Let’s Get to It–Mark 1 part 4

Jesus preparation was done, his followers were coming aboard and his reputation growing in the community—time to go to work.  Jesus began his ministry by healing the sick and breaking the chains of possession by Satan.  It is quite revealing, however, that along with the highlights on miracles, Mark reports about Jesus’ personal time in prayer. It is no coincidence that after a day of ministry, Jesus headed out to be alone with the Lord.  It was as important to his mission and ministry as was his followers or his miracles.

We often forget that our walk with the Lord is the key to our doings for the Lord.  When we tie our personal relationship to activities and actions, it is easy to stop spending time in the word and in prayer.  But, the time alone with God is the key to successful ministry—Jesus knew that and demonstrated that from the start.  Martin Luther, the priest that started the reformation of the Catholic Church, used to say that because  of his hectic schedule he would have to spend an extra hour in prayer…He understood the nature of warfare.  No matter what is ahead, failure to prepare for battle and to arm yourself properly is a certain recipe for disaster.

Doing ministry and facing trial and temptation is a huge part of the Journey, but, personal time in God’s word and prayer are the critical part of your faith and walk with him.

God Bless You

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Follow Me–1 Mark 1 part 3

How easy is it to follow the Lord.  Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself take up his cross and follow me.” Luke 9.  When Jesus started out, he was looking for men that were to become the pillars of the church. He did not go to Jerusalem, he went to the shores of the sea of Galilee. There he found Andrew, Peter, James and John. Four men, all gainfully employed, simply walked away from all they knew to follow the son of God.  In the days to come, these men were able to share time, trials, meals and their hearts with the one true God.

They were the first to experience a personal relationship with God.  Until that time, God had a relationship directly with prophets, priests and kings.  Now he would begin building personal relationships with folks like us. The question is– are we willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.  Would we walk away from our worldly life.  Would we submit to his plan and leadership.  Andrew, Peter, James and John left everything. In exchange, they were a part of something that changed the world.  Jesus wants us at all costs—help me Lord to follow you the same way.

God Bless You

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

Jesus Begins–Mark 1 part 2

God’s plan for Jesus was very deliberate.  For thirty years, Jesus grew up, worked and operated as a normal guy.  But at 30, it was time to complete his mission.  He was baptized, filled with the spirit, commissioned by the father and sent into battle.  His first 40 days were completed in the desert.  There he fasted, prayed and went to war with the enemy.  The battle was brutal but God won. Jesus was attended by angels and then he was off to change the world.

God’s plan in our lives is equally deliberate.  We are called, and as we follow him we are prepared for battle.  Like Jesus, we need to prepare for the battle and seek his help as we fight it. Then we must also be ready to minister wherever we go.  Jesus modeled that, lived it and in Matthew 28 called us to do it.  “As you are going, make disciples—baptizing them in the name of the father, son and spirit. Teaching them what I have taught you and remember I am with you always—even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

God Bless You

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[g] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Preparation is Key–Mark 1 part 1

The Gospels tell the story of salvation from many different perspectives.  Mark’s version is most famous because it seems to take the Jack Webb’s “Dragnet” approach.  The famous Dragnet line was always, “Just the facts ma’am.  Just the facts.”  And as you read Mark, that is what you get. 

God planned Jesus entrance from the dawn of time and knew that preparation was critical.  He sent John the Baptist ahead to lead the people of the time to a place of personal responsibility for their sin.  Once they saw their sin as personal they could begin to see their salvation as personal.  Once they saw their salvation as personal, they could see their relationship with God as personal and that is where Jesus comes in.

In our lives, we have the same issue even today.  It is easy to rely on our checklist for salvation.  We think if we are good enough, at church enough or at least not as bad as others, then we will be fine.  But as John told the Jews—we have to repent of our sin, turn and go the other way. Agree that we cannot earn our salvation by deed or promise; and simply accept that he sent Christ to redeem us from our sin and restore us to a right relationship with God.  God prepared for our redemption and his plan was flawless.  Help me Lord, to accept the plan you made and not try to do things my way.

God Bless You

1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the Son of God,[b] as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”[c]
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”[d]

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with[e] water, but he will baptize you with[f] the Holy Spirit.”

In God We Trust–2 Samuel 24

In whom do you trust? On American currency, it says in God we trust.  But as you look at the actions of our nation, there is little that would evidence the phrase on our money. The nation of Israel mere known as God’s chosen people and throughout their history, they had acquired lands, received provision and won battles all with his direction and power.  David, the king after his own heart had relied upon God’s protection and provision throughout his life and reign…except for this time.  He decided he needed to know if he had ample troops to go to war and win.  This from the king that had defeated all enemies at God’s direction.  The need to be self-reliant overtook his need to be submitted to God and free from the enemies and entrapment of the world. It seemed like “no big deal”, but was as great a sin as a king or nation could commit.

