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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Education / Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20 Welcome Guest
    Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20
          Have you always had questions about different passages and books of the bible? Me too. Let's explore everything together and find out what God's Word actually says. Are you ready for a life-changing experience? Are you? Then come on!
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    Wed, Oct 31st - 1:03PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And they sent to Him certain of the Pharisees and of he Herodians, to catch Him in His words. And when they came, they said to Him, Master, we know that You are true, and do not care for any man: for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?  Shall we give, or shall we not give?  But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, Why do you tempt Me?  bring Me a penny, that I may look at it (12:13-15)."

       The Sanhedrin keeps up the attacks against Jesus by sending another group of men to question Him.  They flattered Jesus with their lips, but their hearts were black with hypocrisy.  He rejected their fake flattery and respect.  Then Jesus asked them to show Him a penny. 

       They wished to know if it was okay to give taxes to the government of Rome.  So Jesus requested a penny in order to answer their loaded question.  If He had had a Roman coin in His pocket I am sure He would have pulled it out at this time.

    "And they brought it to Him.  And He said to them, Whose is this image and superscription?  And they said to Him, Caesar's.  And Jesus answered them by saying, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.  And they marveled at Him (12:16-17)."

       These men thought that they had placed Jesus into an inescapable trap of words.  If He said that they were to pay tribute to Caesar then that would have meant that Caesar was ahead of Moses and the Messiah.  But if he had said they were not to pay tribute He would have been guilty of insurrection against Caesar.  Christ's answer reveals that we all have at least a two-fold responsibility.  Believers do have a responsibility to their government.  We must pay our taxes, even when they appear to be unreasonable or corrupt.  To refuse to pay what is due to our government means that we are not supportive of a civil order being maintained in our land.  God has not called us to be agents of chaos in this world, but to be agents of order and truth, and of peace.  We also have a responsibility to our family.  We have a responsibility to our church family.  We have our responsibility to God.  Whatever my responsibility to my government may be, I must discharge it.  Same holds true for my family.  My responsibility to God however can't be discharged, it lasts my lifetime. 

       As a Christian I am obligated to pay my earthly taxes and to bank spiritual investments in heaven.  My heart will be where my treasure is stored, either here on earth or up in heaven.  If my government asks me to serve in the military, then I must attempt to discharge this obligation of citizenship without violating God's commandments. 

       That is all for today my friends.  Grace and peace to all those affected by the storm in America.

    ~Eric


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    Tue, Oct 30th - 11:03AM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "The Bible is very clear on the point that if we have money enough to live well, and do not share with others in need, it is questionable whether God's love is in us at all."
                                                           ~George Sweeting

    "In seventeen of His thirty-seven parables, Jesus dealt with property and man's responsibility for using it wisely."
                                                           ~George Sweeting

    "And He began to speak to them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a place for the wine vat, and built a tower, and leased it out to husbandmen, and went off to a far country (12:1)."

       We begin this chapter as if we are in the calm before the great storm.  Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb and He is subjected to close inspection at this point in time before He is to be slaughtered.  The regular passover lamb was subjected to the exact same kind of observation in order to detect whether or not it had any defect, any blemish.  On the face of things it might appear as if there is no action taking place, but upon closer examination we find that He is to experience the fiercest encounter with the religious rulers of Israel.  It is here that we can witness a battle of heaven and hell, light and darkness, God and Satan.  It is definitely not a cessation in the hostilities. 

       For three years there had been periodic skirmishes between Christ and the Sanhedrin. They had been becoming more and more bitter in recent encounters..They wished to force Christ into saying something that would turn the people against Him.  Their verbal traps were unsuccessful, and then Jesus took the initiative through this opening parable about the vineyard.  It's meaning was quite obvious and the members of the Sanhedrin were outraged.  Let's look at it.

       The vineyard represents the nation Israel according to Isaiah 5:1-7.  God brought that "vine" out of bondage in Egypt; He planted it in the Promised Land.  He gave the nation a God-given religion with the visible presence of Himself.  Now He gives a parable for the religious rulers of that day.

    "And at the season He sent to the husbandmen a servant, that He might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.  And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty handed.  And again He sent to them another servant; and they cast stones at him, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away after being shamefully treated.  And again He sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.  Having yet therefore one Son, His well-beloved, He sent Him also last to them, saying, They will reverence My Son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the Heir; come, let us kill Him, and the inheritance will be ours.  And they took Him, and killed Him, and cast Him out of the vineyard.  What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard to others.  And have you not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner?  This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?  And they sought to seize Him, but feared the people: for they knew that He had spoken the parable against them: and they left Him, and went their way (12:2-12)."

       We see that these religious rulers clearly knew that this parable was all about them.  The servants that God had sent were the prophets.  The "certain man" who had this vineyard is God the Father.  The vineyard is the nation of Israel, but it also implies something much greater as well.  The husbandmen were the religious rulers, before them it had been the high priests and the kings.  Finally God sent His Son; and that, of course, is Jesus Christ.  Jesus did come first to the nation of Israel (Matthew 15:24), but He also came for the entire world (John 3:16). 

       But in this parable Christ is openly telling the Sanhedrin that He clearly understands what they are all about, just as he has understood the anti-God sentiments over the centuries within the Tabernacle and Temple priesthood and the kings.  He informs them that He knows about their plans to kill Him.  He tells them what they will end up doing.  He prophesied their every step before they began to do it.  He charges them all with His murder, before they have even done it.  But that is not all, for then He predicts the judgment of them all.  Physically this judgment came to pass in 70 A.D. when Titus the Roman general destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple.  Many were taken as slaves by the Romans. 

       But we must also not forget about this "stone which the builders rejected."  Christ was a stumbling stone and a rock of offense to the religious rulers of His day.  But many of the regular people turned to Him and so He became the headstone of the corner of a new body of believers in God.  He is the start of the new Church of believers in Christ Jesus.  The religious rulers did not wish to surrender to Jesus their positions of authority, prestige, status, and power; so they plotted to murder Him.  But they were afraid of the multitude of people who followed Jesus. 

       So beloved, what is Jesus to you today?  Is He your Savior and Lord, or is He a stumbling block and rock of offence?  Are you embarassed to admit that you are a Christian, or are you bold and courageous as a disciple of Him?  Are you afraid or are you confident?  Do you worry about everything, or are you settled and at peace no matter what happens around you?  Do you believe that Jesus Christ is in control of every aspect of your life or do you think that sometimes He must simply forget that you even exist?  These questions determine what sort of world view influences your behavior each day.  I pray that as you ask yourself these questions that God's grace and love embrace you and lead you to new revelations of His plan for your life.

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Oct 29th - 12:59PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And they came again to Jerusalem: and as He was walking in the Temple, there came up to Him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, And said to Him, By what authority do You do these things? and who gave You this authority to do these things (11:27-28).?"

       All of the religious rulers of the Temple are still dogging Jesus' trail. They refuse to accept Him as their blessed Messiah at each and every turn. Here they resort to challenging His authority to perform miracles. They were the religious rulers; they were the official rep's of religion in their day, and they surely hadn't delegated any authority to Jesus. 

    "And Jesus answered and said to them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer Me that (11:29-30)."

       Awesom question to ask of them! It placed them in an extremely vulnerable postion. If they said that John's baptism was from heaven, then the obvious follow-up woudl be, "Then why didn't you accept it?"  If they repudiated John, then the people would be antagonized for they all had accepted John.

    "And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven, He will say, When then did you not believe him? But if we say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. Therefore they answered Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus responded and said to them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things (11:31-33)."

       They chose to wiggle and squirm their way out of having to answer His question by claiming ignorance. Was Jesus then given sufficient grounds to refuse to answer their own question?  They were not genuinely seeking to discover what authority He was doing these miracles by, they simply wished to trap Him so that they could properly accuse Him of things sufficient to kill Him. They had no intention of following His teachings. After all, they were the leaders! Jesus chose to not answer their question because in all honesty, they had refused to answer His question.  We do need to remember that whenever people came to Jesus with sincere questions that they received sincere answers from Him.  So, if we go before Christ and are sincerely seeking answers to our questions, He will faithfully answer us in a sincere manner. The answer might not be what we were expecting, or even wanting to hear, but God will sincerely answer our genuine questions of concern.

    That is all I have time for today, beloved.  Hopefully tomorrow I will post again in this study.  It will depend upon this coastal storm that will make landfall sometime later this evening north of me.  I hope and pray that I and my family will not be forced to endure power outages as we did earlier this year with the derecho that came through this region.  My thoughts and prayers are with all those people who are directly in harm's way as this storm continues to surge toward the east coast of America.  May God be with us all in this time of natural disaster.  May people of faith use this time to reach out and help those who are, and will be, in need of almost anything imaginable in the wake of this huge storm.

    ~Eric



    Comment (0)

    Fri, Oct 26th - 12:48PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "Revival is a new beginning of obedience to God...Just as in the case of a converted sinner, the first step is a deep repentance, a breaking down of heart, a getting down in the dust before God, with deep humility and a forsaking of sin."
                                                       ~Charles Finney

    "And in the morning, as they all passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the very roots, And Peter recalling what had happened previously, said to Him, Master, behold, the fig tree which You did curse is withered away. And Jesus said to them, Have faith in God. For truly I say to you, That who ever shall say to this mountain, Be removed, and be cast into the sea; and he shall not doubt in his heart, but he shall believe that those things which he said will come to pass; he shall have what ever he said. Therefore I say to you, What ever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and yo shall have them (11:20-24)."

