Mark 5

Peter describes two events. The first one has to do with individual foreknowledge and design. The second one has to do with His ultimate goal, which is the defeat of death. Let’s look at each.

Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man

Did you know that God has a specific plan for your life? Whether we accept His plan and participate in that plan is up to us. God can use us willingly or unwittingly. What I mean is, if we choose to allow God to use us in His plan, we get all the benefits, like His Presence, His Pleasure, and His Blessings. If we choose NOT to allow God to include us in His plan, then He uses us for the benefit of others and to further His plan, but we don’t get the blessings, nor do we receive the pleasure of His Presence–in fact, if we deny Him altogether or long enough, we are destined to spend eternity WITHOUT Him (hell). HELLO! [I kept typing “hell” and hitting the O without capitalizing it. “hell0” is what it kept spelling :))]

Let us consider these verses:

Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Jeremiah 1:4-5 The Word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Luke 1:13-15 But the angel said to him [Zechariah]: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,  for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.” 

All three of these people accepted God’s plan, and they were included and blessed because of their decision. 

Those who chose not to accept the LORD’s leadership and plan didn’t finish well.

Samson was chosen from birth, but chose to do things his own way. Eventually, his sinfulness betrayed him and he revealed the secret of his strength to Delilah (Judges 16:17). He did have this one last hurrah: He prayed and toppled the main pillars in the temple where all the Philistine leaders had congregated, thus killing more when he died than when he lived (Judges 16:29-30).

King Saul was afraid, and he let fear guide his actions (1 Samuel 15:24). It cost him the kingdom (v28).

The biggest example is Judas Iscariot. Jesus chose him as one of His disciples. He COULD have been a great man of God, but he continually chose poorly (John 12:6, Luke 22:3-6). It cost him his soul (Matthew 27:5, John 17:12).

You, too, have this choice. Will you accept His will and plan for your life? Daily? Our task is to ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7-8). Ask Him to reveal Himself and His plan to you; seek Him and His plan in His Word (the Bible); knock (pray) each time you see an opportunity to share Him with others, minister in His name, or be a witness for Him.

Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman

We learn from the other Gospels (Matthew 9:18-26, Luke 8:41-56) that Jesus waited a few days until He traveled to Jairus’ house. Why? So that the girl would be declared officially dead, which took three days. You might remember that Jesus stayed in the tomb three days. Why? For the same reason! He had to be declared officially dead. This event with the child was a picture of what was coming. He did indeed have the power over sin (Mark 2:9-10), over nature (4:41) and now He demonstrated His power over death!

In the meantime, a woman showed incredible faith and gumption by touching Jesus and was healed. To touch a man was forbidden; to touch a man while unclean was unheard of! Yet, she did. Listen to her faith: “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” (28)  Wow! If you doubt that Jesus will reveal His will to you or that He would use you in His plan, just think of this woman and have faith. Believe that Jesus will. How can we have such faith? Because of this story. You are important to Him, just as this woman was. I can hardly wait to hear her story in person!

Here again, Jesus gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this (43); He still had to make it to the cross. And so, the saga continues…

Mark 4

So far, Peter has told us explanations given by Jesus. Today, he tells us parables, which are stories designed to help us grasp larger concepts. 

