Sunday, January 24, 2010
Mar 9:33 They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, "What were you discussing on the way?"
Mar 9:34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.
Mar 9:35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."
Just as pride got in the way of the Rich Young Ruler, pride was taking the focus of the Spiritual and Kingdom truths that Jesus was working to teach His disciples. Although they were shamed to tell Him, Jesus knew what the subject had been and went right to the heart of the topic. Jesus had been demonstrating that He was the servant of every man and the disciples had the same battle that all of us must fight, the ingrown urge to put ourselves first.
Here in the US we have a set of individuals marked out and anytime we are found in their presence we want to acknowledge their presence and their giving of themselves. Most of the men of this distinguished group died in the performance of the tasks that earned their membership into this group. These men have earned the Medal of Honor, the Silver Cross or the Bronze cross. In each of their cases they, for what-ever reason thought more of their fellow men than they did of themselves. They cared so much for their fellow man that they jumped on a grenade or saved the lives of others by some totally foreign act of care that took or unnecessarily endangered their own lives. This is the care and love for fellow man that Jesus demonstrated and wants from His followers.
Mar 9:36 Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,
Mar 9:37 "Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me."
Jesus is painting a picture of unconditional love. Couple these verses with Mark 10:15 and we have a good basis for understanding faith. When I was a child and the world had not it's later input into my life, when my dad said something I took it for just what was spoken. My perception was that my father, my dad, knew everything and always spoke the truth. It is this same child-like faith that God, the Father finds so valuable. Having taught the primaries, soon after my conversion, I understand the importance of hanging out with the kids. When we hang out with the children they model the faith we need and they have no other motive than they love. When we examine the Love of The Father that Jesus demonstrated for us we see pure love.
See Others As Coworkers
Mar 9:38 John said to Him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us."
Mar 9:39 But Jesus said, "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me.
Mar 9:40 "For he who is not against us is for us.
Mar 9:41 "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.
As Christians we tend to think we are an exclusive society. This is true of the Baptists, the Pentecostals, the Bible Church groups and all the other individual congregational groups of Christians. Jesus, on the other hand sees us as His followers, God's children. It is, because of our life experiences, sometimes difficult to accept folks that are different from us in their method of worship and it is then that it's important to personalize the teaching of Jesus. One of the most despised people groups of the ancient Hebrew was the half breed Samaritans. They were so despised that it astounded the disciples of Jesus that He took a drink from and then spoke to the Samaritan woman, a woman steeped in sin, no less.
When this woman was found in the company of their LORD the followers of Jesus did not know what to think. Today, when we meet a lost person, unlike the example of Jesus we launch right into the Gospel message instead of going for a relationship first. If we will take the time to get to know a person we will know better how and when, even if we need to witness to them. The Samaritans, like the JWs, the Mormons, and the worshipers of Mary, today, need the message of the truth. Some groups of the Baptists, Pentecostals and others also need the message explained to them. We must learn to be wise like the serpent. One of the most important lessons a Diamond-Back Rattler ever learns is when to lie still and when to run.
Sacrifice For Other's Sake
Mar 9:42 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.
This is a lesson that is often not considered in the full context of the scriptures. It is wonderful to apply this to children but when we see that God's perfect will (Rom. 12:2) is applicable to this passage, it becomes obvious that there is a much wider application here. There will be the simple minded, the ones known as retarded but there are also those that are new to the faith, the babws in Christ.
Mar 9:43 "If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,
Mar 9:47 "If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell,
Mar 9:48 where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.
There was recently a question asked about these verses. The person asking wanted to know if he should actually pluck out his eye. I do not know of many that can actually cut a part off their body and live to tell of it. Rather, that, Jesus is giving us a graphic illustration of just how important it is for us to be holy. Jesus is teaching the same lesson that Paul teaches in Rom. 14:15, we will, at times, need to sacrifice something to keep from being an offense. i.e. One does not open a bottle of wine in a Baptist Church regardless of the truth that all things are legal. Verse 48 reminds us of where those that choose not to be holy will reside for eternity.
