Monday, July 31, 2017

Day 32~ Acts 1-3 (Followers of Christ)

“In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group of numbering about 120)…” (1:15)

Considering how long I have been a Christian, you would think I would be able to rattle off the 12 disciples names without giving it much thought.  However, I struggle over their names because quite a few of them have two or three names!  It would be like memorizing the first, middle and last name of 12 people.  I hate to use the cop-out that I am bad with names….but I am!

Anyway, when I was reading about how the disciples joined together constantly (1:14) I was wondering; who are all these people?  It turns out, we know quite a few of the 120 that were meeting together!  I thought I would share with you how many we do know in that number:
Peter (AKA Simon) 
Andrew (brother of Peter)
James  (Son of Zebedee)
John (brother of James and son of Zeb.)
Thomas (AKA Didymus-John 20:24)
Bartholomew (AKA Nathanael -Luke 6:13)
Matthew (AKA Levi, the Tax collector)             
James (Son of Alphaeus- who is also the father of Matthew)
Simon (AKA The Zealot)
      Now for others beside the 12:
Judas Barsabbas (AKA Justis)
Matthias (took the traders spot as an apostle)
The brothers of Jesus (Acts 1:14): James, Joseph, Judas and Simon (names from Luke 8:19)
     Some educated assumptions:
Joseph of Arimathea 
Nicodemus (because of their involvement in the burial of Jesus)
Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21) and his family, Alexander, Rufus and Simon’s wife (mentioned in Rom. 16:13)
     Now the women (those listed as supporting Jesus with their money and being at the foot of the cross): 
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary Magdalene
Mary (mother of James the younger and of Joses- Mark 15:40 and wife of Clopas-John 19:25))
Salome (wife of Zebedee)
Joanna (wife of Cuza)

With unnamed spouses, that accounts for nearly 50 of the 120!  Are you surprised that you know that many?  


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Day 31~ John 19-21

God is a God of detail!

God had a song book compiled and put in order about 300 years before Christ. A Psalmist (maybe King David) wrote one of the songs (Psalm 22) to be played to the tune of “The Doe of the Morning” (It must have been a good tune if it was to be used again but with new words! 🎡)   Can you imagine a Temple Priest way back then saying to the band (made up of harps, lyres and lutes) “OK everybody, turn to page 22, we are going to sing that one today during our worship time.”
I’m sure they must have felt like I do at times when I hear a song; “Love the tune, but I don’t understand the words at all!”

So, GOD, in his complete control of the situation (and one who loves detail), planned out ahead of time that Jesus would have a nice enough garment that the soldiers didn’t want to cut up. In order to divide the booty, they gambled for this item. (19:23)

John, witnessed this scene playing out at the foot of the cross.  Can you imagine the surprise on his face when it dawned on him that this scene explained the song that was sung in the temple on occasion?
“Oh!..Wow! The song makes total sense now! Scripture was fulfilled! That happened to Jesus!!”

Today, we have the gift of hind-sight so the fulfilling of Old Testament writings may not be as remarkable to us.  But, for the gospel writers…it was miraculous!!  I’m sure it helped strengthen their faith after Jesus left them to return God. 

It was the Holy Spirit who helped them figure things out. “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)
I would imagine they began to pour over ancient writings to see what else Jesus fulfilled in his 33 years on this planet.  
And with each discovery, they would smile at each other and say, “I remember he did that, do you remember?!”  It’s been said that they found over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His  life, death and resurrection!  

And God pre-planned every detail!😊

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Day 30~ John 16-18

If you got a chance to read Day 26’s blog, you would have read how chapter 6 can be looked at as a “transferring of devoted God followers to be devoted Jesus followers”.  That was a new way, for me, to see and understand certain verses.  Now, with that same lens, I am reading chapter 17 in a similar way. 