  1. The Parable of the Sower (1-20)- Israel was primarily an agricultural society, so everyone understood the mechanics of this parable. There are four basic categories into which people fall concerning the Gospel;
    1. Seed that fell on the path: birds came and ate it up. A mind that is unwilling to consider God and His plan of salvation can never receive the Gospel. He is a mocker. We must sit back and wait for him to soften his opinion. Often, life is a pretty good tenderizer for hearts.
    2. Seed that fell on rocky places: the seed had no root system and wilted. People who “try Jesus” never really give Him their heart and life. Consequently, the Gospel never takes root in their lives. Are they actually saved to begin with? I doubt it. I believe that He stands at the threshold of their heart until they are willing to give Him the deed to their “house” and the master key to every room.
    3. Seed that fell among thorns: The weeds choked the plants and they bore no fruit. Trusting Jesus is a daily thing–not unto salvation, but unto sanctification, which is becoming like Christ. When we are concerned with “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things,” we take our eyes off of Jesus and lose our way. We become unproductive and must have our lives “trimmed” (see John 15:2 concerning pruning).
    4. Seed that fell on good soil: It produced fruit according to its environment (calling). Genuine salvation involves a personal, continuous relationship with the Risen Christ. We become His disciples, wanting to be just like Him, obeying His every command, and being His hands, feet, arms and mouthpiece to the world. We produce according to the environment in which we are placed. Some people have a great harvest, some a moderate harvest, and then others a hard-fought, hard-won harvest. Don’t be fooled by numbers; God knows how difficult some fields are!
  2. The Lamp on a Stand (21-23)- Jesus is indirectly telling them that He has come to disclose sin in their lives. NOTHING is hidden from Him. Later on, He will announce Himself as the Light of the World (John 8:12), which was another way of claiming that He is God, for only God knows people’s hearts. See 1 Chronicles 28:9, Proverbs 5:21 and 15:11.
  3. The Measure (24-25)- What measure? Faith! Believing that Jesus is Messiah and trusting Him enough to do what He says is how we will be judged. In fact, the more we are faithful, the more faith we have, which allows us to be even more faithful, etc. This parable pertains to what Jesus said in verses 11-13. Those who were looking for Messiah with open hearts received the interpretation of the parables through His Spirit. What they learned increased their faith. Those who were looking for a certain kind of  Messiah, one that fit their idea of what a Messiah should be and do, missed their opportunity to become the true Messiah’s disciple and whatever faith/hope/desire they had was snatched from them (see verse 4 and 15). It’s the same today.
  4. The Parable of the Growing Seed (26-29)- There are two truths that I see:
    1. The kingdom of God is growing in the hearts of people. God is working in us and in the world growing His crop of souls. 
    2. There will come a time of harvest. May we “consider carefully” our faith in Jesus. We want MORE of Him, and not have “even what we have taken away” (v25).
  5. The Parable of the Mustard Seed (30-32)- This parable is a picture of how the Gospel is infiltrating the entire world. It started with 120 disciples in an upper room and exploded across Europe and is headed to every corner of the world! We certainly want to be part of His expanding kingdom.

Verses 35-41 tell of an event that illustrated Jesus’ Lordship over nature. It’s a proof of His divinity. WE know it to be true because we read it in Colossians 1:15-17 and Hebrews 1:2-3. He is implied in Proverbs 8:30 as the Craftsman. Jesus was urging His disciples to put their faith and trust in Him. It was their little miracle! I have always wondered what would have happened if they hadn’t awakened Jesus. Would the boats have swamped? Would they all have walked on water back to the shore? I guess we’ll never know.

What can we take away from this chapter?

  1. Everyone has a choice concerning Jesus.
  2. Our preconceived ideas of the Messiah make a world of difference in how we interpret Jesus’s words and actions.
  3. Our faith is built by believing Jesus and acting on His promptings in our hearts. Our faithfulness increases our faith, which increases our faithfulness, which increases our faith, etc.
  4. Jesus is Who He says He is. Believing THAT will change our lives!

Mark 3

Today, we get to see Jesus’ heart. It grieved Him deeply that the leaders of the law would not believe in Him (v5); even His miracles didn’t persuade them. They simply were NOT INTERESTED in anyone coming in and being their leader–Messiah or not! They wanted power. There may have been a few who adhered strictly to the Scriptures for Scripture’s sake and their interpretation of it, whom Jesus must have offended greatly. Let’s take a look.

v1-6 Jesus provided several things when He healed the man’s shriveled hand on the Sabbath:

  1. He provided healing for the man. That miracle in itself should have proven that He was God in the flesh!
  2. He provided an illustration of creation. Jesus sped up the healing properties already within the man’s body. In an instant, he grew a new hand! Jesus had made the man–and us!–with stem cells so that the information for the hand was already there. He did the same for every plant, animal, planet and star in the universe. To do it in six days was nothing to Him, and He proved it with this man.
  3. He provided the Pharisees and the Herodians with sufficient reason to begin the process of killing Him. Like I said, they weren’t interested in a Messiah, especially one like Jesus!

v7-12 Jerusalem was in the northern part of Judea. Idumea was east and southeast of Judea and included the Dead Sea 

area down to the gulf of Aqaba. The regions across the border of the Jordan included the Decapolis, which was a 10-city area up and down the east side of the Jordan. It was both Jewish and Gentile. Tyre and Sidon were at the extreme northern part of Israel north and east of Galilee. In other words, people came from all over Israel to see Jesus. We know from Luke 6:19 that Jesus healed all who came to Him. It must have been exhausting! Whenever He cast out a demon, He again gave them strict orders not to tell who He was.

