Daily Word

Mark 16

Read Mark 16 – Resurrection Sunday!  Hallelujah, He is risen indeed!!!  And how wonderful for us to be setting our hearts and minds on our risen Lord as the Easter holiday approaches. 

Mark records, “Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body.” :1 Then, just before sunrise, the three set out for the tomb, wondering who would roll the stone away for them.  When they arrived it was already rolled aside and they discovered a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. (:4-5) 

Beloved, ponder the fact that Jesus did not need the stone rolled away to leave the tomb.  He could walk on water (Mark 6), escape crowds intent on killing him (Luke 4) and pass through walls (this happens later on this same Sunday, recorded in John 20).  The stone was rolled away to let the women in… to let us all in so we could better know that He is risen from the dead. 

The angel says it all, “Don’t be alarmed.  You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He isn’t here!  He is risen from the dead!  Look, this is where they laid his body.  Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee.  You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.” 

Beloved, spell check does not like where it says, “is risen”.  It wants to say “has risen”.  But I stand with Scripture, Jesus’s resurrection is eternally present and not past tense in any way! 

When the angel says, “including Peter,” my heart swells.  Peter would need special encouragement over the others as he just denied Jesus three times, as Jesus said he would (14:30). 

Beloved, have you wandered from your faith and returned?  Do you suffer from nagging guilt as I imagine Peter did?  Jesus left a special encouragement to His disciples, with the extra special point for the angel to say, “including Peter”.  Will you trust that Christ is risen for all, including you?  Why don’t you say it out loud right now with your own name, “including _______”!

Our next reading will be Philemon.  It is a short book with only one chapter.  You will find it towards the back of the New Testament, between Titus and Hebrews.

Daily Word

Mark 15

Read Mark 15 – “For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy,” :10 – Envy is admiration mixed with discontent, and Pilate understood that was the reason Jesus was sent to him… he knew Jesus was innocent and tried to free Him by the tradition of releasing a prisoner before Passover.  Ultimately, Pilate chose approval ratings over justice when the crowd shouted for Barabbas’s release and Jesus’s crucifixion.  Beloved, be on guard against envy, and the desire for approval.  Both are at play here as we see one wrong followed up by another.  

Meanwhile, Jesus is silent.  He was flogged (the whip had lead tipped pieces on the ends meant to tear the flesh from his body), and mocked by the soldiers.  In fact, they did some odd and horrendous things to Jesus, dressing him in a purple robe, giving him a crown of thorns, mock praising Him as King of the Jews, and more.  The Roman soldiers would not have known the prophecies they were fulfilling with their cruelty. Check out Isaiah 53 in the Old Testament.

Nothing that is happening to our Savior, Jesus, is a surprise to Him, and as things play out we can better comprehend why Jesus prayed so earnestly in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-40).  May your gratitude grow each time you see the punishment Jesus took on for you.  

It was 9 am when Jesus was hung on the cross with a sign above him stating his crime, “King of the Jews”. :25-26  At noon, darkness fell over the land, and at 3 pm… six agonizing hours later, Jesus cried out, asking God why he had forsaken him. :34  It is stated in the original language and explained.  

Beloved, the scripture reference numbers, such as Mark 15:34, etc, were added to the Bible later, but in Jesus’s time a few words would indicate the passage.  Jesus’s final words can be found in Psalm 22 as prophecy is again fulfilled.  More prophetic, supernatural, and precious things can be discovered throughout Chapter 15.  Will you step up to the extra credit assignment today and also read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22?  There is so much to be gained in seeing the prophecy given hundreds of years beforehand, fulfilled by Jesus.  May God bless you with wisdom and insight.

Daily Word

Mark 14

Read Mark 14:27-72 –  Timing is everything.   In 2004 I had just come to the realization that Jesus was real, and surrendered my life to His care and control.  Also that year,  THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, was released, and I went to see it on a layover in San Diego.  It was filmed in the Biblical languages of the time with English subtitles. I wanted to look away when the betrayal and brutal scenes played across the screen, but the foreign dialog would not give me any hints as to when to look up. I returned to the hotel aching and bewildered. I opened my Bible; surely the filmmaker exaggerated.  My tears streamed as God’s Word told me a truth I could hardly bear, my Savior endured this, knowing beforehand the cost of my sin.  

Jesus says, “Go ahead and sleep. have your rest.  But no – the time has come.  The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” :41  The time has come… for betrayal, false witness, mockery and abandonment. The time has come for beating and persecution.  The time has come for Jesus to endure the unimaginable agony of laying His life down, that we might be saved.  Jesus endured this. He knew full well the cost, and He did it anyway.

As I write, I am again on a layover in San Diego.  Scripture blended with my memories.  I recall my younger self,  then an infant in the faith,  as you may be now,  Beloved.  Do your best to read the hard parts and don’t look away.  Remember Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” John 10:11

Jesus did all this with steadfast love and determination, for sinners like us. I pray these last chapters of Mark meet you in a personal and unique way, strengthening your faith and filling you with the desire to know Jesus even more. 

