Vs. 19, “Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Jesus would heal two people possessed with demons, Mark’s gospel gives us one of their accounts. In Jesus’ life, we see their isn’t much rest from opposition. But, Jesus would cast these legions of demons into pigs. Question: Why pigs? Why not pigs? Jesus was showing us that He is more powerful than demons, perhaps the pigs served as a sacrifice, and the casting of the demons on the pigs showed the heart of those in the town. Even the the man wanted to follow Jesus, it’s interesting to note that Jesus would tell the man stay and be a witness. The great faith of Jarius and the woman are also wonderful reminders people who put their trust in the Lord
Vs. 16, “The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned!” Notice the corporate style of saying “We”. This is a prayer of repentance and recognizing sin as a whole people group. Though their crowns had fallen, that didn’t change the fact that God was still on His throne! This beautiful prayer remembers what God’s people had done and what got them to this destruction in the first place. Remember, Lamentations is Jeremiah “Lamenting” – passionate grief or sorrow…their sins. Bear in mind…sorrow (Godly) is what leads us to repentance…it’s guilt and shame that led Judas to kill himself. There is a diffence between the two.
Regarding application…God Restores. “Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we mayreturn; renew our days as of old.” Amen to this! It was a very touching service in the Youth Group today! I am reminded how much God loves us and how much we love each other. In the midst of our struggles and suffering…God is restoring us and bringing job back in our heart. We will be going back to the New Testament in the Gospel of Mark. Have a very blessed week and keep your eyes and heart on Him! Jesus loves you so very much!
Vs. 1, “Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him.” What a wonderful picture of our Lord as He begins His teachings on the Sermon on the Mount. Notice, even in our first verse what kind of posture Jesus takes. He sits down. This was significant because when a teacher sat down, you knew that they wanted to teach something very important and intimate. What we see in Jesus’ teachings is a big focus on the practical ways of living this life. Remember, when Jesus came…the Jews adhered or at least tried to adhere to over 600 laws. Of course, the law’s intent was to point them to Jesus and also there was always the “heart” matter for these laws. We are reminded of the Beattitudes (Blessings) (vs. 3-11) and how we are so very blessed and what that looks like. To be the salt (inner character) and the light (outward character) to this world (vs. 13-16). When we start looking at the rest of this chapter and so on….one might get confused. Question: Is Jesus saying they no longer needed to live out every law? Yes and No. Yes, because the intent of the law has never changed…God wants us to be holy. We cannot achieve holiness by following the standard of the law. Jesus did and died for us so that we could become His righteousness. I’ll expound a bit during the application…We also are see the practical ways of addressing murder, aldutry, divorce, oaths, payback, and love for enemies.
Regarding application…True Righteousness. Vs. 20, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Question: The Pharisee’s were one of the most “holy” people in the law! How could someone have a better righteousness? Even if we never broke a law on the outward, there are plenty of us that have sinned inwardly. Jesus is saying that righteousness therefore is something that is based first inwardly. Just because I don’t kill someone I hate…doesn’t make me any more righteous. But true rigtheousness is found first in the heart. As we start this new week, let us be every thoughtful and prayerful about our actions towards other, but more importantly the intent of our heart. And don’t ever forget what happened on 911!
Vs. 11, “The house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me,” declares the LORD.” God would instruct Jeremiah to do a search of the city to find if one righteous person lived in it…if Jeremiah would find just one, God would call off the invasion. This reminds us of Abraham and Sodom. Jeremiah would search both poor & rich and not find anyone. The goodness of God did not bring repentance to these hard-hearted people. They would continue to turn to their idols. Yet God would yet show his mercy & faithfulness by staying true to His covenant with Abraham (vs. 18). Jeremiah would obey God and proclaim their sin & how they were living. Instead of listening, they grew more corrupt in their nature…the rich grew richer, the poor got poorer & the priests & prophets were corrupt.
Regarding application…God Still Searches. Vs. 1, “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.” We cannot hide from God. Our hearts whether cold or warm are like beacons in a dark desert night. God has not stopped His search. The Lord still searches for hearts that are soft & open to Him. When God does His “Internet Search” for soft hearts….does your name come up on the search list? I wonder if that list is growing or decreasing these days? Let us do our very best to not only be on that list…but be a part in adding to that list by sharing His Word that softens hearts!!!!
Vs. 2, “And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” Just picture the scene…John is in Heaven…we just witnessed the elders & the four living creatures worshipping God. And then we see a scroll in the Hand of the God Almighty who sits on His throne. And an Angel comes asking this very question we just read in vs. 2. Perhaps there was a pause, vs. 3 suggests it….there was a pause as everyone looked around to wonder who would be that person worthy of such a deed? John wept with tears as he began to understand the ramifications if that scroll could not be opened. All creation was in jeapordy if no one was to be found worthy. The angel soothes John by pointing to the Lion of Judah (none other than Jesus our Lord)…yet John all of the sudden sees a lamb in the center of the throne room…but the lamb had been slain. Vs. 2, “Why was this possibleWhat is about to happen here
Regarding application…Praise & Worship. Vs. 8, “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” The harps signify praise…the incence of course signifies our prayers. If you believe in prerapture…this even would fall after rapture, but before tribulation. Going back…vs. 8, really shows us how we are to live today. How did those bowls of incence get full? They got full because of the church that worshipped & prayed to Jesus before this even actually happened. That means now at this very moment we are filling up those bowls!!! Yet…whether we are filling up those bowls now…or one day joining the elders, the four living creatures & the Angels….the key to this whole thing is the proclamation of “Worthy is the lamb…” The heart of worship has always been about the Lamb…Jesus! Revelations gets me excited!!! Selfishly…I cannot wait till the day we are joining our voices in Heaven! What a glorious day that will be. Until that day…may we do our part during the period of Grace, to share to the world the love & sacrifice of the Lamb who was slain for you and me. One day Jesus will come back to redeem us & make right what went wrong. But, that day hasn’t happened yet & may we do our part until then!
