Day Forty-Nine with Mark: Mark 12:35-44

Today we are going to look at three different stories as found in Mark 12:35-44:

35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 David himself, by the Holy Spirit, declared,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.”’
37 David himself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.

Jesus Denounces the Scribes
38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

The Widow’s Offering
41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

We see in these passages the conclusion of the stories in Mark 12 where different religious leaders come to Jesus, not for real answers, but to test Him and try to trip Him up.

So what we see in conclusion to Mark 12 is three different stories where Jesus puts many of these debates to rest.  What we see here in 35-37 Jesus proving to the religious leaders that He is superior to David and the traditions of the people.  In this passage, Jesus takes a Psalm and shows how in it David is giving a prophecy of Him.  So, even David knows that the Messiah is greater than he is and the Jewish traditions.

David is the icon of what it means to be a great king.  And here the great king is saying that the coming Messiah is greater than he.  So, if you regard David with authority (which the leaders did) you have to agree that the messiah is superior, and Jesus is the Messiah.  So, by their own standards, they should listen to and follow Him.  But they don’t.

Then in 38-40 Jesus warns people about following the religious leaders.  They really aren’t interesting in following God or leading others to God.  They are more interested in their own power and authority.

They aren’t worried about giving glory to God (even they claim to be) they are worried about their own glory and their own power.

james-c-christensen-the-widows-mite1This is seen to be true in the last story, 40-44, where the religious leader makes an offering and demands attention for the gift that he is given.  That is contrasted with the widow is give out of her poverty, but gives all that she is has.

The widow is not giving for attention or power of anything like that.  She’s giving out of devotion to God.

That’s what Jesus is trying to show us.  It’s about that love, that devotion, that desire to know and be faithful to God. That’s what the humble followers possess.  That’s what the powerful leaders lack.

Today may we desire and have the same type of humble following of Jesus Christ!

Next week we are going to spend a few days in Chapter 13.

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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Day Forty-One with Mark: Mark 11:1-11

Today in our walk through Mark, we look at Mark 11:1-11, the Triumphal Entry, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday:

11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Triumphal-entryOne of the things that we miss here in the West when we read the Bible is that we read it through eyes that are American.  We see things sort of as we see them here.  An example of this for me personally is when I read about Jesus going into the wilderness to be tempted, me being someone that grew up in south Mississippi, when I thought of wilderness, I thought of trees.  It’s just what I pictured in my mind when I thought of wilderness.

Well, when you go to Israel you see that the wilderness that Jesus was tempted in wasn’t trees and forest it the most dreary and desolate desert that you’ll ever see.  Understanding the land and the context really helps you to understand the Word.

Today’s passage is another one that understanding the context really helps you understand.  We see in this Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, and think of conquering western kings or armies parading into town on the back of a horse or coming in great triumph.

So we see Jesus do this and think – oh, look at Jesus’ humility!  Now, it is true that Jesus is humble, but that’s not what is happening here.  Jesus is not being humble, in coming into town on a donkey, in fact He’s doing just the opposite.  He’s declaring Himself as king.

The triumphal entry is an act of humbleness, sure, but in that context it’s an act of kingly humility. It’s the act of a king.

If someone ever tells you that Jesus never declared Himself as the Messiah, point right to this passage.  That’s exactly what He is doing here.  He is telling everyone who He is.  He is king.

And notice the reaction from the people.  They call Him the one that is to to come from David.  They understood what was happening.  They understood what Jesus was saying.

They understood that He was king.

But, what we will see is that He was not the king that they were expecting.

Today, though, we see Jesus getting the praise and worship that He deserves.  We see Jesus as king.

May He be king in our lives as well.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 11:12-14.

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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Perspective

It’s so easy in life to lose perspective.  To lose perspective on ourselves, or to lose perspective on others.  To think too much of ourselves, or too little of ourselves.  To think too much of others, or too little of others.  In our lives, we really do need perspective.  We need to see things for what they are in reality.

Listen to how Paul puts it in Romans 12:3-5:

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

PERSPECTIVEPaul tells us this morning, keep that perspective.  Don’t think to highly of ourselves; but think about things with grace and perspective.  Now hear me, this doesn’t mean that we are to have a low opinion of ourselves or think that we don’t matter.

Please understand, that’s not what Paul is saying at all. What he is saying is this.  It’s not that you don’t matter.  It’s that they matter too.  It’s not that you are unimportant, it’s that they are are just as important as you are.

This is the proper perspective to have, we all matter.  You are sacred and of great worth.  You matter.  You are vital.  You are important.  You is kind, you is smart, you is important.

And so are they.  For we are all part of one body.  We all matter.  We all are important.  We all count.

Perspective is not thinking less of yourself.  It’s thinking as much of them, as you do yourself.

Today, live with perspective.  Don’t think as much about yourself, as you do about them.  And I promise you, in that, you’ll find more life that you ever think possible.

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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.

SOAP – Day Five– 1 Corinthians 10:11-13

324904370_640Today, we do day five of our SOAP challenge.  I really do hope that you will continue to use this method of studying the Bible in your daily lives.  I will continue, from time to time, to use this method for these daily reflections.  I may do it every day, but I will use it again.

Let’s begin!

S – scripture

Listen.  Focus.  Read each word deliberately.   Don’t get in such a hurry to get done that you don’t focus on the word you are reading.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Listen for God’s voice in each word.

1 Corinthians 10:11-13:

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

O – observation

What did you see in this text?  This is what stood out to me.

