Our Last Day with Mark: Mark 16:9-20

Today we are finishing up our time with Mark.  You can go through and read all our reflections on Mark here on my blog, you can group them under the category Mark below and catch up.  Friday we’ll do a reading from our Daily Readings, and I’ll be thinking about what is next.

The Longer Ending of Mark

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
9 [[Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

Jesus Appears to Two Disciples
12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

Jesus Commissions the Disciples
14 Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

The Ascension of Jesus
19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.]]

the-gospel-of-mark1We talked Monday about why Chapter 16 is made it like it is, with the notations of the different manuscripts.  Today, we see these last few verses in Mark are in four different sections, and only one of them really makes us go, huh?

The first section – 9-10, Jesus appears to Mary, just as it happens in other Gospels. The first person to see Jesus after the resurrection was Mary. She was dedicated to Him, she loved Him, and she came to help prepare His body for final burial.  And she was the first one to proclaim the resurrection.  She was the first of many throughout the ages to tell others that Jesus is alive.  She was the first to share that Good News.  But notice, they didn’t believe her.

Second, 12-13, what sounds very similar to the walk to Emmaus in Luke.  In Luke’s Gospel we see a fuller picture of what happened here, two followers were walking to the village of Emmaus when Jesus appeared to them, explained how all the scriptures point to Him, to His death, and resurrection, but they didn’t recognize Him.  It wasn’t until they arrived at the village, and they broke bread together that they realized it was Jesus.  So, they go and tell others, but notice, just like in the section before, they didn’t believe them.

Third, 14-18, Jesus appears to the Disciples.  Ok, here there are some things that make us go, wait, what?  We see a similar end to what we see in Matthew, with Jesus sending them out with the great commission. But we see something unique to Mark.  We see that they will have signs of great power, they will be able to drink poison, handle snakes, speak in tongues, other such things.  What are we to do this?

First, it is in the Bible.  One of my professors in seminary always told us that we can’t just ignore passages of scripture that confuse us or that we don’t like.  They are in the Bible.  This ending of Mark is what is found most common in the manuscripts that the Bible comes from (I unpack a lot this Monday), but know, it is the Bible.  So, I believe that those that follow Jesus, we can face amazing things, things that would kill others, and survive.  I believe we have power that the world does not possess.  Now notice, it didn’t say that we should necessarily go looking for trouble or for these things. But if they come, we will have more power than we think is even possible.

So, I’m not going to go out handling snakes. But, I do believe in miracles.  And I do believe that as Christians, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and we may not understand all that God does through us, He can and does do amazing things through us.  We are filled with the very Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.  Trust.  Hope.  Beleive.

Don’t be like those initial disciples.  Have faith.

Fouth, 19-20, the ascension.  We see Jesus ascend to heaven, where He sits at God’s right hand, praying for us, encouraging us, interceding for us.  Remember, you always have someone on your side, someone pulling for you, someone that loves you, someone that cares for you, someone there for you.  Jesus.  He is at the right hand of the Father.  On your team.  Never forget that.

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 Thirty-Six with Mark: Mark 9:38-41

Today we look at Mark 9:38-41 and we see Jesus tell us about how we can work together as different churches:

Another Exorcist
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us. 41 For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

around-the-crossToday we see Jesus giving us a picture of what “church” should be like. We see the disciples saying, we saw people casting out demons in Jesus name, but they weren’t part of their group. And they tried to stop them, because they weren’t part of their group.

And Jesus says no.  If they do good my name (in other words, through me) then they can’t be against me.  In other words, if they are part of Jesus, but not part of us, you know what?  It’s ok.  Jesus’ team, Jesus kingdom is bigger than just you and me.  It’s bigger than just my local church.  Or my denomination.  Or those that worship like I do.  Or believe exactly like me.  Or have my theology.

Jesus team is made up of all those that believe in Him and part of Him.  Even if they aren’t “part” of our group.  Because you know what?  If they are in Christ, they are part of us.

Through Jesus, we are one.  Even if we disagree or have differences of opinions.  If we are in Jesus, we are one.