       It is rather interesting that this discussion about the prayer of faith arose from out of Peter's observation of the withered fig tree. The first step in prayer must always be faith in God. Hebrews 11:6 confirms this: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."  If I do not believe in God then prayer becomes simply the action of a madman talking to himself.

       Verses 23-24 are often misunderstood.  The Christian is not expected to literally toss mountains into the sea.  But he/she does need such power for living and meeting the daily mountains of cares and problems that life heaps upon each of us. I need to believe Ephesians 3:16, to accept God's strength which He offers to me through His Holy Spirit. To be made strong through the Holy Spirit's workings in my inner man, now that is very important!  Christ gave them a visual image to enable them to understand how much power could be made available to each of them through the Holy Spirit.   Verse 24 gets flaunted on the internet by atheists as an example of believers being allowed to get whatever selfish thing they ever desired.  That this proves that God is a pandering deity and has no ethics at all.   Quite the contrary, this verse can't be cherry picked and used to beat any drum.  This does not allow us to satisfy our own personal selfish desires. This requires us to have faith in God that His will might be accomplished in our life. 

    "And when you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you of your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (11:25-26)."

       Here is the precondition that any individual must meet (after having faith in God) in order to have their prayers heard and answered by God. Hold grudges, prayers will not be heard and not forgiven.  An unforgiving spirit in essence short circuits the power of prayer. Yes, we are forgiven for Christ's sake but if we are to have true power in our lives we must be willing to forgive others.  Steadfast refusal to forgive others blocks the prayers made to God and can even be considered to be sin. If we do not believe that we must forgive others as God has commanded of us, then it is sinful behavior. Sin separates the person from God and so prayers can't be honored by God in these sorts of situations.

       That is all for today beloved.  To those who live up and down the East Coast of America, please be vigilant of the approaching storm and take proper precautions to avoid loss of life.  I pray that God will watch over you and keep you safe from harm.  Grace and peace be yours.

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Oct 25th - 12:47PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And on the next day, when they were come from Bethany, He was hungry: and seeing a fig tree far away having leaves, He came, if by chance He might find any fruit on it: and when He cam to it, He found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet come. And Jesus answered and said to the fig tree, No man eat fruit of you hereafter for ever. And His disciples heard Him speak it (11:12-14)."

       This is the second day, and as they walked back to Jerusalem from Bethany we have this incident with the fig tree. Nation Israel is represented by a fig tree rather often in scripture. Here Jesus wished to send a message to His disciples about the condition of their country. Israel had the outward "leaves" of a God-given religion, but there was no spiritual fruit. The nation was barren. This same application fits the Christian church today.  Many leaves but little or no fruit being produced. The later message to the Laodicean church mirrors this concept.  They did not have anything, they were poor and blind and needed to have ointment to open their eyes.  The Holy Spirit was not there. It would appear to be exactly what Isaiah spoke about in 29:13.  This is the condition of the church today.  So Jesus cursed the fig tree and it withered away.  This is what happened to Israel, and it is what will happen to that portion of the church today that has much physical growth but isn't producing any spiritual fruit.  

    "And they came to Jerusalem:and Jesus went into the Temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the Temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves (11:15)."

       Christ Jesus withers the fig tree and then upon entering Jerusalem He goes into the Temple and cleans house. He cleansed it at the beginning of His ministry and now He cleanses it once again. This happened on Sunday. The moneychangers had been allowed to set up business within the Temple. The stock market had been moved within its walls as well, and now they were seated right there next to it.  Anyone who entered the Temple to worship and were holding foreign currency needed to deal with these people before being able to buy any animal for sacrifice.  These moneychangers charged a nice percentage for converting their foreign money into currency of the Temple. Yes, it did serve a good purpose, but it had become thievery.  It was a religious racket to simply make a bundle of money.  People have a valid reason to be cautious about giving money to any church today.  We must check them out very, very, carefully in order to discover what exactly they do with the money they gather from the congregation.  there must be accountability. 

       Christ's presentation of Himself as the Messiah was not some triumphal entry into the city of David. Jesus was rejected. In order to witness His triumphal entry we are forced to wait until His return (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).  When all of the heavenly host accompanies Christ upon His return to earth, then we shall see a triumphal entry to Jerusalem that will last longer than one morning. Our raising up into glorified bodies in order to be with Him might occur in a twinkling of an eye, but the "parade" I suspect will last quite a bit longer.  Jesus will lead all of us believers on the way into our new home at the very beginning of the millennium. What a glorious time that will be!  How indescribable the excitement of that event shall be! 

       We must keep these verses clearly in mind beloved, for we do not wish to repeat the mistakes of the Israelites.  They allowed their Temple to become a place of usury, a place where the Gentile was no longer allowed in. There shouldn't be gambling in the House of God, there shouldn't be prejudice, nor should there be a preference for certain people to attend.  The Israelite completely lost his Temple, all that is left are the synagogues.  Animal sacrifice can't be performed in a synagogue, it can only be done in the Temple. (This is not to say that the Temple ought to be performing these sorts of things if it were to exist today)  The Temple became cursed by Christ and it withered away.  The Jew will eventually attempt to resurrect the Temple and all of its ordinances at some point in the future. But first they must regain complete control over all of Jerusalem's land.

    Grace and peace be yours, now and for ever!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Wed, Oct 24th - 12:42PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And when they came close to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, He sent out two of His disciples. And said to them, Go your way into the village over by you: and as soon as you enter it, you shall find a colt tied up, upon whom no one has ridden; untie him and bring him here. And if any man asks you, Why do you do this? you say that the Lord has need of him; and immediately he will send him here (11:1-3)."

       Here is Jesus steadily traveling towards His crucifixion, relentlessly moving forward in His public ministry, remaining obedient to God the Father's will.  This is to be the last week of His earthly life. Bethany and Bethphage are little towns on the other side of the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem.

       Christ carefully gives specific instructions to two of His disciples.  They are to go into the village closest to them and obtain a colt.  Not just any old colt, but one that is already tied up and that has never been ridden at all. Now we could get all twisted up in discussing how Jesus knew that there would be this colt tied up there.  Or, we could accept either of two alternatives.  One, being omniscient Jesus knew that this animal would be available and where it would be tied up on that exact day.  Or, Jesus had already made these arrangements previously on one of His trips through this area since He knew that He would be entering Jerusalem for the final time on this specific day.  Either option forces us to accept the fact that Jesus knew the future and made everything work to fit His plan of events.  This final week of His human life was not happenstance nor was it full of unexpected things. Jesus knew exactly who He would see, speak to, and be betrayed by. 

       We can see Jesus here exerting His authority.  If anyone questions why you are taking the colt, simply tell them that the Lord needs the animal.  Even while there are those who are actively plotting Christ's death, there are those who are yielding allegiance to Him.  For some 1900 years now people have been doing these same two things.  They are either surrendering themselves to Him or else they are plotting how to get rid of Him.

    "And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside in a place where two ways met; and they untied him. And certain of them that stood there said to them, What are you doing, taking the colt?  And they replied to them just as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go with the colt. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on the colt; and Jesus sat upon the animal. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off of the trees, and threw them on the ground like straw. And they that went before Him, and that followed behind, cried saying, Hosanna; Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord (11:4-9)."

       Here the two disciples remain obedient and simply stick to the task at hand.  Everything goes exactly as Jesus said it would.  It should be a faith builder. These same two disciples put their cloaks upon the back of the colt so that Jesus has something between Himself and the animal as He rides upon him. The question then becomes, how large was this "triumphal" entrance into Jerusalem?  It would not have been very impressive if it had happened in Rome, but even in Jerusalem it must not have been something that grabbed the attention of the entire city. Here we see that it was a few Galileans and commoners who shouted out the coming of the Son of man, the Lamb of God, the Messiah. 

    "Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming!  Hosanna in the highest!  And Jesus entered Jerusalem, and into the Temple: and when He had looked around at all of the things, and evening had come, He went out to Bethany with the twelve (11:10-11)."

       The pronouncement of the coming kingdom is publicly made.  Jesus rides to the Temple where He dismounts, spends some time there observing everything that is set up there, and then departs with the disciples out to Bethany.  This is the Sabbath Day and so there were no money changers or oxen in the Temple outer court.  Jesus came in as the Priest, and He was also the Sacrifice.  He also came as the High Priest to offer the sacrifice that is acceptable to God for your sins and for my sins.  We need to also make note that Jesus did not spend the night inside the gates of Jerusalem.  He went out to Bethany at evening time. He would not spend a single night within the walls of the city which had rejected Him.  He would not die within those same city walls, fulfilling prophecy by being taken outside of the walls to die.

    That is all for today beloved.  Do you come in the name of the Lord?  If so, you are blessed!  Hosanna!  Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Tue, Oct 23rd - 1:07PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them all to Him, and said to them, You know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be this way among you: who ever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And who ever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all of you. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many (10:41-45)."

       The sons of Zebedee stirred up quite the unrest within the twelve disciples. I am sure words were exchanged between the ten and James and John. So Christ teaches them another great truth about the kingdom of God.  The methods used by the Gentile rulers is not to be those used by the church of believers. Christian leaders can't assume to be rulers given authority by God to dictate to others.  It is not the Way of Christ Jesus.  Those who wish to become leaders among the believers must first become servants of everyone, ministering to their needs. This is what Jesus came and did.  If I wish to become the greatest, I must also be willing to sacrifice my life just as did Jesus.  Without this there will be no power in what I say and do. God will take those who are humble, meek, and submit themselves to God, and place them as the leaders. The chief must first become the servant of all.

