Thursday, January 31, 2019

Luke 17-18~ Day 31~ Conflict resolution summed up in a sentence!

I didn’t get far in the reading today before I was putting a lot of thought into, “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them, and if they repent, forgive them.”(17:3)

That sentence must make “conflict avoiders” feel so uncomfortable!  Maybe so much so, they move on to verse 4 without giving verse 3 much thought! Yet, that one verse is “conflict resolution” summed up in a sentence!

When my kids were little I made them say an extended apology that has now, in their older years been dubbed ,“I-for-Do”.
They had to be prompted quite a bit in their apologies, so these were the words they heard coming form my mouth as I prompted them.  They knew how to fill in the blanks, but their angry little hearts needed some coaxing at times.  It would go like this:

Me: You need to apologize to your sibling.  What do you say?

Them: Sorry… (barely audible) 

Me: No….say, “I…….

Them: “I’m sorry”

Me: “…forrr…..

Them: …for hitting you.

Me: ..Dooo….

Them: Do you forgive me?

Then the injured party had to respond with a “Yes, I forgive you.”  If they couldn’t do that, we would wait.  After awhile, if the injured party couldn’t give forgiveness, I would threaten to discipline that child!   It was absolutely necessary for the injured little one to be able to forgive the other.  Needless to say, this process took a bit of time.  Eventually, as they got older, I didn’t need to do the prompt.  I would hear from another room, “Ouch!  You hurt me!!”, “I’m sorry for hurting you, do you forgive me?”  I would hear the other respond with a “Yes, I forgive you.” and they moved on in their play.

Oh, if only our lives could be so easy!! Yet, this verse today was like hearing our Heavenly Father prompt his children with an “I, For, Do”.  
Jesus did not say, “Stay quite until the other person figures out what is wrong.”  He also didn’t say, “Even though the other apologizes, hold on to the anger a little longer just to punish the other.” 

Nope, he is speaking to both parties, prompting them both to resolve the conflict. Both sides have their role.  That one sentence is something good to practice.  Eventually, it becomes habit!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Luke 15-16~ Day 30~ Friends in eternity!!

Once again, 16:8-9 stood out to me in the reading…it’s just interesting to me that Jesus would talk this way!!
“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.  For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of they light.  (9) I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” 

I had responded to a comment on this section once before on the blog, so I thought I would post the response again, since clearly, I needed to hear it again!

I got this explanation of the scripture from the footnote in my study Bible:

“Various explanations have been suggested for the seemingly undeserved commendation.
1) In giving discounts, the manager had excluded any commission for himself. 
2) The debts were hard to collect and, by reducing the amounts, the manager provided a sudden influx of cash for his master.
3) The master commended the manager for his shrewdness in looking out for himself (but this does not mean that the master praises him for his evil).

In any case, the details of the parable should not be pressed, for a parable often makes only one major point, and here the main point is that the manager had great foresight to anticipate his financial needs after his dismissal, thus using his financial expertise to make friends for himself.” 

See verse 9 for the major point of this parable.  If we use our money to help others find Christ, our earthly investment will bring eternal benefits.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Luke 13-14~ Day 29~ Only a few will be saved. 😳

I thought it was an interesting question asked in our reading today, “Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” (Luke 13:23)  Why would a Jewish person in the time of Jesus ask that question?  I would assume the Jewish person asking felt like he was one of the “in” crowd solely because he was Jewish.  After all, I am sure they felt like a special race chosen by God, to be “set apart” form everybody else in the world.

Maybe there was some controversy among the teachers of the law because of what they were reading in their scriptures.  The Old Testament is filled with scripture that points to Gentiles being a part of the promise of salvation. (Gen. 12:3, Psalm 22:27, Isaiah 42:4, 49:6, 56:3-7, Jeremiah 16:19-21, Zech 2:11, 60:1-3 and Malachi 1:11)

It seems to me that this guy was wanting clarification of Old Testament scripture.  Just as those other teachers were confused on the idea of the dead raising (Mark 12:27). Jesus clarified with a simple, “Yes, there is resurrection of the dead!”  And, here again, Jesus gives a simple answer, “Yes, few will be saved.”  Yet, he expands on the answer to clarify who the few will be.  If this guy was thinking that the few were Jewish, he was wrong.  Old Testament scripture is proven correct.  The few will be all who have faith in Jesus! (Rom 4:16).

