Putting God's Word into Practice…

Matthew 10:1-31-Possessions

There was one noticeable contrast in the verses about the little children coming to Christ followed by the rich man who wanted to know how to get to heaven–possessions!  Jesus says in verse 15, “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”  Children have no possessions of their own–nothing to come between them and heaven.  They come with pure, undivided hearts.  Not so the wealthy man.  In verse 21b-22 Jesus declares, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.  Jesus discussed this further with His disciples, referring to them as “children” in verse. 24.  Children–like those who come to Him with nothing of their own.  The disciples had left behind all their possessions to come to Christ.

All this is followed up with a great promise–anyone who leaves family, possessions, locations for His sake and the gospel will receive it back a hundredfold and ETERNAL LIFE!  There is no greater reward; no greater gift; no greater possession than the promise of eternal life with Jesus in Heaven!

Jesus + Nothing = Everything!

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Mark 9:30-50 Peace

This blog is two days coming.  Yesterday I read the passage several times and couldn’t discern what God was teaching about Himself or for my life.  Today I read it several times again.  There are 3 random thoughts that I gleaned from these verses.

  1. Vs. 37. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but Him who sent me.”  How did I receive my children?  I received them in humility knowing I was unqualified to be entrusted with such a precious gift.  I received them with gratitude and joy and hope and love.  The same words should describe how we receive Christ.
  2. Vs. 42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”  I think a lot times when people read this verse, we think of “big sins.”  But the greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love others as yourself.  If we are not helping believing children to have this heart, we are causing them to sin.  I can think back to when my son’s were younger and they were playing in their bedroom.  Often I would catch them singing homemade worship songs to Jesus.  They were beautiful–straight from a child’s heart to God.  Maybe in some ways kids outgrow that, but I pray that I haven’t caused them to lose their free spirit of love for their Savior.
  3. Vs. 50b. “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”  What are the good qualities of salt?  It preserves; it adds flavor; it thaws cold, hard ice.  When I think of the value of salt as it pertains to the human heart, it makes sense that having salt would promote peaceful relationships.  Even the coldest, hardest ice can’t withstand the thawing properties of salt and neither can a cold, hard heart withstand the heart that is filled with that which makes for peace.  A final thought is that salt has to come into contact with that which it is being used. It is poured on meat and rubbed in to preserve it.  It is shaken on food and mixed in to flavor the whole plate/pot.  It is spread on the road surface to be effective in thawing and making a safe environment for others.

Well, this is giving me more food for thought and more opportunity for conviction.  I’m so thankful for God’s Word.  It IS alive and active!!

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Mark 9:2-29-…But Jesus…

I wrote about the transfiguration on January 20 from Matthew 17-“When All Else Fades,” and God gave me the same impression.  The short version is that everything on the mountain suddenly went away, BUT JESUS ONLY remained.  Who else do we need!!!

The next story has brought major conviction to my heart this morning.  A father brought his son with a “deaf and mute spirit” to the disciples and they could not cast it out.  When Jesus came off the mountain, and found out what was going on; He responded with, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”  The Mac dashboard thesaurus uses the words unbelieving, agnostic, pagan, and heathen for the word faithless.  The conviction for me is that there have been many times that God has brought someone into my life that I have tried to “fix” on my own, and it didn’t work. So I deemed them “unfixable.”  I have been faithless–no better than a pagan!

The father says to Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  Of course HE CAN, compassion is Jesus’ middle name! (Not really, but you get the point.)  Jesus replies that ALL THINGS are possible for one who believes.  Immediately the father cried out with tears, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  I cried that this morning too.

Jesus called the unclean spirit out of the boy and the boy was like a corpse.  Some even thought he was dead.  Here comes that wonderful phrase again, “BUT JESUS took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.”  That’s my Savior!  He makes all things new!  He is a life-giver!!!

Afterward the disciples were confused about why no one BUT JESUS could drive out the unclean spirit.  He responded, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.”  Complete dependence on the power of God can change the life of those who seem unchangeable!

Again I cry out, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!”

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Mark 8:31-9:1 Plainly Put

After all the parables and analogies, Jesus speaks plainly about His upcoming persecution, death and resurrection.   This really upsets Peter so he pulls Jesus aside to rebuke Him.  “But turning and seeing His disciples” Jesus rebukes Peter.  I wonder if looking back at the disciples and crowd behind them if it was a visual reminder of why He came and why He must die and why He gave such a stern rebuke.  He calls Peter, Satan!  Can get much harsher than that!  According to Jesus there are two things we can set our minds on–the things of God or the things of man.  In James 4:13-18 it says that all wisdom not from God is earthly, unspiritual and demonic.  How we think and how those thoughts direct our words and actions is a big deal!