    "And they came to Jericho: and as He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the side of the highway begging. And when Bartimaeus heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, You son of David, have mercy on me! And many people charged him that he should remain quiet: but he cried out even louder and more frequently, You son of David, have mercy on me! And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they called the blind man, saying to him, Be of good comfort, stand up; He calls you to come. And Bartimaeus, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said to him, What do you wish that I should do to you? The blind man replied, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said to him, Go your way; your faith has made you whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way (10:46-52)."

       Here is an account that also appears in both Matthew and in Luke. There are no errors between these three accounts of the action that took place outside of the walls of Jericho. How many times did Jesus leave Jericho?  We do not know.  So it is very conceivable that one time He was met by two blind men and another time by Bartimaeus.  Or Bartimaeus was one of these two blind men in both instances. Mark's account focuses upon Bartimaeus and I think that the important thing to take away from this is that blind people could tell that Jesus was the Son of David.  They had decided in their hearts that it must be so, no other person could have done what they were hearing Jesus had accomplished.   Here was a man who had come directly to Christ while he had no physical sight. Now that he had had his physical sight restored he chose to follow Christ and would very soon see Jesus dying upon a wooden cross for him  Are any of us blind?  Have any of us seen Jesus dying for us? Have we chosen to follow Him that far?  Or have we turned away because we do not wish to be offended by such a sight?

       Well, that finishes up chapter ten of Mark's gospel.  We have come a long way in this gospel, and now we come to the last days in the earthly life of Christ.  We are now to observe the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, hear about how the fig tree was cursed, the cleansing of the Temple, learn about prayer, and be reminded about the authority of Jesus Christ.

      This chapter of Mark deals with the three days that Christ came into Jerusalem. The so-called triumphal entry really was a public declaration of His earthly ministry being concluded or finished. Each gospel presents a different aspect, a different viewpoint, of His coming into Jerusalem. The first day He came was a Sabbath day, Saturday. He returned on Sunday and cleansed the Temple. Then He returned on Monday and wept over the entire city.  Much was packed into these few remaining days of earthly life for Jesus, and we shall begin to study it beginning next time we meet here.  I hope and pray that you have a blessed day!  I pray that God's Holy Spirit touches your heart and your mind, giving you insight into the Word.  May Christ's grace, love, and peace fill your spirit this day and provide you with joy indescribable.

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Oct 22nd - 1:00PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went in front of them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And He took the twelve again, and began to tell them what things should happen to Him, Saying to them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered up to the chief priests, and to the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him: and the third day He shall rise again (10:32-34)."

       Here they all were, walking up the road to Jerusalem.  The disciples knew that the city was not a friendly place for their Master, and yet, here He was going on in front of them, leading the way towards the city of David.  Finally, Jesus takes the twelve disciples aside and repeats His earlier teaching to them.  They are all afraid of what could happen within the walls of Jerusalem, so Jesus warns them and also encourages them with His words.  He will be taken and handed over to the religious rulers. He will be mistreated by them, and the Gentiles (Romans). He shall be killed, yet He will rise from the grave three days later.  Jesus did not allow His disciples to enter into this city ignorant of what must happen there. Jesus does not wish us to remain ignorant about what must happen to us during the Great Tribulation Period at the end of this age either.  But will we listen any better than the twelve?  These twelve men acted as if they had their fingers stuck in their ears and kept saying, "Nnaahhh, nnaahhh, nnaahh, nnah, nnahh."

    "And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him with a request, Master, we would that You should do for us whatsoever we shall desire.  And Jesus said to them, What would you wish that I should do for you? They said to Him, Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand, and the other on Your left hand, in Your glory. But Jesus replied to them, You do not understand what you ask: can you drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with (10:35-38)?"

       Remember we covered this account in Matthew? Their mother had come to Jesus asking this privilege for her two sons. Jesus asked them if they felt that they could partake of the cup and the baptism which He was obliged to take.  Of course, without thinking very long or hard, both men said sure, we can.  Did they understand the magnitude of what they were claiming?  Do we always understand the length and breadth of what we claim we will do for Christ?

    "And they said to Him, We can. And Jesus said to them, You shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized shall you also be baptized: But to sit on My right and left hand is not Mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared (10:39-40)."

       Our Lord and Savior did not say that there is not place on His right and left hand. These two places of honor are reserved for those whom it has been prepared for. These places of honor are not going to be arbitrarily given to anyone who comes and requests them.  Two persons will surely sit on either side of Christ, we simply do not know who they will be. Beloved, we get heaven as a gift. But our place in heaven is something we must work for. Salvation is free, but we work for any further rewards. Rewards will be few and far between for those who choose to accept Christ and then just sit in the pews or on the couch doing nothing else. As God has said: Be not just hearers of the Word but be also doers of the Word.

       Notice that while Jesus is deliberately walking to the place where He has said He must die, two disciples are still focusing upon status and positions of power.  Instead of thinking about what is going to soon take place and how it will change the world, they are trying to secure seats of honor before He dies!  Oh, how their perspective will change in a matter of days! They will be ashamed of their pettiness, their greed, their seeking of power and prestige. But that is yet to come, beloved.

       May you all walk circumspectly, rightly discerning the Word of God.  May you all seek to walk a deeper path with Christ through His Holy Spirit's leadership.  May those around you behold the light of Jesus Christ radiating out from your face each and every day. Grace and peace adorn your neck and shoulders all of this day, and in the days to come.

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Fri, Oct 19th - 12:47PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And when He was gone out into the way, there came a person running, and kneeled before Him, ans asked Him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good? there is none good but one, that is, God (10:17-18)."

       In our current world obsessed with materialism this incident is very applicable. Matthew told us in his account that this was a young ruler and it was a rather normal question for a man living under the Mosaic Law to ask. What must he do to inherit eternal life? Jesus is initially wanting to know why this young man thinks that He is a good person? Only God in heaven is good, so if he is calling Jesus "Good Master" does he mean that in his mind Jesus and God are one and the same? Is this true?

    "You know the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother. And the young man answered and said to Him, Master, all of these have I observed from my youth (10:19-20)."

       Jesus directs this young man's attention to the commandments which compose the second section of the Ten Commandments. This section is labeled probitas and has to do with man's relationship with other men. The young ruler replies that he has kept these since his youth. He has treated others respectfully, ethically, and morally.  So Jesus moves on in His conversation with him.

    "Then Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatsoever you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow Me. And the young man was sad at that reply, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions (10:21-22)."

       What this young man lacked was a proper relationship to God.  What obviously hindered him was his immense wealth.  The young man did not think that Jesus was God. Simply a good man who taught good things to the people.  Jesus asked him to be willing to separate himself from his wealth and follow Him. Where would doing this lead this young man?  To follow Christ at this point in time meant following Him to His arrest, torture, and crucifixion. Christ was going to Jerusalem to die for this young man's sins. Following Christ now would have meant that he would have come directly to the cross for redemption. But his possessions prevented him from following Jesus.  He went away very, very, sad.  He had come thinking that heaven could be his at very little more cost to himself.  It would not require him to sacrifice anything in his life. Such a difference in response to God's call from this man to that of the disciples.  Peter and his mates had a sizeable investment in fishing boats and equipment, not to mention employees.  Yet, they left all behind in order to follow Jesus Christ.  How are we doing today, beloved?  Are we there yet?  Love of money and of possessions will cause many a person to turn away from becoming a disciple of Christ.  These things are greedy for our attention and affection.  We choose to worry about others trying to steal them from us.  Or we obsess about keeping our "stuff" in good usable condition so that we can enjoy using them. We can easily become skeptical of anyone who wishes to become our friend, assuming that they must be wanting "something" from us, that something being a material thing rather than simply our company or friendship, or love. So wealth is a stumbling block to becoming a follower of Christ, it creates a very real hardship spitually, tending to block us from even considering how much we need God in our lives. It creates the illusion that we lack nothing, that we are able to purchase whatever we need in life.  It fails to recognize that upon death one can't take any of one's accumulated wealth with them  We come into this world with nothing, we leave this world with nothing. This holds true for the poverty-stricken as well as the mega-wealthy. 

    "And Jesus looked around, and said to His disciples, How difficult for those with physical wealth it is to enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus spoke again, and said to them, Children, how hard it is for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel t ogo through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (10:23-25)."

       This illustration points out how futile human efforts are when it comes to gaining entrance into the kingdom of God. A camel can't physically fit through the eye of any needle.  It is humanly impossible to do this, but for God all things are possible.  Jesus had been demonstrating this truth over and over through His miracles.

    "And the disciples were astonished beyond measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them said, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible (10:26-27)."

       Too many people today feel that if they simply had enough money that they wouldn't lack anything.  Really?  Money can buy love?  Money can buy faithfulness and loyalty?  Money can buy morality?  Here is what someone wrote about money:

    "Money will buy a bed, but it will not buy sleep.

    Money will buy food, but it will not buy an appetite.

    Money will buy medicine, but it will not buy health.

    Money will buy a house, but it will not buy a home.

    Money will buy a diamond, but it will not buy love.

    Money will buy a church pew, but it will not buy salvation.

      Jesus invited the rich, young, man to get rid of those things which stood between him and God.  This is still the invitation that Jesus offers to each and every person today.

