Friday 3 November, 2017

Mark 6:30-44

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus. They told him all they had done and taught. 31 But many people were coming and going. So they did not even have a chance to eat. Then Jesus said to his apostles, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place. You need to get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a quiet place. 33 But many people who saw them leaving recognized them. They ran from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus came ashore, he saw a large crowd. He felt deep concern for them. They were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. 35 By that time it was late in the day. His disciples came to him. “There is nothing here,” they said. “It’s already very late. 36 Send the people away. Then they can go to the nearby countryside and villages to buy something to eat.” 37 But Jesus answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s pay! Should we go and spend that much on bread? Are we supposed to feed them?” 38 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five loaves and two fish.” 39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of 100s and 50s. 41 Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up to heaven and gave thanks. He broke the loaves into pieces. Then he gave them to his disciples to pass around to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 All of them ate and were satisfied. 43 The disciples picked up 12 baskets of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of men who had eaten was 5,000.

Jesus has a following – a somewhat reckless following of men, women, children. The crowd’s enthusiasm for Jesus causes them to neglect their own basic needs. The disciples notice this and suggest to Jesus that he pull the plug. “Tell them to pack it up and go feed themselves elsewhere” (paraphrase of verse 35 & 36). “…they don’t have to go home but they can’t stay here.” The suggestion is not only dismissed, but mocked. A window of opportunity presents itself and a miracle occurs.

Jesus was seen as a prophet, in this story we see him at his most profoundly prophetic. Not simply speaking God’s will, but acting it out in front of everybody – like Moses facilitating heavenly manna during the exodus (Exodus 16), the miracle heartily feeds the people. Jesus is the leader that will not only care for them, but the leader who will lead them out of captivity. Imagine the people, all sitting on the grass, eating the miracle food, thinking about how Moses miraculously fed the people in his day.

Jesus’ miracles are not just abstract wonder stories – they have powerful meaning built into them, inviting the witness to not only believe in the miracle, but also in the source of the miracle. Jesus directs us to believe in God’s power to provide for our every need. Hunger? God provides. Sickness? Jesus can make a way. Lack? God satisfies. Death? Jesus has pioneered a new, hopeful future for those that follow him.

Jesus, thank you for your provision. Thank you for your care and concern. Thank you for your love. Help me to rest in confidence knowing the reality of your friendship. Amen.

Written by Sam Stewart

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Thursday 2 November, 2017

Mark 6:14-29

14 King Herod heard about this. Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead! That is why he has the power to do miracles.” 15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” Still others claimed, “He is a prophet. He is like one of the prophets of long ago.” 16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “I had John’s head cut off. And now he has been raised from the dead!” 17 In fact, it was Herod himself who had given orders to arrest John. He had him tied up and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias. She was the wife of Herod’s brother Philip. But now Herod was married to her. 18 John had been saying to Herod, “It is against the Law for you to be married to your brother’s wife.” 19 Herodias couldn’t forgive John for saying that. She wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 because Herod was afraid of John. So he kept John safe. Herod knew John was a holy man who did what was right. When Herod heard him, he was very puzzled. But he liked to listen to John. 21 Finally the right time came. Herod gave a banquet on his birthday. He invited his high officials and military leaders. He also invited the most important men in Galilee. 22 Then the daughter of Herodias came in and danced. She pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want. I’ll give it to you.” 23 And he gave her his promise. He said to her, “Anything you ask for I will give you. I’ll give you up to half my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” “The head of John the Baptist,” she answered. 25 At once the girl hurried to ask the king. She said, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist on a big plate right now.” 26 The king was very upset. But he thought about his promise and his dinner guests. So he did not want to say no to the girl. 27 He sent a man right away to bring John’s head. The man went to the prison and cut off John’s head. 28 He brought it back on a big plate. He gave it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 John’s disciples heard about this. So they came and took his body. Then they placed it in a tomb.

John the Baptist was undoubtedly a good man. In Matthew 11:11, Jesus states that there has not been a man greater than him!

So what do I do to be like John the Baptist?

–          Eat Locusts and Honey

–          Wear camel hair clothing

–          Be homeless

–          Be very outspoken against the religious majority

–          Get beheaded

I don’t know about you, but this list doesn’t seem to be all that desirable. As I think about it, I ask myself a few questions:

1)      Do I conform to social norms to just fit-in and avoid standing out in society? Is that God’s plan for me?

2)      Have I judged others and categorised them as nutters, when really they were a lot more like John the Baptist than I am?

