SEEING ONLY JESUS

Mark 9 – The Facts.

As believers there are times in our lives, in the middle of our circumstances that convince us the Jesus is Lord as well as Savior. When we look up and see only Him, it is harder to see all the earthly problems around us. What a blessing to come away with Him to center our thoughts on Him, seeing only Jesus.

A few of Jesus helpers physically had the privilege and honor to see only Jesus in all His glory. This was such an overwhelming sight that Peter’s first response was to build a monument right then and there, which is a purely human reaction.

Then they heard the Voice of God, “This is my Son, marked by my love. Listen to him.”

Look at Him. See only Jesus. Listen to him.

The disciples rubbed their eyes, blinded by the glory all around them, then saw nothing but Jesus, only Jesus. What a glorious moment in time.

Mark 9, The Message
Some of you who are standing here are going to see it happen, see the kingdom of God arrive in full force.”

In a Light-Radiant Cloud
2-4 Six days later, three of them did see it. Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. His clothes shimmered, glistening white, whiter than any bleach could make them. Elijah, along with Moses, came into view, in deep conversation with Jesus.

5-6 Peter interrupted, “Rabbi, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking, stunned as they all were by what they were seeing.

7 Just then a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and from deep in the cloud, a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love. Listen to him.”

8 The next minute the disciples were looking around, rubbing their eyes, seeing nothing but Jesus, only Jesus.

9-10 Coming down the mountain, Jesus swore them to secrecy. “Don’t tell a soul what you saw. After the Son of Man rises from the dead, you’re free to talk.” They puzzled over that, wondering what on earth “rising from the dead” meant.

11 Meanwhile they were asking, “Why do the religion scholars say that Elijah has to come first?”

12-13 Jesus replied, “Elijah does come first and get everything ready for the coming of the Son of Man. They treated this Elijah like dirt, much like they will treat the Son of Man, who will, according to Scripture, suffer terribly and be kicked around contemptibly.”

Mark 9 pleased

 

Think about it. Let’s stop for a moment to realize the glory and power of Jesus. Take all the time you need. Look at Him. See only Jesus. Listen to Him.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.

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TO TELL THE TRUTH

Mark – The Facts.

I game show I used to watch many years ago as a kid is making a new appearance with the same title, “To Tell the Truth”. Three people introduced themselves as the same person. Then a panel of judges must interview them and see which one is telling the truth about themselves. At the end of three rounds of questions, the real person stands to reveal his/her real identity.

Jesus, in the midst of ministry and mentoring, turns to his disciples and asks, “Who do you say I am?” What must his guys be thinking of these questions? Is this another test, Jesus? Will there be a “catch” to this line of questioning?

Mark 8, The Message
The Messiah
27 Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”

28 “Some say ‘John the Baptizer,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.’”

29 He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”

Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”

30-32 Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.

32-33 But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.”

34-37 Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

38 “If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.”

Life’s       Most Important Questions

Now it’s time to stand and tell the Truth…
Ah, we find out that this is Jesus’ way of helping his followers dig deep in their perception of WHO He really is to the them and to the rest of the world. “Who do others say I am?” is a way for the followers to evaluate where Jesus stands with the rest of the world around them. “Who do YOU say I am?” is a personal question to evaluate their own relationships with Him.

This is a great question for our personal relationship with Jesus, too. Who DO we say that Jesus is to others? Or do we just talk about our church?

Who is Jesus to us? Are we impressed about His story or is He interwoven with our story? Are we merely impressed with His good teaching of right and wrong or have we found Him to be our Savior and Lord? Are we growing more intimate with our Lord? Does He lead in every detail of our lives as Lord or is He just called on as a Savior in a crisis?

It’s time “To Tell the Truth.”

Dear Heavenly Father, I am compelled to tell the truth about You. Life is all about You. You are God and we are not. Jesus, you are Messiah who saves us. Holy Spirit, you are the One who guides us, comforts us and convicts us so we will grow in our intimate relationship with the Three-In-One. We praise you, thank you and ask that Your Holy Presence never leave us as promised. I believe. I will trust in You alone. Who are You? You are Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. You have cleansed and made me whole. You have restored the joy of my salvation. You are my Savior AND my Lord. To You be all glory, honor and praise!
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.

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BUILDING FAITH

Mark 8 – The Facts.

