Day Thirty-Nine with Mark: Mark 10:32-45

Like Wednesday to get a better picture of what Jesus is doing, let’s look at two stories together, Mark 10:32-34 and then verses 35-45:

32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34 they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

The Request of James and John
35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Jesus-washing-feetWhat we see here is two contrasting ideals, and Jesus trying to reconcile them.  We see Jesus teaching about what must happen, that He must suffer and die to save the people from their sins.  His purpose is to teach us to love, to care, to serve, to forgive and ultimate go to the cross (and the empty grave) for our sins.

Jesus is teaching them that.  But they aren’t getting it.

Then we see in the second portion James and John trying to wiggle their way into being the greatest in the kingdom.  And Jesus says, (paraphrasing) guys, you are missing the point here.

Your life, your greatness, it doesn’t come from power or prestige or titles.  It comes from serving.  The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.  That is the path He walks.  And that is path that He calls us to walk.

Serve. We are not like the world.  It is “not so among us.”  We’ve got to be different.  The only way that we change the world is to be different.  The only way that we can make a difference in the hardened hearts of this world is through service.  To love God and love our neighbor.

That’s what Jesus calls us to.  That’s the path to greatness for us a Christians.  Not in power.  But in service.

Today, and in this soon to be Advent season, may we live out that love of God.  May we serve.

Monday we’ll look at Mark 10:46-52.

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

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!

The Secret

How do you live a happy life?  For you, what would result in happiness?

We may have a list.  If I have this.  Or if I have that.  If I’m able to accomplish this.  Or if this happens at work, or at home, or in my own life, then I’ll be happy.  We’ve probably all got our list of what we want, or want to happen, in our lives, that will make us happy.

I was thinking about that today when I read what Paul had to say in Philippians 2: 1-4.  Listen to what he shares with us:

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

happy-womanHe actually gives us the secret to happiness.  As tempting as it would be to think that our happiness will come from getting what we want, or doing what we want, our having our needs/wants met, Paul turns that on its head.

If there anything good, be of the same mind with each other.  Don’t be selfish, don’t act selfishly.  Regard others as better than you, and look to their interests first.

That sounds good, until you actually think about it.  Regard others as better than you.  I don’t (and don’t want to) do that.  I want to do what I want when I want it.  We all do, don’t we, to some extent.

And that’s what our culture tells us.  Our culture tells us that happiness comes from our stuff, from us being in charge, from us being number one.  Live your life the way that you, doing what you want, achieving what you want because it’s all about you, your life, your contentment.

Today, though, we see the secret.  We see the secret to true happiness and life.  It’s not about us.

The Gospel is so countercultural.  The Gospel says – it’s not really about you.  In fact, to find life, give it away.  To find happiness, stop worrying about it.  To really live, live for others.

And I guarantee, if we try that Gospel-life we will find happiness a lot faster than any other way.  We think in living for what we think we want, we will find that happiness we desire.  We won’t.

But when we live that Gospel-life, living for Jesus, loving others, serving, giving, we find abundant, eternal life.

Today, you were made for that abundant, Gospel-centered life.  Today, live thinking of others first.  Give it a test drive.  Try it and see.  And see if you aren’t, in the end, happy.

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!

May We See Jesus

One of the things we see a lot of in the Gospels is Jesus casting out demons, waging war against evil, stopping the powers of wickedness in this world.  Now, there’s a lot of things within these concepts that we could talk about or focus on, but you know me, I think one of the best things we can do with scripture is to sometimes focus on the big picture.

For instance, look at today’s Gospel reading from Luke 33-35:

And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha!What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.

jesus-stained-glass-lambOk, there’s a lot happening here.  But here’s something that I want you to notice.  When Jesus comes, this unclean spirit immediately recognizes Him and acknowledges Him for who He is.

He says Jesus is the Holy one of God.

He calls Jesus who He really is, the unclean spirit actually gives Jesus the respect He is due.

Now, later in the Gospels, we see Jesus have many run-ins with the Pharisees and the religious leaders.  They try to trip Him up, trap Him, and eventually work to have Him crucified.

Now, these are the religious leaders.  And they don’t recognize Jesus for who is. They very ones that should know best don’t respond as they should.

And yet the unclean spirit here recognizes Jesus and gives Him respect.

So, when I read these passages of scripture sometimes I ask myself this.  Which camp do I fall in to?  Now, I never want to be on the side of the devil and the unclean spirits. But, at least in this instance they gave Jesus the respect He is due.  The recognized Him when they saw Him.

