Archive for the ‘Mark’ Category

Mark 3 part 1

February 9, 2010

Mark 3 part 1

I have been contemplating this passage for a couple weeks now.  In one chapter, we have such a mixed bag of characters – yet in each small section I am challenged to look for myself.  Mark 3, starting with verse 7, talks about all the people who were around Jesus.  With just a few sentences each, we get a glimpse into their character and motives – and maybe we get a glimpse of ourselves. Let’s take a look at these people.

1.  The crowds that followed Jesus.

These crowds were incredible.  They wanted what Jesus had so bad that they crowded Jesus, kind of like a rock concert.  They were so desperate for healing, they were willing to only get a glimpse of Jesus and touch his garment to get their healing.  These were desperate people.  (We live in a desperate world that is similarly grasping for relief, but from the wrong sources.)  Where might you or I be in this picture? 

  • Do I seek deliverance from God and not His face? 
  • Have we become so myopic that we missed the point of relationship? 
  • Have we lost our reverence for God in our desperation to get what we want from Him?

2.  The apostles.

From all his followers, Jesus called 12 to be his all-the-time followers.  The rest of his followers probably needed to attend to their lives, and followed when Jesus was in their area, but these 12 were with him all the time.  These 12 were endued with power to operate in His name.  My question:

  • Does my life show that I am an all-the-time follower of Jesus?
  • Do I walk with the power and authority that He has given me?
  • Or does my life show that I follow when He is conveniently in my area?

The freedom to dream – Mark 2

January 29, 2010

Today we are looking at Mark 2:23 through 3:6.

In these passages, Jesus and his disciples come head to head with the Pharisees about the Sabbath.

The Sabbath was from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.  It was a time of no work whatsoever.  Presently, I think the movie “Fiddler on the Roof” gave us quite a bit of insight into what Sabbath preparations look like.  Frenzy – getting ready for Sabbath required lots of work because you weren’t allowed to even light a fire on the Sabbath.

Then along came Jesus.  His followers stopped spending time trying to figure out what they should be doing and started living holy lives.  In so doing, they broke some of the traditional rules.

Imagine this:  You are learning to ride a bike.  You are focused on everything you should and shouldn’t be doing.  A piece of paper flies across your path – do you hit the paper?  No!  You aren’t going fast, you stop, and have a personal meltdown on all the dangers on what could have happened if that paper flying had landed in your face, etc. (okay, I’m having fun, but you get the picture.)

Now imagine yourself on the same bike, only you now have your focus on riding free.  You are flying down the road.  A paper flies across your path.  Do you hit it?  Maybe – you hardly even notice it – and even if it lands on your face, you will just swipe it away because your focus is way down the road on the goal.

Now, imagine serving God.  You can either focus on all the shoulds – how do I get this right?  OR you can focus on God Himself and let the little things fall where they may.  Here’s what happens if you focus on God:

  1. Temptation doesn’t trip you as easily because you are highly focused.
  2. You have the freedom to dream wide and large because your focus is as big as the God of the Universe.
  3. You can receive all that God has for you because your focus is on Him instead of on rules.

Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath – we are supposed to take a day of rest every week – not so that God can control us and we can fulfill a religious obligation, but so that we can have the freedom to open up our focus wide and let God show us His dreams for us.

What dreams does God want to show you this week? 

Will you take time out to ask Him and let Him show you?

Looking Forward to God’s ‘New Thing’

January 22, 2010
This week we look at the end of Mark 2. The language here is very picturesque. John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. We don’t know the reason for the fast, we just know that everyone who was ‘in the know’ was fasting.Everyone except those who were following Jesus. Those following Jesus were busy learning new things.

Jesus gives a beautiful illustration:

You can’t pour new wine into old, dried up wine skins – they will burst.

Likewise, you can’t focus in two directions at the same time – you can either face forwards or backwards, but not both.

Jesus explained – (his disciples) “haven’t given up fasting, they will have time for that in the future – they are just focusing in one direction.” (Kim’s paraphrase)

Let’s look at the three groups in this story:

The Pharisees: They found their stability and identity in religious ritual. Fasting was how they ‘found God’. They missed God in their midst because they decided what He should look like and how He should act.