22-23 They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. Taking him by the hand, he led him out of the village. He put spit in the man’s eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, “Do you see anything?”

24-26 He looked up. “I see men. They look like walking trees.” So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus. Jesus sent him straight home, telling him, “Don’t enter the village.”

Mark 8 touch of Jesus

Think about it…as we figure out why this miracle is different….

–This miracle of Jesus is one of a kind. He did not just say the word and the man healed instantly as He had done for others.

–When has God taken time and phases to answer our prayers for help, healing or restoration? Is He building our faith a little at a time, in a way we could individually grow and never go back to the way we were? Sightless to Him and His ways?

–He could have cured him, as he did others, with a word speaking, but He seemed to assist his faith which was very weak, and to help him against his unbelief.

–Jesus had to touch him to heal him.

–“This spittle signified the eye-salve wherewith Christ anoints the eyes of those that are spiritually blind, Rev. 3:18. 2. That the cure was wrought gradually, which was not usual in Christ’s miracles. He asked him if he saw aught, Mark 8:23.” – Matthew Henry Commentary.

–Christ never does his work halfway or quits until he can say, “it is finished”. He put his hands again on the newly sighted man’s eyes, to cleanse the remaining darkness, and then told him look up again, and he saw every man clearly. Faith has been built…on nothing less than Jesus Christ! He can now see Christ clearly. He sees and believes in the One and Only who gave him sight!

–Is Jesus asking us, “Do you see anything?” Yet?

–This one of kind miracle shows us that Jesus looks into our hearts. He does not teach a “method” but develops a relationship and gives what we need at the right time for each one of us.

–Jesus leads the man out of the village of Bethsaida. Did Bethsaida not deserve seeing this miracle occur because they were blind, too?

–“Go home” says Jesus to the now sighted man. “Don’t enter the village.” Bethsaida probably would have made excuses or explained this miracle away as magic or coincidence. Does our world do that today? Mm….

Dear Heavenly Father, You are still performing miracles in us and all around us. Help us to see You clearly, to see Your works and blessings, healing and restoration and be very grateful. Help us to live gratefully today, watching for You around every corner and in every detail. Thank you for loving me as an individual person, uniquely created by You. I need you every hour. Every hour I need you.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.

And I’m singing…

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

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MEANWHILE BACK IN THE BOAT

Mark – The Facts.

As parents (or teachers), how many times have you given clearly spoken directions of what you think is simple. Your kids, (because of their age and perspective), listen to the words and then do what was not even close to what you said. Frustrating at times, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s funny. Other times you wonder how they will ever get through life. But they do, because we remember our own misunderstandings and mistakes of being young. We correct their course, find other ways to express ourselves and keep teaching them so they will grow.

I heard great wisdom the other day, “Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.” The old saying was, “Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.” I like the new way of thinking. We don’t lose, we learn. Jesus knew that as He patiently went over the “bread” story again so that his followers would “get it”. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus is Truth. God is the Father. Jesus is the Son. The “yeast” was man made rules and regulations of the Pharisees that took God’s people further away from Truth and a relationship with Him. Jesus said, “Do you still not get it?”

Jesus knows our frustration of trying to express the Truth to others. He will give us the words when necessary. But first we must “get it”. And then we must continually learn to live it. We will make mistakes along the way, but He forgives. Sometimes we win, (get it), sometimes we learn. We are disciples of Jesus, just like those in the boat. We are all in the same “boat”.

Mark 8 disciple

Mark 8, The Message
Contaminating Yeast
13-15 He then left them, got back in the boat, and headed for the other side. But the disciples forgot to pack a lunch. Except for a single loaf of bread, there wasn’t a crumb in the boat. Jesus warned, “Be very careful. Keep a sharp eye out for the contaminating yeast of Pharisees and the followers of Herod.”

16-19 Meanwhile, the disciples were finding fault with each other because they had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus overheard and said, “Why are you fussing because you forgot bread? Don’t you see the point of all this? Don’t you get it at all? Remember the five loaves I broke for the five thousand? How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”

They said, “Twelve.”

20 “And the seven loaves for the four thousand—how many bags full of leftovers did you get?”

“Seven.”