Mar 9:49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.
Mar 9:50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
In Texas, most everyone is familiar with salt pork. In the past salt was a very good preservative that kept meat from spoiling and while the Jewish believers did not use it for pork they would have used it for other meats and fish. Much like salt, fire is used to purify fine metals such as silver and gold so that the illustration in verse 49 is one of purity. If salt, as mined in the past, has no flavor, it also has no ability to preserve anything. The final admonishment of Jesus is to have salt in ourselves. If we take the salt of the Gospel into ourselves we will not only have peace among ourselves, we will be peace makers.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Rev 22:18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;
Rev 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
… There are differing opinions of the implications of this passage of scripture that run from “It only applies to the book of the Revelation,” to “It covers the entirety of the scriptures.” I have chosen the later simply because God has inspired men to record His message in much the same manor as the CEO uses his secretary to record his concerns, thoughts and plans for their company. It is my position that the Bible is the Word of God and that the original texts are inerrant. Further more it is my position that God is, as His Word teaches, omnipotent. (Matt. 19:26) Since God is omnipotent He can do anything and it is His perfect will that none should perish but all should come to repentance and be saved. (2Pet. 3:9) For this reason, God's perfect will, I do not see God allowing men to pollute or to change His Word. The only standing occurrence of this type, to my knowledge is the New World Translation and I know of no follower of Christ that believes anything in that perverted translation.
… From these ***gressive ideologies come a verity teachings that border on or lean into heresy. A very prominent and popular errant teaching is that the fallen angels copulated with the human women from the passage in Gen. 6. In Matt. 22 Jesus has been presented with the idea of a woman marrying seven brothers, all of them dying without giving her a child and these folks want to know whose wife will she be in Heaven? In verse 30 of that chapter Jesus addresses the real issue of the question and explains that, like the Angels, the resurrected will not be having sex.
… The biblical truth that neither man nor the angels will have sexual relation present a set of boundaries on the ability of the angels that must be dealt with to sell this error to a Bible studied man. i.e. The angels are never meant to reproduce and as I will mention later they are spirit beings.
… In spite of the truth of passages like this one, Matthew 22:30, people have, apparently, from the first pinning of the scriptures locked onto what we, today, know as Genesis six and have the fallen angels cohabiting with human women. I see that this could easily grow in the times past because the general public did not read and depended upon others to communicate the truth to them. Today, we are more gifted and are able to research the scriptures and the history of them for ourselves and if we will study to show ourselves approved God will bless us in ways we cannot contain. (2Tim. 2:12-18)
… Bible scholars like H.C. Leupold and Matthew Henry have long taught that the descendants of Seth called themselves and were known as the “Sons of God.” What we have then are the later descendents of Seth, indiscriminately, marrying women for there appearance only and being unequally yoked, things went amiss.
… On this particular teaching there is a well known Pentecostal preacher, Hank Hanegraaph, a.k.a. The Bible Answer Man, that deals with this teaching in a way that I have learned from. Mankind had a place prepared for us by God and is sometimes known as the Time/Space Continuum. To satisfy God's purpose, He gave us physical bodies to live in this three dimensional/timed dimension. We are three dimensional in that we, like everything here have hight, width and depth. In the case of God are taught by our LORD that God is a spirit. (John 4:24, John 1:18, Col. 1:15, 1Tim. 6:16, Rom. 1:20 and 1Tim. 1:17) In Luke 24:39 the risen Jesus has appeared to the disciples and makes the point that He is still in His physical body and can be touched, adding emphasis to the fact that He is no longer a Spirit, as He was in time past.
… In Heb. 1:14, Mark 12:25, Luke 20:36 and 2Sam. 14:20 we learn that the angels, created by God, are spirit beings in the spirit realm, created for God's purposes. So far we have God the Father and the Holy Spirit, the first and the third persons of the Trinity and they are Spirit beings. Jesus, the Son of God, was a spirit being until He was begotten and given birth by Mary. When He ascended into Heaven His physical body went with Him so that we now have all three persons of the Triune God in Heaven and the only one with a physical body is Jesus.
