Day Fifty-Five with Mark: Mark 14:53-64

I’m back from the Holy Land and our devotionals will return on their normal schedule.  I hope you all had a Happy New Year as well.  One question for you, we are close to finishing Mark, what would you like to do next?  I am either going to return to the format that I have done for years, reflecting upon a passage from the Morning Office (or some other daily lectionary) or I may do another book of the Bible.  Any feedback?  Let me know what you think!

Today we are going to look at Mark 14:53-64:

53 They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. 54 Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. 56 For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. 57 Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 But even on this point their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” 61 But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 Jesus said, “I am; and
‘you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power,’
and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’”
63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? 64 You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. 65 Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him.

Giotto_-_Scrovegni_-_-32-_-_Christ_before_CaiaphasOne of the things that you always take away from going to the Holy Land is the reality of all that Jesus went through for our sake.  You see the places where He was abused, where He was mocked, where He was spit upon.

You see places, just like what is described here, where these things happened.

We like to skip ahead the good part.  The resurrection, the victory, all that is to come. But, in doing that, we cause the “good part” to lose part of its power.  When you see all that Jesus went through, the power of the empty grave is even more amazing!  He overcame ALL of this!  Don’t rush through the tough parts to get to the victory.

When confronted with the reality of Jesus’ suffering, it’s easy for us to look past it.  Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it looked here, we tell ourselves.

But it was.  It was as tough as it seems here.  In fact, it would have been even worse than we could have imagined.  And that hurts.  That’s painful.  We don’t like to think about what Jesus went through for us, it’s too painful.

I think, for me, one of the reasons it can be difficult is when I see the lengths of faithfulness of our savior, I compare it to how easy I want everything to be.  I don’t want to struggle.  I don’t want these challenges.  I want it to all be calm waters.

But that’s not the way that life works.  The challenges, the tough times, that’s most when we see the power of Jesus.

Don’t rush through the tough parts of the Bible. And don’t rush through the tough parts of our lives.  In those valleys, in those trials, that most often when we see the power of God.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 14:66-72.

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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They are Listening

One of my coaches at Bogue Chitto said something in an FCA event that has stuck with me through these years.  Coach Micky Myers said – “your life may be the only Bible someone ever reads.”  I’ve always thought about that, how I live, how I act, how I react, those actions say so very much about who God is, how He loves, how we cares, how He wants to know all people.

As believers this morning, as those that follow God, people are watching us today, to see how we react to life and circumstance.  People are paying attention. The are listening.

I was thinking about that this morning as I read one of our texts today, Acts 16: 25-31.  Listen to what it says:

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted in a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ 29The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them outside and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ 31They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’

Paul_and_Silas_in_Jail_1337-225There are no unimportant words in the Bible. Everything there has a meaning or a purpose. So today as I read, what stood out to me was the end of verse 25 “and the prisoners were listening to them.”  Luke (the author of Acts) didn’t have to include the fact that the other prisoners were listening to Paul and Silas singing hymns.  It wasn’t really “important” to what was happening. That’s what we tell ourselves.

But, it’s in the Bible.  So do it does matter.  So what does it tell us today?

They were listening to Paul and Silas sing. They were in prison.  It was awful.  It was terrible.  It was not a good place to be.  And what did the other prisoners here in that moment?  Faith.  Hope.  Believe

They were listening to Paul and Silas.  They wanted to know if their faith was real, was it something that truly matter when times got to.  And I believe, they really wanted to believe.  They wanted that faith. They were listening to see if it was real.

The world is listening to us today. They are listening.  They are paying attention to what we do; to what we say; to what we live.

They want to know that we really, actually believe what we say that we believe.  They want to know that we mean it.  In a world that is changing and so temporal, they really want to know that we actually believe what we say that we believe.

They are listening. Today, what do they hear from us?

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None of us like tough times. Really, I mean who wants to go through a time of trial or worry.  None of us do.  I don’t, you know, not a single one of us.  We all wish that we could avoid these times.  But you know what we see when we look at the Bible?

It’s not going to happen. We all are all going to go through tough times.  It’s just part of the deal being human.  Trials, storms, and tough times will come. Faith doesn’t prevent them from coming, but faith gives us strength when those things hit us.  Faith gives us a hope and a belief in the darkest times.

But here’s something else the Bible says.  Count these storms as a joy.  Listen to what it says today in James 1: 2-4:

2 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4 and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

James says count these trials as joy.  Why? Because these tests produce endurance and endurance grows our faith.  Our faith matures and lacks nothing.  When we go through tough times, you know what we find?  All we need is Jesus.

And if we have Jesus, we all have all that we need.

When these trials come against us, they can (if we allow) draw us closer to God.  And went our trials draw us closer and closer and closer to God, they become for us, in a redemptive way, blessings.

Here’s the thing.  It’s up to us if these trials are blessings or curses.  How we handle them.  How we deal with them.  How we allow them to affect our faith.  That’s up to us.

6800363-lemonade-wallpaperThe old saying is when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  What faith can do it will allow us to see those lemons as lemonade. Through the eyes of faith, we can see that the lemons are actually lemonade. These trials are good things. They make us tougher. They make us stronger. They may us lean more and more on Jesus.

God will actually use these trials for our faith. We may not enjoy them at the time, we probably won’t.  But in time, we will look back and say – at that moment, then, that’s when my faith grew. That’s when I trusted. That’s when I clung tight to Jesus.  Then.

Today, let’s not have lemons. Let’s have lemonade. And let’s see exactly what it is that God will do with all our lives!