This was a pivotal time in history!  For thousands of years the “chosen people” worshipped one God.  They were monotheistic in a world of polytheistic thinking. 
We get glimpses of average Jewish people (not referring to the ones formally trained in the Law)  being devoted to God and looking forward to the promised Messiah.  
For example, 
Philip, Andrew, Peter and Nathanael, were not teachers of the law yet they were all devoted followers of God prior to ever meeting John the Baptist or Jesus.  How do I know that? Take a look at John 1:44 when they are telling Nathanael that they found “the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote..”  They knew scripture well!  In fact, Nathanael knew it so well, he knew that the Messiah was to come from the line of David, so he showed skepticism when he heard his friends say they found Jesus of Nazareth. “Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?”  Jesus even complements Nate’s devotion to God when he says, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” (John 1:47)

Jesus spent his three years of ministry teaching, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15 ) 
Those that believed, were Jewish people that already believed and followed God.  Do you see what a huge transitional time this would have been? Transferring faith in God alone to Jesus and God. (This is NOT polytheism! Jesus made this evident in his prayer, ..Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.”, 17:21.)

Keeping in mind that the one’s who followed Jesus were devout believers in God first, isn’t it more clear when you read “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.” (17:7)

Jesus repeatedly talks of the ones God has given Him and (17:9, 17:24) that he wants them to be in unity as He is with God (17:11, 21 & 23). The good news was that his followers got it!  They truly understood the unity of Jesus and God.  “You believe at last!” (16:31)

I just love the prayer of Jesus in 17:1-19 for these first believers.  And I feel utterly honored that he also prayed for me!!!! (and you!) in 17:20-21.  

When one completely understands that the Father and Jesus are one, than there is understanding when one reads, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,..”(John 6:44).  The transfer has occurred.  One can not stay devoted to God alone any longer.  God has made it that anyone who truly listens to Him and learns from Him will naturally come to Jesus (6:46).

Friday, July 28, 2017

Day 29 ~ John 13-15

Jesus us repeating himself again!  I better listen up!

14:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
14:21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.”
14:24, “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”
15:9,   “Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands you will remain in my love..”

So….what are His commandments?,,,
I like how one commentary put it, “His commandments are Himself; and the sum of them all is this- a character fully submitted to the Father and entirely giving of Himself to His brethren.” (MacLaren)

To me, that sounds too lofty to ever achieve in this life time! How will I ever be able to attain that? 
Well, one practical step is to follow what Jesus said in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus is saying it’s not too hard….just copy him!  Look to him and copy him.  (I am sure it is from this verse the famous saying came from; WWJD- What Would Jesus Do?)
We have two tools that help us copy Jesus. 
1.) We have his recorded example in the Gospels.  The more you read His Word, the more you will know Him and how he would respond in situations.
2.) We have a “Counselor” who lives with us and in us! (14:17).  He helps us remember and understand what we know and learn from Jesus!  He tells us how to copy Jesus!

Whew! Thanks Jesus, for not leaving us to guess how to love and obey.  You showed us with your life and gave us part of you to live in our hearts.  You gave us everything we need.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Day 28~ John 10-12

I kind’a feel sorry for those first believers in the Christian faith.  Talking about feeling alone in your faith! Especially those believers who were leaders in the Jewish community!

We read in chapter 12, “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in the their presence, they still would not believe in him.” (vs.37)  However, John gives us a little hope that not all those Jewish leaders were blind with “dead hearts”.  

“Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him.  But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue…” (vs. 42)
You know, that is not a good place to stay in…having fear of others…

Yes, it would be really hard to go counter culture to everything you know and confess one’s faith, but that is exactly what Christ has called them (and us) to do.
Remember what Jesus said in Matthew?  “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” (10:32)  

Later in Romans we will read, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are said.” (10:10)

Fortunately we get to know about two of these religious leaders who did eventually do a public confession of sorts.  Nick and Jo!!

