Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday, August 29th Mark 1:29-39

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 39-40, Proverbs 2, Ephesians 5
Today's scripture focus is Mark 1:29-39

Mark 1:29-39English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus Heals Many

29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

Jesus Preaches in Galilee

35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.”38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Kingdom Power
Accompanying David Legge sermons: A Day in the Life of a Servant and The Servant's Priority of Prayer
Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon: Healings and HEALING

Can you imagine being there when these healings were taking place?  We speak of miraculous healings now - and indeed, I believe there are cases where God heals to the bafflement of medical professionals.  But, healings like this don't happen anymore.  We're talking instant healings with absolutely no ill effects or recovery time needed.  I don't know of anyone who has ever witnessed such a thing.

Many of you know the story of our nephew Baret, and about how God healed him from the point of medically certain imminent death.  But his healing was not instant.  He did not go from being in a coma to being able to run and jump and talk.  His healing was gradual, he had to relearn how to walk and talk.  I have no doubt that God was involved in this healing, but it was not the same type of miraculous healing that took place during Jesus' ministry on earth.

The miracles Jesus performed were to authenticate His claim of being God's Son, and, later on, to authenticate the preaching, teaching, and authority of the disciples.  

Notice too, how the miracles took place irregardless of faith.  The purpose of the healings was not to reward faith with physical health, the purpose was to prove that Jesus was who He said He was.

Completely opposite to the health and wealth prosperity preachers who promise healing if you have enough faith, and send in enough money.  Healers do not exist.  If they did, they'd be walking through the cancer wards and healing every man, woman, and child they could find.

Jesus healed with a word or a touch.  He healed instantly.  He healed totally.  He healed everybody, irregardless of faith.  He healed disease.  He even healed by reversing physical death.

But the purpose of healing was to prove Jesus was who He said He was, and to supernaturally authenticate the true teachers and preachers of the gospel.

As the gospel became written, these supernatural healings stopped.  Paul was ill, Trophimus was sick, Timothy was sick - and they weren't healed.  Now they could (and we can!) measure whether or not someone is a true preacher of the gospel by how faithful they are to the revealed Scripture.  It's no longer necessary.

Jesus had this power over demons and disease through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus became a man He subjected Himself to the will of the Father and the intermediary power of the Holy Spirit.  He was dependent on the Father's will and the Spirit's power.

But His true mission was preaching.

God only had one Son and He was a preacher. That's why He came, to preach. The miracles only verified the authority and the truthfulness of His message but there was no salvation in the miracles, the salvation was in believing the preaching......

It's all about preaching, folks. I can't heal. I can't cast out demons. But I can preach. You can't heal and you can't cast out demons, but you can preach....

Jesus was a preacher because faith comes by hearing the Word....

 So for weeks, even months, He went from town to town, village to village preaching and proving the truthfulness of His message by miraculous deliverances from demons and healings. Savior not only verifies who He is, but proclaims salvation through faith in His name.

God doesn't promise us healing.  In fact, He promises us death.  Physical death. But He offers life - spiritual life, forever.

He doesn't offer us physical healing, but far more importantly, He offers us spiritual healing.

Monday's scripture focus: Mark 1:40-45
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 41-42
Sunday's passage: Isaiah 1-2
Monday's passage: Isaiah 3-4, Proverbs 3, Ephesians 6

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thursday, August 28th ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Job 37-38, Proverbs 1, Ephesians 4.
Today's scripture focus is  Mark 1:21-28.

21 They *went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22 They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

Here we find Jesus beginning his ministry, and he's off to a running start.  Not only does he teach "as one having authority, and not as the scribes" but he can command unclean spirits.  John MacArthur pointed out the difference in the responses of the people and the demon to Jesus' command:

His authority amazed the people. That is indicated in verse 22 and again in verse 27, “the people were amazed.” On the other hand, the demons were terrified. The people were amazed, the demons were terrified. The people wondered, the demons panicked.

In the first half of the gospel of Mark, the only beings that are sure who Jesus is are the demons. They know Him. They have known Him since they were created by Him. They have known Him since they were dwelling in heaven as holy angels before they rebelled. They have known Him since they surrounded the throne, before Lucifer led them in their rebellion.

The first half of the book of Mark, the leaders didn't understand who He was. The people didn't understand who He was. Even His disciples were unsure about who He was. That was the difference. The crowd was amazed. The demons were terrified. The difference? The demons knew they had reason to be afraid.

