Day Thirty-Three with Mark: Mark 8:22-26

Today in Mark we look at Mark 8:22-26:

Jesus Cures a Blind Man at Bethsaida
22 They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” 24 And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”

This is the second time we see Jesus heal someone by using spit or saliva.  We talked a good bit in the day about why Jesus chose to use saliva as an instrument of healing.  I think there is much to be said about the notion of Jesus using “modern” understandings of medicine for other’s benefit as well the notion that He is showing illness and disease who is really in control.

But here is the thing that is significant about this text to me.  Notice Jesus takes the man out of town to heal him and then after the healing tells him to not even go back into the town.  Why?  Why did Jesus do this great act in private?  Many of His other miracles, particularly early in His ministry were done in public so everyone could see.

Now, this is in private with the express directions to not ever go into town and tell others.  Why?

Imperial-Crown-IndiaWell, the people of Jesus day were looking for a Messiah. They were looking for a savior. They were looking for a King from the line of David.  In fact at times some people will even call Him the Son of David.  What is happening here is they are saying yes, you are the one that is to come from David’s line.

You will be a king just like David!

And for the people, David was the greatest earthly king the people had ever had.  He was it.  He was the icon of what a king should be.  All other kings would measure up against him.  And when that promised king from David’s line would come, he would drive out their oppressors.  He would restore the fortunes of Israel and make them great again.

He would restore the kingdom.

But, as Jesus tells us, His kingdom is not of this world.  Yes, He is a king, but it is not of an earthly kingdom.  It is a heavenly kingdom.

So why did Jesus do this in private and tell others not to tell.  Because they didn’t understand the kingdom Jesus was going to bring.  So He did these healings in secret.  He did them in private.  Because they didn’t understand the kingdom Jesus was coming to bring.

We will see tomorrow, that even His closest disciples didn’t get it just yet.

So, when I read these stories, the question I always have to ask myself is this. What do I do when Jesus isn’t what I expect Him to be?  What do I do when Jesus’ plan, His will, His purpose aren’t what I would have done myself?

Do I buck Him?  Or do I trust?  That’s always the question.  What do we do when Jesus doesn’t do what we expect.

Today, and each day, may we learn to trust.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 8:27-38.

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 Fifteen with Mark: Mark 4:21-34

Today in Mark 4:21-34, we are going to look at three parables of Jesus.

A Lamp under a Bushel Basket
21 He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. 23 Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. 25 For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”

The Parable of the Growing Seed
26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed
30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

The Use of Parables
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples

First, we have the Lamp under a bushel basket.  Ok, a couple of things here.  With parables, you have to remember that this is not to be taken “literally.”  What I mean is this is an illustration or a story.  It’s true, and it illustrates truth, but Jesus is trying to communicate something deeper here.  So, for instance, in the Gospels, light is often seen as a symbol for truth or for Jesus Himself.

So, in this parable, we’ve been given truth.  And we can’t hide that truth.  Truth will come out. What is done is secret, God knows.  But this measure of what we’ve been given is talking about the truth we’ve been given.  The “light.”  So, the more we respond to the truth, the more we search the scriptures, the more we seek God, the more we desire Him, the more of Him we will we know and will receive.  Likewise, the less we seek, the less we search, the less of Him we will know.

Today, we’ve been shown light.  And keeping with the theme of the parables, our response to that light will determine how much more light we receive.

The second parable we hear today is the parable of the growing seed.  In this, the kingdom of God is the seed.  It is planted but notice, it doesn’t grow because of the work of man, but it grows because of the Will of God.  We look up and marvel at what God has done and wonder to ourselves, how did that happen?  And the answer is God.  It happened because God was the one that was at work.  It wasn’t our will or our efforts that made it happen, it was God’s.

Remember, that God is the one that does the work.  Never mistake our faithfulness for God’s work.  God is the one at work.  We along aside beside Him.  But He is the instigator, He is the sustainer, He is the one that makes it happen.  And we look out and wonder, how that happen?  God.  That’s how.

mustardseed_1And our last parable today is mustard seed.  This is the one that we are most familiar with of these three parables.  The kingdom of God is like that mustard seed.  It’s small.  But when it grows roots, it changes everything.  The Gospel is not complicated.  It’s just hard to understand.  I heard someone put it like this.  The love of God is so simple that a child can understand it, but some complicated the greatest theologian can’t fathom it.

All of these parables, what is the emphasis upon?  The Kingdom.  The work and will of God.  He plants it, He grows it, He sustains it, we marvel at it.  Our job is to be receptive.  To do our part.  To listen, to receive, to obey, and to fan the flame that God puts within us.

Let’s be faithful.  But let’s know that it is God that is work within us.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 4:35-41.