We get to know Nick in John 3:1-21.  He is the Pharisee who had the conversation about with Jesus about being born again.  Then there was Jo, he was the “prominent member of the council (Mark 15:43) who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. (John 19:38)  Both these guys ended up doing a very public act that exposed their discipleship to Christ.  Joseph asked Pilate for the body of Jesus after the crucifixion and together with Nicodemus, wrapped the body with 75 lbs. of spices (enough for a king). (Juke 23:50)

I like hearing about how these two “confessed”, I am sure others of “the many” who believed confessed also, but I wonder about the others….. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Day 27~ John 7-9

Today's reading reminds me that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) and he reminds us of that when he says in 8:58, “..before Abraham was born, I am!”

The verse that stood out to me today was when Jesus was talking to the crowd and said, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgement.” (7:24) Do you know that he said basically the same thing nearly 1000 years earlier?

The Lord said to Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

Well, how do we make a right judgement?
A simple answer would be, look at the heart of the matter, have a heart like God’s.

The Pharisees were attending to the letter of the Law rather than the spirit of the Law. Jesus repeatedly, in his teachings tries to direct them (us) back to the Spirit of the Law (like we read in Matthew 5-6, John 2:16, 4:24, the list can go on and on…)

How do we look to the Spirit of the Law and have a heart like God’s?  Ironically, the answer is also in 1 Samuel, “the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart…”(13:14)
Jesus hasn’t changed!  He is still looking at our hearts to see if we are “after his own heart”.

I believe you are after God’s heart since you are reading His word daily and trying to get to know him better. The Holy Spirit will guide you in to understand of what you read and help you see the heart, spirit and intent of God’s word (as we will soon read in John 14:26).

With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you will be able to “make a right judgement”!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day 26~ John 4-6- Transferring of Faith

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (6:44)

This verse has caused confusion for me when I continue in my reading and get to John 12:32, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”  
Well, which one is it?  Only those God draws or all men who Jesus draws?

I found a commentary that gave me a whole new way of reading chapter 6.  The commentary says that the overall theme of chapter 6 in our reading today is about discipleship. “To be a disciple of course, simply means to be a student, learner, follower, or apprentice.  To be a disciple means to be taught by God, which is exactly what Jesus says in John 6:45.” (Myers)
“It is written in the Prophets: They will all be taught by God.  Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me” (6:45)

Myers notes that Jesus is speaking to Jewish people only, when he is talking about those who come to follow Him “were given to Him by God”. (John 6:37,39, 44, 65). Now, in a sense, they are being “transferred" to Jesus. 
In other words, Jesus is saying that those Jewish people who come to Him are those who previously worshipped the Father. “God is giving His worshippers to Jesus.  It is much like how the disciples of John stopped following him (like Andrew, John 1:40) and became disciples of Jesus instead.” (Myers)

Wow!! What a whole new way of looking at the verses listed above!! It also helped me understand what is written later in John 12:32; When Jesus is crucified (lifted up), that loving act will draw ALL men, Jews and Gentiles (that’s me!!!!). 

Ahhh, I feel like I have more clarity!!  I did not sum up Myers entire commentary so you may not be feeling as much clarity as I do. 😁 If you would like to do some further reading, here is the link I got the commentary from:

Monday, July 24, 2017

Day 25 ~ We start John today!! Chs. 1-3

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (3:14)

I thought I would give you some interesting background I discovered regarding the snake on the stick.

The story of Moses lifting the snake can be found in Numbers 21:9.  If the Israelites, who were being bitten by venomous snakes, looked at the bronze snake, they would live and not die from the bites.
Pretty cool foreshadowing on God’s part, don’t you think?! Even in the time of Moses, He is looking ahead to his Son, Jesus, fulfilling his plan. 

What you might not know is that the Israelites kept the bronze snake along with other holy items like the Ark of the Covenant filled with some manna in a gold jar and Aaron’s staff (Romans 9:4), etc..
They kept that bronze snake for almost 700 years!!!!!
But, as you can imagine, the generations that followed after the generation that got healed by God, started thinking the healing came from the snake.  So they started worshipping the snake😟.
King Hezekiah (715-686 BC) figured this out and had the snake smashed to pieces because he followed the Lord and wanted his people to do so as well. (2 Kings 18:4).  Can you imagine how mad some people would have been at the king because he destroyed such an ancient relic? 

