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Monthly Archives: September 2018

Peter & John — Mark 3:7-19

Jesus went out to the lake with his disciples, and a large crowd followed him. They came from all over Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far north as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him. Jesus instructed his disciples to have a boat ready so the crowd would not crush him. He had healed many people that day, so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him. And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” But Jesus sternly commanded the spirits not to reveal who he was. Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, giving them authority to cast out demons. These are the twelve he chose: Simon (whom he named Peter), James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder” ), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot ), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).

Mark 3:7-19

Dear God, is it bad that I never have learned the names of all 12 disciples? If pressed I could probably name nearly all of them, but I’d have probably missed that there were two names James.

I wonder why Jesus referred to James and John as the sons of thunder. Was that a comment on their personalities or on their father’s. Since we don’t really get an indication that John was a very intense or even angry person, I’m guessing this was a reference to their father (or maybe even their mother).

This list is obviously in a specific order that ranks them since Andrew and SImon (a.k.a. Peter) are separated by James and John. If Mark is writing this, then this is the specific order he gave them. Traditionally, I think that Mark’s gospel is thought to be Peter’s telling of the story to Mark, so that might be a reason that Simon comes first. I don’t suppose any of this makes a difference in the grand scheme of things. It’s just interesting.

The thing that really hits me about this passage, I suppose, is that these were the 12 that were picked. There were others hanging around, but there was something that Jesus saw in these 12. He took the time to teach them a little extra. He equipped them. He sent them out. He spent more time with them. There was something about each of them that Jesus needed and that the beginning church needed.

Father, I’m in my late 40s and I am still learning what all you need from me. I am about to go and lead a Bible study/Home Church for some strangers. I am acquainted with a couple of them, but, for all intents and purposes, we are strangers. But they are coming together to worship you. Use me tonight. Use me to speak to them. Help me to be loving and merciful. Help me to be pastoral and what they need. Give me your words for them. Give me your eyes so that I can see them as you see them. Be very present with all of us tonight. Enter the world through this home and let your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven through what you do among and in us tonight.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Mark 1:35-39

35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” 39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.

Mark 1:35-39

 

Dear God, it looks like Simon was already showing his propensity for leadership among the group, even at this early stage. Some people are just built that way.  

One thing that I suppose your grace does is it enables you to look beyond the actions and see the natural gifts and talents below. For example, Saul (of the New Testament) did some awful things. He was zealously hateful of Christians, to the point of arresting and killing them. He had blood of your faithful on his hands. But Jesus’ death and resurrection allows you to look beyond the killing and the hate, and see what you can use for your kingdom. In Saul’s case, you could use his zeal and tenacity to spread your message to Rome and set the stage for Christianity’s growth throughout the world.

Simon is the same way. He was an obvious leader. Even in this early story, he led the others outside to find Jesus. He had a lot to learn. He was arrogant and brash. He was also very impetuous. But you refined that out of him. You built the foundation of the church through him. He might not have had as much to do with its growth as Saul would eventually do as Paul, but Paul could never have done what Simon later did as Peter.

Father, help me to play the role you have me to play as well as I can. Use my strengths for your kingdom while you take my weaknesses and shape my ministry through them. You have given me an audience tomorrow night for some of the things you have taught me through my weakness. Help me to tell them what you would want them to hear, but help me to do it through the humility of acknowledging my failures and embracing the grace given to me and the lessons I have learned. And I pray the same thing over my children. They are adults, but they are still maturing, as am I. My temptation is to evaluate them through their weaknesses, but they both have so many strengths. Help me to look at them the way you look at them. Take who they are and use them for your kingdom’s glory.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Mark 1:29-31

After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.

Mark 1:29-31

Dear God, this was quite a day for James and John. Not only did they see Jesus authoritatively rebuke a demon at the synagogue, but then they saw Jesus heal Simon’s mother-in-law. What was this new world they had gotten themselves into?

I also kind of wonder what this home was like and who all loved in it. Mark indicates that it was both Simon’s and Andrew’s home. Since Peter had a mother-in-law we can infer that he had a wife—possibly children too?

There is so much we think we know about the Bible, but the truth is that our knowledge is limited and flawed. We have incomplete pictures is these people and their lives. We are just left to try to learn what we can from what we do have.

Father, it’s obvious that These first four disciples were key. After all, both Matthew and Mark specifically refer to their recruitments. Help me gain insights into myself by learning from them. Be glorified in my life so that others might see you and follow you.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John

 

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Psalm 131

Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord — now and always.

