Thursday 19 October, 2017

Mark 3:13-19

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside. He called for certain people to come to him, and they came. 14 He appointed 12 of them so that they would be with him. He would also send them out to preach. 15 And he gave them authority to drive out demons. 16 So Jesus appointed the 12 disciples. Simon was one of them. Jesus gave him the name Peter. 17 There were James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. Jesus gave them the name Boanerges. Boanerges means Sons of Thunder. 18 There were also Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, and James, son of Alphaeus. And there were Thaddaeus and Simon the Zealot. 19 Judas Iscariot was one of them too. He was the one who was later going to hand Jesus over to his enemies.

This passage records the appointing of the twelve apostles. The context for the passage is Jesus’s increasing ministry workload. His response to this was to delegate spiritual authority to share the load.

What an exciting prospect to be given supernatural power and authority to share the Gospel, however for me after reading this passage I was struck by one simple truth. God’s preferred method of service is for people to work in teams.  For His people not to work as individuals in isolation but to work together as a community.  We always perform better when we collaborate, we learn more, we pray more effectively and can endure more hardship when we work together.

We are made to be a part of a community and we represent God best when we work together as a community.

Lord, I ask today that you would increase our love of working with others, give us an increasing amount of grace and compassion to work more effectively as a team in the ministries you have given to us.

Amen.

Written by David Newton


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Wednesday 18 October, 2017

Mark 3:7-12

7 Jesus went off to the Sea of Galilee with his disciples. A large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 People heard about all that Jesus was doing. And many came to him. They came from Judea, Jerusalem and Idumea. They came from the lands east of the Jordan River. And they came from the area around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd, Jesus told his disciples to get a small boat ready for him. This would keep the people from crowding him. 10 Jesus had healed many people. So those who were sick were pushing forward to touch him. 11 When people controlled by evil spirits saw him, they fell down in front of him. The spirits shouted, “You are the Son of God!” 12 But Jesus ordered them not to tell people about him.

“Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.”  [Mark 3:11-12]

Jesus will not have the truth of who He is declared by impure spirits. Why not? They’re telling people the truth – Jesus is the Son of God! I think it’s due to the fact that, if these impure sources become perceived to be authorities for the truth, they could really go to town on deceiving people.

Truth must come from truthful lips. Truth must come from lives lived in pursuit of finding and living the truth. Jesus wouldn’t have deceptive and destructive spirits speaking for him, and it’s a call to us – to both be wary in who we listen to for truth and to be called to account for our own lives as sources for truth.

I need to look at the lives of those who are telling me about truth – are their lives pursuing “purity” or “impurity.” Impure spirits would, I am sure, create impure and sickly lives. But further, I need to heed the subtext in this moment – Jesus is looking for people who will declare who He is from lives that reflect who He is. Does my life reflect the truth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Lord, I continue to ask you to help me live a life that reflects the truth of who you are, so that my words and actions align! Amen

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh


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Tuesday 17 October, 2017

Mark 3:1-6

3 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue. A man with a weak and twisted hand was there. 2 Some Pharisees were trying to find fault with Jesus. They watched him closely. They wanted to see if he would heal the man on the Sabbath day. 3 Jesus spoke to the man with the weak and twisted hand. “Stand up in front of everyone,” he said. 4 Then Jesus asked them, “What does the Law say we should do on the Sabbath day? Should we do good? Or should we do evil? Should we save life? Or should we kill?” But no one answered. 5 Jesus looked around at them in anger. He was very upset because their hearts were stubborn. Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand had become as good as new. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to make plans with the Herodians. They wanted to kill Jesus.

Jesus is continuing to change the mindset/worldview those following him – in this case the Pharisees & those in the Synagogue – ones who knew the scriptures, ones who were supposed to know God. Jesus is re-framing their understanding of the Sabbath and God. The questions Jesus asks only have one answer – answers that the Pharisees knew to be right but have become so restricted & rigid in keeping rules and trying to be right, they couldn’t bring themselves to respond .. sadly, they miss the heart of God, miss the humanity of helping another in need.

The challenge afresh to me is am I still open to Jesus showing me where my thinking, understanding or life has become narrow or restricted in the ‘way’ my faith is lived? Do I miss the heart of God for others because of my need to be right, am I really following Jesus in the way He would have me go?

Lord I want to keep my heart soft to your ways and your heart and not restricted to legalism. Help me not miss ways in which I can help others into your presence, healing and rest.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

2 replies
  1. Andrew says:

    Suzie
    Spot on. Have I “learned so much” that I can now narrow Jesus to a restricted view that ignores His heart.
    I hope not.
    Lord Jesus help me to be soft hearted.

