Today’s Reading: Mark 2:18-3:6
This is one of my favorite places in scripture. It really reminds me about the heart of God. I was talking to a pastor friend of mine from another church and he commented on an atrocity that happened at his church that weekend… “someone showed up to church in flip flops.” I laughed and told him that I went in flip flops and shorts. He almost fell out of his chair, I was waiting for him to spit his coffee in my face and call me a heathen. Sometimes we make things have-to’s in our faith. We over emphasize things that are not essential. In these passages, Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees and scribes about whether or not he was breaking biblical law or even their culturally inflicted religious rules. We fall so guilty of this as well don’t we? In every church there is a culture and that culture dictates what is important to that church and anyone who gets in the way of that we will push them out. We need to remember what Jesus said here. When confronted about eating with tax collectors, Jesus replied that he didn’t come for the righteous. When his guys were not fasting he said that they didn’t need to because He was there. Also when the disciples were picking grain to eat, the Pharisees said they were breaking law and Jesus used their own Torah to show them they were wrong.
God’s intention for us is not to be so rigid that we forget what the real purpose of the gospel is. The gospel is for all people and for us to be living in love. That is a heart condition, not a condition that is for show or to make us look like followers of Christ. My challenge is for you to take a look at yourself, what do you make have-to’s in your life. Are you holding other people to a rigid set of rules or traditions or are you accepting change in order that the gospel can be spread? This section ends by pointing out that people were coming from all over to see what Jesus was doing. Let’s not hinder those from coming to know Christ because of our silly traditions and rules
Today’s Reading: Mark 2:1-17
I have never been so glad to be sick! Jesus made is clear that his purpose in ministry was to heal the sick, to save the sinner. The one who misses out on Jesus’ healing are those who do not see their need for a savior. But the sinner who knows that they are has hope, the hope that they will be healed, just like the paralytic man lowered into the presence of Jesus. We see that Jesus not only seeks out the sick and the sinner, but that he has the authority to heal and to declare the sinner to be forgiven!
Sometimes we want to approach God as a pious saint. We want to approach God as one who deserves God’s blessing, who comes before God as the righteous. However, the way of forgiveness, healing and salvation is to enter lame and to offer no sense of merit before him and he will make us clean, and he will heal us and then we can walk and jump and rejoice for he came to heal and forgive the sinner, not the righteous.
God, we confess to you today our deep need of your grace and healing. We confess that without your salvation, we are incapable of pleasing you. We are powerless before you and our best is not good enough to earn your favor and love. So, Lord, we come before you lame. We come before you as a sick person needing a doctor. We thank you for your love and grace in Jesus that has made us clean. Father, help us to remember how we have been made clean, how we have been saved and help us to walk in the grace of Jesus and not in our own sense of self-righteousness. Amen.
Today’s Reading: Mark 1:29-45
This story of the early miracles shows that Jesus didn’t just slowly acquire his reputation before heading to the big city. No, Jesus went first into and around the city of Galilee and performed many miracles in the midst of the people there. Immediately after Jesus began performing his miracles the city was abuzz with talk of a man who heals the sick and casts out demons. Understandably, as word spread that Jesus could do extraordinary things, people began to form great crowds around him. Imagine hearing of something like this happening today. Roads of Voorhees, Cherry Hill and all of south jersey would be filled with people hoping to get a glimpse at this “miracleman”.
But the amazing part of this story is that all this happened not just because He wanted to make people well again. These miracles were all part of the ministry that was Jesus’ life. These acts demonstrate Jesus’ power over all of our ailments, sorrows, troubles and afflictions of our lives, even today. It is these miracles that demonstrate the compassion and love Jesus has for His people. You see this in the fact He touches those He heals. He even touches the leper, the ones who are not to be touched, the unclean. It is that physical connection that shows Jesus’ love and compassion.
This Love is still with us today. Jesus’ sympathy, compassion and power are the same as they always have been. Jesus sympathizes with us when we are sad, sick, lonely, afraid……. No one other than Jesus can understand your emotions more than Him. We are all Simon’s mother-in-law, we are the demon possessed man, we are the leper – sick, helpless, lonely. We are all sinners before God unable to help ourselves. Jesus is still able to heal us today. Jesus came to be a healer for all times. Jesus came to love and to serve, to live and to die – so that we may live.
Challenge: Show the love and compassion that Jesus has for you and for me to those in the community around us. Join Ashland in reaching out to believers and unbelievers alike and show them how much they are loved and cared for.
Prayer: Lord, we thank you again today for the love you have for us. Please help us spread that love to the people around us. Watch over us as we reach out into lives of the people in the communities around us. Let us be the loving friends and neighbors that we ought to be. Amen
Today’s Reading: Mark 1:1-28
If you think back to your childhood, can you remember a time when you were perfectly content in an activity? Maybe you were playing outside or watching a favorite cartoon, when suddenly your mom or dad calls you. “Come on, clean up. We have to go do ________.”. Even as adults most of us don’t like to be disturbed when we are in the middle of a task. Yet in this passage of Mark we see a similar situation. We read about the earliest days of Jesus’ ministry when He calls on His first disciples. Simon , Andrew, James, and John were fishermen just working a normal day when they heard Jesus say “Come, follow me. I will make you fishers of men.”. Without hesitation or even a “can’t it wait five more minutes please?” these men were completely obedient and left with Jesus. Their lives would never be the same. Did they even realize that they had been chosen to walk with our Lord?
Challenge: Are we willing to leave everything we know in order to follow Jesus? Are we too busy–or too content–in our own lives to hear Him when He calls?
Prayer: Lord we thank you for loving us so much that you sent your only son for our salvation. May we be obedient like the disciples and willing to be “fishers of men.”. Amen.