Psalm 131:1-3

Dear God, I woke up at 2:30 this morning worried about a friend who might have a serious health condition. My mind was really racing so I had the thought that I just need to be still before you. But even with that thought I was not able to still myself. Then I decided to listen to a sermon podcast from a church I have visited before. The pastor referenced this psalm. And while the sermon wasn’t about a topic that spoke to me, this passage did. It seemed to echo what I think you had spoken to me. Maybe it’s for me. Maybe it’s also for my friend.

In times like great illness, it is tempting to ask why me? Why does a loving God allow this to happen? Where is God in this tragedy? I’ve never thought of answering those questions with the first verse of this psalm: “Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.” The truth is, it is hubris to think I can understand your ways. It is my pride that drives me to think I can grasp the complexities of this world. Chaos Theory is not chaotic to you at all.

“Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

A child demands answers from her or his parent. Even the teenaged child expects justice and fairness. They expect the parent to provide and equitable structure. But that’s not how it works, and eventually that child should stop feeling sorry for themselves and make their way through life. They calm down and, if they are well-adjusted, they press on. Tragedy might possibly be falling upon my friend. I don’t know how she will respond, but maybe I can guide her into stillness before you.

“O Israel, put your hope in the Lord — now and always.”

Father, my hope is only in you. It is in you and your provision while I’m here on earth and it is in you in death. Not only for my life and death, but for the lives and deaths of everyone I know. Help me to live in that truth and to spread that truth. I am your child, but I should be weaned by now. I’ve been a discipline Christian for 31 years. Please help me to live in that maturity and to be able to share it with the world around me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2018 in Psalms

 

Planting Seeds

https://www.facebook.com/1308317/posts/10102477214668754/

Dear God, this link is to a Facebook post a friend shared with me. It’s a segment of a sermon in the 60s by a pastor who was defending the rights of black people. What struck me as I read this this morning is how he was willing to offend in the face of injustice. He was willing to let his conviction by you and the Holy Spirit and his love for others drive him into action that would cost him something.

While I was impressed with the sermon, I was left wondering if I am willing to do the same. The answer is no. No, I have allowed many many opportunities to stand up for an argument that I believe in pass me by.

A different friend visited me in my office yesterday. We started talking about healthcare (I work at a charitable medical clinic so it’s a natural conversation to have) and whether people have the “right” to it and what a good system looks like. I was proud of both of us for being able to keep the discussion friendly. We both commented at the end that it’s too bad our nation seems to have lost this ability to have “disagreements” like this.

Combining that conversation with this reading this morning, I found myself lying in bed wondering if, given my position in this community through my work, I shouldn’t be taking more of a public position about providing healthcare for everyone. I’ve never even really thoroughly articulated to myself why I do what I do. I can give some basic reasons, but perhaps it’s time to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves and try to be an influencer who might not drive change in this generation, but will plant seeds for future ones.

Father, give me seeds to plant and help them to find at least a little fertile soil. Some will fall on the path. Some will fall in the rocks and among the thorns. But help some to find the soil. Work in me to make the seeds I plant of you. Make them good. And help them to find the soil you need them to find for the sake of your kingdom and your will.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2018 in Miscellaneous, Musings and Stories

 

Peter & John — Mark 1:16-20

One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.

Mark 1:16-20

Dear God, I wonder what it was that Jesus saw in these two sets of brothers that made him want to call them to be part of the 12. And I wonder what what going on inside them that they accepted.

I think it partly goes back to the idea of what are we selling when it comes to you and evangelization. Here were some guys who fished for a living. Simon and Andrew were probably not as well off as James and John, but I’m guessing they all felt a certain level of hopelessness. They were obviously hungering for something since they dropped what they were doing to follow Jesus. Jesus was calling people to repent and live holy lives. Is that what they felt they were missing?

Father, help me to be more sensitive to calling people to you. And help me to be more responsive to repenting for my own sins and embracing your grace. Help me to live the life you call me to live so that I might find your peace and be the best ambassador for you that I can.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Matthew 27:56

Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

Matthew 27:56

Dear God, it’s interesting that Matthew skips so much detail. We will find out in other Gospels that John was there with his mother. We will get Peter’s redemption scene along the water. There’s just a lot that Matthew leaves out.

I can’t remember how much the other Gospels mention her, but I’m curious to see how much them mention James and John’s mother. I know she gets mentioned as a foolish person asking for greatness for her sons, but I don’t remember anything beyond that. In this case, Matthew is careful to point out that she is here at the cross, but she’s not there at the tomb on Sunday morning. Was she too busy being worried about her boys? Was she part of hiding them? Of course, anything would be a guess, but it is notable that somewhere between Friday night and a Sunday morning her priorities shift.

Father, I’m grateful the other Gospels give us more about Peter’s redemption. I’m also glad we get more details above John. Continue to teach me as I go through this process and get into Mark tomorrow.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2018 in Matthew, Peter and John

 

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