Lord, thankyou for the revelation that I need to be prepared to grow in ways that I sometimes might not expect.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Wednesday 1 November, 2017

Mark 6:6b-13

Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 He called the 12 disciples to him. Then he began to send them out two by two. He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits. 8 Here is what he told them to do. “Take only a walking stick for your trip. Do not take bread or a bag. Take no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals. But do not take extra clothes. 10 When you are invited into a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 Some places may not welcome you or listen to you. If they don’t, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet. That will be a witness against the people living there.” 12 They went out. And they preached that people should turn away from their sins. 13 They drove out many demons. They poured olive oil on many sick people and healed them.

Shake it off!

A series of episodes where faith releases dramatic miracles (the woman healed of bleeding and Jairus’ daughter raised from the dead), and then in Nazareth Jesus meets such a refusal to believe that it prevented him performing miracles. This is his home town. This is where he should have expected a sympathetic reception. But the level of their unbelief shocks him.

I’d be having a bit of self-doubt at this point.

His disciples were there and saw it all. I’m guessing the experience would have left them feeling discouraged, perhaps less certain about Jesus.

But Jesus moves on to teach in other towns.

And he has a lesson for his disciples. He sends them out with authority to do what he has been doing: teaching and healing. He sends them in their most vulnerable: no food, no money, not even a change of clothes. They will be totally dependent on the reception they receive.

And he tells them what to do when they and their message are not welcome: Shake it off! Literally shake the dust off as a symbol that those people are left in the separation they asked for. And shake it off spiritually and emotionally: Go on to those who will welcome them.

When I get a bad reaction to the something I say about Jesus, I tend to get stuck at Nazareth. The dirt sticks. And I get stuck.

I need to hear the next bit. I need to not put my faith in the judgement of those who reject God. I need to put my faith in Jesus, and the overwhelming, life changing, life giving blessing that he is. I need to shake off that dirt and take him to whoever will welcome him.

That’s not often easy. But the disciples saw the miracles that happen when you do.

Written by David Cornell

2 replies
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    I too need to shake it off! Thanks David for those thoughts, it will stick with me for awhile. We can get so caught up in what people think about us when we talk to them about Jesus, but it’s so clear in this passage that we need to keep walking & find the ones who are ready!

  2. Kerrie says:

    Shake it off and move on! Great to be reminded of this. It’s not about me, it’s a decision people choose for themselves.
    Thanks for the reminder.

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Tuesday 31 October, 2017

Mark 6:1-6

6 Jesus left there and went to his hometown of Nazareth. His disciples went with him. 2 When the Sabbath day came, he began to teach in the synagogue. Many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given to him? What are these remarkable miracles he is doing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son? Isn’t this the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” They were not pleased with him at all. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own town. He doesn’t receive any honor among his relatives or in his own home.” 5 Jesus placed his hands on a few sick people and healed them. But he could not do any other miracles there. 6 He was amazed because they had no faith.

There is an interesting interplay here between Honour and Power.  Jesus, who normally had considerable power to perform miracles found it difficult because of the lack of faith expressed by the people.  How was this lack of faith expressed, it was expressed in familiarity to the person, rather than recognition of the authority of the teaching.  The gathered people recognised that the teaching was ‘out of the box’ but the person who taught them was familiar and this, at least for some, perhaps many of the crowd impacted the ability of the truth to drive deeply in to the souls of the men and women.  They did not honour the person bringing the truth nor did they honour the truth for being the truth.

Where are the times when the ‘packaging’ of something has interrupted my reception of it?  Where have I limited my faith expression based on the person or situation a God given opportunity presented itself to me?

Father, help me keep a soft heart to you and in so doing not be more concerned with the wrapping as with the present within.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

1 (reply)
  1. Dimity milne says:

    This is a good thought Richard. To unbelievers the wrapping on the gift of Jesus is so tarnished and familiar to them that they don’t bother to see what’s really inside. We must make our presentation irresistible.

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Monday 30 October, 2017

Mark 5:35-43

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus. He was the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” 36 Jesus heard what they were saying. He told the synagogue leader, “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.” 37 He let only Peter, James, and John, the brother of James, follow him. 38 They came to the home of the synagogue leader. There Jesus saw a lot of confusion. People were crying and sobbing loudly. 39 He went inside. Then he said to them, “Why all this confusion and sobbing? The child is not dead. She is only sleeping.” 40 But they laughed at him. He made them all go outside. He took only the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him. And he went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand. Then he said to her, “Talitha koum!” This means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” 42 The girl was 12 years old. Right away she stood up and began to walk around. They were totally amazed at this. 43 Jesus gave strict orders not to let anyone know what had happened. And he told them to give her something to eat.

