February 18, 2015
Christ’s three-prong strategy for reaching the world with the gospel: 1) Appoint disciples, 2) Call them to follow Him, and 3) Send them out to preach the gospel. Notice that Christ’s first call is to Himself. And so, the twelve followed Him day and night for three years. And after they saw the resurrected Lord, they preached the gospel that turned the world upside down. This simple strategy worked because they had first spent time with Jesus and were filled with His Spirit. I’m glad that Jesus is still appointing disciples “that they might be with Him.” Are you spending time with Jesus?
February 16, 2015
The Gospel of Mark is unique among the four in that it was written in present rather than past tense. Mark’s action-oriented writing is marked by his favorite phrase, “and immediately,” which is found throughout the book. Each gospel presents a different perspective of Jesus. Matthew sees Him as King, Luke as Son of Man, and John as Son of God. But Mark presents a man of action, Jesus the Servant of all. And whatever Jesus does, He does “immediately.” Is there any urgent need requiring Christ’s immediate attention in your life?
February 15, 2015
Jesus made Capernaum His center of operations when He first began His ministry. Located at the Northern end of the Sea of Galilee, it was a major crossroads with the Via Maris (“Way of the Sea”) passing through it and the King’s Highway intersecting just North, connecting Cairo to Damascus and beyond. Here, Jesus called His first disciples and began to teach, “Repent of your sin and believe the Good News!” Great crowds of people began to travel to the area to see and hear Jesus. This is our calling today, to pray and declare the Good News, so that the “news about Jesus” spreads quickly throughout our world.
March 11, 2014
Roman soldiers were expert executioners. They had seen men die in the cruelest of ways. They had seen 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 Table?
March 3, 2014
On the Monday before Christ’s crucifixion He entered the Temple and cleared it of its sellers and money changers. They had apparently made the outer court, known as the Court of the Gentiles, into a marketplace. Jesus was furious. The outer court was meant to offer a place of prayer and refuge of hope to the nations, but the Jewish leaders had turned it into a retail business. This is a fair warning to the Church. Jesus has commissioned us to be a light and to proclaim the gospel to the nations. When we turn inward and use the Church for our own members’ gain, we neglect Christ’s Great Commission.
March 2, 2014
A blind beggar named Bartimaeus was sitting beside the road leaving Jericho as he heard that Jesus and His disciples were passing by. He yelled for Jesus’ attention, calling Him by His Messianic title, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” The crowd’s attempts to quiet Bartimaeus only made him yell louder. Finally, Jesus called to him, asking what he wanted. Surely the man’s blindness was obvious to anyone. Jesus, who even knew people’s thoughts, surely knew the man was blind. Yet, he asked what he wanted. Bartimaeus quickly replied, “I want to see!” With this answer, Bartimaeus spoke with faith, believing that Jesus could give him his sight. Jesus knows our needs even before we pray, yet He still listens for us to ask Him in faith. Bartimaeus received his sight and followed Jesus. Pray specific prayers.
February 28, 2014
Jesus turned the theory of leadership upside down. He taught His disciples, who were arguing about who would rise to leadership, that the path to greatness in God’s economy was downward, not upward. Jesus was the model of the Servant Leader. He led by service. Washing feet, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, teaching the ignorant– this is how Jesus led. And this is how He still expects us to lead. Leadership is a stewardship.
February 25, 2014
Jesus felt compassion for the hungry. He noticed their need and then took action to address it. We don’t read that the disciples felt compassion. When faced with human need we learn to turn a blind eye. There is so much need and we are so concerned with our own. Surely the disciples themselves were hungry too. And It’s hard to feel sorry for others when your own stomach is growling. Yet, both the disciples and the crowd were fed when the disciples obeyed Jesus. Through Jesus we become aware of the needs of others. We feel His compassion flowing. When we move to meet the needs of others in His Name, we find that our own needs are met in Him as well.
February 24, 2014
Jesus explained that sin begins with an attitude of the heart before it becomes a behavior. Focusing on changing the behavior is unfruitful when only faith in Jesus will change the heart. The human heart is born with an attitude of rebellion against God saying, “My will,” rather than “Your will be done.” This teaching of Jesus also served notice that certain Pharisaical cleanliness laws were human additions to the Mosaic law and therefore not binding. This is an example of the saying that “law begets law.” The Pharisees had not lightened the burden of the people, instead they had added to it.
February 23, 2014
A sharpened saw cuts more efficiently, but you have to take a break from sawing long enough to sharpen the blade. Long before Covey wrote “The 7 Habits,” Jesus taught His disciples to pull away with Him to rest. Working without rest results in diminishing returns. A rhythm of work and rest produces the best outcome. This rest must include certain aspects: 1) “Let’s” – Spiritual rest means time alone with Jesus, 2) “go off” – Physical rest requires a pulling away from work completely. 3) “by ourselves” – Social rest involves time away from others, and 4) “quiet place” – Mental rest means a place where input from various media is cut off, so that the mental faculties can recover. When we follow Jesus in this rhythm of work and rest, we discover new strength and insight for life.