    "Then Peter began to say to Him, Lo, we have left everything, and have followed You. And Jesus answered and said, Truly I say to you, There is no man that has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or shildren, or lands, for My sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life (10:28-30)."

       Here we have God's rebuttal to the complaint of the atheists about being forced to live a poverty-filled life if one chooses to follow God. By being willing to walk away from everything that you have in order to follow Christ and the gospel God says that He will reward you with a hundred times more than what you had to begin with. Now, I don't know about you, but that is a mighty good incentive plan! Peter simply pointed out that he and the other disciples had chosen to leave everything behind in order to go with Christ. Christ promised him a reward for having done so.

    "But many that are first shall be last; and the last first (10:31)."

       Christ informs us that just because the disciples happened to be among the first to be called out does not mean that those who are among the very last to be called out won't receive equal rewards to those who were first.  God spoke at least one parable in which this very topic was emphasized.  We are not to despair over the fact that we have been called out by God some 1900 years after the last apostle lived and so we will never be able to receive an equal reward as any of them. God has said that all shall receive a just compensation for believing in Jesus Christ. Extra rewards are possible for those who choose to walk a deeper spiritual path with Christ, but it will not be at the expense of other believers. Each believer will have a place in God's mansion, there will be no one left outside looking in. There will be no place for envy or covetousness in heaven.  Greed as well will have no place there either.  Oh, how I look forward to living there for all of eternity!  How about you?

    ~Eric



    Comment (2)

    Wed, Oct 17th - 11:44AM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And they brought young children to Him, that He should touch them: and His disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was displeased very much, and said to them, Suffer the little children to come to Me, and do not forbid them: for of such is the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, Who ever will not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter into it. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them (10:13-16)."

       Children do not have to wait until they are adults to come to Jesus Christ. Children do reach an age at which they are able to understand right from wrong, at this age they become capable of choosing to believe in God, or not. Jesus is saying here as well that adults need to come to salvation as little children.  Much talk is all about people needing to grow, to mature, to achieve independence.  All of those things are good, once I actually become a child of God.  But most of us appear headed in the wrong direction. We need to leave behind all of our cleverness and sophistication and complex knowledge of which we boast and rely upon, and get back to the simplicity of childhood.  We need to accept simple, childlike faith, and just trust in God through Christ Jesus.

       We see here as well that Jesus gathered up the children into His arms and with His hands upon them He blessed each one of them. Did Jesus ever take adults into His arms like this?  No, He did not. I want Jesus to gather me up just like this, holding me and blessing me.  So, in order to gain that I must choose to trust in Christ like a little child would.  Keep it simple.  Jesus took the little children into His arms because they do not bring cynicism, skepticism, elitism, and all of the other "isms" with them in what they believe.  God will receive a person when they come to Him as a little child would.

       That is all for today, beloved. Nothing extensive, nothing mind boggling.  Just that you and I must accept Christ with the same attitude of a young child.  Trust Him, love Him, obey Him.  If we do these simple things then He will forgive us, protect us, and teach us.   Hope you all have a blessed day!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Tue, Oct 16th - 12:07PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And in the house His disciples asked Him again of the same matter. And He said to them, Who ever shall put away his wife, and marry another, commits adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and he becomes married to another, she commits adultery (10:10-12)."

       How is this strong statement about divorce to be interpreted? We ought to gather together the other scriptures which speak about divorce and consider them all before reaching any conclusion. The parallel passage in Matthew lists fornication as the one basis for divorce. Mark omitted this, he was writing to the Romans who did not know the Mosaic Law while Matthew was writing for Israel who had had and knew the Mosaic Law of divorce.

       Romans 7:2 does not apply to the issue of divorce but addresses a legal relationship.  God utilizes this marital relationship of a wife being bound to her living husband until death frees her, as an illustration of the believer's relationship to the principle of the Law.  The Mosaic system took care of the unfaithful wife or husband. They were stoned to death according to Deuteronomy 22:22-24.  It is a good thing that we do not stone unfaithful spouses today or else we would run out of stones to throw!

       According to the Mosaic Law, a husband or wife who is guilty of adultery may be treated as being already dead by the other mate. Unfaithfulness is recognized in Scripture as grounds for divorce.  The innocent spouse is then free to remarry.  Why such a fuss about dissolving a marriage?  For one thing it is not simply a legal contract between a man and a woman.  Marriage is also a covenant between each of them and God.  Husband and wife not only are responsible to each other, they are also responsible to God.  There is an accountability of both to God.  God remains intensely interested in good outcomes within the bounds of marriage. 

       Discussing divorce can't be done without considering the children. The two adults may deceive themselves into believing that they can move on without any problems, but the children are never so fortunate. The Spirit of God is telling all of us a vital fact here. The child is the innocent product of marriage, and a divorce becomes twice as evil because the children suffer emotional and mental anguish.  They immediately begin questioning if they are to blame for this happening to their family.  Is it my fault for my dad leaving us?  Did I push my mom too far one time too many?  I spoke disrespectfully to my mom, is that why she left all of us?  I have tried to pick up my mess, is this why dad left us and mom is crying all of the time? It is amazing to discover the number of young people from broken homes who end up getting into trouble today.  It is not an accident.  These young people are simply reacting to the divorce of their parents and the problems that that event introduced into their lives.

       We must acknowledge that in our current society there are few, if any, obstacles to terminating a marriage. Commitment in marriage is sorely lacking across the board.  It does not matter whether you are a celebrity, a professional athlete, a millionaire, or a poor person.  Marrying someone without ever intending to be committed to them for life is wrong.  This entire discussion then reflects the believer's relationship to Christ.  Accepting Christ into one's heart places one into the body of Christ.  We then become the "bride of Christ" and so are betrothed to Him and to no one else.  Faithfulness immediately comes into play in this newly created relationship.  Will I be faithful to Christ Jesus, or will I act the part of a harlot, a prostitute?  There is no wiggle room involved here. It is an either/or choice. Do I truly love Christ above all else, above anyone else? If so, then I ought to remain devoted to Him and be faithful to Him.  I ought to submit myself to Him as He is my spiritual husband in this relationship, as well as being my God.  It can be difficult for men to wrap their minds around this sort of relationship, but we must do so if we are to claim to be His disciple.  One day we believers will be called to attend the marriage feast of the Lamb.  Who is to be the bride?  We are.  So let us begin acting the part today, and make our betrothed pleased with our behavior.  Amen.

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Mon, Oct 15th - 1:14PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And He arose from there, and came into the coasts of Judaea by the father side of Jordan: and the people resort to Him again; and, as He was used to doing, He taught them again. And the Pharisees came to Him, and asked Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting Him (10:1-2)."

       Jesus continues on the move, traveling to the area of Decapolis. People are moving towards Him in great numbers to hear what He has to say, and to obtain healing from their ills. This marks Jesus' movement up to Jerusalem. Even while He traveled on toward His crucifixion Jesus kept on teaching the people who gathered around Him.

       His enemies are stirred up by Satan and they approach Him here, attempting to entrap Him in giving an answer to their question.  These men do not desire an answer, they simply want to ensnare Him. These men already had an established viewpoint concerning marriage and divorce. Their question is a clever one for King Herod had put away his wife and married his brother's wife. John the Baptist had already addressed this issue, and it gained him his head on a platter. Now, if Jesus said no to their question, it would mean He contradicted Moses and would bring Him into conflict with Herod. Satan desired to have Jesus die, before the cross if at all possible. If Jesus said yes to their question, they could then accuse Him of being loose in His teaching.

    "And He answered and said to them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away (10:3-4)."

       Jesus knew that they would be forced to respond that way due to their knowledge of Deuteronomy 24:1-2 ""When a man has taken a wife, and married her, and it comes to pass that she finds no favor in his eyes, because he has found som uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it to her, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife." Moses permitted divorce, as can clearly be seen here. It was not his or God's intention for a husband and wife to get divorced over superficial excuses. But the religious rulers, over time, interpreted it so that if a wife burnt the bisquits it was grounds for divorce.  Or if the husband became bored with his wife he could trump up some trivial exuse and get divorced from her.

       Jesus forced this discussion back to what is fundamental. Rather than this being a discussion about divorce, in reality it was all about marriage. People never become informed about divorce before becoming married, they always wait until after getting married to start worrying about divorce. 

       God is going to discuss marriage with these Pharisees, He is going to give them the reason why He permitted divorce. Why did God permit divorce? Because of sin God granted divorce under the Mosaic Law.

    "And Jesus answered and said to them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they together shall be one flesh: so then they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no one put asunder (10:5-9)."

       Jesus makes them go back and remember what God's ideal was at the creation before sin entered into the world. Divorce was not part of His plan. He had something better in mind for mankind. Just like murder was not part of God's original plan, murderers have been forgiven by God.  So too, people who become divorced can be forgiven by God as well. What God has said here is that marriage is a stronger tie than that of parent and child. A child may be disowned, and marriage may be broken by unfaithfulness. But marriage is made by God, God joins a man and a woman together.  This was the original intent of the Creator. All violations of this is sin.

