Archive for July, 2011

July 29.11 ethot

Matthew 1:1 (1-17) “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

The next book I’m going to look at is the Gospel according to Matthew. Mark and Matthew wrote their books around the same time, but whereas Mark was righting to the Greeks, including the Romans writing about the things Jesus did. Matthew wrote to the Jews, so who Jesus was and what He said was as important as what He did.

The Jews were particularly interested in a man’s background, especially if he made unusual claims. So, proof had to be given. I’m sure the Pharisees had the scribes dig through any records they had to find Jesus lineage and probably did find it. But because Jesus wasn’t one of them (a Pharisee) they rejected Him.

Fortunately for us Jesus is not concerned about our lineage. Where we come from or whom our parents were or are is of little concern because what really matters is who we are right now. There is a saying; it’s not who you are but who you know that will help you in life. Well it’s partly true. If Jesus came this very moment would He know you, Matthew 7:22-23?

Humility involves not letting your emotions and pride dictate your decisions.

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July 28.11 ethot

Mark 16:20 (9-20) “And they went out and preached everywhere,’

It is generally understood that Mark’s gospel presents Jesus as the Man of Action and so fittingly the disciples, now Apostles, have become men of action. Those eleven would go on to take the Gospel as far as they could physically take it. Paul, agreeing with Mark only adds himself as the final (twelfth) Apostle, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11.

Each one of those twelve were given special sign gifts they would exercise proving their authority as apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, 16:17-18. When the Twelve died those gifts died with them. Today we don’t need those gifts; actually they would just get in the way of getting people to actually believe in God’s plan for their salvation from the judgment to come.

What we need today is more of the Mary Magdalene’s and others like her who experienced the power of Jesus in their lives to share with their friends, family and neighbors what Jesus can do not only for their eternal security, but also for their current situation in life.

Availability involves getting and staying busy with God given priorities and getting rid of those things that would get in the way.

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July 27.11 ethot

Mark 16:7 (1-8) “He is going ahead of you to Galilee;’

Remember that before the crucifixion, on their way to Gethsemane, Jesus had instructed them to meet Him in Galilee after He had been raised from the dead. Now, again they are reminded of Jesus instruction.

At the end of the big game there is an emotional let down. It doesn’t matter if you’re the winner or the looser your emotions have been running wild throughout the event and suddenly it is all over. At this point anyone could take you by the hand and lead you anywhere and you wouldn’t care. Maybe it has to do with the sense that it’s all over, what do I do now?

Well, the reason Jesus instructed them to meet Him was because the game was not over. In fact we are still playing the same game. We are trying our best to get the word out that Jesus is not dead! He has been raised and is standing at the right hand of the Father where He defends us against Satan’s accusations.

Jesus only started the event for us, now we need to finish our part. Time is growing short!

Determination involves directing all our energies to complete the mission we’ve been assigned.

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July 25.11 ethot

Mark 15:39 (33-41) “When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’

As a centurion he was probably an older man and had seen his share of battles and death, having stared at it right in the face. So, when he acknowledges Jesus claim to deity you really do have to think carefully about what he says. This man has seen both his enemy and his friend’s die, those who died with courage and those who died with fear.

Luke tells us that Jesus’ exact last words were, “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.” Although He had just cried out to His father, 15:34, He had not lost sight of the mission He was on. This is what I think the centurion saw and heard in those last moments of our Saviors death.

He recognized that resolute spirit that keeps a soldier going no matter what the circumstance look like in the moment. It doesn’t mean there’s no fear or second-guessing, just that the outcome not the moment is what should dictate our actions.

Courage involves setting your fears aside so you can do what is right.

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July 22.11 ethot

Mark 15:16 (16-32) “and they called together the whole Roman cohort.

A “cohort” was probably about the size of a large company or small battalion today, 300 or so men. A Roman soldier of the day wasn’t paid much (225 denarius a year = $2250 today). After a battle he could go through the killing field and collect what he could of value from the dead. If there were any slaves he could take them and sell to supplement his income.

These men were bored out of their minds getting paid to do nothing they could make any money off of. Any opportunity to get their minds off of their situation was welcome. I’m sure they had plenty of fun releasing all there pent up frustrations on Jesus as they beat Him with all their strength. Being once a soldier I recognize the frustration of not getting out to do what I was enlisted to do.

This beating probably happened at about 7 or 8 in the morning having just left Pilate. Then there was the procession through town (during morning rush hour) to Golgotha, where He was hung at 9 am. I can only imagine a person on his way to work stopping and saying, did you here about Jesus of Nazareth? And the answer, do you want the bagel or not?

So many things happening in our lives that we have to push away what is not important to the moment, but what moment are we thinking about? Life is more than surviving the planet!

Availability involves getting and staying busy with God given priorities and getting rid of those things that would get in that way.

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July 21.11 ethot

Mark 15:10 (1-15) “For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.

Pilate was a politician. His job in the area was first to make sure the tax money was flowing to Rome. His second job was to keep the peace. A good politician of the day knew that warring was not always the best way to keep that peace. His third task was to make sure justice was carried out.

Historians tell us he didn’t do a good job in any of these areas because he let personal considerations outweigh his duties. I guess the same could be said of the chief priests. They seemed to be concerned only for themselves and Pilate himself evidences this here. If anyone could recognize envy surely Pilate could.

But what would they have envied about Jesus? Jesus was poor, having no fancy home, no fancy clothes and no money in the bank. He had no horse or chariot or wagon, because He walked everywhere He went. Jesus was not a politician or religious leader. He had earned no degrees in education, religion or philosophy. But, He was respected and more importantly loved by practically everyone.

