Tag Archives: Mark

Genesis 28-29; Mark 11

A dead fig tree, the desecrated Temple and a lesson on prayer. Jesus intentionally weaves metaphorical, physical and spiritual realities together. At the heart of his message is our relationship with God rooted in prayer.

Jesus carefully inspects the Temple. The next morning, in full view of the disciples he curses the fruitless fig tree. Later that day:

When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, The Scriptures declare, “My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,  but you have turned it to a den of thieves.”  Mark 11:15-17

And back to the cursed fig tree the next morning. The disciples take note that it is withered from the roots up. Then Jesus launches into a lesson on prayer:

I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.  Mark 11:24-26

The fig tree can’t survive with dead roots. Neither can the Temple. The people of Israel were once grounded in prayer, but their hearts turned from God. Prayer has been replaced by self service, power grabbing and stealing from God. The people of God, created in his very image no longer reflected his glory.

What does all this mean for me?  I am made for prayer. God designed me to be rooted in his love. To seek nourishment from anything, anyone other than God is to be rooted in poison. The very God who forgave my sin, the ultimate betrayal, wants me to come into his Presence, but to do that I must be rooted in his grace and love, not in grudge holding, self pity and unforgiveness. What is true for me, is true for everyone. When I pray, God listens; when I believe in him, the miraculous happens.

Father, forgive me for when I fail to extend grace to others as you have done for me. Show me when I hold onto grudges, self pity and pride.  Keep me from seeking nourishment from any source other than you, for you alone are God. Thank you that you hear my prayers. Hold me close when my wandering heart starts to drift from your side. 

Klueh

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Genesis 24-25; Psalm 4; Mark 9

All things are possible for those who believe…

To believe is to have confidence in the truth and the reliability of something, without necessarily having proof that belief is correct. It is a form of faith.

That belief in God’s dependability is demonstrated throughout the whole Bible.

…a servant sent out for a bride…

12The servant said, “Lord, you are the God of my master Abraham. Allow me to find a wife for his son today. Please show this kindness to my master Abraham. 13Here I am, standing by the spring of water. The girls from the city are coming out to get water. 14I will say to one of the girls, ‘Please put your jar down so I can drink.’ Then let her say, ‘Drink, and I will also give water to your camels.’ If that happens, I will know she is the right one for your servant Isaac. And I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” Genesis 24:12-14

…a couple’s desire for a child…

21Isaac’s wife could not have children. So Isaac prayed to the Lord for her. The Lord heard Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant. Genesis 25:21

…and even a father desperate for his son’s restoration to health.

23Jesus said to the father, “You said, ‘If you can!’ All things are possible for him who believes.”

24Immediately the father cried out, “I do believe! Help me to believe more!” Mark 9:23-24

David also believed in God’s steadfastness as a young man and continued in that faith until his death.

1Answer me when I pray to you,

my God who does what is right.

Lift the load that I carry.

Be kind to me and hear my prayer…

7But you have made me very happy.

I am happier than they are,

even with all their grain and wine.

8I go to bed and sleep in peace.

Lord, only you keep me safe.

Ps 4:1; 7-8

The common denominator of each of these snippets of belief is prayer. Each man, in his own way, demonstrated their belief with a faith prayer, trusting that God would not let them down – and true to His character, He didn’t forsake them. God provided a wife for Isaac. Rebekah bore twins. The boy was set free of the demons that were destroying him. David’s load was lifted and he was made happy and given peace and safety.

Sometimes it takes me longer than I’d like to admit to take time to pray when I’m experiencing troubles. When I don’t pray, I slowly start looking away from God’s trustworthiness to my own strength. But when I put my focus back on Him, position myself before Him in supplication and gratitude, my belief, my faith in God opens up myriads of possibilities and His Glory shines through my life.

Yesappa, strengthen my belief in You. Help me walk out my trust through prayer, casting my cares at Your feet, trusting You to provide exactly what I need, when I need it, and being grateful for the peace that comes with knowing You are my Good, Good Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie

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Genesis 26, 27; Mark 10

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

One of the greatest aspects of being a parent is the ability to see everything fresh through my children’s eyes. Everything is new to them, even if they’ve seen it before. Everything is exciting, even when they’ve done it before.

Over the holidays, my parents and I decided to take my children for a drive to find Christmas lights in the nearby neighborhoods. We all loaded into the van after dinner and started driving looking for the decorated houses. It didn’t take long to find them, and the girls went crazy, oohing and aahing, squealing with joy at something as simple as lights in the darkness of the evening.

