- What if rejection really is God’s protection?
- What if the very weakness I have is how God is going to give me his strength?
- What if the huge, gigantic mountain staring me in the face is the very instrument God is using to build my eternal faith?
- What if my present pain is because God is sparing me a worse future pain I can’t possibly imagine today?
- What if God wants to use this weakness to help someone else overcome his/her weakness after he has taught me how to overcome it?
- What if I’d never have learned to love and trust God so deeply and devotedly unless I’d first been broken by this problem?
- What if God will one day, in eternity, show me how all these situations were being used by him and I’ll actually rejoice over having gone through them?
Mark 3:14 is our focus today. It reads: “And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.” Several truths are embedded in this one truth about the call to discipleship. The are:
1. Jesus “appointed” the twelve. Jesus called and appointed the disciples to ministry. There was something in each one of them that was purposeful for his purposes. They were all essential members of his kingdom. They weren’t chosen by fiat. The same is true for us. If we’ve been called by Jesus, there is a divine appointment upon our lives. There is something only we can do for his kingdom. It is our purpose. We must find it and do it. For this he called and appointed us. Have you found your call yet?
2. Jesus called them “apostles”. The word means “sent out.” They were sent out to preach the Gospel of the kingdom of God. An important part of all our “appointments” with God must involve being sent out to others. God’s call of love is never intended to be selfishly garnered. Love to be love must be given away. It also involves our mouths. Yes, we love people with our actions. But we also look for every opportunity, when loving someone, to tell them about what Jesus has done for us, what he means to us. The call to effective Christian discipleship involves our mouths!
3. Jesus called the twelve “to be with him.” Stop and think about this for a moment. The Lord of the universe wanted twelve men to walk in ministry with him. He needed their companionship and support. He needed their friendship and help. The same is true for us too. We were never intended to be “Lone Ranger” Christians. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto! We need a group of people with whom we’re attached to do his ministry effectively. Jesus called twelve “to be with him.” We need others to be with us. Effective Christian discipleship is never accomplished alone. Jesus knew this too.
I would imagine Jesus made it very clear to his followers what they were getting into when he called and appointed them. It would not be an easy call but well worth it in eternal priorities.
If it was so with Jesus’ first twelve followers, wouldn’t it still be true today for us who choose to follow him?
Today’s verses are Mark 3:9,10. Great crowds are following Jesus everywhere. These verses read, “And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.”
As more healings occurred, and more exorcisms of demons happened, Jesus’ popularity increased. People clamored to be near him, believing that if they even touched him, they’d be well.
I’m struck in these verses with this phrase: “And he instructed his disciples to have a boat ready for him.” He did this for two reasons, I think. First, his primary goal was not to heal people or exorcise demons. His primary purpose was preaching about the kingdom of God. The healings and exorcisms merely gave evidence that his kingdom teachings were true. Therefore, the Lord of the universe knew that he could teach to many better from a boat, using water from which sound would better amplify to his listeners.
Second, I think, Jesus simply wanted the boat to be available to be able to push out into water so the throngs wouldn’t crush him. He was planning ahead for personal safety!
With both reasons, it’s obvious Jesus planned ahead. He knew the crowds were coming. He knew the need to teach. He knew the danger of the masses. So he planned with his disciples to have a boat ready.
Sometimes we are so spiritually minded we’re no earthly good. Sometimes we think that if we just pray God will take care of the rest. But here we see Jesus planning ahead. He is teaching us that both prayer and planning are important in life and ministry. In the words of that old Revolutionary War slogan, “Trust God but keep the gun powder dry.” Someone else once said, “I work like it all depends on me and I pray like it all depends on God.” Or: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
My favorite phrase is, “I do my best and give God the rest.”
As you approach your day, pray for God’s guidance. Trust in his goodness and care. Believe in his perfect plan for your life. Ask him to lead you to someone or somewhere you can ably serve him. But do all this while also planning your day, making sure it’s organized, looking ahead as best you can so that you won’t be surprised when challenges arise. Challenges will most certainly arise. Therefore, plan as best as possible to be ready for them.