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Know Thyself

il_fullxfull_362628416_71qyOne of the best things in the world that we can do is know ourselves.  Know our strengths.  Know our weaknesses.  There’s an old saying – Know Thyself. That’s a good thing. Because when we know ourselves, we know what to be on the lookout for.  What are things that could cause us trouble.

What are the things in our lives, in our past, in our present, that could trip us up?  Tempt us?  Cause to get ourselves in trouble? Do we know ourselves?

One of the things I really believe is that the Bible is the revelation of God’s truth for us, it points us to Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith. But it also points us for how to live, and for is just true.  The Bible points us over and over again to truth.  In fact, that old saying really be better understood in the light of James 1: 12-15:

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

James tells us, when you are lead into tempted, don’t say – God is tempting me.  Know where your temptations come from.  Within us.  Our flesh.  Our desires.  Our stuff.

That’s why we have to know ourselves.

What tempts you?  Where are you weak?  Where are you easily knocked off course.  Where does trouble come for you?

When you know where your weak spots are, you’ll know where to be on the watch.  You’ll know what to avoid. Where to be careful.

We aren’t all tested by the same thing. We have different weak spots.  Different temptations.  Different struggles.  Different histories. Different everythings.

What tempts me may not tempt you, and vice versa.  But I need to be aware of what tempts me.

That way I can (1) avoid it and (2) guard my heart against it when it can’t be avoided.  When I know myself, and you know yourself, we can (through God’s grace) better stand.

Today, what tempts you?  What is it that gets you?  Know that, and be aware.  And, when we know our weakness, we have a better shot of being faithful.  We have a better chance of being salt and light!

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Two Promises

Jesus promises us a lot of things in scripture.  He promises us that the Father sees us.  He promises us that we will be forgiven.  He promises us that He will be with us.  He promises us all sorts of things the Bible.

But today, I want to talk about two specific promises that He makes in John 16: 32-33:

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

chris-e-promiseJesus gives us two promises here this morning. First, there will be trouble.  He says that in the world there will be tribulation.  There will be trials. There will be times of trouble, there will be times of sadness and tears and worry and fear.

Lock it down there will be trouble. There will be.  It’s gonna happen.  None of us want it to be so, but it is.  In this world, there will be tribulations.  Just get ready.

But, the second promises is as hopeful as the first is discouraging.  Jesus promises us, I have overcome the world.  Take care.  Don’t worry.  Don’t fear, don’t be distressed.  Take heart.  Have hope.  Have peace, don’t be afraid.

Yes, you will have real, for real troubles.  Yes, even as a Christian, things will come that will rock your world.  Yes, there will be lots of things that will hurt.

But, it’s ok.  Take heart.  Jesus is bigger than these things.  He’s overcome them.  He’s bigger, He’s stronger, He’s better.

Don’t lose heart.  Don’t give up.  Don’t be afraid.  Yes, there will be troubles.  But Jesus has already overcome them.  Have faith.  Trust.  Hope.  Believe.

He’s got this.

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After the Mountaintop

mountain-top[1]Yesterday at Asbury, I preached about baptism, our promises to God in baptism, and God’s promises to us in baptism.  Baptism is extremely powerful, holy, and sacred moment in our lives.  It is a profound moment, a moment that we need to always remember, a moment that really defines God’s love for us.

It can be what is called a mountaintop experience.  A time when we really feel God’s power.

Mountaintops are great.  They are awesome.  They are holy.

But, here’s the thing.  They don’t last forever.

Listen to what happens to Jesus, after His baptism, in Matthew 4:1-4:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

After the mountaintop, reality sets back in.  There are still problems.

There are still worries.

There are still challenges.

There are still problems.

We can’t stay on the mountain forever.  There are things that we must do.  Challenges we must face.  Battles we must fight.  Tests that remain.

But, remember this.  The God that is God on the mountaintop is the same God that is God in the valley.  He is God in the midst of the storm.  He is God in the midst of the test.

He is God in the midst of the trial.

And He will not let you go.

No matter what.  You can trust Him.

On the mountain or in the valley.  He is God.  And you can trust.

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.

You Will Face Temptation Today

In his first letter to the church, Peter spends a lot of time telling the folks how they should live. How they should act. What they should do.

And so, when I saw today I was going to be reading from 1 Peter, I knew immediately. He’s going to be talking about holiness. And part of me when, ugh.

Because I don’t know about you, but most of life, I don’t feel very holy.

So, I began to thinking, ok, this is going to convict me and make me realize I’ve got a long way to go to being the person that God wants me to be. And then I read it. And something jumped out at me.

Listen to what Peter writes in verses 13-16:

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

urlIt’s that first verse that really jumped out at me. Prepare your minds for action. What a great concept. I think, at least in my life, I get myself in trouble, when my mind is not ready. When I’m not prepared. When I’m not ready. When my mind is not focused on Jesus.

Are our minds ready today?

Today, you will face temptation. It’s coming. It may be happening right now.

You will face discouragement. It’s gonna happen.

You will face troubles and trials and worries. It’s gonna happen.

Get your mind ready. Be ready. Don’t be caught by surprise. These things will come. Center your mind on Christ. Make Him your focus. Make Him your light, your rock, your hope, your strength.

Trouble will be coming. That’s truth. That’s the way that it is. Temptation will be coming.

Prepare your mind. Get ready.

And the God of all strength and comfort will give you what you need for this day.

And each day. Get ready. God will be with 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.