Mark chapter 9 verses 33-35 always stand out to me and I personally always need to be reminded of Jesus' teaching here in the last sentence: "Jesus asked them, "What were you discussing out on the road?" But they didn't answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down and called the twelve disciples over to him. Then he said, "Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else." How are you doing on this last sentence? Are you taking last place? Are you the servant of everyone else? Do you think this last sentence applies to Jesus' life? Do you think we should model how Jesus lived his life?
I came across an artistic image I liked a lot, below, which applies to verses 36 & 37... except of course that the child is wearing very modern day clothes - keep in mind it is art! :) - "Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, "Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes my Father who sent me."
Worship Video: Today's readings reminded me of the Casting Crowns song "Nobody:"
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today:"Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." Mark 9:35 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you will never strive to be first. Pray that you will strive to be the servant of all, as Jesus was the servant of all.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
God bless, Mike
p.s. I would greatly appreciate it if you would pray for this Bible Blog ministry today! Please also consider partnering with us by financially supporting this ministry. Thank you!
Today in Mark chapter 9 we read about the Transfiguration! I heard a wonderful sermon recently about the Transfiguration. The sermon basically was stating that the Transfiguration of Jesus into a dazzling white & God's voice showed to James, John, and Peter that Jesus was truly divine and the son of God. And, the sermon suggested this Transfiguration took place relatively closely to Jesus' arrest and death - as such, the Transfiguration was meant to give these 3 apostles the hope that even during the dark days that were soon to come during the arrest, trial and death of Jesus, that they truly were following the Messiah and that he would rise from the dead - although they didn't quite understand the rise from the dead part at this time. I think it is important for us to remember that we have the knowledge of the full story of Jesus, including his resurrection - hindsight is 20/20 - but the apostles did not know exactly what was going to happen at this particular time. The Transfiguration was an incredible sign of God's control in all that was happening and would happen to his beloved son Jesus. Commentary on the Transfiguration is at bible.org at this link
Verse 24 is an amazing statement from the father of a possessed boy to Jesus- "The father instantly replied, "I do believe, but help me not to doubt!"" I have heard this verse mentioned by the late Christian writer Henri Nouwen. One of his simple prayers that he would pray very often - throughout his day - was simply, "Jesus, I believe. Help my unbelief." I know that I have uttered this prayer on occasion in the past and it's been an amazing little prayer to pray - at any time of the day. Jesus, I believe. Help my unbelief. (The Genesee Diary is the book by Henri where I believe I read about him praying this short prayer where he kept a diary when spending several months in a trappist monastery. This book is a great read to remind us to slow down in our busy lives!)
Worship Video: Our readings today reminded me of Josh Wilson's song "I Refuse:"
The last few verses in Mark's readings today are some of the most powerful verses that each of us should really reflect upon in our lives today! I wish I reflected on these verses more often. Check out chapter 8 verses 34 through 38 and spend a few moments really reflecting on these verses and on how they speak to how you are living your life today: "Then Jesus called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. "If any of you wants to be my follower," he told them, "you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul? If a person is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, I, the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in the glory of my Father with the holy angels."
These are incredible verses above! I think the first obvious question these verses open up to us is simply this - do you want to be a follower of Jesus? If the answer is yes, then the instructions that follow are simple and yet not always so easy in our fallen world: 1. give up your own selfish ambition. 2. shoulder your cross. 3. follow Jesus. How are you doing on these 3 points in your life today? And what a profound truth there is in that we will find true life if we give up our life for Jesus - the Good News. I actually have been thinking about this point quite a bit lately. And my thoughts have revolved around "my identity" - and where I get my identity from. I think so often I get my identity from my work or my ministry or my friends or my social life - the problem in all of this is that you'll keep seeing the word "my" in my identity. And I'm realizing more and more that my identity should be in Jesus alone. Jesus should be the identity. The reality. I think that I am really searching for true life in all the wrong places - in my work, in my friends, etc. And true true life is really only found in one place - Jesus. How about you? What is providing your identity in your life today? Do you think it is possible that your identity could simply be found in Jesus? Do you want this to be the case? I think each of us will do well to not be ashamed of Jesus and the Good News in these adulterous and sinful days... Below is an interesting diagram showing Christian levels of commitment, suggesting that verses Mark 8:34-38 are the "conviction" stage highlighted below. Which stage of commitment do you think you are at today?
