Putting God's Word into Practice…

Mark 6:1-6–Amazing Unbelief

People have always been offended by Jesus.  They recognized His wisdom, acknowledged His mighty works, and yet they chose not to honor Him.  Verse six says, “And He marveled because of their unbelief.”  He was surprised, astonished, dumbfounded that they wouldn’t believe after all they heard and saw.  I’m sure He still feels that way.  Unbelief is under everything sinful.  Unbelief is the root of anxiety and selfishness.  It’s at the root of instant gratification and moralism.  Unbelief is offensive to Jesus–it’s offensive to His mission and sacrifice.  He had every right to not do miracles for the people and to leave them to themselves.  When we rely on ourselves and dismiss Jesus as Lord in our life, we forfeit the power that He wants to display in our lives.

Lord, help me to live like You are real, like You are alive, and like You have saved me.  Help me not to just recognize that you are wise and mighty, but to honor You and press into Your wisdom and experience Your mighty works in my life.  You are so good and I’m sorry for behaving like I don’t believe sometimes.  I love you, Lord!

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Mark 5:21-43 “ITT-Intent to Touch”

While reading Mark 5:21-43 it occurred to me that there is a difference between brushing up against Jesus and intentionally reaching out to touch Him.  Several points gripped me as I read:

  1. “…had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.”  This woman was desperate; all avenues were exhausted!
  2. Desperation can lead either to despair and hopelessness or to faith and hope in something–Someone–greater.
  3. “Intentional touching” comes out of desperation that has led to faith.
  4. Faith gets Jesus’ attention and a response. “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
  5. Experiencing God’s healing power personally results in humility and worship. “But the woman, KNOWING WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO HER, came in fear and trembling and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.”

This leads me to ask, “How often do I brush up against Jesus, but never experience His power?”

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Mark 5:1-20-I Can’t Do That!

Jesus freed a man oppressed by many demons.  This was a man overwhelmed by darkness, enslaved, living in a cemetery, an outcast that no one could save or fix.  But Jesus broke his chains, dispelled the darkness gave him a new life.  The man had one request–he begged Jesus to let him get into the boat and travel with Him.  Jesus answered the man with a resounding, “No.”  And then Jesus told him to go home and tell his friends about what happened to him. Although the man did not get what he wanted, he got what was best!

By the time I was 20 I had a pretty bad reputation.  But Jesus rescued me.  He showed me His patience, kindness and mercy that led me to repentance.  He rescued my husband too.  We sold all our earthly possessions and moved to Chicago so my husband could attend Moody Bible Institute.  When he was nearing graduation I began to pray, “Lord, there are so many places we can go.  Send us anywhere.”  He sent us to my hometown and the church I grew up in.  I said, “I can’t do that! People know me there.  It’s too embarrassing.”  People were skeptical.  I remember one lady cornering me and telling me that very thing after church one day.  But it gave me a great way to tell others about the grace and mercy of God.

Observations from the text:

  1. Jesus didn’t say, “Go and show.”  He said, “Go and tell.”  People may see a difference in my life after an encounter with Jesus; but if I don’t tell them the Who and what, they won’t know the whole, real story.
  2. Jesus said to go and tell his friends, but he went and proclaimed his story to the Decapolis.  (I broke my rules on this because I wanted to know more about the area.  The Decapolis was an area marked by 10 major cities that were predominately non-Jewish.)  This tells me that he couldn’t stop proclaiming the good news.
  3. Jesus didn’t tell him to go to Bible studies or Bible college first.  He asked him to go share the story of what God had done for him and how God had shown him mercy (not getting what he deserved).  Sadly, many of us lose the zeal we first experienced over the mercy of God.  If that is the case, pray fervently for God to restore amazement over His mercy and to remind you what you were before His mercy broke through.
  4. We know the man did his task correctly because of the results–everyone marveled.  They were pointed to the greatness of God.

Psalm 96:2b says, “Each day proclaim the good news that He saves.”  Who can you share your story with today?  You can do it!  I can do it!

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Mark 4:21-41-Does Jesus Care?

I have read over this passage several times this morning, asking the Lord to show my heart something fresh and meaningful.  The words that convicted my heart were those of Jesus’ followers, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Verse 38)

Let me back up a little…Jesus just told His disciples that the kingdom of Heaven is like a little seed that grows and becomes larger than any other kingdoms and is a place of sanctuary and security.  To really believe that would mean believing that everything God plans will happen and that all God’s plans are perfect and trustworthy.  On that same day, when evening had come, Jesus asks His disciples to get into a boat and sail to the other side.  He led them right into a giant storm!  Why would Jesus do that?  Maybe to test their faith.  He knew what their response would be, but He uses storms to show us our response, to expose our lack of faith and to strengthen our faith.