Well, here is something else I discovered in my research on the snake.  Being that I am a nurse, I used to wear a necklace charm that depicted my career in medicine.  

I wondered how the medical profession got that symbol so I Goggled it.
In Greek mythology, the Rod of Asclepius (a serpent-entwined rod) is associated with healing and medicine. (Not hard to figure where that idea came from!) I wondered when Greek mythology was first written.  Although they say that it has been around since 2000 BC, nothing was written until the 700’s BC.  Isn’t that interesting?  Written mythology was written after Hezekiah destroyed the bronze snake.
Can you see how mythology is just a re-invention of God’s supreme story?  Satan is such a copycat!  Yet, he twists his stories to turn you away from God.  

Back to the medical symbol.  You are probably thinking…yeah, but that has two snakes and wings….
Well, two snakes means commerce and trade,…nothing to do with medicine.  So people got confused when they picked the symbol for medicine.  😝  Wouldn’t that be just like Satan to confuse people.  “I don’t want them to see the connection to Christ so I will skew it just a little  bit.”
The American Medical Association did get their image right, yet they still explain it away from Christ.
“The snake symbolizes rejuvenation, because the snake sheds it’s skin, or, snake bites have healing properties.  The rod has to do with a doctor-god who carried a rod with him.” πŸ™„
Sounds like they are reaching……

People just need to look to John 3:14 for the real meaning!!!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Day 24~ Luke 22-24

I finished Luke today and all I can think is,......I want Jesus to do for me what he did for his disciples after he rose again.

“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (24:45)

Open my mind, Lord! πŸ€“ Help me to understand it all!!!!

Now on to John!....

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Day 23~Luke 19-21

"But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves." (21:14) 

I think this verse stuck out to me today because I commented on worry when reading about Martha in chapter 10.
In context here, Jesus is saying, don't worry about how you will defend yourself. He will give the right words.

What stood out to me was, "make up your mind not to worry".  To me that sounds like we can decide whether we will worry about something or not.  We aren't at the mercy of our emotions.

When I teach the 5th and 6th grade girls at our school about how their bodies are changing, I talk about hormones and how they affect one's mood. Yet, I am always sure to say to these young ladies, that even though one can blame their bad mood on hormones, it is still in their control on how they will act. For example, they may want to yell at their little brother for his goofiness because they have little tolerance due to their bad mood, yet they can choose to walk away or do something other than yell at him. 
I love how Jesus said, "Make up your mind beforehand..." 
We have the ability to think about a situation before we get into it and make up our mind beforehand how we will respond. 
God will give us the words and the wisdom on how to respond. (21:15) 
How cool is that?!! 
We can make up our mind before a worrisome situation, and decide, "I will not worry, I will trust the Lord's got this!" 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Day 22~Like 16-18

"If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." (16:31)

I think that is such a powerful commentary on the human heart; how stubborn it can be!
This rich man held logic that I believe most people have "If I see it, I will believe it."  He was convinced that would be the case with his brothers (vs. 28). But, reality is, we have Satan whispering into my ears, lies (John 8:44), that lead us away from what we know is true.

I have been traveling in my motorhome the past three weeks. I am fascinated with the typography of our country! I'm also intrigued by the fossils, footprints and bones of dinosaurs that are scattered throughout the central part of the United States. It's fascinating! 

