Monday, June 30, 2008

Prayer's Outcome

Romans 8:26-27 (NASB)
26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

John 14:12-14 (NASB)
12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.
13 "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

We pray yet it is hard sometimes to see how it has been answered. Often, when we look back, we can see that God was there but not in the way we expected or could see at the time. Other times there seems to be no answer at all. We might wonder if He is even listening at all.

We are told to take everything to Him in prayer: all our questions, disappointments, sorrows, losses, joys, thanks, requests, and concerns. Examples of every kind can be found in Psalms. The Bible tells us that God is concerned with each one of us as His children and His knows our desires and thoughts.

Jesus prayed.

Prayer brings our focus on God. It ranges from being aware of His presence, asking for help in this business of living, to seeking Him in word and worship. We may see responses to our particular petitions that match what we think are the best answer. But the true outcome and result of prayer will not be apparent until we are with the Lord. What does not make sense now will be clear. Scripture says that we see in part now, but at that time we will know. But right now we are called to have faith in the One Who is faithful. That is one outcome that is sure to come to pass.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Whole Lot Of Shaking Going On

Mark 6:7-11 (NIV)
7 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
8 These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff--no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.
9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.
10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.
11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them."

He was preparing them to follow Him in His footsteps. Everything He did had that goal in mind. The teaching, healing and time with Him all served to impart the gospel of hope and forgiveness to these men. After the resurrection and the subsequent coming of the Holy Spirit, they were able to finally understand what happened and spread the good news.

He instructed them to take nothing. He came into this world the same way, except when one considers what He left behind in heaven. It takes the idea of traveling light way beyond our conception. In doing so, He became the light to our world.

Jesus told the twelve to shake the dust off their feet of any place that rejected them. Jesus had just been rejected by His hometown. While He routinely faced rejection and opposition, this must have been particularly painful at the hands of friends and family in the place He grew up. Anytime a person returned from a Gentile land, considered unclean, the traveler was to shake the dust of that place off their feet, lest it pollute their home.

The implications would have been well understood by the Jews that would turn them away. That was the testimony against them. The same applies today. Rejection of Jesus will serve as testimony that will lead to being rejected. I fear there is a “whole lot of shaking going on”.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In Our Midst

In the midst of our sorrow
You are there
In the midst of our heartbreak
You hold us together
In the midst of our pain
You comfort us
In the midst of our moment of loss
Your fullness fills us

You are faithful to those who seek You

Let us be reminded
That You are in our midst
Our Rock
And our redeemer

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Truly I Say To You

In the Old Testament, the prophets would speak the word of God beginning with “Thus says the Lord”. When this was said everyone knew that what followed did not come from the man himself, but God speaking through that man.

In the New Testament Gospels Jesus often begins with “Truly I say to you”. In these words Jesus confirms His divinity, God with us.

God speaks to us directly in Jesus. His words, life, and death reveal God and His mercy. The Holy Spirit continues the progression of revelation and the presence of God with us. He speaks truly and only those things of God. Our charge is to listen.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Mark 6:1-6 (NIV)
1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.
2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles!
3 Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
4 Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor."
5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.
6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.

Many were amazed at His teaching. But instead of learning from the teaching and miracles, they are put off by the familiar. They take offense. They cannot see and accept God in their midst. They can only see what they think they know.

They were not the only ones to be amazed. Jesus is confronted with their lack of faith. Even in the light of His words and miracles delivered first hand, they were still hostile to Him. He moves on. The gospel will be proclaimed and the truth made known.

Let us be amazed at His amazing grace
And He amazed at our faith in that grace
Let us look for Him in the ordinary, familiar things
We never know what word might be spoken
Or miracle seen

Monday, June 23, 2008

All The Difference

Mark 5:25-29 (NIV)
25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.
26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.
27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak,
28 because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed."
29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

This woman suffered with an ailment of the blood, one which drained her of life and made her unclean in the eyes of those around her. Doctors were of no help except in unburdening her of her wealth. She only got worse.

Perhaps this could be understood as a parable of old and new covenant, and of our need for Jesus. The old covenant did not save. It only served to make our sin plain and require our blood as the consequence. We had an ailment of the blood like this woman; our life was subject to death. The doctors could be likened to the religious authorities of the day. They should have been helping her to get better. Instead, Jesus refers to them as the blind leading the blind.

