Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fresh Bread

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Mark 6:1-29

And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue.  And many hearing Him were astonished saying, "Where did this Man get these things?  And what wisdom is this which is given to Him ..."  Mark 6:2 (NKJV)

Two times in today's passage there is a description of amazement.  First, in Mark 6:2, the people were amazed at the teaching of Jesus.  Second, later when many resisted the Lord, it says that Jesus was amazed and "marveled because of their unbelief." (Mk. 6:6)  There are two groups of people here.  One group is amazed at how wonderful God is.  The second group causes God to be amazed at how unbelieving they are.  I always want to be a part of the first group!

It is interesting to consider what the people said about Jesus' teaching.  They asked, "Where did He get this stuff?"  Of course, the answer is that Jesus got it in the very book they were holding in their hands.  They had the wisdom and the teaching all along, they just couldn't recognize it or receive it.

There's a lesson here for us.  We often cry out to God for answers.  All along the answers are right there in your hands in God's Word.  Jesus did not introduce the people to a new book they had never heard before.  He taught them out of the Scriptures they had been reading all along.  The fresh bread is always the old bread that has the freshness of God's breath on it.

That's the way God works today by the Holy Spirit.  He breathes on truth and makes it come alive to you.  There really are no new teachings.  They are only new to us.  And that happens because we have a fresh encounter with God.

So daily we should open our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to quicken God's eternal truth to us.  That will always be amazing!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Great Physician

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Mark 2:13-3:6

When Jesus heard it, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." Mark 2:17 (NKJV)

Jesus came to forgive sinners. He came to heal sick people. He came to make whole the broken, and release the captives. This is such good news.

So where are you sick? Where do you need Jesus? For many people, these questions are offensive. We are trained in our self-sufficient Western culture to never show weakness or admit our inadequacies. These are considered private matters to be handled privately.

But Jesus challenges this assumption. He asks us, "Where are you sick?" He then adds, "If you aren't sick, than you don't need a healer!"

He does not want us to grovel in our sin, but rather to bring it to Him so that He can forgive us. So today, get honest with God. Tell Him the ways that you truly need Him. You will find that He will meet you at the point of your need.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Knowing Jesus

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Mark 1:29-2:12

Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.  Mark 1:34 (NKJV)

We are continually amazed at the mighty works that Jesus did as He walked on this earth.  It is important to be reminded that He has commanded and commissioned us to carry on these very same works in the power of the Holy Spirit (see John 14:12).

I am intrigued by one small phrase in Mark 1:34.  It says that Jesus did not allow the demons to speak because they (the demons) knew who He was.  The invisible demonic forces were well aware of the power and identity of the Son of God, even while the physical world had no idea of who He was.

Ephesians 6 tells us that our present struggle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of darkness.  We are in a battle against Satan and his legion of demons.  This is not spooky, superstitious thinking.  This is the recognition that there is another realm of existence that surrounds us.  It is the realm of spiritual activity.  It is in this realm that the Holy Spirit is actively working in you, through you, and for you.  It is also the realm of spiritual attack from darkness.

In that realm, JESUS IS WELL KNOWN.  Unfortunately, in our fleshly world, Jesus is at times not much more than an acquaintance.  Here's my point: if the demons know Who Jesus is, how much more important is it for us who are believers to know and be convinced of WHO JESUS IS.

This is the key to spiritual power.  May we today know the awesome might of power of Jesus, who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An Open Heavens

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Mark 1:1-28

It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And immediatey, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.  Then a voice came from heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."  Mark 1:9-11 (NKJV)

There are so many things that should be said with respect to the baptism of Jesus.  It was a powerful and meaningful moment in the history of our salvation!

This morning, I want to focus on one particular point.  Scripture says that something happened in the heavens when Jesus came up out of the water.  The New King James says that the heavens parted.  The NIV, the English Standard Version, and several others translate this phrase "torn open."  This is not a simply parting of whispy clouds.  This is a violent ripping upon of the heavens.  The same phrase is used in Matt. 27:51 concerning the veil in the Temple when Jesus was resurrected.  It was torn open from the top to the bottom by a violent action of God.

This opening of the heavens over Jesus was a remarkable event.  Heaven is now invading earth in the person of Jesus Christ walking in the fullness of His ministry. 

Here's the exciting part: if you are in Christ, that same "open heavens" is in your life, too.  Jesus walked under the fullness of the Father's blessing as His beloved Son with open access to heaven's riches.  If you are IN CHRIST, you walk in the same REALITY. 

Most people live in ignorance of the favor God has opened to us in Christ.  We too often walk in the reality of earth's challenges and defeats rather than heaven's atmosphere of grace and power. 

So what reality do you walk in today?  God has already through Christ opened His favor in your life.  Do you walk in awareness of His blessing or in blindness to this great truth? 

Through Jesus, we have entered into the power of the age to come (see Heb. 6:5).  This should be our greatest reality.  Our job is to bring heaven down to earth.  Our assignment is to fulfill the great model prayer of Jesus, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN."  That is not some foreign concept reserved for the next life.  It is the essence of walking with Jesus in this world.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Your Appointment with God

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Matthew 28:1-20

Then the eleven disciples went away into Gallilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.  When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.  Matthew 28:16-17 (NKJV)

God has an appointment for you.  He has been preparing you for this appointment for a long time.  He has plans that He wants to put in place in your life.  That's the way God always does things.  Jeremiah 29:11 says it.  "For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." (NASB)

In Matthew 28, Jesus brings His disciples to an incredibly important appointment.  He gives them that which we call THE GREAT COMMISSION -- "Go into all the world, making disciples, baptizing, teaching -- I am with you to the end of the age!" (28:19-20).  He had been preparing them for this since the moment He met them.

We need to remember this one principle:  God never wastes His efforts.  He is always moving you toward an objective: His plans for you life.  He has a calling on your future.  If we realize this, we live our lives on a higher plane.  His hand IS working in all things to bring about good in our behalf.

One last point.  To our amazement, these disciples had varied responses to this great appointment.  Scripture says that they worshiped, but some were DOUBTING even as they adored.  Even as they stood amazed at the majesty of Jesus, some were filled with doubts about either THEIR ABILITY or GOD'S ABILITY to go forward.

This is a decision we make today.  While you continue to follow the plan of God for your life, are you filled with faith or are you doubting?  Decide today to BELIEVE that the God Who brought you thus far is able to carry you to fulfillment.  That will amplify you worship!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Word and the Power

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Matthew 22:1-33

Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken (deceived), not knowing the Scripture nor the power of God." Matthew 22:29 (NKJV)

Deception is epidemic in our culture. There are so many wild beliefs circulating around. One might well wonder how in the world to sort it all out. How do we know that teachers and prophets and insights can be trusted.

The Pharisees and Sadducees of the New Testament are a prime example. They were supposedly the most spiritually mature individuals of their day. Yet Jesus said they were mistaken. The marginal reading in the New King James Version says "deceived."

How did these good men fall into deception? Jesus said that two things were missing. They had only a surface understanding of Scripture, and they had no conception of the awesome power and presence of God. They read the Scripture with minds closed by private interpretation and traditions of men.

Allow God to lead you into the Scripture by the power of the Holy Spirit. Not should we read the Scripture, we should allow the Scripture to read us! That will transform your life.