In our lives, we are faced with the same challenge each day.  Do we focus on freedom or independence.  It is God that saves us and leads us to freedom.  If we trust and follow him, he will protect, provide and propel us into freedom.  But, like David, some days we just want to make sure that we are ready to take the helm…just in case God can’t handle it.  It is in those days that our desire to be independent from God rears its ugly head.  When we decide to live independent of God, we open ourselves up to the sins of pride, and all other forms of self rule that will destroy us.  We, like David need to recognize that independence and freedom are different and at polar opposite ends of the spectrum.  We simply need to seek him first and allow him to add everything else—Matt 6:33. As humble followers of God, we can experience his protection and provision and live a life free from captivity.  Help me Lord to walk humbly in your freedom.

God Bless You

But the king insisted that they take the census, so Joab and the commanders of the army went out to count the people of Israel. First they crossed the Jordan and camped at Aroer, south of the town in the valley, in the direction of Gad. Then they went on to Jazer, then to Gilead in the land of Tahtim-hodshi[b] and to Dan-jaan and around to Sidon. Then they came to the fortress of Tyre, and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went south to Judah[c] as far as Beersheba.

Having gone through the entire land for nine months and twenty days, they returned to Jerusalem. Joab reported the number of people to the king. There were 800,000 capable warriors in Israel who could handle a sword, and 500,000 in Judah.

10 But after he had taken the census, David’s conscience began to bother him. And he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt, Lord, for doing this foolish thing.”

David’s Mighty Men–2 Samuel 23 part 2

Truly, one of my favorite passages of scripture is the 2nd half of 2 Samuel 23.  I love the stories of David’s mighty men.  These are the band of brothers for David.  They taught him and Israel the value of loyalty and bravery among the troops.  That is why these men are in David’s hall of fame. I have highlighted a couple, but the best part is that they are the epilogue.  The legacy of loyalty and devotion of these men are the last thoughts about David after his death.  They are his obituary. 

In our lives, those friends and family that we leave behind are our legacy as well.  Each of us have “Mighty Men” in our lives.  The stuff we leave behind, the jobs we leave behind and even the accolades we leave behind will count for very little.  What will count is the impact we have had on others and they have had on us.  There have been so many mighty men in my life.  I can relate to David.  I am in no way a King, but thanks to all of you that have been those valiant warriors in my life.  If I was to pick one I would like to emulate—Benaiah the one that killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day…that rocks. It is also important to see, that Uriah the Hittite was in David’s hall of fame. What a testimony of repentance—recognizing the man you killed to steal his wife is in fact, one of your mighty men…Father help me to recognize the mighty men in my life, and help me to be one of someone else’s mighty men.

 God Bless You

During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 15 David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” 16 So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord. 17 “Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it…20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. 21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. 23 He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard…39 and Uriah the Hittite.

2 Lives–2 Samuel 23 part 1

There is something profound about last words.  When spoken, they are to be taken seriously.  No fluff, no lies, the last words of a king are the inmost concern of his heart.  In David’s mind, the last thoughts and words were about the difference of ruling in righteousness and ruling in selfishness.  His predecessor committed suicide in battle, alone and without the spirit of God. David on the other hand died as a beloved king.  He ruled a united Kingdom at peace with all the nations around him.  God blessed him and restored him even after his sin. He made his kingdom a lasting kingdom through the end of time. God does not only bless perfection, he blesses a contrite and humble heart.

David was a picture for us.  We all have sinned.  Some grievous and seemingly unforgivable.  But, If our heart is contrite and our submission is honest and humble then God will bless us, give us peace and direct our ways.  In looking at the two reigns, Saul’s and David’s, it is a great picture of the two lives.  With God, we experience peace we see lasting life.  He leads us to the day when we can join him for eternity. We live a life that is a legacy to his grace and the wisdom of his plan.  Help me, Lord to walk like David and not like Saul.

God Bless You

These are the last words of David:

“The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse,
the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High,
the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
the hero of Israel’s songs:

“The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;
his word was on my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke,
the Rock of Israel said to me:
‘When one rules over people in righteousness,
when he rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of morning at sunrise
on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
that brings grass from the earth.’

“If my house were not right with God,
surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant,
arranged and secured in every part;
surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation
and grant me my every desire.
But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns,
which are not gathered with the hand.
Whoever touches thorns
uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear;
they are burned up where they lie.”