God gave us a brain. While we pray and trust, use it too…for God’s glory!
Today we look at Mark 3:6. After Jesus restored the man’s withered hand on the Sabbath, we read these words: “The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.”
The Herodians were King Herod’s soldiers. They were much like today’s local police force. You would want them on your side if you wanted power.
Ironically, the Pharisees and Herodians had little to nothing in common. It would be safe to say that neither much liked each other. But nothing unites like a common enemy. Both saw Jesus as a threat to their own power. If the people began to follow Jesus too closely, that meant their own power and influence could be lessened.
If you don’t like the message, kill the messenger. So the Herodians and Pharisees plotted together to kill Jesus.
Which begs this question: who killed Jesus? Was it the Pharisees? The Herodians? Judas and his betrayal? The Romans? More particularly, Pontius Pilate?
Actually, all these were bit players in the play God wrote. The real answer is you and I killed Jesus. But even more specifically, the Father in heaven killed Jesus, for he died according to God’s perfect, almighty plan for the salvation of the world.
Romans 8:28 says that God causes ALL things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. He was using the Pharisees’ and Herodians’ plans according to his plan. The Cross was the necessary work of God because of our sin. The Cross was in the heart of the Father from the beginning of time.
In a real way, we nailed Jesus to the Cross. Yet it was a part of the Father’s perfect plan.
Look at the Cross and be amazed at the love of God. He died so our sins could be forgiven. Look at the Cross and be amazed at the plan of God. Nothing, not one thing, is outside his control and perfect, sovereign plan.
Who killed Jesus? It could be argued the Father asked his Son to die for us on the Cross so we could be restored and redeemed.
It could be argued the Father in heaven killed Jesus, for our sake, and for his glory!
Jesus promised his sheep would be able to hear and discern his voice (John 10:27). For Jesus’ faithful followers, it’s a grand promise. It’s something we all desire.
Therefore, when we hear that persistent prompting within, are there some guidelines to help us determine if it’s truly the Lord’s voice? I think so. Here are four that have helped me through the years:
1. Is the inward voice consistent with the character of Christ? Is the voice I’m hearing helping to conform me to his image, God’s ultimate goal for my life (Romans 8:29)? Is it making me think like and act like him? If it’s Jesus’ inward voice, it will always be consistent with who he is and how he lives.
2. Is the inward voice consistent with God’s Word? Is it forbidding me to do something God expressly requires or requiring me to do something God expressly forbids? Jesus’ inward voice will always be in perfect alignment with his Word.
3. What do other Godly people think when I tell them what I think I’ve heard? Will they concur? Will they agree with me that this is truly the voice of the Lord? There is great wisdom in a multitude of counselors. Others who regularly hear Jesus’ voice will know if what I’m hearing is indeed from Jesus.
4. Over time, does this relentless inward voice give me peace? Even though I may have to face obstacles in obeying the voice, does it eventually bring me his peace that passes all understanding? Jesus said that he brings peace to his followers. It’s not as the world gives. The world thinks that peace is the absence of conflict. Jesus gives peace amidst the conflict. His peaceful presence is what allows us to make i through the conflict.
When these four guidelines are aligned with my inner promptings, I feel certain the voice within is the voice of Jesus. I’m confident to listen to it and obey.
And know it’s not mere indigestion.
If you like to read the insights from the daily Bible reading in Mark, please click here.
One of the most remarkable verses in the Bible is John 10:27. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Clearly Jesus says that those who belong to him, who believe in him, are his sheep and hear his voice.
What a promise! Jesus wants to speak regularly to his followers! It’s an extremely encouraging statement for those who us who really want to hear and obey the one we call Lord and Savior. We are thankful for his inner testimony. We desire his incessant inward promptings.
Sometimes he speaks with a loud voice. It’s an alarm bell that warns us to avoid something, or immediately calls us to do something. Sometimes it’s more like an inward whisper. In my life, I’ve heard many more inward whispers than loud voices.