… We know the angels are also spirit beings and like the Holy Spirit and God the Father, they are spirit beings. From the interaction with Abraham and Lot we have learned that the angels can assume the form of a man but can they? 2Pet. 1-4 shows us that God has cast an unknown number of Lucifer's followers into Hell to await the Judgment and the Abyss. Every time we see an angel in the form of a human, i.e. Abraham and Lot, they are on a mission for God. They have been granted extension into our Space/Time Continuum in order to complete the mission they were commissioned to perform. It is important to remember that they never reproduce and it is important to remember that unlike God, they are limited in the power they can use by the Father.
… Being granted extension in time and space by the Father bears greatly on this matter. We know that there is no evil in God and we know that there are no surprise events to God. (1Pet. 1:20, Gal. 4:4) In Job we see that Satan must approach the throne of God to even cause Job to be tested and it logically follows that for angels to impregnate human women, they must be granted extension into time and space by the Father, Who would foreknow their intent and having no evil in Him will never grant this. God will not allow anything that will not in some manor glorify Him.
… What we have here is a good example of just how easily heresy begins. In one recent discussion I was even presented with the fact that God had created Adam in the image of God proving that all spirit beings had sex organs because Adam, created in God's image, had them. Any time that we read into the text of the Bible anything that it does not say we are laying the foundation for someone to build on it and to create a heresy. For this reason I teach and will always teach that we must never add nor subtract from what the scriptures clearly say. Even if a teaching is ancient, if it is not supported by the scriptures, we must not teach it as the Word of God.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Concern For People With Special Challenges
Mar 3:1 He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered.
Mar 3:2 They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.
Mar 3:3 He *said to the man with the withered hand, "Get up and come forward!"
Although Jesus often sought to do His works in secret, here He chooses to go public in full view of the very people that sought to put Him to death. Jesus loved all people, even His enemies and to learn all there is to be taught by Him we need to be careful to never read int the text and to remember the context of what is happening and being said. From the text it is easy to conclude that the Pharisees had placed the man for Jesus to see ad then it just might be that the man knew Jesus would likely be in the service and was hoping that He would bless his hand.
The only thing of real importance here is that Jesus called the man to the front of the assembly for, even His enemies to witness Him teach a Spiritual lesson. In the world I often heard and still hear “Do unto them before they do unto you.” Jesus is in strict violation of the traditions of the Jews and yet right in front of them He chooses to teach them a great truth and to benefit the man that would have been considered a sinner or at best the off-spring of sinners because of his withered hand.
Mar 3:4 And He *said to them, "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?" But they kept silent.
At www.ou.org I found 39 specific definitions of work prohibited on the Sabbath. It would appear, from the rules there that a Jewish man or woman could purchase food but they were not allowed to carry it. According the the Rabbi you are not allowed to tie nor to untie any knot that does not have a bow in it.
It is not hard for me to see why Jesus chose to teach this lesson for everyone to see and to hear. The traditions were and are contrary to the will of God for His people. Just as Paul teaches us the Law is our teacher (see Rom. 6:14; 7:1-14; Gal. 3:10-13, 24-25; 4:21; 5:1, 13; 2 Cor. 3:7-18) and yet the Jewish leaders kept adding to the Law and ruining it's intended purpose. From the Law we can learn what God is like and from that we learn what He wants us to be like but when we add to or subtract from the Law we distort the picture painted there.
Mar 3:5 After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He *said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
Mar 3:6 The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.
When none of these teachers and administrators of the Law would answer Him a righteous anger arose in Jesus. Here, Jesus gives us an example of how to be angry and to sin not. As Christians we need to open our eyes and to look around us. Every person we see has the Right to Life and if we are careful to discern good from evil there are many that we can help to live.
We need to keep this lesson in context at the same time. When Jesus sent the Disciples out on their first Mission Journey He also cautioned them to be discerning and tidy with their time and efforts.
