Jesus Says Go

Mark 16

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Jesus was nailed to a tree, he breathed his last, the curtain was torn.

The stone was rolled away, sin lost its stronghold, death was defeated.

This story holds so much power, whether it’s your first time hearing it or your ten thousandth time. Live everyday like you’ve just seen the stone rolled away from the tomb with your very own eyes. Let that excitement, awe, and wonder overflow from your heart.

We know the power of the empty tomb, so now what? When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, he appoints them to a certain task: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).

Jesus said go, so the disciples went.

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it (Mark 16:20).

Jesus said go, so the disciples went, and God showedup.

God saw the disciple’s obedience as usability. When we go, we obey Jesus’ calling on our life, and God can work through us. Look at everything God accomplished through the disciples after Jesus’ ascension into heaven:

Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed (Acts 5:14-16).

Jesus said go, so will you obey? Will you let God work through you?

You don’t have to go far, but you do have to go. Go sit in your front yard and engage your neighbors walking by in conversation. Go to the grocery store and be extra friendly to your cashier. Go to church and mentor the newly saved Christian. Go to work and be eager to strike at every small opportunity to share the hope of the Kingdom.

You have a mission field. Your mailman, your coworker, and your next-door neighbor, need to hear the gospel. You have a message to share! If not you, then who?

 

-Mackenzie McClain

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Rejected by Men

Mark 15

 

I have a friend. His name is Edwin.  Edwin was a pastor and teacher who shepherded hundreds of pastors and members of his congregation. He preached to thousands under stadium lights. He lived in a gorgeous house surrounded by a sea of green grass in Peru. Edwin is a studious man who came to believe that God is One. He then wrote a letter to the head director of his denomination exclaiming the newfound truth that was revealed to him!

 

The head director proceeded to read his letter aloud, televised to the entire church. He explained to the church that Edwin had abandoned them and was now committing adultery with another ‘woman’ (church). Rumors flew throughout the denomination. The head director told the church that Edwin was initiated into Satanism by Anthony Buzzard.  Edwin’s best friend for 28 years told him that he was going insane thinking he was the ‘New Martin Luther’.  “In one single day”, Edwin says, “I lost all of my friends.” He was rejected.

 

Jesus was also rejected by the crowd of people that had just welcomed him into Jerusalem a few days before. Picking up in Mark 15, Jesus is rejected by the city whereas Barabbas, a murderer, is embraced. The townsmen shout “Crucify Him…CRUCIFY HIM!” Sadly, rejection is a familiar feeling for Jesus.

 

Jesus was rejected by his family members.

We learn in John 7:5 that “not even his brothers believed in him”.

 

Jesus was rejected by people who claimed to love him.

Two of his most beloved friends, Judas and Peter, betray and deny him.

 

Jesus was rejected by his community.

Jesus was “without honor” in his hometown of Nazareth and now the community that just welcomed him triumphantly on a colt has disowned him.

 

Jesus was a revolutionist.  He came to establish a new world government – to bring about a new convent not just for Jews, but Gentiles too! And a side-effect of radical change is rejection by some. We all face rejection at times and it always hurts.  When we are rejected we feel like we are not wanted, loved or even valued.  If we are not careful, we can even begin to reject ourselves. But I challenge you this, the next time you face rejection from your friends, classmates, coworkers or even family members, find peace knowing that we are not of this world. Jesus died an excruciating death on the cross not so that we can fit in with the world, but so that we can be a light to our peers even when it feels awkward, intimidating and uncomfortable. Be strong and courageous, friend!

 

After Jesus was rejected in the most dehumanizing way possible, the temple curtain was torn from top to bottom, symbolizing the sacrifice Jesus paid so that we can have a direct relationship with our Father, God. There are no divisions between God’s perfect peace and us. I want to belong to God, not the world.

