Archive for : February, 2019

02/28/19 – Mark 9:30-10:12; Psalm 44:1-8; Proverbs 10:19

Mark 9:   33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Earlier in today’s reading Jesus  had, again, told his disciples His future, what the Son of Man would endure.  And how did the disciples react?  As with some of us today they responded out of a desire for pride and personal power.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Scripture does not relay Jesus’s emotion at this time but I can envision Him just very quietly taking a seat and “waving” the disciples over to Him.  And then presenting this radical reality — to lead you must serve, to be first you must be last, to be a king you must be a servant.

QUESTION — Do we allow our vanity & pursuit of ambition to hinder devotion to  God’s will today — to serve others.  Just take a look at Sunday’s Bulletin and you will see many opportunities to serve others with your talents and skills — do you serve or do want to know am I the greatest?

 

 

02/27/29 – Mark 9:1-29; Psalm 43:1-5; Proverbs 10:18

Psalm 43:  Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God,  for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

When I read these verses I was reminded of how so many times the prophets and apostles questioned God and, yet, maintained their faith.  Coffman summarized this thought, as follows:

Just as Jonah, even after being swallowed by the great fish, exclaimed, “Yet will I look unto thy holy temple … and yet … my prayer came in unto thee, into thy holy temple”; just so, here the oppressed, taunted and tearful mourner, shouted the third time, “I shall yet praise Him.” It also reminds us of Job who said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15)

 

 

02/26/19 – Mark 8:11-38; Psalm 42:1-11; Proverbs 10:17

Mark 8:  27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

But when you read the remainder of the chapter you have to ask, “Did Peter really understand the mission of the Messiah?”  Because we see Jesus clearly explain what the Messiah will endure.  … And we see Peter’s response.

Mark 8: He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked
at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

From his youth Peter had been taught, as had all the Jews, that the Messiah would be a victorious warrior, liberating the Jews from the control of other nations. Again, we see the danger of following “tradition” & how this mistake can cause us to miss the true will of God.

02/25/19 – Mark 7:24-8:10; Psalm 41:1-13; Proverbs 10:15-18

Mark 7:  25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.  27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Just as we saw earlier in Mark this emotionally charged episode involves not a member of the Nation of Israel but a “gentile,” a “heathen,” a “pagan.”  And we, again, see unparalleled faith.

The message to me — do not judge, do not have preconceived thoughts, we are all children of God.

02/24/19 — Mark 7:1-23; Psalm 40:11-17; Proverbs 10:13-14

tra·di·tion 
the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.
synonyms: historical convention, unwritten law, oral historyheritage

In yesterday’s Blog we touched on this concept.  The disciples hearts were “hardened” because they clung to a specific teaching transmitted over generations regarding what the Messiah would do for the Nation of Israel.

And today we see Jesus directly address the danger of blindly following “tradition” in Mark 7:1-23.  By my count the word is used at least 5 times & each usage carries a negative tone.  For the leaders of the Jews has let their generations of “traditions” fully overcome the real intent of God’s Word.

And as members of the church we must always, individually and collectively, be asking — are we following the inspired Word of God or are we allowing ourselves to be “hardened” by man-made traditions & culture that may slowly change over time?

 

02/23/19 – Mark 6:30-58; Psalm 40:1-10; Proverbs 10:11-12

Mark 6: 51  Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

The disciples had just experienced the miraculous feeding of over 5,000 people.  And now they see Jesus not only walk across a stormy sea but calm that same violent surface.  So, I ask — how can their “hearts be hardened?”

Coffman adds an insight I had not considered:  To be sure they knew that a mighty wonder had been performed, but until the moment of Jesus’ coming aboard they had not grasped the significance of it as an indication of the Lord’s deity. This lack on their part was due to the fact that “their heart was hardened,” being blinded by the dreams of a secular kingdom.

Not just the disciples but all of the people of Israel had been taught that the Messiah would arrive on the “white horse,” lead Israel in overthrowing the power of Rome and establish an earthy kingdom with the Nation of Israel at the head.  And as we read the synoptic Gospels we will see the “hardening” multiple times.

Kinda makes me wonder — are our hearts sometime “hardened” by our traditions vs. being open to the true will of God?

 

 

02/22/19 – Mark 6:1-29; Psalm 39:1-13; Proverbs 10:10

Mark 6: Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

Mark 6: He was amazed at their lack of faith.

