Day Fifty-one with Mark: Mark 14:1-9

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas.  Another housekeeping note, sorry we missed a few days last week, with Christmas and a few unexpected things popping up, I was unable to get these out.  But we are back on!

Let me give you a schedule for these rest of this week.  We’ll be walking together through Mark through Thursday. And then, we will be taking a break for about 10 days.  From January 3-13 I am going to be in the Holy Land. But while I’m there, I’m going to attempt to send out a daily update of what we have seen and done, and if the internet is agreeable, send out some daily video blogs as well.  So, you’ll get to get to walk with us through our trip to Israel, if all goes according to plan!

Today, we look at Mark 14:1-9:

It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; 2 for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”

The Anointing at Bethany
3 While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. 4 But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

Today we see in verses 1-2, the setting of the stage for what is to happen through the rest of 14-15, the Passion, where Jesus is betrayed, suffered, and died. In Chapter 16, we see the Resurrection.

We see that the religious leaders were looking for a way to arrest, charge, and kill Jesus.  From their perspective, Jesus was upsetting the apple cart, He was disrupting their power, showing people the truth, and freeing the to truly keep the law the way God desires (Loving God and Loving Neighbor) and not carrying the heavy burden that the religious leaders had placed upon them.

They didn’t like this at all; they were now actively seeking a way to destroy Him.

But, we know that there is a bigger plan in place.  We know that God is at work in all this, because Christ’s death upon the cross would atone for the sins of humanity, and the resurrection would forever crush the power of sin, death, and the grave.

Remember, there is always something bigger happening that what our eyes can see.  God is always, always, always doing more than we can imagine, even if we can’t see or can’t understand.  God is always at work.

jesusIn the next passage, we see one of those passages that always sets a little uneasy, and doesn’t really make sense, at least to me a first. In this, we see a woman anoint Jesus with expensive ointment, and then she gets fussed at by the disciples.  What all is happening here?

As an act of devotion to Jesus, as an act of thanksgiving, she takes this ointment, and pours it upon Jesus?  Why?  Well, this ointment was probably a part of her dowry, to given upon her wedding, and in this act, she is saying that Jesus is worth more to her than anything else in her life, anything else she could possibly ever possess.  He is the most valuable thing she could behold.

And she is willing to lay everything down for Jesus.  Willing to give everything up for Jesus.  Willing take what was her most valuable possession and devote it all to Jesus.

Wow!  What faith.  What worship.  What devotion. What devotion.

But she gets fussed at because she it told that she could sell it and give it to the poor, to which Jesus replies that we will always have poor with us.

What does that mean?  Does that mean that we shouldn’t work to help the poor?  That we should quit trying?  That they shouldn’t matter?

No, what Jesus is saying is this.  We live in a fallen world.  We live in a world sin and brokenness.  Until He returns, there will be death and sadness and brokenness and pain.  Now, because of the resurrection, these things no longer have a hold on us, but they are still there.

So, here this, you can’t do everything.  You can’t fix everything.  You make everything perfect.  I can’t.  You can’t.  No one can.

Don’t put the weight of the world to fix everything on your shoulders. That’s not your job.  Your job is the same as mine.  To be faithful.  And if you are faithful, and I am faithful, together, all of us can make a huge difference for Jesus.

Together.  Today, we all be faithful.  May we give our best for Jesus. And may we give Him praise for what He will do!

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 14:10-25.

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!

Day Forty-One with Mark: Mark 11:1-11

Today in our walk through Mark, we look at Mark 11:1-11, the Triumphal Entry, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday:

11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Triumphal-entryOne of the things that we miss here in the West when we read the Bible is that we read it through eyes that are American.  We see things sort of as we see them here.  An example of this for me personally is when I read about Jesus going into the wilderness to be tempted, me being someone that grew up in south Mississippi, when I thought of wilderness, I thought of trees.  It’s just what I pictured in my mind when I thought of wilderness.

Well, when you go to Israel you see that the wilderness that Jesus was tempted in wasn’t trees and forest it the most dreary and desolate desert that you’ll ever see.  Understanding the land and the context really helps you to understand the Word.

