Tag Archives: Mark

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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Numbers 24, 25, 26, 27; Mark 8:11-38

And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” Mark 8:16-21

I can see in the natural, even if I do need glasses; but sometimes I don’t always see everything there is to be seen in the spiritual world. I don’t always understand the parables that Jesus spoke to the ancient world (without reading His explanations) and I don’t always appreciate the stories that He speaks into my own life. I don’t always comprehend what He is trying to do in me, what He is trying to teach me. I don’t always perceive His purposes, His heart. I don’t always grasp His goodness, His faithfulness. I don’t always see HIM.

There are times when I am so lost in the temporal, that I lose sight of His glory. I am so distracted by the never-ending needs of my kids, so preoccupied with the demands of work/ministry goals, of keeping the house clean or by getting meals on the table, that I forget the amazing ways that God has moved in my life, even before I was truly a believer. I overlook the miracles He has done through me and the miracles He has done for me. My spiritual-sight is sometimes unfocused. And in those moments, I don’t recognize Jesus in the little things; I cannot see Him clearly through the haze.

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” Mark 8:27-29

Countless foretellings concerning Jesus were made over the generations before His birth; prophecies meant to help the people be ready for the coming King when He made His entrance. Even the diviner Balaam’s eyes were opened for a fleeting instant by the Spirit of God coming upon him and he “saw” Jesus (Numbers 24: 15, 17-19).

When Jesus did come to earth, many people witnessed His miracles and still couldn’t identify Him. Some people saw Jesus for who He was, is, and is to come with spiritual eyes and recognized He is the Savior, the promised Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One. But, even those followers experienced spiritual blindness at times, unable to see past the literal, into the eternal.

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Mark 8:22-25

I have to hold onto the belief that Jesus understands that there are times when I am going to be unseeing, that He continues to offer me grace in spite of my weakness. I have to hold onto the hope that like He did for the blind man, He will lay His hands on me and restore my sight, washing my eyes and allowing me to see clearly.

Yesappa, Thank You for opening my heart to Your sacrifice on the cross, to Your grace and mercy, and inviting me to be Your daughter. Please open my eyes {wider}, so that I am not blinded by temporal distractions, so that I might see You clearly and always remember everything You’ve done and will do in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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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Numbers 21-23; Mark 7:14-8:10

Balaam is a man with a reputation for being more spiritually attuned than the rest of the crowd. He’s some sort of international, polytheistic diviner sought out by kings,  but does he really know God? It takes a protesting, talking donkey to stop him in his tracks long enough to have his eyes opened by God to see the danger ahead. I need to remember this story next time I get stuck in traffic or behind the slow shopper (with the full basket) who holds up the check out line.

My study Bible indicates that Balaam knew enough about God to report back to Balak what God said, BUT (warning: spoiler alert) not enough to prevent him from offering up sacrifices to false gods or practicing repulsive forms of divination (see Joshua 13:22).  This eventually becomes his undoing. The Pharisees were no less guilty of keeping God at arms length. They were happy to have God make them look acceptable on the outside, but drew the line when it came to allowing God to change them from the inside out. Truth be told, I can be just like Balaam, just like the Pharisees.

So how do I not just know about God, but KNOW Him?  What does it mean to have a “personal relationship” with the almighty  and holy God?  I don’t have a bullet point answer. This I know so far: it means telling God about the wrong within and accepting his grace and forgiveness.  It’s been about falling down and getting back up again. It’s meant extending grace received when it seems impossible.  It’s been about reading the Scriptures and letting them settle down in my soul. It’s meant praying and talking to God, telling Him thank you and praising Him for who He is. It’s meant being still and quiet.

I started on this road over 40 years ago and I feel like I am just beginning to learn what it means to have a “personal relationship” with God.  What has it meant for you?

Klueh

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