Day Fifty-Six with Mark: Mark 14:66-72

Today in Mark we look at Mark 14:66-72.  This is where Peter denies Jesus:

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” And he went out into the forecourt.  Then the cock crowed.  69 And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” 72 At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

images.jpgOne of the things, that to me, is always important to remember about this text is that it isn’t just Judas that betrayed Jesus on this night.  Yes, Judas was the one that led them to Jesus, but here, we see Peter, three times deny Jesus.  He had the chance to stand up for Jesus in this moment.  What can we learn from this?

First, know this.  We all fail.  Everyone one of us.  Here is Peter.  The leader of the Apostles.  The one that preaches on Pentecost.  The one that everyone looks to.  Peter.  The rock.  And he fails.  He fails worse than any of us probably ever will.

So, when you blow it, remember.  Peter did too.  He failed.  We all failed.  It’s part of our human condition.  That’s not to say that we want to fail or that we desire to fail.  It is to say that it will happen to each of us.

But, second, your worst mistakes don’t define you.  Yes, we see Peter fail here.  But fast forward to Acts.  It is Peter that is the leader.  He is the speaker.  He is the one that everyone looks to, to explain what is happening, to point everyone to Jesus.  Peter did leave and grieve, but Jesus restored him.  And when Jesus forgave him, he was able to forgive himself, and return back into leadership, return back to the family.

Peter failed, yes.  But through the grace of God, Peter’s failure didn’t define him.  God’s grace did.

And last, the disciples didn’t hold Peter’s failure over his head.  The forgave him.  They didn’t keep bringing up his mistake.  They let it go as well.

We need to forgive ourselves, but we do not need to hold the mistakes of others over their heads.  God doesn’t define us by our mistakes.  Let’s not define each other in the same way.  God has shown us grace and mercy.  Let’s show that same grace and mercy to each other.

God doesn’t hold our mistakes over our head.  Let’s not hold other’s mistakes over their heads.

Grace is the only answer, it’s the only thing that truly and forever changes lives.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 15:1-15.

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-Seven with Mark: Mark 9:42-50

Sorry for missing last week!  My week began with me not feeling well and then spiraled out of control from there!  Thanks for your patience, we are back up and going this week.

Today we close out Mark 9 by looking at verses 42-50:

42 “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.  45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.  47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

49 “For everyone will be salted with fire.  50 Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it?  Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Today in this passage Jesus speaks with some great hyperbole.  He says if you hand causes you to sin, cut it off!  If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out!  If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off!

sin-kills1Is Jesus advocating mutilation?  No, He is not doing that.  Across scripture, we see that the body is good and we are called to take care of it. By the way, real quick, when the Bible talks about “the flesh” it isn’t talking about our literal body, it’s talking about the sinful desires that we all have.  The “body” is good, it was created good.  But after the fall, our desires were corrupted.  So, when you hear “flesh” in scripture, know it’s not talking about the actual body, but the sinful desire.

The point Jesus is making here is this, sin is a big deal.  It really is.  It is destructive.  It hurts.  It causes pain, it causes ripples.  It hurts you, it hurts others.  Don’t, through your actions, cause others to fall.  Especially one of the little ones.

I spend a lot of time talking about grace, because it all comes down to grace.  Everything.  But we need to be aware of the power of sin.  Sin is destructive.  Sin is harmful.  Sin hurts so many, it hurts us, it hurts others, it hurts our walk with God.

Jesus is saying here, because with sin.  Sin is not a play thing.  It is not something to be ignored.  It is something to take seriously.  It is something to be aware of.  Don’t ignore it, don’t play with it, don’t think it’s not a big deal.

It is.  It is destructive.  So, better to get rid of something that allow sin to run wild.

So, while maybe we don’t need to cut off a hand or a foot, is something in our lives we need to “cut” off or get rid of?  Because if something is causing us or leading us to sin, it’s not a good thing.  It’s a destructive, bad thing.

Today, may we look within and find the things that are destructive to us, to our souls, and to others.  And may God give us the grace to get rid of them within our lives!

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 10:1-12.

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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Some of my Thoughts on Ashley Madison

Writing is one of those things that I do to help my think through things.  Here are some thoughts that have been running through my head these past few days.  I hope they can help you process all unfolding in this age we live in.

Unless you’ve been under a rock recently, you’ve heard about the Ashley Madison hack. It’s something that affected many families, industries, even the military and churches.

There are lists floating around of who is on it, and there are the names. Open for anyone to see. Some spread the lists. Others were afraid to look for fear they knew someone. There it is, all out in the open. To mourn over. To pass along. All there, right there in the open for everyone to see.

So many lives, if not destroyed, forever changed. Right there for all us all to google, search and see, by name or zip code. So many families harmed. So much, right there in front of us.