v13-19 Jesus chose twelve men into whom He poured His teaching and ministry. He mentored them. Why 12? It was His 

plan. I’m sure it had significance in that there were 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus even makes reference to it in Matthew 19:28. Why did He choose Judas Iscariot? Everyone gets a chance to get it right. Jesus knew He wouldn’t, but chose Him anyway. Jesus didn’t cause Judas to fail, but He used the circumstances of his failure to His glory and our salvation.

v20-35 The press of the crowd must have been almost oppressive. They were eager to learn from Him, to be healed, to be blessed, and to just be in His presence! Wouldn’t you?! Yet, many didn’t believe in Him.

  1. The teachers of the law didn’t believe in Him and accused Him of driving out demons by the prince of demons, Beelzebul (Satan). Jesus called them on it because it was the Holy Spirit who was the power behind the miracles and the exorcisms. Jesus told them to say what they want about Him, but to refuse the saving power of the Holy Spirit is to turn down salvation itself! Against this sin there is no forgiveness. Why? Because the Spirit is our Seal of Salvation. He IS our salvation. See Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30. 
  2. We know His brothers didn’t believe Him to be the Messiah. We read about it in John 7:5. I wonder if Mary, who was with them (v31) wasn’t shaking her head at them for their foolishness. I hate that Jesus had to include His own mother when He “disowned” his own kin. Jesus was creating a new family, the family of faith in Him.
  3. Jesus challenged the teachers of the law using logic. One would think that they would receive that kind of teaching, but it didn’t compute in their equation. Jesus challenged his family by referring to whoever does God’s will is his brother, sister and mother. What is God’s will? Jesus tells us in John 6:29, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” He sent Jesus!

Let’s be wise and become part of His family by doing God’s will: to believe in the One whom He sent. Jesus is our LORD and Savior. Let’s worship Him, obey Him and serve Him all the days of our lives.

Mark 2

Peter has had 30+ years to hone his testimony. He has told and retold the story of his life with Jesus and who He is, which is why he quickly cuts to the chase concerning Jesus’ mission and objective. Jesus’ mission is reconnecting people to God through Himself; His objective is the cross, because it is through the cross that He will ultimately connect all who want to come to God. 

v1-12 The first thing that Jesus does is establish His deity. The teachers of the law were correct when they thought, “Why does this fellow talk like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone.” (7). What they missed is the fact that HE IS GOD. He proved it by healing the fellow. Jesus’ logic is sound, “Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” (8-11). The same power can do both.

The other thing Jesus did that probably irritated the leaders is His use of the term, “The Son of Man.” It is in reference to Daniel 7;13-14, which is a Messianic passage. By taking that moniker, He was declaring that He is God and Messiah. Pretty in-your-face, don’t you think? Jesus was going to call into account every wrong teaching. In the case of the paralyzed man, the thinking of the day was that the man was being punished for some sin he committed or that his parents committed. He DID have sin in his life, but not the way the leaders thought he did. Jesus set them straight by forgiving his sin and proving it by healing him!

v13-17 Jesus established who He was after: The lost sheep of Israel. He declared, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” There’s a catch to this declaration. NO ONE IS RIGHTEOUS. Psalms says it; Isaiah says it; Ecclesiastes says it. The leaders had to know it as the truth. They simply ignored it. Levi/Matthew threw a big party and had his fellow tax collectors and other “sinners” come and dine with Jesus. I look forward to the day I get to meet all who were at the party who trusted Him as their Savior.

v18-22 One of the things that Jesus routinely corrected was the “oral law” that was so popular in that day. Moses supposedly brought down the written law, but also a bunch of oral laws that were never written down. The tendency of these supposed oral laws was for people to add to them (there were over 500 at this time) and use them to manipulate. Jesus came to free people from such restrictions. Fasting was one of them. People still fast, but it’s according to the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than a religious necessity. Jesus called Himself the Bridegroom, another Messianic term. Jesus then expanded the meaning of His answer to include all of the oral law. Anytime He is asked about a point in the oral teaching of the day, Jesus answered, “It is written…” He always directed them back to the WORD of God. Matthew 5-6 is full of Him telling the people how the religious leaders did something, but they were NOT to do it that way. Ouch! We are to take the same attitude and go by what the Word of God SAYS and not just how someone interprets it.

v23-27 Jesus establishes Himself as LORD of the Sabbath. In other words, He was claiming to be God and that HE established the Sabbath, therefore He has the right and power to change it. In this passage, He is saying that the observance of the Sabbath is subservient to the needs of people. Was it license for people to do what they want? No, but it redirected the use and importance of the Sabbath and washed away all the little rules that had been set up by the religious leaders. One such law was walking more than a mile on the Sabbath, which was not allowed. A person could draw a circle in the dust, sit in it for one hour, and then continue for another mile. That’s manipulation and completely missed the purpose of the Sabbath!