“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.” (13:29)  The people Jesus listed, the forefathers and prophets, were all commended for their faith (Hebrews 11:39).  But, you may ask, how could those people have faith in Jesus when Jesus had not come yet?  I love how Jesus clarified that point as well!!  We will read it when we get to John, but here is a sneak peak!

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father.  Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set.  If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.  But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5:45-47)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Luke 11-12~ Day 28~ "When you pray, say...."

When I had my babies, my husband and I decided we were going to dedicate them to the Lord at our nondenominational church.  However, my parents, being Lutheran, wanted them baptized as infants.  In order to avoid anguish of heart, we returned to the church I grew up in and baptized each one.  

Listening to the words given by the pastor, it was basically a ceremony where the parents promise to raise the child to know about Christ.  That seemed like a dedication to me!!  One promise that I had to respond with “I do”, was to teach my child the Lord’s prayer.  That was one promise I knew I could keep, and I did!  It was an easy promise because I love the example Jesus gave to his disciples on how to pray! (11:2-4)

There are times that I just can’t come up with the words I want or need to say to my Lord.  It’s at those times, I think of his prayer.  This prayer has a way of putting my mind in order!
1.) Put God on his throne!
2.) Realize I am dependent on him for everything, everyday!!
3.) Remember that I am forgiven, so extend forgiveness to others!
4.) Remember there is a spiritual battle and I need Jesus to help me fight that battle.
5.) And in Matthew’s version (6:9-13), remember Jesus is coming back!!

It was always so precious hearing my little kids, with their sweet little voices recite the Lord’s prayer.  I can imagine our Heavenly Father, hearing us pray a similar outline, thinks we sound sweet too!  

What did you get out of the reading today?

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Luke 9-10~ Day 27~Dwelling on His greatness!

I have heard the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 multiple times! Today, being the type to picture scenes, my mind went “off” thinking about the logistics of such a large group! I almost felt the panic the disciples must have had when Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” (9:13)

Did you know that the sanctuary at Saddleback Church in Lake Forrest seats 2900?  I’m sure Saddleback Church has several bathrooms to accommodate their attendees!  That may be a random thought for you, but it helps me visualize this crowd! 
Anyway, back to the area that this crowd had gathered.  It’s a good thing it was in a remote area!  Imagine how big the field needed to be for everyone to sit down!!  Also think how captivated these people were with Jesus!  There was no sound system!  They all had to be quiet to hear his words and the words of the disciples who went out among them to get them to sit down in groups of 50!  Each disciple had to be in charge of around 9 groups of 50 (yes, I did the math!).  Obviously, these disciples were beginning to feel what it was like being a leader.  They already had experienced an independent ministry not having Jesus with them (9:1-6 & 10).  Now they had to take charge of distributing food to over 450 people each!  I hope the disciples had learned the art of delegating!  Imagine as they handed bread and fish to the head of each group of 50!  The bread was multiplying in their possession!! Can you imagine how big their eyes must of been!

I had to giggle when I was done reading, “They ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up 12 basketfuls of broken pieces that were felt over.” (Luke 9:17)  It sounds so mellow reading it, …they were satisfied….ho, hum, just another day out in the big deal…
YES, it was a VERY big deal!  The miracle of it can get lost as I quickly read our two chapters a day, check my box ✅ and move on with my day.
I guess Jesus wanted me to dwell on his greatness a little longer today!!

On a totally different note, since I just read Mark, it was fresh in my mind that he wrote, “After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain…” (Mark 9:2)  Yet, in today’s reading, Luke writes, “About 8 days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.” (9:28)

It’s a good thing Luke wrote “about”!  Did anyone else catch that?