Daily Word

Mark 14:1-26

Reflections on Mark 14:1-26 – Beloved, we are blessed with the ability to take our time, so let’s spend more than one day in Chapter 14.
Meet the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume. Mark does not name her, but in the book of John we are told she is Mary, the sister to Lazarus and Martha (John 11:2). She was praised once before for sitting at Jesus’s feet, and now she is being praised for anointing his head with this expensive perfume. Mary had a special love for Jesus and she was never hindered to show him love, although some of the men at the table didn’t like her actions (:4-5). When they begin to scold her, Jesus tells them to leave her alone, and gives a few reasons why. May you remember her, and remember that your acts of love for Jesus, no matter how big or small, all are seen and priceless to Jesus.

Judas agrees to betray Jesus (:10-11). It breaks my heart that those entrusted to keep and teach the Word of God and the one who walked with the living Word Himself, conspired against Him. It says the religious leaders were ‘delighted’… that is such a lovely word, but their delight was purely sinister. It says Judas ‘began looking’ for an opportunity to betray Jesus…. Beloved, the anticipation to do evil can be titillating… the devil whispers and entices, don’t fall prey to his schemes. Once one acts on sin, the enticing whispers become damning condemnation.

In Judaism, there are seven main festivals. I once did a study on the festivals and discovered that the spring festivals all point to Jesus’s first coming and the fall festivals point to His second. Amazing, right? Everything the Lord calls us to has a multidimensional quality.

Our chapter began two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread (:1). This is a precious detail because the Passover celebration is both a remembrance of when the Lord sent the plague to Israel, killing all the first born, but ‘passed over’ the Israelite homes marked with the blood of the lamb (see Exodus 12), AND it is a dress rehearsal of Jesus’s life and atonement for sinners like me and you! This Passover meal in particular is known as The Last Supper, where Jesus gives instruction on Holy Communion (:22-25).

I would love to go on and on, but my purpose is to encourage you to read the Bible for yourself. Happy reading!

Daily Word

Mark 13

Reflections on Mark 13 – Jesus speaks of end times events in our chapter.

Now, Jesus had just left the Temple where he tossed the tables and chased out the rotten eggs when one of the disciples said,  “Teacher, look at these magnificent buildings! Look at the impressive stones in the walls. ” Perhaps he was wanting to calm Jesus down after the excitement.

Jesus responds with news they could not have anticipated.   The Temple would be destroyed without a stone standing. 

Later, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked to know more. Jesus cautions them to not be deceived, many would come pretending to be Him. :6. There will be wars and rumors of war (:7), earthquakes and famines(8).  And yes, these things have always happened, but the frequency will increase like never before.  That won’t mean the end, but it will build like birth pains.

The biggest caution comes in verse :14, when we see the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of in the Old Testament prophecy of Daniel.   Jesus said then it’s time to run for the hills (:14). 

Beloved, I cannot comprehend how bad this will be. Verse: 20 tells us not a single person would survive unless the Lord shortened those days.  Most importantly, Jesus tells us to keep watch and be ready,  (:35-37).

This is a tough chapter; no one wants to consider hard times.  But being unaware is worse, like a doctor withholding a bad diagnosis to spare hurting your feelings.  One must be aware.  One must make preparations.  We are all accountable to the preparation of telling others.  We are all accountable to love the Lord with our whole hearts.  We all would be wise to not hold on to the things of this world too tightly because our time here is short. 

Beloved, may you be encouraged by this chapter to live more fully, to love others wholeheartedly, and seek to know Jesus more, both in knowledge (The Word) and love (your personal relationship with Him/prayer), each and every day.

Daily Word

Mark 12

Reflections on Mark 12 – I love this chapter!  There is much to reflect on, but the verse that truly changed my life is in the section :28-34, and :31 in particular.  Do you have time for a little testimony, Beloved?  

You see, when I started walking with Jesus in full measure, I fully understood and loved the number one commandment to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength; :30.  And I thought I was doing an impressive job with the second commandment, to love my neighbor as myself, because I wrongly thought I loved others more than myself.  I carried a lifelong burden of insecurity.  It ruled my life; I was constantly making self-deprecating comments to show others that I held them in higher esteem than myself… Do you know what the truth behind this lie is?  Insecurity was my idol; it came before God, and it devalued His gift of my life.  It kept Jesus’s gift of my Salvation subdued.  It was like getting a gift and loving it, but putting it in the back of the closet for safekeeping… To honor the giver is to delight in the gift.

You can imagine my joy when the Holy Spirit finally helped me see this!  The reality was that I wasn’t truly loving others – I was desperate for approval.  It’s a very hard way to live and a very hard thing for others to be around.  It was not the life Jesus died to give me.  

Beloved, the freedom of this realization was transforming for me!  “The thief came to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10  The more I delight in Jesus, the more I am able to delight in my life and the more love pours out on everyone!  That is the heart of ‘loving my neighbor as myself’.  Hallelujah!

