March 16, 2011

Today you should read: Mark 4:1 -20

Simply sow…

Today’s parable is unforgettable. Don’t miss this!
First of all, these words come directly from the lips of Jesus. Secondly, we are direct witnesses to the truth behind this parable.

Jesus describes four different types of people here. Many of us have experienced each of these kinds in our lives. We have witnessed those we care about…

1. Never receive the gospel though “seeds are being scattered”.
2. Receive the gospel with a false root or no root at all, not knowing that because of the Word (v. 17), we will face trouble and persecution. When the hard times come, they fall out; they give up Jesus for the world and for comfort.
3. Receive the gospel but are unwilling to simplify. They fail to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus while all the worries of life and the vain pursuits (the petty distractions that we make a way bigger deal of than we should) choke them out and prove unfruitful.
4. Receive the gospel, grow in their faith, produce fruit, and continue to live a consistently fruitful life.

One of these describes each of us as well as the people we care about. We have lived it and witnessed it! Can you relate? But what can we do? How can we see more people truly accept the Word and produce fruit?

Today’s “Walk-Away”:

Simply sow. That’s the answer: just sow. Sow seeds and never stop. Speak the Word, share the gospel. Do it over and over and over again, keep it on the forefront of your mind. We can’t control people’s hearts; that is up to God.

Flip ahead to Mark 4:26-29 where it states in verse 27 that, “night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” Wow! John MacArthur calls this “The Theology of Sleep.” We can rest assured, knowing that if we are planting, God will do the rest. Plant and go to sleep, but we must first do our job: we must plant.

Are you sowing? What seeds have you planted in the past week? The past month? The past year? Let’s be a seed-sowing church.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

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March 15, 2011

Today you should read: Mark 3:20-35

Jesus has chosen His disciples, and His ministry is so well-known that He and His disciples can’t even go into a house to eat because so many people follow Him (v.20). But Jesus also had some opposition as we see in this passage. His family thought He was crazy, (v. 21) and the Pharisees thought He was demon-possessed, pronouncing their judgment of Him as the “prince of demons”(v.22).

Jesus then begins to define Himself and explain to them that He could not possibly be working for Satan because “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. Jesus then tells them that His work should prove He is from God because the only person who can “bind a strong man” is someone stronger. Only God could do such work against Satan.

Jesus then transitions to a very stiff and scary pronouncement of judgment – he tells the Pharisees that every sin can be forgiven except one: to “blaspheme the Holy Spirit”. This has been deemed the “unforgivable sin”.

What this means is difficult to say; many authors and theologians have tried for a long time to describe and define this “unforgivable sin.” This is a tough issue to wrestle with because when we read the entire Bible, it is very clear that the blood of Jesus is powerful enough to save us from all sins. To say there is one sin that is unforgivable seems to contradict that.

The important thing is to look at the entire Bible for an explanation because the Bible does not contradict itself. With that said, I believe the best explanation is that the “unforgivable sin” is the sin of essentially rejecting Jesus and His deity. We see some proof of this in verse 30 – Jesus was pronouncing judgment on them in response to their saying that He had an “unclean spirit” and, by default, denying His deity and rejecting Him as the Messiah. This explanation fits with the rest of the Bible and makes the most sense because we know that anyone who does not accept Jesus as God’s Son will not be saved (John 14:6).

The passage ends with another interesting encounter: Jesus’ family asks to speak to Him and He takes the opportunity to teach everyone with Him a very important lesson. He tells them that it is “those who do God’s will that are His true family.” This speaks volumes to the importance and significance of the church family in our lives. We should take care of our families and hold them up as a high priority, but we also need to have a special place in our hearts for our church family and those who are striving to follow after God.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

March 14, 2011

Today you should read: Mark 3:1-19

The Jewish religious leaders were always out to get Jesus. They tried numerous ploys to entrap Him with His actions or words. This time they slipped to an all time low – try and trap Him through healing a handicapped man.

This man had a “withered hand” – it was undoubtedly the result of injury or disease. He was disabled – unable to work productively – forced to beg or die – and Jesus healed him! Jesus changed his life forever. This really angered the Pharisees. They were more concerned with their agenda than they were about this man’s life.

How often is this our case, too? We are more concerned with the things we have to do, what we want, or even “our ministry” – more concerned than we are about a life. Every life matters to Jesus!

It always amazes me, that in a culture that doubted whether Jesus was (even though they had seen the miracle and seen His power) – the demons knew! Verse 11 tells us that they said – “You ARE the Son of God.” This fact alone established Jesus’ validity.

Verses 13-19 are some of the most critical in the New Testament – the 12 were selected. Many scholars believe that, up until this point, there were hundreds of disciples following Jesus. Now, Jesus selects the motley crew that He would invest the next 1 ½ years in. They would become the ones to take the gospel to the nations.

What can I meditate on today?

– Am I so concerned with my busyness and agenda that I miss those individuals around me who are need? Who are they in your world? What will you do today to invest in them?
– Jesus chose me! He’s hand-selected me to be on HIS team and take the message of the cross to people around me. What’s it like to be THAT important? What are we doing to fulfill the mission?

Posted by: Tim Parsons

March 12, 2011

Today you should read: Mark 2

The Pharisees. Enough said, right?

I’m glad they were around; they made for fantastic illustrations in Jesus’ sermons.

They seemed to get in Jesus’ way more than anyone else. They were misguided, prideful, “religious zealots”. Religious, but not with the true religion James speaks of. Just religious. They were puffed-up, holier-than-thou, annoying, argumentative, stone-hearted… “religious”.

Then there’s Jesus. True religion personified: sick-healing, awe-inspiring, loving, gracious, wise, merciful – what real “religion” ought to be. And really, what the Pharisees were supposed to be.

The truth is, we’re probably more like them than we are like Jesus in the way we carry out our lives. We’re often standing in the way of God’s mission and purposes because of arrogant, sinful hearts. Seeing the Pharisees in this chapter serves as a reminder to all of us as to what not to become.

In this chapter, Jesus affirms His divine attributes in 3 ways:

1) His Divine Power (v.1-12)
2) His Divine Mission (v.13-17)
3) His Divine Lordship (v.18-28)

His divine power was exercised not only in the healing of the sick, but also in His ability to pronounce sins as forgiven. Neither the Pharisees nor the rest of the Jews had seen anything like this before. The prophets and fathers could intercede on Israel’s behalf, but none of them had the power to actually forgive sins. This was as much a declaration of Christ’s deity as anything else in His ministry.

His divine mission was seen in the calling of Levi (Matthew). Jesus came to make disciples not just religious followers. He sat with sinners and tax collectors because, after all, He came for the sick, not the healthy. His mission would ultimately be fulfilled in His death on the cross when He paid the price for dirty sinners like us.

His divine lordship was displayed in his authority over the Sabbath. Remember who instituted the Sabbath? God did in the very beginning of the Bible. Who could proclaim authority over the Sabbath? Only the Lord of Heaven and Earth, the Word of God who was God and was with God in the beginning. He is The Beginning.

Food for thought:
1) How have you seen Christ’s divine power in your life?
2) How are you living out Christ’s mission?
3) Are you submitting to Christ’s lordship right now in ALL areas of your life?
4) What are some key ways to avoid Pharisaism?

Posted by: Todd Thomas