John’s Disciples: John’s disciples had just found a ‘new thing’. They had even left normal life to follow a guy out into the desert. John was preaching that The One was coming. John’s disciples, however, had grown up in a religious system. They were trained to follow certain custom and pay attention to the opinions of other religious leaders. Since John was preaching to the Pharisees, and many were being baptized, these two interests weren’t necessarily competing. John’s disciples kept one foot in the old and only hoped for the new. They remind me of a runner who runs while constantly looking back over his shoulder…eventually he’s likely to trip and fall.

Jesus’ Disciples: Jesus’ disciples grew up in the same religious system, but they left the old system and followed Jesus wholeheartedly. They experienced an entire paradigm change. This new system didn’t uproot the old, it put the old in a new framework.

I heard about a painting that was discovered. (This might have actually been in a movie, but it is still a great illustration.) On it’s face was just an ordinary, plain painting. A family owned it, and hadn’t really appreciated it much because it was dull. Then, a restorer got a hold of it. Upon removing the top, dull painting, he discovered one of the great master’s works. Apparently, during Nazi times, someone had sought to hide the painting in plain sight by covering it over.

The old religious system was like the plain painting. When the new paradigm grew into a full picture, it became apparent that within the old paradigm was a beautiful plan of God that was fulfilled in Jesus. The old religious system wasn’t to be abolished like the Pharisees feared, it was to be completed.

God spoke to the people through Isaiah another time. Here are the words He used:

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:18-19)

We live in a day of constant change. However, we know that God stays the same. He is dependable, lovely, and on our side. Most of all, He is more interested in having a relationship with us than we can ever muster up the desire to have a relationship with Him. We don’t have to jump up and down to get His attention.

Here our challenge today:

  • What are you doing instead of just being with God?
  • Are you looking forward for what He is doing now, stuck in what you hope He is going to do, or are you really stuck in what He has already done?

My question is this:  What do you think God’s ‘new thing’ is – for you personally, or in general?

I pray that when people spend time with us, they will know that we have been with Jesus.

Join Jesus at the Table

January 15, 2010

Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

Jesus was having a good time with his friends. The problem, it turns out, is that people who are running for office are supposed to ‘win friends and influence the ‘right’ people’ and Jesus was spending his time with people of little consequence and even some who had bad reputations. The Pharisees sidled up to some of his followers and put the bug in their ear, so to speak.

You know he’s going about this all wrong? Those people are going to drag him down, and get him no where. He is spending time with ruffians and people of ill repute. The masses are going to figure out that he isn’t ’in the know’ and start looking elsewhere for someone to follow.

Okay, that isn’t what they said in the bible, but that is the underlying tone.

Jesus’ answer, at first, looks like he is saying that he didn’t come for the people who ’have it all together’, but for those who the Pharisees would consider ’sinners’. However, when you consider the greater Gospel, you begin to realize that Jesus was issuing an invitation.

The Pharisees thought they had it figured out, but Jesus knew that they didn’t. Many times, it is easy to think of our lives as ’put together’ – especially when compared to people who…don’t.

The day before Christmas, I was approached by a woman on the street who was running a pretty decent panhandling scam. She had an elaborate story that, were it not for her obvious hard core addiction, would have been heart wrenching. I realized within myself conflicting emotions – compassion, anger, sadness. The reality is that each of us is no better than that woman. We are desperate. We survive each day utilizing acceptable means of survival to get by. 

We may not end up on a street corner lying through our teeth to scam others. Instead we have placed persuasion among the arts.  Many people see their relationships as tools in the game of survival. 

Jesus came with a better way.  In God’s economy, each of us was created for a purpose.  That purpose is fulfilled when we meet Jesus at the table with all the other ruffians.  We become one of the sick and needy, and the Healer of the Universe recreates us into the people we were intended to be.  Interesting that Jesus invites us to partake in communion on a regular basis – to remember all that He did for us so that we could sit at the table with Him and let Him do the healing work in us. 

In the first part of Mark 2, Jesus healed a paralytic.  At first, he said “your sins are forgiven.”  This freaked out the Pharisees, so he changed his wording, and said instead “pick up your bed and walk.”  Some of us need to hear “your sins are forgiven” in order to allow Jesus to do the healing that we need so desperately.  Others need to hear simply ‘now is the time, pick up your bed and walk.’ 