Mark 12 covers many wonderful teachings of Jesus, The Parable of the Evil Farmers, shows the wickedness of the religious leaders.  The trick of Taxes for Caesar was a ploy by those same leaders to trap Jesus.  And the beautiful Widow’s Offering, :41-44, reveals how much Jesus treasures the heart behind the offering.  Beloved, which of these parables or verses was Jesus’s gift to you today?

Daily Word

Mark 11

Reflections on Mark 11 – Jesus is King!  Jesus has been serving behind the scenes, healing, teaching, saving souls, and often telling those whose lives he changed/healed to tell no one.  Now he enters Jerusalem as King, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy on Zechariah 9:9.  And the people lined the streets, laying their garments and green branches on the road ahead of Him (:8).  And Jesus rode in as the people shouted praises to the one who came in the name of the Lord – Beloved, glory, glory, hallelujah!  Jesus is recognized as Messiah at last!  We celebrate it today as “Palm Sunday”; it falls on the Sunday before Easter.  

Next, some things happen that may seem confusing, but check it out:  Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem, then He goes into the Temple and looks around, and leaves (:11).  

The next day He saw a fig tree in full leaf and He was hungry, so He looked for fruit, found none and cursed it (:12-14).  The fig tree is a living metaphor for Israel.  The religious leaders were all dressed up and looked good on the outside, like this fig tree, but on careful inspection they did not bear any fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are the types of fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23).  Therefore, Jesus cursed the tree and it withered from the roots up (:20).  

So, back up again to where Jesus looked around the Temple and left(:11).  Jesus saw what was going on, but did not react at that moment.  Beloved, sometimes you will see a situation that must be dealt with, but wisdom and timing are crucial.  Sometimes it is best to step away and pray.  

The next day, Jesus deals with the corruption in the Temple – driving out those selling animals for sacrifice, knocking over tables, etc. 

Beloved, church is essential, and it should not be run for the profit of thieves.  The Church should unite us to Jesus and one another as one body, His bride, and each of us should be growing the Galatians 5 fruit.  Our church leaders have a great responsibility, and we do too.  Ask yourself how healthy are your roots?  Are you feeling dry?  Are you spending time with the Lord beyond Sunday morning?  Have you fallen away from attending church in person?  Are you reading His Word for yourself?

Daily Word

Mark 10

Reflections on Mark 10 – Rafiki!  It means friend in Swahili, one of the languages of Africa.   When Jesus says,  “Let the little children come to me; do not hinder them,  for to such belongs the kingdom of God,” :14, I think of the precious children I met in Tanzania.  Their reality is one of poverty far beyond what we know in America, yet they have a pure joy that is utterly magnificent. They sang songs for us, greeting us with a joy that still warms my heart. They receive our simple gifts,  a piece of candy,  a pencil,  a ball, with more gratitude than one can put into words. 

When I return one day, I will bring even more to share. Their joy is what Jesus loves.   Their joy connects me to my Savior in a full and transforming fashion…and just recalling it now draws me back in to the childlike faith Jesus wants for me and you.  

Beloved, can you grab ahold of a verse from chapter 10 and ask Jesus to bring it to life for you? 

Daily Word

Mark 9

Reflections on Mark 9 – Wow!  Jesus gives us a glimpse of himself as he truly is – radiant and in the company of Elijah and Moses (two of the old testament heroes) .  

Peter, James and John were witnesses to His transfiguration. Sweet Peter didn’t know what to say; it seems like he just wanted to seem useful without understanding how when he offered to build shelters.  And then God’s voice is heard from the cloud,  “This is my beloved Son; listen to him. ” And then the moment was over as Jesus stood with Peter, James and John,  instructing them to stay quiet about these events until He had risen from the dead.

Beloved, can you imagine? Do you imagine?   I encourage you to do so. 

Next,  Jesus heals the boy with the unclean spirit.   The boy’s father asked Jesus to heal his son, and adds ‘if you can’:23.  Jesus calls him out on this to which he responds,  ‘I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!’ :24.  Isn’t that an encouragement?   I have something I’ve prayed for a very long time, and there is a measure of unbelief,  but Jesus,  I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!  How about you,  Beloved? 

There’s more treasure to uncover.   What spoke to you most in Mark 9? I would love to hear from you. 

Now,  on to Mark 10!

Daily Word

Mark 8

Reflections on Mark 8 – It’s about so much more than bread.  Jesus performs a similar miracle to the one in Mark 6, by feeding 4,000 men,  plus women and children, with just seven loaves of bread and a few fish.  

After this they get back in the boat,  but the disciples forgot to bring bread and start discussing it, :16.  Jesus is trying to teach them about the leaven of the Pharisees, and they are hung up on bread. They missed the fact that a little with Jesus is more than enough.  And they missed the lesson about being cautious with the Pharisees.  Beloved, what about you?   Does your faith cover the little, practical things in life?   Are you paying attention to any signs of leaven at your church?

Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do people say I am?”  And there were a few theories floating around like John the baptist, Elijah, or a prophet. Then Jesus asks the all important question: “But who do you say I am? ”  

Beloved, that is the question. Who do you say Jesus is? 

Next,  read Mark 9.