I’m not sure how they responded before they woke Jesus up.  If it were me, I would have panicked and tried to handle things on my own.  I would have probably become angry and started yelling at everyone around me.  I would have exhausted myself trying to bail out the water and then turned to Jesus for help in desperation.  Maybe the disciples did that too.   What we know for sure is that they woke Jesus up by questioning His care and concern for them. They had seen Him have compassion on lepers, disabled, and hungry people.  They had seen Him cast out demons and render the religious leaders speechless.  Yet, they questioned whether He cared about them.  How many times when I am in an overwhelming situation, do I think in my heart, “Don’t You care, God?”  How disrespectful!  What a lack of faith!  Did Jesus berate them?  No.  He brought peace and calm to the situation then He questioned their faith.  If only I would trust and turn to Him more quickly, I would experience that peace and calm in my life.  It would demonstrate great faith in His care for me and His plans for my life inside His plans for all life.

Lord, help me to know and understand Your heart.  Forgive me for trying to overcome without You.  Give me a greater trust in Your purposes.  Show me when I am treating You disrespectfully and trying to navigate stormy waters in my own strength and trying to rescue myself.  Allow me to turn to you quicker and receive Your perfect peace.  And use me to demonstrate to others that there is only one path to peace in this life, and it’s found in Jesus Christ.  In the powerful name of Jesus I ask, Amen.

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Mark 4:1-20-Sowing and Growing

This morning before I opened up God’s Word, I asked Him to allow His Word to bring challenge, conviction and encouragement.  IT DID!

In Matthew when I read about the sower planting the seed and the four responses to it, I related most to the person with thorns.  The seed grew, but the cares of the world choked it out.  In Mark, the role of the sower hits closest to home!  God has given me many opportunities lately to plant the seed of His Word into people.  

CONVICTION:  Verse 3 says, “The sower WENT OUT.”  It is very difficult to plan seeds from inside and isolation.  Planting seed is hard work–it requires commitment and diligence.  We also have to have the seed (God’s Word) to be able to sow it!

CHALLENGE: I can’t just focus on sowing–eventually I’ll run out of seed.  I also need to continuously examine my own soil and response to the seed that other’s plant in me.

ENCOURAGEMENT:  When God allows me to be the sower, I am not responsible for the ground that I plant in.  I am just asked to plant the seed.  He is responsible for the growth!

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Mark 3-Real Life

When Jesus’ ministry started publicly, it was marked by the Holy Spirit descending on Him.  Then the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan.  Afterward, the Holy Spirit directed Jesus’ every move and gave Him power.

Jesus was a man filled with the Holy Spirit.

  • He was sinless so the Spirit in Him was never grieved or quenched
  • He always exhibited each fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control)
  • His life was characterized by power and authority

This led His family to think He went crazy and the Pharisees to claim He was demon-possessed.  They all recognized that His life operated unnaturally/supernaturally, but could not believe that He was God and was full of God’s Spirit.

Jesus goes on to place a higher priority on spiritual family.  Having that same Spirit in us allows to do God’s will and connects us to Jesus and each other.  Personally, I really understand and enjoy the closeness of spiritual family, but I feel like I don’t fully experience the supernatural life–life surrendered to the Holy Spirit.  I long to live a life characterized by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sadly; sin, self and fear hold me back from experiencing the full life that God intends for His followers to experience.  Lord, change me!

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Mark 2-Eyes in the Back of My Head!

My boys can be misbehaving in another part of the house and hearing one noise, I know they need correcting.  They wonder how I could possibly know what they were doing without my being in the room.  Or I correct my pre-teen and I see disrespect creep across his face, because I’ve been there, I know what he is thinking in his heart.  When I confront him about his internal disrespect, it shocks him that I know what’s going on in his mind.  I’m sure that I don’t catch everything.

However, God doesn’t miss a thing!  We can’t hide anything from Him!  Mark 2 tells of the event when Jesus is preaching and four men want to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus.  They stop at nothing–even going so far as to remove a section of the roof and lower him through in front of where Jesus was preaching.  Verse 5 says, “And when Jesus SAW there faith…”  He saw their faith by their actions.  He recognized faith, when others may have seen it as something else–even disrespect for personal property.  Jesus forgave the man’s sins and the scribes started questioning in their hearts, “‘Who does He think He is, forgiving sins?!  Only God can do that’. And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, ‘Why do you question these things in your hearts’?”  Jesus also SAW unbelief hidden in their hearts.

