Mark

All That I Need

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There was a barrier keeping the young man in Mark 10:17-31 out of the kingdom:  his love of money.  Money represented his pride of accomplishment and self-effort.  Ironically, his attitude made him unable to keep the first commandment, to let nothing be more important than God.  This man came to Jesus wondering what he could do; he left seeing what he was unable to do.

Jesus said it was very difficult for the rich to get into the kingdom of God because the rich have most of their basic physical needs met and thus often become self-reliant.  When they feel empty, they can buy something new to dull the pain that was meant to drive them toward God.  Their abundance becomes their deficiency.  Jesus explained that in the world to come, the values of this world will be reversed.

Commentary from The One Year NIV Devotional NT, April 20, Tyndale House Publishers. 2003.

An Eternal Perspective

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In the Bible, Mark 9:43-48, Jesus used startling language to stress the importance of cutting sin out of our lives.  Painful discipline is required of his true followers.  Giving up a relationship, job, or habit that is against God’s will may seem just as painful as cutting off a hand.  Our high goal, however, is worth any sacrifice; Christ is worth any possible loss.  Nothing should stand in the way of faith.  We must be ruthless in removing sins from our lives.  Make your choices from an eternal perspective.

Commentary from the One Year NIV Devotional NT, April 17.  Tyndale House Publishers (2003).

Salvation is Found in No One Else

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Jesus rescues His people from sin-“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12

The master theme of the Christian gospel is salvation.  Salvation is a picture-word of wide application that expresses the idea of rescue from jeopardy and misery into a state of safety.  The gospel proclaims that the God who saved Israel from Egypt, Jonah from the fish’s belly, the psalmist from death, and the soldiers from drowning (Exod. 15:2; Jon 2:9; Ps. 116:6; Acts 27:31), saves all who trust Christ from sin and sin’s consequences.

As these earthly deliverances were wholly God’s work, and not instances of people saving themselves with God’s help, so it is with salvation from sin and death.  Our salvation involves, first, Christ dying for us and, second, Christ living in us (John 15:4; 17:26; Col. 1:27) and we living in Christ, united with him in his death and risen life (Rom. 6:3-10; Col. 2:12, 20: 3:1).  

We do have a part to play in this.  This vital union, which is sustained by the Spirit from the divine side and by faith from our side, and which is formed in and through our new birth, presupposes covenantal union in the sense of our eternal election in Christ (Eph. 1:4-6).

Commentary from Concise Theology by J. I. Packer, part of the chapter on Salvation, pages 146, 147.

Just Pretending

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A thought:  Hypocrisy is pretending to be something you are not.  Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites because they did not worship God out of love for him, but because it made them look holy, and it increased their status in the community.  We become hypocrites when we (1) pay more attention to reputation than to character, (2) carefully follow certain religious practices while allowing our hearts to remain distant from God, and (3) emphasize our virtues (overlooking our own sins), but (4) constantly point out sins in others.

Commentary from notes for Mark 7:1-23, the One Year NIV Devotional New Testament (2003), Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Love

-On the narrow road-

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When you hear or read the term “Church” do you think of one role, or two?  We use that term here in the US typically to mean a building where followers of Christ meet to worship God and fellowship, together.  This is not actually Christ’s church, but a meeting of a portion of that church, in a building usually.  There you will actually find a mixture of Christians and non-Christians.  Christ’s church is very large, and they are spread out over the face of the earth!

I can’t know the heart of another, but I observe a lack of love in ‘meetings’ of Christians.  I see a tendency to look as far as the immediate ‘circle’, but not too far outside that group of friends.  I may be seeing the behavior of the non-Christians though, and not true followers.  I even see neglect of new people coming to visit, often, when they don’t look like everyone else.  Do you see it also?  Or is it just my imagination?  Be generous, especially with your heart-a generous spirit will see need as opportunity.  Even though the world is cold, can Christ’s followers be cold also?  No, we cannot.

If our English word “neighbor” had stuck to its etymological roots, determining who our neighbor is might have been a bit easier.  “Neighbor” is derived from a German word that was a compound made up of “near” and “dweller, especially a farmer.”  In other words, in centuries-ago Germany, a nahgabur was someone, likely another farmer, whom you knew because he lived near you.

But when Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, He established a definition even older than Europe’s Middle Ages.  Your neighbor is not someone who necessarily lives near you, nor does it have to be someone with whom you are acquainted.  According to Jesus in Luke 10:25-37, my neighbor is any person who has a need that I am able to meet.  Jesus made the point in His parable that the man the Good Samaritan helped was a stranger-not a “near-dweller.”  Yet the Samaritan assumed the responsibility for doing everything he could to help.

Today we think of neighbors as those who live on our street or in our neighborhood.  Yet, using Jesus’ definition, we have many more neighbors than those.  We need to broaden the boundaries of our neighborhood to include the whole world.

“If my heart is right with God, every human being is my neighbor.”  Oswald Chambers

The entire law is summed up in a single command:

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Galatians 5:14

But it must not be like that among you.

On the contrary, whoever wants to be great among you

must be your servant,

and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all.

Mark 10:43-44

Commentary (paragraphs 3-5) from David Jeremiah Pathways Devotional, October 28.