Tuesday 30 June, 2015

Mark 3:31-35

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” 33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

It was hard for the disciples to understand who Jesus was. It must have been even harder for his family – they had seen him growing up as the first-born son in their family. But he is also the first-born son of God’s family. Same for me: I’m a member of my immediate family, but I’m also a member of God’s family.

Clearly his physical family is worried about him, and want him to come back to them. Perhaps they remembered when Jesus had gone missing in Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-52). Jesus said “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (which they didn’t understand then either) but he returned with them and was obedient. Being God’s son enhanced the relationship with his physical family. I should look for blessings to come to my physical family from me being God’s son too.

But Jesus’ place in God’s family is the most important. Obedience to his Heavenly father has to take priority.

It can be hard to step outside the safe and familiar to do what God asks. But by His side is the only really safe place.

It can be hard to let go, to trust our heavenly father to look after His family. It can be hard letting my wife go off to India on her Heavenly father’s business. It can be hard trusting my sons’ Heavenly father to speak to them when they won’t listen to me, to walk with them when they don’t want to walk with me. It can be hard, but He’s a much better head for our family than I could ever be.

Families require trust – all the more in God’s family.

Father, thank you that you are my father. I put my family in your hands. Please take them on adventures with you.

Written by David Cornell

2 replies
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    lovely thoughts David, thank you so much. How we need to also to keep praying for our “brothers” and ‘sisters” in thier journeys in ife. Thank goodness we do have a very loving and gracious father who is watching and waiting for us.

  2. Andrew Mellor says:

    Thanks David, I’d never thought of that element of trust when reading this passage. That one will stick with me

[comments closed]

Monday 29 June, 2015

Mark 3:20-30

20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” 22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” 23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” 30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”

When things happen that I do not understand, I am naturally cautious and I believe that this is a healthy thing. Sometimes when I see something that doesn’t fit with my understanding of the way that the world works, it is easier to put it down as the work of the enemy rather than asking the hard questions about why God might operate that way, or why God would allow something like that to happen.

Christ here in verse 26 is using sound logic and reason to refute the inflated religious arguments of the Pharisees. I believe there is a time for reaching out and living in faith, but there is also a time for being considered, cautious and rational, applying careful reason to a situation.

I recently heard a quote from Albert Einstein: “When testing a theory, I like to ask myself, if I were God, would I have designed the world in that way.” I like the way Einstein is applying not only a different aspect of reason, but also striving to think about things from God’s perspective.

Lord, help me to sensibly apply reason where it is needed and faith where it is required. Help me to see things more and more from your perspective. Amen.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

[comments closed]

Sunday 28 June, 2015

Mark 3:13-19a

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Mark 3:13-19a

Mark gives us valuable insight into the ministry of Jesus in verses 7-12 – healing the sick and diseased and dealing with evil spirits. At the peak of his ministry, Jesus chose to create a ministry team.

V.13 tells us that Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.   Although Mark does not mentioned prayer specifically, Luke records several significant occasions when critical decisions were made as Jesus conferred with his Father.

Two things stand out for me [1] That prayer was so important to Jesus’’ ministry; [2] That Jesus took the initiative in calling the 12 men he wanted.

Over three years these men went everywhere with him, they heard him teach, they watched him heal the sick, they observed his power over demons, they saw him perform miracles, they embraced his teaching and they were commissioned and sent out to enlarge his ministry. When they were filled with the power of the Spirit at Pentecost, they were equipped to continue Jesus’ ministry.

I need to be aware of Jesus’ pattern for ministry recorded here in Mark’s Gospel. To be effectively involved I need the calling [or invitation] of the Master for the task. We discover that calling as we spend time seeking the Father’s plans for our lives.

Lord, I thank you for Mark’s clear statement about the calling of the 12 apostles. Lord I know that when you want me to minister in your Name you will call me and equip me for that ministry.

Written by Keith Bennett

[comments closed]

Saturday 27 June, 2015

Mark 3:7-12

7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.

