Tag Archives: Jesus

The Third Chapter – Mark

3:1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.  

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This story seems odd to me.  Why was the man with the withered hand there on the Sabbath?   Had he just gone to the synagogue because it was the expected thing to attend?  Did he know Jesus would be there?  Did he want to hear what Jesus had to say?   Did he hope for healing?  He must have known of the hostility the silent group of Pharisees had toward Jesus.  He cetrtainly knew that healing on that day would be breaking the law even before he heard Jesus say “stretch out your hand” 
– Lesson 1: It takes faith to even consider there might be answers to your questions but from that faith comes the courage it takes to be willing to reach out to Jesus when you hear him speak.

Healing may have happened in a miraculous moment but the destruction of Jesus required a plan, and thankfully for us, even evil plans require time.  The Pharisees chose to leave the synagogue determined to use their spiritual power along with the political power of the Herodians to destroy Jesus…but God had a different plan so Jesus could continue his ministry
– Lesson 2: God can,and will, even use evil men and the time they spend planning destruction.   Jesus has the power of God that redeems men and their misspent time.  Through Jesus, evil will be overcome with good that accomplishes God’s plan for a future and a hope for us.

Response of the Heart

ESV Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

NLT Eph 2:8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

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Take a minute and think of how many times you’ve heard yourself say “I should.” We are by nature a people of “shoulds,” even when it comes to our faith. Should’s are like the underbelly of human response compared to God’s Grace. Grace is “the gift of God.”  That gift is the foundation of His heart that validates every aspect of our faith.  “And you can’t take credit for this;”…your repentance, your transformation, your growth, your study, your wisdom, your knowledge and understanding of your relationship to God and it’s impact on your human relationships and behavior.  

Only by fully accepting how powerful Grace is in our life can we come to realize there is nothing in that list that is dependent on our “should’s.”   Grace is responsible for our repentance, our transformation, our growth, our study, our wisdom, our knowledge and understanding of our relationship to God and it’s impact on our human relationships and behavior.

This is the Word of God: “We are God’s masterpiece.”   He has “created us anew in Christ Jesus.”  Jesus is the Piece of the Master created within us to change our human nature from “should’s” to our response of the heart “so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” 

Live Your Inheritance!

NASB Eph 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 

NLT Eph 1:18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

Verse 18 from both the New American Standard Bible and the New Living Translations have become the foundation of this post.  The words are slightly different but the questions are the same.  They reminded me that the “glorious inheritance” is a real part of our daily lives, and so much more than a reward at the end of it.  

  • What is God’s purpose in opening the eyes of our heart?
  • What is the hope to which he has called us?
  • What is the glorious inheritance? 

Visual, written and spoken information bombards our senses but not everything makes it past the defenses life teaches us to build to protect our heart.  The gift of hope is God’s purpose that has made His Word endure for centuries. Hope that penetrates the defenses of the heart to see beyond itself into God’s own heart with the confidence to ask: whose inheritance? Ours or His?

Ours!  That dear friend is only a part of the much bigger answer.  God’s inheritance has been given to enable us to live beyond our imperfections in this world while waiting for the perfection promised in the next. God has already invested everything of Himself in us to provide us with “the riches of the glory of His inheritance IN the saints…

His!  “The confident hope he has given to those he called” has revealed the complete answer from God’s own heart through Jesus so we might live everyday as “his holy people who are HIS rich and glorious inheritance.”

Live your inheritance!

The Recipe of Reality

“Am I then really that which other men tell of? Or am I only what I myself know of myself? Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage, struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat, yearning for colours, for flowers, for the voices of birds, thirsting for words of kindness, for neighbourliness, tossing in expectation of great events, powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance, weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making, faint, and ready to say farewell to it all…Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine. Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!” [written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his prison cell.]

The last sentence of Bonhoeffer’s poetic words touched an emotional reality in my own life that could be true for your life too.  I couldn’t resist tying it to this Scripture that reveals a truth about Jesus.  “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.[John 2:23]  

Our hearts are broken by that Biblical truth because it reveals a reality we can barely acknowledge about our own reliability. We think we know ourselves but we wonder, do we, really?  We know, in our hearts, the words we use to describe our faith are sometimes more desire than truth.  We know, in our hearts, there is a restless longing that the best of those things will be true, but are they?  We know the emptiness of prayers that search for words our hearts can’t find until we admit we are only beginning to recognize our need.

I was going to end that last paragraph with “Jesus gave Himself for us!” Then I realized that was just a comfortable cliche.  Jesus knows us more completely than we will ever know ourself.  He didn’t give Himself to us!  He entrusted Himself to His Father, on our behalf, to complete His love despite the truth He knows about us.  Get emotional about it!  That is the recipe of reality that sustains us when all we can say is  “Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!”

Come!

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  ESV

It’s happened again!  This one verse just happened to show up twice out-of-the-blue in a week’s time.  It’s meant for my heart.  It still surprises me to be reminded in such a simple way that the Word of God is meant for that specific purpose.  It’s not just accidentally falling into place.  

God has a plan for your life:
the right Word at the right time in the right place.

