Monthly Archives: January 2015

Empowered, Imprisioned and Embolden

This week we come out of the crucifixion and resurrection to a new day. No longer are the disciples students. Jesus tarries with the disciples for 40 more days. Even during this time the disciples still don’t get the truth of what happened. Acts 1:6 indicates the spiritual dullness to Jesus Christ and His mission. I love the book of Acts for it is just a exciting and fast paced as Mark’s Gospel. I have often wondered what did Jesus teach the disciples the last forty days before His ascension?  I am sure there was a lot of reassuring and reiterating about the things that had happened, to get them ready for what was going to happen.

The disciples were given a commission in Acts 1:8, but they had to wait for the power to be given to them before they could begin their ministry. In the 10 days they had in the Upper Room, they prayed and bonded, this is exactly what needed to be done, because after the Holy Spirit comes IN them they would be ignited and interrogated about the Message they preached.  The disciples would have to be strong to persevere.

I have often wondered why Peter [prior to Holy Spirit] felt he needed to fill Judas’ place? Jesus selected all the apostles I think that Paul was God’s selection. I see the selection of Matthias as man again trying to do what he thinks God wants; but having never asked God anything.

Acts 2 is a remarkable passage, yet one that is filled with controversy. It wasn’t just the gifting of the Holy Spirit, but the question of the filling of the Holy Spirit. Some denominations believes that one must belief, be baptized and speak in tongues before salvation is real. Something that is often missed, the “gifting” of the Holy Spirit was manifested to each of the groups – Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles. The laying on of hands by the apostles was the method of authenticating that salvation was for all people.  The book of Acts is a historical record of how God in fact did spread the Gospel to all people through the apostles. Every time there was a new people group/class, the affirmed giving of the Holy Spirit was done by the Apostles. That being said, today we receive the Holy Spirit immediately at salvation. The Gospel has been established, we do not need the layering on of hands to impart the Holy Spirit to us.

It is amazing to see the transformation of Peter in chapter 2; he now has something to say – before he tried to speak of things he didn’t have a clue about. But now with the indwelling Spirit he stands and proclaims the truth of the Crucifixion and resurrection. This is now the hot headed Peter from before, this is now the instrument of God to spread the Gospel. The 3000 souls and later 5000 souls saved overwhelms me of the power of the Gospel – Romans 1:16-17.

There have been many attempts to try and duplicate the “church model” found in Acts 2:41-47. I have heard many that say “oh that we could be like the church in Acts.” Yet how many churches are willing to die to self for the unity of the church? How many are willing to go through persecution for the spread of the Gospel? Not many is the answer. First and foremost the people had to come together in prayer – 10 days of praying.  When the Great Awakenings happened, prayer was the catalyst. 2 Chronicles 7:14 still works, but the cost seems to be higher than what most Christians are willing to pay.

In the first few chapters of Acts we find Peter and John in the limelight. Peter is empowered, also imprisoned, but it doesn’t matter for he is embolden with the Lord’s glorious power!

The resistance  or opposition that was Christ’s soon becomes the Apostles. The Jewish religious leaders can’t afford to have the truth of Jesus propagated. They were guilt of the atrocities against Jesus; the Apostles became dangerous, they had to be eliminated. But the same problem existed – the common people embraced all the miracles and healings done through their hands.

The Apostles were unafraid, always in trouble, yet full of joy and gladness as God continued to cause praising, gladness and oneness among the people. If we want what they had, i believe we will have to go through what they did.  It wasn’t about Church as much as it was about Christ – the risen Christ – and to Him be all Glory and Praise!!!

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The end of the Beginning

This week we finished Mark’s Gospel and began to read Acts. The last few chapters of the Gospels all deal with the trials, humiliation, beatings, death,  burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We have read that the religious leaders we at odds with Jesus and sought how they might destroy Him. Interesting that they were so driven with envy and hatred that they wanted to destroy Jesus, not just silence or discredit Him, but to eliminate Him and his teaching. Jesus lived within the Law of God, but it was His unwillingness to live according to the laws of man that caused the hatred of Jesus by the Religious leaders.