This chapter is all about Jesus’ authority. Authority over demons, disease & death. What has caught my attention as I’ve been thinking on these verses is that Jesus knew what he intended to do back at V24, and more determinedly from the moment he heard the messengers tell the father his young daughter was dead V35. Jesus continued to go to the house, taking only 3 of his disciples with him even though there were more travelling with him (why?), He took only the mother and father with the 3 into the room, even though there were more people at the house (why?). He raises the girl from the dead! Then more puzzling, he gives ‘strict’ orders not to let anyone know what happened, V43.  Why?

Clearly the girl was up and around and eating & all those who laughed at him would see this. Did Jesus say this to the 5 who were in the room so that they wouldn’t disclose exactly how he raised her from the dead? or was it because he didn’t want what he so clearly did to become a “novelty show”? I don’t have definitive answers, but I do know that Jesus wants people to believe v36 and have faith v34 in him and his authority. First and foremost when I believe and trust Jesus, I open myself for Him to do the most astounding things in my life.

Lord increase my faith.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Sunday 29 October, 2017

Mark 5:24b-34

24 So Jesus went with him. A large group of people followed. They crowded around him. 25 A woman was there who had a sickness that made her bleed. It had lasted for 12 years. 26 She had suffered a great deal, even though she had gone to many doctors. She had spent all the money she had. But she was getting worse, not better. 27 Then she heard about Jesus. She came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothes. 28 She thought, “I just need to touch his clothes. Then I will be healed.” 29 Right away her bleeding stopped. She felt in her body that her suffering was over. 30 At once Jesus knew that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd. He asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 “You see the people,” his disciples answered. “They are crowding against you. And you still ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 But Jesus kept looking around. He wanted to see who had touched him. 33 Then the woman came and fell at his feet. She knew what had happened to her. She was shaking with fear. But she told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Dear woman, your faith has healed you. Go in peace. You are free from your suffering.”

I love this well known story of life changing miraculous healing. It speaks to me on so many levels – courage, faith, God’s power and forgiveness.

Forgiveness? Yes. My NIV study bible says the Greek word for “healed’ actually means “saved”. She is blessed by Jesus to “Go in peace (spiritual healing) and be freed from your suffering “(physical healing). God wants us to be fully restored.

I am challenged by the vulnerability displayed by the sick woman. Her public display of faith meant she was vulnerable to religious and cultural condemnation, at a time when it was believed she was ceremonially “unclean” and therefore those in contact with her were likewise. This is why she was trembling with fear when Jesus sought her out (v33). She risked much when she reached out in faith to touch Jesus’s cloak.

Through her faithful actions the power of God is displayed – for all those present and the generations afterwards who have read her story. God’s power was flowing through Jesus for her, right at that moment, in her moment of need and faith.

Her example makes me reflect on my attitude when I face seemingly insurmountable problems. My options are my own strength or activating my faith. Self reliance or reliance on God. Acknowledging I need God’s power to transform my situation may make me feel vulnerable, others may see I don’t have all the answers. That is a great moment when God comes alongside and restores me, and my relationship with him.

Thank you God that when I am vulnerable in my faith your power is displayed. I want to testify to your power in my life whenever I can. Give me the words to say. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

 

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Saturday 28 October, 2017

Mark 5:21-24a

21 Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee in a boat. It landed at the other side. There a large crowd gathered around him. 22 Then a man named Jairus came. He was a synagogue leader. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He begged Jesus, “Please come. My little daughter is dying. Place your hands on her to heal her. Then she will live.” 24 So Jesus went with him. A large group of people followed. They crowded around him.

As I have been reading through Mark I have been stunned by how hard it was for Jesus to do anything in private, the crowds could not get enough of him! But Jesus keeps his mind set on what his Father would have him do. He doesn’t get caught up with the celebrity status of it all. Here again, I see Jesus needing to make a decision in the midst of a massive and demanding crowd.

Lord, you show me by your life that it is possible to remain in the centre of God’s will even while being in the midst of demands, pressures and tumult. Lord you were guided by the Holy Spirit in everything and took opportunities to talk with your Heavenly Father.

Thank you Father that you hear me even when life abounds with demands! Let me hear your clear guiding voice, that I continue to do your will. Amen

