercy.He was released that day, because someone else was willing to pay for his crime and accept his punishment.That someone was Jesus!We are in the same situation, because of our sin our justly deserved punishment is death (Romans 6.23).Yet, through the series of events that are contained in the pages of our Bibles from Genesis through Revelation…

“ The Smoking Section”

BIBLE READING: Mark 2 DISCUSSION Mark 2 Recently I was part of a conversion regarding a recent sermon. The point of the sermon was that we might have to start sitting in the smoking section. One of the participants in the conversation said, “but I don’t want to sit there because I don’t want to smell like smoke – it makes me sick!” Of course I took the opportunity to inform her and the group that I was pretty sure the speaker was being figurative rather than literal. We all had a good laugh and I think we were all on the same page from the beginning anyways. Jesus did not mind “sitting in the smoking section” and that is where we fin him in Mark 2. Right after Jesus calls what could have been one of these “smokers” to follow him (Matthew, or Levi) he uses those connections to share a meal with sinners and tax collectors. Jesus closes the questioning of his company with this statement, those who are well have no need of a doctor, I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Expand …

“A Packed House”

BIBLE READING: Mark 1 DISCUSSION Mark 1 In Mark chapter one Jesus begins in ministry. He begins in Galilee by proclaiming what prophets of old predicted: “the kingdom of God is at hand.” Next, Jesus calls his disciples and now that he had a following, he begins healing and casting out demons. The entire point of demon possession was to show that Jesus had power over all things – both physical and spiritual. However, he didn’t only heal, he taught the people and crowds that gathered. This is evident when we read what happened after Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Following healing her, scripture tells us that the whole city was gathered together at the door of Peter’s house. The people had heard of the power of Jesus and wanted to see what it was all about. Jesus no longer walks about Earth healing and casting out demons – he relies on us to show his power, his love and his service to others. When the world sees his power through us – people will gather and then Jesus can show his tru…

“The Great Commission”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 28 DISCUSSION Matthew 28:18-20 Before He returned to His Father in heaven, Jesus had one final task to complete: to assign the job of carrying on His work on the earth.His parting charge, often called "The Great Commission," was given first to the apostles, but it was intended for His church "to the end of the age"(28:20). It is interesting to note that in the beginning of Matthew's Gospel that Jesus is called Emmanuel, being interpreted, "God with us."Jesus was going to be with those who followed His commands.He is with us.At the end of that same Gospel, Jesus says He will be with us to the end of the age.The Christian age will end when Christ returns and eternal life in heaven begins.Until that moment, Jesus will be with His disciples who are doing His work.In Matthew 1:23, the baby Jesus was given the name "Emmanuel."Jesus, as our reigning Lord, is to His disciples exactly what the name "Emmanuel" indicates: &…

“Jesus’ Scourging”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 27 DISCUSSION Matthew 27:26 I dare say there is no Christian anywhere who could not describe the crucifixion of Jesus in detail.However, many might not comprehend the severity of the beating Jesus received, because it is not described in any of the four Gospel accounts.It was unnecessary to do so, for the ancient people were quite familiar with such scenes.Like the term "crucifixion," the mere mention of the word for "scourging" was sufficient to draw a mental picture. Pilate, having determined Jesus' innocence, suggested that Jesus be scourged and released.However, his suggestion fell on deaf ears.The Jewish leaders and the crowd would be satisfied with nothing less than Jesus' death.The flogging prior to crucifixion was the most severe type.The Roman flagellum was a leather strap that had pieces of metal or bone woven into it.The lashes would cut through the condemned man's flesh, often leaving his bones and organs exposed.This flog…

“Sin”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 26 DISCUSSION Matthew 26:14-15 Judas was a man that had some of the best opportunities to live for and serve the Lord.There is no indication in scripture that Judas was any different from the other apostles. But sin crept in, and as it usually does, led to Judas committing other iniquities. The sad conclusion is that this man became an enemy of God and tried to destroy Jesus and His ministry on earth. How grieved Judas was when he came to himself and realized what he had done. The same scenario has been echoed billions of times. It can happen to the best: preachers, teachers, song leaders, etc. No one is exempt from the strangle hold of sin. Sin has an expensive price tag and will cost more than anyone ever wants to pay. The only safety is not to let "a little sin" get its roots in our lives. Flee and fear what could destroy your life — sin. Today’s thought:When you flee temptation, don’t leave a forwarding address.

“WE NEED AN URGENCY”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 21-25 DISCUSSION I can remember as a young adolescent in the garage making a futile attempt at souping up my bicycle late one evening.  As I looked up into the stars, I noticed a huge glow peeping out from one of the clouds.  I normally would not have given it a second look, but I could have sworn that the image was moving and getting brighter and brighter.  It caught my attention so much that I had to stop what I was doing and just stare at it as it appeared to get bigger and bigger, drawing closer and closer.  My mind immediately began to think of the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, which I had just recently seen on television on one of their many Sunday night movie occurrences.  My heart began to race as I continued watching the large mass get brighter and brighter, drawing what looked closer and closer.  I know it was only a matter of minutes, but in a young adolescent’s mind with a vivid imagination it seemed like hours.  What was this thing that …

“Be Ready”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 25 DISCUSSION Matthew 25:13 If Jesus had told us exactly when He was coming, who would not be ready?How many would try to lead sinful lives just before His coming and then change their lifestyles just before He returned?This can be seen in so many ways in our daily lives.If you are driving down the road and you meet a car whose driver is flashing his lights, you know there is a police officer up ahead waiting to catch us speeding.We drive along and then see the officer just off the road ahead.After we pass him, we’ll probably speed up again. Since we don't know when Jesus is coming, we must always be prepared.In Jesus' words, "keep watching and praying that [we] may not enter into temptation" (26:41).Does this mean that we are to sit idly by, waiting and watching the heavens for the Lord's return?There have been many over the years who have tried to predict when Jesus will return.They all failed.Jesus says in Matthew 24:36, "But of that da…