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Mark 4

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, JULY 23

SCRIPTURE:  Mark 4

Mark goes away from focusing on Jesus’ actions in chapter 4 and gives us three parables that Jesus taught.  A parable is story illustration from common things that teaches a spiritual truth.  Most parables have one main point, so we need to be careful to discover the main point and not add to go beyond what Jesus intended to teach.

Verse 3 begins the parable of the four soils and continues with its meaning through verse 25.  The disciples did not understand the parable, so Jesus explained it to them in verses 13-20.  A person who teaches the Word of God to others can learn that not every person will receive the teaching the same.  Do not be discouraged, teacher, for people are one of these soils and not every seed will understand and reproduce.  Our purpose is to scatter the seed and try to find the good soil.

We may not understand right now, but pay attention (verse 24-25).  God’s light is not hidden.  We may not understand it all right now.  Listen, and more understanding will come.  Be patient and keep seeking, listening, obeying, and following after the LORD.  In my personal devotion yesterday, I read Philippians 2:12-13.  Go read it for yourself.  The big part for me, was “work out your salvation by fear and trembling for it is God who works in you to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  The author of the devotion said that salvation is a process not an event.  I almost threw the book down, but I kept reading.  Yes, we are saved in the moment that we repent, believe and confess Jesus as Savior and LORD, but this word “salvation” carries with it a meaning of God delivering us through something.  For example, the children of Israel were saved from slavery and left Egypt, but there was a process to reach the Promised Land.  This passage in Mark tells us to pay attention and gain more understanding.  You won’t always get it right in that moment, but don’t give up.  One day you will understand.  We are only temporary on this planet.  It is not our home.  Our salvation will be complete when we are with the LORD Jesus.

The second parable comes to us in verses 26-29.  A farmer scatters seed.  A process takes place within the earth, and then a harvest comes.  A farmer is involved, but there is a process that the farmer has no control.  Do our part, trust in the LORD, wait for Him to act, and when the harvest comes, and we must be ready to act. 

Our third parable comes in verse 30-32 and again Jesus uses a planting/farming parable to teach.  It is also in Matthew 13:31-32.  A seed, like our faith, may start small or insignificant, but through time it will grow.  Verse 33 in the NLT says “Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand.”  Think about when you were 8.  Everything was black and white.  You were very literal in the way you thought.  Then as you grew through your teens, you discovered abstract thought like sarcasm and maybe even understood things like algebra.  Regardless of your age right now, your thought processes should be very different than when you were 8 years old.  Spiritually speaking, we should be more mature now than when we were new believers. 

Verses 35-41 finds Mark back to his focus upon the miracles and actions of Jesus.  This time is when Jesus calmed the storm.  Notice in verse 36, the disciples leave a crowd, and Jesus is exhausted and lays down to rest in verse 38.  Even the Savior got tired!  Don’t think that you are exempt from this regardless of what you do or who you are.  We need physical rest. 

Meanwhile, a storm develops and the disciples overreact.  I say that because I wasn’t there.  Had I been there, I would be leading the cries for help in verse 38.  Perspective is really important for us to remember.  I imagine that the disciples, who many were familiar with boats and storms, tried to do everything in their power to make it through the storm.  However, it came to a point that they went running to Jesus, the giver of life after they couldn’t do anything.  You see where I am going, don’t you!  After they couldn’t save themselves, they went to Jesus.  We do the same thing, but when we see it in others, we can remind others to run to Jesus.  We need the right perspective, and that is Jesus is in control.  Run to Jesus, call out to Jesus.  Don’t let your ship get destroyed in the storm first. 

Jesus spoke to the storm and it stopped.  Even the wind and waves obey Him!  Jesus created the world by speaking it into existence.  Jesus is the Word. 

What is the storm in your life that you need Jesus to speak to stop?  Have you asked Him?  Or are you trying to survive the storm on your own?    It is an amazing thing when Jesus speaks up, shows up, or does something that we didn’t expect or even could imagine.  The disciples saw this and were “absolutely terrified.  Who is this man that even the wind and waves obey Him?  We should be the same.