Worship Video: Today's readings reminded me of the hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy" sung here by Audrey Assad:
Mark chapter 7 opens up with a gentile woman begging Jesus to release her daughter from the control of a demon. Verses 27 through 29 are a fascinating look at Jesus' ministry - "Jesus told her, "First I should help my own family, the Jews. It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs." She replied, "That's true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are given some crumbs from the children's plates." "Good answer!" he said. "And because you have answered so well, I have healed your daughter." Here we see that Jesus' ministry was initially to the Jews, but here he heals a gentile woman's daughter because of her humility and faith. And of course as we get to the Great Commission at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus' ministry is clearly for "all nations". In fact, Mark's Gospel is a good indicator of how Jesus' ministry quickly expanded beyond the Jews as Mark likely wrote this Gospel in Rome and to a primarily Roman gentile believer audience.
Today in chapter 7 verses 32 through 34 we read - "A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him. Jesus led him to a private place away from the crowd. He put his fingers into the man's ears. Then, spitting onto his own fingers, he touched the man's tongue with the spittle. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and commanded, "Be opened!" Instantly the man could hear perfectly and speak plainly!" I love this image below based on these verses... please meditate on this image for a few moments... What do you think is going through this man's mind at this moment? What is he experiencing?
Worship Video: Today's readings reminded me of Mandisa's song "Stronger:"
Today’s readings in Mark are about "Clean and Unclean" and we read about Jesus confronting the Pharisees about their "own traditions". I read in NIV Study Bible and OYB Companion commentaries that after the Babylonian exile, Jewish rabbis began to make meticulous rules and regulations governing the daily life of people. And that these rules were added to God's law and essentially elevated to the same sacred status by the Pharisees. In 200 A.D. these traditions of the elders were put into writing in the Mishnah. I think what Jesus gets at here in this chapter is that the Pharisees were allowing the "rules & regs" to overshadow the spirit of God's law. They were not honoring their parents because of the practice of Corban - giving $ to the temple. Which is a good thing... but at the expense of a great thing of caring for your parents? I know we all could probably go round and round on what is the greatest good - how should we spend our time and our money and our lives. I like that Jesus basically takes us to the heart. What is the heart of the matter? No matter what the matter is - taking care of your parents, giving to your church, following God's laws, receiving God's grace - what is the heart of the matter? One thing that I have been so blessed to learn over the past few years is that the condition of our hearts matters. Immensely. The motives of why we do something - anything - matters. Immensely. We are called in Proverbs to "guard our hearts, for it is the wellspring of life." If we do not care for the state of our hearts, we can become very regimented or insensitive in our thinking and doing. We might even get to the point in verse 8 of this chapter where Jesus quotes from Isaiah - "`These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away." How is the state of your heart today? Is it close to God?
Jesus continues to speak about the importance of what is in our hearts in verses 20-23 today - "It is the thought-life that defiles you. For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God." I think this takes us back again to the Sermon on the Mount - where Jesus teaches us in one example that yes, it is wrong to commit adultery. But, if you commit adultery in your heart, it is just as wrong. Because if you commit adultery in the heart, you have essentially defiled your own heart. And from the heart could come the actual act of committing adultery - which would then shatter several lives. But it all starts in the heart.... So - the good news? Jesus can heal our hearts! Jesus is in the business of heart-healing! Maybe in your life, you might need to refocus a little bit less on some external actions and start focusing on the state of your heart? Maybe by focusing on what's going no inside your heart, the external actions will ultimately change? Maybe allow Jesus to heal your heart - and then your external life will be healed as well? I'm not sure you can go about this the other way - trying to work from the outside back in... I think you may need to start on the inside first and work your way out. But don't do this alone - let Jesus walk this healing path with you.
