18
Apr
14

Journey Through Mark – 16

We come to the last leg of our journey.  When we ended our last walk together, we left Jesus in the grave. Let us join the events as they unfold in Mark 16:

  • Mark 16:1-8 – Up from the Grave He Arose.ipad 094
  • Mark 16:9-11 – Jesus Appears to Mary.
  • Mark 16:12-13 – Jesus Walks with Two Disciples.
  • Mark 16:14-18 – The Mission of Jesus’ Followers.
  • Mark 16:19-20 – Jesus Ascends to Heaven.

John will tell us, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1Jo 1:7; emph – BSMc).

The Old Covenant prophet, Micah records, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic 6:8; emph – BSMc).

Our journey through Mark is about walking with Jesus. My prayer is that through our journey you grew in your understanding of who Jesus is and what He did for you.  I pray that you believe that He is the Christ. This is why Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John recorded the events of Jesus life. That is why I started this journey with you.

And as this trek ends, my prayer is that this is just the beginning of a regular regimen of walking with Jesus. Please, please, please, keep walking with Jesus.

If you are not a child of God, yet you now understand who Jesus is, will you obey the gospel, that good news of salvation offered through Jesus? Consider the description of this saving gospel according to the Apostle Paul, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” (1Co 15:1-4).

Notice that in Romans the same Paul says the gospel is God’s power to save all mankind (cf. Rom 1:16).

Jesus says in the final chapter of our journey, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mar 16:16).

Ananias would ask Saul of Tarsus and I ask you the same question, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name?” (Act 22:16).

If you are willing to die to self, be buried with Jesus in immersion, and rise as His child to a new life, please find someone who will baptize you for the remission of your sins in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then as God’s child He adds you to His family (cf. Act 2:47). Find a congregation of others who have similarly obeyed the gospel and fellowship and worship with them.

-Scott

P.S. If you need assistance finding someone to immerse you or a congregation of God’s people to associate with, leave a comment stating your desires and I will do my best to assist you.

 

17
Apr
14

Journey Through Mark – 15

Before we journey into Mark’s account of the life of Jesus today. Before we take our walk, I must warn you. The events we are about to encounter are painful.  They are painful to Jesus in so many ways. They are painful to his disciples and apostles. These events may even cause you pain.  Today we see Jesus turned over to the Roman authorities.  Today Jesus faces death.

  • Mark 15:1-15 – Jesus stands before Pilate.
  • Mark 15:16-20 – Soldiers beat and mock Jesus.
  • Mark 15:21-32 – Jesus is on the cross.
  • Mark 15:33-41 – Jesus dies.
  • Mark 15:42-47 – Joseph of Arimathea buries Jesus.

Thinking these words brings tears to my eyes.  Why?  Why did Jesus have to suffer?  Why did the Jewish religious leaders turn Him over to Rome to face crucifixion? Why could Pilate not grow a backbone and refuse? Why? Why? Why?

When I realize the answer, I do not like what I learn. Jesus had to die.  He had to die because of me!

  1. Sin separates us from God.
  2. All people sin, there is no one righteous on their own.
  3. When we sin, we are guilty and worthy of punishment.
  4. The punishment for sin is death.
  5. But God loves His creation and does not wish for our death and eternal separation from Him.
  6. He provides a scapegoat, a sacrificial lamb to take our sin and guilt away.
  7. That lamb without blemish (sin) was God in the flesh dwelling with us (Immanuel – Jesus).
  8. God anointed His Son, Jesus, as the King of kings, the Messiah, the Christ, Son of God Most High and made Him as Messiah suffer and die on a cross to bring about salvation for sinners (me).
  9. Jesus had to die because of you and me!

Consider these lyrics by Stuart Townsend. Every time we sing them in worship, I cry a prayer to God.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Do not let Jesus’ death be pointless.

-Scott

The Lancasters performing How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.

15
Apr
14

Journey Through Mark – 14

We are quickly coming to a turning point in our journey. The events that unfold before us today turned people away from walking with Jesus and eventually brought many others to follow, but then only after some tragic events. Today Jesus’ opposition begins to get the upper hand, and we will be there to witness it.

  • Mark 14:1-2 – The Religious Leaders Plot to Kill Jesus.DANGER!
  • Mark 14:3-9 – Jesus’ Anointing at Simon, the Former Leper’s, House.
  • Mark 14:10-11 – Judas Plots to Betray Jesus.
  • Mark 14:12-21 – The Passover with Jesus’ Apostles.
  • Mark 14:22-25 – Jesus Initiates a New Memorial.
  • Mark 14:26-31 – Peter told he will Deny Jesus.
  • Mark 14:32-42 – Jesus Prays in Gethsemane.
  • Mark 14:43-52 – The Mob Arrests Jesus.
  • Mark 14:53-65 – Jesus Stands Trial Before the Sanhedrin.
  • Mark 14:66-72 – Peter Denies Jesus Three Times.