We have read about the Last Week or Passion week of Jesus. Passion here means Sufferings – Jesus knew that the Cross laid before Him; yet took deliberate steps to the Cross. As the scripture tells us – the Son of Man came to seek and to save the Lost, and give His life a ransom for many. [Luke 19:10, Mark 10:45]

The Triumphal entry that Sunday was filled will all the shouts and singing for Jesus. The Messianic hopes were at a all time frenzy. As great as the scene must have been for all involved, it would soon go to the furthest extreme and the crowds later would cry out ‘Crucify Him”

I called this blog post the end of the beginning – for Jesus had completed His earthly mission, it is only with Christ ascending into heaven can the end come. Revelation 5 gives us the view of Jesus the Lamb of God taking the scroll from the Father’s hand – then Jesus is not longer the slain Lamb, but the Lion of Judah!  Until that time the end could not come. Jesus the Worth Lamb could begin to unfold the end times.

Jesus is very passionate during His finally days. He cleanses the Temple – for it was a money making business, not a place of worship and prayer. Jesus condemns the religious activity of the Pharisees and Sadducee s. No wonder Jesus did most of His ministry out in the remote places and the cities synagogues; that is where the people were. I wonder if this situation has been prevalent today for the ones who need Christ the most are absent from the churches. Have we become so self-centered that we have neglected the very reason the Church exist? The Temple worship existed for the religious system, not the people. Are we guilty of the same?

Mark 13 is what I call the Eschatological chapter, for it deals in a variety of ways with the end times and Second coming of Jesus.  I compare it to Luke 21, where Jesus answers three [3] different questions within the conversation. Only problem was that scholars have been trying to understand what it all means.  Jesus answered the question of when the Temple would be destroyed, the question of persecution and the final cataclysmic end of the age. I think Christ did this so that we would not be able to assign dates and times. [Acts 1:7]

The complete week has both highs and lows. The mock trials, the death plots and Lord’s Supper centered around the great Passover feast. It has been said that while the priests were sacrificing the lambs for eating the Passover, Jesus was hanging on the Cross. I find the correlation between the scene of Abraham offering Isaac on that same Mount, and God provided a lamb instead of Isaac; and God the Father providing His only Begotten Son as the sacrifice, reflects the name of God as Jehovah Jireh to the nth degree.

The trails before Pilate, Herod and Caiaphas were a mockery of a judicial system. Jesus was actually scourge and crucified for being who He was, the Son of God. His death culminates the verse  – and He came unto His own and His own received Him not. [John 1:11] From this point on in scripture, the Gospel message travels through the Gentile not the Jews. While there were many that followed the “Way” most of the Jews missed the Salvation they had longed for.

Chapter 16 of Mark has been the topic of debate for 100’s of years. The reason for this is that the verses 9-20 are not found in the original manuscripts. Mark is one of the synoptic Gospels [Matthew, Mark and Luke] Many believe that in an attempt to reconcile the Synoptic s these verses were added later by transcribing scribes.

In the end we find that Peter is restored to fellowship with the other disciples and Jesus. It is a glorious beginning – for the Risen Savior is anything but done with His ministry. Hebrews 7:25 – Jesus continues the ministry TO US, via intercession. Oh to know that He ever lives to make intercession for the saints! May we be bold in our witness and courageous in our living out of Faith in Jesus our Savior and Lord!!!

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Healing -Hunger -Helpers-and Herod

Chapter 4
By the time we reach chapter four, Jesus has established himself, called his helpers, the Apostles, publicity and popularity are very high. Also there is the under current from the Jewish religious leaders. Now that Jesus has a firmly established following from all over the various regions, he begins to bring to light what His mission is all about. It is like the all night healings and miracles are a foundation for which He can now explain His goal.
The parable of the Sower has been preached, taught allegorically and misinterpreted. The fact that it is a parable lends itself to having only one true meaning. Every aspect or detail of a parable does not have to be explained or spiritualized.  The Gospel is effective, there is nothing wrong with what is being sown, just problems with where it lands. The various places the seed lands reflects the various conditions of mans heart. Everyone can believe but not everyone will believe.

The Parables were intentional; those outside of “seeking faith” wouldn’t get the meaning – having said that the disciples rarely understood what was said except Jesus tell them plainly.

Through most of the reading this last week; we have a continual moving or relocating by Jesus. It seems that they are either in a boat going someplace or encountering the crowds and demonized people.

In chapter five, the demoniac of the Gerasene; the towns people were not afraid of the demonized man, but they are both upset and afraid of Jesus for turning the man back into a man. Their interests seem more about the pigs than for a man put right. The demons had to ask for permission before they could leave the man. With the side show gone, they beg Jesus to leave.

