October 24

October 24

Jesus’ Ministry across the Jordan — Marriage, the rich young ruler, & sacrifices for God.

Today’s Readings:
Reading 1: Matthew 19
Reading 2: Mark 10:1-30
Reading 3: Luke 18:15-30

Marriage is a gift from God, a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the Church. It is a holy thing that can only be embraced with the grace of God. The combining of two different creatures (a man and a woman) into one relationship reflects the union of redeemed believers and a sacrificial Savior King. This is the true definition of marriage according to God. The religious leaders were wrong to see it as a contract of convenience, and those who redefine marriage today are also mistaken (albeit with sometimes compassionate motives). Jesus is very clear that God’s standard is far above man’s wisdom. That standard can only be reached by God’s grace.

Likewise children are not to be belittled or sidelined; they have much to teach us about how to come to God and how to receive the grace we need for daily life (including marriage if applicable).

And if anything (even your salary and retirement plan) get in the way of your relationship with God, you have a hard choice to make. Choosing God is never a loss, whatever else you lose in the process!

Have a great day!

Mark.

October 23

October 23

Jesus’ Raising of Lazarus — Jesus raises Lazarus & the Pharisees plot Jesus’ death.

Today’s Readings:
Reading 1: John 11
Reading 2: John 12:9-11
Reading 3: Romans 8:9-11

As the ministry of Jesus approaches its climax, we see the final miraculous “straw” that pushes the religious leaders into murdering Jesus. When Jesus raises Lazarus to life, it shows not only His power, but His love for people, as well as His firm adherence to God’s agenda. And all this in full view of multitudes of people.

All those factors combine to unite the religious leaders in deadly opposition to Jesus. It becomes dangerous for any follower of Jesus to be in Jerusalem, yet many come to faith as a result of the raising of Lazarus. Faith grows where faith is opposed. The Spirit of God gives us life that can never be taken away by murder – we are those who no longer fear death!

Have a great day!

Mark.

October 22

October 22

Jesus’ Teachings on Forgiveness — Jesus teaches on forgiveness & heals 10 lepers.

Today’s Readings:
Reading 1: Luke 17
Reading 2: Proverbs 24:16
Reading 3: Psalm 50:22-23

Jesus teaches on forgiveness, setting a higher standard than any human can reach without God’s help. Clearly the intention is to show us we NEED God’s help!
That is why Jesus goes on to teach about faith, and the signs of the coming of the Kingdom. We need God to come to us if we are to live as He commands. Only in Him can we fulfill our calling.
Have a great day!
Mark.

October 21

October 21

Jesus’ Stories about Riches & Wisdom — The unjust steward, the rich man, & Lazarus.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Luke 16

Reading 2: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Reading 3: Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Jesus has a surprising amount to say about money, for a man who likely never had any income and certainly had no savings.

But unlike an impoverished person today, Jesus is not obsessed with money. It’s as though He understands that money is an idol for so many of us, obstructing our view of God and our path to salvation.

Jews had known from the earliest decades of their nation that God was on the side of the poor (and that they should join Him in caring for those who had less). But by the time of Jesus the powerful were the rich, and they had all kinds of schemes to hold on to their money rather than share it with those in need. Does that sound like today? Then maybe what Jesus says in that setting applies to you and me too?!

Don’t allow money (or the lack of it) to takes your eyes away from Jesus. Focus wholeheartedly on Him, and all other needs will step into their rightful places.

Have a great day!

Mark.

October 20

October 20

Pause and Reflect

Yesterday we read that after the money was found, the sheep was rescued, and the son returned, there was a celebration.

Today, let’s celebrate. Whatever your current situation, there are times in your life where God has celebrated your return from lostness. Reflect on those, and on the God who searched for you and found you. Then celebrate with Him: He’s more pleased than you, now you and He are restored to relationship.

Have a great day!

Mark.

October 19

October 19

Jesus’ Seeking of the Lost — Seeking for people like seeking for sheep, coins, & a prodigal son.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Luke 15

Reading 2: Jeremiah 50:6

Reading 3: Psalm 119:174-176

Luke 15 is one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible. The emotion and significance of these stories are hard to match anywhere else.

God loves us, and longs for us, and wants us to be restored to relationship with Him!