Then she heard about Jesus. She reached out in faith and was healed. The sacrifice of His blood takes away the blood penalty of all who accept Him. She touched Him in a different manner than the many who pressed in around Him. Because of that she was freed. Reaching out in faith makes all the difference.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Wanting more is not a bad thing in of itself. In fact, that is part of how we were created by God. That desire is an innate part of us that if properly channeled leads to God. The problem is when wanting more of God is displaced by something else. That leads to sin.

More of God
Less of me
Into life lived more abundantly

He became like us
That we would become more like Him

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Who We Truly Are

To the degree we give ourselves to God

We become someone else – who we truly are

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bowing Before Jesus

Mark 5:1-7 (NKJV)
1 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes.
2 And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
3 who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains,
4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him.
5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.
7 And he cried out with a loud voice and said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me."

This encounter is with a man who is not in his right mind. He lived a tormented life in a graveyard, if you can call that living. Mark says he was not tormented by illness, but by an unclean spirit. Later in the story we learn there are many spirits residing in this one man. Notice in verse 6 that the man comes running to Jesus when he catches sight of Him.

The New King James Version states that he ran and worshiped Him, translating the Greek word proskune as worship. Other translations state that the man, or unclean spirit is more accurate, fell or bowed before Jesus. The word proskune seems to be derived from another word which means more “like a dog licking his master’s hand”, according to (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.).

I don’t think the spirits worshipped Jesus as I think of worship, done with a joyful heart at mercy received. They were asking Jesus in the next verse not to torment them. They knew He had power and authority as the Son of God over heaven and earth. They did not want any part of Him, but acknowledged His Kingship.

One day every knee will bow to Jesus, just as this man did. The question will be in what spirit that knee will bow. That question is put forth to us in the revelation of the gospel. How we answer is up to us.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

When The Grain Is Ripe

Mark 4:26-29 (NIV)
26 He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.
27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.
28 All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.
29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come."

We do not usually understand the effect we have in the lives of others, in the kingdom of God. We are often unaware of the Spirit working within our own hearts, but like the planted seed in this parable, it does germinate and put forth roots in the Divine. Though we don’t know entirely how it comes to pass, we begin to see the fruit, small at first but growing in size and diversity in our lives.

God has put forth His Word and it will come to pass. There is a reason and order to all things. There will be a fulfillment of all things. There will be a time when the harvest is complete. We can see in part now, but we will not see completely until Jesus comes back again, just as soon as the grain is ripe.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Measure

Mark 4:24 (NIV)
24 "Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you--and even more.

This is good and bad news. The good news is that we will be given the blessings of God to the degree we seek them, and more. The bad news is that we will be given the blessings of God to the degree we seek them. Our response to the gospel is just that: our response. God lays out a feast before us, but it is up to us to sit down and eat. We’ve been given all we need to find God. I don’t know about you but I’m going to use the biggest spoon I can find and I’m going to be sitting and eating at His table for as long as I can. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Mark 4:10-12 (NIV)
10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.
11 He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables
12 so that, "'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'"

Some may struggle at this passage, which seems to end with Jesus appearing to say that not everyone is offered the gift of mercy, that there are some souls He is not interested in saving. That idea is contrary to the mission and purpose of the gospel. He came for all, with special affection and compassion for those on the outside, the outcasts in the eyes of men. So what are we to make of this statement in verse 12 which seems to exclude some of the lost?

I think Jesus is describing people who are not seeking God, who are indifferent or hostile to His gospel, and who have grown dull and hardened in their thinking. Teaching in parables does not cause their lack of perceiving or understanding. When Jesus taught in the synagogues, His teaching was not described as given in parables. He withdrew into the countryside when it was no longer safe to speak directly and explain scripture. It was not time for Him to be taken. There was still much to be taught before He would willingly sacrifice Himself for our sins. The resurrection would become the ultimate truth and confirmation that He truly is the Son of God, given for the world.

Jesus wept before He entered Jerusalem, saying that that God long held out His hand of forgiveness to Israel, but time after time it was rejected. As He looked in love on His beloved city He thought if only they would turn to Him, even now, He would forgive and welcome them in His arms.

But that was not to be the case. They would see and hear God Incarnate, but without perceiving or understanding. The path to the cross would not be obstructed or deterred.