They do the same thing with Jesus. They love to hear Bible stories and sing songs about Jesus (amazingly I often hear my girls singing “You make me brave” at the top of their lungs when they are playing in their room). They accept who He is without questioning if He’s real. They accept everything He’s done without wondering whether or not they are worthy. They revel in His love. They dance with all their might in His presence. They accept every good thing He gives and expect nothing less than the best. They are princesses and prince(s), coheirs with Christ, and they don’t doubt that for a second. They don’t worry about what someone else might think about their relationship with their Heavenly Father, they don’t worry about ‘works’ they just jump into His arms, so to speak, and are blessed.

I remember times in my walk with God where I was like that little child, but more recently the cares of life have crept onto my shoulders and weighted me down; I became an adult trying to survive and my spirit has suffered for it. The responsibilities of ‘doing’ have taken over – because someone has to cook, clean, and wipe runny noses – and I have neglected simply ‘being’.

I watch my girls, especially on Sundays, dancing and waving flags and having fun, and while I really enjoy watching them expressing their love and freedom, I am also jealous to experience even a small piece of that again. A part of me wants to cast off the responsibility, the ‘Martha-like’ to-do list, the worry of ‘who is going to watch my kids’, and immerse myself like a little child in God’s presence, in Heaven on earth. And, a part of me is scared that I have forgotten how to enter in, how to let go, how to let my guard down enough to let the little girl escape her ‘duties’ and encounter joy.

I’m not sure what the answer is. I am not sure how to balance being an adult and being child-like. But I know that I want to be received into Jesus’ arms and be blessed just like a little child.

Yesappa, thank You for loving me. Thank you for blessing me with Your gift of grace. Will you give me wisdom for becoming like a little child before you? Will you meet me where I am and heal my spirit, heal my heart? Will You show me how to let go and let God? Thank You for showing me the way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Deuteronomy 26, 27; Mark 15:1-26

And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. Mark 15:12-15; 25

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And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you. Deuteronomy 26:10-11

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And there you shall build an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones. You shall wield no iron tool on them; you shall build an altar to the Lord your God of uncut stones. And you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God, and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God. And you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly.” Deuteronomy 27:5-8

An altar. The Cross.

Was, and is, and always will be…

The greatest sacrifice…made by God…made for me.

Extraordinary silence against accusations spat in His face.

A broken body swathed in purple; a barbed circlet on His bloodied head.

The weight of my sin on His shoulders.

A heavy burden to carry.

The King brought low, brought to death. Perfection crucified.

Giving everything of Himself. Always willing. Always loving.

His death, His life, a gift of grace, a first fruit offering.

Redemption. Restoration. Relationship.

He gives all, and all He asks of me is all of myself.

A living sacrifice, prepared to worship, ready to rejoice.

Remembering His goodness. Recalling His faithfulness.

No longer bruised and battered. No longer a slave.

Suddenly, His reaffirmed treasure.

Suddenly, holy unto Him.

Walk into the land of milk and honey.

Enter into God’s promises. Enter into His peace.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Deuteronomy 23-25; Mark 14:51-72

I am forever thankful for the story of Peter disowning Christ. At the last supper with his disciples, Jesus warns them that they would all soon fall away.  Peter knows in his heart of hearts, that his convictions and dedication set him apart; he is incapable of turning his back on Jesus.  Jesus warns Peter that he would not only disown him once, but twice. In today’s passage in Mark,  Peter lives out Jesus’s prediction. He is a crushed.

Peter’s story gives me great hope. Christ’s knows Peter’s heart. The only one who surprised by the denial is Peter. It’s no different for me. I start out my day reading the Word and feeling God’s presence as I pray. The heat of the day gets going and before I know it, I am behaving as one who has never known the company of Jesus. False pride deceives me into thinking that I am better than the crowd, and the strength of my convictions makes me bullet proof.  The only one fooled is myself. My sin is before me and it’s ugly.

The words of Psalm 139:4 find me, “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”  These words of grace find their way to me, pull back the curtains of self deception and bring me back to the feet of Jesus. My heart, as it is, is known by my heavenly Father and He does not turn away. My faith is not in the strength of my convictions. My faith is in the One who gave his life so that I might not suffer the punishment deserved. Although I may abandon the One who loves me, He never turns his back on me.