By this time in his ministry, Jesus is being followed everywhere he goes by large crowds of people, some of whom have travelled from many different regions to see Him. The crowds were there because they had heard of the different things Jesus was doing – healing the sick, delivering people from evil spirits, and challenging the laws of the Pharisees. Jesus’ reputation had preceded him, and so the people did not care about who he was or his title (at this point he would have been known mainly as the son of a carpenter). Rather the people were interested in what he was doing, and how Jesus could impact their own lives. They wanted to be healed, to be delivered, to experience Jesus for themselves. Jesus was not interested in boosting his own popularity or manipulating the needs of others for his own self-importance. Rather he showed compassion and even humility in his dealings with the people, while still displaying his God-given power.

This is not unlike the people who we are surrounded by everyday, who all have different needs of their own. As Christians we are the hands & feet of Jesus. The same power that was in Jesus is in us today. Are we able to respond to the needs of those around us the same way that Jesus did? Forgetting our own need for title, or self-importance, and showing compassion and humility to those around us? Are we living in a manner that allows our reputation as followers of Christ to precede us? May we continue to look to the example Jesus has set for us, that we too may love people as Jesus does.

Jesus, thank you that you have provided a perfect example for us in every way. Help us to respond to the needs of those around us in the same compassionate & authentic way that you have, and may we have a reputation as people who reflect your love.

Written by Madelaine Tarasenko

[comments closed]

Friday 26 June, 2015

Mark 3:1-6

3 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” 4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Jesus challenged the Pharisees who thought that good deeds, such as healing, were forbidden on the Sabbath. As He questioned in verse 4, “…Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” He tried to change their attitudes, however the Pharisees did not respond. Even though Jesus healed the man with the deformed hand, the hearts of the Pharisees remained hard and they continued to turn their backs on Him.

This passage provokes me to think about the times my heart is hard towards God – when do I miss the ‘attitude shift’ that He is directing me to? I don’t want to have a stubborn view like the Pharisees did, but want a softened heart that hears and responds to where Jesus is leading me.

God, Thank You that Your ways are perfect. Please soften my heart today, and show me how to live in a way that pleases You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Written by Laura Samperi

[comments closed]

Thursday 25 June, 2015

Mark 2:23-28

23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

The Pharisees are at it again; trying to find fault with everything that Jesus and his disciples did.

The Pharisees are so entrenched in following the law (blindly) that they have missed out the true meaning of Sabbath.

They have so multiplied the requirements and restrictions for keeping the Sabbath that the burden had become intolerable. You cannot pick grains, pick up a mat, save a donkey which has fallen into a pit and the list goes on and on.

Jesus had to reprimand them to emphasize the God given purpose of the Sabbath – a day intended for man (for spiritual, mental and physical restoration)

Father, we thank you that Jesus has come to fulfill your laws. We thank you that Jesus Christ is Lord of the Sabbath. We can rest in him, not in our own works. Amen.

Written by Shin Liu

[comments closed]

Wednesday 24 June, 2015

Mark 2:18-22

18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?” 19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. 21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

Here we read two different scenarios where Jesus is being questioned – why aren’t your disciples fasting (the way they’re supposed to) and why aren’t your disciples keeping the Sabbath (the way they are supposed to)? Jesus was ushering in a new way of following the Spirit rather than the law, and it was uncomfortable for the religious people of the day.

Sometimes we too can find ourselves (especially as we get older) wanting to do things the way that we have always done it in the past. Staying with what we know and with what we are comfortable with can feel like a safer option.

Following God’s Spirit involves being willing to do things His way and in new ways- not playing it “safe” by doing what we have always done.

Accepting challenges and change is a choice that we need to continually make if we are going to keep in step with Jesus. It’s my goal and dream live all the days of my life right to the very end as a person who is always willing to say yes to the new thing that the Holy Spirit is asking me to do.

I encourage you today to join me in asking God what is the “new thing” he is asking me (you) to do and being willing to say yes to Him!