Today’s passage is another one that understanding the context really helps you understand.  We see in this Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, and think of conquering western kings or armies parading into town on the back of a horse or coming in great triumph.

So we see Jesus do this and think – oh, look at Jesus’ humility!  Now, it is true that Jesus is humble, but that’s not what is happening here.  Jesus is not being humble, in coming into town on a donkey, in fact He’s doing just the opposite.  He’s declaring Himself as king.

The triumphal entry is an act of humbleness, sure, but in that context it’s an act of kingly humility. It’s the act of a king.

If someone ever tells you that Jesus never declared Himself as the Messiah, point right to this passage.  That’s exactly what He is doing here.  He is telling everyone who He is.  He is king.

And notice the reaction from the people.  They call Him the one that is to to come from David.  They understood what was happening.  They understood what Jesus was saying.

They understood that He was king.

But, what we will see is that He was not the king that they were expecting.

Today, though, we see Jesus getting the praise and worship that He deserves.  We see Jesus as king.

May He be king in our lives as well.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 11:12-14.

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!

Back to Normal

11039283_918053468233791_7323792872120992766_nThis Sunday at St. Matthew’s, we going are “back to normal.” We’ve had an amazing first few weeks here!  We had just a great crowd and spirit here on our first Sunday. And then the Choir and Orchestra were just terrific for our Patriotic Musical. And last week, with all of us being in Hart Hall, our original worship space, what a great time to remember who we are and where we’ve come from!

And this Sunday we are going back our regular schedule of three services.

Back to normal.

But, here’s the thing. I never want us to go back to normal. Not here at St. Matthew’s. Not in our lives. Not in our families. Not in our community. Not anywhere.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” So in other words, as believers, there is no “normal” anymore. We are a new creation. We alive with love and joy and peace and grace and mercy.

There is no normal anymore.

That’s what I want for us here at St. Matthew’s. Let’s never have a normal Sunday, ever again. Every time we gather for worship, the supernatural can happen. Lives can change, families can be healed, the dead can be brought back to life.

Let’s never be normal again. Let’s live every day with the expectation of the miraculous. Let’s live every day with that hope, that expectation, that promise.

Let’s never be normal again!

See you Sunday. And invite a friend to join us at 8:30 or 11 for our Traditional Worship Experiences in the Sanctuary or at 11 for our INTERSECTION Contemporary Experience in Hart Hall!

Thirsty

I’ve been trying something recently.  I read somewhere that one of the reasons that we get tired in the afternoon hours of the day is because we are dehydrated.  So, what I’ve been doing is drinking more water, especially in that afternoon time.  See, what I used to do was just drink more coffee, that’s kind of my answer to everything – more coffee.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

So I’ve been drinking more water, and you know what?  I think it’s working.  I was thirsty, but I didn’t really even realize it. Drinking that water has helped me feel better and have more energy.  And I didn’t even know that I needed it.

Listen to what it says today in Psalm 84: 1-4:

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise.Selah

thirstyI love that verse – my soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord.  Our souls are thirsty for God.  Our souls long for that communion with God, that worship of God.  That’s what we are made for; that’s what we are created for.  To know God.  To love God.  To worship God.  To be in relationship with God.

That’s our purpose.  That’s what we are made for.

But here’s the thing.  We get so busy, we don’t realize that we are thirsty for Him.  We know something is wrong, we know that we don’t quite feel right, we know that something is off, but we aren’t sure what it is.

What is it is that our souls are thirsty for God.  And we have tried so many other things, and nothing satisfies.  No work, not pleasure, not status, nothing.  We remain thirsty.

Our souls long for God.

But here’s the thing.  God desires you, as well.  He wants you to be in relationship with Him.  He is love, and being love, He desires for you to walk with Him.  So, today, if your soul is thirsty, and really, all our souls are thirsty, know that there is living water that will satisfy.  Our souls have been crying out, but we may not have realized it.

Today, drench your soul in His grace, His presence, His worship.  You are loved, you are valued, you are pursued.  Today, we need God.  And God desires us.

Today, may we find our strength and our life in Him.

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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.

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