As I read the NIV translation of today’s passage from Mark I was taken by the use of the same English word “amazed.”   In my mind the people’s “amazement” at Jesus’s teaching and authority must have been  a bit different from Jesus’s realization of the Nazarenes lack of faith.

So (as they say in the NFL instant reply) upon further review I saw that in the Greek the words were different.  The Greek word used for the peoples response is kplḗssō which means , “strike out of one’s senses,”  being utterly amazed (dumbfounded) or left “at a loss” for explanation.

And the word for Jesus’s response is thaumázō  which carries the meaning of “wonder at, to cause to “wonder; to begin to speculate on the matter”

So, we see that while the people were in awe of Jesus’s teaching Jesus was thoughtful and contemplative at the lack of the people’s faith.

 

 

 

02/21/19 – Mark 5:21-43; Psalm 38:1-22; Proverbs 10:8-9

Could you envision two more poignant and uplifting stories than what we read in Mark’ gospel today?  The healing of the woman with the bleeding disorder and the raising of Jairus daughter  occurred within a matter of hours.  So much pain turned into so much joy!

And as you read Mark’s account I am sure you denoted a common theme — FAITH in action.

Mark 5 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Mark 5: 35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.

 

02/20/19 – Mark 4:26-5:20; Psalm 37:30-40; Proverbs 10:6-7

Mark 4:26  He also  said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 

As you read these verses did you see the responsibility of the “man?”  It is the “scatter the seed” and that is our responsibility — to be “sowers” of the word.  And it is certainly an individual responsibility that we cannot neglect.

But after sowing did you also see what the man did to grow the kingdom (the sprouting and growing?)  That’s right he did nothing.  The Kingdom will grow “all by itself” under the direction of the Lord.  So, we should never, never neglect every opportunity to witness — the Lord will take care of the growth.

 

02/19/19 – Mark 3:31-4:25; Psalm 37:12-29; Proverbs 10:5

I do not know about you, but my favorite stories, movies, and TV shows are those with a happy ending.  Psalm 37 is attributed to David & the following verses contain an ending that is more than just “happy” — it is awesome!

Psalm 37: 28 For the Lord loves the just
    and will not forsake his faithful ones.

Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
    the offspring of the wicked will perish.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
    and dwell in it forever.

 

 

02/18/19 – Mark 3:7-30; Psalm 37:1-11; Proverbs 10:3-4

In Mark 3:13-19 we see Jesus call the men who will support his teaching and, indeed, form the basis of the church.  I found William Barclay’s commentary very interesting in highlighting a perspective that I had not considered.

It is significant that Christianity began with a group. The Christian faith is something which from the beginning had to be discovered and lived out in a fellowship. The whole essence of the way of the Pharisees was that it separated men from their fellows; the very name Pharisee means the separated one; the whole essence of Christianity was that it bound men to their fellows, and presented them with the task of living with each other and for each other.

Further, Christianity began with a very mixed group. In it the two extremes met. Matthew was a tax-collector and, therefore, an outcast; he was a renegade and a traitor to his fellow countrymen. Simon the Cananaean is correctly called by Luke, Simon the Zealot; and the Zealots were a band of fiery, violent nationalists who were pledged even to murder and assassination to clear their country of the foreign yoke. The man who was lost to patriotism and the fanatical patriot came together in that group, and no doubt between them there were all kinds of backgrounds and opinions. Christianity began by insisting that the most diverse people should live together and by enabling them to do so, because they were all living with Jesus.

 

 

 

02/17/19 – Mark 2:13-3:6; Psalm 36:1-16; Proverbs 9:11-12

Matthew 3:4  Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.

When you read Jesus’s question and see His response does the word “anger” surprise you?  After all – what about “turn the other cheek.”  Looking at the Greek word used here (orge) helped me understand that Jesus’s anger was not like the “fly-off-the-handle” temper outburst we feel at times.  That anger can control us and certainty lead us to sin in our response.

Orgē comes from the verb oragō meaning, ‘to teem, to swell’; and thus implies that it is not a sudden outburst, but rather  fixed, controlled, passionate feeling against sin . . .

 

02/16/19 – Mark 1:29-2:12; Psalm 35:17-28; Proverbs 9:13-18

I am sure that like me you have had “one of those days” when you felt constantly bombarded at work with requests, directives, complaints, unreasonable people and non-workable deadlines.  And then you arrived home and the telemarketing calls started right in the middle of dinner.  At this point all you wanted to do is go outside and sit in the storage shed, shut the door and meditate.

