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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Tuesday 24 October, 2017

Mark 4:21-25

21 Jesus said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a large bowl or a bed? Don’t you put it on its stand? 22 What is hidden is meant to be seen. And what is put out of sight is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 Whoever has ears should listen.” 24 “Think carefully about what you hear,” he said. “As you give, so you will receive. In fact, you will receive even more. 25 Whoever has something will be given more. Whoever has nothing, even what they have will be taken away from them.”

I love the analogy of light, that is created to be seen, shared, enjoyed. Everyone prefers light to darkness (when we are awake). Light fills a space. It shows what is hidden when in darkness.
I recall a story I heard many years ago, of a man who asked his subjects to bring him the cheapest things to fill a room. The one that filled the room the most, and at least cost, would be granted his favour. Many brought physical items, hay, timber, cloth. The youngest, however, brought a small candle that when lit, the light filled the room. His wisdom won him the favour of the master.

I love how this passage for today describes our faith, that too, must fill a room, and show, or reveal, what normally cannot be seen in the dark. Our faith is to reveal Christ to those in the dark. So simple, and yet so profound. But this was Jesus speaking in this passage, and so of course it would be, and is profound.

The prayer we all need to pray for ourselves, and especially myself, is that I will be a light of faith to those in darkness around me. Help me Lord by your Spirit to shine brighter each day, that the sphere of my influence in You, will enlarge more and more. Amen.

Written by Steve Fell

1 (reply)
  1. Kerrie says:

    I love that analogy of the small candle filling the room. May my light shine in dark places as I do the work God has for me or do.

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Monday 23 October, 2017

Mark 4:10-20

10 Later Jesus was alone. The 12 disciples asked him about the stories. So did the others around him. 11 He told them, “The secret of God’s kingdom has been given to you. But to outsiders everything is told using stories. 12 In that way, “ ‘They will see but never know what they are seeing. They will hear but never understand. Otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’ ” (Isaiah 6:9,10) 13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this story? Then how will you understand any stories of this kind? 14 The seed the farmer plants is God’s message. 15 What is seed scattered on a path like? The message is planted. The people hear the message. Then Satan comes. He takes away the message that was planted in them. 16 And what is seed scattered on rocky places like? The people hear the message. At once they receive it with joy. 17 But they have no roots. So they last only a short time. They quickly fall away from the faith when trouble or suffering comes because of the message. 18 And what is seed scattered among thorns like? The people hear the message. 19 But then the worries of this life come to them. Wealth comes with its false promises. The people also long for other things. All of these are the kinds of things that crowd out the message. They keep it from producing fruit. 20 And what is seed scattered on good soil like? The people hear the message. They accept it. They produce a good crop 30, 60, or even 100 times more than the farmer planted.”

Upon first reading, it can seem a bit hard to understand Jesus’ explanation of why he spoke in parables. It can sound like Jesus is trying to keep the truth from people by hiding it in parables “lest they should be converted and their sins be should be forgiven”.

But if we think a bit harder about human nature and our own experiences, we realise that often people (including myself!) are resistant to hearing the truth.

So when Jesus used parables, He didn’t start by stating a truth. Instead, the parable was like a doorway. Jesus’ listeners stood at the doorway and heard Him. If they were not interested, they stayed on the outside. But if they were interested, they could walk through the doorway and think about the truth behind the parable and what it meant to their lives.

As one commentator puts it: “Jesus didn’t use parables to blind people, but because they were blind. Therefore Jesus used the parabolic method, not in order to blind them, but in order to make them look again; not in order to prevent them from coming to forgiveness, but in order to lure them toward a new attention.” (Morgan)

I want to be one who is open and willing to hearing truth – even when it reveals something in me that I’d rather not see or acknowledge.

God help me embrace Your words and to walk through the door to dig deeper to find Your truth.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Sunday 22 October, 2017

Mark 4:1-9

4 Again Jesus began to teach by the Sea of Galilee. The crowd that gathered around him was very large. So he got into a boat. He sat down in it out on the lake. All the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things using stories. In his teaching he said, 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant his seed. 4 He scattered the seed on the ground. Some fell on a path. Birds came and ate it up. 5 Some seed fell on rocky places, where there wasn’t much soil. The plants came up quickly, because the soil wasn’t deep. 6 When the sun came up, it burned the plants. They dried up because they had no roots. 7 Other seed fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and crowded out the plants. So the plants did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It grew up and produced a crop 30, 60, or even 100 times more than the farmer planted.” 9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears should listen.”

The Message translation writes that Jesus asked the crowd, what do you make of this?

And Jesus tells a story about a farmer who scattered seed on four types of ground. Hard, Rocky, shallow and fertile.

What do I make of this?

What kind of a farmer scatters seed on hard, rocky and shallow ground?

That seems to me like a waste. This farmer is careless. The farmer should have been more careful so that the seed had a better chance of producing a crop. But the seed being scattered by this farmer is not a grain of wheat that is in limited supply. The seed being sown here is the gospel which never runs out.

It doesn’t matter that it lands on rocky soil, or hard soil, the farmer scatters the seed anyway.

What do I make of this? Don’t worry about the condition of the heart, scatter the seed, scatter the Word anyway. We don’t make the seed grow anyway, it is God who makes it grow.

Father, thank you that you make the seed grow. You can also change the condition of the heart, so I pray that those who appear to have a hard heart towards your word, will have a soft heart, ready to receive your word.

Written by Andrew Martin

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