And as I thought through this, several thoughts came to my mind. But first a word. This is in no way to defend Ashley Madison or those that were part of this site. One of my favorite quotes about sin is something that I read once by Max Lucado, “The reason God hates sin so much is because it destroys His children.” That’s what I see all around in this instance. Sin that destroys so, so, so many lives.

MANTEARSAs I have read and thought and prayed, besides the destructive power of sin, a few things have come to my mind.

First, is the notion of public shame. Those whose names are on the list, it’s right there, all out in the open. On the internet. For everyone to see. To laugh at. To mock. To gossip about it. Man, that’s heavy. It’s a heavy thing to have to wear your shame in public. We all make mistakes. But for most of us, our mistakes in private and unless they have harmed others, they are our stories to reveal when we feel necessary. Those caught up in this have lost that. And that is just sad.

Second, and this is something that we all need to know, karma is not a Christian concept. The mainstream idea of karma is this; we get what is coming to us. That’s not what we believe as Christians. It’s just not. All that any of us has coming to us is judgment. We haven’t earned anything other than that. One of my favorite Christian artists, Lecrae raps this in his song Boasting:

Every day that I lie, every moment I covet
I’m deserving to die, I’m just earning your judgment.
I, without the cross there’s only condemnation.
If Jesus wasn’t executed, there’s no celebration.

And later he raps:

God has never been obligated to give us life.
If we fought for our rights, we’d be in hell tonight.
Mere sinners owed nothing but a fierce hand.
We never loved him; we pushed away his pierced hands.
I rejected his love, grace, kindness, and mercy.
Dying of thirst, yet, willing to die thirsty.

Too many Christians talk about karma. That’s just not who we are. We are people of grace. I’ve heard it said, “they got what was coming to them.” Maybe. Sin has a way of coming forth. But don’t we all have what’s coming to us?

And instead of that, don’t we want grace? Yes. Yes, we do. We all deserve judgment. And we all desire grace. And grace is never, ever deserved. That’s why it’s grace.

Grace is always an undeserved, unearned gift. That’s why it’s grace. And it goes to the most undeserving.

And one last thought. We are all broken. All of us. I am. You are. Even the self-righteous broken are still broken. And Jesus died for them too.  Jesus died for the individuals on this list.  Jesus died even for the ones doing things that offend you and I.  That doesn’t mean we’ve got to agree with their actions or condone what they are doing.

But it does mean that we have to understand that Jesus died for all of us, even the most broken among us.

I was talking with some of team today at St. Matthew’s, talking about this and other things and I told them, when I err, I will always err on the side of grace.

So, tonight, pray for families that are broken. Pray for those affected by all of this hurt. And pray for grace to make the broken whole. That’s what God desires to do, heal the broken.

May He heal the brokenness within us, so we can help heal the brokenness of others.

Be Careful

We all make mistakes.  That’s part of the human experience.  We all mess up.  We all blow it.  We all fail.  That’s what happens.  And because we all fail, we really do all need to hear that word of grace.  Jesus came, suffered, died, and was raised to life again because of God’s great love for us.

We are loved.  No matter what has ever happened, no matter what the sin, no matter what has gone wrong.

We are loved.

You have to drill that truth down into your skull.  You have to let the truth of God’s amazing love for you penetrate your very being.  You are loved.  More than you’ll ever know.

Don’t hold onto your sin and failings, hold onto His love.

Now, that said, there’s something else we need to know.  We need to know the dangers of our sin.  While our sin, through Jesus is forgiven and done away with, we also do not need to treat sin as though it isn’t something that is terrible destructive.

Listen to what it says in Hebrews 3: 12-13:

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

be-carefulBe careful that we are not hardened by our sin.  Make sure that our sin continues to convict us.  It is a dangerous, dangerous thing then when we sin and it doesn’t bother us.  Especially if our sin is something that we chose to do.  If it’s something that we KNOW, we have no doubt about, it’s clear as day, is wrong. And it doesn’t bother us.

When we have a hardened heart, we aren’t living the fullness of God’s power and glory. We aren’t seeking His life, His grace, His mercy, His power.  His very life that He desires for us to live.

Today, you are forgiven.  You are.  Live in that grace.

But be careful with sin.  Be careful.  It’s not good.  It is destructive.  It will harm you, your relationships, your life, your everything.  The devil seeks to rob, kill, and destroy.

And one of the things he longs to do is harden our heart.  Don’t let that happen.  Keep your heart soft.  Pray.  Read.  Serve.  Live.  Let God’s grace soften your heart.  Live in grace.  Be careful of sin.

And allow God to continue to change you.  And in that, we truly live.

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!

Don’t Admit Defeat!

I’ve heard it said before that there are no coincidences with God. I really believe that. Today is one of those small little moments that make me smile.