Worship Video: Today's readings reminded me of the song "Be Thou My Vision." Here's a great live version by Shane & Shane:
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on four verses of Scripture today:"He (Jesus) went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'" Mark 7:20-23 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that your heart is clean. Clean of all evil thoughts, sexual immorality and folly.
Comments from You - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
Today we read in Mark Chapter 6 verse 46: “Afterward he (Jesus) went up into the hills by himself to pray.” What a beautiful verse for each of us to meditate upon! Jesus went by himself to pray to God. It is interesting to note that this took place just after Jesus fed the 5,000. Jesus had been working hard – he is God and yet he still felt the call to pray to the Father. I think this verse is such a great reminder that you and I need to follow Jesus’ example in this verse. And we’re so not God! :) So, think about how much more crucial it is for us to pray. Jesus knew that God was his source of strength. His comfort. His wisdom. And prayer was the one sure fire way for Jesus to really connect and spend time with God. How is your prayer life these days? Are you finding a good amount of time each day to be by yourself and pray? If not, can you schedule this time into your calendar each day?
Worship Video: Today's readings in Mark 6 about Jesus praying reminded me of the Casting Crowns song "What If His People Prayed." Here's a great live version:
Today we read in Mark Chapter 6 verse 4– “Then Jesus told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” This verse reminds me that sometimes when we really move forward in our faith, our friends (“hometown” from the verse above) and our relatives can sometimes not understand what is going on with us. I think there are phases of our walk with God where really it becomes very personal – between us and God – and through that process God will transform us. And our friends and relatives sometimes may not appreciate our change for various reasons – just as Jesus’ friends and relatives did not appreciate his ministry in this verse. I hope that this verse can be of comfort to you if by chance you are having challenges reconciling your faith and your changed heart with your friends & relatives expectations of who you were in the past. Know that you are on the right path. As long as you are staying focused on God and his will for your life, you may have to accept some loss of “honor” (per the verse above) in your status with your friends and relatives. You may not seem to be as “cool” or “fun” as you once were in your friends’ eyes. But – if in God’s eyes you are loving Him with all of your heart and you are loving your neighbors as yourself, then you are eternally cool and fun in the Kingdom of Heaven. And that’s where it really counts. Where are you seeking “honor” in your life today? In the eyes of your friends and relatives – or in God’s eyes?
An image for verses 18 & 19: "John kept telling Herod, "It is illegal for you to marry your brother's wife." Herodias was enraged and wanted John killed in revenge, but without Herod's approval she was powerless." -
Worship Video: Our readings today reminded of Brandon Heath's great song about being changed by Jesus called "I'm not Who I Was":
The structure of today's readings in Mark chapter 5 are amazing! The narrative starts with Jairus asking Jesus to heal his daughter who is about to die - but, then, in the middle of the narrative Jesus' journey is stopped by a woman who simply wants to touch Jesus' robe so that she will be healed from a 12-year suffering. And verse 34 in this portion is just so beautiful as Jesus says to the now healed woman: ""Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. You have been healed.""
Then, the narrative cuts back to Jairus, but it sounds like it's too late for Jesus to come to the house. Messengers report that the little girl has died. Jesus simply tells Jairus in verse 36 - "Just trust me." (which is something so powerful that I believe Jesus says to you and me today too - "Just trust me." Don't worry about anything else in this passing life. "Just trust me.") And then in verses 40 & 41 we read: "Then he took the girl's father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. Holding her hand, he said to her, "Get up, little girl!"
Commentary from Bob Deffinbaugh at bible.org on today's readings in Mark chapter 5 entitled "Where there is Death there is Hope" is at this link.
Worship Video: Based on our readings today here's an amazing live worship performance by Chris Tomlin of the song "Holy is the Lord." Enjoy!
