April 7, 2011

Today you should read: Mark 15:1-32

As I read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, it made my heart heavy. As I imagine the hostile state of mind the Jews where in – especially the chief priests – I become angry. Why would they do this to Jesus our Savior?! It is easy to accuse the chief priests, but I am reminded of Romans 5:8:

“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!”

I never thought the word “us” would be so powerful but it is an important part of the whole crucifixion. The word “us” is a plural, all inclusive word. When Paul uses this word he is saying that “all of us” are responsible for the cross. The crucifixion did not happen because of the “big” sins like murder, adultery, stealing, etc. It was for every single person who has every breathed a breath on this earth, because we are all sinners.

Now, this makes us read the story of the crucifixion differently. When the Jews and the chief priests are yelling “crucify Him!”, our voices are in that crowd. When we see the soldiers beating Him and pounding a crown of thorns on His head, our hands are among the fists that beat him. When Jesus is being mocked on the cross, our voices are taunting Him. It was for your sin and my sin that Jesus willingly hung on the cross.

It is my hope that when we read Mark 15:1-32 we would not read it with calloused hearts. I pray that we grasp the seriousness of this event and understand the weight of our sin. Understand that when we sin, it is not just some small thing that we will get over but that it is the very thing that sent Jesus to the cross. Let us stop comparing our sin to the sin of others and start viewing it in light of the cross. This one event should drive every decision, every thought, and every breath that we take.

Posted by: Chad Wiles

April 6, 2011

Today you should read: Mark 14:32-72

Inadequate thankfulness…

What a famous passage of scripture. I remember this scene from the movie The Passion of the Christ that portrayed the quivering Savior preparing for what was ahead.

This passage contains some of the most well-known verses in all of Scripture. We see Jesus on His face before the Father with a heart willing to obey, asking God for the chalice of death to be taken from Him. It wasn’t death that He dreaded but the full wrath of God and the sin of the world upon Himself. Then we see the apostles – who could forget the story of them falling asleep while Jesus is in agony? We read Jesus’ famous words: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (v38). Then we see one of His own disciples betray Him and the religious fakes question and beat Him. As if all that isn’t enough, we see Peter do something he never thought he would do: deny Jesus three times. I’d say this passage is pretty significant.

For today’s application, I want to take a little bit of a different approach from the usual teachings of this passage; I want to focus on it as a whole.

Today’s “Walk-Away”:

Inadequate thankfulness. That’s what is inside of my heart; it’s full of it. How about yours? Can you relate? Jesus poured out everything and willingly took the wrath of God for our sin and for God’s glory.

In verse 34 Jesus says, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”. In verse 36, He asks God for the cup to pass, but that request was conditional upon God’s will which was Jesus’ first priority.

He knew what was to come and He chose to obey, for God and also for me and you. When I read this story, it reminds me of the incredible sacrifice that Jesus offered, and I can’t help but reflect on how inadequate my thankfulness to Him truly is. Am I overwhelmed with thankfulness to Jesus for what He went through to save me and spare me from the suffering and punishment that I deserve? He took my place and went through the incomprehensible pain of the pouring out of God’s wrath, and He chose it. He chose to follow through with the plan. Wow!

Let’s check our hearts and respond with worshipful thanksgiving for what Christ went through for us. Continue to cultivate that kind of heart. What would it look like to live a life that is in constant thankfulness for what Christ has done? Thank Him today.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

April 5, 2011

Today you should read: Mark 14:1-31

So, Jesus and His disciples have just traveled to Bethany after Jesus tells them what it will look like in the end times. Meanwhile, the Pharisees are trying to find a way to get rid of Jesus. While Jesus and His disciples were eating a meal a lady came in with a very nice jar full of expensive perfume. She took the jar, broke it open, and poured out all the perfume on Jesus’ head. Now, the disciples react in a way most of us probably would. Instead of seeing the beauty of this act of worship and sacrifice to Jesus, they see the waste of potential resources that could have been used to serve Jesus. Often times we would prefer to give to and serve Jesus rather than worship and adore Him. Just like in the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) there is only one thing that truly matters and that is to worship the Lord by sitting at His feet and listening to Him.

So, the disciples are angry with this lady about her waste. This seems to be the tipping point for Judas, who we know was taking money from their ministry funds. (John 12:6) Judas decides that this is the last straw and he is tired of following Jesus, so, he goes to the Pharisees and lets them know he wants to get in on the plan to betray Jesus. They decided on a price and began looking for an opportune time to seize Jesus. It is amazing what money can make a person do. Judas, because of his love for money, turns from a disciple and follower of Jesus to the key person in capturing and killing Him. What do your possessions make you do? Do they cause you to reject God or replace Him? Be careful that you don’t let “stuff” take root in your heart.

Now, Jesus and the disciples are sharing the last supper. Jesus is now instituting this as a celebration and a ceremony of remembering what He is about to do. He explains to the disciples that He is going to break His body for them and spill His blood to save many. What a beautiful picture we see here of Jesus’ death and sacrifice for us on the cross! May we always think of that, especially as often as we partake in the Lord’s Supper.

This story ends with Jesus telling the disciples that they are going to desert Him when He is taken. Peter, of course, has a prideful way about him and decides to speak out. He tells Jesus that he will never desert Him, even if he has to die. It is funny that we often times argue with the God of the universe about the way things are going to be. We tell God that this or that can’t happen or that we can or cannot do or say or be something. Sometimes I think we actually think we know better than God. Either that or we don’t actually believe in Him. How are you doing in this? Are you allowing God to tell you what is and what isn’t, or are you dictating your life to Him and hoping He will just concede Lordship to you and bless your efforts?   

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

April 4, 2011

Today you should read: Mark 13:1-37

Have you ever read the Left Behind books or seen the movie? Many of us have a fascination with the end times. Today’s chapter deals with Jesus’ words of what it will be like before and during the tribulation period.

Remember, what the “end times calendar of God” looks is like this:

TODAY -> RAPTURE -> TRIBULATION -> SECOND COMING OF CHRIST -> MILLENNIUM

Jesus speaks about several of these times – all at once – the rapture (Christ’s return for His church), the tribulation (7 year period of pain and destruction), the second coming of Christ (when Jesus returns to clean house – destroy Satan and the Anti-Christ, and establish the 1000 year kingdom called the millennium time). His Words about this are also recorded in Matthew 24.

SIGNS THAT THE RAPTURE IS SOON:
False teachers deceiving many (v.6)
Wars, Wars, Wars (v. 7-8)
Natural disasters abounding… like earthquakes and famines (v. 8b)
Increased persecution of Christians (v.9)
Unprecedented spread of the Gospel in the world (v.10)
Loss of family loyalty – breakdown of the family (v.12)

Then Jesus describes the tribulation period in verses 14-25.
The temple in Jerusalem destroyed – “Abomination of Desolation” (Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11) (v. 14a)
People running but nowhere to go (v. 14b-19)
So bad that if God didn’t shorten it man would consume himself (v.20)
False christs everywhere performing signs and miracles to deceive (v.21-23)
The sun and moon darken (v.24)
Stars (meteors ??) will fall from the sky (v.25)

THEN Jesus will gather those who trusted Him during the tribulation period and return on a white horse (Revelation 19)

WHAT CAN I TAKE AWAY FROM TODAY?
No one knows when Jesus will come (v.32) (1 Thessalonians 5:2)
Be watching for Him (v. 33-34)
Be ready to meet Him and go with Him (v. 35-36)

Posted by: Tim Parsons