I think you would agree that no one understands the mind of God. His timing and plan seem mysterious to us. At times we may even despair and cry out in our frustration and pain. His ways are not our ways. But I believe in a loving and just God, one that leaves ninety-nine sheep to search for the one sheep that is lost, and that answers all who seek Him. The parables were spoken to allow the truth of the gospel to be placed before man to prepare the way for His kingdom. They speak to our hearts today as we seek Him. He sought us first. God enables the otherwise to be an option, which is life through His Son.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Transcending Reality

In 1543, while on his deathbed, Copernicus revealed his discovery that the earth was not the center of the universe. Though he made this discovery earlier, he waited to make it known for fear of the reaction it would bring. He had reason to fear.

In 1616 Galileo was summoned to the Inquisition in Rome for agreeing with Copernicus. The church condemned Galileo to death for this heresy. In its judgment it said ‘The first proposition, that the sun is the center and does not revolve around the earth, is foolish, absurd, false in theology and heretical because contrary to Holy Scripture…The second proposition, that the earth is not the center, but revolves around the sun, is absurd, false in philosophy, and from a theological point of view at least, opposed to the true faith.’

Galileo gave in, lived, but did not recover his life.

The world could not receive the truth. It strikes me that the same thing is happening today. Christianity is experiencing the same sort of opposition faced by Galileo from those with a world view. The wording of the judgment above could be updated with today’s condemnation of God and His Son Jesus:

The first proposition, that God exists and that the universe does not revolve around man, is foolish, absurd, false in logic and contrary to reason… The second proposition, that man is not all there is, but was made by and for God, is absurd, false in philosophy, and from a natural point of view at least, a childish dream opposed to enlightened thinking.

Does it sound familiar? It should. This message rings out in our world, just as it has for thousands of years. Some things never change.

Truth is not a result of man’s thinking, but the transcending reality of God.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Things Around Us

Mark 4:9-12 (MSG)
9 "Are you listening to this? Really listening?"
10 When they were off by themselves, those who were close to him, along with the Twelve, asked about the stories.
11 He told them, "You've been given insight into God's kingdom—you know how it works. But to those who can't see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight.
12 These are people— Whose eyes are open but don't see a thing, Whose ears are open but don't understand a word, Who avoid making an about-face and getting forgiven."

Jesus taught using parables to bring the message of the gospel. The stories and examples He gave related earthly things to spiritual truth. The meanings were not immediately obvious, even to His disciples. But notice what those who were close to Him, those who followed Him in earnest, did after hearing a parable about one who sowed seeds in different soils. They did not understand the meaning of this story so they asked Him to help them understand. They went to the source, asked and it was given to them. For those who are curious, for those who might be open to the truth, for those who seek and knock on the doors of the heaven, they will find the answer.

Jesus left earth long ago, but He sent another teacher, the Holy Spirit, who guides us into all truth. At this point in the gospel the followers of Jesus did not have the Spirit within them to open their eyes and ears to the things of God. But He is in the world today for those who believe and accept Jesus. The gospel is offered to all, but it is foolishness to those who are perishing. The Word spoken to our hearts through the Holy Spirit is as fresh and living today as it was coming from the lips of Jesus teaching the crowds by the Sea of Galilee.

The life of Jesus could be viewed as a parable. Jesus is described as the exact image of God. But that was God in an earthy form, taking on our flesh that we might be saved and learn the truth. Spirit is revealed within creation. We can relate to God and heaven through things around us. There is much to see and to learn.

Open the eyes of my heart Lord

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Family Resemblance

Mark 3:35 (NKJV)
35 For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother."

Jesus tells us of our new spiritual family that comes about when we believe and follow Him. We don’t leave our earthly family or leave earth to reside in heaven upon our acceptance of Christ, though heaven is our destiny. Instead, we are included in a new family that He makes possible. He becomes our brother and God becomes our Father. Just as we were born into a family here on earth, we are reborn into God’s eternal family. Our time here is then becomes a period of growing up in Christ. We live and learn through our experiences. We encounter triumphs and failures. Our weakness and glory are revealed. We come to understand something of love and faith. Following Jesus is the will of God. As we do, we begin to look more and more like Him. We can’t help but have a family resemblance.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Unpardonable Sin

Hebrews 10:26-27 (NIV)
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,
27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

The sacrifice of Jesus covers all sins save one. If we reject who He is and what He did for us, then we will stand condemned before God on the Day of Judgment. There is no pardon apart from the saving grace of Jesus, who will judge on that last day.

The light has come into the world. Accepting the truth of that light leads to eternal life. Many who see the light turn away. They exchange light for darkness, truth for a lie, and good for evil. They refuse and deny the Spirit, therefore God.