The right Word is COME. That’s all Jesus asks.  Don’t clutter it up with anything else like needing a perfect place or time or whether it happens to to feel meaningful right then.  The main thing is the choice to come. I know you want to validate your time but if you will just come, Jesus will do that for you.

The right time is NOW.  NOW is the word used to draw attention to a particular moment. NOW is the moment when so many of life’s systems seem to have fallen apart. NOW is the moment when our labor is being challenged and redefined. NOW is the moment when hearts understand heavy laden in ways never before imagined. NOW is the moment when so many are behind closed doors. NOW is the moment of availability “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9).  NOW is the moment of opportunity “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.(Rev 3:20). NOW is the particular moment to come. 

The right place is YOU…”Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16)

Jesus simply says “come to me“… that’s the “rest” of the story.

“Rest” is a Relationship

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  ESV

This morning I was thinking about an article I’d read by Billy Grahama that referenced this verse from Matthew.  It was only one part of the big truth the article contained but it was the catalyst that opened my eyes to a new idea about that one last word…”rest.”  

It’s such a simple revelation but I think it’s a meaningful one.  Life, even a privileged one involves labor.  The good life certainly has moments that are heavy laden.  We know the Word is a reliable place we come to find rest in Jesus.  The daily reading of the Word is a blessing.  We plan to read daily and we’re frustrated with ourselves when we don’t do it.  We know that devotional time seems to be impacted by…well…everything! 

There will be circumstances when your “daily” devotion may fail you but your rest is not dependent on that circumstance.  Rest is a relationship with Jesus and His devotion never fails you.  THAT dear friend is His perfect provision that overcomes circumstances that interrupt best-laid plans.  Jesus’s relationship with you is what makes it possible for you to enjoy the “rest” of your day…today, everyday and forever.

a https://decisionmagazine.com/the-three-invitations-of-christ/

Dear Friend,

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. NIV

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Dear Friend,
Be alert and watchful, of sober mind and spirit.  The devil is not an adversary content with luring you into sin but one who is intent on your complete destruction.  All my children are united in this struggle at this time of suffering…but I am the God of all grace who has called you beyond death to eternal glory with me.  I’ve given you faith to make you strong beyond your own ability to stand firm and resist.  I myself will support and strengthen you and make it happen.  Stay in toucha.

a A composite of ESV, NIV, NLT and NASB versions

Tree of Life

Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.  5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. [NLT]

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[Jesus] called you by His freedom of relationship act to show the world the reality of your “gratitude to God for your salvation with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love.

Humility is the
carryover word from Ephesians 4:2 and
my last post that led me to this quote.  “Christians
did not invent humility as a virtue ― it is there
in the Hebrew scriptures already ― but Christian
scripture and subsequent Christian thought put humility at
the centre of the moral life in an unprecedented
way.  Jesus apparently thought of humility as the best
measure of a person’s kingdom-readiness.” 
Virtue that can 
unite us ”in the Spirit” and bind
”together with peace” only comes through
One body
One Spirit
One glorious hope
One Lord
One faith
One Baptism
One God and Father
– OF ALL – OVER ALL – IN ALL – LIVING THROUGH ALL –

Freedom of Relationship Act

Ephesians 4:1 So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation], 2 with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love [not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person,] love. [AMP]

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What is your calling?  It’s an important question we need to answer.  I think we’ve gotten caught up in the representation of our faith, our calling, being the right activity or service.  The good things we do in the name of Jesus aren’t our calling, they’re the result of it.  The right answer to “what is your calling” is simply the right relationship with the right person.  Jesus is that right person.  The intimacy of your relationship with Him is what makes it possible “to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation”…and you can thank God for that!  

Jesus has been the learning curve of my life for 47 years now so I’ve had time to consider this idea.   Jesus Himself is “the calling to which you have been called.”  There is nothing of Himself He has withheld from you, and nothing,  N-O-T-H-I-N-G Jesus doesn’t know about you.  Still, you are the one He’s called.  He’s called you by His freedom of relationship act to show the world the reality of your “gratitude to God for your salvation with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love”…and you can thank God for that too!  ❤️

Slave to Friend

John 15:15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.  [NASB]

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Moving from slave to friend is a progression.  Long before I was even aware of a thing called a “personal” relationship with Jesus, I believed Jesus was God’s son and I was a faithful church member.  Faithful in the sense I was there and I was active.  There were very good reasons to be there.  Church was a place where people put their best face forward.  The activities were at an obvious level of insulated kindness and integrity.  It was a place we went every Sunday as a family without question.  I was a willing, and content, “slave” to religion.  Thankfully that was enough to keep me there because as it turns out “religion” is the very busy place the Spirit of God often chooses to reveal the truth that Jesus was born for slaves in the midst of religion!

That’s the progression of how my friendship with Jesus became a reality.  Friendship is what connects John 15:15 and my Advent celebration this year.  It was friendship that revealed the Cradle as more than the destination of an annual Advent celebration.  That long-ago Cradle is where God revealed His desire for our future: Jesus, God in-the-flesh, born to be our pathway from slavery to salvation and friendship.