The Heart of Man (Mark 7)

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Today’s chapter holds three of Jesus’ teachings. First, he talks about worrying more about tradition than the commandments of God. He uses the fact that the Pharisees allow people to give everything to God, and that releases them from needing to help their parents. This is obviously a clear violation of the the commandment to honor our parents, yet people were allowed to do this by the Pharisees.

The second teaching, however, is where I want to spend my time. Jesus tells the Pharisees, “there is noting outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man” (7:15 NASB). Jesus’ statement is speaking towards the heart of man. He says in verses 21-23, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

This teaching spans all the way back to Genesis 3. When we were created, we were not created with the heart that Jesus is talking about, rather we were made with one of servitude and worship. It was when Adam and Eve first sinned, our hearts changed and became full of the things listed above.

So what do we do? It seems that our hearts are full of things that God tells us to stray away from and that we should not be. However we have a way to be rid of those things. In Christ, we are a new creation. While we are still human we have to fight these things, yet we have the ability to overcome these temptations through Christ.

So ask God for forgiveness. Spend time with the Lord, and read the Scriptures. This is how we overcome the evil that is inside of all of us. So take up the habit if you haven’t already. This body is not who we were created to be, so let’s seek the heart of God so we can become all that we were meant to be.

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How He Loves

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This week’s song is How He Loves by John Mark McMillan. Most people think that it was written by David Crowder* Band, but in all actually it was written by McMillan. The story behind this song is that it was written because of a friend of McMillan’s death.

The morning of his death he had prayed during a staff meeting saying “I would give my life if it meant to change a generation”.

How He Loves has become a personal favorite if mine to lead and I know a favorite song of may people’s. so take a listen and feel God’s love poor through this song.

 

Take Courage (Mark 6)

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In today’s section of Mark, Jesus sends out the twelve disciples on their first missionary journey, and performs several miracles. These miracles include feeding 5000, walking on water, and healing people.

After feeding the 5000, Jesus sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee ahead of him. He went up into the hills in order to spend some time praying. After several hours, in the early morning, a storm come up on them yet again (Matthew 14:24). The disciples became worried then they say a figure in the night walking on the water. Jesus said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid” (Mark 6:50 NASB). The account given in Matthew goes on to show that Peter also gets out of the boat and begins to walk on the water. Once Peter looks down, he gets scared and begins to sink (Matthew 14:29-30).

As I said a few days ago, when life gets rough we have to trust in Jesus (Be Still). However, today’s section takes it a little bit farther. Jesus tells us to have courage. Paul shares in his letter to the Philippians “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). Christ gives us the ability to overcome the challenges of the world.  With the courage that Christ gives us, Peter was able to walk on the water. Peter was completely human, and yet he was able to do something supernatural because he believed that Jesus would give him the power to do it. Its not that we get superpowers, but we can overcome the odds by believing in Christ. He gives us strength, that we can take courage and do what God has called us to do.

So my encouragement for you today is to stand firm in your belief and have courage. Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33 NASB), therefore we believe in a God that can overcome anything. So be strong and take courage for God is on your side!

Banishment and Invitation (Mark 5)

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In today’s reading we see Jesus perform three miracles and receive two different reactions. As you remember from Mark 4, Jesus traveled across the Sea of Galilee. After calming the storm, Jesus and the disciples landed safely on the other side in an area called Gerasenes. Once there, Jesus encountered a man possessed by many demons. He exorcised them into a herd of pigs, causing them to drown themselves in the Sea. Upon seeing this the town officials were brought out by the people, and they requested that Jesus leave and never return.

So when Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee again, we was met by a crowd on the other side. Within this crowed was a man whose daughter was dying. Jesus agreed to help and while they were traveling to the man’s house they met a woman. She was suffering from a blood disease and desperately needed healing. She touched Jesus from within the crowd, and Jesus stopped everything to find the woman who touched him. Afterwards, they continued to the man’s house to find that his daughter had died. But Jesus walked into the house and said “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” (5:39 NASB) The girl then woke up and Jesus requested they give her something to eat.

I feel that both stories in this chapter illustrate a single point; how we react to God is important! Jesus says in a later chapter, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,…” (Mark 10:45 NASB), so while on earth that was the focus of Jesus’ ministry. Both groups of people had an opportunity to react to him. One group decided to send him away, and the other accepted him. This leads me to say that however we receive God is very important.

We live in a world filled with a “Less of You, More of Me” mentality when it comes to our view on God. I don’t think that this is anywhere near the best decision. The people of Gerasenes sent Jesus away. He heals one man, and is told to go away! Jesus never comes back to this place. Yes, they do receive the benefits of salvation, but Jesus could have done so much more for them. So this is what is wrong with “Less of You, More of Me”. God could do so much more for us, the only thing He asks is for our faith in Him. When we give Him less, He gives us less.