Written by Shelley Witt

[comments closed]

Tuesday 23 June, 2015

Mark 2:13-17

13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. 15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I love Jesus’ words in verse 17…

I have come to call not those who THINK they are righteous, but those who KNOW they are sinners. (Capitals mine)

It makes me think of poor Matthew sitting in his tax booth; being shunned and hated by the Jews. Or the disreputable “scum” that Jesus had dinner with that night. They knew they were sinners but Jesus accepted them and offered them forgiveness and a new life.

I wonder if I’m connecting with the wrong sort I people. Maybe I’m spending all my efforts trying to reach people who think they don’t need reaching. Maybe I need to move; to reposition to a new “harvest field” where the people are hurting and broken and sick. To a field where if they hear of the wonderful hope and peace and joy and love that could be theirs they will receive it immediately. To a field of people who would love to meet Jesus.

Lord Jesus please help me find these people that know they are sick and need saving and share with them the love you’ve poured into my life. Grant me the courage and conviction to move in different circles – to “go and make disciples”. Amen

Written by Boudy van Noppen

[comments closed]

Monday 22 June, 2015

Mark 2:1-12

2 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed 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 he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

In the course ‘Christianity Explained’ participants read this account in the first lesson to teach two truths about Jesus. First, Jesus has authority over severe sickness or disability. Second, Jesus has authority to forgive sins. Participation in the kingdom of God is permitted for all who are forgiven of their sin. You might say that is the passport into God’s country. Jesus declares himself fit to forgive and permit entrance into the Kingdom of God. Some of the Jews who are watching all this want to know what Jesus’ credentials are, how can he be authorised to do something that only God can do?

As proof of his credentials, Jesus brings a gift from his Kingdom, healing.

This scripture makes me so thankful to be forgiven. Here Jesus simply utters the words ‘your sins are forgiven’. A year or two from this incident Jesus would be paying the hefty price for not just this man’s sins, but the sins of humanity. This scripture also tells me that my forgiveness as permitted me into the Kingdom, a reality to be lived out now. I can and do bring gifts from this Kingdom to the world around me, they are testimony to the world that the Kingdom of God is real.

O Lord, teach me to be a Kingdom gift giver. Teach me to go beyond my personal resources and give gifts from the eternal and blessed storehouses of God!

Written by Andrew Mellor

[comments closed]

Sunday 21 June, 2015

Mark 1:40-45

40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41 Jesus was indignant.He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

The man with the skin disease is desperate and begs Jesus to heal him. He is on his knees and looks to Jesus for a way out of his isolation, pain and frustration. He is unable to change his present circumstances and he believes that Jesus has the power to save him, but there appears to be some uncertainty on his part as to whether Jesus will use that power to heal him. Oh that sounds so familiar!

How often do I find myself in a situation where I can’t save myself and need help? How often do I want to beg God to get me out? How often do I think yes God could move in this situation and then straight away question whether or not He will move? How often do I give up before even asking? How often do I get in a huff because I want to be able to fix everything myself? Too often!

But what do we see in this recount concerning the man with the skin disease? We see him step out in faith and dare to ask Jesus for healing. And how does Jesus respond to this request? It says He is moved with compassion. It’s just a skin disease. Not a world war. Not a famine. One man. Afflicted by a disease. And the Son of God, when He hears this man’s heart cry for help, is moved with compassion for him. Compassion, as in He shares in the man’s sorrow and has a strong desire to alleviate his suffering. Jesus has the power to heal him, but far more amazing to me is that He WANTS to heal him. He says it to the man himself, “I am willing.”

Do I grasp that reality? Really? Do I comprehend that the Son of God has time for my requests, He shares in my sorrows and frustrations and He WANTS to help me? Wow! God, next time I come face to face with my own limitations help me turn to you. Help me to trust not only in your ability to help me but your willingness to get involved on my behalf. Thanks God. Amen.

Written by Beth Waugh

[comments closed]