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Luke 7-8~ Day 26~You can learn a lot from those women!

Chapters 7 and 8 are filled with accounts of good stuff!  Jesus healing, people believing, and practical teaching.  I found three verses to be odd at first but then realized there was a lot to learn in those three verses as well!
“The twelve were with him and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases.  These woman were helping support them out of their own money.” (8:1-3)

At first read through, I thought this was extra, peripheral information added because Luke is so detail oriented.  But, then I asked myself, why?  Why would Luke include this in his account of the life of Jesus?  

Well, there are two things that can be learned from these three verses.  One was very well stated in my commentary, “Jesus lifted women up from degradation and servitude to the joy of fellowship and service.  In Jewish culture, women were not supposed to learn from rabbis. By allowing these women to travel with him, Jesus was showing that all people are equal under God.”
I love that!! 
Another thing can be learned from these women.  They're all extremely thankful for what Jesus did in their life!   In response, they gave back to Him from what they had.  That is a big lesson to learn, don’t you think?  They were not just doing the obligatory tithe that the Old Testament teaches.  They were giving to support the work of Jesus; the sharing of the gospel.  It’s a great observation and question I can ask myself.  I am thankful for what Jesus has done for my own eternity, am I turning around and sharing financially what I have, to further the gospel?

Good stuff to ponder from just three verse!!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Luke 5-6~ Day 25~ What's more important, being right or liked?

I was talking with a fellow believer yesterday.  I feel quite comfortable with this person and the setting was one where no one could hear us, so I was blurting out my thoughts in a candid way!  

Me: I can’t believe the law makers of New York felt good about their decision to legalize abortion up to the due date of a baby!  What a scary day it will be for them on Judgement Day!

The other: Be careful how you word that when talking with other people!  That comes across very strong!

Me: Are you kidding me?  You are more concerned with how other people take what I say than you are with what will happen to those law makers on Judgement Day?

Well, I value this person’s insight so I became introspective and wondered how much can be said out loud.  How guarded does one need to be in order to avoid conflict?  My question is, how will people know the severity of Judgement Day if no one lets them know?  Am I not to say anything out loud?  

Should I just gently say, “Why don't you read Matthew 12:36, Acts 17:31, Corinthians 5:10, Hebrew 9:27 and 2 Peter 2:4-10.  They are good verses to ponder!”  
Would one really take the time to read those verses?  Uhh….I would venture to say, no.  
Therefore, I feel a sense of urgency and want to scream, “Watch out!!! You are in danger of burning in hell for eternity!!!” (Rev. 20:15)  That’s much quicker! hahaha!  
But seriously,  I feel like Jesus gave me an answer in today’s reading to my questions I had last night.  “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” (6:26) 

Jesus may very well have been referring to the story found in Jeremiah.  The Lord spoke to Jeremiah and told him that the kingdom of the north would attack, destroy and take all of Judah into captivity (Jer. 25).  The people didn’t want to hear this doom and gloom message!  Instead they preferred to listen to the false prophet Hananiah.  He told the people God was going to destroy Babylon and bring back all the temple articles that had been taken.  
Who wouldn’t want to believe the happy ending prophesy? Jeremiah had a great comeback however, “But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true.” (28:8) Well, needless to say, Hananiah’s prediction did not come true! The Lord took his life and the people of Judah went into captivity.  God is dead serious when he predicts doom and gloom!

All that to say, I feel like God told me with Luke 6:26, go ahead and speak truth.  Don’t worry how it will be perceived or whether people will like hearing it or not. Someone may hear it and turn from their ways! Speak truth.  It’s up to God how one will take it.  Don’t worry about being liked! 

In fact, woe to you, if everyone speaks well of you! 😳

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Luke 3-4~ Day 24~ Jesus is God's only Son?