What terrified the demon? What terrified the demon was the truth. He knew that with the arrival of Jesus was the arrival of the truth. The demons knew that they had developed an untrue false system of religion that was highly successful in Israel. And it held people captive unto their damnation. They again are disguised as angels of light. They hide in the middle of false religion. Satan is before all other things a liar and a murderer. He wants to catch everybody in deception and then kill their eternal souls. Truth is therefore deadly to the demonic operation...deadly. This is where the initial conflict comes.

When sinners come to a true understanding of the person of Christ, when sinners come to a true understanding of the authority of Christ as the Son of God, they are also terrified. And terrified sinners tend to run in holy fear to Christ for forgiveness and grace, something demons cannot do. 

The demons knew who He was and couldn't be saved. The people didn't believe He was who He claimed to be and wouldn't be saved. What is necessary is a combination of both. You need to be amazed and terrified. Amazed at such a Savior and terrified at such a judge.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Mark 1:29-39
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Job 39-40, Proverbs 2, Ephesians 5.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wednesday, August 27th Mark 1:12-20

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 35-36; Psalm 150; Ephesians 3
Today's scripture focus is Mark 1:12-20

Mark 1:12-20English Standard Version (ESV)

The Temptation of Jesus

12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Jesus Begins His Ministry

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon: Followers of Jesus
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Jesus' Strategy for Effective Ministry
Accompanying David Legge sermons (looks like he went all MacArthur on us): The Servant's Test Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, The Servant's Task Begins, and The Call to Follow and Fish

Notice how the testing of Jesus came immediately after the spiritual high of baptism.  Isn't that how things often work out for us, too?  We see in this passage that temptation is arranged by God in order to strengthen us while also instigated by Satan to try to get us to fail.  Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, but this temptation was arranged by God to strengthen Him.  This was an agonizing experience for Jesus - He was tempted as man, but was the only man to ever perfectly resist and overcome temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit - the very same power that is at work in us.  We too, can resist temptation through the Spirit's power.

Legge summarizes it this way:
the Lord Jesus Christ's baptism was His expression of His willingness to do the Father's will. Satan's temptation was not motivated to get Christ to commit immorality, as much as to deter Him from choosing God's perfect will. The Father's will, the Father's way was one of suffering, was one of trial, was of temptation and loneliness - it was the hard path of obedience. It's always the temptation of the servant of the Lord to choose the easy way out, to avoid the Calvary Road, but He chose it - and He chose it for you, and He chose it for me. Here's the question: will you choose that road for Him? Will I?

And all of this was to prepare Christ to do the work and will of His Father - to preach a message of repentance, to preach Christ and Him crucified, to preach faith.  Just like we need to do today.  People need to understand godly sorrow, a hatred of our own sin that leads us to turn away from our sin and towards Christ in faith.

But Jesus didn't only preach to the multitude, He also discipled individuals.

As Christians, we need to be disciples - followers of Jesus, committed to knowing Him deeply and becoming more like Him every day. But we also need to be fishers of men, discipling those around us.

We see, in the disciples, a picture of what it means to be a Christian. We need to be absolutely convinced of the supremacy of Christ, so much so that we will enter into a relationship with Him and because of that relationship, we will take up His cause as our own.

Have we left our nets to follow Jesus?

Here is how MacArthur summarized this passage:
Here's the model for ministry...sanctified heart, overcoming sin and temptation, commitment to the singularity of the glorious message of the gospel that has come to us from God through the pages of Scripture concerning Christ, and selectivity of successors, choosing carefully who you surround yourself with so that you can multiply and extend your ministry on and on. That's how our Lord did it. At the same time, demonstrated His power over Satan, sin, and His power even to sovereignly call and transform sinners. He is the King and the King has given us a strategy for following Him.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 1:21-28
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 37-38, Proverbs 1, Ephesians 4

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday - August 26 - Tiffany

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 33-34; Psalm 149; Ephesians 2
Today's scripture focus is Mark 1:9-11

The Baptism of Jesus

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

It always surprises me, but this is one of my kids' favorite stories. They love the idea of a dove out of heaven, of a voice from the sky.
It had to be pretty awe-inspiring.

I've often asked myself - how many people understood God's voice? Did everyone there hear the words, or just John and Jesus? Did the others just hear thunder from a sunny day?

Matthew 3 shows a bit more of the story - of John uncertain he should really be the one to baptize Jesus. After all, John was Jesus's cousin (on his mother's side), but he also already knew exactly who Jesus was. Before this he had been preaching the Messiah's coming.

According to my pastor husband, this is the moment in which Jesus starts his ministry. It is a moment in which he is praised by God, claimed by God as His Son. It reveals that Jesus is the Christ. And later, Jesus calls all believers to be baptized in His name to signify death to ourselves and rebirth into God's family.