Oh, and my friend, Edwin? He is now a pastor who preaches the truth of our One True God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Edwin, his wife and children now live in a one bedroom home in Peru where Edwin and his wife, Aleida, lead a home-ministry.  He also mentors ten other congregations and pastors in Peru who have learned from Edwin and believe in our One True God.  This year, Edwin and Aleida travelled to Ecuador and Chile to spread hope of the Kingdom of God.  Edwin was rejected by men, but embraced by Christ.

 

This week you will hear tidbits from a different member of the 2019 Peru Team who ministered in Peru this summer as we finish Mark.  Thankfully, the narrative of Jesus’ life doesn’t stop here…Monday is coming.

 

-Amber Cain

 

Photo: Edwin & Aleida’s home ministry

edwin home ministry

Fear Takes Over

Mark 14

Mark 14 50 NASB

Jesus told the disciples that they would all abandon him. It was bad enough that he knew the agony he would endure on the cross, but the emotional sorrow of the betrayal of his closest friends would be gut-wrenching. All of the disciples were saying they would never leave him, no matter what. Peter insisted, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” (14:31) Jesus told Peter that not only would Peter abandon him, but that very night he would also deny him three times.

Later, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks the disciples to keep watch and pray. They keep falling asleep. I imagine the impending situation has them exhausted from worry and dread. Jesus acknowledged that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (14:38)

When Judas comes to betray Jesus the tension is at an all-time high. The disciples want to fight, but Jesus stops them. Apparently, they  immediately realized they were overwhelmed and that’s when fear kicked in. They all ran. One was slow enough that he was seized, but that fear was coursing through his veins so strongly that he left his clothing and ran away naked. That was better than sharing the fate of Jesus. We might see this as utterly shameful. How could they? And how could Peter deny Christ three times especially after Jesus said he would? Did he not remember Jesus’ words after the second denial?

Fear is such a powerful thing. It can be crippling. Fear can shut our mouths, stop us from going and loving others, and keep us from fulfilling God’s will for our lives. More often I see that fear holds God’s people back, but it can also provoke us to act as we shouldn’t just as the disciples did. The naked man and Peter are a clear warning to us. Let’s not let fear have the power to encourage us to expose ourselves shamefully or deny Christ even. In I John 4:18 we are told “perfect love casts out fear.” Let’s pray for perfect love. When we feel fear creeping in, let’s pray for our love to be stronger than the fear.

-Melissa New

Be Alert

Mark 13

Mark 13 37

In Mark 13 we see Jesus telling his disciples that things are going to get bad. Before Jesus comes back there will be trouble politically, physically, and even spiritually. This isn’t what anyone wants to hear, but it is the truth.

Politically- verses 6-9

  1. Leaders will arise in his name saying “I am He” misleading many.
  2. We will hear of wars and rumors of wars. (Isn’t this already the case? My sister is in the navy and they are always preparing for a possible war. Right now the concern is Iran.)
  3. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. (We see this, too.)
  4. You will be delivered to the courts. (You may find yourself in trouble for standing up for God’s commands. These persecutions do happen already. Check out the Colorado baker. He was “delivered to the courts” for not wanting to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage couple and recently again persecuted because he didn’t want to bake a cake celebrating someone’s transition from male to female.)

 

Physically- verses 8-9 and 12 and 14-18

  1. There will be earthquakes and famines.
  2. There will be floggings and betrayal that could lead to death.
  3. Some will have to leave their homes to run and hide.

 

Spiritually- verses 22 and 33-37

  1. There will be false Christs and prophets trying to lead people astray.
  2. Some will be found asleep.

 

Jesus says in verse 23, “I have told you everything in advance.” We shouldn’t be surprised when we see things getting rough politically or physically. God will help us with this. If we find ourselves speaking in the courts, He will send the holy spirit to help us (verse 11). If we find ourselves physically dealing with tribulation, we can find assurance in the fact that God “shortened the days” of disaster (verse 20). Jesus puts extra emphasis on the spiritual trials though. Here it is our responsibility to “take heed” and “keep on the alert”. We can’t get lazy about our devotion to our Father. If we are alert and on guard, we shouldn’t be led astray. This is why Jesus warned his disciples and it’s a warning for us, too. We don’t know when Jesus is coming back. We do know that he is and that we will want him to find us alert and ready!