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. There are not two Gods: one of the Old Testament and one of the New Testament. There is only the One God whose justice required the sacrifice of His own Son that we may come to Him and live. God is revealed in both Testaments.

Turning to Christ for forgiveness, we receive mercy.
Turning away from Christ, we condemn ourselves.

Monday, June 9, 2008

With Him

Mark 3:13-15 (NASB)
13 And He went* up on the mountain and summoned* those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him.
14 And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach,
15 and to have authority to cast out the demons.

God writes His love and commandments on our hearts by fellowship with Him. The medium becomes the believer’s heart, rather than tablets of stone. Jesus embodies and demonstrates the truth of relating to God and each other.

He appoints twelve to a special mission. They are to be with him. From among the followers or disciples of Jesus, they will become sent ones, or apostles, bearing the message and power of the gospel. God chose and blessed the twelve sons of Israel to be His people as part of His revelation. God chooses to reveal Himself through man, even coming in the form of man Himself for the ultimate revelation before the Son comes back in glory and power. These twelve were drawn to him, willing to follow him, to believe in him, and to obey him. They will go beyond following to proclaiming his message. The same thing takes place with us. The Gospel is revealed in our lives.

He takes men of different types, with varying capabilities and gifts, and begins transforming them as they spend time with him. Time spent with the Savior transforms and renews today as it did then.

May the gospel of my life be true to the Gospel of Jesus.

Friday, June 6, 2008

New Wine

Mark 2:22 (NIV)
22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins."

Jesus comes with the new wine of the gospel. The revelation previously given to Israel is likened to old wine in wineskins that have become brittle. Israel has become rigid in thinking of what it means to be people of God. The true meaning and intent of that revelation has been diluted and changed in the hands of the people over time. They have made it something else.

Jesus pours out His life so that we may partake in the love and forgiveness which comes from God. Each of us receives the Spirit and love of the Father. Eternal life is placed before us all. Our cup runs over with the living water that never ends: the new wine. We have only to drink.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Transcending Union

God reaches down and dips His finger in the sea of humanity. Christ is born. Divine takes on flesh. Flesh is infused with the Divine. The Spirit is given and takes residence in all who believe the good news of salvation accomplished by the mercy and power of God.

Christ arose and ascended into heaven and is seated with God. He sits wearing the mantle of humanity, the imperishable body made possible through the passion and resurrection of Jesus.

We are brought into the presence of God by that Divine transaction. The Spirit is given to us. God has received the Son, the first fruits of the harvest to come. We abide in Him and are raised with Him. We sit in fellowship with the Father and Son. The Spirit comes to us as a sign and confirmation of our inclusion in the Holy Presence, which is the kingdom of God. Heaven’s reach comes into the hearts of man. We are brought before God in the form of the new man in Christ. The transcending union of God and man is only made possible by the work of His Son Jesus. That is why Jesus says He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Son of God

Mark 3:11 (NIV)
11 Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God."

He hushed the demons who referred to him as the Son of God. This title speaks of a close and special relationship, which is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man. He is both. In Him man and God come together in a way that was not possible before. He is the new man come forth from the old, bringing new life in the Spirit. Flesh becomes a dwelling place of God. The Spirit will come to all men who open their hearts.

It is not for the demons to reveal Jesus. Jesus came to proclaim the good news. It will take time to speak the message and open the gates to the kingdom of God. It will take time for us to observe and digest this truth. It continues for each of us this day.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

With Us, Beyond Us

No idols or images are we to make
That which we are able to create reflects our nature
We are inherent in all we do
God is beyond

Our conception of Him is a reaching out but does not define or contain Him.
We cannot hold or embrace Him in our thoughts, yet He is near.

Perhaps we approach Him best in silence
When we are not confounded by words
Not blinded by images of our minds
We worship in spirit
One with His Spirit

Monday, June 2, 2008

Come Follow Me

Mark 1:16-17 (NIV)
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
17 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."

Jesus calls out to Simon and Andrew. He preaches to crowds in the days to come, but He calls followers individually and still does today. He speaks to each one of us: “Come, follow me.” He invites us not just to do what He says, but to do what He did, to live like He lived, and to join Him where He lives. He has led the way. He takes ordinary people like you and me and calls us to an extraordinary life. He can take what we are and multiply it, just as He did when He fed a multitude with a few loaves and fish. When we say yes, we embark on an amazing journey into the kingdom of God.