On the other hand, the other group of people took Jesus in with open arms! Jesus performs two miracles in this chapter here, but I’m sure he did much more since he was welcomed there.

So I encourage you today to realize where you are short-changing God. Instead of a “Less of You” approach, why don’t we try “More of You, Less of me”. In all honesty, creation was made by and for God, not us. So we should be seeking more of God!

Be Still (Mark 4)

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As we continue through the gospel of Mark, Jesus finally starts to really teach. However, He taught by using parables. A parable is best defined as a short story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus loved to use parables. This came as a fulfillment of prophecy from Psalm 78:1-2 “Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old.” (NASB) The parables were not just meant as an illustration, but were also a way that Jesus was able to instruct the disciples. In this chapter we see the Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Seed, and Parable of the Mustard Seed.

After his day of teaching, Jesus decided that they should cross the Sea of Galilee. In the middle of the night, while Jesus was asleep, a storm brewed that threatened to destroy their boat.

Quick side note, the Sea of Galilee often brews up storms from seemingly nowhere. Four of the 12 disciples were experienced fisherman from the Galilee, so they would have had plenty of experience with these storms. However, based on their reaction and fear, I would say this must have been a rather massive storm.

When Jesus awoke he said two things: “Hush, be still.” (4:39 NASB) and “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (4:40 NASB)

When life begins to get rough, we all have the inclination to worry. I definitely do. When my wife became pregnant with our daughter, my first reaction (after the excitement) was worry about being able to provide for this child. This fear stayed with me up until about her first birthday. What I had failed to realize, and what many of us don’t realize, is that fear comes from a lack of faith. Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel, “do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26 NASB) This simply reminds us not to worry and have faith, because God will take care you!

I know that for some people, myself included, we want to fix the problem as soon as it arises, or at least figure out a solution. But just like the wind and water, Jesus is asking us to “be still”. The time we take to stop and breathe is important because it gives us a chance to listen to what God is telling us. If you have stress, and are worried, I encourage you to pray for God’s peace and know that He is with you.

Brothers and Sisters (Mark 3)

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After performing more miracles, and calling his 12 disciples, Christ returns to the home he is staying at and a crowd forms. From out side of the crowd, someone notices that Mary (Jesus’ mother), James and Jude (Jesus’ brothers), and maybe other brothers were outside. The message is passed upwards to Jesus himself, and he replies “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother. (3:35 NASB)”

The implication of this seems rather simple; as Christians, we are counted as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. But honestly it goes a little deeper than that. First (and most importantly), this makes us children of God! We talk and sing about God’s love for us, and it honestly seems misplaced if you don’t understand this point. If we are not counted as children of God as well, this means that God loves strangers that hurt Him consistently. But rather, we are His children; He created us, He loves us, and He wants to help us (just like any good father would).

The second would be that we are all family. Think about that for a second. Every single man, woman and child that has a faith in Jesus Christ is either your brother or sister! How much fun is that? We all get to be one big happy family!

So I encourage you today to love on our brothers and sisters! Some are going through hardships and some are going through great joys! Either way, we should be there for each other because we are all family. So send up some extra prayers for your brothers and sisters, and maybe they’ll do the same for you!

Forgiveness of Sins (Mark 2)

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Today’s chapter is Mark chapter 2. Jesus has already began his public ministry. He has called 4 of his disciples and already began to heal people. Based on the same account in Luke, Jesus is most likely at Simon’s (Peter’s) house. A crowd had formed an no one else could get in to see Jesus. Four men decided to climb up on top of the house and lower their friend, who had been paralyzed, to see Jesus and be healed. The words that Jesus decides to use to announce this man’s healing were unexpected at the time, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (2:5 NASB) The people around him began to freak out! They said “Why does this man speak that way? His blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” (2:7 NASB) Jesus ultimately responds with “… so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” (2:10 NASB)

This fits pretty nicely with my previous post, Repent and Believe. The progression is here that you have admitted your sin, and now Christ has the power to forgive you. Up to this point in the story, you sins could only be forgiven if you took and offering to the temple, and the priest performed the sacrifice on your behalf. However, Jesus teaches that we may go directly to Him. If you read the book of Hebrews, Jesus is constantly attributed the title of the High Priest.

This is why we pray, “in Jesus name”. This phrase puts our prayer and faith into context for us. Simply praying, we may come to think that we are mighty, but remembering that it is because of Christ’s death we have this ability to commune directly with God, we keep ourselves humble.

My prayer for you today is that you continue on with the idea from yesterday. Confess your sins, but also ask for forgiveness. Jesus says in Matthew “Ask, and it will be given to you;” (7:7 NASB). So ask your Father today to forgive you of your sins and continue on the path of repentance and work to rid yourself of your sinful ways. You will fail, but just as easy as it is to ask, its easy to ask again!