One thing is certain.  We need a savior. We need someone to save us from our day to day existence and help us to become the human beings we were created to be.  Human beings find life beyond mere survival.  They find creative purpose.  Are you looking for something deeper?  God is the answer.  He issues the call today “Join me at the table.  Your sins are forgiven, pick up your bed and walk.”

Enter Jesus – Mark 1, part 2

January 7, 2010

Last week, we started on the book of Mark.  We were introduced to John the Baptist.  According to Peter (who tradition tells us is the writer behind the book of Mark), John the Baptist’s arrest was the catalyst for Jesus’ public ministry to begin.

In this first chapter, we are shown a picture – Jesus is a magnet, and people are metal.  Wherever Jesus goes, people are drawn to him with incredible magnetism.  What’s so amazing about Jesus?

He speaks with authority.

The leaders of the day always quoted someone else – and argued incessantly.  Jesus just told people what was.

He heals people.

Signs and wonders followed him… they were so plentiful around him that pretty soon he couldn’t enter a town without causing an uproar.

Here’s an interesting point:  In John 14:12 Jesus said:  I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

If you have received Jesus into your heart, then you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you.  You can speak with authority.  God is still in the healing business – we can pray with authority if we know how to hear what God is saying.

The last point that needs to be made in this passage is:

Jesus took time to recharge

This first chapter is setting the tone for the whole book.  Jesus enters the world by a ministry of wonders, but right off the bat we see him taking time to recharge.  You need time to recharge your batteries

Jesus, as he began his ministry on earth, was truly remarkable.  People’s lives were changed because they had been with him.  I pray, that as we walk through our days this week, that those who don’t know Jesus will be changed because they have been with us.  May we make a difference – because of Christ’s goodness shining through us.

Serving God Wholeheartedly – Mark Part 1

December 29, 2009

Mark 1:1-8 describes John the Baptist.

John the Baptist was set aside from (before his) birth to serve God.  He was who the prophet Isaiah called “the messenger sent before…a voice of one calling in the desert.”

From John the Baptist, we learn what it looks like to serve God wholeheartedly and really make a difference.

1.   Dedicate all of your passions to God.

John the Baptist let God pick where he lived, what he ate, what he wore.  He fulfilled his role as the voice in the desert completely.  He didn’t live in town, and go to the wilderness on weekends.  He lived where he worked. 

2.  You submitted yourself to God and His calling regardless of the consequences.

There are parts of the world where they really understand this issue.  In the U.S., people don’t mind if you serve God, as long as you keep it to yourself.  John was called to get under people’s skin.  He was called to be the VOICE CALLING.  People listened.  People came and were baptized.  This was a pivotal point in Israel’s history, and people wanted to get right with God.  They wanted to see change.  People were hungry to hear what John the Baptist had to say. 

When we are truly dedicated to serve God, we will be willing to speak up when He tells us to.  There are some hungry people out there.  We need to be willing to speak to them when God says speak.  Sometimes, in the workplace, our actions are our words.

3.  Be humble and give the glory to Jesus.

Even in his popularity, Johnthe Baptist never forgot Who he was serving.  “One is coming, of whose sandals I am not worthy to tie.”  The guy was eating grasshoppers, and had probably played tag with Jesus as a kid, and He never forgot Who he was serving.  The person of Jesus never confused him – he knew Jesus was the Lamb of God – he understood that Jesus was part of God’s plan.

He was not above his failings.  Like many of us, later on, when things didn’t look the way he thought they would, he sent word to Jesus.  “Are you really the One?”  Jesus sent back a simple message.  “Tell John that the lame walk and the blind are healed.”  That was enough.  John the Baptist didn’t doubt again.  He continued to share the good news and confront even Herod himself about his sinful relationship – right up to the day he was killed for it.

Well, we are only a few verses into Mark, and there is plenty for me to grow on.  Do you want to be the person God created you to be?  I know that I do.  Thankfully, He sent the Holy Spirit to teach, guide and direct us.  Where we are powerless, He will be powerful if we ask Him to do it.