       What would then appear to happen in cases of divorcement today is that the wrong person was married.  Instead of taking the time, and making the effort, to discover the character of the person being considered for marriage people settle the matter by how attractive the person is and their prowess in sexual intercourse. Both of these criteria are rooted in externals, and the person fails to delve into what sort of person they are proposing to become joined with in marriage. Small wonder the divorce rate continues to run so unacceptably high today.  Let's be brutally honest here and just point out that there are people getting married who have absolutely no business getting married.  They have immense personal "baggage" that they have refused to deal with.  This "baggage" will act like a ticking time bomb, set to explode at any point in time in the future. Stress can set it off.  Frustration can set it off. Flashbacks can set it off. Once the explosion occurs the marriage is on the brink of collapse, unless one or both spouses realize that there is a deep rooted problem that they must repair through counseling and perhaps even therapy. Most of the time today these things are resolved first, and foremost, by divorce since the "hurt" spouse feels unable to continue in the relationship. If they spoke the vows that included "for better for worse, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad times..." what happened to honoring their vows? Didn't they take them seriously?  Didn't they give them any thought at all?  Our problems today with a high divorce rate is rooted then in very poor choices being made going into marriage.  Too much emphasis is being placed upon feelings, sexual release, being made to feel good and not enough upon the realization that two people are about to become "one."  It will no longer be about "yours" and "mine" but only about "ours."  If sexual intercourse is being used to make you feel good, to forget about bad stuff, how then can you be making love to the other person?  It is all about making you feel good about yourself.  That is back-end-to.  Make the other person feel good and they will then reciprocate in kind.  Actually love the other person first, seek to make them satisfied.  "Do to others as you would like them to do to you."  If this were to be practiced by married couples there would far, far, fewer divorces.  The other fundamental change in attitude towards marriage that must become a reality is to understand and accept that marriage is something that God desires to arrange for you, if you will simply allow Him to.

       That is all for today, beloved. Next time I will finish up this discussion Jesus had with these Pharisees about divorce and marriage. Young people today urgently need to be taught the truth about marriage, sexual intercourse, about loving someone of the opposite gender before they make life-altering choices.  Perhaps you can be the one to teach them about these truths.

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Fri, Oct 12th - 8:20PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And John answered Christ, saying, Master, we saw one casting out demons in Your name, and he does not follow us: and we forbid him because he does not follow us. But Jesus said, Do not forbid him: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of Me. For he that is not against us is on our side. For who ever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward (9:38-41)."

       Here is supposedly "quiet" John speaking out.  He wanted Jesus to know that they had stopped someone from casting out demons since they did not belong to their particular club. Jesus tells him that what they did was unnecessary since anyone who casts out demons in Christ's name is on their side, they are not an enemy. Now, if this man had been casting demons out in his own name that would have been a completely different story, I am sure. But Jesus is squashing this elite club attitude that was developing among the disciples.  It was not to be a case of each disciple carving out his or her niche in the kingdom and see who could create the largest.  The focus is upon doing works "in Jesus name" and making sure that these works are the ones that are pleasing to Him.

    "And who ever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in Me, it is better for him that a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand offends you, cut it off: it is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two hands you go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.  And if your foot offends you, cut it off: it is better for you to enter lame into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:  Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. And if your eye offends you, pluck it out: it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.  For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt has lost its salitness, with what will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another (9:42-50)."

       Whosoever shall grieve any true Christians, though they be of the weakest, or shall oppose their entrance into the ways of God, or discourage and obstruct their progress in those ways, or shall either restrain them from doing good, or draw them in to commit sin, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea: his punishment will be very great, and the death and ruin of his soul more terrible than such a death and ruin of his body would be. That all comes straight out of Matthew Henry's Commentary on this passage. Jesus utilized a young child to illustrate this point to His disciples. Christ warns all His followers to avoid ruining their own souls. This charity must begin at home; if we must take care of doing any thing to hinder others from good, and to occasion their sin, much more careful must we be to avoid every thing that will take us away from our duty, or lead us to sin; and that which does so we must part with, though it be ever so dear to us. 

      Pluck out the eye, cut off the hand and foot, mortify the desirable lust, kill it, crucify it, starve it, make no provision for it. Let the idols that have been delightful things, be cast away as detestable things; keep at a distance from that which is a temptation, even though it be ever so pleasing. It is necessary that the part which is gangrened, should be taken off for the preservation of the whole. Immedicabile vulnus ense recidendum est, ne pars sincera trahatur - The part that is incurably wounded must be cut off, lest the parts that are sound be corrupted. We must put ourselves to pain, that we may not bring ourselves to ruin; self must be denied, that it may not be destroyed.

       The matter is brought to this issue, that either sin must die, or we must die. If we will lay this "Delilah" in our bosom, it will betray us; if we be ruled by sin, we shall inevitably be ruined by it; if we must keep our two hands, and two eyes, and two feet, we must with them be cast into hell. Our Savior often pressed our duty upon us, from the consideration of the torments of hell, which we run ourselves into if we continue in sin. With what an emphasis of terror are those words repeated three times here, "Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched!" The words are quoted from Isa_66:24. 

       The sinner's own conscience is the worm that dies not; which will cleave to the damned soul as the worms do to the dead body, and prey upon it, and never leave it till it is quite devoured. Does it sound pretty? The soul that is food to this worm, does not die; and the worm is bred in it, and one with it, and therefore neither does that die. Damned sinners will be in eternity accusing, condemning, and upbraiding, themselves with their own foolishness, which, how however much they are now in love with them, will at the last bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder. 

       The two last verses are somewhat difficult. It was appointed by the law of Moses, that every sacrifice should be salted with salt, not to preserve it (for it was to be immediately consumed), but because it was the food of God's table, and no flesh is eaten without salt; it was therefore particularly required in the meat-offerings, Lev_2:13. The nature of man, being corrupt, and as such being called flesh (Gen 6:3; Psa 78:39), some way or other must be salted, in order to its being a sacrifice to God. Our chief concern therefore, is to present ourselves living sacrifices to the grace of God (Rom_12:1), and, in order to achieve  our acceptableness, we must be salted with salt, our corrupt affections must be subdued and mortified, and we must have in our souls a savour of grace. Thus the offering up or sacrificing of the Gentiles is said to be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, as the sacrifices were salted, Rom 15:16. Those that have the salt of grace, must make it appear that they have it; that they have salt in themselves, a living principle of grace in their hearts, which works out all corrupt dispositions. Our speech must always be with grace seasoned with this salt, that no corrupt communication may proceed out of our mouth, but we may hate it as much as we would to put putrid meat into our mouths. 

       If this salt lose its saltiness, if a Christian revolt from his Christianity, if he loses the savour of it, and is no longer under the power and influence of it, what can recover him, or with what will you season him? The pain of mortifying the flesh now is no more to be compared with the punishment for not mortifying it, than salting with burning. And since He had said, that the fire of hell shall not be quenched, but it might be objected, that the fuel will not last always, He here intimates, that by the power of God it shall be made to last always; for those that are cast into hell, will find the fire to have not only the corroding quality of salt, but its preserving quality; and so it is used to signify that which is lasting: a covenant of salt is a perpetual covenant, and Lot's wife being turned into a pillar of salt, made her a remaining monument of divine vengeance. Now since this will certainly be the doom of those that do not crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts, let us, knowing this terror of the Lord, be persuaded to do it.  Amen?  Amen.

       So beloved, let us allow the cleansing action of the Word of God to have its way with us each and every day.  Let it sanctify and bring divine power and peace into our hearts and minds.

    ~Eric






    Comment (0)

    Thu, Oct 11th - 12:33PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And they departed from there, and passed through Galilee; and He wouldn't have that anyone know He was there. For He taught His disciples, and said to them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him; and after that He is dead, He shall rise the third day. But they did not understand what He said, and were afraid to ask Him (9:30-32)."

       Again, Jesus ties His death and His resurrection firmly together.  One is not to happen without the other. Jesus also didn't want the people of Galilee to know that He was there, He desired a time of peace and quiet so that He could teach His disciples alone. The disciples clearly did not understand that Christ came to die on the cross and then to be resurrected into newness of glorified life. Even though they did not understand, they did not ask any questions so that they could come to understand, and it was because they were afraid.  These men would dare to argue among themselves about who ought to be the top two in the kingdom, but they couldn't ask some simple questions in order to understand what Jesus was talking about here.  Does this ring a bell for anyone?  Recall what every teacher's lament is in class?  Students refuse to ask questions when they do not understand the assignment.  Adult men here were afraid to ask, and so they had no understanding of what God had said or what God intended to do.   Not having simply because we do not ask.

    "And He came to Capernaum: and being in the house He asked them, What was it that you disputed among yourselves by the way? But they all held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves who should be the greatest. And He sat down and called the twelve, and said to them, If any man desire to be first, the same man shall be last of all, and servant of all others. And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, Who ever shall receive one of such children in My name, receives Me: and who ever receives Me, receives not Me, but Him that sent Me (9:33-37)."

       Jesus pins them all to the wall with His question.  What were you guys arguing about as we walked along the road? The disciples knew enough to not tell Him openly that they were arguing about positions of power, status, and prestige. And yet, Jesus knew what they had been hotly debating the entire time.  Who ever wishes to be the one in charge must first become a servant to everyone else in the group. This fact was overlooked by the disciples on a regular basis.  Jesus served others constantly by healing them, casting out demons, feeding them, restoring their eyesight, hearing, speech, or bringing them back to life after death.  Jesus was always about service, service, service.  But the disciples kept missing this aspect.  We tend to miss this point as well today. 