Jesus knows our hearts at all times.  That knowledge will bring us either encouragement or conviction based on what our hearts hold.  He sees our actions that stem from faith, the ones that stem from fear, and the ones that stem from unbelief.  He is God and He cannot be fooled!

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Mark 1-No Hesitation

Personal intro:  Mark has been my favorite gospel in the past.  Whenever being in full-time ministry gets difficult or discouraging, Mark’s picture of Christ reminds me how easy we have it.  We haven’t often gone without sleep or food because of the pressure of crowds bearing down on us at every turn.  Yet Jesus handles all that pressure with grace and compassion!

In chapter 1 the word “immediately” is used 9 times.  God’s blessing on Jesus’ baptism was immediate.  After that approval from the Father, the Spirit immediately led Jesus to the wilderness (There’s a lesson just in that–approval doesn’t keep us from the wilderness, sometimes it prepares us for the wilderness.).  The first disciples immediately left everything behind to follow Jesus. Jesus immediately started preaching.  People showed up for help and healing immediately.  People told him their needs immediately.  Demons and sickness left immediately due to His authority.  There is a real sense of urgency in getting the message of repentance to the people and a real sense of urgency in the response of the people.

What did this no hesitation/immediate ministry cost Jesus?  Sleep!  In verse 35 it says, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place and there he prayed.”  Privacy! Verse 25 says, “Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.”

What I want to meditate on today:  Is effectiveness in ministry linked to giving up our rights to sleep and privacy?

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Matthew 28-Life on Purpose

Easter is a special day.  Extra people come to church.  Little girls wear “Easter” dresses, while the boys wear new sweater-vests and ties.  The pastor shouts, “He is risen!”  And the congregation responds, “He is risen indeed!”  Then everyone goes home and hunts for eggs (In our family the boys’ grandma fills plastic eggs with money.), eats chocolate bunnies and Peeps, overloads on ham, and takes a nap.  HAPPY EASTER!

The resurrection is an everyday celebration of new life with power and purpose!  Jesus rose from the grave–He is alive!  That should change everything for how we live our lives!  We have victory over sin and death(1 Corinthians 15:57)!  We have the same power that raise Jesus from the dead living inside of us (Romans 8:11)!

Three times in this chapter we see the command to come and see, then go and tell.  In verses 6-7 the angel tells the women to come and see the empty tomb, then quickly go and tell the disciples.  Verses 9-10 tell of the women’s encounter with the risen Lord Jesus.  They came, saw and worshiped.  Then Jesus said “go and tell.” Once the disciples saw Jesus, He told them to go and tell the world.  The mission is for me too!  I have encountered the living Christ in my own life and He is telling me to quickly go and tell.  There is a real sense of urgency and enthusiasm in this chapter–there is quickness and running.  We have Someone powerful and life-giving to offer our hurting and hopeless world.  Hell is forever and people are going there everyday.  Our mission is ongoing until we see Him face-to-face.  But there is also a great promise that is a source of confidence, “Jesus is with us always (20).

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

If you don’t know if you have hope, power and purpose in Jesus Christ; but you are longing for that Romans 10:9-11, 13 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (ruler of your life) and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified (made guiltless before God), and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame….everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

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Matthew 27:32-66

My heart is broken…not over the picture of Jesus on the cross, but the picture of me not being willing to take up mine.  This is a more personal post.  Anyone who reads this section of Scripture may not see what I’m about to write.  But it’s how the Holy Spirit used these God-breathed words to break my heart today.

Matthew 27:41-42 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked Jesus, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.”  He didn’t save Himself, because He came to save others!  He knew the only way to save others was to lose his life!

If I want to be a follower of Jesus, I am called to deny myself and take up my cross daily.  Unless I die to myself, no one will see Jesus living in me.  I can’t point people to salvation unless I lose myself for the sake of the gospel.  Instead, I’ve wanted the good life–no suffering, no sacrifice!  I feel like the ignorant disciples who heard over and over again and never got it.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.”

Lord, make me Your ambassador, whatever the cost!  Because You gave everything for me, I want to give everything for You; because You willingly laid down Your life, I willingly lay my life down for You.

“Make my life a prayer to You.  I want to do what You want me to.  No empty words and no white lies.  No token prayers no compromise. I want to die and let you give Your life to me so I might live.  And share the hope You gave to me, the love that set me free.” (Keith Green)

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