The chief priests had to work hard to get that kind of attention, but it seemed Jesus just opened His mouth and had it. Envy is the desire to displace another. It was what knocked Lucifer out of his position as top angel in the heavens. Unfortunately for them they had not heard Jesus’ teaching that if you want to be served by all you must first learn to serve all.

Humility involves understanding how easy it is to deceive ourselves into thinking that there are things we do and don’t deserve.

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July 20.11 ethot

Mark 14:72 (53-72) “And he began to weep.

I wonder if Peter was now feeling almost completely disconnected from what was going on, with so many thoughts in his head about all the things Jesus said, now it all just seemed to be over. So when the servant girl speaks to him, he was startled out of a deep sleep.

The servant girl, and others by the fire, asked about Peter because he looked, acted and sounded like a specific Galilean, Jesus. Everyone knows that, after a while, you tend to take on some of the characteristics of those you work with or live with. You don’t notice it, other do.

It’s the same thing that will happen to all of us the more time we spend with the Lord (in private) and with our spiritual family (at church). The Bible calls it godliness. People who haven’t seen you in a long time should notice a difference in how you look (what you wear and how you wear it), act (how you treat others and yourself) and speak (whether you speak at people or to people).

In his obviously confused state he could have just ignored the servant girl or he could have told her to mind her own business. But he didn’t, Jesus had taught them to respond to people, not react. So, when the cock crowed the second time Peter is overwhelmed with what he has done or failed to do. Mark says that Peter “began” to weep.

We’re not told when he stopped. Scholars understand that Mark became Peter’s right hand man, like Timothy was Paul’s, and it is likely that he approved of Marks letter to the churches; I mean by this that it is likely Peter didn’t stop weeping. What we’ve done in the past should never be forgotten, but used to keep us from it in the future.

Wisdom involves recognizing the value of past failures.

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July 19.11 ethot

Mark 14:62 (53-65) “I am;

In yesterdays passage (Mark 14:43-52) we saw Peter stand up and defend Jesus, which was a noble act, but Peter like the others had not yet understood that Jesus had to suffer and die according to the Scriptures. In today’s passage we see Peter again, doing his best to maintain a low profile.

We could say that he and John were trying to find out what was going on and if Jesus would give some kind of idea of what was next. But in the heat of the moment they had all forgotten Jesus instructions to them in the upper room before they had gotten to the garden.

Jesus even had His accusers confused, because none could get their stories straight. According to the Law you couldn’t convict a person unless two or three witnesses could confirm the accusation in a court of law, Deuteronomy 19:15-21. And, if the accusers were found out to be liars they would be treated as guilty of the accusation themselves.

So to be able to move the proceedings along Jesus had to accuse Him self. When He agreed with the high priest statement you could say two witnesses agreed, and although you shouldn’t be able to testify against your self, it was good enough for them.

It makes me wonder if I’m just watching what is going on in the world to fellow Christians from a distance or am I finding ways to stand with them, not just outside my country, but at home as well.

Faith involves investing my resources and myself in things that will matter for eternity.

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July 18.11 ethot

Mark 14:51 (43-52) “A young man was following Him,

Matthew Luke and John give us a lot more detail about those last moments in the garden than does Mark; but we do learn that a large noisy crowd came after Jesus in the dark. Jesus Himself recognizes the silliness of the situation.

It’s like as if they came after someone who was going to fight back with His band of resistance fighters armed with swords and clubs. No one in there right mind would ever have thought of Jesus as some kind of resistance leader of any kind. Jesus was more of a reformer. But the people He came to reform weren’t interested. I wonder how different the whole story would have been if the people would have reacted to Jesus message as the people of Nineveh did to Jonah’s message. There were of course a few.

The young man wearing nothing but a linen sheet was probably a cult follower. There was, in those days, a small group who believed in being quiet and not showy about their appearance and language. So, they wore less and more plain dress (which kind of makes them stick out since no one else is so plain).

I think the young man’s story was placed here because when we’re faced with the reality of our faith the question remains, will we stand and suffer for it, whether we deserve to or not, or will the naked truth about us be revealed? The disciples, who were closest to Him fled and an onlooker from afar fled also, what was the difference between the two, and what will my story be like?

Courage involves taking a stand for what is right when it costs you.

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Mark 14:34 (26-42) “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.

I found it interesting this morning that following their meal Mark says they sang a hymn. John tells us that much more happened after the meal, John 13-17. Tradition tells us that the hymn they would have song was from Psalms 115-118.

As they were walking Jesus again points out that they were all about to abandon Him. Peter again argues that he would never, but Jesus predicts that the cock would crow twice (3am) before Peter would deny Him three times.

Despite the animated conversation they had just finished eating and gone for a long walk up to the garden on the Mount of Olives so when Jesus tells them to wait with Him, they fell right to sleep, who could blame them! They still had no idea the seriousness of the moment; Jesus was about to be taken away.

In Psalm 118:5-9 we find some interesting words that could be seen as the very words Jesus expresses in His prayers before His Father in the garden. I don’t think that the disciples understood the words of the hymns they sang that night the way Jesus understood them. I suggest that you read the four psalms once like as if you were at church services and then again as if they were the words of Jesus that night before He was arrested.

It’s interesting too, that in a garden man betrayed God’s confidence and now again in a garden the Man was about to be betrayed but would remain loyal to His Lord.

Courage involves learning that my words and actions when based on the authority of Scripture please God.

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