Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jesus’ Baptism

Mark 1: 9-13

Jesus’ baptism was a act of love for us.

It symbolized the sins He would wash away and bury with Himself at Golgotha.

It declared His willingness to live in the sin filled, fallen world in order to save us.

When Jesus placed Himself in the hands of a sinful man to be baptized, it symbolized His humility when He would undergo yet another baptism on the cross.

And when the heavens opened, the Spirit descended and the Father’s voice boomed His approval, it was on account of Jesus’ commitment to His Father’s plan that was birthed in His love for us.

Jesus loves us as the Father loves us, and because of His love, He underwent the Great Sacrifice displayed by His baptism.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

John Preached Christ

Mark 1:7-8

John the Baptist declared that Jesus is the Christ.

He preached Jesus, not himself.

He pointed people to Jesus, not to himself.

He declared that Jesus is so far superior in power and glory.

Jesus is the author of spiritual baptism; he was only the minister of outward baptism.

Monday, August 27, 2012

John The Baptist’s Clothing

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair,
with a leather belt around his waist,
and he ate locusts and wild honey.
- Mark 1:6 -

In his dress and diet, John the Baptist was distinctive from what was normal for the time.

His dress was durable and serviceable, the clothing of the poorest of the land.

His diet was also common for the poor folk of his time.

He and his disciples lived an ascetic lifestyle.

Despite John's greatness, God kept him a poor man.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

John Prepared The Way For The Lord

Mark 1:4-5

John was the messenger before the Lord Jesus Christ.

He came preaching and baptizing in the wilderness.

He preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

People from all the land of Judea went out to him.

Confessing their sins, they were all baptized by him in the Jordan River.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Beginning Of The Gospel

Mark 1: 1-4

The gospel is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

According to Isaiah 40:3, the gospel began when God sent His messenger before His Son, to prepare the way .

John the Baptist was the messenger, the voice calling in the desert.

He was to make straight paths for Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the Lord.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fleeing Persecution

Matthew 10:23a
When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.

One of the biblical responses to persecution is to flee.
It is not the only response.
It is therefore imperative that the persecuted believer is sure that his running away is in the will of God.

History is full of examples of Christians who relocated because of religious persecution.

The early Christians in Jerusalem didn’t obey Jesus’ orders to evangelize to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
So God allowed persecution to send them on their way (Acts 8:1).
Persecution accomplished the will of God.
As they scattered abroad, they went preaching the gospel (Acts 8:4).

The Apostle Paul left Damascus over the wall in a basket when a life threat was discovered early in his ministry.
He knew it was not yet God’s timing for his life and ministry to end.
That occurred years later in Rome.

Let us resolve to only run from persecution
when we know it is the will of God.

Let us pray for leaders who have to live in hiding
because of their effective ministry for the Lord and His church.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blessed Are The Persecuted

Matthew 5:10-12

Blessed are those
who are persecuted
because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you
when people insult you, persecute you
and falsely say all kinds of evil
against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
because great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way
they persecuted the prophets
who were before you.

The promise of persecution comes for those who take a stand for God.

Persecution is the result of righteous living.

The early church went through much persecution for their faith in Christ.

  • To suffer persecution is to walk along the same road as the prophets, the saints, and the martyrs.
  • To suffer persecution is to make things easier for those who are to follow.
  • To suffer persecution is to experience the fellowship of Christ.

Most of us enjoy the blessing of liberty today because men and women in the past were willing to buy it for us at the cost of their own blood, sweat and tears.

Let us accept persecution,
whether mild or hot,
which comes as a result of righteous living.

Oh Lord,
encourage those who are now
experiencing severe persecution
for Your name.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Blessed Are The Peacemakers

Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

The word “peace” describes a condition of perfect and complete positive well-being.

It describes the right relationships — intimate fellowship and goodwill between human beings.

Peace comes not from avoiding issues but from facing them.

We make peace even through troubles.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are doing a God-like work.

Waging peace may involve laying down one’s life, like Jesus did, in order to reconcile men with God and break down barriers among men (Galatians 3:26-29).

Jesus’ teaching is that we should not resist evil with evil (Matthew 5:39). We are not to respond in kind to the acts of injustice and dehumanization directed against us, but rather to respond with transforming initiatives.

We are to wage peace.
This involves promoting love,
fostering unity among brethren,
being a witness of a higher kingdom,
and following the non-violence example of Jesus.

Let us be proactive and wage peace in our sphere of influence.

Oh Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
May I counter hatred with love and injury with forgiveness.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blessed Are The Pure In Heart

Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Our lifestyle of purity begins our reconciliation to God.

This Beatitude necessitates the strictest and most honest self-examination.

We are to do everything with pure, unmixed motives. This demands the death of self and the springing to life of Christ within our heart.

Blessed are those
whose motives are unmixed
and who operate in purity.
They shall be given
a vision of God Himself.

As we draw closer to God through purity,
we shall see Him more clearly,
love Him more dearly
and follow Him more nearly.

Blessed are those whose motives are absolutely pure and whose life is characterized by purity, for they will be able to see God.

God delights in pure hearted children,
and He wants to use submissive and humble people.

Let us seek to live our lives in true purity before God with good motives.

Oh Lord,
I can only live this way
if I listen and respond positively
to the reproving of Your Holy Spirit.
Help me to be sensitive to purity issues.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Blessed Are The Merciful

Matthew 5:7

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

As we in humility recognize our poverty of spirit,
God in His mercy forgives us and equips us.

Having received mercy,
we are expected to show mercy to others.

Merciful is related to empathy.

It is the ability to get right inside another person’s skin until we see things with his eyes, think things with his mind and feel things with his feelings.