Through the years I have learned that in order for fossils to have formed, there had to be a quick and deep covering of silt over the body, plant, or marine life so that other organisms and oxygen could not begin the decay process. Then pressure causes inorganic minerals to enter the organic cells. When the organic cell wall parishes, the inorganic minerals still hold that shape thus leaving, "petrified trees", for example (complete stone that looks like the tree it once was).
Geologist would agree that local flooding could be the cause of such a process in some cases. Yet, they refuse to believe it could have been a global flood. Who knows why? How can they explain so many "local floods" happening at the same time across the globe? (Dinosaur fossils have been found on every continent of the world.)
They can't explain it because they don't want to see clear evidence that is right before their eyes. They may suggest a global catastrophe like a meteorite, but they can't attribute it to the global catastrophe of the Bible. 

That is why 16:31 stick out to me today. Man's heart can be so against God that they "will not be convinced even if" they are looking at the obvious. As I have mentioned before in a previous post, even if our logic thinks, "Seeing is believing", reality is actually "Believing is seeing."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Day 21~ Luke 13-15

The first part of chapter 13 stood out to me today. 
I noticed that Jesus repeated himself twice,  "But unless you repent, you too will all perish." (13:3&5) 
If Jesus is repeating himself, I figure, I better pay attention! We've all learned in school, if the teacher repeats himself, it WILL be on the test!) 

Then he followed those statements with the parable of the man with the fig tree that didn't bare fruit.  There was no explanation of that parable so we are left deducing what the meaning is by keeping it in context of what he said before that. So, the parables emphasis has to do with repenting before you're cut down (die). 

In those days the disciples and their contemporaries looked at calamities as punishment for sin. (Jesus made it clear that is not the case!)
We may not be so quick these days to think that way, but calamities still shake us up and remind us of our mortality. 
9/11 is a good example of that behavior. Church attendance rose dramatically after that event. That might be a good thing, but Jesus' warning here was not saying "Hopefully tragedy will wake you up" rather he is saying, "You may be the one IN the tragedy and then it will be too late for you."
I like how Matt Skinner, a Bible commentator, wrote about 13:1-8.
"Tragedy and hardship have their ways of nudging people toward God, but these verses suggest that tragedy and hardship come so suddenly that they often mark the end, not the beginning of our opportunities to live lives inclined toward God." 

Jesus gives us fair warning ⚠️.  After all, he was repeating himself over and over! I hope all people that I know and love take note and get a πŸ’―on this test! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Day 20~ Luke 10-12

Today we read about Jesus being in the home of Martha. 
I must admit, I feel a little defensive every time I read this story! I think it's because I can identify with Martha during around in her dinner preparations. I'm sure this was a big group she was hosting (12 + Jesus and maybe more!)  which requires a lot of prep!! So, yeah, I feel like I need to defend Martha a little bit. 
However, almost every time I read this story something new pops out to me. This time when reading, "you are worried and upset about many things" (10:41), I didn't read it in the context of the dinner preparations but rather in the context of a woman in general. We women get worried and upset about many things, don't we?! 
I could write a list of things I worry about and I'm sure things are popping into your head as you read this. "…but only one thing is needed." (10:42) That should be a poster on my wall! I need to be reminded of that every day, not just when I'm hosting a party!

It's interesting that Jesus spoke of worry again two chapters later; this time addressing both men and women. Worry has been an on going issue throughout the ages. I love how Jesus says "do not be afraid, little flock," (12:32) that sounds so sweet and endearing, doesn't it? 

I pray that I could recall Jesus' sweet words right when I need them!!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Day 19 ~ Luke 7-9

Today's reading seemed long to me. So there is a lot I could comment on, but my attention snagged on the first chapter when Luke wrote, "But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves..."(7:30) 
People were getting baptized by John to show that they were acknowledging God's way was right (vs. 29). The ones who were supposed to be experts on "God's ways" did not get baptized so they were showing that they did not believe God's ways were right. One commentary said a better translation of that verse would be that they, "Rejected for themselves the counsel of God".
The whole purpose of the teachers of the law was to teach their fellow Israelites God's ways!! 
Yet, they "rejected God's will for themselves" 
That just sounds so tragic, doesn't it? 

