Day Thirty-Three with Mark: Mark 8:14-21

Today we look at Mark 8:14-21:

The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod
14 Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” 16 They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” 17 And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Computer-CodeWhat do you see?  Friday in Mark we talked about seeing miracles everywhere when we believe.  Today, we see Jesus talk about something very similar.  Today He’s talking about sight.  But it’s not necessarily the sight of miracles.  It’s the deeper truth that can be found.

And I think today this is especially true with scripture.  I subscribe what Wesley called a simple reading of scripture.  You need to understand context, you need to understand the bigger picture with scripture, but for most of scripture, it simply means what it says.

But, there are times, lots of times, many times, where there is a deeper truth right there in plain sight.  Sometimes there is something right in front of us that we may or may not be able to see.  Look at today’s text. The Disciples are talking about bread and Jesus basically says, guys, you are missing the point.

Do you not see the deeper meaning and deeper truth here.  He recalls the feeding of the 5000 and the 4000. And then He asks how many baskets were left over.  For the 5000, there were 12.  For the 4000 there were 7.  And then He says, do you not understand?

What should they have understood?  What may we be missing?

Twelve and seven are very important numbers in scripture.  Twelve in particular is important in two main places.  There are 12 tribes of Israel (the 12 sons of Jacob).  And there are 12 Apostles.  The Old Covenant and the New Covenant.  So this number is seen many times in scripture (a lot in Revelation) to mean everyone or a completeness.  This number is many ways a number that is almost a code word for “all.”

Everyone that would have seen Him feed 5000 and then see 12 baskets left over would have understood that 12 was a big deal.  He has come, preaching to the Jews first, so that they would complete their calling from Genesis 12 to be a light to the world.  As God’s people, their mission would be the point others to who God is and be that light.  This 12 means that the

The 5000, that crowd was mostly like all Jewish.  The fact that Jesus recovered 12 baskets meant that God would call from His people a group that would finish the calling of Abraham.  And that is what happened.  How many Jewish disciples did Jesus have?

Twelve.

And where did they go?  Everywhere.

And that brings us to the seven.  Seven is another important number in scripture, and is often seen is as the “perfect” number.  Think the seven days of creation.  So it’s a word that associated with that creation account.  The 4000, that crowd would have mostly included Gentiles within it. So on a day when a crowd including Gentiles in it was feed, there were seven baskets left.  The number of creation.  A creation that was made God.  A creation that Jesus was coming to redeem.

In other words, Jesus didn’t just come to feed this crowd, He came to save them, and all (Jew or Gentile) that would believe.

That’s why He says, do you not get it?  Do you not see the bigger truth?

This is why it’s so important to read the Bible together.  Because together we can see the bigger truths that we may miss, just looking at the text.  There are deeper truths that Bible study and shared conversation can teach us.

That’s one of the many, many reasons we need each other and need the church!

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 8:22-26.

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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SOAP – Day Two – James 4:7-10

324904370_640I’m going to do my posts this week in the method of study that I talked about yesterday, the SOAP method.  So, let’s start!

S – scripture 

We are going to read James 4:7-10.  Read slowly.  Don’t rush through this.  Listen.  If it helps, write it out yourself.  Listen for God’s voice in this.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

O – observation 

What did you see when you read?  This is what I observed.

Submit yourself to God.  I am not the boss of my life. God is. I have to submit myself to Him.  It’s not about me.

Resist the devil, and he will flee.  The devil is not all powerful.  He is not unstoppable.  He is not the greatest power in the world, God is.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  God will be there.  He has promised.  He is always there. If we turn to Him, He will be there for us.

Cleanse, and purify.  Humble yourself.  My sin, my mistakes, they cause harm.  To others. To my walk with God.  To myself. I have to turn from them. I have to repent. I have to wash myself, and make myself clean.

A – application 

How will I apply this to my life today?

Today, I will not seek to do my will, but will seek to do God’s.  I will ask myself, before each decision, is this something that God wants me to do?  I will slow myself, I will consider my actions. I will think about my plans. I will submit myself to God.  I will do all that I can do today to live for Him, not for me.