       Anyone who wants to be the leader must go to the end of the line, and do so willingly, lovingly.  Wash everyone else feet.  Serve communion. Help the poor by bringing them clothes, food, medicine. Grieve with the families of departed loved ones. Celebrate with those who have been honored. Jesus used a child to illustrate His point. He placed the child in the middle of all of them, and then took the child into His arms in an embrace.  Acceptance of the least of our brothers and sisters, embracing them in love, this is what a leader must do in a Christian ministry.  In receiving such a person I am accepting Christ, and in accepting Christ I am therefore accepting God.  To turn away the least among us is to spurn God.  It is unChrist-like. 

       So in order to be a Christian leader I must be willing to serve others at all times, and I must then do it.  Cleaning the sanctuary, mowing grass, marrying couples, giving marriage counseling, presiding over funerals, Vacation Bible School, visiting the sick, the imprisoned, the homeless; all of these are ways of serving the needs of others.  The thought ought to be in our minds: "How may I help you?"

       That is all for today, beloved.  I hope that you begin to look at what motivates the things that you choose to do each day.  I am forced to admit that I am not always thinking about "How may I help you?"  It comes more frequently to mind than at any other point in my life, but not always.  I pray that you may become a stronger and more vibrant Christian than I, that the words which you read here may inspire you to walk a more intimate path with Christ. 

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Oct 10th - 12:58PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "He answered him, and said, Oh faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him to Me. And they brought him to Jesus: and when he saw Jesus, immediately the spirit tore him; and he fell on the ground and wallowed there, foaming at the mouth. And He asked the father, How long has it been since this came into him? And the father replied, Of a child. And often it has cast him into the fire, and into the water, to destroy him: but if You can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us (9:19-22)."

       Jesus calls out their lack of faith in God, and then commands the father to bring his son to Him.  Today, we are to bring others to Jesus so that they may be healed and made whole once more.  The broken hearted need to come to Jesus so that their hearts may be mended. 

       What happened as soon as this child could see Jesus?  The demon inside of him began to tear at him and flung him down to the ground where all that the child could do was flop around and foam at the mouth.  That young child was being held captive by the demon. It is quite obvious that the demon was seeking to kill this young child before he could meet Jesus Christ.  But now it was too late, the Living God was present and was bringing His full attention to bear upon this poor child's spiritual affliction. The young child's father fervently asked Christ for compassion and help in this dire matter. 

    "Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes. And immediately the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying to him, You dumb and deaf spirit, I charge you, come out of him, and enter into him no more. And the spirit cried, and rent the child sorely, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; so much so that many people said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and the child arose. When Jesus came into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, Why could we not cast this spirit out? And Jesus said to them, This kind can come out by nothing except through prayer and fasting (9:23-29)."

       We are being told here that all things are possible to the person who believes in Jesus Christ.  The flip side, of course, is that not all things are possible to the person who does not believe in Jesus Christ, their lack of faith limits the possibilities in their lives. The father in this case cries out that he does truly believe, but admits that he also knows that he probably still has some measure of unbelief within himself.  "Help me reduce the amount of my unbelief!"  Not enough of us today make such a request of God in our prayers to Him. We believe in Jesus and think that that takes care of that item on our to-do list. Check it off!  But we fail to recognize that our faith must mature, it must increase over time.

       Is this account another example of Jesus raising someone from the dead?  I think we could be quite persuasive in saying yes, it is. But it is not a point worth arguing over.  What is important is knowing that Christ has the power to cast out any demon from anybody at any time.  If said casting out of a demon causes the person to die, then Christ has the power and authority to raise them back up from that death. All of these things must work within His will and plan for people's lives.  But do notice that Jesus did not need to say anything to get this child to stand up and become aware of his surroundings.  All He needed to do was reach down and grasp the child's hand and lift him up onto his feet.

       How can believers cast out these demons? Beforehand they must have been praying to God for the forgiveness of their own unbelief, for God to empower them to do His will here on earth, and to cleanse themselves of all known sin.  Ambassadors of Christ are expected to confront evil and wickedness found in this world and to cast it out, and down.  We are the royal messengers, bringing the gospel to those who are in need of hearing it. We are to therefore behave like we are ambassadors, and not act as if we are just common criminals trying to get by day to day.

       The church today is weak due to lack of fervent prayer by righteous people.  We have not because we ask not!  Or we have not because we do not ask for the correct things!  Praying for God to provide me with a Ferrari is not showing very much concern for God's will in my life.  Praying for God to make me wealthy and powerful is not showing much conern for His will in my life either. Both are selfish desires of my ego, they are not things which please God.  We must begin asking ourselves, and our congregations, "How much time are we really giving to God in prayer?" "Are we just going through the motions, not even concentrating upon what is being prayed for?" "Do we honestly believe that God will honor such requests?"  If we do think this, then we had better go back and restudy all instances in the NT where people make requests of Jesus Christ and compare those against this belief.   We may just become quite shocked to discover the truth about our approach to prayer.

       That is all for today, beloved!  Remember to ask God to help you with your unbelief and lack of faith in Him.  If your trust in Him is less than 100% then it is time to start asking Him to increase your trust in Him.   Do this, and then all things become possible through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Oct 9th - 1:29PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And as they came down from the mountain, He charged them that they should not tell any man what things they had seen, until the Son of man were risen from the dead. And they kept that saying to themselves, questioning among themselves what the rising from the dead meant (9:9-10)."

       Jesus continues to remind all of them that He must first die, then be resurrected in order for salvation to come. The Transfiguration saves no one, causes no one to repent of their sins, causes no prayers to be answered.  It was a demonstration of what was to come.  It represented the "ideal" or "goal" of holy living. But we all must remain keenly cognizant of the fact that this "goal" only comes through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There is no other "way" to obtaining perfection, to obtaining righteousness, or to obtaining entrance into heaven after physical death of our body. As can be seen in verse ten, none of the disciples with Him understood what He was talking about with all of this talk about Him having to die and to rise from the dead. In their minds this just didn't compute.  It still doesn't compute with very many people today.  People do not visit the cemetery in order to see the living, they go there to pay their respects to the dead.  We need to keep that thought firmly in our minds as we continue to read Mark's account.

    "And so they asked Him, Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first? Christ answered them, Elijah truly comes first, and restores all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that He must suffer many things, and be set at nothing. But I say to you, That Elijah is indeed come, and they have done to him whatsoever they chose, as it is written of him (9:11-13)."

       Here Jesus informs them that John the Baptist was Elijah come first to prepare the way for the Messiah. He taught them that the scriptural prophecies had been fulfilled as they must be. Technically, it could be said that since Nation Israel did not accept Jesus as their Messiah John did not fulfill the prophecy.  Therefore, when Christ comes the second time this prophecy will be fulfilled through John the Baptist for everyone will have no choice left to them but to acclaim that Jesus is the Messiah, the Lamb of God. But we now must turn and look at what the movement here in scripture is doing to us. We were up on the mountain top, experiencing God's glory and a view of God's kingdom; and now we have traveled down to the base of the mountain to find?

    "And when He came to His disciples, He saw a great multitude all around them, and the scribes were questioning them. And immediately all of the people, when they beheld Him, were greatly amazed, and running towards Him they saluted Him. And He asked the scribes, What questions are you asking of them? And one of the multitude answered, Master, I have brought to You my son, which has a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he takes him, he tears at him: and he foams, and gnashes his teeth, and pines away: and I spoke to Your disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not cast him out (9:14-18)."

       And here we are looking at the state of all Christendom today. Christ Jesus has already gone into the presence of the Father in heaven and is there in His glorified body. All of the Apostles have gone on to be with Him, Moses and Elijah are there, many saints from the church have gone to be there with Him as well.

       But all we who remain living on earth look around ourselves and see the myriad problems that still exist. We live upon a planet that is mad, insane. It is the only sane conclusion to reach upon studying the earth from the vantage point of either God or the angels. Man must be insane, possessed by demons, in order to continuously act the way that he does.  Man does not learn any lessons from history, man ignores historical lessons for he believes that he knows more facts now than back then. Man believes that he can't possibly make those same mistakes anymore for he has become "enlightened."  Man is tragically wrong in this regard. The sad thing in this passage of scripture is that the father brings his boy before the disciples expecting them to be able to heal his child, and they can't. The tragic thing today is that the church is helpless in the presence of our world's desperate need.

       Today the church tends to focus upon social justice, reaching out, protesting, marching, getting involved in all sorts of things.  The world criticizes the church because the world feels that it should be getting more involved. But according to Christ social matters are not to be our business! Our business today is to be presenting a Savior to the world who will make it rational and who will bring it into a right relationship with God Almighty. Sadly, in all too many instances it must be said of the church: "It could not." The power of the Holy Spirit is missing in much of the body of Christ.  The leadership of the Holy Spirit is lacking in much of the affairs of the church body. We take votes after having debates.  We turn to the pastor, the priest, the bishop, the elders, the Pope, anyone who can give us guidance as to what to do next.  We want to be told what to believe, what to do, what not to do, and when to do it. Instead, we ought to be getting connected with God's Holy Spirit and inquiring of Him what to do, what to think, how to act. But that takes some work on our part, does it not?  We have become rather lazy in modern culture, indulging our urges and ignoring our needs.  I am as guilty as everyone else.  I do strive to correct this problem however.  Too many others choose to do nothing to change.  Are we then, as believers in Christ, living lives filled with the power of God?  Are we able to allow Christ to shine out through us into this dark world, and illuminate our path?  Are we willing to surrender our lives to Christ and allow Him to grow within us, so that we can then behave like He would?  Are we remembering how John the Baptist said that he must decrease and that Christ must increase?  Or that Christ has been engrafted in us?  Jesus is the root and we are the branches, dependent upon Him to provide us with food and all nourishment in order to grow and bear fruit. Are we believing this concept?  Is Jesus my Pilot, or is He relegated to being my co-Pilot?  Who in reality is in charge of my life, God or me? 

