January 16, 2019

BIBLE READING: MARK 12

41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Would you give to the church differently at offering time if Jesus Himself was sitting next to you in person watching exactly how much you put in? Jesus was doing just that here. We might be a little more sacrificial and generous in our giving. Of course, we know that Jesus does see exactly how much we give. It is interesting to me that Jesus was teaching a lesson here only to His disciples. That is who Jesus was teaching here.

Jesus decides to utilize what He calls a “poor widow” to teach the seed planters of His future church a spiritual lesson. We all have lessons to learn, don’t we? The Bible says that God loves to use the simple to confound the wise. A widow that had nothing, had given more than those that had everything. While the world loves to teach us how to “make” money, Jesus loves to teach us how to “give” money.

Jesus also teaches the disciples that the amount given isn’t important, it is the amount sacrificed that is. Some can give a large amount without really sacrificing much, while some can give a little and sacrifice everything just like this widow. How much have you sacrificed lately?

While there are so many other things in these verses, let me close with this. Jesus also taught the disciples that it is not just about money, it is about our life. Jesus said, “she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” That word “living”, in this verse, in the Greek means a person’s “life”. Jesus said she not only gave all she had, she gave all of herself. If you are like me, being one of Jesus’ disciples, I have much to learn from this widow. She may not be as “poor” as we think.

January 15, 2019

BIBLE READING: MARK 11

2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.
3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.
4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.
5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?
6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.

This is the account of triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Jesus sends two disciples on an errand for Him. The request seemed strange and confusing, but after all, didn’t much of what Jesus commanded often seem “strange” and at times seem pointless or impossible. He tells them to go to the village, and they fill find a donkey tied up at a crossroad. He tells them to loosen the donkey and bring him to Jesus. But if anyone objected to it, just to tell them that the Lord needed him.

I would have some questions:
1. Whose donkey is this, Jesus?
2. If the donkey is tied up, surely someone owns him.
3. Won’t people think we are stealing it, Jesus?
4. Shouldn’t I go ask someone first?
5. Will we get in trouble for this?
6. Why do you need a donkey?
7. Which crossroad specifically are you talking about?

I’m sure Jesus grows weary on occasion of our constant questions produced from lack of faith. These men never questioned Jesus or his command. Jesus quietly explained, mentioned some possible snags, and the protocol if it does.

So they went, things went fine, and when they were loosing the colt, some men watching asked, ”what do ye, loosing the colt?” And just as Jesus had said, they told the men what Jesus said to say. And would you believe it, these men watched strange guys walk up and loose a colt that doesn’t belong to them and take off with it. And when they ask them what they’re doing, they simply say that Jesus needed it and the men let them take the colt, no further questions.

This is our life of service to the Lord in a nutshell. This brief encounter with Christ reminds us that if Jesus asks us to do something, we don’t need to ask any questions. We just need to obey. No need to wonder if it will work out like Jesus said, it will. Whatever Jesus calls us to, He will carry us through. So, whatever “crossroads” Jesus sends you to today, just do it. It will work out.

January 14, 2019

BIBLE READING: MARK 10

13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

Man did they blow it. Probably feeling a little self-important, frustrated with many that seemed to take advantage of Jesus, and maybe with a well-meaning motive, the disciples blew it. Maybe it wasn’t that the disciples didn’t like children, or didn’t want the children to be there. Maybe they were just frustrated with the individuals that were bringing the children, or maybe they were getting frustrated with all these children running around and the moms and dads were not being responsible for them. I do not know for sure. Either way, the issue was that their rebuke of what was probably parents, displeased Jesus because it stopped the children from coming to Jesus. Jesus would rather put up with the rambunctious children if it meant that He could reach them and teach them.

Jesus then gives a wonderful illustration about salvation. He tells the disciples that unless an individual has child-like faith in Jesus Christ, that individual will not see heaven. You see, children believe. Children often do not look at all the reasons why some things should be scrutinized, they see the excitement of the possibility. The older a person gets, the more cynical they can be, and it becomes difficult for them to whole heartedly believe the gospel without reservation. Consider with me:

1. When you reach a child, you reach an entire life.
2. When you reach a child, you reach them while their heart is tender, before their heart can be hardened by sin.
3. It is important to reach children because the older an individual gets, the more risk there is that that person could die before getting saved.
4. The sooner you reach a child, the greater the chance for God to get their heart before the world does.
5. When you reach a child, you are following the heart of God.
6. When you reach a child, the easier it is for the truths of God’s word to find a root in their mind.
7. It is important to reach children, because Jesus told us to.