We will see Jesus do many things on the Sabbath. It is His to rule. The religious leaders of the day would eventually kill Him for usurping their power and revealing their carefully crafted control. That’s okay, because that was His plan all along. He told us so in 8:31, 9:30, and 10:32. Aren’t we glad for 16:6, “He has risen!”

Mark 1:9-45

The baptism of Jesus was an inauguration as well as fulfillment of Scriptures. The anointing of the Holy Spirit physically represented as a dove coming down from heaven and lighting on Jesus’ shoulders directly fulfilled Isaiah 61:1. We will read in chapter 6 that Jesus goes to His hometown of Nazareth. What we get from the other Gospels is that He read Isaiah 61:1-2 as part of His proclamation of the start of His ministry (Luke 3:14-30). It wasn’t received well… But, the LORD had a plan and He was working His plan.

  1. v14-15 He began to preach that the kingdom of God has come near. How is that? Well, HE is God and He has come near! Pretty straightforward, really.
  2. v16-20 He began to call His disciples: Peter and Andrew, James and John. For a more detailed account, read John 1 and Luke 5:1-11 (in that order).
  3. v21-28 Jesus began to “prove” His deity by performing miracles. Note verse 27, “He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.”
  4. v29-34 Jesus healed all who would come to Him. He still does! The statement in verse 34 about Jesus not letting the demons speak because they knew who He was is important. It lets us know that Jesus’ mission was secret and was to be kept from the evil one. We learn in 1 Corinthians 2:8, “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
  5. v35-39 We can learn a lot from verse 35 by doing likewise. Connection with the Father is EVERYTHING. Jesus would receive His “daily bread” (orders for the day) during this time. Hence, His desire to move on to other villages.
  6. v40-45 This passage has a sad ending. It was a near-impossible command not to tell people what Jesus had done for him, especially when they asked! At the same time, there was fall-out in that Jesus could no longer move about freely. I love the last line, “Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.” Why? Because HOPE had come!

I find verse 44 interesting where Jesus told the leper to go to the priest and go through the ritual of being declared clean. IT WAS A PROCESS! It was an 8-day process that included shaving all of his hair off of his body–including eyebrows! See Leviticus 14:1-20 for details. Jesus was NOT there to “abolish” the law, but to fulfill it by becoming the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE for all. 

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18

11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! Hebrews 9:11-14

Well said!

Mark 1:1-8 Intro

Mark, the writer, is actually John Mark from Acts 12:12. He traveled with Paul and Barnabas (his cousin) on their first missionary journey. Peter knew the family well and it is supposed that he knew Mark well. Peter had Mark write down his memoirs concerning his walk with Jesus, a story Mark had probably heard many times over the thirty years that had passed. They were in Rome at the writing of this Gospel, and Peter would not leave Rome–in the flesh. He was executed soon thereafter.

Peter tells what happened and includes lots of “discoveries” about Jesus. Even though Peter didn’t know that he was talking about himself in this next verse, he is included in its category, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21.

When compared to the other Gospels, which were written later, we find that Peter didn’t dictate everything in order, but how he remembered them. So, don’t get hung up on the “when” of events. Just know that they happened. Folks, WE ARE READING A FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT OF THE LIFE OF JESUS!

Let Us Begin:

1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,

    who will prepare your way”—

3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord,

    make straight paths for him.’”

Mark begins with the introduction of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah, SON OF GOD. He got that straight right away! He then quoted a passage that every Jew knew to be Messianic, Malachi 3:1. John the Baptist is referred to by Jesus as Elijah (Matthew 11:14), which makes Malachi 4:5-6 about John the Baptist–the last words of God to His people before He went silent for 400+ years–then John the Baptist came!

4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 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. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Best verse: Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. WE are baptized with the Holy Spirit!