I am always intrigued with the lineages listed in the Bible!  To me, it’s proof of the book being historically accurate!!  Luke writes out Joseph’ s lineage all the way back to Adam!  I love how it is worded, “…the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”  
Adam was God’s son!  That is so endearing to me!  That means we are the greatest of grandkids to God! ☺️

But….wait a minute….what about what John says in the famous quote, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)  Doesn’t that seem like a contradiction?  God has millions of children, but John says “only” one?  Hmmmm…well, I had to do some digging in to that!  

The answer is in the translation of course!  The Greek wording for this phrase literally translates “monogenes", which can be translated as, “only begotten”, “one and only” and “only”.
We can see how different Bible translations choose different ways to translate the same Greek word. KJV, NASB, and ASV use “only begotten Son” while others just use “only Son” (NIV and ESV).

Having the word “begotten” has fallen out of vogue in newer translations because of some false teachers using the word to prove that Jesus was not equal to God but a creation of God.  Taking out the word may clarify things for some people, but I find leaving “begotten” there helps clarify my question above!  
I am going to just cut and past  part of an article that helped me understand why “begotten” is a helpful word to keep or at least understand what “only” means:

So what does monogenes mean? According to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BAGD, 3rd Edition), monogenes has two primary definitions. The first definition is "pertaining to being the only one of its kind within a specific relationship." This is its meaning in Hebrews 11:17 when the writer refers to Isaac as Abraham's "only begotten son" (KJV). Abraham had more than one son, but Isaac was the only son he had by Sarah and the only son of the covenant. Therefore, it is the uniqueness of Isaac among the other sons that allows for the use of monogenes in that context.
The second definition is "pertaining to being the only one of its kind or class, unique in kind." This is the meaning that is implied in John 3:16 (see also John 1:14, 18; 3:18; 1 John 4:9). John was primarily concerned with demonstrating that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:31), and he uses monogenes to highlight Jesus as uniquely God's Son—sharing the same divine nature as God—as opposed to believers who are God's sons and daughters by adoption (Ephesians 1:5). Jesus is God’s “one and only” Son.

The bottom line is that terms such as "Father" and "Son," descriptive of God and Jesus, are human terms that help us understand the relationship between the different Persons of the Trinity. If you can understand the relationship between a human father and a human son, then you can understand, in part, the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity. The analogy breaks down if you try to take it too far and teach, as some pseudo-Christian cults (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses), that Jesus was literally "begotten" as in “produced” or “created” by God the Father.

There you have it!  That extra digging helped me!  I hope it helped you too! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Luke 1-2~ Day 23~ Lots to ponder in just two chapters!

We start a new book today! 

I found the prophesy of Old Man Simeon to be profound!  I wondered why this verse isn’t read along with the Christmas verses we read each year?  We tend to focus on the angels praising God and saying to the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy for all people.” (2:10).  Yet the fact is, the good news is for “those on whom his favor rests” (2:14)  And those would be the ones Simeon is referring to who had hearts that revealed a devotion to Christ.
“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” (2:34)  I think it’s interesting that this part of the Christmas story is completely left out these days, wouldn’t you agree?

On a lighter note, I also noticed how much walking Mary did during her pregnancy!! I guess this stood out to me today, because I always thought the journey to Bethlehem would have been hard for Mary, but I noticed this time reading, the journey would have been familiar to her.  She had already done it earlier in the year!

Assuming she started off in Nazareth “engaged” to Joseph, she took off to the “hill country of Judea” (1:40).  The traditional town believed to be the birth site of John the Baptist was Ein Karem.  That was 90 miles from Nazareth!  I read one website that says, “Assuming an average pace of 2.5 mph, 20 miles a day, would mean a trip of four 8-hour days.”  No wonder Mary stayed awhile after she arrived!  Three months later she walks back to Nazareth with some “splainin” to do when she sees Joesph.  

Then, 6 months later, she turns around and heads the same direction again to the region of Judea, this time with Joseph.  Nazareth to Bethlehem is 80 miles!  A little shorter distance this time, but I’m sure more difficult considering her condition.  I can imagine the first trip to visit Elizabeth was a helpful memory for Mary on her second trip when she was “great with child”.  Can’t you just imagine her thinking, “I can do this!  I did it before. I can make it!”  I’m sure she needed to do some pep talking to herself! After all, just because she was the mother of Jesus does’t mean she wasn’t human! 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Mark 15-16 ~ Day 22 ~I'm all for avoiding shame and pain!