Be careful

Paul warns us here, if you think you are standing firm, be very careful.  It’s the pride that goes before the fall.  The moment we think we’ve got it all figured out, the moment we believe that we are above temptation, and it could NEVER  happen to us, that’s when it happens.  Be very careful.  You are not as strong as you think that you are.  If we think we are standing on our own strength, we will fall.

Temptation will come

The reason we have be careful and not get arrogant is this.  Temptation is coming.  Write it down.  It will come.  You will face temptation today. I will face temptation today. It’s coming. Be ready.  Be aware.  Know this. Today, tomorrow, each day, you will face temptation.  It is going to come.  You are are not the first to face it, and you won’t be the last.

It’s coming.  Be ready.

There will be a way out

In temptation, know this though.  There is a way out.  Yes, you will face temptation, sure you will.  But it won’t be worse than anyone else.   You’re temptation is not more than you can bear.  It’s not.  Hear that.  Yes, it’s tough, but  you can do it.

And there is a way out.  God will open a door.  He will make a way.  You can get through this.

A – application

How can we apply what we noticed to our life today?

Remember that you are not perfect

If pride goes before the fall, one of the ways to deal with this is to remember that you are not perfect.  Yes, you’re awesome.  But you’re not perfect.  Yes, you are made in God’s image.  But you are not perfect.  Yes, you are gifted.  But you are not perfect.  It’s ok.  None of us are.  But, don’t forget that.  Don’t get prideful.  Don’t look down upon others.  There but by the grace of God go I.  Remember that, any goodness in us comes from God.

In short, stay humble.  Don’t get cocky.  Remember, that none of us are perfect, and the moment we start thinking that is the moment we get ourselves in trouble.

Be on the look out for temptation

So, you aren’t perfect.  And temptation is going to come.  So, be on the lookout. Be aware.  Keep your head up and on a swivel. The devil will love to trip you and get you in trouble.  He know where you are weak and struggle. And that’s where he will hit you.

Be looking.

What is it that you struggle with?  Where are you weaknesses? What are you temptations?  Be aware of yourself. Be looking. Be aware.  Know it’s coming. Be ready. Don’t be surprised when trouble comes your way.  Just get ready.

Have a plan

You temptation, it has a way out.  The word promises that it is not too much to bare.  It’s not too much.  You can do it.  Seriously.  You can do it. There is a way out. There is.

What is your plan?  Here’s some good ideas – have some scripture memorized to beat back temptation.  Have a friend to call/text.  Go for a walk.  Count to 10 and breathe.  Pray.  Any of these will help.

And if there is an area of your life where are prone to fall into temptation, as best you can, stay away from it!  Avoid temptation, as best you can.  Stay away from ares where you are weak.

Temptation is going to come your way to day. What will you do about it?  The word promises you can do it.

P – prayer

Loving God, as we face temptation in our lives today, help us remember our great need for you, and help us to know that whatever it is that we face, you will make a way out for us.  Give us that strength and hope today.  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 phone.

We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are

One of my favorite songs by Rich Mullins is entitled We are Not as Strong as we Think we Are. It’s not a song that many of us have heard; I heard it for the first time when I was in college.

I was going through a rough time, that odd point in life when you aren’t sure where your place is in life; what God is calling you to; what you will do. I always enjoyed Rich Mullins’ music and I bought his CD (yes, I’m so old I remember CDs!) Songs. And I hear this song. The words still resonate with me today:

We are frail, we are fearfully and wonderfully made . . . we must be awfully small and not strong as we think we are.

That song summed up the tension of life so well to me. We are frail and weak, but we are also fearfully and wonderfully made.

But we need the humility to understand that we are not a strong as we think we are.

Listen to what Jesus says today in Matthew 23:11-12:

The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

We must humble ourselves. We must arrogance has no place in our hearts. We stand on God’s grace and mercy. And we are not as strong as we think w are.

Our strength comes not from ourselves, but from Him. Our ability to stand is not our own, but His. Our life is not our life, but His.

Today, know you are fearfully and wonderfully made. But also know that you are frail and needy.

And know that when we humble ourselves, realize our weakness, we will find His strength. Today, may we live with humility. And may we find His strength.

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.

Boasting in Weakness

Boasting is not something we are supposed to do. The Bible tells us in Proverbs, it’s the pride that goes before the fall. If we brag, if we boast, if we get too full of ourselves, trouble will come.

Boasting is not good.

Yet today, we see Paul talking about boasting! He says – I will boast. You would think such a statement would be something that would be leading him to trouble.  Listen to what he says in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul says – I will boast in my weakness. For in my weakness, I know Christ’s power. In my weakness I am strong.

That’s something to boast about.

That goes so different from our world. Our world tells us to boast about how awesome we are. How great we are. How perfect we are. It’s about us.

Paul says to that – No! I will no boast in anything about me, but I will boast in Christ thought me. Every great thing in my (and our) life is no because of us.

It’s because of Him.

We have not earned it. We can’t earn it. We can’t boast in ourselves. We boast in Him. As I tell folks at Asbury, if anything I do is good, He gets credit. I’ll take credit for the bad stuff.

His love, His mercy, His grace, these are gifts. And when we realize how weak we are, we can boast even more in them. That’s what Paul is saying. He has realized how much he does not deserve God’s grace, and God gives it any way.

Which makes Him love God even more!

So, today, don’t boast in yourself. Boast in God. Boast in His goodness, mercy, and grace. In our weakness, His strength is made perfect. When we are lesser, He is greater.

If you’re going to boast, boast about your weakness. And when we know that we are weak, we will find that He is strong.

And that’s something to boast about.