The woman who touched Jesus’ garment and Him feeling the virtue/power leave Him made me think of the movie the Green Mile, and how healing really took a lot of out Jesus. It is interesting that often we are busy trying to get to the next place – whether that is work or church, that we can miss ministry altogether. The raising of Jarius’ daughter, the widow Nain’s son and Lazarus from the tomb, reveal the truth of Jesus having power over death.

In chapter 6 we find that sometimes you just can’t go home. Jesus’ family were not captured by all the miracles he was doing. The hometown folks couldn’t move past “the Jesus being a carpenter son.” I remember a time when I went home and visited my home church that I saw people I never expected to be in church, in church. I think that this must be what happened in Nazareth – people not able to move past what the knew about Jesus and see who He was as the Son of God.

Finally after watching Jesus wear himself out with ministry; Jesus empowers the disciples, 2X2 to have authority over demons and ability to heal. They preached the same message “repent” the same message of John the Baptist – which has now landed him in Herod Antipas’ jail.
There is the sad story of Herodias [wife of Phillip the tetrarch] and John. John’s problem was not Herod but one similar to Ahab and Jezebel. In both cases, the men forfeited manhood by being wimps to their wives.
After the 2X2 ministry, Jesus drew the disciples alone for a time of respite and rest. I find this to be one of the failings within the church towards the clergy and laity; never a time of rest from ministry – are the demands constant and insistent. If I could I would advocate some sort of sabbatical rest for ministers who serve in one place for 5 yrs. Teams rotate people on and off, deacons can too, so should lead clergy be afforded the same opportunity.

The feeding of 5000, and the feeding of 4000. Why two alike events? It appears that Jesus used two separate times of “feeding” to drive home the point of the miracles. The disciples were dull in understanding; the second time [chapter 8] is similar; yet still many differences. The disciples failed to remember the previous feeding. Jesus is the one that has concern for the people, he immediately dismisses the possibility of sending the people away. Different word used for the baskets, seven baskets left over. Even the disciples continue to discuss – having no bread, Jesus is trying to get the disciples to think and ponder the true significance of the miracles. Jesus is trying to convey it isn’t what you don’t have that makes the difference, but what you have, given to the Father will be enough for whatever needs to be done. Rather than look at our own lack, look for the Lord’s provision.  It is rather sad that they and we today look to Jesus for cures and provisions to alleviate our own discomfort.

Chapter 7
Each time the Jewish leaders come around, it is not for the good, but for the controversy to what Jesus is doing. Traditions have entrenched the Jewish religion – gone is the reason they adopted the practices in the first place. [kind of sounds like churches today]. Jesus condemns the religious leaders for their use of their own traditions to dishonor their parents; Using religion for gain. In Chapter 8, we have Peter’s confession. It is interesting that many of the men named as possible idenitity of Jesus are dead guys. This holds that there was some element of believing in reincarnation – look back at Herod in Chapter 6 where they think Jesus is John come back to life.We all know the “Thou art the Christ;”  and how Peter blew it by telling Jesus that He wouldn’t die.  The disciples were mere men like we, yet we must be careful not to riducule them for their lack of faith – we are the same today.  Jesus at the statement begins to inform of what Being the Christ will mean – peter is rebuked because he wanted a different Messiah. Jesus also plainly reveals what it will mean to be a disciple of Jesus – death. If you want to live in this Life [world] you will die; but if you want to live in My world you must die so you can live.

See ya next week!


Pastor Jim

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The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – Mark

A new year with a New Beginning

I hope all the readers will enjoy  running highlights commentary as we read the Word of God through the year.

Mark, better known as John Mark – cousin to Barnabas is the author of the Gospel. However it has been many times called the “Gospel of Peter” this is because of the close relationship Peter and Mark had. Mark was a sort of amanuensis for Peter and wrote all the stories, accounts and memories of Peter.

Mark is the earliest Gospel, of which both Matthew and Luke use almost 70% of Mark’s information in some way or another in their own Gospel. The Greek language used by Mark could be called “common use” Greek. In other words it isn’t very polished. But this is to be understandable when we know that Mark wrote to the Gentiles.