And Jesus’ hearers would have been well aware of the parallels in their history speaking of lost sheep returning to their shepherd.

Wherever you are, God longs for you to return to Him.

Let’s enjoy another reunion today!

Have a great day!

Mark.

October 18

October 18

Jesus’ Teachings at a Sabbath Meal: The Parable of the Supper, pride, & humility.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Luke 14

Reading 2: Proverbs 11:2

Reading 3: Proverbs 25:6-7

God measures in different ways than we do!

Today’s readings show that God doesn’t value climbing the social ladder, or gathering a group of like-minded friends to be our inner circle. Instead God values being humble, and loving as He loves – even the lost and the least. Helping the hurting is always permissible, even if it offends religious traditions. We will be amazed when we see the full extent of God’s love, the guest list for His heavenly banquet. Disciples pay a price in this world’s eyes, but the reward is well worth it!

Have a great day!

Mark.

October 17

October 17

Jesus’ Teachings on Israel — Parable of the Fig Tree (i.e. Israel) & healing a crippled woman.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Luke 13:6-35

Reading 2: Mark 11:12-14

Reading 3: Hosea 9:10

As Jesus’ first earthly life moves toward its conclusion, we see more clearly the contrast between God’s intent for humanity (to live in loving relationship with Him) and religion’s fruitless parody of God’s plan.

The fig tree is a symbol of Israel – such potential, wasted by self-willed disobedience. In Hosea 9, the reference to Baal-Peor comes from Numbers 25 where Israel willfully turned away from God. The story of the fig tree in Luke 13 shows us God’s assessment of Israel at this moment in their history. Jesus has been publicly visible as the Messiah for three years, but there is no fruit of faith in the nation’s leaders. The gardener (who some consider to represent Jesus) says “let me dig around and fertilize, and we’ll see what another year brings.” We know the result of that – the nation did not bear fruit, but the extra year brought the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the birth of the Church through the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. There was fruit, but the fruit was rejected by Israel’s religious leaders, and the nation was destroyed again (by the Romans).

The stakes are getting higher for Jesus’ hearers, and Jesus knows it. He sounds increasingly determined to speak the truth clearly, and to face the inevitable show-down when the authorities will not hear Him. There are many parallels for us in our society, and we would do well to remember the example of Jesus. As the authorities found His obedience to God distasteful, He continued to obey fully. When they rejected Him, He submitted to their (inferior) authority. When they killed Him, God won the victory.

Jesus is victorious forever, and today, if you are in Him, the same is true of you (whatever you face).

Have a great day!

Mark.

October 16

October 16

Jesus’ Stories about Money — Dividing the inheritance & people’s stress about money.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Luke 12

Reading 2: 1 Timothy 6:5-19

Reading 3: Philippians 4:10-19

Following Jesus should be simple, but often the cares and distractions of this world complicate our discipleship. Today Jesus teaches us that this is unnecessary. It is interesting how much Jesus has to say about money; unlike the unpopular televangelists who used people to make money, Jesus intends to use money (or at least teaching about it) to help people!

There are many powerful truths in today’s main reading. I recommend you read the chapter slowly a couple of times and take special note of any statements that rub you the wrong way or stand out to you. Those are likely the areas where God is speaking to you through His Word!

God’s purpose in speaking to you and me is to help us be the kind of people Paul wants Timothy to be – kind, generous, trusting God, and so on! And when we trust God to supply all we need, and generously share what He gives us with others, especially those who pour themselves out for our benefit, we find our priorities changing to be more godly, just as Paul commanded the Philippians.

Have a great day!

Mark.

October 15

October 15

Jesus’ Teachings on Prayer — The Lord’s Prayer, the persistent friend, & God the Father.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Luke 11:1-13

Reading 2: Matthew 6:5-14

Reading 3: John 15:5-8

Three classic passages on prayer today: the persistent friend teaches us that God wants us to come to Him with our needs, the Lord’s prayer teaches us to come to God as our loving Father, and the analogy of the vine teaches us that our fruitfulness comes from asking ANYTHING and the answers bring glory to God!

So again we see that this One Story is all about humanity being reunited with divinity in Jesus; God wants us to be in a love-filled friendship with Him so much that He is willing to do all that it takes to make that possible. How could you and I not accept God’s gift on those terms?!

Have a great day!

Mark.