The religious leaders did not.  They didn’t give Him the respect He was due.

So, today, what about us?  Do we recognize Jesus when we see Him?  Do we feel the moving of the Spirit when we read His Word?  When we worship?  When we pray?

Do we heed the call of Jesus to love others as He would have us love them?  Do we see Jesus in the call to serve?

And do we give Him the respect He deserves by obeying His commandments?

Today, I want to see Jesus.  I want to give Him the respect He is due for saving me.  I want to obey Him, follow Him, love Him.  Today, I want to see Jesus.

Today, in all our lives, wherever He places us, may we see Jesus.  And may we follow Him.

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!

Why We are Healed

Hey y’all, remember me?

I’ve been out of pocket a lot the last two weeks, one for a family trip up to St. Louis, the other to Jackson for our Mississippi Annual Conference.  Things should be back to normal now, or as normal as they can be the week of VBS.  If your in the Petal area, we’d love to have you join us for Night Two of our Wilderness Escape VBS here at Asbury.  You can show up tonight starting at 5:15 or you can go and register on our website.

Today as I was reading, I read this passage here in Matthew 8: 14-15.  This passage talks about why Jesus heal us, and why He saves us.  Listen to what it says:

And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.

article_images_serve_the_poor_655334095In this passage we see Jesus heal Peter’s mother in law.  We don’t know exactly what she was suffering from, but we know that she had a fever.

So, Jesus heals her, and then what happens?  The text said she rose and began to serve Him.  She wasn’t heal for her own sake, her own glory, or her own purpose.  She was healed so that she could serve Jesus.  She had a purpose in life, she had a purpose in that moment.  That purpose wasn’t hers, but it was to serve Him.

So is ours.  That’s what this whole thing called life is all about.  It’s not about us.  It’s not about what we want to do, or about how we want to do it.  But it’s about Him.  It’s about His purpose.  It’s about His plan.  It’s about His reason.

We are healed, we are forgiven.  We are restored.  Not for ourselves.  Not for our purpose. But for His.

Never forget that.  Never forget that is what this life is ultimately about; never forget where life is truly found.  In Him.  And for Him.

That’s why we are healed.

Today, may we rejoice in our forgiveness, and may we live in His power.

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!

How to be Happy

Question-MarkWant to be happy today?  I mean, really happy?

Have life and peace and joy and purpose?

Want to have a life that is truly worth living for?  Let me show you how.  Listen to what Paul says this morning in Philippians 2:4-8:

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Paul is talking about Jesus, and how even through He is God Himself, He humbled Himself to death, even death on the cross.  He is God.  He is the creator of everything.  He tells us in Colossians that through Jesus Christ everything that’s ever been made was made and that all things are held together through Him.

In other words, there is no bigger deal than Jesus.  Seriously. He’s the biggest deal in all the universe.  He’s it.  There’s nothing, no one  higher than Jesus.  He’s at the very top.

And so, how did the highest of the high, what did He choose to do?  He humbled Himself.  He served.  He didn’t live for His plan, but for His father’s plan.

You want to be happy today?  You want peace today?  You want to have purpose today?  How?

Follow Jesus – humble yourself.  Serve someone today.  Live for a purpose bigger than yourself.  Live for plan bigger than yourself.  Serve someone today.

That’s where happiness is found.  Not in serving yourself.  Serving someone else.  Not in living for yourself.  Living for Him.  Not in making yourself king or queen. But in making Him king of your life.

You want to be happy today?  Serve someone. Do something for someone else.  Live like that, as Jesus commanded us to do.  And in doing that, you’ll find more happiness that you can ever imagine.

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.

What to Do?

Sometimes in life we are paralyzed by what to do. What is our next step? What does God want us to do? How are we supposed to proceed?

What does it mean to be faithful?

What exactly is it that God wants us to do?

Those are big questions. Huge questions. Questions that we have all wrestled with at some point in our lives.

Well Andy, you’ve defined the problem. What’s the answer.

Listen to what Jesus tells us today in Matthew 10:40-42:

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

This is one of my favorite passages in the bible, in fact it’s the passage I preach my first sermon on when I first started preaching. I love it because of what it tells us to do.

Not something “great.” Not something “super.” Not something otherworldly.

Something simple. Something that we can all do. It says that even a cup of cold water, given for Jesus sake, it will be rewarded.

Sometimes we spend our lives looking for the “big” things instead of focusing on the small, simple, acts of faithfulness that God is calling you to.

God may or may not be calling you into the fulltime ministry. But, no matter who you are or what you do, I know this.

