Day Thirty-Eight with Mark: Mark 10:1-12 and 13-16

Today we look at Mark 10: 1-12:

10 He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.

2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Ok, today’s passage is one of those tough passages, one that can really be a challenge to understand.  That’s why I think it’s good to read it in context with what follows, Mark 10:13-16:

13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

jesuskidsHere’s the importance of context, we can see a bigger picture of what Jesus is doing.  When we look at passages that are tough and hard to understand, that context is key.  In both of these passages, Jesus is lifting up those that were forgotten and taken advantage of.

In the first passage, first we see that Jesus was being tested, the religious leaders wanted to see if they could trip Him up, so they asked about divorce.  What was happening in that day was this.  Men would marry and after a few years, divorce their wife and remarry because they could.  In that culture, that would leave the wife basically poor and powerless.

And what Jesus is saying is this.  No!  That’s not the way it’s supposed to be.  You can’t do this to your wife.  It’s not the way that God intended.  She’s made in His image.  You can’t, you shouldn’t do that to her.  It’s wrong.

This passage is about affirming the worth of the wife, of the female, of the one that in that culture didn’t matter.  Jesus is saying, this – she matters!

And the same thing with the child.  Children (like women) in that culture were little more than property.  And Jesus is telling the people this, these children matter.  Welcome them.  They count. They are important.  Welcome these little ones.

Jesus is telling us today that everyone matters.  Everyone is important.  Everyone has worth.  Even those that we are tempted to miss or tempted to ignore.

They matter to Jesus.

So, today and each day, they should matter to us.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 10:17-31.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

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Like a Child

Sometimes when you read a familiar passage of the Bible, you’ve really got to slow yourself down and pay attention.  Sometimes it’s so easy to just think, I’ve read this before, and quickly read through it, and then move on to the next passage.  When we do that, we can miss that unique thing that God may want to say to us today.

For instance, one of today’s readings was like that for me.  So I had to go back and reread Mark 10: 13-16 several times.  Listen to what it says:

13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

When I was reading today this is what jumped out to me.  In verse 15, if you don’t receive the kingdom of God as a little child, you will not enter it.  I just sat and stewed on that for a little bit today.

By the way, that’s one of the ways that you can really hear God’s voice in Scripture. When you are reading, what jumps out to you?  What catches your eye?  God back and stay there for a while.  Go and listen.  Keep going back to it.  And listen to what jumps out.  Pay attention to words. To thoughts.  To ideas.  To images.  What pops off the page at you?  That’s where God is speaking to you.

christmas-treeToday for me, it was receiving the kingdom like a little child.  Know what I thought about?  Christmas morning.  The excitement.  The joy.  The anticipation.  The “waking up at 3 in the morning” type of passion that every child has a Christmas Eve.  The fact that you can’t wait, you can’t can’t wait, you can’t wait to get that present.

Look out work, here we come!

Our kids feel that way about Christmas, don’t they?  Honestly, don’t we still?

Do we feel that way about the Kingdom?  Do we feel that way about grace, about mercy, about Jesus?

This world makes us grow up, doesn’t it?  And that’s a little sad. We can lose that that joy for Jesus and His gift. This world as a way of dampening that fire.

Jesus today wants to light that fire in our hearts.

Today, you are not condemned.  You are forgiven.  You are loved.  You are treasured.  You are valued.  You are His prize, His joy, His love.

And He wants you to receive that today.  With child-like joy!

Today, may we receive His love like a child.

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Teach the Faith

One of the the things I love most about the Old Testament is the command of God to teach the faith to the children.  One of the responsibilities of the adults, of the parents, of the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles of children is to teach them the faith. Teach them the stories of their faith.  Teach them what is true.

They were commanded to teach the children.  Listen to what is says in Deuteronomy 6:4-7:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

faf76c7c603532b7e54b1072ef985f9eThis is a passage that’s known to the Jewish people as the Shema which is the center of the their faith, a they are reminded to know this truth, to teach this truth, to pass this truth to their children.

As Christians, that’s our story too; that’s our call too.  As Paul explains to us in Galatians (and all over) that the Old Testament is our story as well; so many things in the Old Testament point to Jesus.  We are called to love the Lord our God with all of our hear, our soul, and our might.  We are called to love God with all that we are.

And we are called to teach that to others.  To our children.  To those that are new to the faith. To other believers. We are called to share what God has done for us.  We are called to share our faith.  Our hope.  Our love. We are called to pass along what God has done for us.  And what God is doing for us.

We are called to pass along that which is true. God is good.  He loves us.  He longs to know us.  He died to save us.  He was resurrected. And will come again.  We believe this.  We must pass it down to others.

And we must pass along to other what God has done for us.  We must teach the faith.

Has God done something for you?  Tell someone.  Share with someone.  Pass it along.