Vs. 5, “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” What a great rallying call! Question: Who are Christians? We are Disciples of Christ! We are people who love & obey God’s commands (Vs. 1-5). Most people in this world do not know who Christians are. As Christians, we know who we are, because the Spirit testifies to it (vs. 6-13). We have that very testimony in our hearts (Vs. 10). How much more than should we testify who Jesus is to the world? We can pray to God and approach Him with confidence (Vs. 14-17). When we know God’s testimony, we can pray with boldness! We know how Christians should live (vs. 18) and we cannot ever deny that we don’t know the truth (Vs. 20)…for God has given it to us. We are without excuse for God has given us this wonderful knowledge!
Regarding application…Burdensome. Vs. 3, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” Question: Why? From the world’s point of view…it can be a very burdensome thing to be a Christian. As Christians we shouldn’t do that and we shouldn’t do this (a big book of rules). No one likes rules. But ask a parent if working hard so their children can have a good education and wonderful opportunties…and there job is never burdensome…Why? Because they love them. God’s laws and commands should never be burdensome. Yet many Christians fall into the trap that Adam & Eve fell into from the very beginning. Satan challenges us to think that God’s laws are burdensome and too hard to handle. Therefore, we break them and not follow them because life is easier. But a Christian who looks to God’s commands as burdensome is a person who does not know the meaning of love. Love is not selfish, but it is selfless. Re-read I Cor. 13 or remember that when we follow Jesus, He gives us rest from this weary world (Matthew 11:28-30). We follow & obey God because we love Him. That is why this world is not a burdensome place to live in.
Vs. 8, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” As Peter closes this letter, we see that he wants us all to remember our battle is not against flesh & blood. No matter what transpires or what suffering we may have, we are called to remain faithful to the work God has given us (Vs. 1-5). We are also reminded to be humble and think of others as better than ourselves (Vs. 5-7). And lastly, we need to be ever watchful of the enemy and be alert like a shepherd in the night with his sheep (Vs. 8-11). And the culminating factor will be that as we endure to do these exhortations, one day we will eternally be with our Lord & Savior!
Regarding application…Legalism Vs. Willing Heart. Vs. 2, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be...” While Peter is addressing the official leaders in the church, I absolutely believe this admonishment applies to us all! God doesn’t call us to serve the church and then see our heartless attitude. What if you asked a favor from a friend and were really hoping they could help you…and their response is, “Okay, I guess…” and their shoulders sulk and their attitude of their face & actions show they really would rather do something else. Question: How would you feel? First off, not much of a friend…you would probably feel bad for asking them to do that favor…and maybe remember not to ask them again in the future. We should never do things simply because God has commanded it….we should do it because of a willing heart. When we begin to complain or have that bad attitude…simply look to the cross and remember the blood that was shed for you. If that isn’t inspiration enough…than nothing in this life will ever be.
Vs. 8, “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” While there are several ending thoughts James gives, the key thought is once again the second coming of Christ. When Christians honestly look for the return of Christ, they can’t help but show the evidence of hope in their lives! While there were a few good rich people, God does not pull any punches when it comes to the rich. The rich often live very selfish lives and God warns us time and time again not to love money because James outlines a little bit of what might happen if you do (Vs. 1-6). We also see that we must be careful with swearing by an oath (like putting your hand on a Bible and swearing you are telling the truth). The way we live our lives should be enough of a testimony of our promises. And of course, when trials inevitably enter our lives…Question: What must a Christian do? Pray, Pray & Pray!
Regarding application…How We Pray For Others. Vs. 16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” S.A.G. (Student Accountability Group)…this is one of the inspirations of why we have S.A.G’s! We can’t make it on our own if we do not learn to pray for each other! In order to pray, we must break the dividing walls and humble ourselves so that through prayer we can truly be healed. Whether you are in the Youth group are you are at your own church…we must learn to depend upon each other! “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17). I’m looking forward to our first Corona Prayer Night tonight!
Vs. 7, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” We are now reminded that Jesus is greater than any of the high priests inculding Aaron. Jesus played different roles for us…he was a prophet, a priest and a king. For the direct audience, they could relate better than we can to this illustration. Not only was he above Aaron, Jesus was a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Gen. 14)….this was a greater priesthood than Aaron…one that had no beginning or end. But I think we all begin to understand that this was not a role Jesus selfishly took upon himself. Our Father in Heaven chose this role for His Son.
Regarding application…Solid Food. Vs. 14, “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” One of the measures of maturity in Christ is our intake of God’s Word (Food). We had previously discussed from the earlier chapters the drifting away from God’s Word and doubting the Word. A couple of years ago I had a some stomach issues that got so severe I had to go to the emergency room. It turned out I had a milder form of Ileusus (sp?). One of the remedies the Doctor prescribed was that I was to not intake many solid foods. My stomach was so weak that any solid foods would cause very unpleasant reactions. So far a whole week, I followed the Doctor’s orders and lo and behold…my stomach began to feel better. I had lost alot of weight, but my desire after that full week of weakness was to get healthy again. I was craving foods like crazy (especially Korean B.B.Q.)…and now eating solid foods has gotten me back to being fully healthy again. Likewise, we cannot gain spiritually when we are not eating solid bilblical foods (Word of God, prayer, fasting, accountability, etc.)