21 He said, “Do you still not get it?”

Dear Heavenly Father, Help us to carve away all that is not Your Truth. The world is confusing. People who look like your Truth are not. Evil has a way of weaving through us like the yeast you talked about of the Pharisees. Oh Lord, don’t allow us to be like the Pharisees. Help us to listen to hear Your Word and follow You with all that is in us. Help us to truly “get it.”
In Jesus Name, Amen

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WHAT DO YOU EXPECT US TO DO?

Mark – The Facts.

In situations where needs arise unexpectedly with the church body, what is the first thing that comes to mind? A quick evaluation will reveal the health of the any group of people who say they want to “do what Jesus did” or be like Him in their thinking. Most churches (groups of people, not buildings) will want to do what is best. But there are some leadership committees who lean toward counting the coins in the treasury and ask, “What do you expect us to do?”

Jesus turned to his “committee” and said, “This crowd is breaking my heart. They have stuck with me for three days, and now they have nothing to eat.” The disciples response? “What do you expect us to do?”

The next question Jesus asks develops a teachable moment for the disciples and for us. What do you have? Jesus will take what we have, bless it for the situation at hand and miraculously meet the needs beyond our wildest dreams.

What does Jesus expect us to do? Give it all to Him. He will do the rest. Wow. It’s that simple. Think about that for today…take all the time you need…as you read the following…

Mark 8, The Message
A Meal for Four Thousand
8 1-3 At about this same time he again found himself with a hungry crowd on his hands. He called his disciples together and said, “This crowd is breaking my heart. They have stuck with me for three days, and now they have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they’ll faint along the way—some of them have come a long distance.”

4 His disciples responded, “What do you expect us to do about it? Buy food out here in the desert?”

5 He asked, “How much bread do you have?”

“Seven loaves,” they said.

6-10 So Jesus told the crowd to sit down on the ground. After giving thanks, he took the seven bread loaves, broke them into pieces, and gave them to his disciples so they could hand them out to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He pronounced a blessing over the fish and told his disciples to hand them out as well. The crowd ate its fill. Seven sacks of leftovers were collected. There were well over four thousand at the meal. Then he sent them home. He himself went straight to the boat with his disciples and set out for Dalmanoutha.

11-12 When they arrived, the Pharisees came out and started in on him, badgering him to prove himself, pushing him up against the wall. Provoked, he said, “Why does this generation clamor for miraculous guarantees? If I have anything to say about it, you’ll not get so much as a hint of a guarantee.”

Mark 8 compassion

Something to think about…
–What do you expect of us? What a great question for church boards and committees to ask every time they meet.
–Churches are not businesses designed to turn a profit. Church groups of people are taught to help people find and follow Christ.
–Some church groups are saving for a rainy day, look at the lost around you, there is a flood already rising!
–We are taught as the Body of Christ to help those in need. Give all you have and see what happens as Jesus blesses it and goes beyond the need.
–As a church group, what breaks your heart? Pray and God will open our eyes to what He wants us to be and do.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Break our hearts of those things/people who break Yours. Take what we have to meet the needs of those around us. Help us to look to You for holy direction, discernment and decisiveness. Thank you for your encouragement today.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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HE COULDN’T ESCAPE NOTICE

Mark – The Facts.

Celebrities work hard to be known. Then they work hard to escape the crowds who want to see them because of their accomplishments. Jesus became more than popular while He was here on earth. He became known quickly for touching the lives of many with various forms of healing. He sent the evil spirits packing. He gave the blind their sight, the lame their ability to get up and walk and the speechless the ability to speak. He couldn’t escape notice. His mission from the Father was to seek and to save lost people. Now people, ALL people, were seeking HIM…to be healed. Healing comes from believing.

Mark 7, The Message
24-26 From there Jesus set out for the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house there where he didn’t think he would be found, but he couldn’t escape notice. He was barely inside when a woman who had a disturbed daughter heard where he was. She came and knelt at his feet, begging for help. The woman was Greek, Syro-Phoenician by birth. She asked him to cure her daughter.

27 He said, “Stand in line and take your turn. The children get fed first. If there’s any left over, the dogs get it.”

28 She said, “Of course, Master. But don’t dogs under the table get scraps dropped by the children?”

29-30 Jesus was impressed. “You’re right! On your way! Your daughter is no longer disturbed. The demonic affliction is gone.” She went home and found her daughter relaxed on the bed, the torment gone for good.