Usually at this point in the story, I get so sad, that I don’t like to pay attention to the details.  Yet, this time, “nine in the morning” stood out to me (15:25).  It was like I had never read that detail before.  I knew that Jesus was crucified early in the morning.  But I don’t remember reading the exact time.

So, these were my thoughts.  They nailed Jesus to the cross at 9 am, after hitting him on the head repeatedly with a rod (15:19), not to mention the flogging (15:15).  He dies 6 hours later at 3 pm (15:33)……. And Pilate was surprised he died so fast? 

My word!  If death by crucifixion normally took longer….what a gruesome capital punishment!!  It’s strange, when you think about it, that God chose that time in history for the Son of Man to come into the world to die for the sins of others.  He did not pick today’s age where capital punish by electric chair takes 2 to 15 minutes or by lethal injection that takes a reported total time of 7 minutes (if there is no problem placing the IV).  Yes, I actually looked up how long those forms of execution take!

I believe there is a reason why God chose the point in history that the Romans had perfected a very shameful, excruciating death.  Jesus had to suffer that shame and pain because that is what our sin would do to us.  We will suffer shame and pain from our own sin when we are in front of the most righteous God, creator of the heavens and the earth if we don’t accept that Christ suffered for us. 

I spoke the other day of Christ fulfilling prophesies.  Christ had to die by flogging, being beaten on the head and crucifixion so that he would fulfill the words of Isaiah.  
“See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.  Just as there were many who were appalled at him- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness- so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him.  For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.” (Isaiah 52:13-15)

Yup, God chose the way and time in history for a reason.  If the reason was for us to avoid that extreme shame and pain on judgement day….I am going to take what Jesus did for me to avoid that!! 

Why wouldn’t everybody??!!

Mark 13-14~ Day 21~ 2 Different Events!

So, chapter 13 can be quite confusing for those who read it as if Jesus is talking about one continuous course of events that will take place one after the other.
However, if one reads verse 5-23 as the answer to the disciples question, “When will these things happen?” (13:4), Jesus gives a clear answer. “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (13:30). The question the disciples had was in reference to the “great buildings” with not one stone being left on the other. (13:2)

But Jesus gives them more information than just the answer they were looking for.  He also  wanted them to look forward to his second coming, “following that distress.” (13:24)

I like what my commentary said about these two events.  “Jesus was not trying to encourage his disciples to speculate about exactly when he would return by sharing these prophesies with them.  Instead, he urges all his followers to be watchful and prepare for his coming.  If we serve Jesus faithfully now, we will be ready when he returns.”

Amen to that!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Mark 11-12 ~ Day 20 ~ Examples of radical commitment!

I noticed that Jesus referred to several different prophets from the Old Testament in today’s reading.  First, when he told his disciples to go get the colt, he was referring (or fulfilling) Zechariah’s words, when he said to the people of Israel 500 years earlier, “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!  Shout, Daughter Jerusalem.  See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zech 9:9)

Second, when we read about how Jesus got mad at the money changers in the temple, he quotes Jeremiah, “Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you?” (Jer. 7:11)
Lastly, he also quoted a Psalm written by a prophet when he talked about the builders rejecting the stone that becomes the capstone (Psalm 118:22). That was today’s reading, but he also quoted Isaiah back in chapter 7 and referred to the prophet Elijah in chapter 9.  

For me, as I was reading Jesus quoting and fulfilling prophecies written 500 years early, I was pondering how he knew them all.  Obviously, as a human child and adolescent, he was taught everything in the Law by his parents and going to the synagogue. But, his knowledge went far beyond that!  Remember what we read back in Mark 1:22, “The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” 

The fact is, we can’t forget, that Jesus was fully human AND fully God.  That means he was there and knew each one of these prophets first hand!  That’s how he was able to quote them so easily!  He was the one who gave them the words to write.  It’s mind blowing when you think about it, don’t you think?! 