God's purpose for them, as well as for us, had been their salvation (1Tim 2:4).  
I'm sure you have pondered, "What is the purpose of life? Why am I here?"
Reading the way Luke worded this passage it makes me think the answer to those questions boils down to.....your purpose, and mine,  is to receive salvation. You can accept your purpose or reject it. 
I thank God that I have not rejected His purpose for me! 

Please, Lord, help some people I know, not to reject your purpose for them!! 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Day 18~ Luke 4-6

As I've mentioned before, the next time reading through the New Testament (starting end of Sept.), I'm going to do it chronologically. I'm looking forward to that because I think it will be easier to spot or understand differences in the four Gospels. Today, I spotted something that, in my opinion, was better explained in Luke than in Matthew.
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (6:38)
Remembering to reading context, "give" has nothing to do with money.  Here "give" would be in reference to giving forgiveness, giving no condemnation or judgement (which it is line to what Matthew said in a shorter version in 7:2).

When I think of "a good measure pressed down" I can't help but think about when I am baking and a recipe calls for brown sugar. It usually says "packed", so, you know to press the sugar down hard to get even more into the cup. 

So, with all this in mind, I just want to pray, πŸ™πŸ»Lord, help me to use a huge measuring cup to pour out forgiveness to others because I already know that you have used the biggest, fullest, packed down, pouring over measuring cup for me!! 

Day 17 ~ Luke 1-3

"He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David..." (1:69)

I am being honest here, but I never really spent a lot of time pondering "Zechariah's Song". I just always thought that he was super excited to be a father and he got his voice back – so he praised the Lord.

This time through, however, something caught my attention. Luke is very clear to explain that both Zech and Liz are descendants of Aaron, the priestly line (1:5).
Luke also mentioned that Joseph, who Mary is pledged to, is a descendent of David.
This is what I noticed in Zech's song:
He starts with talking about God, who "raised up a horn (symbolizing strength) of salvation for us in the house of his servant David." (1:69)
Zech isn't taking about his son! 

Zech and Liz just had Mary staying with them for three months. You can imagine the dinner conversations between Liz and Mary (Zech couldn't join in on the conversations because he couldn't talk). But he was listening! He heard Mary was a virgin, yet she was pregnant. He heard what the Holy Spirit revealed to Elizabeth,"why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (1:43)
As a result of what he witnessed and believed, his "song" was ALL about Jesus in the first eight and last two verses. We know he's talking about Jesus because his own child would be from the house of Aaron , not David, as he said in 1:64.
After first focusing on Christ and giving God glory, he then turned his attention to his own little baby, "And you, my child, will be called a prophet..." (1:76). 
Zech had his priorities straight as soon as he opened his mouth; Christ first and everything else (even one's own child) after that. THEN, Zech goes back to talking about Christ!
What a remarkable man! He really had a love for the Lord.  He observed all the Lord's commands out of love for him (1:6).
God picked the right parents to raise John! God knew Zech & Liz would obey 1:5 and teach him the same love and devotion to their Lord! 
I want to be a parent like that!!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Day 16 ~ Mark 16

Another catch up day! Only one chapter to read, if you are current on your reading!!

I have to say, this is kind of a weird chapter. Mark has been fairly detailed up to this point and then sums up everything really fast. 
In fact, my commentary says that it is questionable if verses 9 to the end of chapter 16 were written by Mark. It may not be the original ending that Mark had penned,  with the original being lost or he just ended his book at verse 8. 

That doesn't surprise me because even I, an amateur Bible reader, can see the change in style at the end. 
Well, whoever penned  the one chapter conclusion, summed up one point really well. "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."  (16:16) 

Pretty straight forward, don't ya think?! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Day 15~Mark 13-15

Mark 13:14 caught my eye in the reading today. Jesus is talking about the abomination that causes desolation. He says, "-let the reader understand-.." (13:14).
What reader is he talking about? I have read this before and just passed over it because I thought he was talking about anyone in the future reading HIS words. But then, I thought....he is talking.  Mark is quoting him talking. He can't be referring to His words yet unwritten....