When my husband and I discussed baptism as a death to ourselves, I was surprised.  Did Jesus really have to die to self? He's Jesus! Fully God..... but fully human. We'll discuss tomorrow Jesus's 40 days in the desert, and his temptation to follow his own will, and not that of His Father.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 1:12-20
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 35-36; Psalm 150; Ephesians 3

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday, August 25-by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ephesians 1, Psalm 148, Job 31-32
Today's scripture focus is Mark 1:1-8 

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.[a]
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,[b]
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
    ‘Prepare[c] the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight,’”
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Scripture: As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,[b]
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way,

Observation: Advertising is necessary so that we know what is coming.

Application: We are currently just finishing a 10 day vacation in Orlando, Florida. If you have ever been here, you could write a book about the ways theme parks and shops and restaurants vie for your attention....signs, billboards, sky writing (?!), banners behind an airplane, tv, radio, etc. etc. etc. Say all you want about the "in-your-face" advertising but let's be honest.... It. Works. If if didn't, business would struggle and there would be less money spent on advertising if it were not doing its job.

Without advertising, how would we be swayed to eat at certain restaurants.... $6.99 for all you can eat pizza! How would we know where to buy the cheap souvenirs ....Everything $1.99! How would we feel a little disappointed to not visit the Disney Parks when every billboard ad is telling you about all the rides and events at those parks? Advertising lets us know what is coming up around us and let's us know what we are missing.

John was the advertisement for Jesus. He was the messenger about what was coming. He was the banner, the billboard, the radio announcement, the pamphlet, the brochure, the writing in the sky...His job was to prepare people for Jesus. Jesus could have arrived without people knowing if it had not been for John's role in preparing the way. It would be like people just driving through Orlando without knowing what was around them if it were not for the advertising.

John prepared everyone for the arrival of Jesus. They began to anticipate him. They longed for him. They began to get excited that John was just the advertisement for Jesus and the real thing would be even better.

Our job, as Christians, is to be the walking talking living breathing advertisement for Jesus. John prepared the way for Jesus before he accomplished what He was sent to do and now it is our job to advertise for him now about what He has done. We have the great responsibility to be the advertisement for the greatest message that people will ever hear. What message are we sending through our lives?

Prayer: Dear Lord, You sent John to prepare the way for the mission that Jesus had--to cover our sins and to provide us with the only way to live in eternity with you. You gave John the enormous responsibility to prepare the way. We have this job too and sometimes we don't realize that we are doing the same job. Thank you for the reminder that our lives can prepare people to hear the message of salvation. Give us the courage to speak the truth and the ability to

Tomorrow's scripture focusMark 1:9-11 
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ephesians 2, Psalm 149, Job 33-34

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday, August 22nd Psalm 8

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Galatians 6; Psalm 147; Job 25-26
Today's scripture focus is Psalm 8

Psalm 8 English Standard Version (ESV)

How Majestic Is Your Name

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Accompanying sermon from John Piper: What is Man?

I love this Psalm!  When you look at the universe and consider its vastness - something that isn't even possible to comprehend with our finite minds - the majesty, power, and glory of God is undeniable!  And yet, He cares for we who are but a tiny speck in this vast universe.

Some excellent thoughts from Piper:

The majesty of God is great beyond words and worthy of our fervent worship and allegiance. And that majesty is manifest in the glory of God's supreme creation, human beings made in his image.

And the truth that I draw out of this vision of God and man is this: You cannot worship and glorify the majesty of God while treating his supreme creation with contempt.

The vision is that God is majestic above all the majesties of the universe and this majesty—though dimmed and besmirched and defiled by sin—shines in the glory of God's supreme creation, human beings. And the truth that flows from this vision is that we cannot worship and glorify the majesty of God while treating his supreme creation with contempt.....

You cannot starve the aged human and glorify the majesty of God.
You cannot dismember the unborn human and glorify the majesty of God.
You cannot gas the Jewish human and glorify the majesty of God.
You cannot lynch the black human and glorify the majesty of God.
You cannot treat human pregnancy like a disease and glorify the majesty of God.
You cannot treat the mixing of human races like a pestilence and glorify the majesty of God.
You cannot worship and glorify the majesty of God while treating his supreme creation with contempt.

The next time someone asks you, "Why are you against abortion?" try answering, "Because no amount of inconvenience could ever justify treating the supreme creation of God with murderous contempt." And if someone asks you, "Why are you willing to stay in a racially changing neighborhood when the value of your house is plummeting?" try answering, "Because no amount of real estate value could ever justify treating the supreme creation of God with contempt." And then read them Psalm 8 and show them a vision of God and of what it means to be human. That may lift them higher in their thoughts than they have ever gone before.