Concern For People with Chronic Problems
Mar 5:33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.
This lady had been suffering for 12 years, had spent all the money she had to spend seeing the doctors, hoping all the time that this doctor or that doctor would be able to convey God's blessing onto her and thereby heal her. She lived in desperation ad by Jewish law she was unclean and would be reminded of her unclean condition, over and over, no matter where she went or no matter who she encountered. From her actions it seems certain that she had heard of some of the healing miracles that Jesus was renowned for performing. While it seems certain that many of the hangers on were there for the show, she had a genuine need and she had the faith that assured her of the possibility of Jesus' ability to heal her. Ere, though, after she touched His garment's hem, knowing that her faith had not been misplaced, she trembles in fear, she had just made Him ceremonially unclean. On the other hand she was an honest woman and was willing to be held accountable for her transgression.
Mar 5:34 And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction."
Jesus, instead of being angry or indignant with her spoke to her as one of His family, wished her well and commended her for her faith. Faith is a very important component of the Christian walk. In the past nineteen years I have seen many marvelous miracles and have been part of laying hands on people and they were healed. This is not the type of healing “show” that we see where the showman (preacher?) puts his hand o the forehead and pushes them to the ground. I and several other believers, without any show, laid hands on the person ad fully believing in the power of God to heal those He wishes to heal, we prayed. The individual went to the doctor, in preparation for more treatment and the doctor could no longer find the ailment because God had healed them. The only reason this is not common and as never been common is because of the lack of faith in God to do what He is able to do. This woman believed and she was healed.
Concern For People Facing Deathly Illness
Mar 5:35 While He was still speaking, they *came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?"
While Jesus was distracted with the lady touching the hem of His garment servants of the official arrived with bad news, as Jesus had tarried his daughter had passed away.
Mar 5:36 But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, *said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid any longer, only believe."
Here again we see Jesus make the point that faith is required.
Mar 5:37 And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James.
If Jesus were about a show this wold be the perfect time for a huge crowd, instead Jesus even limits His disciples to 3. Jesus modeled for us a genuine concern for people and their plight. This same method of doing God's will and an0nimity marks God's servants today. The man of God, no matter his calling does not want to be seen on the front page or for that matter, any page of the national news media.
Mar 5:38 They *came to the house of the synagogue official; and He *saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing.
Mar 5:39 And entering in, He *said to them, "Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep."
Jesus, on His arrival, knowing the truth, sets the stage for all the credit for what He is about to do to be stripped away from His person.
Mar 5:40 They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He *took along the child's father and mother and His own companions, and *entered the room where the child was.
As soon as Jesus made the makes the statement that the little girl is not dead the mean spirited laughter and the heckling began. This passage is worthy of study and that needs to be done by studying the customs of the time period. I have been taught that it was customary for professional mourners to be hired for the funeral. It is easily seen, by the reaction of the crowd, that they were not concerned enough about the father and mother enough to hope that what Jesus said could somehow be true. What I see here is that they were more concerned about a days wages than for the welfare of the child and the peace of mind for the parents. I would enjoy thinking that people are not that hard hearted but my life experiences have proven that folks are just that hardened of the heart.
Mar 5:41 Taking the child by the hand, He *said to her, "Talitha kum!" (which translated means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!").
Mar 5:42 Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded.
Jesus, having brought only the three disciples and the mother and father into the room calls the child and commands her to rise. I believe it is important to note that Jesus only allowed the people that believed, His disciples and possibly the father, and the mother, who was full of hope and probably expectation, to enter into the room with Him. All the unbelievers were isolated from the scene completely.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Mar 6:35 When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, "This place is desolate and it is already quite late;
Mar 6:36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."
The disciples were concerned for the welfare of the people. They had recently returned from the trip to teach and to perform miracles, that others might come to faith also. He had empowered them to do great works but this was not normal to them.
Mar 6:37 But He answered them, "You give them something to eat!" And they *said to Him, "Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?"