January 11, 2019

BIBLE READING: MARK 9

33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

“WHO SHOULD BE THE GREATEST”
This has been an argument that has continued among us humans ever since Cain and Abel. It stems from the pride of life. The pride of life is how each of us are tempted in our lives. Much of our life is spent, whether you are willing to admit it or not, with you and I determining in our own minds how we should be greater. I know that none of us want to admit that, but it shows up in every area of our lives.

Take marriage. Many problems in a marriage are created because the husband and the wife think that their way is better, that they are right in an argument, or that the other person didn’t do what they feel they should have done. Every husband and wife will at times struggle with the question “who should be the greatest”, me or my mate. When we begin to focus on everything we think that our mate has not done for us, or has not met our expectation, we are basically claiming that we feel that we are the greatest. Somebody has to come first, either you or the other person.

In our family, at our job, and even in our churches, we all must ask ourselves, “who should be the greatest”. Yes, it is wrong, and yes, it is immature, but it is our human nature. Even the disciples, if you will notice, would not tell Jesus at first what they were debating about. Why is that? Because they knew it was wrong to do so.

Here is something that I found interesting. Jesus did not say that instead of being first they should put someone else first. If you notice closely, Jesus said that not only should they put someone else first, but that they should also make sure that they put themselves last. He said, “last of all”. Do you see that? Jesus said “all”. That means that Jesus said if you are going to end up being the kind of person that should be first, then you must be the kind of person that views “everyone else” above themselves. Not only that, Jesus also said that we should be “servant of all”. “Last of all”, and “servant of all”. Jesus never really started arguments, but he could always finish them. What is amazing is that if you and I view ourselves as the least important of everyone, and the God called servant of everyone, we will not have much to argue about. Is there a lot of strife and contention between you and people in your life? This just might be the root of it.

January 10, 2019

BIBLE READING: MARK 8

34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Jesus here give some instruction not only about life, but about living. If we’re going to spend our life for the Lord, there are some things that must take place:

1. There is a DECISION
“Whosoever will come after me”. Every person must make the decision for themselves. Am I going to follow Jesus, or am I going to follow my flesh? Jesus makes it clear by the statement that he will use anybody that wants to be used. But anybody that Jesus uses must make the decision to “come after” Him.

2. There is DENYING
“Let him deny himself”. There’s not enough room in the “top spot” of the priorities in our life for you and Christ. If Christ is going to come first, then we are going to have to deny ourselves. It’s not always that an individual does not love the Lord, it’s just that they love themselves more.

3. There is our DUTY
“Take up his cross”. A cross is a symbol of death. That’s what crosses were for, they were for killing those that had been deemed guilty. Now the cross of Jesus represents life to us, but it represented death for Him. When Jesus said that we must take up our cross, it literally is a symbol that we must die to ourselves. That is our duty.

4. There is DIRECTION
“Follow me”. That’s what it means when we deny ourselves, it means we now do and go wherever Christ tells us to go. He gives the direction and we follow it

5. There is DISCIPLINE
“Whosoever will lose his life for my sake”. Our nasty flesh will constantly fight against the Spirit of God. Our flesh will want its way, but we must discipline ourselves to deny our flesh for the sake of Christ. We must “lose” our life to find it.

6. There must be DISCERNMENT
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Good discernment will see that you gain more than you lose when Christ comes first. Even gaining ground “the whole world” could not compare to following Christ.

January 09, 2019

BIBLE READING: MARK 7

1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.
2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.
3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.
4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

“THEY FOUND FAULT”
The Pharisees and scribes were quite a biased, prideful bunch. They always had their eyes on everyone else. You rarely see any of the religious leaders in Jesus day that actually stopped to take a look at themselves with scrutiny. This happened to be something that Jesus really detested. Here they were upset at the disciples of Jesus because they saw His disciples eating and fellowshipping with individuals that had not thoroughly washed their hands. I sure am glad that the Pharisees were not eating with my sons. The Pharisees sure made a big issue of this. They considered a person “defiled” if that person didn’t outwardly, ritualistically, clean objects in their life that involved their food. Now I am all for keeping things clean, and I’m sure Jesus was also, but Jesus felt it to be more important to keep your heart clean, than your hands.

The first thing we need to learn is that there are always people in your life that will be very good at finding and pointing out your faults. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, and they still found things to criticize Him about. But imagine if Jesus had let their criticism make Him give up. We wouldn’t have salvation if He had done that. Don’t let criticism make you quit either.

Secondly, we need to be motivated by this passage to be the kind of disciples that love people for who they are and where they are. Let’s not be condescending or above others. Maybe they don’t look, or act, or do things the way we do. Each of us are “defiled” in our flesh to. There are “none righteous no not one”.

And last, may we be reminded today that God desires above all else that we are clean on the inside. It does not mean we do not need to be clean on the outside, but it means that our top priority is to make sure that our heart is right. That is what is most important to Jesus. This is what He said, “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.