I will keep my eyes open for temptation. And I will say no.  When faced with temptation, I will pray. I will turn to others for help. I will make sure that I resist temptation. I will remind myself that the devil is the father of all lies, and if it’s a temptation, it is a lie. And, I know that if I resist him, the devil will flee. God’s Word promises that.

I will truly repent of my sins. I will not just feel sorry for what I’ve done, but I will ask God to forgive me, I will accept that forgiveness, and I will allow God’s grace to allow me to be faithful.

P – prayer

God, help your Word to be made real in my life today.  Help me to submit myself to you today, to live for your purpose.  Help me resist temptation, in whatever way that it comes. And help me to understand my need for forgiveness and to truly repent of my sins.

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.

A Challenge

determined-challenge-accepted-lYesterday in my sermon at Asbury, I walked our church through a method of studying Scripture that is called the “SOAP” method.  In this method, the letters stand for this.

S – Scripture

O – Observation

A – Application

P – Prayer

My challenge to my people, and to each of you reading this, is to, each day this week, seriously take some time to really read the Bible.  No rush through it. But, read it.  Listen for God to speak to you through it.  Take time to reflect upon it.

First, S, listen for God when you read.  Don’t rush.  Don’t get in a hurry.  Don’t worry about having to read a lot.  Just slow down, breathe, and listen for God to speak.

O.  What do you notice?  What words stood out? What caught your eye?  What jumped out at you? What really grabbed you?

A.  From what you read, what can you apply to your life today?  What can you carry with you through the rest of your day?  Your week?  Your life?

P.  Pray for the grace to carry through what you’ve learned today.

So, this is the challenge I have for you. Will you do it this week? Will you take the time to really read, listening for God’s voice in what you read?

Do it for a week.  And just see.

And let me know how it goes for you. What did you you learn?  email me, or post on my wall, or tweet me.  I’d love to hear back from you on this challenge!

The question is always where do I start?  Here’s some help.

One thing you can always do is just read through a book of the bible.  If you’d like to do that, I’d suggest starting with the Gospel of Mark.  It’s the shortest of the Gospels and, in my opinion, the easiest to understand.

If you’d like just daily suggested readings, you can use our Asbury Salt and Light bulletin.  If you didn’t grab one yesterday, you can read it online by clicking here.

Or you can use plans from the American Bible Society, suggested ESV reading for the day, on of the many plans from Bible.com, or a whole host of other online options.

Or you can use the passages that I’ll reflect upon each day here!

I hope these are helpful for you. And I hope you’ll take the challenge!

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.

How Do You Know When God is Speaking to You

bible-SunlightOne of the things I tell people is that it’s better to read one verse of Scripture well than a thousand badly. What does that even mean? What is that talking about?

Well, to read scripture well is to read scripture, listening for God to speak. Listening what He is trying to say. Listening for what He is trying to tell us.

Ok then, what does that mean? What does that look like to listen for God’s voice? Let me show you, from something God is showing me. This is the passage that I read today from Titus 2:11-13:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

It talks about God bringing salvation. It talks about living different from the world. Talks about the hope of glory. But, in the middle, it says to live “self-controlled.”

That phrase right there is how God is speaking to me right now. Nearly every passage of scripture that I’ve read recently has had the phrase control within it . I have read this, I have read about having self-control. I have read of fruits of the spirit and self-control being one of them.

It seems like every time I open the bible recently, there is control.

So, this makes me ask, where in my life am I living out of control? Where am I not having self-control? Where are the places in my life where I am out of control?

I have some places like that. And I stop. And I pray about it. I listen for God to speak. And I consider how I can place these things under the authority of God. Why?

Because what I’ve found in my life is that the only way that I can live a self-controlled life is to submit myself totally and completely to God, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.

Constantly slowing myself. Letting the spirit guide. And living under His control.

And then I try to allow that to happen in my life.

To have control in my life, I must allow myself to be controlled by God.

That’s how God speaks to me through Scripture. I hope this word, and I hope this example is helpful to you!