One of the great mysteries of God is how He uses the grace filled lives of the humbled and fallen to make his church rock solid. I pray that I every day, I am increasingly filled with gratitude to God for all that He does  and less prone to wander.

Klueh

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Deuteronomy 5, 6, 7; Mark 12:1-27

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I am in the midst of the season of mothering. God entrusted me with two clever preschoolers who absorb everything, both the good and the bad (as exhibited by my oldest daughter’s usage of a choice word that I recently uttered in a moment of frustration – oops). Like most parents, I want to raise my children so that they will be happy and healthy, so that they will function well in the world and be productive adults, and most importantly, so that they have a strong spiritual and moral foundation.

Often in my studies of godly parenting, I am led to the above verses in Deuteronomy, that charge me with the responsibility of keeping the greatest commandment on my own heart at all times, and also instilling it in the hearts of my children.

The word “diligently” popped out to me today. The word diligently means to ‘quietly and steadily continuing a task despite any difficulties’ and is ‘characterized by care and perseverance in carrying out tasks’. I have been given the responsibility to be a disciplined parent, to be intentional, deliberate, and fully-conscious in raising my girls. My assignment is to develop my children’s behavior and their character through instruction and repetition. My task is to point them toward God all throughout the day, every day.

But, it is not just enough to teach them the words, the deeds, the customs. It is not enough to teach them to memorize the Bible by rote. It’s not enough to simply lead them in a sinner’s prayer. Of course, memorization, prayer, and study have value, but if connection is not personally experienced, then it becomes a habitual routine, where, more often than not, there is no love and no passion. When God’s love isn’t truly known or reciprocated those rituals lead to the legalist thinking and behavior that made the chief priests, the scribes, the elders and others want to trap, arrest, and eventually kill Jesus (Mark 12:1-27).

It is essential that my children have daily opportunities to meet God so that they come to understand who He was, is, and is to come. Over and over, they need to hear testimonies of His faithfulness; they need to taste and see that He is good. They must grasp relationship with Christ and desire a bond with Him. His love needs to cut through to their cores.

My goal is to teach my children not only to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and might, but to teach them to hear his voice, follow his will, and recognize his face. I can do that by talking to them, by maintaining a good rapport with my children, and by allowing them to see my relationship with Christ up close.

Yesappa, Thank You for choosing me, for choosing my children, and their children. Thank You for loving us, blessing us, and multiplying us. Help me follow Your commands, staying straight on Your path and not going to the right or the left. Help me show my children who You are. Reveal Your steadfast love to us. Help us love You with all our hearts, our souls, and our minds always. In Jesus’ name. Amen (Deuteronomy 5:32; Deuteronomy 7:9-12).

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Deuteronomy 3-4; Mark 11:20-33

Crossing over into new, unchartered territory is no easy thing. There is security in what you know, even if it’s not terribly functional (think Dr.Phil, “How’s that working for you?”). It’s the kindness of God that steadies our knocking knees and encourages us to take those first steps forward.

Do not be afraid of them; the Lord yourself will fight for you. Deuteronomy 3:21

I have an inkling of what the Israelites felt even though my desert wandering has manifested itself in a different form. My desert has been one of holding on tightly to what I know to keep my family and I moving forward. The desert wasn’t a bad place; God called me there, but there’s a new land He is leading me into.  It is a land I don’t know very well. This time, I have to face my fears; I can’t pretend that they don’t exist.

God has been calling me into a new territory of prayer and quietness before him. I squirm when I face the silence. When the answers don’t come in the timing I want, I tell God He’s got this whole thing wrong and needs to perform to meet my wishes. But thankfully,  God invites me to cross over to a new land, a land of trust and knowing that He loves me. He delights in providing abundantly for my deepest needs. He is my Healer and reaches within to touch the broken places. He longs to show me his beauty every day.  He is my Comforter,  the one who calms my restless soul and quiets my fears. Sometimes, I can sense Him saying, “Shush, sleep little one.”

When I am quiet, on the floor and on my knees, my soul opens up to Him. God is not the miserly, temperamental god I made Him out to be and I am no longer the whiny, complaining child.  Christ is who the Word says He is (Colossians 1:15-20) and I am God’s precious child (1John 3:1). The invitation to inhabit this promised land is extended every day, every moment.

For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers which he confirmed to them by oath. Deuteronomy 4:31.

There’s a new land we are called to. Where is God calling you?

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