He is calling you to love.

To forgive.

To serve.

To care.

To share your story.

To be Christian.

These are not “great” things. These are every day, “faithful” things. But in these things, God is glorified. He is lifted up. And He draws all men to Him.

Today, what to do? Be faithful. Do the small, little things. And God will do great things with it.

Today, in all things, may we be faithful.

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.

Where Life is Found

In John’s Gospel in particular, Jesus says over and over that if we love Him and follow Him, we will obey His commandments.

Ok, that we know what we are supposed to do. So, then, what are we supposed to do? He tells us today in this passage.  Listen to what He says in John 15:12-13, 17:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Love. Greater love has this than you lay down your life for your friends. That’s what He did for us. Through the cross, He laid down His life for us so that we can live.

He laid down His life for you. He loved you enough to choose the cross for you sake and for my sake. Because of His action, we can live, we can love, we can know the power of life.

And He tells us to do the same. As He loved us and laid down His life for us. We are to love each other.

Ok, well, what do that mean? We talk about a lot, but what does it mean? To do the same as Jesus. Place others ahead of ourselves. Value each other. Humble yourself. Put others ahead of ourselves.

That’s love. To serve. To care. To place others needs of ourselves. Jesus loved us enough that He sought to serve and to save.

And in doing this – this is where life is found.

We are to do the same. Let’s love each other. Let’s serve. Let’s care. Let’s live. In loving, serving, caring, and forgiving, we find life.

Today, let’s really find life. Let’s follow Jesus’ command for us. Let’s love each other. In that we show that we are His disciples. And in that we show the power of His love to the world.

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.

Little Things

Life is not always about the big things. Sometimes, it’s about the little things. Now, little does not mean unimportant. It just means, little.

Little things, done well, done for Jesus, sometimes can be the greatest thing that we can do. Sometimes, yes sometimes, God calls us to amazing, big, gigantic things. Yes, that happens. And when it happens, we should celebrate. We should take courage. We should be brave, be bold, and do it with great joy.

Sometimes though the things that God calls us to aren’t big. Sometimes they are little. Or at least to us, they appear to be little.

Listen to what Matthew 10:40-42 says:

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

Scripture tells us this. Nothing done in His name is little. Nothing done for His glory is little. Nothing done to further the Kingdom of God is little. All things, big or small, when done in His name and for His purpose are grand and glorious things. All things, big or small, when done for Him, are huge!

Today, God may be calling you to something big. If so, then do it. God gives us great dreams sometimes.

But today, God may be calling you to give a smile. A hug. A warm word. Just to be nice. Something we might not think of as “big.” But if these small things, this little things, are done for Him and His name, they are huge.

Today, in all things, big or little. May be faithful. And today, in all things, big or little, may God be glorified.

Today, in Jesus, and through Jesus, there are no little things. Today, through Him, may all things be for His glory. Today, through Him, may everything we do show His grace, His mercy, and His love.

Some Important Things to Remember

It’s good to be reminded of things sometimes. I always joke with folks at church, if I don’t set a reminder in my phone for things that I’m supposed to do, then things won’t get it done.

And even those of us with exceptional memories can at times forget things; forget things we are supposed to do; forget what is on our agenda; forget all kinds of stuff.

Today, this passage from Revelation is a good baseline reminder of some important things that we, and the church, need to be reminded of.  Listen to what John writes in Revelation 1:4-6:

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

First, He loves us. The text describes all that Jesus is, and it say this – “to Him who love us . . . ” Today, no matter where you are, what you have done, are doing, or will do, Jesus loves you. Today, no matter what has happened in your life, Jesus loves you.

Today, in this moment, you are loved. You are loved by an amazing, powerful, awesome God. You are loved. Don’t forget that. You are loved.

Second, not only does Jesus love us, but He also “frees from our sin by His blood.” Today, through what He did for us upon the cross, you are forgiven. You are forgiven of your sin, you are free to walk in grace, you are free to lay it all down.

Today, through what Jesus Christ did for you, you are forgiven. Don’t beat yourself up. You can let it go. Jesus has paid the price for you and you are forgiven. You can let go and let God have it!

And last, you were created for something bigger than you can ever imagine. It says “and has made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father . . . ” You were made for a grand and glorious purpose. You were created for something special and amazing. You were born for some great thing that only you can do.

You are talented. You are made in His image. You can do it. God has made you for something amazing. Live into that today!

Today, these are some important reminders. May we never, in our lives, forget what truly matters!