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.

Cause and Effect

I’m a believer, most of the time, in cause and effect.

I do X, it causes Y to happen. I eat 3 dozen donuts, I buy new pants. You see how it goes.

Today’s reading has a beautiful picture of cause and effect. Look what happens in Psalm 119:48-50:

I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes. Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

CauseAndEffectThe Psalmist says – I lift my hands to your commandments. I will meditate on your statues.

Ok, so then what happens?

This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

The Psalmist remembers God’s hope and God’s promise. And because of that, he has hope, in the midst of the trials of life.

Cause and effect.

Remembering God’s promises gives hope in the midst of trials.

Today, that’s a good lesson for us to learn. Are you in trouble? Afraid? Worried? Stressed? Hurting?

Remember God’s promises. Remember what God said He would do. He will never leave your side. He will never forsake you. He will never forget you.

Remember His word.

Receive His peace.

Today, may we see that in our lives. May we remember who God is, and how He loves.

And may that knowledge give us peace!

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.

Staying Connected to Jesus

Before devotional – a quick note. Yesterday, Asbury released a mobile app for smartphones. You can download this app and listen to my weekly sermons, read this devotional, and find out all that’s happening here at Asbury. To download the app for iPhones/iPads, click here. To download the app for Andorids, click here.

Now, on to today’s reflection!

Life is found in Jesus. That’s a simple statement. But it’s an incredibly powerful statement. Life, life that matters, life that can weather a storm, it is found in Jesus.

Jesus shares this with us today, in a powerful concept.  He is the vine. We are the branches.  Listen to what He says in John 15:4-5:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Today, in this passage Jesus tells us that He is the vine, and we are branches. He is the source of our strength, our life, our power, our everything. We get our very life from Him.

And this is so important for us to not only understand, but to live by as Christians, to say that He is our life is to say that He is the source of power, our strength, our ability to fight through pain, or doubt, or fear, or worry, or troubles, or trials, or anything like that.

He is the vine. He is our life.

But, that means as the branches, we have to be really plugged into Him. We have the amazing source of power and life at our disposal, and we just have to turn to it.

How? How do we acces this power? The ways we can do it have been called by folks like John Wesley, the means of grace – prayer. Studying the Word. Communion. Christian Conversation. Fasting.

By being active in these things, we receive grace. And we stay plugged into the Vine. We get His power, His life, His hope. His everything.

So, today, when you grow tied, read, pray, talk to a Christian friend. When you get frustrated, read, pray, talk to a Christian friend. When you think you can’t do it, read, pray, talk to a Christian friend.

Stay plugged into the vine. And in doing that, you will find life. He is our life. And as we stay connected to Him, we will find all the life we could possible need!

An Old Friend

To me, the book of Psalms are like an old friend.  No matter what I read in the mornings, I try to read a few Psalms. They, as much as any book of Scripture, really get to the heart of what it means to worship God, to be obedient, and to pour our hearts out to God in an honest way.

Today, one of the Psalms was one of my favorites, one of the ones that means the most to me, Psalm 121.

And, honestly, I’ve ready this Psalm so many times, I know the words completely by heart.

And when that is the case, you have to make yourself slow down. Read slowly.  Listen closely.

When you know a passage so well, you can become too familiar with it, and miss what God is trying to say to you in it.

Today as I was reading, this part of the Psalm stood out to me:

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

What stood out to me, is that there never a time when God is not there with us.

The Lord neither slumbers not sleeps.  The sun, nor the moon, it shall not harm us.

The Lord is our shade.

Today, there is not a single moment, no matter how busy you may be.  No matter how long it may have been since you last talked to Him. No matter what is going on in your life.

There is not a single moment when you can’t turn to God and find Him there.  He is the shade at your right hand.  He is your sure help.

He is there for you all the time.  He is there for me, all the time.  He is there.

Let us remember.  Let us slow down.  Let us turn to Him.  Not just now as we read this text.  But, throughout all our days.  He is there, all day long.

May we remember. And may we turn to Him.