    Reply

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Monday 16 October, 2017

Mark 2:23-28

23 One Sabbath day Jesus was walking with his disciples through the grainfields. The disciples began to break off some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look! It is against the Law to do this on the Sabbath day. Why are your disciples doing it?” 25 He answered, “Haven’t you ever read about what David did? He and his men were hungry. They needed food. 26 It was when Abiathar was high priest. David entered the house of God and ate the holy bread. Only priests were allowed to eat it. David also gave some to his men.” 27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath day was made for man. Man was not made for the Sabbath day. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.”

When I have read this passage in the past, I had pictured a group of middle aged men, wandering through the countryside on foot, whimsically pulling off a head of grain as they followed their leader wherever he may go.

But today I thought about this passage.

I asked some questions I had never asked myself before – why would they pull off heads of grain on a Sabbath? Why are they not accused of stealing? What does their action have to do with David eating the bread of the Presence in verse 26?

When I looked at all this, I realised that the answer to all these questions is because they were starving hungry! In Jewish law, people who were poor and hungry were allowed to glean from the corners of a field to ensure they didn’t starve. David’s men were forced into the situation where they had to eat the forbidden bread because they were in dire need of food.

In the gospel of Mark, it also appears that Jesus may not have even finished calling all his 12 disciples together at the time that this happened. I realised today afresh that Jesus’ followers have literally left EVERYTHING behind to follow him. Now they are dirt poor and hungry and the religious administration is criticising them!

Lord, help me be more like the disciples and truly, really, lay everything down as I follow you.

Also God, help me to be less like the religious administration of Christ’s day. Don’t let me enforce the wrong rules for people to the point where I am contrary to your heart.

Written by Ps Justin Ware 

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    Rules and legalism is such a problem for the Church in general, that is why I love your prayer Justin. Experience has lead me to believe that legalism is the result of a person not being in full relationship with the Lord. The letter kills but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6).
    Thanks Justin!

    Reply

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Sunday 15 October, 2017

Mark 2:18-22

18 John’s disciples and the Pharisees were going without eating. Some people came to Jesus. They said to him, “John’s disciples are fasting. The disciples of the Pharisees are also fasting. But your disciples are not. Why aren’t they?” 19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the groom go without eating while he is with them? They will not fast as long as he is with them. 20 But the time will come when the groom will be taken away from them. On that day they will go without eating. 21 “No one sews a patch of new cloth on old clothes. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old. That will make the tear worse. 22 No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins. Then the wine and the wineskins will both be destroyed. No, people pour new wine into new wineskins.”

Rules, rituals and regulations stand tall in the minds of faithful followers of God in this passage of scripture. This is why these Israelites are shocked that Jesus’ disciples are not ritualistically fasting. Fasting was one of the many religious regulations aimed at keeping people close to God.

But they missed something staggering. God was with them! What is the point of fasting if God himself is there to speak to you, to lead and guide you. The old way of showing faithfulness has gone, the new way has come – the new way is ‘follow me’!

Lord, the rituals and rules only serve one purpose, to guide me to you, so I can follow you. Lord, may I not follow my religion, may I follow Jesus.  May all my actions be prompted by following Jesus.

Written by Andrew Mellor


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Saturday 14 October, 2017

Mark 2:13-17

13 Once again Jesus went out beside the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd came to him. He began to teach them. 14 As he walked along he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus. Levi was sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him. Levi got up and followed him. 15 Later Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house. Many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples. They were part of the large crowd following Jesus. 16 Some teachers of the law who were Pharisees were there. They saw Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors. So they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 Jesus heard that. So he said to them, “Those who are healthy don’t need a doctor. Sick people do. I have not come to get those who think they are right with God to follow me. I have come to get sinners to follow me.”

I love how Jesus has dinner with notorious people, that He was comfortable in their presence.

It’s easy to label people, it’s harder to transform people.  To bring about transformation you have to be ‘with’ them, you have to engage with them in their world without imbibing that world.

Jesus’ answered the criticism going to the heart of the matter.  He was being obedient to be a kind of doctor. There’s no point in the doctor only keeping company with healthy people. The doctor must associate with the sick. Jesus’ whole ministry was to bring health, not just to the physically sick, but to the world as a whole. That upset a lot of people who preferred to label people as ‘outcasts’ and ignore them from then on.

How easy is it for me to be with people who don’t hold my beliefs, who don’t hold my convictions and yet truly love them!  I hear Jesus calling me to engage, to love, to ‘incarnate’ Him among those I have the privilege to do life with in Jesus’ Name.