In the next paragraph there are two “ands” that stand out.  In verse 35 it says, “Whoever loses his life for my sake AND the gospel.”  In verse 38 it says, “Whoever is ashamed of me AND of my words.”  There are three things that are characteristics of someone with a mind set on God–standing on the name of Jesus and proclaiming the gospel and being unashamed of His truth.  Offering these to the world is self-denying, cross-carrying, Christ-following, life-losing, soul-gaining Christianity.  Offering anything less is Satanic, shameful, soul-forfeiting, and superficial safety.

Lord, may I lay down my life, my rights, my comfort, my reputation to proclaim that Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life! In His mighty name, I pray, Amen.

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Mark 8:1-30–No Signs Required

This chapter starts out with another bread-multiplying, stomach-satisfying miracle.  Jesus feeds a new crowd of around 4,000 with seven loaves and some fish and again there are leftovers. The Pharisees come after him asking Him for a sign that He is really sent down from heaven.  This causes Jesus to sigh deeply in His spirit. Then the disciples get into a boat and attempt to manipulate Jesus into another food miracle.  (Oops they only brought one loaf of bread onto the boat, now what will they do???)  All of this is probably frustrating and discouraging to Jesus.

Jesus feeding the 4,000 was not about another sign to make people believe in Him.  It was about Him being a God of compassion and having the ability to provide, to satisfy and to save! (Verses 2-8).  It was about who He is not what He does!  It was not about the bread, but the Bread Giver–not about the sign, but about a Savior!

In verse 29 Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?”  That is the most important question I can ask myself this morning.  My answer–He is my Savior, He is my Lord!

Who do you say He is?

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Mark 7:31-37–ALL

So often I find myself focusing on and counseling others with the truth that God works ALL things out for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.  (Romans 8:28)  But by ALL things I’m really saying “bad things.”  We tend to only claim this verse when we deem a situation unsatisfactory.  The truth is God is good and EVERYTHING He does is good. (Psalm 119:68)  In this portion of verses in Mark, the people respond to Jesus healing a deaf man with a speech impediment with astonishment beyond measure.  They claim, “He has done ALL things well.  He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”  I’d also like to add that He made the man deaf and  mute in the first place and it was still good!  The deaf and mute man was not any less fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  God does ALL things well!  May we respond to Him with astonishment and praise!

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Mark 7:1-30-From the Inside Out

The Pharisees and scribes had one charge against Jesus, that His disciples did not follow the traditions of the elders, but ate with unclean hands.  Jesus saw through their shallow concern and bluntly confronted them.

  1. “This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” (6b)
  2. “In vain they worship me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.” (7)
  3. “You leave the commandments of God and hold to the tradition of men.” (8)
  4. “Thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.” (13)

Lord, do I also do that?  Is there anyway that I void your word to follow traditions?  Is there any way that I have left Your precious and pure commandments to hold to traditions?  Is following you and loving you more important to me that what people think when they look at me from the outside?  You are the only one who knows my heart.  Search me, O God!  Make me clean on the inside.

Jesus goes on to teach that it is the heart that matters; it is the inside that determines whether we are spiritually clean or not.  In verses 21-23 it says, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

I don’t think it is an accident that Jesus just finished saying this and His next miracle was casting a demon out of a young girl.  Jesus is the ONLY ONE who can expel evil from within.  We can scrub, scrub, scrub away at the outside with determination and will-power but only God can clean the heart.  Only God has the power to change us from the inside out!

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Mark 6:45-56- Jesus Draws Near Where There’s Fear

Jesus sent His disciples by boat across the sea while He went up on the mountain to pray.  “And HE SAW that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them.” (48)  Although He was not with the disciples, He saw the situation in which they were struggling.  Jesus came alongside them (walking on the water) though they were not looking for Him and did not recognize Him.  Although the disciples were too afraid to ask for help, Jesus comforted them and brought peace to their environment.  He spoke nine words to them, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” (50) He charged them to be courageous.  He reminded them who they were dealing with.  Remember in chapter 4 after Jesus calmed the wind and waves, the disciples asked, “Who is this?”  Jesus says here, “It is I.”  What a comfort to know the same person who calmed the storm in the past is with them in their current storm!  Guess what?  He calmed this storm too–even though their hearts were hard and they displayed doubt and fear.