Anyway, I thought the wording was so weird, I thought I would investigate more. 
It turns out, when Jesus is referring to the reader, he is referring to one that would be reading Old Testament prophesy. (Luke 21:22 makes that clear). That reader, when seeing these signs, would see that it was prophesy written in Daniel 9 (540 years earlier), now being fulfilled. Sure enough, this prophesy was fulfilled about 70 years after Jesus. Many commentaries agree that the "abomination that causes desolation" was the Roman army and "standing where it doesn't belong" would refer to the army being in the holy city of Jerusalem and the temple itself. 

What hit me with the wording in Mark, is that Jesus is expecting people to continue reading God's revelation to man; the Old Testament and the New. 
"-let the reader understand-" 
You don't just read the story once (like I do with every other book I read-I never read things twice!).  But, it needs to be an on-going reading. 
As we continue in our reading, it may be that in our life time we will see end times signs unfold. We will be "the readers" who will get understanding to scripture that others before us could not. 

I want to be one of those readers that Jesus knows will be reading when things start happening!! πŸ€“

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Day 14~ Mark 10-12

"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's" (12:17)

Have you ever wondered how much of your money you should give to God?  First let's take a look at how much of our income we "give to Caesar". 
Let's take a single person with an annual income of $70,000, who lives in Orange County, California. That person would pay:
15% to the Federal Government, 5% to the state 
and 7.7% for Social Security and Medicare. But, let's not forget sales tax, fuel tax and property tax! It's estimated that this person would pay about 33% of their income to Caesar. 

Boy! The Israelites got off pretty good when God commanded them to give only 10% (a tithe) annually (Deut.14:22-26).

So, are we to give 33% to Caesar and 10% to God? And a question many people ask is, would that 10% be off our gross or net income?

Well, the fact is the N.T. doesn't give a percentage of what we should give to God. Instead it says, "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share." (1Tim 6:18).
Doesn't that open up the percentage due God to be beyond 10%? The verse is commanding us to be generous at all times....which would probably go beyond a 10% bench mark if we were truly putting that command into practice. πŸ˜¬
In fact, Jesus says in Luke 12:33, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor." He says this right after assuring his "little flock" not to worry about material possessions. 

This reminds me of what I have heard my husband say often, "You can never out give God."
So, when I ponder how much I am to give to God, I'm not going to let that 10% mark hold me back from trying to out give God! 
If it is "more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35), I want to be more blessed! 

Again, in the words of my husband, "Do you want to be blessed off of gross or net?"

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Day 13~ Mark 7-9

"He spoke plainly about this (that the Son of Man must be killed and after three days rise again), and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him (8:32).

Here's a little bit of trivia for you, if you don't know already; John Mark, the author of the book we are reading, was a close associate of Peter (Acts 12:12). Therefore, it is speculated that this gospel consists of the preachings of Peter to the early Christians.  In other words, the book of Mark is from Peter's perspective. 

So, Peter told this story over and over again to new believers. I don't know about you, but I would have been too embarrassed to share a story where I got "schooled" by Jesus. 

Yet, Peter shared this humiliating moment with everyone. I'm sure in hindsight, Peter could see how terribly important this moment was, so out of humility he shared it. He knew that this scene sets the tone for 8:34-38. 

Jesus knew the task he needed to accomplish and he expected his followers to demonstrate a similar commitment, attitude, and action. 