But how do we know if what we feel, sense and hear within is the Lord’s voice or mere indigestion? Here are some thoughts that have helped me discern the difference through the years:
1. You need to get alone and be silent. You need to be calm and quiet. When we are still, we know it’s the voice of the Lord (Psalm 46:10). If you’re incessantly busy and in a hurry, it’s very difficult to discern the Lord’s voice from the cacophony of noise that surrounds us. When we’re quiet, Jesus speaks the clearest and loudest!
2. Is the voice gnawing your insides? Is it persistently warning you not to do something? Is it continuing to prompt you to do something? If so, that’s often the Lord’s voice. When he yearns for your obedience, he is relentless. Incessantly, he pounds your heart.
Then, if the voice is clear and relentless, do whatever it tells you to do. Most often, for me, it’s been a simple, clear command to obey. It’s something like, “David, pray for ___________.” Or, “Go to _______________ and tell him/her that I’ve burdened your heart for them. Ask what they may need of you.”
In obedience, I go to the person. I say something like, “Please don’t think me crazy, but I sensed the Lord wanted me to come to you and see if there’s anything I can do for you.” Most often, I see the person wide-eyed and amazed. Then he/she shares with me an area of need where I can at least pray for him/er. Often, there is something specific I can do to help him/her.
Learning to hear God’s voice is a daily, spiritual discipline. When understood, it opens new vistas of faith and practice!
And you learn it’s far more than indigestion.
Mark 3:3,4 today. Jesus is in the synagogue. There’s a man with a withered hand present. The religious leaders are watching closely to see if Jesus would heal him. It was the Sabbath and their interpretation of God’s law meant no healing on the Sabbath. That would be categorized as work according to their tradition. Therefore, no one is allow to break God’s law.
Jesus turns to the man and says, “Come here.” That’s our first stop for inward contemplation today. To all who have withered hands…and hearts…and souls…and minds, for all who are weary and need rest, for all who feel desperate and need God’s help, hear the first words Jesus will say to all of us, “Come here” (see also Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus wants us to come to him and let him carry our life’s loads. On all days of the week, especially the Sabbath, the day of worship, he wants us to come to him and receive rest for our weary hearts, souls and minds. He wants to carry them. When we let him, our burdens become easier and lighter.
Then Jesus says to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.
They had to be silent. They had no answer. Jesus was reducing God’s law to its bottom line: to love God and your neighbor as yourself is the essence of all the law (Leviticus 19:18). The Pharisees had added extrabiblical commandments to God’s law that had become burdens to bear, not love to share! Their traditions miss the point of God’s law. It was intended to be a good law, to help people love God and one another to the full.
For Jesus to heal on the Sabbath expresses the heart of God for the Sabbath. It was made for us, not God. It’s a day where God’s ultimate love should be expressed. That’s what Jesus was claiming with the man with the withered hand.
Today, whether it’s the Sabbath or not (for all days are days God uses), come to Jesus. Let him touch whatever is withered in your life. Let him heal your every hurt with is love. Please know that is why Jesus came: so all could know the true love of the Father.
Moreover, as you give this love away to your your neighbor, those around you who have withered lives, you are fulfilling the bottom line of God’s law for you and your life.
And you’re never more like Jesus when you love God and your neighbor.
Today’s reading is Mark 2:23-28. Jesus is debating with the Pharisees about the purpose of the Sabbath.
On this Sabbath, Jesus’ disciples pluck some heads of grain on the Sabbath and the Pharisees say this is unlawful to do. They claimed Exodus 34:21 doesn’t allow any work on the Sabbath, even prohibiting someone satisfying their hunger. Yet Deuteronomy 23:25 implies that, in the case of hunger, a traveler may pass by a field and take heads of grain to satisfy hunger. The point of contention is that the Pharisees didn’t think it lawful on the Sabbath to pluck heads of grain and eat them, as Jesus’ disciples were doing.
Jesus took the Pharisees back to the time of David. In a time of need, David’s “disciples,” his soldiers, went into the tabernacle on the Sabbath and took the bread on the altar and ate it. In their time of dire need, their hunger had to be satisfied. Jesus concludes that in these times of human need, God would approve of people doing what’s necessary simply to live.
