Be Alert

Scripture: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32 NIV

Observation: Jesus teaches his disciples about the signs of the end of the age.

Application: Jesus has taught James, John, Peter, and Andrew at length about the signs of the end of the age. Jesus knows and he speaks to the disciples of all of the signs and occurrences that must take place before his return. One would think that he would know the exact time and date and hour of his own return but he clearly states here that only the Father knows. If Jesus doesn’t know when than neither will we. Therefore, we must, “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” Mark 13:33 NIV

Prayer: Father, I ask in Jesus’ name for your help in staying prepared for your son’s return. Help me to stay vigilant. Amen

Doug

Commentary on Mark 3:22-30

I went searching the Contrib section of my on-line bible for help understanding Mark 3:29 about the unpardonable sin. I came across the following contribution. The author is JC-Ryle and I share this with you in its entirety. This is his commentary on Mark 3:22-30.

We all know how painful it is to have our conduct misunderstood and misrepresented, when we are doing right. It is a trial which our Lord Jesus Christ had to endure continually, all through His earthly ministry. We have an instance in the passage before us. The “Scribes who came down from Jerusalem” saw the miracles which He worked. They could not deny their reality. What then did they do? They accused our blessed Savior of being in league and union with the devil. They said, “He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casts he out devils.”

In our Lord’s answer to this wicked accusation, there are expressions which deserve special attention. Let us see what lessons they contain for our use.

We ought to notice, in the first place, how great is the evil of dissension and divisions.

This is a lesson which is strongly brought out in the beginning of our Lord’s reply to the scribes. He shows the absurdity of supposing that Satan would “cast out Satan,” and so help to destroy his own power. He appeals to the notorious fact, which even his enemies must allow, that there can be no strength where there is division. “If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”

This truth is one which does not receive sufficient consideration. On no point has the abuse of the right of private judgment produced so much evil. The divisions of Christians are one great cause of the weakness of the visible church. They often absorb energy, time, and power, which might have been well bestowed on better things. They furnish the infidel with a prime argument against the truth of Christianity. They help the devil. Satan indeed is the chief promoter of religious divisions. If he cannot extinguish Christianity, he labors to make Christians quarrel with one another, and to set every man’s hand against his neighbor. None knows better than the devil, that “to divide is to conquer.”

Let us resolve, so far as in us lies, to avoid all differences, dissensions, and disputes in religion. Let us loathe and abhor them as the plague of the churches. We cannot be too jealous about all saving truths. But it is easy to mistake morbid scrupulously for conscientiousness, and zeal about mere trifles for zeal about the truth. Nothing justifies separation from a church but the separation of that church from the Gospel. Let us be ready to concede much, and make many sacrifices for the sake of unity and peace.

We ought to notice, in the second place, what a glorious declaration our Lord makes in these verses about the forgiveness of sins. He says, “I assure you that any sin can be forgiven, including blasphemy.”

These words fall lightly on the ears of many persons. They see no particular beauty in them. But to the man who is alive to his own sinfulness and deeply sensible of his need of mercy, these words are sweet and precious. “All sins shall be forgiven.” The sins of youth and age–the sins of head, and hand, and tongue, and imagination–the sins against all God’s commandments–the sins of persecutors, like Saul–the sins of idolaters, like Manasseh–the sins of open enemies of Christ, like the Jews who crucified Him–the sins of backsliders from Christ, like Peter–all, all may be forgiven. The blood of Christ can cleanse all away. The righteousness of Christ can cover all, and hide all from God’s eyes.

The doctrine here laid down is the crown and glory of the Gospel. The very first thing it proposes to man is free pardon, full forgiveness, complete remission, without money and without price. “Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things.” (Acts 13:39.)

Let us lay hold on this doctrine without delay, if we never received it before. It is for us, as well as for others. We too, this very day, if we come to Christ, may be completely forgiven. “Though our sins have been as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18.)

