Mark 1

Vs. 1, “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”  Mark wants us to make sure there is no mistake: Jesus is the Son of God!  The first section of the Gospel is spent on giving the audience the privileged insider information as to who Jesus really is (vs. 1-13).  John the Baptist prepared the way (vs. 2-8), God the Father affirmed His Son (vs. 9-11) and Jesus would overcome the temptation of Satan (vs. 12-13).  Because this is a Gentile audience, there is no need to go into long details proving the genealogy of Christ to the Jews.  We see the fulfillment of John the Baptist’s ministry and the dawning of Jesus’ ministry (vs. 14-15).  The latter half of our chapter, we see the beginnings of Jesus’ ministry as he “serves” others and calls his disciples to him (vs. 16-45).  It’s no coincidence that the main apostles were fisherman for they would be able to relate to Jesus’ mission (vs. 16-20).  Question: Why did Jesus command the evil Spirit to be quiet (vs. 25)?  The evil spirit was telling the truth about the identity of who Jesus was.  But, Jesus did not need the testimony of the enemy.  The time was not right to reveal who He was yet.  If too much information got out about who Jesus was, it would compromise the time He had to minister until the Cross.  Mark gives us a touching picture of the servant heart Jesus (vs. 41) had for all who were downtrodden.

Regarding application…Heart of Prayer.  Vs. 35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”  I love it!  Jesus shows us through example one of the most important ingredients of our lives: prayer.  Yesterday, I preached a message about “Praying with God.”  God’s timing is impeccable as He now reminds us of the dependence and relationship we also have as sons and daughters to the Father in Heaven.  We were reminded of the empowerment Jesus had when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him (vs. 10).  The Trinity was at work in God the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.  Jesus as the Son of God empowered by the Spirit of God was able to have the power to heal and love.  Prayer is like the fuel that enabled this power to move.  As Christians, we are encouraged to live our lives as servants like Jesus.  We are not going to get too far if we do not pray and devote our walk with the Lord.  Because of prayer, Jesus was able to serve others in healing.  Question: How can you be a servant today?

Matthew 9

Vs. 2, “Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”  By now, Jesus has proved He has the ability to have power over nature and physical healings.  However, what astonished the teachers of the law was that Jesus would claim to have power for the forgiveness of sins (vs. 1-8).  They accused Jesus of blasphemy (insulting honor of God), for only God can forgive sins.  Jesus has the authority because He is both the Son of God and God through the Trinity.  Matthew moves on to share how He met Jesus for the first time (vs. 9-13), surely a very precious moment in His life!  Jesus’ response to John the Baptist’s followers (vs. 14-17) reminds us that fasting has its place, but the disciples need not fast and mourn because Jesus is with them now.  The cloth and wineskins is a metaphor for Jesus’ new covenant of grace rather than patching up and reusing the old legalistic ways.  Jesus came to fulfill not abolish God’s sovereign plan for salvation.  Matthew continues on to sharing more of Jesus’ miracles through the faith of the bleeding woman and the ruler (Jarius) whose daughter was dead.  The healing of the blind was a fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah (Isaiah 29:18, 35:5, 42:7) concerning Jesus’ healing.  Sadly, the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees accused Jesus of being a demon upon healing a mute & demon-possessed person (vs. 32-34).

Regarding application…Why Work?  Vs. 37, “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”  Most of us work to sustain life.  Jesus worked to give life.  The harvest needs workers to have compassion upon the lost sheep (vs. 36).  So much work to do and such a short life to live.  Question: Why work?  Because, Jesus did.  In our following chapter, He sends out the twelve to continue to help spread out the work.  There are many who are walking in darkness and sadness.  We have an opportunity to not only love them through good works, but also share the love of Christ and the message of hope.  It’s a sobering reminder when we think about the big picture of life.  Many churches use their summer to send out missions to teams all across the world.  Take time to pray for your church and even yourself that you might be a part in going out into the harvest field!

Acts 3

Vs. 1, “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.”  It was common for the believers to still go to the temple and pray.  The regular prayer times were 9:00, 12:00 and 3:00 when Peter and John went, they would prayed for one hour.  They pass by a crippled man from birth (vs. 2), he was asking for money, but Peter had something different to offer than money (vs. 6).  Question: Where would they have learned this type of compassion?  Jesus set the example for them as He often reached out to the poor, the widowed and the orphan.  By Peter healing this man also reminded everyone that the ministry of the Holy Spirit would continue to bless others as Jesus did.  It is admirable that Peter and John do not point at their own power, but give full credit to Jesus (vs. 11-16).  Peter than uses this as another opportunity to preach and remind the Jews that though they rejected Jesus, God is giving them another opportunity (vs. 17-26)

Regarding application…Praising God.  Vs. 8, “He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”  Remember, this man was crippled since birth.  He probably never had the opportunity to walk and jump!  And don’t forget, salvation also came into his heart!  In the midst of all our busyness, we can forget what our purpose is.  Peter and John could have easily just walked by him and ignored him.  They could have thought, “I don’t have time for you because I have to spend time with God.”  But God often uses these moments to remind us why we are here in the first place.  Some of us have forgotten the joy of just praising God for what He has done for us!  Question: What can you praise God for today?