Day Fifty-Seven with Mark: Mark 15:1-15

Today we look at Mark 15:15, Jesus handed over to be crucified:

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” 3 Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified
6 Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7 Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8 So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. 9 Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

Jesus-before-Pilate-1500xOne of the interesting things to notice in this passages, at least to me, is the response to the pressure of others.  Look at Jesus.  Here is Pilate saying basically, who are you?  Jesus didn’t feel the need to respond.  He wasn’t going to play games, He wasn’t there to bargain for His life.  His life was truth, His life was life.

He wasn’t there to bend His knee to Pilate.  Remember, no one murdered Jesus.  Jesus willing laid down His life for the forgiveness of the world.

When Pilate saw one unafraid, someone that knew truth, that was following truth, that wasn’t giving into or living by the powers of this world, as the text says, he was amazing.

Pilate was used to being big and bad and in control.  And Jesus didn’t care.  He had a higher purpose, one that Pilate couldn’t stop and didn’t even understand.

Jesus wasn’t playing by Pilates rules. And that amazed Pilate.

Then, look at Pilate. He through (as he tried to “prove” to Jesus) he was in charge, he backed down when pressure came.  He didn’t want trouble.  He wanted peace.  He wanted everything easy.  He didn’t want anyone to stir up anything.

So when faced with pressure, instead of doing what he knew be right, he traded a murderer for an innocent man.

Today, this weekend, sometime in our life, we will face pressure.  We will know what is the right thing.  We will know what we should do. We will have that conviction of what is right.

And we will face pressure.  It may be internal temptation.  It may be pressure from the outside.  It may be pressure from friends, from strangers, from culture, from who knows where or what.

We will face pressure.

What will we do?  Will we stand in truth like Jesus?  Or will we wilt like Pilate?

We each will face pressure.  What will we do it?

Monday we’ll look at Mark 15:16-20.

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-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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Who is God?

First, some housekeeping.  I send these reflections out each day as an email.  I’m changing the way that I send them out.  If you’d like to join my new email list, click here.  There were some technical problems last week that I think I should have worked out, all should be good now. Now, on to today’s reflection.

Today’s reading is just one of my favorites in the entire Bible.  I know I say that a lot. But really. This one is.  This is one of those passages that just unlocks everything for us.  Just listen to what it says in Colossians 1: 15-20:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

w8xb3kidzuon5szabbepiflyvnlBoom.  There you go.  That’s it.  Really.  That’s it.  This is one of those passages that is so key.

Why?

It tells us who God is.  Wait, what?  Yep.  This passage tells us who God is.  It says this.  Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  If you want to know God, look to Jesus.

Now, we believe in a God that is Three in One.  Trinity.  Triune.  By the way, here’s a link to a great book I’m reading that does as good a job of unpacking the Trinity as anything I’ve ever read.

But, there is something special about Jesus.  In Jesus, we see God’s heart.  We see the love of God.  The mercy of God.  The acceptance of God.  We really see in a special why who God is.  Jesus shows us who God is.

But also, we see this.  We don’t believe in just sort of a “spiritual” God.  Our culture talks a lot about God, but who is this God?  It is the God as shown to us in Jesus.

A God that forgives, but calls us to be holy.  A good that seeks the broken, and calls us all to follow Him.  A God that died for our sins, shows us the depth of His love, and rose from the dead.

A God of the cross.  Of the empty grave.  Of resurrection.  Of the destruction of sin, death, and the grave.

Jesus shows us God’s heart.  But He also shows us exactly who God is.

That’s why I love this passage.  And that’s why it matters.

It answers the question of who is God?

Jesus.  The answer is Jesus.

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!

Burdens and Why I Love the Bible

You know why I believe that the Bible is true? Well, there’s a million different reasons why it’s true. But one of the reasons why I hold to the Bible is that I think it just really lays out how we should live.

