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Three Commitments That Lead to A Better Life

September 27, 2015 | Mark 1:16-18 | discipleship, three commitments

In the book of Mark, Jesus challenged the disciples with a simple commitment: “Follow me.” Jesus called them to a relationship with Him. He called them to be Jesus-followers. Of course, this meant leaving everything else behind. It was such a simple commitment, yet it led a radically better life. We can answer this same simple commitment to follow Jesus and experience the better life He promised.

“And they said among themselves, ‘Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?'” (Mark 16:3 NKJV)

March 12, 2015

This was the question the women who wanted to anoint the Lord’s body had as they headed towards the tomb on that first Easter morning. Arriving there, they found the huge stone had already been rolled away, revealing the empty tomb. Do you know someone that seems close to believing, yet there is a kind of unmovable stone standing in the way? You can lead them to the cross and to the tomb, but only God can remove the stone. Pray that the stone is removed, so that they can finally see and believe.

“So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this Man was the Son of God!'” (Mark 15:39 NKJV)

March 11, 2015

Roman soldiers were expert executioners. They had seen men die in the cruelest of ways. They had witnessed their various human responses to torture and death. Yet, this officer had never seen anyone endure suffering as Jesus did. What was it about Jesus that moved this hardened death squad centurion? Was it his dignity and demeanor amidst such ugliness and disdain? Was it his care for the thief crucified beside him or his forgiveness of the taunting crowd? Perhaps it was the darkening of the sky or the ground that shook when he cried out his last? Maybe there was a way that he looked at the Roman leader with compassion in his eyes even as he was dying? Whatever it was, this officer was moved to affirm Christ’s identity. His normally sarcastic, biting tongue was moved to childlike wonder. I wonder. What became of this Roman officer? Did he turn in his sword for a seat at the Lord’s table? Did he exchange his Roman helmet for one of salvation?

“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Mark 14:26 NKJV)

March 9, 2015

Did Jesus sing? Absolutely. He and His disciples, like every other Jewish gathering for Passover concluded the sacred meal with singing. The traditional hymn selection would have been the Hallel Psalms 113-118. Take time to read through those psalms and picture the Lord and His disciples singing with baritone voices every word by heart. I’m sure they had memorized these psalms, just like we know the words to hymns like Amazing Grace. After all, they had been singing them every Passover with their families since they were born. Jesus sang before He went up on the Mount of Olives to pray. Jesus sang the night before He was crucified. Have you thought of hearing Jesus sing?

“But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me'” (Mark 14:6 NKJV)

March 8, 2015

On the Wednesday before Christ’s crucifixion, Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus (see John 11:2-3), anointed His head with an expensive oil. This oil, which was worth over 300 day’s wages (“300 denarii”), was contained in a sealed alabaster flask. Some have suggested that the flask was part of her dowry to be given to her future husband. Others have said it was part of the family’s own preparation for her burial someday. Yet, Mary took her most valuable possession, broke it and poured its entire contents over Jesus’ head. The disciples criticized her for what seemed to them an extravagant waste, but Jesus rebuked them and approved her sacrifice of love. For only two days later, He would offer His own body, broken and poured out, for their sins.

“And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations” (Mark 13:10 NKJV)

March 6, 2015

This is one of the eschatological signs that Jesus gave the disciples in response to their question about the end times. It is both sign and instruction. Are you involved in helping proclaim the gospel to all nations? Those who are obedient are involved in sending, going or both.

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?'” (Mark 12:24 NKJV)

March 5, 2015

This was a devastating critique of the Sadducees’ theology by Jesus. They affirmed only the books of Moses and denied the resurrection of the dead. Jesus declared them wrong on both. There are many today who claim to be teachers and theologians that Jesus would stand against because they dismiss the Bible and deny the resurrection. Do you know and believe the Bible? Do you look forward to the resurrection? What would Jesus think of your theology?

“…And they marveled at Him” (Mark 12:17b NKJV)

March 4, 2015

Even Christ’s enemies “marveled at Him” when He answered their question about paying taxes. Jesus displayed amazing wisdom with such brevity and fulness (“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”). He wasted not a single word, yet fully responded to their complex question. Reading the gospels, one cannot help but realize the otherworldliness of Jesus. Both His humanity and divinity are on full display. There is no other like Jesus. Whether one believes or rejects Him, no one who encounters the Christ of the gospels can help but “marvel at Him.”

“And whenever you stand praying…” (Mark 11:25 NKJV)

March 3, 2015

In Christ’s teaching on prayer, He assumed that the disciples would pray standing. I’ve never done a study on the body positions of those praying in the Bible, but it might be an interesting research. Many pray while seated or while lying in the bed. I’m sure these postures are fine. Yet I have found that standing to pray affects not only my physical posture, but my spiritual and mental posture as well. Standing tends to focus my attention and awaken my awareness of God’s holy presence. It keeps my mind from wandering and my body from feeling sleepy. Have you tried standing to pray?

“…whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant” (Mark 10:43 NKJV)

March 2, 2015

Unlike worldly leaders who strive to climb the ladder of leadership, Kingdom leaders serve their way to success. Jesus calls us to be servant-leaders. Are there jobs in your family, workplace or church that are beneath you? Good. Start there and do them wholeheartedly. Faithfulness in little things leads to being entrusted with greater things.