       Next time I will continue with this accounting of faithlessness. In it we will be given the prayer we all must pray in order to gain greater belief in God. Grace and peace be yours today.

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Oct 8th - 12:50PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And He said to them, Truly I say to you, That there be some of them who stand here, which shall not die until they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter, John, and James, and lead them up to a high mountain to be alone: and He was transformed before them (9:1-2)."

       It would appear that this passage teaches us that the kingdom is in Jesus' hands whether or not He went to the cross. Jesus could have stepped off of earth at any point in time and immediately have returned to heaven and resume being the  sovereign Ruler of the entire universe. If He had chosen that route neither you nor I would have the opportunity to be saved today. If He had chosen to return to heaven at this point in time none of us could have been saved from our sins.

       Why did Jesus take these three men?  Because they were special?  Because they were His fav's? Perhaps Jesus took them up the mountain because in actuality they were the weakest disciples.  It wasn't because they were the best of the best. It wasn't because they were the first three picked to follow Christ. He took them up the mountain because they needed to experience the kingdom of God come in all of its power.

       Peter says that they were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  The glorified Christ as He will one day come to this earth is what they got to see. This is also an illustration of what you and I will one day be. In I John 3:2 we are told that we shall be like Him one day. John told us in John 1:14 that they beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. So clearly these three men were meant to experience this aspect of the kingdom before it actually would arrive in the distant future.  The question has been asked, "Doesn't the presence of Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus imply that we can expect the dead saints in Christ to speak with Him on our behalf?" In my humble opinion, this would be a very great leap of assumption to make.  First, we have no idea of what they were speaking with Christ about. Second, what evidence is present here to force one to assume that they are passing on prayer requests or concerns of those who are still alive? Nothing is present to make us believe that this is why Jesus brought these three men up the mountain with Him.

       Transfigured here is the Greek word "metamorphoom", or "metamorphose" in English. The metamorphosis took place in the body of Jesus for the light did not originate from outside of His body.  Rather, it came from within His body and shown outwards into the surrounding world. This transfiguration, then, teaches us of Jesus' perfect humanity and not His deity.  This perfect humanity is what each believer in Christ will one day share with Him.

    "And His clothing became shining, exceedingly white as snow; so that no fuller white on earth could ever be. And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. For he did not know what to say; for they were very afraid (9:3-6)."

       It would seem to be prudent to think that Elijah here was representing the prophets, while Moses was representing the Law as given by God. Why?  We are told in Scripture that both the prophets and the Law bore testimony of the death of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Luke as well tells us that these sources spoke of His decease. We can know that Moses knew of Christ from what we read in Hebrews 11:26, "Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect for the recompence of the reward." Moses knew that the Messiah was coming in the future, he trusted God's Word given to him on this subject. All of the prophets spoke of the Messiah's coming, of His suffering and the glory that should follow. 

       Then we arrive at Peter's outburst.  Always quick to speak what was upon his mind, Peter blurts out a thought that is driven by his fear of what he is beholding. It is not that Peter is the leader of the disciples, it is because Peter is one who is more than willing to speak what is on his mind.  He repeatedly failed to count the cost of his words before uttering them.  Of course, this changed once he had experienced Pentecost and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 

    "And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud and said, This is My beloved Son: hear Him. And suddenly, when they had looked all around, they saw no one, except Jesus and themselves (9:7-8)."

       All attention is redirected to Jesus Christ. His Word is to be final in all matters.  We can't put Moses, Elijah, Peter, John, Paul, or our church leaders, on the same level as Him.  Sacred Tradition can't supplant what Jesus has already said.  As it points out to us in verse eight it only us and Jesus.  There are no others to turn to.  There are no others to pray to. There are no others to give sacrifice to. There is Jesus only.  He is to be my Holy Grail, and no other. Every believer ought to have as their motto, "Not I but Jesus!" 

       That is all for today my friends!  May grace and peace adorn the doorway of your home, and of your life!

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Oct 4th - 11:08AM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And when He had called the people to Him with His disciples also, He said to them, Who ever will choose to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For who ever will save their life will lose it; but who ever will lose their life for my sake and the gospel's, the same person will save their life. For what will it profit a person, if they shall gain the whole world, and lose their own soul? Therefore who ever will be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of them also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels (8:34-38)."

       Jesus simply does not reveal His Person separately from His work of redemption. Jesus was not stating a condition of salvation here, He was stating the position of those who are saved. Chasing after wealth simply in order to claim to have more than anyone else will not gain a person security, eternal life, health, fidelity, or a faithful spouse and loving children.  Wealth does not guarantee any of those things. In fact, having wealth usually causes people to become skeptical of others, suspicious of the motives of others, and often quite lonely even if married. Do people like me for me, or just because I have lots of money?  That question always haunts wealthy people in the back of their minds. 

       Am I ashamed of Jesus Christ and His Gospel?  Am I ashamed to say that the Bible is God's inspired Word to mankind? Am I ashamed to say I trust Jesus, who allowed Himself to be nailed upon a wooden Roman cross like a common criminal? If I am ashamed of Jesus then He will be ashamed of me when He returns to rule this entire universe from earth.  That prospect is not very comforting to me.  Does anyone really enjoy, and accept, the shame of someone else?  It is a powerful emotion to have to deal with when invoked by one who has loved you unconditionally, even though you have been an unlovable person.

       I now begin chapter nine of Mark, a chapter in which we are confronted by the transfiguration of Christ. Although Mark usually is briefer in his accounts of things than the other evangelists, he gives us the longest account of the transfiguration. Something about the transfiguration must account for this greater emphasis by Mark, for we can't even find it in John's Gospel.

       We must remember what Jesus said at the end of chapter sixteen of Matthew. All sorts of interpretations and assumptions have been made about it.  When kept in proper context, it is abundantly clear that Jesus referred to His imminent transfiguration up on the mount.  John and Peter were both present, and Peter gave this added account in II Peter 1:16-18: "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made know to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount."  In other words, Peter says that he and John were witnesses of the power and glory coming to Jesus Christ upon that holy mount.

       That is all for this week my friends. Next week I begin chapter nine of Mark in earnest!  As much as glory was happening up on that mount, there was failure and disappointment happening at its base.  Grace and peace be yours!

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Oct 3rd - 2:51PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of town; and when He had spit upon his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw anything. And the blind man looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that He put His hands upon this eyes again, and made him look up: and his eyesight was restored, and he saw every man clearly. And Jesus sent him away to his home, saying, Go neither into town, nor tell anyone in town about this(8:22-26)."

       Jesus was sought out to heal this blind man.  They just wanted Him to touch the man.  Jesus took the blind man outside of town in order to heal him away from the townspeople. Jesus used His own saliva to heal his blindness. What was going on here anyways? Bethsaida had already had judgment pronounced upon it (Matthew 11:21). Why did Jesus resort to this method of healing when He could have utilized methods previously used elsewhere? Couldn't Jesus make this man see clearly the first time?

       It would seem that there are three stages in this miracle:

    1)   Blindness: We all are spiritually blind at first. But the blind man only gained partial sight at first.
    2)  Partial sight: Isn't this what our condition is today? (I Corinthians 13:12) None of us today has obtained complete discernment of spiritual matters. We all see through a glass darkly. There are many things that we simply don't understand.  There are, if you have noticed, those people who feel that they know everything about everything. They may refuse to ever attend a weekly Bible study group or come to Sunday morning class before the worship service. To do so would indicate that they don't know something that they ought to. Sounds to me like an issue concerning pride of self.  Socrates once said that he knew that he was the wisest of the Athenians since he knew that he didn't know everything.  The more that I learn from the Bible the more that I understand that I do not know.
    3)   Perfect sight: The third stage of the blind man's process of healing is gaining perfect vision. You and I will receive our 20-20 spiritual vision when we enter into God's presence, and not a moment before. God isn't finished polishing me up yet, that won't happen until He gives me my glorified body one day.
       Dr. J Vernon McGee once said that Jesus could have organized the "Metho-rene" church and they would have sung "The Touch of His Hand on Mine."  And Jesus could have organized the "Congreterian" church and they would sing "Only Believe." And Jesus could have organized the "Siloam-Baptian" church where they would sing "Shall We Gather at the River?" Depending upon how Jesus healed people determines how they approached singing His praises. It would have been absurd to do back in Jesus' day, but guess what?  Isn't that what gets done so frequently today?  There is a lesson to be learned here.

    "And Jesus went out with His disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way He asked His disciples, Whom do men say that I am (8:27)?"

      Who is Jesus?  Whom do they say that I am?  What are the people thinking?  What are you guys hearing as you are preaching in these parts?  I will tell you this.  I can't be right in everything else in my life if I am not thinking rightly about Jesus Christ!  To be properly united/joined to Him is of the utmost importance in life.

       Looking at a map we can find three Caesareas.  Philippi is located to the north of the Sea of Galilee. Here is where Jesus and the disciples were working, and it was from here that Jesus Christ began His movement directly towards Jerusalem and the Cross.

    "And they answered, John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, One of the prophets. And Jesus said to them, But whom do you say that I am? And Peter answered and said to Him, You are the Christ. And Jesus charged all of them that they were not to tell any person of Him (8:28-30)."