We learn, so we can share.  May we do that today and each day.

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Like a Child (SOAP)

Today, let’s reflect upon Matthew 18:1-6 together!

S – scripture

Matthew 18: 1-6:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

O – observation

Jesus exalts a child as the example of faith

Jesus tells us that we should have a faith like a little child.  And that sounds nice and sweet to us, but in Jesus’ day, that wasn’t the case.  Children were not important.  They were little more than property in that day.  The number of kids you had would show the wealth that you possessed, but it was not a child friendly society like ours is.

So, Jesus takes a child, of little worth in the culture, and says, be like this.  Humble yourself.  Don’t be proud.  Be humble. And in that, you will find the kingdom.

Jesus tells us welcome little children

Jesus doesn’t just tell us to humble ourselves like a little child (which is bad enough!) but He tells us that we should welcome children.  In His day, that simply was not the case.  Children were to be seen (rarely) and never heard. They didn’t matter.  They didn’t have value in that day. They were simply not important.

First, He tells to be like someone not important. And now He tells us to welcome someone not important.

Jesus is challenging us to consider our values of who is important and who is not important.

millstoneJesus warns us to consider out actions

And finally, Jesus tells us that if we cause one of these little ones to fall, our fate would not be good.  A mill stone is HUGE stone.  Bigger than any stone that you have ever soon. There is  no way that you could tie it around your neck, it’s simply too big.  Jesus is making a point here.  It would be better for you to do something impossible than for your actions to hurt one of these.

He reminds us that our actions have consequences that we can never even see.

A – application

Who is not important to us, that is important to Jesus?

Jesus calls us to pay attention to those that don’t “count.”  That don’t “matter.”  That aren’t “important.”  Why?  Because they count, the matter, and they are important to Him. They matter to Him.  He loves them, wants us to love them, and they may have something to teach us about faith.  God may be wanting to use that one that you think doesn’t matter to point other to Him.  He may have a high and lofty purpose for them, that we’ll never understand.

But He does. And He wants us to respect, love, and care for them.

Today, who are we missing, that Jesus isn’t?  Today is not important to us, that is very important to Jesus?

How can I humble myself?

CS Lewis said “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”  We have to learn to humble ourselves, and take the focus off of us, and put it on Him.  But our vision, our plans, our lives on Him.  He calls us over, and over and over again to humility.

Every wondered why?

If we are focused only on us, we will never be able to see Him.  Today, may we take the focus off of us, and place it upon Him.

Have I considered the consequences of my actions?

My life, my decisions, my actions, they have have consequences.  They affect others.  I don’t live only for myself.  I live for God, and I live for His plan.  The choices I make today, they will affect others in ways that I can’t imagine. Today, in our lives, may we remember that the choices that we make, the have a great affect on others, than we realize.  May we live with that knowledge.

P – prayer

Dear Father, my I live today, keeping my eyes open for those that I normally miss because I am so busy.  May I seek to place the focus of my life upon you, and may I consider how my actions affect others.  Give me grace for this day.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Like a Child

Today we read about Jesus taking the little children to Himself and blessing them. We love this image. We love this story. We’ve probably seen a million artistic interpretations of it.

But, for a minute, don’t think about the story, but listen to it as it’s found in Mark 10:13-16:

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

jesus-and-childrenBefore you get to Jesus, have you ever wondered why the disciples wanted to keep the kids away from Jesus. I mean, who doesn’t love kids? Aren’t they important?

In Jesus day? No. No, they really weren’t important. They really weren’t that valuable. They really didn’t count for much.

That’s why the disciples where trying to keep them away. Jesus was an important man. He didn’t have time to waste with children. He has important stuff to do.

And Jesus says no – let them come to me. They matter. They are important. They are mine. And in fact, not only do they matter, but if you want to enter the kingdom of heaven, you’ve got to be like them.

It isn’t just that they matter. But you can learn from them.

The person that you think is unimportant. That doesn’t matter. That you may have written off, today, you can learn from them. God can speak through them. God can reach out to you through them.

If we will listen. Everyone matters. Everyone is made in God’s image. Everyone count. Today, who have you written off that God may want to speak to you through.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Simple, Childlike Faith

Today, we read about Jesus and the children. Listen to what happens in Luke 18:15-17:

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

Ever wonder why the disciples didn’t want the children around Jesus? I mean, really? What was about the kids that made the disciples fuss at folks?

I mean, we love kids, right? Everyone of us, particularly those of us in families, we value our kids above, well, most everyone and everything.

That’s the lives that we lead today.

That wasn’t the case in Jesus’ day. Back then, children were little more than property. Children weren’t that important.
In the mind of the disciples, Jesus literally had a million things more important to fool with than children.

But, that’s not what Jesus believed.