Then comes verse 27: “And he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.l” What was he teaching? In Creation, when God created all, the 7th day was set aside as a special day of rest. But it was not created for God’s purposes. It was created for us! God doesn’t need the rest and refreshment after six days of work. God never slumbers or sleeps. We are the ones who need this Sabbath day of rest.
But we do! We were never created to be continual work machines. We all have limits. One day a week we should take off to rest, renew and worship. For me and Marilynn, it’s always Friday (since I have to work on the week-ends). It’s our special day to relax, renew and refresh. It’s one of the keys to our longevity in life, marriage and ministry.
This teaching is not to be taken frivolously. In verse 28, Jesus concludes, “So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” The Sabbath was an honored day. Here Jesus says: 1) “I am the Son of Man”, an exclusive claim and 2) I am Lord over the Sabbath, a claim to deity, since God himself is the One who created the Sabbath. Jesus, as God in human flesh, the Creator of the universe, is the One who created the Sabbath! We are to use it as HE intended!
Therefore, make sure you weekly take your Sabbath day of rest, worship and refreshment. It’s not an option. Jesus himself, the Lord of the Sabbath, commanded it.
As someone said, “If you don’t come apart, you’ll come apart.”
The Sabbath was made for us!
Someone once said, “All marriages are happy. It’s the living together afterward that causes all the problems.”
If that’s your problem, living together happily, here are some tips that may help your marriage grow so you can indeed live happily ever after.
Lock the door from the outside. Repeat your vows together regularly. State firmly to one another and your kids: “Divorce isn’t an option.”
Speak words of life and affection toward one another every single day. Look for ways to affirm your spouse verbally, especially in front of the kids.
Go have some fun together. Find one thing you really do enjoy doing together. Maybe it’s a movie, or a meal out, or a walk in the park—whatever! Find it and go do it!
Pile these three things on top of one another for a one month time period and see if your “living together” and enjoyment in marriage start to come together.
Get married happily. Stay married happily. It’s a worthy goal.
If you like to read the insights from the daily Bible reading in Mark, please click here.
Today we are focusing on Mark 2:18. In this verse, John the Baptist’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting but Jesus’ disciples were not fasting. They asked Jesus why his disciples were not fasting.
The Pharisees regularly fasted two days a week, on Mondays and Thursdays (see Luke 18:12). The Jews often fasted when mourning or specifically seeking the Lord for some purpose or need. Why Jesus’ disciples were not fasting is a matter of conjecture. I’d guess Jesus didn’t want this spiritual discipline to become rote and mere legalism like it had become for he Pharisees. He later says there will be a time for fasting, after he is gone. But for now he wanted them to enjoy the relationship they had with him and then learn the needed disciplines.
The same is true for us today. God never wants the Christian faith to be reduced to mere formalisms and rituals. They have their place. But God desires the heart first to be in an intimate, loving relationship with him. Then we learn and practice the spiritual disciplines.
One of these disciplines is fasting. It has a purpose for someone in relationship with God. It is the denial of something we enjoy on this side of eternity so we can fully focus on God for a period of time. It can be food, or sports, or television…anything upon which we really enjoy, perhaps enjoy more than God himself! If it’s food, every growl of the stomach reminds us that God is the only one who can give us true spiritual food that satisfies forever. If it’s sports, it reminds us that God alone is worthy of praise.
People often fast for a great need in their lives. Sometimes a problem is so great that it needs focused times of prayer and fasting for our breakthrough to come.
How often should we fast? There should be no rule. It is birthed from a heart of love toward God. The fasting is to draw us closer into intimacy with our great God. It is a means to an end, not the end itself. Fasting should be a part of the follower of Jesus’ life. Have you ever done it? It will draw you closer to Jesus.
The Pharisees especially had made it into an end, to prove their proper spirituality. Jesus calls them on it in this verse and the ones to come.
Love God first with all your heart. Then everything in life flows from this, including fasting!