       Many opinions existed back then of who Jesus actually was.  Nothing has really changed today, has it?  At this point in time they all were within six months of the Cross. Peter answered for all of the disciples present.  He gave the title that Jesus was to be known by: the Christ. In Hebrew it was Messiah, which means "the Anointed One." In this title is gathered together all of the rich meaning found in the Old Testament prophecies.

       Why did Jesus command them to tell no one that He was the Christ?  The gospel account was still incomplete.

    "And He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He spoke that saying openly. And Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Get you behind me, Satan: for you do not desire the things that are of God, but the things that be of mankind (8:31-33)."

       Jesus taught them how He must suffer and die.  That He must be rejected by the religious rulers of Israel.  That after being killed He would then rise to life after three days of being in the grave.  Salvation depends upon who Jesus is and what Jesus did.  Jesus began to reveal to them what He must bear in order for all people to be redeemed from their sin. And what does Peter step up and do?  Shout hallelujah?  No.  Peter steps up and begins to rebuke God manifest in the flesh!  Did Jesus get all sorts of offended?  Did He punch Peter out?  No, none of those things.  Jesus looked at all of them and rebuked Satan who was in each and every one of them.  Jesus told all of the disciples that each one of them loved the things of this world more than they loved the things of God.  Satan desires fame, stature, power, control, freedom; but he denies the value of the death of Jesus the Christ. He must deny it.  To accept the value of the death of Jesus on the Cross would be to deny his high value of himself. 

       That is all for today, beloved.  Hopefully tomorrow I will finish this chapter, where Jesus gathered the crowds of people and His own disciples together so that He could teach them something.  Until then, grace and peace be with you.

    ~Eric


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    Tue, Oct 2nd - 12:26PM

    STUDY IN MARK



    "And immediately He enered a ship with His disciples, and came to the parts of Dalmanutha. And the Pharisees came out, and began to question Him, seeking a sign from heaven of Him, tempting Him. And He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly I say to you, There shall not be any sign given to this generation. And he left them, and entered the ship again and departed to the other side. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they more than one loaf in the ship with them. And He charged them saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod (8:10-15)."

       It is difficult to locate Dalmanutha accurately today. It was somewhere along the coast of the Sea of Galilee, that much we can know of it. But there were Pharisees living here.  They came out seeking to tempt Jesus into providing them with some sort of "sign" from heaven.  If He had given them a sign from heaven it would not have changed their minds about Him, it would have simply given them some more ammunition to accuse Him of being of the Devil.

       Interestingly, in Scriptures leaven represents wrong or evil teaching; it never refers to the gospel. We can't surrender to the thinking that leaven can represent good within the teaching of the Bible.  In Matthew 13 there is the parable of the woman whoa hid leaven in three measures of meal.  Here the meal represents the gospel and the leaven represents false teaching for it was hidden with that which was true.  This is how Satan attempts to destroy bible teaching within our congregations.  If you decide to teach from the Bible then he will attempt to insert a few wrong concepts into that teaching to mislead people. We need to be very careful in what we are preaching and teaching from out of the Bible.

       What is the purpose of including some false teaching in with the true teaching?>  It is the process of making something "taste good" to the natural man in each of us. From where has liberalism come from?  No where else than from the pulpit in attempts to please the unsaved church attendees rather than alert them to their desperate need to accept Christ Jesus as their very own Savior from their personal sin.   So today we find very many men trying to please their congregations rather than preaching to them the Word of God. That is putting leaven into the bread dough.  So here Jesus warns the disciples to beware of the wrong teaching of both the Pharisees and the Herodians.

    "And the disciples reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew it, He said to them, Why do you reason, that it is because you have no bread? do you not perceive as of yet, neither do you understand? have your hearts yet hardened? Having eyes, don't you see? and having ears, don't you hear? and do you not remember (8:16-18)?"

       Jesus upbraids them all for not understanding nor remembering what has just been done right in front of them. How many times have we thought that a particular person surely understands some spiritual insight/truth; yet then we find out that they missed the entire point? There are people who have studied the Bible their entire lives and yet they miss many of the apparant spiritual truths to be found in it.  They are blind and fail to really see the truth right there in front of them.  The truth does not really sink into them at all.

    "When I broke the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you pick up? They said to Him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you pick up? And they said, Seven. And He said to them, How is it that you then do not understand (8:19-21)?"

       Could it have been that all of them had been so excited and busy that none of these things had had time to really sink in?  God blesses us, and He blesses us abundantly.  God has given us His Word, and through it we will be blessed beyond our own measure.  The Word of God is the Bread of Life for it reveals God to us. We are to feed upon the Bread of Life and to be alert to false teaching of it. The disciples were simply failing to "connect the dots."  Hopefully today we do not fail likewise.

       That is all for today, beloved. We need to always be watchful of false teaching/s sneaking into the body of believers for it will act just like leaven and eventually ruin the entire body.  Each believer is called to be a watchman up on the wall, looking for the approach of the adversary.  We are to do this regarding our marriages, our families, our businesses, and our congregations.  If the citizens of any community fail to be watchful, how can they defend the values of their community against attack by outsiders?  It is too late to defend oneself once the attackers have already infiltrated and over run your position from within. God has never said that Christians are to do nothing to defend themselves against Satan.  The Proverbs speak volumes about what to do, and what not to do. Ephesians tells us how to approach this conflict that we are engaged in with Satan. It would be most prudent therefore for all believers to begin living like we are engaged in spiritual warfare each and every day.

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Oct 1st - 1:20PM

    STUDY IN MARK



       Some people may misunderstand that the feeding of the four thousand people, which opens chapter eight, is simply a duplication of the feeding of the five thousand, and choose then to ignore it.  Or perhaps they claim that this is a contradiction of scripture.  For whatever the reasoning, this miracle is often overlooked.

       Critics sometimes seek to rid the Bible of any appearance of the supernatural.  They explain that this miracle was included after the feeding of the five thousand in order to strengthen the claim of the apostles that Jesus was a miracle worker.  Well, if this were true, the second miracle would then be greater than the first, for when people fabricate stories they tend to exaggerate.  But here it is fewer people than in the first group that was fed. 

    "In those days the multitude was very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said to them, I have compassion upon the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat: And if I send them away fasting to their own homes, they will pass out by the roadside: for many of them came from far away. And His disciples answered, From where can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? And Jesus asked them, How many loaves do you have? And they said to Him, Seven. And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and broke the bread, and gave to His disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people (8:1-6)."

       Why didn't the disciples pipe up that perhaps Jesus could bless and multiply the loaves of bread, like He had done not so long ago? It would seem that the disciples were not any better at remembering miracles than we are today. The disciples had made an inventory of the crowd gathered all around them and knew exactly how much bread was available. Who had been carrying these particular loaves this time?  We are not told, but we can be very sure that their lives were changed forever by experiencing this miracle.  We find that this time around Jesus gave thanks for the loaves of bread, broke the loaves, and proceeded to give them to the disciples to hand out.

    "And they had a few small fishes: and He blessed, and commanded to set these before the people as well. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left over, seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and He sent them away afterwards (8:7-9)."

       No huge fish were available to feed this multitude of people.  Just a few small fishes.  The amount and the size are unimportant when God is involved, for there will always be a surplus.    Looking at these two instances of large crowds being fed by Jesus it can be seen the similarities and the differences. 

    1.   In the first instance the crowd had only been with Jesus one day while here they had been with Him for three days.

    2.   The first instance the disciples had to go and find out what food was available while here they already had found out what was available to eat.

    3.   The first time the crowd was fed with five loaves and two fishes while here they were fed with seven loaves and some small fishes.

    4.   The first instance was near the Passover so people could sit down on green grass while this time they had to sit on the ground for it was later in the year when it had gotten rather hot.

    5.   After the feeding of the five thousand there were 12 baskets of leftovers while here there were only sevn basketfuls of leftovers.

    6.   The number of people was different in each instance.

    7.   The feeding of the five thousand was followed by the discussion about the Bread of Life while the feeding of the four thousand was followed by them being dispersed to their homes by Christ.

       What is the innate importance of point seven here?  The four thousand had been listening to Jesus teach and preach for three days before being fed and sent home. Today, are we using church dinners to attract the multitude, or to feed them after they have received teaching? What is our heart motivation for doing this? Offering "feasts" at mid-week to pack the people into our churches for bible study can work backwards, making attendance dependent upon a meal rather than upon the message or the material to be studied.   The ends do not always justify the means.

       The beginning of verse one identifies for us where Jesus was doing this teaching.  The first three words point towards the local as being the Decapolis.  All of these people had followed Jesus out into a more wilderness area along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Today are we still willing to follow Jesus where ever necessary in order to "hear" the message from His Word?  Is it the message or the food that attract us to come to church?  What is my motivation to follow Jesus? Is it to learn more about Him and what He wants me to do?  Or is it to obtain a home cooked meal that is free of charge? 

       Next time I will get into the discussion that Jesus has with some of the Pharisees and the words He had with His disciples afterwards. Until then, may you bask in the radiance of God's mercy, grace, and peace!

    ~Eric



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    About Me

    Name: Eric Rajaniemi
    ChristiansUnite ID: ejroyal
    Member Since: 2007-09-08
    Location: Bedford, Virginia, United States
    Denomination: Born-again, Church of the Brethren
    About Me: I refrain from any denomination as much as possible since my faith has to do with Jesus Christ and not denominations. My wife and I are charter members of Lake Side Church of the Brethren for they desire to follow the New Testament precepts. We hav... more

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