The Gospel of Mark break on to the scene with the preaching of John the Baptist in the wilderness. After some 400 years of silence, there is this rough tough preacher baptizing people as a proof of their repentance. Of course as most people are about something new, they have to go check it out. Repentance for the forgiveness of sins is a message for today. Malachi 4 tells how the LORD will send one like unto Elijah at the great and terrible day of the Lord.

John was the forerunner to Jesus He announced that the Kingdom of God was Coming – Jesus preached that the Kingdom of God was present.
In the first chapter of Mark we find the repetitive use of the word – Immediate – 10 times. This immediate word propels the reader into an anticipation of something new and different is just around the corner.

In the Gospel we will find repeated episodes of where Jesus works miracles on the Sabbath. At his base camp in Capernaum, Jesus begins teaching with authority and power. He casts out demons, then forbidding them to speak who He is. The warfare of Jesus and the demons will continue throughout the Gospel. The demons know and fear Jesus for they knew him before they were cast out of Heaven.
As with any “Good News” of miracles and preaching, Jesus fame grew rapidly. So rapid was His fame because of others giving testimony of healing, Jesus had to live out in the secluded places. There is also the ever-present demonic spirits around, One could ask why was there such demonic presence while Jesus was on earth?

An all-night healing service, crows filled the house with demon possessed, diseased and illnesses. Jesus healed as long as he could – obviously there is more healing to be done than even what our Lord can do in one night.
Verse 35 is a key verse for here we find the prayer life and dedication to removing himself away from the crowds to be with the Father. Even though there had been a great work the night before still the crowds always wanted more. The prayer life of Jesus – he got up early while it was still night – obviously Jesus more rest that comes from the Father than sleep.
Another aspect of Christ’s ministry is he went to the synagogues. It was there that at least 10 families would assemble to teach and learn of the LORD. The Apostle Paul also used this tactic when starting new churches on his missionary journeys.
Vs. 39 –Jesus preaching and casting out demons in the church – a leper approached Jesus touched by the plight of the leper heals him. The leper is told to be quiet, just go do what the priest says to do according to the Law. Like that was going to happen. Jesus didn’t have to promote himself; those who had been touched by Him were advertisement enough.
That is what should be evident today – people who have been touched by Christ – through healing or salvation should noise everywhere where and who healed them! So great was the testimony and witness of the touched people, there was  no publicity campaign was necessary.

Chapter 2 –
This entire chapter is filled with events that challenge the “status Quo” of things. The religious rulers to include the chief Priests, Pharisees, and Sadducee s had developed a system of religion. However, if we look at where Jesus ministered, it was in outlying areas, not the Temple. It appears that the religious system had alienated the people who needed God the most. ***Note – if people cannot find Jesus in our churches, then they will find God elsewhere.

Another repeated word pops up in chapter 2 – the word – WHY – 4 times. Questions and more questions for this one who does works of God, and they are not according to “OUR” laws. When Jesus ceased being their own “little” novelty item, the Jews quickly look for ways to get rid of him. *****Note I think many times we do the same things in our churches; as long as the preacher and leadership do what we expect them to do, great, but don’t go out there and actually try to “save the Lost.”
Why do your disciples not Fast?
Why do your disciples eat grain on the Sabbath?
Why do you say forgiveness of sins?
Why can’t you just conform to our rules?
Jesus is a reformer; I like the expression elephant killer. He always challenges the “religious heretic” as a non-conformist.
Even with all the religious opposition, the people [sick, diseased, demonized] throng to Him from everywhere. There is a New Prophet in town! Jesus keeps healing and casting out demons – they even bow down to Him.
The selection of the 12 apostles – similar to the story of Jethro and Moses [Ex 13:13] Jesus is human, and he needs more than just Him to complete the task the Father has for Him to do.
On a mountain, the 12 are anointed to PREACH and Cast out DEMONS – the very task He did, they would do – not in their power but in His [John 15:5]
Another challenge – parents, Jesus’ own family though he had lost it. Identification is to a NEW FAMILY – not earthly family but spiritual family – those that do the work of God.
After three chapters we find that Jesus has a great popularity with the broken, diseased and outcasts of society; he does most of his work from the synagogue; he has brought on great opposition from the religious leaders of the day to the point they want to destroy him; even his own family is at odds with him.
Jesus deliberately goes against the “norm” and establishes a NEW ORDER.

Let me know your thoughts.  I am new at this so I am sure I’ll make some mistakes along the way.

Blessings to you

Pastor Jim

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