-Melissa New

The Greatest Commandments

Mark 12

Mark 12 29 30 NASB

A scribe goes to Jesus and asks what the foremost commandment is.  “Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31.

It’s easy. Know who God is, love Him with all your heart, and love others. Well, when it’s put like this, it seems easy anyway. It’s interesting to note that if we are loving God with all our hearts, then we are keeping the first five of the 10 commandments.  (Honoring our fathers and mothers is a way we honor God as well, because He put them in authority over us. Although you could say that this fifth commandment could go with the last five and loving others.) Likewise, if we are loving others, then we are keeping the last five of the 10 commandments.

How can we love others as ourselves? We can strive to think of others before we think of ourselves. If we can make our lives more about others and less about “me”, then we are on the right track. How do we love God with “all”? Well, we must love God with every part of who we are and outwardly it shows because of how we spend our time and money. At the end of this chapter Jesus points out the widow who gave very little, but gave “all she had”. That took a serious amount of faith. God is always pleased when we act out of faith in Him.

-Melissa New

 

The Fruitless Fig Tree

Mark 11

Mark 11 22

In Mark 11:12-14 we see Jesus appear to get upset and curse a fig tree because he was hungry and there was no fruit on it.

“On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.” Mark 11:12-14

About a month ago, when our family was reading together, we came across this passage. My kids thought it was funny that Jesus was hungry and looking for food. It tickled them that he got “hangry” and cursed the fig tree because there wasn’t any food to be had. But this is a misunderstanding. Notice that the Scripture says there were leaves. Usually when a fig tree has leaves, it also has fruit.  Jesus saw the fig tree from a distance and it looked like it was flourishing. It looked as though it should have fruit. Upon closer inspection, it did not. Jesus found this situation worthy of cursing.

Later, in 11:20-21 Peter mentions to Jesus that the fig tree he cursed is withered (dead). Jesus’ response is interesting. He says, “Have faith in God.” He tells him that if you believe God can do amazing things through you, without doubting, He will! There will be good fruit. And what does this mean for us? We need to be careful about how we are presenting ourselves. Do I look promising? Do I look like a tree that’s healthy with lots of foliage, but in reality I’m not bearing any fruit? If so, I need to understand that this won’t be enough. Jesus finds this worthy of cursing and death. May we all be faithful, flourishing, and bearing fruit for our Father.

-Melissa New

Divorce

Mark 10

Mark 10 8b

There are many things that man has come up with that God really didn’t create us to do. The Pharisees loved to bring the complicated subjects up to Jesus and see what he said. They were always comparing his teachings to the teachings of Moses. So the Pharisees go to Jesus and start discussing divorce. Jesus says for them to go ahead and tell him what Moses commanded.  They say that Moses said it was okay “to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” Jesus admits that this is true, but reminds them that the Hebrews Moses was dealing with were a rebellious and ungrateful people. This was not the best way. In the beginning God wanted man and woman to “become one flesh” and stay that way. In Mark 10:9 Jesus says “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Jesus’ disciples wanted to make absolutely sure that they understood Jesus on this subject. So later they bring it up again. In verses 11 and 12 Jesus says, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” They knew without a doubt that adultery is wrong. It’s one of the ten commandments. “You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14

We might ask “Why is this so?” Ultimately we have to trust that God knows what is best and wants what’s best for us. We can look at divorce in our society and see some of the ramifications of it and see for ourselves that it’s hard on families. Does God want us to be happy? Without a doubt, YES! Read Psalm 37:3-5 God wants to give us the desires of our hearts. We need to trust Him, be committed to Him and His ways, and do good.  Our Father will take care of the rest.

Melissa New