Influence

Re:Verse reading–Mark 2:1-12 (day four)  And Jesus seeing their faith *said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  Who’s faith was Jesus referring to? Some scholars say the paralytic and the ones who brought him. Others say just the ones who brought him. What both of these viewpoints have in common: the ones who brought him, had faith and also influence on paralytic man.

A few observations of these “friends”:  They believed that Jesus could and would meet the paralyzed man’s needs.  They used their influence to get him to come encounter Jesus.  They were persistent in finding an opportunity for him to be with Jesus.

Do you have intentional friendships with lost people to grow and leverage influence for the Gospel? Do you truly believe that Jesus could and would meet their needs?

George Barna’s research continues to show 47% of people indicate that they would come to church if invited.   Researchers also tell us that the Christmas Season is a time that people are more open to spiritual discussions and attending events.

Will you “make the ask” this Holiday season?   Will you be persistent?   Christmas at First is this Saturday and Sunday. Christmas Eve Candlelight and Lord’s Supper Service begins at 5:30.

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A Real Dilemma

Re:Verse reading–Mark 2:1-12 (day four)

(Vv. 9-12) This was a real dilemma for the scribes.  Here they were, thinking to themselves, and Jesus calls them out!  “How did He know what I was thinking?”  And to make matters even worse, Jesus asks them a question.   They certainly can’t answer it!  If they say it is easier to forgive than heal, and then He heals the paralytic, they would have to admit that Jesus had authority to forgive sins.  If they said it is harder to forgive than to heal, then there was not a visible way for them to convince the people that Jesus did not have the authority.  How could they possibly get out of this one?  They were not willing to acknowledge that Jesus had any authority.

What would your answer be?  Do you acknowledge that Jesus has the authority to forgive?  Are you willing to yield to His authority and submit to it?  If Jesus came to forgive our sins and provide for salvation, how will you respond?

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Lordship

Re:Verse reading–Mark 2:1-12 (day three)

“So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…”  Science vs. faith.  Secular vs. sacred.  Earth vs. heaven.  Western society has done quite a thorough job of sequestering religious conviction—confining it to the sphere of the unknowable, or, if you will, the imaginary.  Believers have gone along with this project, happy to cordon off heavenly-minded things from perceived hostile forces.  But where did we learn this?  Certainly not from our Lord, whose sovereignty holds sway over both the spiritual and the material realms—over soul and body, faith and knowledge, revelation and research lab, the hereafter and the U.S. government.  Your behavior at work, the problems in your family, the deepest needs you know—Christ has authority over it all.  Do you live as if that is true?

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No Room

Re:Verse reading–Mark 2:1-12 (day two) And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. v 2.

Mark’s gospel account does not include the story of Christ’s birth, but this verse struck me this morning as I read it in context with the Advent season. There was another time that Jesus encountered “no room.” He was born to parents that held no nobility or great wealth. They were forced to take the charity of an inn-keeper who was willing to let them stay in a stable on their census visit to Bethlehem. Now thirty years later, Jesus is faced with a much different scenario. Others are forced to clamor outside because there is no room left where Jesus is teaching.

Where are you this season? What is filling your heart? Is it so full of “stuff” that there is no room for Jesus, or is Jesus so filling your life that there just isn’t any room for anything else? Never too late to do some heart-cleaning.

 

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Still the same

Re:Verse reading–Mark 2:1-12 (day one)

“And many gathered together, so many that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door.”  v 2.

In his gospel, Mark skips most of the first year of Christ’s public ministry  “The year of obscurity” scholars call it.  So too, he omits the nativity narratives.  Other gospels teach us these facts.

Mark’s preference is to plunge “immediately” into the “year of popularity” and the “year of opposition”–years two and three.

Chapter 2 is an illustration of both.  Throngs of people.  Intense public interest.  Crowds seeking Jesus wherever He goes.  But, the opposition is also growing.  The rulers are shocked by his reception of sinners, angered by his teaching re Sabbath.  Early in his account, Mark wants us to notice these two themes.  People loved Him.  People hated Him. People wanted to be near Him.  People wanted Him gone.

Hmmmmm.  Sounds like our day.  He is the same.  So are we.

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His pace and His peace

Re:Verse reading–Mark 1:21-39 (day seven) “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” 1:35
Mark portrays Jesus as a busy man. Nine times in chapter 1, he uses the word “immediately”. No pause in the action. Continuous movement. Sort of feels like my schedule at Christmas!
But Mark also pictures a man who knew his own need for quiet time with the Father. Unrushed. Time to pray, to speak, to listen. The busier He was, the more necessary this time became.
When the disciples find Jesus in v 37, he is “interrupted but not disturbed”. In prayer, the Lord had received fresh new perspective on “what to do next”.
We walk by faith. Fast when we know the Father’s will. Slow when we don’t. Like our Savior, we need both pace and peace.

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Collision

Re:Verse reading–Mark 1:21-39 (day six)

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. John 1:14

There is no greater collision in human history than the incarnation of the Son of God. The Gospel of Mark narrates this collision for us in spectacular detail. Jesus, the light of the world collides with the darkness, and it retreated. Jesus collided against human brokeness and healed countless. And the Word spoke and all who heard him were amazed!

He is unavoidable. He is the larger-than-the-universe elephant in the room; he collides with us. Even after 2000 years this divine collision demands a personal response. John the Baptist knew who he was (because the Spirit testified), and declared “he must increase.” The demons knew, and they shuddered.

How about you? How will you respond, even today, to this beautiful collision?

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Something is Missing

Re:Verse reading–Mark 1:21-39 (day five) It was a long, hard, productive day by all accounts. There was teaching, then exorcism in the synagogue. Later, came the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law. After sunset more healing and exorcisms followed. Jesus was the focus of attention and the topic of discussion all around Capernaum. The people were amazed. The disciples were excited that Jesus’ ministry was off to such a great start.

Yet, after praying the next morning Jesus identifies that something is missing: The Gospel. We must always keep ”the Hand of God, the Face of God, the Heart of God, and Voice of God” together. Jesus didn’t quit meeting the “felt needs” of those around Him, rather He did recognize that the potential for the Gospel to be overlooked or ignored existed.

Everything we do or say in the service of God must be in harmony with the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

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Identity, Mission, Call

Re:Verse reading–Mark 1:21-39 (day four)

V. 24 – “…I know who You are—the Holy one of God!”

The bible study, Christianity Explored, teaches through the book of Mark.  There are three important lessons about Christ found in Mark.  These lessons must be addressed by everyone.  They are Identity, Mission, and Call…Who is Jesus?  Why did He come?  and, What does it mean to follow Him?  Each of us must answer these questions in our life.

As we study through the book of Mark, pay attention to the verses that give us answers to these three questions.  Throughout the Old Testament, we read of God’s unfolding plan to draw people into a relationship with Him.  In Mark’s Gospel, we see that plan reaching its conclusion.  Mark quotes the Old Testament frequently to help us answer these important questions.  Ultimately, we must decide what we will do with Jesus.  Identity…Mission…Call  Pay attention…your answers may be the difference in your eternity.

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Truth

Re:Verse reading–Mark 1:21-39 (day three)

“He would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.”  The only proper context for truth is love.  Truth in the hands of anyone who does not love becomes a weapon.  Is Jesus the Holy One of God?  Yes.  That’s truth.  But what does it mean?  In the hands of one who does not love, that’s where the truth ends and the manipulation of people’s understanding begins.  For us, the most dangerous place to be is to be right.  We can lord that rightness over others, and we have done so many times.  Here’s a prayer that might be helpful: Lord, what does it look like for me to live out the truth in the presence of another?

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