I love the parable of the growing seed in Mark chapter 4 verses 26-29. This parable only occurs in the Gospel of Mark. I equate the seed to be the Gospel, which is filled with so much power and truth and life that "the seeds sprouted and grew without the farmer's help, because the earth produces crops on its own." The Gospel message is so powerful on its own that it will produce a bountiful crop. Or - maybe the Bible is another way to look at the seed. Reading and studying the Bible will ultimately produce a bountiful crop in our lives. It can't help but not do so. What do you think the seed represents in this parable? I'll share with you that I have been thinking more and more about farming these days - and the wisdom in how farming works. You plant, you water, you care for the soil, you wait, the plant grows. And this takes time. You reap what you sow. And I contrast this with our society today - or myself - and how everything moves so fast. We want instant gratification. Now! :) We don't like to wait on anything. We don't like the concept of farming... and I'm afraid that this speed of life today can really be unhealthy - or maybe superficial is the word I'm looking for. In any case, I think the patience and process of farming is something that has so much value for us still today. If we are struggling with sins or sadness or whatever, I think we absolutely need to take these things to Jesus for healing - but, we would do well to realize that Jesus may want to do some farming in our hearts. He may want to plant some seeds, and give the seeds some time to grow. Sure, maybe sometimes we'll get an instant gratification healing or answer. But I think more often than not we should be ready for some farming to occur in our hearts. And to thank God for the wisdom of this process!
I think my little tangent on farming and being patient during the process, above, might play in well to Jesus' next parable of the mustard seed in verses 30 through 32: "Jesus asked, "How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed. Though this is one of the smallest of seeds, it grows to become one of the largest of plants, with long branches where birds can come and find shelter."" I think if we can have faith in the seed that Jesus plants in our hearts - be it the Gospel, the Bible, healing, patience, faith - we will see an amazing plant grow that will ultimately bless others. From the tiniest beginnings, with patience and faith, can come the largest of plants. Will you let Jesus plant a needed mustard seed in your heart? And will you be patient and allow the seed time & space to grow?
Commentary from Bob Deffinbaugh at Bible.org on Mark chapter 4 titled "The Meaning of the Miracles" is at this link. Commentary from Bible.org on Jesus healing a demon possessed man in Mark chapter 5 titled the "Gerasene Demoniac" is at this link.
Worship Video: Today's readings remind me of the song "Legacy" by Nicole Nordeman:
Comments from You & Question of the Day - What do you think of my farming analogies in the eflections above? Has our modern world forgotten about some of the principles of farming the land? Have we forgotten that we reap what we sow? Have we lost our patience, to the point where we will not even wait for the harvest to come in at its appointed time? Are we trying to control things in our modern day life that aren't controllable? Such as the "pace" at which a seed grows into a plant and a plant into a full harvest? In losing some of our knowledge of the principles of farming and growing, are we at risk of losing ourselves? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
New Testament - Mark chapter 3 verses 33-35 make an impact on me each time I read it: "Jesus replied, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" Then he looked at those around him and said, "These are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." This last sentence is a powerful proclamation from Jesus. If we are obedient to God's will in our life we are brothers and sisters and mothers of Jesus. Pretty amazing to think about! Jesus is not only our savior - but our brother. And later he calls us friends. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary puts it this way - "It is a great comfort to all true Christians, that they are dearer to Christ than mother, brother, or sister as such, merely as relations in the flesh would have been, even had they been holy. Blessed be God, this great and gracious privilege is ours even now; for though Christ's bodily presence cannot be enjoyed by us, his spiritual presence is not denied us."
Mark chapter 4's parable of the Farmer scattering seed is a parable that I am sure can convict each of us in various ways. Verses 16 through 18 I am afraid can sometimes represent all too well the "soil" of our hearts... "The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But like young plants in such soil, their roots don't go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for nice things, so no crop is produced." The crowding out of the Good News by the cares of this life and the desire for nice things is where I am afraid we miss the mark too often. And when we succumb to theses cares & desires, indeed, no crop is produced. However - I do pray that there are moments in life where we can see the amazing power & truth in verse 20: "But the good soil represents those who hear and accept God's message and produce a huge harvest--thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted." I just pray for more consistency in our lives to live in verse 20 than in the previous verses... How is the soil of your heart? Which verses in this parable are you living in these days? Are you receiving God's Word into your heart? Will you allowing God's Word in your heart to produce a huge harvest?
Worship Video: Today’s readings reminded me of the Big Daddy Weave song “Redeemed:”