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Mark 1

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

MONDAY, JULY 23

SCRIPTURE:  Mark 1

Today we are going to start a journey through The Gospel According to Mark.  As is the case with every book of the Bible, Mark’s Gospel is unique in many ways.  For example, Mark just sort of jumps into the story of Jesus almost in mid-stream.  After a brief introduction of three verses, we find Jesus being baptized.

If you compare this Gospel with the other Gospels, you will find some interesting things.  For example, The Gospel According to Matthew was written primarily with a Jewish audience in mind.  As a result, Matthew opens with a genealogy that proves Jesus Christ is the rightful heir to David’s throne.  Luke, on the other hand, had more of a Greek audience in mind.  It is in The Gospel According to Luke that we find the most in depth look at the birth narrative of our Savior.  The Greek readers would have been most interested in this perfect babe who grew up to be a perfect man.  The Gospel of John, on the other hand, goes all the way back to eternity past and beyond.  John is writing to the whole world to prove the identity of Jesus and to encourage his readers to be saved.

So what about Mark?  In many ways, Mark was writing to a Roman audience.  Because of that, this Gospel is focused on activity.  Mark describes Jesus as busily moving from place to place to meet the needs of all kinds of people. In fact, one of Mark’s favorite words is immediately (Straightway in the King James Version).  That word is used over 40 times in this Gospel.  Mark’s Gospel focuses on Jesus as a Servant sent to minister to the needs of many.  As a result, the key verse of this Gospel may very well be Mark 10:45.

It is also important to remember that Mark was not an apostle.  He had not seen the resurrected Christ which was a prerequisite for being an apostle.  The big deal about that is every book in the New Testament had to be written by someone who was an apostle or someone who wrote under the authority of an apostle.  Again, since Mark was not an apostle, he had to work in conjunction with someone who was to produce this Gospel account.  That person was Peter. 

As the chapter opens, Mark gives us multiple witnesses to the identity of Jesus.  He was one of those witnesses as proven in the first verse: Mark testified that Jesus was the Son of God.  The second witness was Isaiah, the prophet.  The third witness was John the Baptizer.  And the final witnesses were God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. 

It is at that point that Mark is off on a very busy journey.  In the remaining verses of this chapter, we read about Jesus’ temptation, His calling of the disciples, the healing of a man with a demon, the healing of others including Peter’s mother-in-law, preaching in Galilee, and the cleansing of a leper.  And that is just one chapter.

We are in for a great journey for the next several days.  I hope you are ready for it.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Psalm 38

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

     FRIDAY, JULY 20

SCRIPTURE:  Psalm 38

As this penitent Psalm opens, David is crying out to the Lord who has been disciplining David because of his sin.  This kind of throws a kink into our more modern way of thinking.  More often than not, people today are quite convinced that they can get away with whatever sin or sins they choose.  They behave as if they are immune from discipline and/or judgment and that they will never have to answer for what they choose to do.

But as you read this Psalm, it becomes painfully clear that David is suffering under the weight of God’s discipline for the sin in his life.  Before you think that this makes God an ogre who gets delight out of making it difficult on us, remember the Bible teaches that God’s discipline is proof of God’s love.  (Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:1-11)  God knows the damage that sin can do in our lives as well as in our relationships and for Him to turn a blind eye to our sin would mean that He doesn’t care about us.  But because He loves us, He disciplines us.  He works to correct us.  He works to bring us back to Him and back to a righteous way of life.

As you continue in this Psalm, we read about the impact this had on David’s physical health (vv. 3-10).  It is important here to speak to whether or not sickness is proof of our sin.  In other words, does God take away our health or bring on sickness because of sin.  The answer to that is yes and no.  In John 9:1-3 it is evident that not all sickness or physical disability is the result of sin.  But in John 5:14 it is possible that sin does bring about some sickness.  In fact, in the Corinthian letters we actually read where some believers died because of their sinful approach to the Lord’s Supper.  If we were honest with each other, we would readily admit that there are some sins that lead to illness.  For example, drunkenness can lead to cirrhosis.  On the other hand not all cirrhosis is the result of drunkenness.  So, instead of blaming God for our sickness maybe our sickness is an opportunity to think about our lives and to draw closer to the God who cares deeply for us.

Moving a bit further into the Psalm (vv. 11-12) we find where our sin affects our relationships.  Part of David’s suffering was the result of those who were his friends, acquaintances, and even family that had distanced themselves from David.  He was left alone and lonely.  That’s a pretty bad combination for any of us at any time.  And in verse 12, those who were opposed to him just kept waiting and watching for his ultimate demise.

In verse 15, things began to change dramatically.  For the better.  David is waiting on God.  He knows that God will be faithful to answer.  In verse 18, David confesses his sin.  That didn’t change what his enemies thought of him.  But it did change his relationship with God.  By the way, whether we repent or don’t seldom changes our enemies’ view of us.  They typically are just going to keep right on hating.  Haters are going to hate.  But repentance always changes our relationship with God.

As this Psalm closes in verses 21-22, David makes some simple but powerful requests.  God, be with me.  God, be near me.  God, help me.  By the way, we all would be well served to make those same requests a part of our daily conversation with the God who loves us.

(Since we have been in the Book of Psalms for about three weeks, we are going to step away for awhile.  Monday, we will move back to the New Testament and begin to work our way through the Gospel According to Mark.)

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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