Repent and Believe (Mark 1)

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So we finished a study over the life of David last week. King David was the original “Heart Man” since he was described by God as a man after His own heart. I took the weekend to think about where to go from there. I landed on the gospel of Mark. I figured the only logical place to go and learn about the heart of God is to go and learn the heart of Jesus Christ, who is God on earth. So I am going to start a series where I look at a teaching of Jesus’. I’m going to do my best to pick out one sentence from each chapter of Mark, and really try to hone in as best as I can. So here we go……………..

I love the way our Bible is set up. Within it we have 4 different tellings of the life of the most important man to have ever lived, his name is Jesus of Nazareth. I like to think of them this way: Mark is the abridged version, Matthew teaches us about Jesus in his Jewish world, Luke speaks to the whole world, and John is telling about the divinity of Christ. All four gospels are important to our understanding of Jesus.

Mark’s gospel begins at the most logical place, the beginning of Christ’s ministry. The first words we hear from Jesus in this gospel are “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (1:15 NASB). What exactly does this mean? In order to understand we must look at Jesus’ command in two parts.

First, repent. What does it mean to repent? The definition I found in the dictionary I like says “to turn from sin out of penitence for past wrongdoings, abandon sinful or unworthy purposes and values, and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life”. The way I understand this means that repentance requires acknowledgment and change. First you must realize that you have done wrong and sinned, then turn away from it and vow not to return.

Secondly, believe. Believe what? We find in the gospel of Luke that Jesus began his public ministry by reading a passage from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord…,” (Isaiah 61:1-2 NASB), then proclaimed the prophecy to be fulfilled. So the belief that we must have, is that Jesus is hear to heal and free those who have been trapped by sin.

So how does this help us to know the heart of God? The answer, to me, is quite simple. God wants us to acknowledge and repent from our sin. Then He wants us to help others to do the same. So shine God’s light to the world today, and help others see it. We are called to make disciples, and the first step is to repent and believe!

Children of Light

This week’s song is called Children of Light. It was written by Kristian Stanfill and Jesse Reeves. It gives a calling for all of us to realize our calling as God’s children. It fits pretty well with the post I made earlier called Undignified. The chorus starts with the line “Wake up/Open your eyes/No longer dead/We are alive”. When we chose to put our faith in Christ we became a new creation. So we must wake up and realize what our true calling is!

This song was written from John 1:5 “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (NASB). Take a listen, I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do to lead it!

What We Need

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Today’s post took me awhile to read into, sorry its so late.

Any who, I finished reading 2 Samuel today. I was reading, trying to look for another trait of David’s to talk about. However nothing was coming up that I hadn’t already talked about. Then it came to me. A trait that brings it all together!

From where we left off in the story, a war breaks out between Israel and the Ammonites. During this war, David fell for a married woman, who became pregnant. He then had her husband killed in battle, after several attempts to hide what they had done. Their son dies as punishment for what David had done. Then David’s children start being all dramatic with each other (including a rape) which climaxes to Absalom rebelling against David. Absalom devised a secret plan to overthrow his father and become king. Once David hears of this, him and his family leave Jerusalem in order to survive the rebellion. The whole ordeal builds up to Absalom’s gruesome death (2 Samuel 18:14). David then begins to mourn the loss of his son, until he decides it is time to return to Jerusalem.

This is where we find the final trait of the Heart Man, forgiveness. In chapter 19, verses 18-43 are filled with instances of people asking David for forgiveness. But its not the same forgiveness when children accidentally spill you drink and they say “sorry”. Rather this is an example of God’s forgiveness. Everyone that asks David for forgiveness receives it, and is welcomed back to Israel.

True forgiveness is something that we don’t see anymore in today’s world. Most of the time we see “I’ll forgive you when you do ‘this’ for me.” That’s not the way God is, its not the way David was, and its not the way Jesus taught us to be. When Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35), Jesus told a parable about a master and his servant. The servant owed his master 10,000 talents (that’s roughly 750,000 pounds of gold or silver!) but the master chose to forgive him completely.

That’s how forgiveness works in God’s world, you ask for it and its yours! You will still have to face the consequences of your actions, but God is no longer holding it against you. So this is how we should be with each other. In the Lord’s Prayer is the phrase “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This means that God will forgive as we forgive, but also that we must forgive how He forgives. This is hard, because as broken, sinful creatures we want to hold on to grudges and hurt the people who hurt us. I think Matthew West summed it up very well in his song Forgiveness, “Show me how to do the impossible”.

A little bit of forgiveness can change you and the world. Most likely, you are the only one who remembers what has happened, so just forgive and be done with it. As a Heart Man, I know I have to work on forgiveness. I know its not easy, but I encourage you to work on it as well.

Another song about forgiveness