We will see Jesus experience this feeling multiple times during His ministry.  And his response was the same — “just give me a moment to meditate and speak with my Father.”

Mark 1: 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

But many times he could find no peace.  The expression “went to look for him” literally means “hunt him down.”  This expresses the urgency the disciples & the people felt as they sought Jesus.  And did you note in the next few verses that Jesus did what he will always will do?  He addressed the needs of the people.

38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

When you have had or in the midst of “one of those days” are you still ready to serve?

02/15/19 — Mark 1:1-28; Psalm 35:1-16; Proverbs 9:7-8

Remember John the Baptist mission from Mark 1:2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way

Sometimes I think we tend to overlook the success of John’s mission as we focus on the coming of the Lord & His baptism.  Mark helps us recognize the impact of John:

Mark 1: The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

John came, John prepared, and Jesus fulfilled …

 

02/14/19 – Matt 28:1-20; Psalm 34:11-22; Proverbs 9:9-10

As I read today there are two verses that use the same Hebrew word:

Psalm 34: 11 Come, my children, listen to me;  I will teach you the fear of  the Lord.

Proverbs: 1The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

In both verses the Hebrew word used is yirah is used for “fear.”  We see this word used throughout the Old Testament.  And when we think of “fear” a negative emotion enters our mind.  For fear means “terror,” “horror,” and even to be avoided.   So how can this apply to these verses?

From the reference “Hebrew for Christians:”  — But in Hebrew the word can also mean “awe” or “reverence.” In this  latter sense, “yirah” includes the idea of wonder, amazement, mystery, astonishment, gratitude, admiration, and even worship (like the feeling you get when gazing from the edge of the Grand Canyon). The “fear of the LORD” therefore includes an overwhelming sense of the glory, worth, and beauty of the One True God.

 

awesome (1), extremely* (1), fear (35), fearing (1), reverence (5).

 

02/13/19 – Matt 27:32-66; Psalm 34:1-10; Proverbs 9:7-8

Psalm 34: 

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

Do these verses remind you of a praise song that we sing?  Written by Michael O’Shields, a young minister traveling in Oklahoma and Texas in the 1970s.

I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised
So shall I be saved from my enemies

The Lord liveth and blessed be the Rock
And let the God of my salvation be exalted
The Lord liveth and blessed be the Rock
And let the God of my salvation be exalted

 

02/12/19 — Matt 27:15-31; Psalm 33:12-22; Proverbs 9:1-6

As a Body we are blessed with the complete & inspired Word of God.  We also have teachers and friends who can bring scripture into our lives for self-examination.  For example read the following verse spoken by Pilate and then the penetrating observation posed by Coffman in his commentary:

Matthew 27: 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

Coffman:  Sooner or later, every soul is confronted with the same question, “What then shall I do unto Jesus who is called Christ?” The problem will not go away. The decision cannot be avoided or transferred to another, or endlessly deferred. “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?” That question is the moral watershed down which the several streams of eternal life and eternal death move inexorably to the wide seas.  …”

 

 

02/11/19 – Matt 26:69-27:14; Psalm 33:1-11; Proverbs 8:33-36

Matthew 26:  75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

We are all familiar with the reality of Peter’s denial of the Lord.  And I think we often condemn him for his lack of loyalty both as a follower of Jesus and even more importantly as a friend.  But what I had not considered is a recognition by Coffman of what this event meant in Peter’s life:

The cock-crow aroused Peter to a new sense of reality, and he immediately began to make his way back to Jesus. Although Matthew did not record it, John did; and we are privileged to rejoice in the conversion of Peter who returned to confess three times that he loved  the Lord.

Sometimes it takes the darkest moment to guide us towards the light …

 

 

02/10/19 – Matt 26:47-68; Psalm 32:1-11; Proverbs 8:27-32

Matthew 26:  59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

We see in this passage the illegal charge that was used to put Jesus to death.  And I find it interesting that we see the same charge used to justify the stoning of Stephen.

Acts 6: 1So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

 

02/09/29 – Matt 26:14-46; Psalm 31:19-24; Proverbs 8:1-11

These verses contain the very reason we come together on each first day of the week — to remember the Body and the Blood of the Lord – the ultimate sacrifice that allows us, as sinners, to stand in the presence of the Lord God, Almighty.

My comment for today is simple.  Slowly read Matthew 26:26-29.  Then, go directly to and slowly read Matthew 26:39-44.  And reflect on the cost of our salvation and the love demonstrated.