At Asbury in my Wednesday night Bible Study, we’ve been walking together through Paul’s Letter to the Romans. It’s been a lot of fun; we take our time; we chase rabbits, we laugh, we enjoy it.

Anyway, we finished chapter 6 last night an I spent a lot of time talking about verse 14. And lo and behold, what is our reading for today, out the Asbury bulletin? Romans 6: 12-14. Pretty cool. Listen to what it says:

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

defeat2For sin will have no dominion over you. That’s a powerful phrase. That’s a powerful thought. Sometimes, most times, we feel as through we are helpless against our sin.

We are going to sin, we are going to fall down, we are going to fail. So why fight it? Why push back? Why try? I mean, it’s going to happen.

That’s what we think. We build in excuses for our failure. We are going to blow it. It’s what we do. We are human. It’s going to happen.

And yes, there is truth to that. We do make mistakes. We blow it. We do fail. But.. . . we don’t need to admit defeat before we start.

I had a friend tell me this, and it’s always stuck with me. Yes, sin is powerful. It is. But, is it more powerful than the blood that was shed upon the cross? Is it more powerful than the resurrection and the empty grave?

No. It’s not. As powerful as your sin is, it’s not more powerful than the power of God. It’s simply not.

You don’t have live under the power of sin anymore. Yes, you will make mistakes. But hear this. Sin doesn’t have to control you anymore. It doesn’t. The power of God is great than the power of sin.

As believers, we can live with no more excuses. We can live in the power of God. Not in the power of sin. We will blow it sure. It happens. But have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to resist.

To fight back. To overcome.

Today, you don’t have to be defeated. You don’t. You can live under the power of God. You can.

Today we can be free.

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!

So, What Next?

nextOne of the things that I stress a lot, that I talk about a lot, that I really believe is that we are all sinful. We are all broken. All of us.

And when I talk about that, I’m not talking about it in terms of us being the worst people who have ever lived in the history of the world, but all of us, me, you, each of us, we need Jesus. If we aren’t sinful, if we aren’t in need of saving, then why did Jesus come.

Our own experience tells us our need for Jesus and we all fall down. We just know that. We have all experienced that.

Ok, go it. But here’s the thing that I always come to when it comes to talking about our sin, our mistakes. What next? We get it. We are broken. We are messed up. We make mistakes. Ok, got it. But what next?

I want to know what I can do it about it. I don’t want to be just like I am. I don’t want to stay the same.

Listen to what it says today in Romans 6: 12-14:

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

There’s that last verse – for sin will have no dominion over you. That’s stuck with me since I’ve read it again recently. As many mistakes as we have made, as much as we mess up every day, as long as we fall down, remember.

As powerful as sin is. God is more powerful. Really. He is. As powerful as temptation is, God is more powerful. As powerful as your faults are, God is more powerful.

You can be more faithful today than you were yesterday.

Today is a new day. Yesterday is past. Done. Gone. Today is new.

Today, let’s be faithful. Let’s not let the mistakes of yesterday, the things that happen, the past, the old, the failings.

Today is a new day. I’m not saying that everything is going to be perfect. I’m not saying that you are going to be perfect. I’m not saying that there won’t be mistakes made.

But what I am saying is that it’s a new day. A today, we can be more faithful than yesterday. We can. We really can. If we are believers, then we have the Holy Spirit within us. We have the very power of God within us, pulling us, pushing us, helping us.

Today, you can do it. Really. You can. Or better said, God can do it through you. He can.

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!

Today We Have a Choice

Every day, life is full of choices. Every day. We make choices to do things or to not do them. Some choices aren’t that important, and some choices are very important; they may change the course of our lives from that point on.

We make choices every day of our lives. About work, play, money, faith, family, everything. There are choices that we make. Sometimes, we don’t realize how important a choice was until after we have even made it.

Jesus, preaching His first public sermon in Matthew, talks about choices. Listen to what He says in Matthew 4: 13-17:

And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,  so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Runrun.it-tomar-decisoesThe choice He talks about is at the very end. This is the choice He lays out. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The choice He is talking about is repentance. See, that’s what repentance is. It is a choice. It’s a choice to turn away from our stuff, our sin, our mistakes, and a choice to turn to Jesus.

And here’s the cool thing. Each day is a new day. Each day is a new start. As important as yesterday was, it is now done. It’s over. Don’t worry about it. Today is the day that the Lord has given you.

Yesterday’s mistakes don’t have a bearing on today’s choice. Today, we choose. Will we choose to turn away from the things that will only bring us pain; will we choose to turn to Jesus and find strength, mercy, hope, and life.

We have the choice to make today. We do. We can choose which path to walk down.

Today, Jesus says, repent. Choose to follow me in the big things; choose to follow me in the little things.

Today, may each of us choose to follow Jesus with all that we are.

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!