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 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 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

Acts 12

Read Acts 12 – part one.   Let me explain the cast of characters before we dive into the awesome miracles. 

Herod was the grandson of Herod the great, who ordered the Jewish babies execution when Jesus was born.  He was also the nephew of Herod Antipas, who ruled over Jesus’s trial… all of them were evil.

James is the brother of John,  the sons of Zebedee, the sons of thunder – not the author of the book of James (that James was Jesus’s half brother).  

Okay, ready?  James is the first martyred apostle.  This would have shaken the apostles from the illusion that they had divine protection… if James could be killed, they all could.

Peter was also imprisoned and Herod had every intent on killing him too because it pleased the Jews. It was a good political gesture. Isn’t that sickening? 

Meanwhile,  the rest of the church is fevrantly praying for Peter at Mary’s house (she is Marks mother – there are 6 Mary’s in the Bible – that’s a whole rewarding study of its own). Okay, exhale,  Beloved. This is the end of part one. Good job! 

Acts 12 – part two. Picture Peter in prison.   He’s not a violent man. Yet he is chained between two soldiers, behind a guarded door within a locked and secure prison. It was a humanly hopeless situation, but God didn’t think so.

The Lord heard the prayers and sent rescue.   He loosened the chains, unlocked the doors, kept the guards asleep, and Peter simply walked out with angelic protection!  

Peter didn’t even know it was real; he thought it was a vision,  :6-11.  He goes to Mary’s, where the church is praying for his safety,  and…. Were you giggling just a little at the details? It was like a comedy skit! 

Beloved,  have you ever had your prayers answered and it took you a while to realize it?   I look back in my journals every now and then and God amazes me… he’s broken more than a few chains in my life too.

Evil Herod investigated the breach and it cost the sentries their lives, but his wickedness catches up with him and he is struck down be an angel, eaten by worms, and breathed his last.

Things end on a high note for the church,  :24-25.  Beloved,  when life gets crazy, God is still working all things out for your good and His glory. Praise God! 

Daily Word

Acts 10

Read Acts 10 – God is always at work.  We have two parallel events taking place that will come together and accomplish what the Lord intended. 

Meet Cornelius, a centurion, a devout man who feared God, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed constantly.  The Roman officers were hated by the Jews and it would have been totally inappropriate for a Jew to associate with one.  Yet Cornelius is boldly different.  An angel visits Cornelius in a vision and tells him to send for Peter. 

Notice, my friend, there are some tasks the Lord reserves for humans… the angel visited Cornelius, but he does not give him the gospel message.  He (the angel) instructs him (Cornelius) to send for Peter. 

Meanwhile, Peter goes up to the rooftop to pray at the tanners house in Joppa.  (The rooftop was a patio for many homes).  He gets hungry – I love that the bible makes note of this.  Beloved, when you set out to pray, you can expect any number of distractions, like hunger. 

Peter falls into a trance and has a vision of a sheet being lowered with creatures, clean and unclean under Jewish law to eat, and he hears a voice say, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” (:11-16).  Peter understandably says no way, but the Lord repeated the vision three times.  There was no mistake.  What the Lord calls clean is clean.  Then the voice tells Peter about Cornelius’s men downstairs and that he is to go with them. 

Peter’s life is brand new.  He is talking to people he never would have associated with before Jesus.  Beloved, is your life the same or boldly different with Jesus?  Keep reading and marvel at what God did next in our chapter.

Daily Word

Acts 9

Read Acts 9 – Calling all skeptics (as I once was).  Saul has been our silent villain for a few chapters now.  He was first introduced in 7:58, as Stephen was being stoned, the accusers laid their coats at his feet.  In 8:1 he gave approval for Stephen’s murder.  Now in chapter 9, the Lord deals with him in an incredible way. 

Saul is all set with letters permitting him to persecute Christian men and women when Jesus meets him on the road to Damascus.  Jesus asks, “Saul!Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” :4  Beloved, when a believer is hurt for their faith, it is Jesus who is hurt.  We do not suffer alone.  They have a chat, Saul is blinded and told to go into town.  Then Jesus speaks with a believer named Ananias (different from Ananias and Sapphira from chapter 5) in a vision and tells him to go to Saul.  Ananias has heard about Saul and questions Jesus (:13).  Beloved, questions are not disobedience.  Ask your questions,  but like Ananias, be obedient to follow Jesus when he confirms. 

Meanwhile, Peter is going about the Lord’s business in Lydda.  He healed a lame man, Aeneas, by telling him, “Aeneas, Jeusu Christ heals you!  Get up, and roll up your sleeping mat!”  Notice that Peter takes no credit for the work of Jesus through him.  Beware of anyone who does! 