For Him, thought the children may not have mattered to the crowd. Or the disciples. Or even to society. They matter to Him. For He loved them. He valued them. He came for them.

And, instead of rebuking the children, he rebuked the adults. He said it’s not the children are unworthy. But if we want to see the kingdom of heaven, we must become like that child.

We must have simple faith. Simple trust. Simple belief.

Childlike.

Today, do we have that? Do we have that simple childlike faith? Even though it may seem naive. Even though it may be looked down upon by the world. Even though it may simple.

It’s what the Lord wants us to have.

And remember that they looked down on these simple children. And the Lord welcomed them in.

Just like, when we have that simple childlike faith, He will welcome us in.

Today, may we have that childlike faith. May we trust. And in that trust, may we glorify God with all that we are!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Pass It On

We all had someone in our life that set the example for us. The example of what work looks like. The example of what family looks like. The example of what faith looks like.

Now, for some of us, that example was a great example. It was an example that really showed what a man, or a women, of God should do, should live, should speak.

For some of us, we’ve had some really Godly examples.

For others of us, we haven’t. We may not have had that Godly example.

But here’s the thing. No matter what we bring to the table with our past, those of us that know God, and that are called according to His spirit, we have an obligation to pass on what we know, what we see, what is right, and what is wrong, to those that come behind us. Listen to what is says in Psalm 145:4-7

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

Our generation, we have an obligation, a command, to share with the next generation what God has done for us. We have to teach our children, our grandchildren, the kids that we know about God. About the love and grace of Jesus. About the power of the Holy Spirit.

We have a command to pass it on.

We must. Because if we don’t, who will? If we as the church, as believers, as those that love God don’t tell, who will?

We must.

But today, don’t get up in so telling with our words, that we forget to tell with our lives. Our lives tell the story of God’s grace even louder than our words. Today, share the story of God’s grace and redemption with all.

With the young.

With the old.

With all.

With your words.

And with your lives. Let’s pass along what we know. Let’s tell the goodness of God to everyone!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Grow Up!

I love my children.  I mean, I really do. They are just my joys.  I love spending time with them, I love laughing with them, I love playing with them. They are just great.

And as a parent, I want what is best for them. I want to do all that I can do to make sure that they have all that they need, and most of what they want.  I want them to have every advantage in life.

The thing I want most of all for them is two-fold, that they grow up to be responsible adults that respect all persons and that work hard; and that they follow Jesus Christ with all that they have.

I want my children to grow.  In short, as much as I don’t “like it,” my goal for my children is for them to grow up.  To mature. To become adults.  I don’t like that notion, I wish they could stay 6 and 4 forever, but I know it’s just not possible.

You know what God wants for us today?  Much the same thing.  Listen to what Paul writes to us again in Colossians:

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.

God has given us this hope of glory, Jesus Christ, in the desire that we should fully mature in Jesus Christ.

You know what God wants?  He wants us to grow up!  Just like as parents, we want our kids to mature, to be responsible, to make wise choices, to do what is right and be people we can be proud of?  God wants the same thing for us.

God, in our walk with Him and others, wants us be mature. To do what is right.  To make wise choices.  To be responsible. To be mature.

That’s our desire for our kids and our grandkids.

That’s God’s desire for us.

Today, are you doing the things to help you “grow up” in your faith?  Are you praying? Reading scripture? Worshiping with the people of God?  Serving?  Are you deepening your faith?

Or, are you staying a child?

God doesn’t want us to stay a spiritual child forever. He wants us to grow up. Today, are we doing things in our lives to that will help us mature? Are we doing the things to help us grow up?

Unexpected Places

Where do you expect to see God today?

Since it’s not Sunday, maybe you don’t expect to see Him at all today.  Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that we only see Him on Sunday.

That we only see Him in church.

That we only hear Him through the words a preacher says.

That, my friends, is not so. We can see God, we can experience God in many different ways.

In our lives, we can find God in some very unexpected places.

Listen to what Jesus says today in Mark 9:

Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”

Before this scene, the disciples had been arguing over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus tells them that the one that serves would be the greatest.

And then, He picks up a child and says that to welcome a little child is to welcome God.

Now, in our day, we nod our heads and smile and say, sure, that sounds lovely. But, in Jesus’ day, that was not so. Children were not seen as much worth much until they grew into adulthood. Then, they may have a little value.

But, children, in that day?  No value.

And Jesus says, there, there in that small child, you have the chance to welcome God.

In an unexpected place.

Today, where do you expect to find God?  If you will open your eyes, open your heart, you will find Him in places you do not expect.

He is there.  Waiting.  Waiting for you to encounter Him. Waiting on you to love Him.  Serve Him. Worship Him.

In unexpected places.

Today, in all we do, we may we find God in those places. And may we be drawn closer to Him in all that we do.