31-35 Then he left the region of Tyre, went through Sidon back to Galilee Lake and over to the district of the Ten Towns. Some people brought a man who could neither hear nor speak and asked Jesus to lay a healing hand on him. He took the man off by himself, put his fingers in the man’s ears and some spit on the man’s tongue. Then Jesus looked up in prayer, groaned mightily, and commanded, “Ephphatha!—Open up!” And it happened. The man’s hearing was clear and his speech plain—just like that.

36-37 Jesus urged them to keep it quiet, but they talked it up all the more, beside themselves with excitement. “He’s done it all and done it well. He gives hearing to the deaf, speech to the speechless.”

Mark 7 Jesus

Jesus…”He’s done it all and done it well.” He still does. He cannot escape notice in this world today.

For God so loved the world (all of us, not matter what nation we are born into) that He sent His Only Son (Jesus).

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” John 3:16, The Message

Dear Heavenly Father,
Because you taught your disciples well and sent them to continue to help people find and follow you, we are still in your care, seeking You. You cannot escape notice. You are in our lives, living in the depths of our souls, guiding us, comforting us, giving us peace in every storm, daily restoring the joy of our salvation, and being our strength and our song all day long and into the night. Help us help others find and follow You. Thank you, Lord.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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WHAT GOES IN, COMES OUT

Mark – The Facts.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Our thoughts can be our own worst enemy. That is, if we let them. Think about how you may be “feeding” your negative thoughts by allowing them to rule your heart, mind and soul. What we “feed” our hearts, minds and souls inside leads to outward behavior. Next time you have a negative thought, catch it and ask yourself, “What is this thought doing for me?”

The next time we think a wrong according to God’s Word will be okay, ask God if it is okay to set aside His Word for our convenience. What are we feeding our hearts these days? Remember, what goes in…comes out in our behavior. Jesus clearly explains the pollution we allow to build up in our hearts blinding us to His righteousness.

Mark 7, The Message

The Source of Your Pollution
7 1-4 The Pharisees, along with some religion scholars who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around him. They noticed that some of his disciples weren’t being careful with ritual washings before meals. The Pharisees—Jews in general, in fact—would never eat a meal without going through the motions of a ritual hand-washing, with an especially vigorous scrubbing if they had just come from the market (to say nothing of the scourings they’d give jugs and pots and pans).

5 The Pharisees and religion scholars asked, “Why do your disciples flout the rules, showing up at meals without washing their hands?”

6-8 Jesus answered, “Isaiah was right about frauds like you, hit the bull’s-eye in fact:

These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn’t in it.
They act like they are worshiping me,
but they don’t mean it.
They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy,
Ditching God’s command
and taking up the latest fads.”

9-13 He went on, “Well, good for you. You get rid of God’s command so you won’t be inconvenienced in following the religious fashions! Moses said, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel out of that by saying that it’s perfectly acceptable to say to father or mother, ‘Gift! What I owed you I’ve given as a gift to God,’ thus relieving yourselves of obligation to father or mother. You scratch out God’s Word and scrawl a whim in its place. You do a lot of things like this.”

14-15 Jesus called the crowd together again and said, “Listen now, all of you—take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it’s what you vomit—that’s the real pollution.”

17 When he was back home after being with the crowd, his disciples said, “We don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”

18-19 Jesus said, “Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you see that what you swallow can’t contaminate you? It doesn’t enter your heart but your stomach, works its way through the intestines, and is finally flushed.” (That took care of dietary quibbling; Jesus was saying that all foods are fit to eat.)

20-23 He went on: “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution.”

Mark 7 clean heart.png

Think about it…
–Astronauts and other pilots say to eat bananas before a challenging flight where you might experience dizzy and nauseousness. Why? Because bananas taste the same going down as they do coming up. If we feed on God’s Word, what comes out of our hearts is more likely…God’s Word. Mm.

Dear Heavenly Father, Your Word, with the help of the Holy Spirit, always provokes an accounting and evaluation of our hearts, minds and souls that lead to our behavior. We repent of feeding our souls polluted thoughts and ask for your help to think more and more like You think. Your thoughts are always higher than our thoughts. Feed us, Lord with all that is true and right. Defeat the foe within us that wants to destroy us.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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