Then Peter raises a woman named Tabitha/Dorcas from the dead, and many believe as the news spreads.  We are told he stayed there a long time with Simon the tanner… this was a step in the right direction of uniting jews and gentiles.  A devout jew would not defile himself by staying with one who handles dead animals.  Beloved, we are to lay down any prejudices against people and simply love well, as Jesus does.  Love without boundaries. 

Daily Word

Acts 5

Read Acts 5 – There will be no phony-baloney business before God. 

It was a time when the church was being established and believers were freely sharing all of their possessions so that no one lacked anything.  Ananias and Sapphira were caught up in the spirit of giving and sold some property, giving part of the money to the apostles, but claiming it was the full amount.  They exaggerated to seem more generous, to look good.  Why? Why would they do this?  Peter was quick to see the heart issue of this lie and called Ananias out on it.  He dropped dead in response.  Peter then confronts Sapphira and she supports the family lie, testing the Lord as her husband did, and meets the same fate.  Beloved, God judges the heart.  May the motives of your heart always be pure. 

Next, the apostles are arrested for performing miraculous signs and wonders among the people, causing many people to believe.  The Sadducees let their judgment be clouded with jealousy (:12-17).  But there is a clever Pharisee named Gamaliel, an expert in religious law and well respected.  He proposed the phony-baloney test (my paraphrase), saying the men would either fizzle out, as others had, or, if their movement was from God, they would not be able to stop them.  Gamaliel was shrewd, but not godly in motive, yet God used his counsel to free the apostles and fuel the message. 

Beloved, may your heart always be true.  Integrity matters.

Daily Word

Luke 4

Read Acts 4 – The church is big, bold and beautiful.

The discussion is still taking place in the Temple with Peter, John and the religious leaders.  The leaders were perplexed because Peter and John were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures – they recognized them as men who walked with Jesus – yet because the lame man was standing right there they couldn’t come up with anything to refute them(:13-14). 

Beloved, do you feel ordinary?  Jesus is waiting with patience and mercy for your heart.  He will take your surrendered heart from ordinary to extraordinary as you lay your hurts, habits and idols at His feet.  You don’t need the things that drag you down anymore. 

The council tells Peter and John to stop talking about Jesus.  Beloved, once a person knows Jesus, it is impossible not to talk about Him!  And that is what Peter and John tell them(:20).  They were released and returned to the believers where they were met with joy and songs of praise to God. 

In verses :32-37 we see a commune-like unity in this first church.  They were of one mind, and heart, and they shared everything.  This is the infancy of Christianity, although it didn’t even have a name then, and it is beautiful.  Beloved, won’t you thank God today for what He put together by these courageous believers so that you can know Him?🙌🙏🙌💝🙌🙏🙌

Daily Word

Acts 3

Read Acts 3 – The power of a surrendered life is on display in Peter and John.  It is not their power, wisdom, eloquence or authority that heals the lame man, but their full surrender to Christ’s care and control… and, Beloved!  May that be your prayer too:

“Jesus, use me to reveal yourself to those around me.  May my life be a testimony to your goodness, power and love. Amen” 

The lame man wanted money.  He limited his desire to what he thought he deserved.  He didn’t dream big enough to want to be healed. 

Beloved, do you limit your dreams?  God’s Word says, “No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9. 

Peter and John relied on Jesus’s power to heal the lame man, that Jesus would be glorified – for the lame man – and for many who witnessed the miracle.  The lame man responded with glee, praising God, and went into the temple with Peter and John.  The people were astounded, and Peter saw the opportunity to speak about Jesus!  Beloved, be sensitive to opportunities to share about Jesus.  People are perishing.  Your life is a testimony to the goodness and glory of God.  Dream big!

Daily Word

Acts 2

Read Acts 2 – Be ready to be amazed! 

Beloved, my desire is that you read the bible.  Read Acts 2 now and let the Holy Spirit you read about teach you and open your eyes. Then if you have time, come back to this post. 

The Holy Spirit arrives as Jesus said he would.  The believers experience an incredible, supernatural event, as they are filled with the Holy Spirit.  It caused such a stir that the devout Jews who were living in Jerusalem came running to investigate.  They each heard and understood in their own language what was being said by the believers (:6).  Some said they were drunk, and Peter has an incredible answer for them. 

Beloved, remember Peter from the books of Luke and John… he was impulsive, and a bit rough around the edges?  Peter was a simple fisherman, but now we are hearing from a brand new Peter!  He is articulate and knowledgeable and puts Scripture together to show prophecy fulfilled.  Beloved, the Holy Spirit can accomplish great things in you too. 

Peter preached for a long time (:40) and about 3000 new believers were baptized and added to the church that day(:41).  It was a brand new life for them and they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and fellowship, sharing meals and prayer. 

This is the early church, and it is beautiful.  Beloved, what is your church like?  Do you give yourself to others, getting to know them and sharing life with them?  Let the Holy Spirit lead you today.🔥🔥🔥