I can’t think of anything else that paints a picture of how relationships should go, with God, with each other, with family, with everything. The Bible just so clearly lays out how we should live and what we should do.

For instance, check out what we are told in Galatians 6: 1-5:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

bearNow there’s a lot of thing that we could focus on here, but the thing that jumps out to me in the word “bear.”

First, we are told to bear one another’s burdens. Be there for each other. Help each other out. Support each other. Care for each other. Be there.

But wait you say, a few verses later it says each will have to bear their own load? So which is it? Are we to bear each other’s burdens? Or are we to bear our own?

Yes.

Yes we are. Wait, what? I think this lays it out perfect. We are each to bear our own burdens. We are to take care of ourselves. I am to take care of myself and my family, take care of those that I love.

And this is why. If my things are taken care of, then I am able to help you take care of your burdens. When I have taken care of my stuff, I can help you take care of your stuff.

And here’s the thing. You need to take care of your stuff. Because there’s going to come a time when I can’t take care of my stuff. And I’m going to need your help.

If you bear yours and your burdens are taken care of, then you can help me.

And if I bear my own and my burdens are taken care of, then I can help you.

That’s why we bear our own. So we can bear each others.

That’s beautiful. That’s what it should look like. That’s what faith, what family, is called to look like.

So, today, may we bear our own burdens. So that we have taken care of what we can take care of, and we can fully and easily bear each other’s burdens.

We need each other. Today and each day. May we never forget.

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!

We All Want Peace

Sometimes in life, we just feel like we don’t have any peace. We can be set by trials, troubles, all kinds of things that can just steal our peace.

Things that can make worry, make us stressed, make us sick, make us miserable. We’ve all been there. We may be there now. We all understand this.

We all want peace, don’t we? No matter where we are, no matter our circumstance, no matter what is going on in our lives, we all want peace.

So, the question becomes, how do we get peace? How do we have real and true peace in our lives?

Listen to what it says in Isaiah 26: 3-4:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

peace-with-god1Those whose mind is stayed on God will have perfect peace.

Here is the reason. Think about what take your peace most of the time. Is it something that is a fact? Or is it an emotion? Or a feeling? Or worry?

Most times for me, the things that take my peace aren’t “facts.” They are things that I feel that may or may not be true.

The reason why we have peace when we keep our minds on God is because when we keep our minds on God, we keep what is true and what is a fact in the forefront of minds.

What is true? God is good. God is in control. God has a plan. God works things out to our good (Romans 8:28). God will even use evil for God (Genesis 50:20).

Things things are true. Even when we don’t feel it. We have to believe it. We have to hold fast to it. We have to keep it on our hearts.

We have to keep it in our minds.

Today, set your mind on Christ. Set your mind on what is true. Hold fast to it, believe it. Cling to it.

And when we hold onto truth, we will find peace. Because we remember that God is good. All the time.

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!

What is Truth?

imagesWhat is truth?  That may be the question of this age, and every age.

When Jesus was before Pilate, one of the questions that he asked Jesus was this – what is truth?

In an age of conflicting ideas about truth, about revelation, about right and wrong, one of the things that we have to get right is this. What is truth?

Well, listen to the words of Jesus this morning in John 14:6:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus says this.  Truth is not a concept.  Truth is a person.  Truth is not an idea.  Truth is a person.

He is truth.  He is the way.  He is life.  No one comes to the Father, but through Him.  He is truth.

So, to know truth, here is the answer.  Know Jesus.  He is the source of our truth.  It’s not that He is a truth.  He is THE truth.

I told my folks at bible study here at Asbury that my goal is not to make them better people.  My goal is to help them meet and know Jesus better.  If we have met Jesus, I truly believe that He will take care of our actions. That’s what He does.  He will burn away the things in life that we shouldn’t be doing. And He will increase in us the things that we should be doing.

Chase Him.  He will take of the rest.