May we revel in the fact that Christ lives/dwells/rules in our hearts through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Thank Him for such a great salvation!

Proverbs 31 3-31-20

Need something to do? God has provided us with the perfect opportunity to get to know Him better!

26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

How do we get wisdom? What is faithful instruction? If wisdom is seeing from God’s perspective, then it follows that we get wisdom from God. How so? By spending time with Him so He can impart knowledge to us. His faithful instruction to us allows us to give faithful instruction to others.

A whole lot of the process of His Word and praying is our EXPOSURE TO HIM. His sheer presence washes over us and we absorb His attributes of love, joy, peace, hope, grace, excellence, truth, nobility, purity, long-suffering, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and even self-control–especially self-control! Also, the more we know of His Word, the more He has with which to work when it comes to reminding us of everything He has said (see John 14:26).

Let me ask some pertinent questions:

  1. If spending time with the LORD each day is not important to you, then why did you get saved? The purpose of salvation is to CONNECT us with the Father through Jesus Christ by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Could God have immobilized our country in order to cause people to slow down and focus on Him? If so, then let’s not waste this opportunity!
  3. Is the Word of God not pleasant to you or understandable to you? There may be a problem:
    1. Make sure that there is no sinfulness looming in your closet. Sin keeps us turned away from Him and acts as a barrier between Him and us.
    2. Is your version of the Bible the best one for you? There are many out there that are good translations. I heard from a friend, “Which translation is right for you? The one you’ll pick up and read.” That said, I would be happy to recommend one. Let’s talk.
    3. Are you reading in the right place in the Bible? Even though the Bible begins at the Beginning, it is not in chronological order. Nor is it necessarily meant to be read as a novel. Even though there is a story-line, the Bible is more a resource book where we go to specific books and chapters and even particular verses pertaining to specific things, ideas, events, etc. It is a reference book for godly living and the story of God reaching out to mankind.

When it comes to starting to read God’s Word, I would recommend the following:

  1. Begin with 1 John. There are 11 verses concerning how to tell if one is saved. It talks of the essence of salvation (4:10), the anointing of the Holy Spirit (2:20), how loved by the Father we are (3:1), and the assurance we have in approaching God (5:13-14).
  2. Read the Gospels next in this order: Mark, Matthew, Luke and then John.
    1. Mark is Peter’s memoirs that were written down by John Mark near the end of Peter’s life (around 62 AD).
    2. Matthew was a disciple of Jesus. He wrote specifically to his fellow Jews.
    3. Luke was a Greek follower who traveled with Paul on many of his adventures. His viewpoint was specifically to a Greek friend named Theophilus (1:3), and covered in detail Jesus’ birth and death/resurrection. He also loved the teachings of Jesus.
    4. John is the last Gospel written. John was the youngest disciple and was “the one Jesus loved” (John 13:23). Evidently, John was like a young brother to Jesus. His Gospel is written to show that Jesus was God in the flesh (1:14). Want to know Jesus personally? Read this book!
  3. From there, I would recommend Romans because of its doctrine of Grace, and Ephesians after that because of its how-to approach. Remember this about Ephesians: The first three chapters are doctrine; the last three chapters are application.
  4. From this point, it’s according to where the Spirit leads you. If you feel led to read Hebrews, please have your computer handy to search verses. Be ready to look back into the Old Testament to learn about the sacrificial system. ALL OF IT points to Jesus and his mission!
  5. Two more things:
    1. For Revelation, have a commentary on hand. You’ll need it!
    2. If you haven’t read the Bible in chronological order yet, it’s a great way to get a timeline of Scripture. Your eyes will be opened to who was alive with whom. It helps to have some kind of historical overview that keeps up with extra-historical happenings, i.e. Egypt, Canaan, Babylon, Persia, etc. and how they all came together in Scripture.

As we read, let’s remember that the Bible is God talking to us. We must be sure to keep our minds open to His voice while we read. Stop and write down anything that you hear from Him. Chase every rabbit! It’s usually Him pointing out some cool fact. 🙂 Linking verses is what we call “stringing pearls.”

May we redeem our time at home by spending time with the LORD. We certainly don’t want to miss this golden opportunity!

Abba, I have really enjoyed the extra time to read, study, write, and pray. May I get into the habit and keep it when things finally get back to normal. May we all gain from this hiatus in our schedules. Bless us, O LORD, with a sense of Your presence and delight in us as we spend time with You. Amen.