So, I looked up how some of these prophets died. There are no authentic records telling of the death of Zechariah.  Jewish tradition says that Jeremiah was stoned to death in Egypt.  Yet, Jesus knew how each one died. I was hit afresh with this realization when reading the parable of “The Evil Farmers” (12:1-12). The servants sent to collect some of the harvest from the tenants were beaten, treated shamelessly and killed.  Those were the prophets that Jesus sent to the Jewish people!  He knew exactly what the Jewish people did to each one he sent.  This made me think of what I said yesterday, following Jesus is a radical commitment. Today’s reading is further proof of that!! 😳

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Mark 9-10 ~ Day 19 ~ An extreme commitment!

Yesterday I commented on the sentence where Jesus used with the word “must”.  “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) 

Since that was fresh in my mind, his response to the rich, young man stood out to me in today’s reading.  “Go sell everything you have…Then come follow me.” (10:21)   The quick answer to the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life” is, you must follow Jesus!  
The verses around the answer help clarify how one does that; deny oneself by not thinking so much about one’s own needs, be concerned with what concerns God (8:33-34) and don’t let money/wealth distract you from that mission. (10:23).
So, what’s the mission that God is concerned with?  
……Saving souls!

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it!” (Mark 8:35)  This quote is found in Matthew and Luke as well!!  

Doesn’t a life following Jesus sound extreme?  I think I forget that fact as I go about living my comfortable Christian life here in the good ol' USA!  This reading is definitely a good reminder of the fact that following Jesus is an “extreme” commitment!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Mark 7-8 ~ Day 18 ~ Are God's concerns my concerns?

You know how today’s evangelists may say, “You only need to believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you will be saved.”?  I have heard that over and over again.  In fact, I just heard it last week when I went “street witnessing” with a group of believers.  One of the gals said just that thing to someone who didn’t know the Lord yet.  She was referring to Romans 10:9, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” 

But, here is something to challenge one not to use “only” or “just say” in the sentence the gal used.  One needs to remember that demons believe in God (James 2:19) and they confess that belief with their mouths (Mark 1:24), yet they aren’t saved!!

In today's reading the word “must” stood out to me.  Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)
Wow! Now that’s a whole different ball game!  Demons certainly don’t do that!

I can see why evangelists don’t want to lead with that verse! It wouldn’t be very attractive for a nonbeliever to hear “deny yourself and pick up a thing that kills the body!! On hearing that, people would turn on their heels and run!

So, what does it mean to deny one’s self?  Well, look at what Jesus said to Peter just prior to this verse. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (8:33)  You can flip that to understand how to deny yourself. You must have the concerns of God in mind, not just your human concerns.

OK, God.  Help me with that!  Help me to keep the things in mind that concern you! Since you made it a “must” statement, I know the Holy Spirit will help me with that! (John 16:13)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Mark 5-6 ~ Day 17 ~ Fire and Brimstone?😬 You bet!

Yesterday it was mentioned that we Christians should be like John the Baptist, shouting out the Good News to others.  The Kingdom of God is near!  Yea!  Paradise, “Sonshine”, no more tears, happy, happy, happy! 😃 

But on the flip side of that, something else is coming! 😬

I was struck today by the fact that the other thing that is coming is so bad, even the demons don’t want to go there!
“In God’s name don’t torture me! (5:7), “And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.” (vs.10)  In Luke 8:31 it says, “And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.”

I was talking to a guy this past week who grew up with Communists parents.  As a result, he had no concept of heaven or hell.  He said, “I just believe in what I can see.”  Well, it’s hard to share the good news of Jesus (which is basically sharing how one can be spared from the wrath of God), when one has no concept of hell, right?!

I am beginning to think that if one is going to share the “Good News” with others, the starting point should be clarifying the bad news.  If one doesn’t have an understanding of that, how can they truly understand the Good News?