What they heard was that Jesus was telling them to go spend about eight months wages and feed these people. These men had just returned form teaching, preaching and healing the sick, they had been performing miracles and still, just like the believer today, they still did not understand the power of Jesus. The farthest thing from their minds was a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread... and then to multiply them with the power of God?
Mar 6:38 And He *said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go look!" And when they found out, they *said, "Five, and two fish."
Mar 6:39 And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass.
Mar 6:40 They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties.
The crowd was ready for anything and they really had nothing to loose, so they sat down. I'm not perfectly certain of the time line of this event but having an understanding of people and having studied the Gospels for some time now it seems certain to me that the reputation of Jesus was growing because of the healing and other works of God He performed for an assortment of people. They were ready for one more miracle.
Mar 6:41 And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all.
Mar 6:42 They all ate and were satisfied,
The one thing I am struck by is the completeness of this miracle. God does nothing half way. This was the meal of a lad so the two fish were likely small and I have been taught that these loaves of bread were not nearly the size of the loaves we purchase today and yet Jesus stood there and by breaking the loaves and cutting the two small fish He fed the multitude until they were no longer hungry.
Mar 6:43 and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish.
The very small meal of a lad had produce so much in the hands of Jesus that there was many times the amount of left-overs as were in the meal to begin with. God had supplied a bounty they could not consume.
Mar 6:44 There were five thousand men who ate the loaves.
We know from the study of ancient Jewish customs that head counts did not include women and children and yet we also know that the bread and fish were the meal of a youngster. It is possible that there were a thousand or more better than the count in persons.
Mar 6:45 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away.
I believe the disciples obeyed this command but that once they were away from shore, out of ear shot, there was likely much discussion about what was to be done next. They were in the middle of the lake with a storm brewing and the Master had remained behind.
Mar 6:46 After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.
As was the custom of Jesus He went to spend time talking to His father, in prayer. When we read the Bible we see things like the baptism of Jesus and miss the point, in most cases, that God, the Father, spoke. Prayer is not just a one sided monologue. God does not answer immediately in every case but if we fail to spend time listening we will never know if He did or not. When we speak to our girlfriend, our wife or friends we listen. Is God worthy of any less?
Mar 6:47 When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land.
Mar 6:48 Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He *came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them.
The disciples have been on the water almost all night, pulling at the oars and fighting against the storm. The night was divided into into four watches and Jesus did not walk out to them until at least three hours before sunrise. Then the point expressed, almost in passing, is often missed. It about 5 in the morning, pitch black out and Jesus was on the shore and the disciples were miles out from the shore, but He saw them!
Mar 6:49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out;
Mar 6:50 for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and *said to them, "Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid."
Just as many of us today, the disciples had witnessed the power of Jesus and yet did not fully incorporate what they had learned into their lives. The best life example I know of this truth is the case of my pilot and a SAM missal in Vietnam. We had an FM radio on the hueys and we always had it turned on and tuned to no station.
My pilot was younger than me but he had seen me in and out of many situations and I really trusted him with my life. Suddenly the FM sounded a medium toned signal, I keyed my mike and very nervously said SAM! The copilot nodded and the pilot replied, “Got it!” The second or two before the next tone was an eternity. As soon as I heard it my heart raced and if I had had a pressure meter on it would have run off the scale when that second signal went off.
I trusted my pilot and I knew the Russian SAM would not launch until the third signal but would we escape? The Huey jolted left, fell from the sky and lost air speed. After two more near locks we escaped the radar and the SAM. In similar fashion to my belief in that 19 year old kid we must learn to trust Jesus no matter the circumstance.
Mar 6:51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished,
Just as that brave young pilot had saved my bacon over and over Jesus guarded over His disciples and yet just like me with that young man, they were astonished.
Mar 6:52 for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.
Insight is a fleeting thing without maturity. By the time I left the 229th I had learned to never falter at danger as long as my man was with me and flying the ship. In similar fashion, it has taken me 19 years of study, practice and trusting Jesus to understand that “no” harm can befall me, Jesus has my cyclic and pitch controls in His hands and He will not let me fail.