Imagine what we could do as Christians if we all worked together.  Imagine what could happen in our communities, our world, everywhere, if we all worked together in Jesus name.  We could (and we can) change the world.

Look at the good that was being done.  In Jesus name.

Today, may all of us that are in Jesus name, may we work together for the same goal, the same purpose, the same plan, the same savior.

May we all, no matter what group we are part of, work for Jesus!

Monday we’ll look at Mark 9:42-50.

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 Thirty-Five with Mark: Mark 9:1-8

Today we look at one of the more amazing stories in the Bible in Mark 9:1-8.  We see Jesus’ transfiguration:

1 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

The Transfiguration
2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

transfiguration2003-3This is why I like this story.  In this, we see Jesus for who He is.  He is glorious.  He is powerful.  He is majestic.  He is strong.  He is God.

We see Jesus today in all of His power and might.  We truly see Jesus as is He.  He left the right hand of God to be born of a virgin, to be fully God and fully man, to redeem humanity.  While on the earth, He suffered.  He bled.  He was abandoned.  He was betrayed.  He walked around Israel and Judah with a group of followers.  He lived a tough life.  He did.

He was tested as we were, yet remained without sin.  He was tested and tried.  He experienced the death of friends, He felt rejection from family, He did not have an easy time fulfilling His Father’s plan.

And, by the way, that was for us.  All that He went through was for our sake and for our salvation.  Let us not forget that.

But today, today we see Jesus in His glory.  We see Him in His power.  We see Him as He is.  King of Kings.  Lord of Lords.  Alpha and Omega.  Beginning and the End.  The First and the Last.

He is the visible image of the invisible God.  He is the firstborn of all creation.  He is God Himself.

Don’t forget that.  Don’t forget who He is.  Don’t take Him for granted.  Don’t forget His grace.  His mercy.

And His strength.  And His power.  And His might.

He is Jesus.

Monday we’ll look at Mark 9:9-13.

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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Remember Who He Is

One of the things that we so often in the Gospels is we see the lengths that God went to, through Jesus, to bring us back home.  We see Jesus, who is both fully God and fully human (a term called the incarnation) walk among us, suffer, go through everything that we go through as human, live, die, and be raised again.  And through all this He overcomes sin, death, and the grave, and through His power, allows us to overcome sin, death, and the grave.

That’s how we see Him in the Gospels.

But there are moments, moments of divine glory, where we see Jesus in all of His power and might and majesty.  Moments where we truly see Him for who He is.  Today’s text is one such moment.  Listen to what happens in the Transfiguration as found in Matthew 17: 1-6:

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.

6.-Window-34-Transfiguration-HagopianHere, we see Jesus as He truly is.

Sometimes in an effort to understand Him and relate to Him, we can take the majesty away from Jesus.  Not on purpose, mind you, but just in treating Him so common and ordinary.  Sometimes faith gets ordinary.  Sometimes the stuff of faith becomes ordinary.

Sometimes we can take for granted or not really even think about who it is we pray to.  We can forget the majesty of who Jesus truly is. We can forget His power.  Forget His might.  Forget His strength.

Not on purpose, mind you.  It just becomes so regular and ordinary, we just forget.

Today, remember who is it we pray to.  Remember who has saved us. Remember who has sustained us. Remember His power, His grace.  See Him as He is.

He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He sits at the right hand of God will judge the living and the dead.

He is Lord.

Remember who He is today.  And let us be thankful He hears our prayers and in on our side!

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Enough Faith?

I really love when you are reading the Bible, and the spirit allows you to see a different perspective, it allows you to see things a little bit different.  That’s what happened to me this morning.  This is the familiar text I was reading, Luke 17:5-6.  Listen to what it says:

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Ok, check this out.  They come to Jesus and say, increase our faith.  Now, that’s a good thing, right?  I mean, who doesn’t want more faith?  Who doesn’t need more faith?  So, they come to Jesus with a good request.

But then, look what Jesus does.  He doesn’t say, no, I won’t.  He doesn’t say, sure, no problem.  He says this.  If you have the faith of a mustard see, you can throw a tree in the sea.