These verses in Mark could be used as a starting point! I could have shared this story with that guy. This story demonstrates that hell is bad!!! The demons know what the abyss is, and they don’t want to go there!!  Isn’t it interesting that we can actually learn a lesson from demons?

On another note, a friend  created an acronym  for me yesterday,to help me learn the 12 disciples.  I thought I would share it with you!
See if you can name them all with: My Aunt Judy Tossed a Pretty, Peanut Butter, Jelly Sandwich To James & John.

I think this might actually help me learn them!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Mark 3-4 ~ Day 16 ~ Miracles still happen!!

The verse that stood out to me today was,  “Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” (Mark 3:3) 
I am the type of person who likes to visualize the scene.  “Shriveled hand” can also be translated, “withered”, “dried up”; one Greek translation says, “The passive particle implies that his hand had been paralyzed by an accident or illness.” 

I went to school with a guy who had nerve damage to his lower arm and hand after a waterskiing accident.  The resulting damage to his hand could be easily seen across the room.  He couldn’t move his hand, there was wasting away of the muscle and contracting of tendons.
If Jesus was asking the guy to stand up in front of everyone, you can imagine they could all see the obvious deformity.  There was no debate that the guy had a problem!  

The hand was healed before their eyes, yet the Pharisees “went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus” (3:6).  Like the guest writer mentioned on Day 6 in reference to Matt. 11:21-24, “Seeing miracles and then continually denying Jesus appears to be more detrimental for individuals on the day of judgement, for what excuse can then be had?” God is the same today as he was yesterday (Hebrews 13:8), so he is still doing miracles!  May we all be open to seeing them so we don’t hear Jesus say to us, “Woe to you.”😬

On a totally different note, I am ashamed to say that I have been a Christian for several decades now and still can’t list the 12 disciples by memory! For the amount of times I have read about them, I really should know them!  Anyone up for a challenge?  Who can memorize them 1st?  
Can anyone come up with a creative acronym for me? 😄
Bart (aka Nate)
Matt (aka Levi)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Mark 1-2 ~ Day 15 ~ Keep going on your reading!!

Congratulations!  You finished the first book of the New Testament and today we start a new one! Before we get started on Mark, I wanted to take a moment to encourage you to ask friends to read with you, if you haven’t all ready done so.  Think of a friend who may work full time and feel they don’t have the time to be in a Bible Study.  This is the perfect way for them to do the reading on their own, but be with others in cyber space to talk about what they are reading, don’t you think?

Also I want to remind you that if you have any questions on what you are reading, but don’t have the time or desire to sift through Google for credible resources for the answer, ask your question in the comment section.  I would be happy to do the research for you and get back to you in the comment section with a Bible based answer.

OK, so, Mark….what did you get out of the reading today?

Monday, January 14, 2019

Matthew 27-28~ Day 14~ Three in One!

Hey all!  I am back in town and excited to be reading with you again!  Thank you to the guest writer who kept us all going with the daily email! I loved reading his thoughts and your comments.  This "Bible study" is fun for me!!

There is a range of readers here on the blog.  Some have read through the New Testament numerous times, others not so much.  Therefore, for those who are slightly familiar with the gospels, yet not entirely clear on why they vary, I thought I would mention something; the first four books tell the same story but with different emphasis and perspective.  For example, here in Matthew, he does not elaborate on the events between the resurrection and the giving of the 'Great Commission'.  We get more of those details in Luke's version and even more in John.  Yet, I love what each writer does emphasize!

I am thankful that Matthew included 28:19, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
The word 'trinity' does not appear in the Bible, but the concept of it can be found throughout scripture.  Here, Jesus himself affirms it.  He says to baptize in one name, but three natures of the one God.
So, if a Muslim (they are monotheistic) ever challenges you, saying the idea of Jesus causes Christians to be polytheistic (worshipping God and Jesus as separate entities), we can use this verse to help explain we are monotheistic as well!  Jesus clarified it, therefore, it's so: 3 in 1!!