So, today, to know truth, chase after Jesus.  Seek Him.  Know Him.  Give yourself and your life to Him more and more and more.  He is truth. For the questions we face, the decisions in our lives, the choices we make, turn to Him.

Seek Him.

Know Him.

And in that, we will know truth. We will. Because He is truth.

Today, in all things, seek Jesus. And we will find truth.

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.

God Cannot Lie

Crossing out Lies and writing Truth on a blackboard.God cannot lie.

That’s a big thing to understand and remember. He cannot lie. It is not part of His personality and nature. It is not part of who He is.

He cannot lie.

Every promise He has made to us will come true. Every Word of His that we stand upon is sure.

Jesus, who is the visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) tells us that He is the way, the truth, and the life. So, God is truth. And God cannot lie.

Today, trust in that.

Listen to what it says in Hebrews 6:18-20:

so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

We, who have turned to God for refuge, can have that hope and encouragement. God cannot lie. He will keep His promise.

He will not leave us or forsake us. He will not turn us aside. God is with us.

He has promised us that. His word has echoed that truth in our ears. We know it, we read it, we have heard it preached.

But, know this. It is truth. He cannot, will not lie. He will not leave your side. He loves you, He cares for you, He will not forsake you.

You are His.

No matter the weather, the context, the mistake, the failing, the hurt, the pain, the whatever.

God loves you. He has promised. And He cannot lie.

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.

The Way

Jesus Christ is the way to life. That’s it. That’s it.

That sounds too simple.

It sounds too exclusive.

It’s not smart enough. It’s old-fashioned. It’s out of date. It’s simple-minded, foolish, and not at all fashionable in the world we live in.

But it is the truth. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.

That’s what He tells us today in John 14:6-7:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Jesus Christ is the way to life. He is life. And life is not found outside of Him. So, today, a simple question for us to consider when we think about this verse.

Do we want to live? I mean, really live? Have life worth clinging to and hanging onto? Have a life worth having?

I’d think that almost every one of us really wants that life.

It’s only found in Jesus. He is life.

So, today, what are we chasing? What are we pursuing? What are we working on/working towards? Is it life worth having? Or is it life that will pass away.

Life is found in Jesus. I know it’s simple. But it’s true. Life worth having is found in our daily, consist walk with Him, through our reading, our prayer, and our study.

Today, may we truly find life worth having. Today, may we have Jesus.

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 Do We Need to Hear?

What is a true friend?

We talked earlier this week about the friends and companions that made the great things that happened in Acts possible.  Paul needed Barnabas, Barnabas needed 12, etc.  Sometimes the role of a friend is to be there, to support, to care, and to help give strength.

That’s also what Jesus does for us in our daily lives.  He is the one friend that we can always count on, that is always there.

Sometimes, the role of a friend is very different.

Listen what happens today in the Gospel of Luke:

28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

Ok, go back and reread that. They wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff. By the way, the image to you left, that may be the actual cliff they tried to throw Him off.

He wasn’t universally beloved as He walked upon the earth. Some folks didn’t like what He said and did. Some folks, like we see in the text, even wanted to throw Him off a cliff.

He was nailed to a cross and died.

He said things that people didn’t want to hear.  He challenged them to grow. To reexamine. To look at things differently.

That’s what a friend does, too.

So, today, what do you NEED to hear that you don’t WANT to hear? What is the truth that you need to hear from a friend that you might now want to hear?

A true friend will tell us the truth.  Even if that truth is something we don’t want to hear.

We need that. As a pastor, I’m thankful for those friends that have been willing to tell me the truth, and that has helped me to grow as a pastor, husband, and father.

I’m thankful for a wife that is willing to tell me the truth.  I’m thankful for those that love me enough to tell me what I need to hear.

Today, be listening for the truth. Be it from a friend. From the Lord. From wherever. Be listening for that Word we may need to hear.

Sometimes, it’s hard to be a friend. Today, may we be thankful for those that are.