Monday we start our series on Mark!

Monday's scripture focus: Mark 1:1-8
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 27-28
Sunday's passage: Job 29-30
Monday's passage: Job 31-32, Psalm 148, Galatians 7

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thursday, August 21 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Galatians 5; Psalm 146; Job 23-24
Today's scripture focus is Psalm 7

7 O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge;
Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me,
2 Or he will tear my soul like a lion,
Dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.
3 O Lord my God, if I have done this,
If there is injustice in my hands,
4 If I have rewarded evil to my friend,
Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary,
5 Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it;
And let him trample my life down to the ground
And lay my glory in the dust. Selah.
6 Arise, O Lord, in Your anger;
Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries,
And arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment.
7 Let the assembly of the peoples encompass You,
And over them return on high.
8 The Lord judges the peoples;
Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.
9 O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous;
For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.
10 My shield is with God,
Who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
And a God who has indignation every day.
12 If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword;
He has bent His bow and made it ready.
13 He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons;
He makes His arrows fiery shafts.
14 Behold, he travails with wickedness,
And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.
15 He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
And has fallen into the hole which he made.
16 His mischief will return upon his own head,
And his violence will descend upon his own pate.
17 I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness
And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

I think we get a glimpse here of why David is called a man after God's own heart.  His enemy pursues him, and instead of trying to get the other guy first, David professes his innocence and asks that if he is, in fact, guilty of offence that he be caught and killed, but ultimately puts all his faith in God's justice and righteousness.

I found a commentary here that had something interesting to say about God's character, mercy and justice:

David’s prior appeal to God’s testing of man (Psalm 7:9) made him think of the justice of God. He declared this fundamental principle: God is a just judge.

This is a commonly and dangerously rejected truth about God. Many anticipate that they will one day stand before a God of great love, great mercy, great warmth, and great generosity. The never imagine they will stand before a God who is perfectly just and who cannot ignore the crime of sin.

The justice of God is easy to understand if we simply compare to what we expect from an earthly judge. We don’t think it is right or good if a human judge excuses crime in the name of compassion; we expect judges to be just. Yet many are absolutely confident that God will be an unjust judge on the Day of Judgment. They are so confident of it that they mistakenly rely on this idea for their salvation. David knew the truth: God is a just judge.

He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready: David here considered the readiness of God to judge the sinner. David saw the sword sharpened and the bow bent. With God so ready to judge, the sinner should never presume that God will delay His judgment.

This is another fatal error made by many who see God delaying deserved judgment out of mercy and mistake it for the idea that God is not concerned with justice.

Instead, one should ask: Why does God hold back the immediate application of justice? Is it because:

·       The sinner is not really guilty?
·       The Law is not really clear?
·       Mankind in fact deserves such mercy?
·       God is not really powerful enough to bring justice?
·       God is not really just?

None of these are true. Instead, the sword is sharpened and the bow is bent. The only thing that holds back the immediate judgment of God against the sinner is the undeserved mercy of God, giving the sinner an unknown period of time to repent. Such mercy should never be presumed upon. “Did I say, he will do it? Nay, he hath already done it; his sword is drawn, his bow is bent, and the arrows are prepared and ready to be shot.” (Poole)

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Psalm 8
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Galatians 6; Psalm 147; Job 25-26

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday, August 20th Psalm 6

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 21-22; Psalm 145; Galatians 4
Today's scripture focus is Psalm 6

Psalm 6 English Standard Version (ESV)

Lord, Deliver My Life

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments; according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.

Lordrebuke me not in your anger,
    nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
    heal me, O Lordfor my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
    But you, O Lordhow long?
Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
    save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
    in Sheol who will give you praise?
I am weary with my moaning;
    every night I flood my bed with tears;
    I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
    it grows weak because of all my foes.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
    for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
    they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
David's circumstances seem hopeless, and he is sleepless and helpless as he pours out his heart to God.  In this case it seems that his circumstances were a result of his sin, and he cries out to God, not for immunity from judgment, but that it would be tempered with mercy.

And, of course, we know that the very definition of mercy means that he (and we!) didn't deserve mercy.

Note the basis on which he asks for deliverance - God's steadfast love.

It reminds me of our sermon in church this past week - we are to obey God because God's love compels us.  God's love compels us to love Him in obedience.  And God's love provides us with mercy when we fail and turn to Him in repentance.  His love is the source of His mercy, not any good works we may try to perform to win His favour.  His favour cannot be won - it is unmerited.

Praise His name!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Psalm 7
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Job 23-24, Psalm 146, Galatians 5