Let’s stop Peter and talk with him about Jesus. As we talk we ask, “Peter, what made you answer Jesus’ question about who He is?  Why did you say He was the Christ?”

Peter answers, “Where have you been?  Haven’t you seen all that He does? Haven’t you seen how the people come to Him? Have you listened to what He teaches? After all, the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the poor people have the good news about the Kingdom declared to them.  He HAS TO BE the Messiah, the Deliverer our people have waited millennia for.”

Soon we are nearby as a supper is taking place. Jesus takes the twelve with him to a special room to celebrate the Passover with the ones He calls His family. We hear general talking, some commotion as Jesus does something unexpected (cf. John 13:1ff) and we hear Peter speak up again, “Even though they all fall away, I will not!” Peter means it. He knows himself and his own resolve. We hear Jesus’ reply, ” . . . this very night . . . you will deny Me three times.”

Peter remains adamant, “If I must die with You, I will not deny You.” Peter means it, the others speak in agreement. Jesus is the Messiah and they will die for Him and with Him. Peter will prove His resolve in the garden when He draws a sword to defend Jesus (Mark 14:47; John 18:10).

Later though, Peter will face his weakness. He will deny even knowing Jesus and will swear to ignorance of who Jesus is (Mark 14:66-72).  Three things are complicit in Peter’s denial of Jesus; three things we need to be aware of in our own journey; three things that can lead us to deny Jesus, or at least act ashamed of Him.

  1. Pride: Peter thought he had arrived. He thought he was invincible. He thought he knew what he was talking about and what he was doing. But he was self-reliant. He looked to his own inner strength and not the strength that faith in God provides.
  2. Fear: Peter was afraid. He was afraid that he might be next. He followed Jesus and the mob to the courtyard, but he followed at a distance. He was afraid to go all the way in and he stopped in the courtyard. He was afraid he had put his faith in the wrong person. If Jesus could be arrested and put to death, could He really be the Messiah? Fear destroyed Peter’s hope.
  3. Association: (Mark 14:69). While in the courtyard, Peter warmed himself at the fire of the enemy. He put himself into a compromising situation. When the accusations began to fly, Peter had no back-up, he was alone in the enemy’s camp, unprepared to fight. They were too many and too much for Peter so he failed.

As we continue our journey keep a check on yourself.  Watch out for pride. Do not begin to think too highly of yourself and your own abilities and strength. Do not let fear paralyze you. Fight fear with Faith in God, while Examining yourself and your actions. Accept your role as a servant of God and all that that entails. And when you find yourself fearful, Repent of your inaction and weakness. Be careful of your associations remembering that bad company can corrupt you (1 Corinthians 15:33).

-Scott

14
Apr
14

Journey Through Mark – 13

Today as we catch up with Jesus and the apostles our journey takes a tour of the temple. As we look around at the architecture, the vastness of the temple complex, and its overall beauty, we must not forget the meaning the temple had to Judah. The temple was their meeting place. It was where they offered sacrifices to God. It was where God met with their High Priest. It was a monumental representation of God’s presence in their city. In many ways the temple was the pride and joy of God’s people. As we are touring the temple, Jesus revels some literally earth shattering news.

  • Mark 13:1-2 – The temple will be destroyed.

    One of 17 who obeyed the Gospel

    One of 17 who obeyed the Gospel in Ecuador (Summer 2013).

  • Mark 13:3-23 – When will this happen?
  • Mark 13:24-27 – This temple destruction is God’s coming judgment.
  • Mark 13:28-31 – These events are immediate.
  • Mark 13:32-37 – The disciples are to stay alert.

Jesus tells his apostles that the pride and joy of God’s people will again face destruction. This destruction would come while their generation still lived (Mark 13:30). Many today equate the events of Mark 13 to the Christ’s 2nd Coming and the events of the end of time.  But look closer.  This prophecy from Jesus is about the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. Historically, those events took place in A.D. 70 during the time the generation Jesus spoke to, still lived.  This is not God’s judgment on the evil of the world, but His judgment on Judah for rejecting His will and His Messiah (Christ). It would signal the ultimate dismantling of the Covenant He had with Israel through the Law of Moses and signify the ratification of a New Covenant of Love, signed by the blood of the Christ – Jesus.

