Saturday, 26 May 2018

Give it all

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.  – Mark 10.21-22

There are a lot of things that we can focus on in our Christian life and practice. We all want to live righteously and do right. We go to church. We don’t do the obvious sins like killing and stealing and committing adultery and all that. We give our tithe. Maybe we don’t ‘drink, smoke, or chew, or run with those who do.’ So we feel pretty good about ourselves.

But then this pops up. If you really want to show your faith – sell everything you have and give the money to the power.

It would be easy to just read over that and go on, wouldn’t it?

But I read it and stop to think about it I am challenged at least and convicted at worst. Do we really understand what Jesus is saying here, and if we do, do we do anything about it?

If we want to prove our faith the ultimate way to do it is to carry for the poor. Everything else is relatively easy. This is tough because it hits the hardest place to hit, our bank accounts. Most of us don’t mind dropping our money in the offering box or paying for dinner or those kinds of things, but us giving up anything for others is where it gets hard because it affects our comfort zone.

When this man couldn’t do it he walked away sad. He couldn’t do that. I wonder if we would do what Jesus asked as the ultimate proof of our faith. Could we do it?

I think I’ll just leave it at that for consideration.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Salt and peace

Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.  – Mark 9.50

Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with each other.

What could that possibly mean? How does salt in ourselves go with peace with others?

We need to look at salt first. When these people heard the word ‘salt’ they did not picture the nice refined table salt that we think of when we hear the word. Their salt was rough and course and mixed with all kinds of impurities. It could be processed and used for seasoning, but mostly it was used to preserve meat.

However, is salt was not cared for the actual salt could leach out of the ‘salt’ leaving nothing but the impurities. That salt was worthless. Jesus says here that as His people we are to ‘have salt in ourselves.’ In another place He said that we are the salt of the earth.

But saltiness can be irritating at times as well as be healing and seasoning and preserving. I think that is why Jesus says to have salt, but remember to be at peace with each other. Like so much of our Christian lives we balance our saltiness with striving for peace.

Don’t lose your salt – but be peaceful about using it.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

One of these little ones

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.  – Mark 9.42

All through the gospels we see that children held a special place in the heart of our Saviour. No wonder C.H. Woolston wrote these words at the turn of the 20th century:

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world;
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in his sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

He called the little children to sit on His lap. He used their simple faith as an illustration of true faith. Over and over He points to little children in His preaching.

Here is tells how precious they are.  His views are children are pretty clear. We had better be careful that we treat them right. ‘If any one of you offends one of this children you would be better of having a millstone tied around your neck and them be cast into sea.’

But there is a key part to this that we can miss. He is talking about those who offend ‘any of these little ones who believe in Me.’ Those of us who put our faith in Christ are His children and He sees us with the same preciousness that He sees the real little children. God loves us as His kids and wants us protected. He says that He is going to deal with our enemies. He desires that all would come to Him, but the world will be judged on how it treats us.

We have his protection.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

He's not doing it my way!

And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: 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 part.  – Mark 9.38-40

It is amazing that the church gets anything done for God today. We seem to be better at dividing over every little issue than uniting over the major truths. We criticise each other because they are not following Jesus our way, just like the disciples did here. They sing different songs or they worship in a different style or they don’t focus on the same issues or they don’t act like us or have different standards than we do.

‘They aren’t doing it the way we do! They ought to stop and do it our way!’

Is that what Christ wants to hear? 

No. Jesus answered and said ‘leave them alone. If they are not against us they are for us.’        

Now I am not calling for compromise on the essentials. I am not saying that we can overlook false teaching. I am not implying that we have to sacrifice holiness for unity.

I will say however that it seems that we can be far too willing to want others to do things just the way that we want them. The things I have seen believers criticise each other over are shocking. The problem is that in our pride we think our way is the only way and that if anyone else is doing it differently they must be wrong or compromising, especially if they are seeing the results that we wish we could see.

Leave them alone. They may not do it the way I am, but if the gospel is preached I should be behind them. Look how far Paul took it in Philippians 1 –

 ‘Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.’

Our task is too important to focus our time being critical of others. We have a gospel to preach, let’s be about doing it. 

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Afraid to ask

For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him. – Mark 9.31-32

What a shock it must have been when Jesus first told His disciples that they were following a leader who would be delivered up to the authorities, be executed, and then rise from the dead.

They certainly couldn’t take it in. How could this be true? What is he talking about? Maybe it is one of those parable things He is always talking about.

He is going to be arrested, executed, and raised from the dead? What?

‘Somebody ask Him what He’s talking about.’

But they were all afraid to ask Jesus what He meant. It was too scary a thought I guess to want to know more.

It is nice for us to know now though that there is no need to fear talking to Jesus. We now know what Jesus was talking about and what His plan was. We know that came to live and die. He came to mankind so that we could know that He understands what it is like and we can come boldly now to talk to Him. We need never be afraid to talk to Him today. He will listen. Even when we are full of doubts and fears and confusion we can come to Him because He wants to hear from us.

We never need to be afraid to ask Him anything.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Help my unbelief

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. – Mark 9.23-24

Belief is a tough thing. Just a few verses previous Jesus had said ‘Don’t be afraid, only believe’ and that is the key here. For us to get by in this life we need to not fear the future or our circumstances or whatever, all we need to do is believe what He said.

But that’s not always easy, is it? Sometimes it makes no sense. Sometimes we can’t believe even though we know we ought to. Sometimes our earthly vision overcomes our heavenly vision. Sometimes believing God just doesn’t seem to make sense.

When something seem impossible to us we think that it must just be impossible. If I can’t do it nobody can, right?

And yet there is a battle going on. I DO believe God. I DO believe what He says. I DO believe that He will keep His promises.

It is a battle I fight a lot over one issue. I do believe that God can sort this. I know I do, but Satan always brings up these niggling doubts. Can He REALLY do that? Does that sound familiar? Isn’t that what Satan asked Eve in the garden.

Because I am a human, living in the flesh, I still doubt. I can’t summon up an extra dose of belief. I can’t choose to trust and look at heavenly truths but I still need that extra faith. I still need to pray ‘help me where I don’t believe.’

This father was called on to believe that Jesus would heal his son. With tears in his eyes he said ‘Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief!’

That’s the attitude I need. I think it’s the attitude that we all need at times in our lives.

I do believe Lord. I do. Help with my unbelief Lord.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Gain the whole world

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? – Mark 8.35-36

Man’s greed and desire to get it all has been the source of our struggles from Adam and Eve, to their son Cain, and all through history. Mankind seems bent on getting all it can get for itself. From the days of infancy to the very end we are inclined to say ‘what about me?’

When it is all said and done all that we have gathered here on earth is not going to do us any good for eternity. There is nothing we can take away with us. We can spend our whole lives in pursuit of stuff, but where is the profit in that?
When we sing ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’ with a true heart we are telling Him that we are willing to give up all for Him. While we are here that seems like a tremendous sacrifice, but is it really? We only live on earth a tiny part of our eternity. We focus on a miniscule amount of time instead of focusing on eternity. Indeed, what is the use of that? Why would we sacrifice the needs of our eternal soul for our temporal bodies?

Let us not therefore, look on the seen which is passing away but the unseen which is eternal. Let’s not gain the whole world at the cost of our soul. It will be worth it all.