Blessed are those who empathize with others
until they are able to see
with the eyes of others,
think with their thoughts
and feel with their feelings.

The one who does this will find others do the same for him or her and will know that God did this for them in Christ Jesus.

Mercy also drives us to go after the lost and
show them the way to more complete light.

Let us see others as Jesus sees them.
Let us empathize with them.

Oh Lord,
help me to grow closer to You
so that I will act like You,
forgiving others and being sympathetic.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

Matthew 5:6

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

This attitude portrays a maturity of belief that shows a servant is ready for service.

When completeness or wholeness is achieved, the servant receives the satisfaction of being used of God for that which they have been called, trained and equipped.

The emphasis in this Beatitude is the passionate desire for the whole, for complete righteousness as a matter of life and death.

Blessed is the one
whose most passionate desire is to love God
and to love others as they ought.

Blessed are those
who long for total righteousness
as a starving person longs for food and
as a person perishing of thirst longs for water,
for they will be truly satisfied.

We are often impressed with those who take their faith seriously. We do not respect people whose religion is merely outward form. Much of what they see is materialistic, carnal or worldly. We turn them off — the low regard for moral purity, the hedonism, the wishy-washiness, the unwillingness to suffer or make sacrifices, the fear of making a stand.

Christians need to acknowledge their beliefs and be willing to suffer for their faith and convictions. A more complete righteousness will definitely have great impact. It will earn respect for our preaching the Gospel.

Let us be thankful for God’s presence in our lives.
Let us yearn for more of Him.

Oh Lord,
I long for total righteousness
so that the world will see
more of Your faithfulness in me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blessed Are The Meek

Matthew 5:5

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Meekness is not weakness.

Meekness means “power under control.”

The contrite, praying person is blessed with the indwelling control of the Holy Spirit and the inheritance promised to the believer even in conflict.

Blessed are those whose
every instinct, every impulse, and every passion
is under the control of God’s Spirit!
They will be right with God, self and others,
and enter the life which God alone can give.

Let us pray for meekness when entering into dialogue with those of opposing positions. There will be times when patience and self-control will be sorely tested. There may also be times when the Spirit will suggest a change of direction in the dialogue or a strategic retreat that looks suspiciously like defeat. To be meek is to be able to willingly accept temporary defeat in order that there may later be victory in the Spirit.

Let us quit calling the shots and surrender complete control to God.

Oh Lord,
I completely surrender to the control of Your Spirit in my life.
Help me to be meek.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mourning For Sins

Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Mourning is the kind of grief that cannot be hidden.

It can be a deep sorrow for our own unworthiness that leads us to trust the Lord as our total Provider, seeking His presence and counsel (authority). Such action is rewarded by the Father’s gracious comfort.

It can also be for grief over the sorrow and suffering of this world. Blessed is the man who cares intensely for the sufferings, sorrows and needs of others.

Blessed are those whose hearts are broken
for the world’s suffering and
are deeply sorry for their sin and unworthiness,
for they will find the joy and comfort of God.

We need to mourn for the state of the church and Christians generally. In many countries, churches are weak and nominal, or are split by internal conflicts. There is need to mourn. There is need to mourn also for believers who have quit the struggle and crossed to the other side.

Mourn also for the poor quality of preaching, the lack of prayer and the deficiency of spiritual power. Mourn for those who come to the church only to find they are unwelcome. Mourn for Christians unwilling to introduce the light of Christ to them. Mourn for a church hiding its light, too scared to let it shine.

There is much to mourn for.
Yet, the promise is, if we mourn, comfort will come.

Let us repent of our self-sufficiency.

Oh Lord,
I mourn over my own sin and unworthiness.
And I mourn also for the deep and painful suffering
that I see around the world.
May I receive Your joy and comfort.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Poor In Spirit

Matthew 5:3

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Acknowledging our poverty in spirit is humility.

It occurs when we realize our own utter lack of resources to meet life and finds our strength in God.

Such an attitude leads us away from attachment to things to attachment to God and heaven.

The word “poor” here means absolute, abject poverty.

Blessed are those who have realized their own utter helplessness and inadequacy and who have put their whole trust in God.

Such a person will humbly accept the will of God and thus become a citizen of the kingdom.

Let us acknowledge our helplessness and inadequacy and place our complete trust in God.

Oh Lord,
help me express true humility in practical ways today
and show that my trust is in You alone.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jesus' Sermon On The Mount

Matthew 5:1-2

Now when Jesus saw the crowds,
he went up on a mountainside and sat down.
His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

Let us look at Jesus’ greatest training program: the Beatitudes.

Each of the eight Beatitudes has a two-fold nature: a “knowing” and a “doing” response. We must not only know them, we must also respond to what we learn from them.

Eight times in the Beatitudes it says, “Blessed are….” These refer to Jesus’ evaluation of the kind of person He names in each Beatitude. Jesus was referring to His esteem for that kind of person. His meaning is, “I esteem highly any person who….” He was urging us to have that kind of attitude. His deeper meaning is, “All you who hear Me, choose to become like these kinds of people.”

The Beatitudes is “God’s radical reconstruction of the heart!”

The first four Beatitudes focus internally: they speak to the heart of the one who wants to obey God. They are the four stepping stones to becoming an obedient servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are: humility, mourning, meekness and hunger for righteousness.

The second four Beatitudes focus on the external behavior of the servant who follows Jesus. They are: mercy, purity, peacemaking and persecution.

We will look at each of the eight Beatitudes individually.

Let us study Jesus’ Beatitudes so that we live the way Jesus lived.

May we receive great encouragement
as we seek to know and live the Beatitudes in our lives.