Day 12~ Mark 4-6

"But when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything." (4:34)
I love that Mark wrote the explanation Jesus gave on the parable of the sewer. But, he didn't write an explanation from Jesus on the parable of the lamp on a stand or the growing seed. So, I am left with questions! 
Like, "whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." (4:25)
Given more of what? Truth? Faith? 
We can speculate, but a clear explanation from Jesus was not given. Luke has one difference in the telling of this parable. He says, "..even what he thinks he has will be taken from him"(Luke 8:18).
If the "more" is truth, than isn't it sad to think that some will lose what little they think they have? One commentary helped me understand this parable a little bit. Barnes' Notes says "The meaning here seems to be, he that diligently attends to my words shall increase more and more in the knowledge of the truth; the one who neglects the word becomes more ignorant; the few things which he had learned, he will forget."
Forgetting sounds a little nicer than "taken from him."  But... still I am left wondering...
It almost sounds like a "works" thing; you better keep learning or else! But then, the very next parable makes it sound like the growth in one's spiritual life happens all on it's own, "The seed sprouts and grows, though he doesn't know how (4:27). The Holy Spirit does the work. 

Well, I don't know the exact meaning of these parables but this is my prayer:

Lord, please let me be one of those that can perceive (4:12) and understand the things you teach through parables! Give me ears that hear! 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Day11~ Mark 1-3

"He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts..."(3:5)
These were people so intent to "accuse Jesus" that they couldn't answer a simple question! They were exhibiting the hypocrisy Jesus was talking about in Matthew 23.

It touched my heart to read that he was deeply distressed. He knows what's in store for them (Rev. 20:15) but that is not his will (or desire) for them (2 Peter 3:9).

I just read a long paper on God's two wills. Piper says it like this, "God's will is sometimes spoken of as an expression of his moral standards for human behavior and sometimes as an expression of his sovereign control even over acts which are contrary to that standard."
If you want to read more on the subject here is where I got that:

Jesus demonstrated the perfect way for us to respond to sin. We can be angry about the sin, but the feeling of distress he had, shows a compassion that we should also have when we deal with people who are in sin. 

Boy! There was a lot to learn from that one verse! 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Day 10~Matt. 28

Catch-up day! Only one chapter to read today! πŸ€“

The very last line of the last chapter of the book of Matthew is what stood out to me today. "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matt. 28:26
I never noticed before, but Matthew started his book with "...and they will call him Immanuel-which means, "God is with us." (1:23).
I love how Matthew brought to us the fact that Jesus fulfilled what Isaiah said 500 years earlier, at the start of his writing, then Matt concludes his writing of the life of Jesus by quoting Jesus one last time proving Isaiah's prophetic words were right. 

Mostly, I love the thought that Jesus is with me! That fact is something that all believers need to keep in mind through all the ups and the downs this life has to offer. 

I love how Christians through time have believed this with their whole heart and have used this theme to encourage others in their faith.  I can think of two examples off the top of my head: 
One, is the popular song "It is Well With My Soul" written in 1876.  The other is the popular poem written in my lifetime, "Footprints in the Sand".

Can you think of other examples off the top of your head that remind Christians that Jesus is with us always? 

Day 9~ Matt. 25-27

"What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?"  (26:15)
Judas is an interesting character in the story of Jesus. 
He is was chosen by Jesus as one of the twelve (John 6:70).
He drove out evil spirits and healed diseases (10:1)
He preached the Good News (10:7).
He was in the number that stuck with Jesus when other disciples turned away (6:68).
He worshipped Jesus and confessed "Truly you are the Son of God."  (14:33)
He was trusted by the whole group to handle the money bag (John 12:6)
John points out that it was Judas who complained about how the perfume was being used instead of being "sold and the money given to the poor" (although Matthew says it was "the disciples", so that could imply Judas plus a couple more complained.)
John also says Judas was a thief and stole from the group money bag, and didn't really care about the poor (John 12:4-6).
Sadly, Judas didn't follow what Jesus said in 10:22. 
"All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved ." Judas didn't stay firm to the end. 😞
Most likely because he didn't love Jesus. "He who does not love me will not obey my teaching." (John 14:24)
Instead, Judas was like the seed we read about in ch. 13 that fell among the thorns. The deceitfulness of wealth choked him, making him unfruitful. And like the parable of the talents in chapter 25, he was the one that was given a talent, but he didn't use it wisely so even that one was taken from him.  😣

Such a sad character. 😒