Father, help me never to judge those who are different from me based on their beliefs or any other thing!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta


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Friday 13 October, 2017

Mark 2:1-12

2 A few days later, Jesus entered Capernaum again. The people heard that he had come home. 2 So many people gathered that there was no room left. There was not even room outside the door. And Jesus preached the word to them. 3 Four of those who came were carrying a man who could not walk. 4 But they could not get him close to Jesus because of the crowd. So they made a hole by digging through the roof above Jesus. Then they lowered the man through it on a mat. 5 Jesus saw their faith. So he said to the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Some teachers of the law were sitting there. They were thinking, 7 “Why is this fellow talking like that? He’s saying a very evil thing! Only God can forgive sins!” 8 Right away Jesus knew what they were thinking. So he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Is it easier to say to this man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’? Or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So Jesus spoke to the man who could not walk. 11 “I tell you,” he said, “get up. Take your mat and go home.” 12 The man got up and took his mat. Then he walked away while everyone watched. All the people were amazed. They praised God and said, “We have never seen anything like this!”

There are times in our lives when we are one of two things, either the friend who brings another friend to Jesus, or the one who is on the bed before Jesus. So when the time comes am I ready to step up and hold up someone in my life to Jesus, when they are flat out and have neither the strength or faith for themselves?

It is no coincidence that God places us in community where we can love and support one another. This man’s friends could not be sure what Jesus would do, they just knew they had to get him to Jesus no matter what it took. How far would I go for the sake of bringing someone else to experience the presence of God? Likewise we all have times in our lives when we are the one down and out, needing someone else to do the hard yards and have the faith for us. This man received forgiveness and healing because of what his friends did and the faith they had. We cannot know what impact our actions will have on the life of another, we just need to get someone into the presence of God and let Him do the rest.
Father God, help me to have compassion and your heart towards those around me. Help me to have the courage to bring others to you no matter what the cost. Help me to love and support those that need your strength. Add my faith Father to others so that we might see lives transformed. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen

Written by Christine Knight


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Thursday 12 October, 2017

Mark 1:40-45

40 A man who had a skin disease came to Jesus. On his knees he begged Jesus. He said, “If you are willing to make me ‘clean,’ you can do it.” 41 Jesus became angry. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing to do it,” Jesus said. “Be ‘clean’!” 42 Right away the disease left the man, and he was “clean.” 43 Jesus sent him away at once. He gave the man a strong warning. 44 “Don’t tell this to anyone,” he said. “Go and show yourself to the priest. Offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded. It will be a witness to the priest and the people that you are ‘clean.’ ” 45 But the man went out and started talking right away. He spread the news to everyone. So Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. He stayed outside in lonely places. But people still came to him from everywhere.

The leprous man came to Jesus begging for healing. The picture Mark paints is one of desperation.

At the same time this was an audacious request. Jews believed that only God could heal leprosy (see 2 Kings 5:1-14), so this request reflected the man’s understanding that Jesus had the power of God. The effect of his spreading the word of his healing was to put Jesus on a collision course with the religious leaders.

We know Jesus is more than another Elisha. He is God! This story is such an amazing revelation of the beautiful compassionate heart of God, that Jesus would reach out and touch the unclean man, when he need only have said the word and he would be healed. I wonder at the power of the healing he experienced – not just physical but psychological, touched after how long of being shunned by everyone.

Just as it was for the leprous man, Jesus’ heart is overflowing for me to be whole. The seen and unseen hurt or illness healed, life transformed.

“Jesus if you are willing, make me whole”. Transform my attitudes, my future, my guilt, my loneliness, my finances, my ill health.

Dear Jesus, I’m desperate for you. Your love overflows and cleanses me like it did for the man with leprosy. Your heart is full of compassion for me when I don’t deserve it. There aren’t enough words to thank you. Amen

Written to Claire Moore

5 replies
  1. Stephen Fell says:

    The NIV version states that Jesus was “filled with compassion”. I believe this is more try of Christ’s character, and I do not understand this version describing Jesus as becoming angry. Thoughts anyone?

  2. Zoe Stewart says:

    Some other versions say indignant. I think there is an element of anger in compassion. Anger about injustice. What was Jesus angry about? I don’t think he was angry at the man. Angry at the society who shunned the man or angry at the hypocrisy of others to not see their own unclean-ness or angry about the fact that acts of this sort of compassion will lead to the head on collision course with the religious leaders – possibly.