As I reflect on the events Jesus speaks of; and as I look for lessons for my life; I see the following observations:

  1. We live in the Kingdom of Christ now. There is no waiting for a rapture for us to be translated into His Kingdom.  Paul says, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,” (Col 1:13).
  2. We are reigning with Christ now. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1Pe 2:9, cf.Rev 1:6; 5:10).
  3. When Christ returns again, it will be the FINAL judgment for all mankind, both good and evil. “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (Joh 5:28-29).
  4. We must live for Christ and God now. Follow the King of kings now, while we have time, ” . . . when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed” (2Th 1:7-10).

-Scott

10
Apr
14

Journey Through Mark – 12

What a great journey we are on together. I am looking forward to each time we walk with Jesus. Today’s trek opens our eyes to more of the opposition Jesus faces and we see His ability to answer with loving truth. We also see more about the importance of our heart. As we journey in Mark 12, we witness the following events:

  • Mark 12:1-12 – The Parable of the Tenant Farmerslove
  • Mark 12:13-17 – Paying Taxes to Rome
  • Mark 12:18-27 – The Resurrection of the Dead
  • Mark 12:28-34 – The Greatest of Commands
  • Mark 12:35-37 – The Son of David
  • Mark 12:38-40 – The Danger of Showy Religion
  • Mark 12:41-44 – Two Coins in the Coffer

Let’s stop and listen again to Jesus answer the question about the Most Important Commandment. Jesus’ answer is that there are two important commandments of which there are no other that are greater than these two: 1) “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:29-30). 2) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:31).

  1. Love God with ALL Your Heart. The heart is in their understanding, the part of you that feels. It is your emotional seat. You are to love God like you love your spouse, children, parents, and grandchildren.
  2. Love God with ALL Your Soul. Soul is from the Greek word “psyche.” This word describes the whole of Human essence – our breath or life. The soul is everything that we are.
  3. Love God with ALL Your Mind. This is the seat of intellect. Loving God is more than a feeling it is a thinking and rational adventure.
  4. Love God with ALL Your Strength. This is what you can do. Love God with your abilities and energies. Love Him until you have nothing else to love Him with and then love Him more.

This thought crosses my mind: If Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is the Greatest Command; then “What is the greatest sin?” Would it be failing to love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength?

The Second Command is to love your neighbor as yourself. There are two keys to following God: Loving God completely and loving mankind earnestly. (cf. 1 John 4:19-21).

If loving God is the most important command, how do I love God? John says to “Walk in His commandments” (2 John 6). That is we are to do His will. Which would include obeying Him according to His terms (cf. Mark 16:15-16), worshiping Him according to His authority (John 4:24), and living for Him daily (1 John 1:7 – walk daily in the light; 1 John 2:15-17 – love God and not the world)

If the second command is to love my neighbor, how do I love my neighbor? The obvious answer is: as I love myself. It means putting the interest of others before my own. Is not that the example Jesus gave in life and in death?

-Scott

08
Apr
14

The American Teenager and Sexuality.

Me with Andrew 16 years ago!

Me with Andrew 16 years ago!

When Junior was in kindergarten he had his first girlfriend. His parents thought it was so cute.

When Junior was in 6th grade he went to his first school dance with a girl. Mom and Dad were giddy. They spent too much money on a new suit (rented tux), took too many pictures, and proudly posted them on social media.

When Junior was in 7th grade he nervously kissed his first girl at a football game. Dad thought, “that’s my boy!”

When Junior was in 8th grade he kissed a second and third girl. His heart was broken for the first time. Mom assured him that there would be a lot of girls he would like, but one day he would find the perfect girl he dreamed of.

When Junior was in the 9th grade he started making out with girlfriend #5. One night when they were watching a movie in his basement he thought, this is the perfect girl and they went too far. They had sex. They did not tell.

I read a bog this morning with this story, but Junior was Katie and she had boyfriends. With all respect and gratitude to the original story and blog, I thought I needed to talk to the guys. I am qualified to speak, here are my credentials:  I am one, I have two brothers, and I have a teenage son. I have a good understanding of the guys and what they think and desire.

The reason teens are sexually active a younger ages is not simply the fault of media (TV, music, print, and media). It is our fault — yes, our fault as parents.  We set them up for failure when we put them into situations they are not emotionally and spiritually ready for in their stage of development. What can we do?