Jesus is a good God!  He is a powerful God!  He is near!  Do not be afraid!  Do not harden your heart!

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Mark 6:30-44-Desolate Places

To be honest, recently I have felt overwhelmed with ministry opportunities–it started out as a good thing, but has left me feeling spent.  Everyone advises me to back off, say no, know my limits, etc…but that is not what I see when I look at Jesus’ heart for people and ministry.

The apostles had just returned from their mission’s trips and Jesus said, “let’s get away and rest a bit.”  They had been so busy that they didn’t even have time to eat.  (Ironic considering the miracle about to take place.)  But when they arrived at the “desolate place” the crowd was waiting for them and Jesus had compassion on the spiritually and physically hungry people “because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”  Jesus taught and then He and the disciples served them dinner–a lot of them–some scholars estimate 20,000 people.  Sometimes after an exhausting season or at the end of a tiring day I think rest is what I need; but maybe serving and seeing a miracle is even better than rest!

One person offered all he had to Jesus.  Jesus took it and used it to display His power.  In this case, the boy didn’t have to work at all.  He just gave what he had and sat down in the lush green grass and waited for Jesus to feed him too.  After the disciples served the meal, they got to sit down and eat their fill too.  The Lord is the Shepherd, they had all they could want.  He made them lie down in green pastures. (Psalm 23:1-2a)

Verse 24 says, “And they ALL ate and were satisfied.” Desolate places give God an opportunity to display His power to provide, fulfill and completely satisfy.

Lord, please give me compassion for the needy.  Let me give all I have to You so You can supernaturally fulfill and satisfy al the people You put in my life, including my family and even myself.  When I think I can’t go on, please don’t let me seek rest primarily but to seek Your power to press on, knowing that as I am obedient and compassionate, You will give me rest!  You are a good Shepherd!

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Mark 6:7-29-Devil with a Blue Dress On

Herodias must have been some special lady, a prized sister-in-law in order for King Herod to take her from his brother and make her his wife.  Seeing as John the Baptist’s purpose for living was to plead with people to repent and to prepare their hearts for the coming of Jesus; he couldn’t very well overlook the king.  So starting at the top, John confronts the happy couple on their law-breaking.  As most men would, King Herod takes action having John bound and held in prison.  And as most women would, Herodias holds a grudge.  She harbors bitterness to the point of fantasizing over John’s death.


Herodias didn’t realize the effect that her bitterness was having on her daughter, or the powerful influence of a mother.  With total love and respect, I can say that I’ve seen this in my own life as a daughter.  How my mom felt about people transferred to me.  When I overheard a negative (or positive) opinion of someone else it would stay in the recesses of my mind so that every time I saw that person her thoughts were the first ones to pop into my mind.  I’m sure that my sons have the same experience when I vocalize my critical spirit or dislike for someone’s actions.  (Probably after hearing John–and God’s–thoughts on her marriage to Herod, every time she looked at Herod those words of John rang in her ears, too.)

Unchecked bitterness leads us to devalue human life.  It causes us to think evil thoughts and plot evil plans.  It can even allow us to bring other people into our sin and cause their fall.  When Herodias’ daughter danced at King Herod’s party, the men were pleased.  King Herod offered to give the girl anything she wanted even up to half his kingdom.  She went straight to her mother for advise.    This was just the opening Herodias needed.  She told her daughter (imagine this) to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter!  Talk about dysfunctional family!  The girl goes “with haste” to the king and gives her request.  He, exceedingly sorrowful, follows through with his promise.  A plate with a man’s head is presented to the daughter (can you say “traumatized for life!”) and she takes it to her mother.

This may seem excessive and not applicable, but there are deep truths here.  

  1. I am an influential women.  I have been entrusted with the hearts of two sons.  How I feel about others can positively or negatively impact the next generation.  
  2. All people are made in God’s image, and I am called to love them and value life because God is the life-giver.
  3. Proverbs 17:19a says, “Whoever loves transgression loves strife.” When someone points out an area of sin in my life, I need to humbly repent and forsake it.
  4. All grudges are unacceptable and need to be caught and killed immediately.  They are capable of leading me to far worse sins.
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