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

Mark 3

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

WEDNESDAY, JULY 23

SCRIPTURE:  Mark 3

Did you know that Gospel of Mark was the first Gospel written?  It was written to show Christ’s power through the miracles and actions of Jesus.  Mark’s writing style followed the adage that actions speak louder than words, and this is what Mark typically emphasized.  As we begin chapter 3, we find Jesus healing a man’s hand. 

Before we go too far, we need to understand the Law given by God is written in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  However, throughout the years, more laws were written down by man, which I will simply call the man-made laws.  In many cases, they took God’s laws and carried them out way further than God intended.  (We never do that today, do we?  That is sarcasm in case you missed it.)  They were not from God but were written to address issues the people faced, which is not necessarily wrong, but calling people to follow them just as the God-given Law was.  These laws were numerous, and were stringently followed by the religious groups like the Pharisees, Sadduccees, scribes, etc. 

When we come to verse 2, we find “they were watching” as the NASB translation puts it or as the NLT translation states, “Jesus’ enemies watched Him closely.”  Jesus addresses the Law issue directly in verse 3-4.  He points out the intent of the God-given Law, which is to do good for people.  Jesus asks a question and the religious police remain quiet, which angered and saddened Jesus because of their hard hearts.  There are questions we need to ask ourselves as well as ask the LORD to reveal to us.  Do we have any parts of our hearts that are hardened?  Do we follow man-made rules and miss the intent of Scripture?  Are we busy being religious rather than helping others find true healing in Jesus

Once Jesus heals the man, the religious police go away angry and begin planning how to kill Jesus.  Ironic, isn’t it that these people go away to plan how to break the God-given Law for the sake of their man-made laws.

As Jesus moves around the country, crowds follow Him.  (verses 7-8).  We see in verse 9 that Jesus calls his disciples to help Him and then Mark points out who these disciples are in verses 13-19.  But wait!  Go back to verse 11 and see how the demons or spirits respond to Jesus.  They recognize Jesus and call out who He is, the Son of God!  Even the demons knew and they shrieked in fear.  Sounds like James 2:19 to me.  We need to remember that we should fear the LORD.  See Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7; 9:10.

Verses 20-30 stands out to me in this chapter.  Notice verse 21 is his family who speaks this.  We can say things to each other that truly hurt and can leave scars, so let us be careful in what we say.  First, Jesus’ family says that he is going crazy, but it gets worse when the religious police say that Jesus is of the devil and doing the devil’s work.  That is harsh!  Matthew writes about this in 12:30-32 and Luke writes in 12:10.  Sidenote:  If Jesus was attacked, as a follower of Jesus, we have to be prepared when we are, and we will be attacked as well.

But it is verses 28-29 that stands out.  Read these verses in light of what his family said.  Read it in light of what the scribes said.  So what is this “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”?  What does the Spirit do for us? 

First, the Spirit reveals God to us.  The Spirit convicts us of our sin.  The Spirit calls us to repentance.  The Spirit brings us salvation when we believe in the LORD Jesus.  The Spirit guides us to become more like Jesus.  When a person blasphemes the Holy Spirit, they reject the work of the Spirit, which essentially denies that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, and that they are not sinners and do not need the LORD.  So the one sin that is unforgiveable is to reject Jesus as Savior and LORD.  It is this sin that sends us to hell.  When a person chooses to reject Jesus or deny the Holy Spirit, that person is guilty of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and sent to hell.  It is this sin of choice that sends us to hell. 

There are some religious folks who have said other sins are unforgivable.  Search the Scripture and see for yourself.  Yet Jesus said these words and tells us that only this sin if unforgivable.  This applies to every sin.  This is the ONLY sin that we cannot be forgiven of.  What a picture of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and a love that is beyond human understanding this is!  May we run to Jesus and share this hope with others who need to know that they can be forgiven! 

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

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