MustardSeed_(1)We hear that and think (quite often) about the size of the faith, and just a little bit of faith is powerful.  And then we think, man I just don’t have even that little bit of faith.  I need just that little bit.

But look at what Jesus is saying, if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can do amazing things.

Guess what?  They did have the faith of a mustard seed.  They did.  They had left all they had and followed Him.  They had this faith.  Was it perfect?  No.  But it was there.

And so Jesus was saying this.  You don’t need more faith.  You have enough faith. Use what you have!

We are like them in this way. Are we perfect?  No.  Do we have all the faith in the world?  No.  But you know what, if you believe in Jesus, you have faith.  If you follow Him, you have faith.  You do.

He’s saying that you actually do have the faith of a mustard seed.  You do. And that means today that you can do it!

In other words, you aren’t inadequate.  You really aren’t.  You have all that you need.  You can do it.  It’s not the size of the faith that you have, it’s the size of the God that you serve.  

Don’t worry about having more faith, or not having enough faith.  Use the faith that you have. With that faith, you can do anything.  Anything.  Anything is possible.  It truly is.

So today, live, love, serve, laugh.  Live out the faith that you, and watch God do amazing things.  You can do it.  You have faith.  God can will use it.  Through Him, you can do amazing things.

Today. And each day.

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Open Our Eyes

open_your_eyes_34636f84-d665-4e78-bbe2-cdcb6310e2f3Sometimes we need to have God open our eyes. We can miss so many amazing things. We can miss the beauty of creation. We can miss the simple joys of life. We can miss the things that God wants to show us, the things that God wants us to see.

We can miss His truth. We can miss the things that in life that are true. Things that are good. Things that are pure. Things that are noble.

We can miss the things, the real things, which we need to see.

Now, I don’t think we miss these things because we want to miss them. We miss them because we are busy. Or we aren’t looking for them. Or our attention is elsewhere.

We just don’t see.

Today we need to pray for our God to open our eyes. Open our eyes to see what is really real. Open our eyes to what we see in Ephesians 1: 16-20:

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

We need to have our eyes opened (or I like how it says here, the eyes of our hearts enlightened) to know the hope that we’ve been called to. The riches of our inheritance. The greatness of His power to us.

We have so much power at our disposal. We have so much strength on our hands. We have so much that we can do. We have the very God of all of heaven on our side, working with us; working for us, calling us.

We have hope in every situation. We can believe, no matter how dark it is. We can have peace, no matter how bad it may seem. We can live, even when we don’t know how.

We have all these things. All of them.

Not through our power or might. But through Jesus. Through His power. His might. His strength. His grace.

Through Him.

It’s there. We just have to open our eyes to see it.

Today, may He open our eyes. May we see what we can do; what we can be, all through Him.

Today, may we see things, as they really are. May we see.

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, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Confidence

We all know, we all believe that we are broken vessels. We know that we are imperfect. We know that we make mistakes, that we fall, that we fail, that we all mess up.

Seriously, we know that. And it’s good for us to remember that. It’s good for us to know that we can’t do it all by ourselves. We need to learn to depend on God. To trust in His grace. To lean on His mercy.

To know that we are sinners, saved by grace.

But, that’s not all that we are. As weak as we are, we don’t stand by our strength. If we stand by our strength only, we will fall. But we don’t stand by our strength. We stand by God’s strength.

And when we stand by God’s strength, we stand with confidence. Listen to what it says today in 2 Corinthians 3: 4-6:

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

confident-childWe have great, great confidence in Jesus. We aren’t sufficient (or able) in ourselves. But we are sufficient; we are able in Him. You can do it today. Through Him, you can do it today.

No matter what it is. No matter what you face. No matter what you are dealing with you. You can do it through Him.

Have confidence. Have that trust. Have that faith. Have that hope. You can do it through Him.

Yes, your sin is great. His strength is great.

Yes, your weakness is much. His strength is more.

Yes, you feel that you can’t do it through yourself. But know. You can do it through Him.

This fact is true. As great as your sin is, the blood of Christ and the power of the empty grave, they are greater.

Today, you can confidence. Not in yourself. But in Him. Through Him, you can do all things.

Today have confidence.

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, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!