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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Shine Bright

Today you have a chance to make a difference.  Today, you have a chance to shine bright the love of Christ.  Today, with His spirit within you, you have the chance, the moment, the ability to make a huge difference for the kingdom.

Today, you can shine bright the light of Christ with all that you do.

Listen to what it says today in Luke 8: 16-18:

“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”

6568967-bright-light-bulb-standing-isolated-over-a-black-backgroundIt says here, no one, when they have this light, will hide it. They won’t put in a jar or under the bed, but they will put it out for everyone to see.  The will place this light in a place where everyone can see it and live into it.

So is it with the light of Christ within us.  If we know His grace, have tasted His mercy, felt His power, experienced His love in our souls, we can’t hide it.  We can’t ignore it. We can’t pretend like it’s not there.  We can’t.

Don’t hide that light.  Let it shine in your hearts and let it shine in your lives.

Let His light shine today in our words.  In our actions.  In our relationships.  In all that we are, all that we do.  Let it shine.

For His life in our lives, it will make all difference in our life, and in the life of others.

Today, you’ve been give life, been given light.  Let it shine.

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.

Your Heart’s Desire

God wants good things for you. He really does. God wants what is best for you. Really.

God wants to give you, in your life, the good things that are going to bless you and make your life better and more whole.

God longs to do these things for you.

Listen to what Jesus tells us in Luke 12:32-34 today:

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

He says that it’s the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. That’s pretty cool. It’s God’s good pleasure to this for us. It’s His desire. It’s His will. He wants to give us the kingdom.

But, before we run too far with this, let’s think about what that means. Look at what it says in verse 34. Where our treasure is, there will be our heart.

God wants to give us the kingdom. He wants to give us good things. But first, He wants to change our hearts.

Because what happens is that when He changes our hearts, we want different things. The reason that God will give us the kingdom, after He changes our hearts, is because at that point, what we want is what He wants.

So, today, what is your heart’s desire? Is it God? Is it His kingdom? Is it His life? If so, then today, you will be satisfied. Today, you will find life.

Is your heart’s desire something else. Then you can seek it and find it. But without God as the center of it, the center of your heart and life, you won’t be truly happy.

Today, God wants to change you heart and give you what you truly desire, and truly need.

Him. And His life.

Today, and each day, may God be our hearts desire.

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.

Worth Having

What in your life is really worth having? I mean, really worth having?

We spend our time on lots of things. So are very important. Some, not so much. In our lives we only have so much time, so much money, so much energy, so much effort.

Today, in your life, are you spending these precious resources on what matters the most?

Are you spending it on things worth really having?

Listen to what Jesus says today in Matthew 13:44-46:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

He says that the kingdom of God is like a hidden treasure that man sells all he has to go and buy. It’s like a great pearl that a man sales everything to go and own.

The kingdom of heaven is life that is found in Jesus. It’s not just heaven, though that is part of it. It’s the life that is found in one’s daily walk with Him. That life that makes everything better. That life is that is truly worth having, over everything else in life.

And see, that’s it. This kingdom life, this life that’s found in Jesus, that’s worth having. That’s eternal, unending, and joyous. That’s the best and that’s what it’s all about.

And today, Jesus said that should come first and be first. And we should get rid of everything else and keep that.

Because when we’ve got that, we’ve got something truly worth having.

Today, may we remember in our lives what is truly worth having. Faith. Family. Friendships. And let’s focus on that.

Let’s focus on what really matters. And in that, we will find life!

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.

Your Part to Play

We are not all the same. Thank goodness.  I like the fact that we are each different, that we each have different likes, dislikes, abilities, and gifts. That’s a good thing.  None of us are exactly the same.

Today in Acts, we see the Apostles teach the people that each person has a different gift and calling. These gifts aren’t better than each other. They are just different.  All gifts are needed. We each have a part to play in the body.  We see in Acts 6:

2 And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, 4 while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” 5 What they said pleased the whole community,

And God needs all of us to do our thing. God needs each of us to do what He has called us to do and be who He has called us to be.

Not everyone is supposed to be me.  Not everyone is supposed to be you.

We are each supposed to be who God has called us to be.

Just because you don’t have the same gift or passion as I do, that doesn’t make you bad.  It doesn’t make me bad. It makes us different and it means that God wants to each use each of us for His kingdom.

He needs each of us do what we are called to do, what we are passionate about.

And in doing that, we will build the kingdom of God here among us.

Today, don’t try to me, or your mama, or your preacher, or your teacher, or you neighbor.

Be you. Be the person God has called YOU to be.

He needs you to be that person.   Your church needs you to be that person. the kingdom needs you to be that person.

We each have a part to play.  Each of us.  None of us are unimportant. We are each valuable to God.

Be who you are called this day.  And don’t worry about being anybody else.