Let us cleave firmly to this doctrine, if we have received it already. We may sometimes feel faint, and unworthy, and cast down. But if we have really come to Jesus by faith, our sins are fully forgiven. They are cast behind God’s back–blotted out of the book of His remembrance–sunk into the depths of the sea. Let us believe and not be afraid.

We ought to notice, in the last place, that it is possible for a man’s soul to be lost forever in hell. The words of our Lord are distinct and express. He speaks of one who “has never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.”

This is an dreadful truth, beyond doubt. But it is a truth, and we must not shut our eyes against it. We find it asserted over and over again in Scripture. Figures of all kinds are multiplied, and language of every sort is employed, in order to make it plain and unmistakable. In short, if there is no such thing as “eternal damnation,” we may throw the Bible aside, and say that words have no meaning at all.

We have great need to keep this dreadful truth steadily in view in these latter days. Teachers have risen up, who are openly attacking the doctrine of the eternity of punishment, or laboring hard to explain it away. Men’s ears are being tickled with plausible sayings about “the love of God,” and the impossibility of a loving God permitting an everlasting hell. The eternity of punishment is spoken of as a mere “speculative question,” about which men may believe anything they please. In the midst of all this flood of false doctrine, let us hold firmly the old truth. Let us not be ashamed to believe that there is an eternal God–an eternal heaven–and an eternal hell. Let us recollect that sin is an infinite evil. It needed an atonement of infinite value to deliver the believer from its consequences–and it entails an infinite loss on the unbeliever who rejects the remedy provided for it. Above all, let us fall back on plain scriptural statements, like that before us this day. One plain text is worth a thousand abstruse arguments.

Finally, if it be true that there is an “eternal damnation,” let us give diligence that we ourselves do not fall into it. Let us escape for our lives, and not linger. (Gen. 19:16,17.) Let us flee for refuge to the hope set before us in the Gospel, and never rest until we know and feel that we are safe. And never, never let us be ashamed of seeking safety. Of sin, worldliness, and the love of pleasure, we may well be ashamed. But we never need be ashamed of seeking to be delivered from an eternal hell.

Our Redeemer Lives!

Scripture: I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25 NIV

Observation: Job laments the constant criticism of him in the guise of pep talks.

Application: In the midst of redressing his pals for their non-support Job lets the cat out of the bag. He tells the end of the story–Jesus wins, evil loses! Our Redeemer lives!

Prayer: Father, thank you for our Redeemer, Jesus. Amen

Doug

Walk the Walk

Scripture: Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.” The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Acts 15:1-11 NIV
He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. Acts 16:1-3 NIV

Observation: The conversion of Gentiles to Christ is discussed. Many Pharisees demanded that the Gentiles be circumcised.

Application: Peter made the case before the Jewish leaders that God had accepted the Gentiles and blessed them with the Holy Spirit just as he had blessed the Jewish converts. Demanding circumcision for the Gentiles would be placing an undue burden on the new believers and Peter made that very point. That said…before Paul took Timothy with him on an evangelical journey where many Jews lived, he circumcised him. Why? I believe that he did it so that neither he nor Timothy would be a stumbling block to the Jews of the area. We Christians have a great responsibility to the world. Not just to talk the talk but also to walk the walk before men. We must be sensitive, as Paul and Timothy were, to not cause others to chase after false truths.

Prayer: Father, help me to walk the walk before men. Lord, don’t let my actions or appearance adversely affect anyone and drive them from you. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

Tis the Season

Scripture: And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  Luke 2:8-11 NIV

Observation: Luke relays the proclamation of Christ’s birth.

Application: Ahh…tis the season! Summer is coming to an end, school is in full-swing, and Christmas is just around the corner. When I read these passages from Luke today I just smiled to myself. The end of the year is approaching and the retelling and reading of the story of Christ will become more and more prevalent. What an awesome story to tell! God loved us so much that he brought his son Jesus to earth as a baby with the sole purpose of becoming a sacrifice for our sins. Not that we deserved it but that God loved us in spite of ourselves and wanted to atone for our sins so we could fellowship with him. Now that’s a story that just makes me smile!