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Friday 27 October, 2017

Mark 5:1-20

5 They went across the Sea of Galilee to the area of the Gerasenes. 2 Jesus got out of the boat. A man controlled by an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 The man lived in the tombs. No one could keep him tied up anymore. Not even a chain could hold him. 4 His hands and feet had often been chained. But he tore the chains apart. And he broke the iron cuffs on his ankles. No one was strong enough to control him. 5 Night and day he screamed among the tombs and in the hills. He cut himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus a long way off, he ran to him. He fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God, what do you want with me? Swear to God that you won’t hurt me!” 8 This was because Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” 9 Then Jesus asked the demon, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied. “There are many of us.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs. Let us go into them.” 13 Jesus allowed it. The evil spirits came out of the man and went into the pigs. There were about 2,000 pigs in the herd. The whole herd rushed down the steep bank. They ran into the lake and drowned. 14 Those who were tending the pigs ran off. They told the people in the town and countryside what had happened. The people went out to see for themselves. 15 Then they came to Jesus. They saw the man who had been controlled by many demons. He was sitting there. He was now dressed and thinking clearly. All this made the people afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told them what had happened to the man. They told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to beg Jesus to leave their area. 18 Jesus was getting into the boat. The man who had been controlled by demons begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him. He said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them how much the Lord has done for you. Tell them how kind he has been to you.” 20 So the man went away. In the area known as the Ten Cities, he began to tell how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

It is clear from this passage that an encounter with Jesus is powerful and life changing. This man had tried everything he knew, even the people around him had tried everything worldly wisdom provided to help relieve him of his problems but nothing had worked. The man was destined for destruction. But the encounter with Jesus changed everything. What no man could do was more than possible for the Son of God.

What can I learn? No matter how strong a grip something has on my life or how desperate my situation can be, bringing it to Jesus can completely turn things around and set me free. Secondly, an encounter with Christ does not necessarily mean a call to separate myself from the world. The possessed man in his freedom was called to service in the same area he had experienced his greatest bondage. The call of God on our lives looks different for each one of us.

Heavenly Father, I give my life to you. Help me to surrender everything to you. Help me to be obedient to all that you have called me to. May you be glorified by the way I live. In Jesus Name Amen.

Written by Christine Knight

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Thursday 26 October, 2017

Mark 4:35-41

35 When evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” 36 They left the crowd behind. And they took him along in a boat, just as he was. There were also other boats with him. 37 A wild storm came up. Waves crashed over the boat. It was about to sink. 38 Jesus was in the back, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him up. They said, “Teacher! Don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up and ordered the wind to stop. He said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down. And it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Don’t you have any faith at all yet?” 41 They were terrified. They asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Jesus told the disciples to cross over to the other side of the lake. His purpose was to move from one part of the country to another, in order to minister to a different group of people. The storm was an interruption to that journey and it was not Jesus’ purpose, or the purpose of the disciples, to drown in the lake.

I find it interesting that Jesus is described as rebuking the wind and the waves… the dictionary describes the term as to express sharp disapproval or criticism. Historically, it has also meant beating or forcing something back. The picture we get is of Jesus beating or forcing back the waves with His command, and it would seem that He expressed some sort of disapproval of the waves. Jesus was on a mission and He disapproved of the wind and the waves getting in the way.

How do I respond to opposition? What do I do when things rise up and get in the way of what God has called me to? Do I shrink back in fear like the disciples, or do I force back the opposition with the authority of Jesus? Do I express sharp disapproval of that which would get in the way of God’s mission? God, please help me to have a healthy dose of Jesus’ attitude and be prepared to rebuke that which opposes what you’ve called me to. Amen.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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Wednesday 25 October, 2017

Mark 4:26-34

26 Jesus also said, “Here is what God’s kingdom is like. A farmer scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day the seed comes up and grows. It happens whether the farmer sleeps or gets up. He doesn’t know how it happens. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain. First the stalk comes up. Then the head appears. Finally, the full grain appears in the head. 29 Before long the grain ripens. So the farmer cuts it down, because the harvest is ready.” 30 Again Jesus said, “What can we say God’s kingdom is like? What story can we use to explain it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 But when you plant the seed, it grows. It becomes the largest of all garden plants. Its branches are so big that birds can rest in its shade.” 33 Using many stories like these, Jesus spoke the word to them. He told them as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a story. But when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything.

What kind of farmer sows seeds and then is surprised when it grows? Surely every farmer knows that what you put into the ground and care for will grow?

Yet this is not the case with the “kingdom farmers” Jesus is talking about. Jesus describes them as sowers that don’t understand what’s happening underground.

Sometimes I don’t feel very effective for Jesus.  You share your faith where you can, openly declare that you’re a follower of Jesus and try to conduct your life to honour him but somehow that “sowing” doesn’t seem to be very effective. What an encouraging passage this is from Jesus! When we think our tiny efforts for God’s kingdom are insignificant and useless, God will make it grow. He will miraculously take the “seeds” of our lives and the conversations we have about the gospel and use them to slowly grow faith in others.

I need to keep sowing in faith! God will make something grow in others whether I’m aware of it or not.

Jesus, thanks so much for this encouragement. Please take my “mustard seed” efforts and turn them into something great – for your glory and pleasure.  Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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