  3. Justin James Ware says:

    I love the thoughts here! The greek word σπλαγχνίζομαι “splagchnizomai” (What a cracker!) is what is being translated. All the Greek language tools that I can look up seem to have translated it to mean compassion. Interestingly, I am looking at the list of all the places in the new testament where this word is used and all of them are in the gospels and most of them are associated with Christ working a miracle. John doesnt use this word and Luke only uses it in his Gospel, not in Acts
    Matt 9.36 – Christ had compassion on the crowds and healed every sickness and every disease
    Matt 14:14 – When Jesus was followed into the wilderness he had compassion on them and healed the sick
    Matt 15:32: – Jesus had compassion on the people before feeding the 4000 (and after healing people)
    Matt:20:34 – Jesus had compassion on the blind before restoring sight
    Mark 1:41 – This passage
    Mark 6:34 – Feeding the 5000
    Mark 8:2 – Feeding the 4000
    Mark 9:22 – Jesus casts out the demon that can only be cast out by prayer and fasting
    Luke 7:13 – Jesus resurrects the son of the widow of Nain
    Jesus uses this word in 3 parables
    Matt 18:27 – King forgives a debt of 10 thousand talents
    Luke 10:33 – Parable of the good samaritan
    Luke 15:19 Prodigal Son

    There are a bunch of other greek words that are translated into the english word “compassion” so I wonder what this one has as a special meaning?

  4. Andrew says:

    Great elaboration of the passage Claire. And thanks Steve for asking a question that was on my lips.
    Some of this stuff is not obvious. But when we work together asking God for His true meaning from the passage and calling on our scholars in Hebrew and Greek then we get to understand so much more of gods relationship with us. Thanks guys.

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Wednesday 11 October, 2017

Mark 1:35-39

35 It was very early in the morning and still dark. Jesus got up and left the house. He went to a place where he could be alone. There he prayed. 36 Simon and his friends went to look for Jesus. 37 When they found him, they called out, “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let’s go somewhere else. I want to go to the nearby towns. I must preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled all around Galilee. He preached in their synagogues. He also drove out demons.

This is an interesting interaction between Jesus and His disciples, and I think this scenario reveals some of Jesus’ priorities in time management and people management. It sounds to me like there’s a subtle rebuke in the disciples’ remark to Jesus – “Everyone is looking for you!”. As in, “Jesus, we are annoyed with you that you have taken off to pray by yourself (and didn’t tell us what you were doing) – don’t you know people are looking for you?!”

And Jesus’ reply sounds to me something like this – “I actually don’t operate on everybody’s expectations so I’m not really bothered that everyone is looking for me. I am doing something important here – spending time alone praying.  Now then, even though people are looking for me, I’ve got something else more important to do, so let’s go and do that!”     Wow!

So what can I learn from this?

  • Jesus made a priority out of spending time alone with His father… So should I.
  • Jesus didn’t do things just because others expected Him to… Sometimes it’s OK to say ‘no’ to people’s expectations.
  • Jesus often didn’t tell His disciples all of His plans, so they just had to follow Him in faith that He knew what He was doing … I will not be able know the full details of God’s plans, but I can trust that He knows what He is doing.
  • Jesus knew what He was called to do and stayed focused on that in spite of pressure to meet other’s agendas… In the demands of life, I need to constantly re-evaluate if what I am doing is actually what I’m really meant to be doing.

So many lessons here in one short narrative…

Jesus, help me to be like You in setting and following priorities that will keep me in connection with You and Your purposes for my life.

 

Written by Shelley Witt

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Tuesday 10 October, 2017

Mark 1:29-34

29 Jesus and those with him left the synagogue. Right away they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever. They told Jesus about her right away. 31 So he went to her. He took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her. Then she began to serve them. 32 That evening after sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who were sick. They also brought all who were controlled by demons. 33 All the people in town gathered at the door. 34 Jesus healed many of them. They had all kinds of sicknesses. He also drove out many demons. But he would not let the demons speak, because they knew who he was.

Jesus’ ministry was commencing in a powerful way, through healing and deliverance of many people. News of him was spreading rapidly, so much so, that the “whole town” of Capernaum was gathered at the door. The need for physical wellness was great in those times. Society did not have the medicines, or the practitioner skills we have today. I imagine even a broken ankle would have been incredibly debilitating for life for a person.

But what I am drawn to, is that it was the people that brought to Jesus the sick and demon possessed. I admire this sense of care within the community that is demonstrated here, and reminds me also of the account of the crippled man lowered through the roof by his friends.

These abled friends and family, were showing care and love for their sick ones, and made the effort to bring them to Jesus. Remember this was not during the day, but at night after sunset.  I imagine there were many on stretches, too incapacitated to walk, and only by the love of their friends, were able to be present to experience the healing power of Jesus.

What do I take from this? The importance of strong community, one that is deeply caring and with a willingness to do the hard yards. I thank God that the community of our church is like this, and I am challenged that I need to be prepared to go the extra mile for those in other areas of my life community, such as neighbors, work etc.

Father, I thank you for the gift of community around me, and I ask that my eyes will be opened wider to see the needs around me, and that I would have true compassion to go the extra mile for others. Amen.

 

Written by Steve Fell

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