Prayer: Father, thank you for giving Christ to me. I know that I don’t deserve it but I sure appreciate it and gladly accept it. I thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

Misery Loves Company

Scripture: For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10b NIV

Observation: Satan lost his battle against Michael and he and his minions were expelled from heaven. After his failed attempt to take control of heaven, Satan falls back to plan “B.” This part of John’s revelation exposes the true nature and intent of Satan. His plan is to accuse and tempt and try to undermine God’s authority by dragging us down with him.

Application: We must be aware of the nature of the liar of liars. He is pure evil and wants nothing more than to destroy us because misery loves company. He knows where he us headed and he wants as many of us there as he can con into it to keep him company. Beware!

Prayer: Father, protect me from Satan’s schemes. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

Through Jesus

Scripture: The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. Ezekiel 18:20 NIV

Observation: Ezekiel’s lament speaks of man either suffering or being rewarded for his behavior.

Application: In the Old Testament we see that a person truly was the master of his own destiny. Either sin and suffer for it or live righteously and gain eternal life. That was a pretty tall order for most typical Old Testament people. God knew that and so he sent Jesus to provide a means for sinful man to appear sinless. We still want to live righteously but our destiny is not determined by our ability to do so. Thank you Lord!

Prayer: Father, thank you for providing a way to you through Jesus. Amen

Doug

Transform Society

Scripture: “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people. Ezekiel 12:2 NIV

Observation: God is speaking to Ezekiel about the rebellious nation of Israel just prior to their exile to Babylon.

Application: This word may have been spoken to Ezekiel about Israel but it is true about society today as well. Most people today are so self-centered and selfish that they don’t and won’t hear or see truth. I believe that we must be diligent in our walk and not conform to society but let our witness transform it.

Prayer: Father, help me to be an instrument that causes others to seek you. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

It’s Time to Hunker Down and Seek the Lord Like Never Before

Scripture: Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12 NIV

Observation: Satan is ruling the day for the Israelites. Every kind of sin has taken hold of the Lord’s children. There is a price to pay for their behavior. The Lord urges them to seek him with all their mind and heart. Consequences will be theirs to carry however, redemption and righteousness can still be theirs if they dig deep and turn from sin.

Application: We are in trouble as a nation and as a people. Last night I had the chance to visit with my best friends in California. They are wonderful conservative Christians who love this country and have a huge heart for others. When I hear them speak of their disgust for our country’s leadership and the sinful and destructive decisions that are being made for our country my heart aches. Along with the political destruction there is sin amongst long time Christian friends and its impact is destroying the family. America and Christians are in trouble. Doug and I find ourselves angry to the point of sinful thinking. I feel distracted from Christ. That really doesn’t help my pursuit of seeking unfailing love or righteousness. Doug and I must look to Christ in everything. Like when you go looking for water in the desert, we must dig as deep and as long has it takes to find the Lords cleansing and strength giving water. Satan has a hold on America and American families. Freedom from the sin and corruption Satan brings is as hard if not harder than anything the people in the old testament faced.

Prayer: Lord I cry out to you…I struggle to stay focused on you. My life becomes more complicated and its harder to acknowledge you and the gifts I have from you that are daily in my life. Please Jesus give me the strength needed to continually dig deeper to drink the refreshing and cleansing water you have just for me. Lord please help me see you in everything around me. Prevent Satan from making me blind and thirsty. Amen

Laurie

Remember to be Patient

Scripture: My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19 & 20 NIV

Observation: This is a good word considering how trying California was for me.

Application: When we lose our temper and become angry we are in defiance of God and his desire for our lives. When we go through difficult times we must remember that patience brings about a righteous life. That should encourage us to be
long-suffering.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the reminder to be patient. Amen

Doug