1. STOP! Stop encouraging them to have girlfriends because it is cute. If they are too young to drive they cannot “Go out” with someone.  Parents, please, please, please use common sense here. I have been at movies where a mom or dad will drop off a junior high couple or will go into the theater with them and sit away from them. Let them have friends of the opposite gender, but let those friendships be at school, church, camp, etc.  Do not encourage them to date when they are too young to handle the emotions and temptations that come.

2. PROTECT their eyes, heart, and mind.  My wife and I were talking about this at breakfast a couple of days ago. We were discussing the upcoming “prom” season. Our son is not going.  Not simply because of our concerns about certain styles of dancing, but also because of the lack of propriety in the clothing the girls will wear. There is not much left to the imagination. I know the mind of guys well enough that they do not need encouragement.  We have offered to provide an alternative if he wants to dress up and promenade about town with friends and their female friends – he is 16.  We also try to be very selective in the movies and television we watch.

3. Be a PARENT. Our roles as Mom and Dad are to train (discipline), education, and grow our children into responsible adults. We are NOT their best friend. I remember not liking my parents at times. And I am sure our son does not always like me.

4. As parents, set GUIDELINES and ENFORCE them.  Rules are good. They can keep us from harm.  Talk about your expectations.  Provide guidelines that are consistent with God’s desire for His creation. Live within God’s guidelines and model that life for your children.

5. Keep HIM for his future wife.  Sexual activity is for the marriage relationship. The writer of Hebrews says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” Heb 13:4. Since our son entered our life, our prayer has been for his purity, his future, and his future wife.

Your turn.

Scott

photo credit: The Rocketeer via photopin cc

photo credit: The Rocketeer via photopin cc

 

 

08
Apr
14

Journey Through Mark – 11

Our journey today in the eleventh chapter of Mark brings us to the point where the tension between Jesus and the religious authorities of His day reach a boiling point. Already, the Chief Priests feel they have to stop this Jesus. They fear His influence on people. They fear this could result in a loss of revenue for them. Politically, they begin to fear for their already precarious position with Rome. And greater still, as leaders of Judaism, they had fears that this Jesus was misleading people away from the coming Messiah.

  • Mark 11:1-10 – Jesus enters Jerusalem with Triumphal FanfareWeekend Reading
  • Mark 11:11-14, 20-26 – Jesus and a misleading Fig Tree
  • Mark 11:15-19 – Jesus clears the Temple of Avarice
  • Mark 11:27-33 – Jesus’ Authority, where does it come from?

For our walk today we focus on Jesus and the events at the Temple, “And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.” Mark 11:15-19

We walk into the temple area known as the Court of Gentiles this is the open courtyard of the Temple. It is here that all people of all backgrounds and ethnicities can gather. Only Jews can proceed deeper into the temple, only priests can enter the Holy Place, and the High Priest alone can enter the Most Holy Place. The courtyard comprises the greater part of the approximately thirty acres of the Temple area.

By the time Jesus is ministering and proclaiming the coming Kingdom, this area of the Temple had become a market place, a bazaar, a giant yard sale, and stockyard. Here we come to be in the Temple, the place where God met with His people, where His people came to be nearer to Him. Here we are to worship and here we find, not God, but a market place – not a Publix or a Winn Dixie, but a market place like you would find in third world countries in our current world. Vendors are yelling from their tents and cubicles selling their wares. Pigeons are . . . doing what pigeons do. Animals are grunting, mooing, bleating, eating, and eliminating waste. We come to meet God and we meet the smells of dirty dusty animals and people. The atmosphere was less than conducive to worship.

Along with the disciples, we are trying to take all of this in, when we see Jesus. He seems to be too quiet and we can tell He is in deep thought. All of the sudden, Jesus cannot take it anymore! He seizes the moment. He overturns the tables of money changers and merchants. Coins roll across the courtyard, animals flee for safety, pigeons fly to the top of the walls, feathers flying as they escape. Jesus turns around those who using the Temple area as a short-cut to the other side of Jerusalem.

Jesus reminds them of the messages of the prophets:
“ . . . will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” Isaiah 56:7.
“Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD” Jeremiah 7:11.

What can we learn from these events?

We begin understanding that the Church (gathered Christians) is the Temple today. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” Ephesians 2:19-22. The Church is:

  • A Group Religion
  • For salvation of the lost
  • For Spiritual Worship in His Name
  • Not a set of religious programs
  • Not a society or country club
  • Not business

But we also notice that each individual Christian is a Temple of God in his/her own right. “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body”1 Corinthians 6:18-20.

  • Do not sell yourself to sin.
  • Do not see yourself to the world.
  • Do not sell out to materialism.
  • Keep focused on God (cf. Rom 12:1-2)

- Scott




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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, used by permission, all rights reserved.

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