3rd Sunday after the Epiphany
Why Follow Jesus?
Text: Mark 1:14-20
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said. We do. We follow him. We’re Christians. But why? Why Follow Jesus? Have you ever thought how strange it is to be a Christian and follow him?
Everyone else sleeps in on Sunday morning. They sip coffee in their jammies and watch the news while I’m hustling to make it here on time. Everyone else goes home from work and hangs out with the family or unwinds or cleans up a bit around the house. But I make my schedule even more busy (as if that were possible!) by going to midweek Bible studies and dinners and services coming up during Lent. That’s strange.
Here in America, the king country of consumerism, my fellow Americans make money and buy whatever they want and can possibly afford (sometimes even what they can’t afford). Meanwhile I first plan and pray about my money. I set money aside—money I worked hard for and earned—and I give it away to support God’s work. And I’m directed by God to do this cheerfully and joyfully and before I even think about how I would like to spend that money on anything else.
Speaking of prayer by the way, I find myself at random times of the day with folded hands and bowed head showing utmost humility and trust in a God that I’ve never met and never seen. That’s strange, too. Read the rest of this entry
The Baptism of Our Lord
The Father is So Pleased
Text: Mark 1:9-11
What does it take to make someone happy? It depends on the person I suppose. It used to be that you could give almost anyone on our staff a Big Mac and a Large Fry and a Diet Coke, and we would all be pleased as Punch. A new year and a few resolutions later, now most of us would be pleased with something that A) we are allowed to eat that B) actually tastes good, too.
Ladies, what does it take to make a husband happy? Probably not much. Fill his belly and let him be a scrubby bum on the couch watching the NFL playoffs maybe? Then he would be pleased.
Guys, what does it take to make a wife happy? Oh boy, where do we start? (No, we won’t say that!) This is a little more challenging though. Don’t forget her birthday . . . or an anniversary . . . or Valentine’s Day . . . or any other possible day you could give flowers and a card. Help with the wash and the dishes. Listen without watching TV at the same time. Let her hold the remote control. Communicate. Maybe (hopefully!) then she would be pleased.
But what would it take to make God happy? How could you please God? Jesus had a conversation with a man about this one time. A suitable answer was given: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Read the rest of this entry
Text: Mark 1:1-10
Pastor and I walk into your house, grab your keys, walk out to your driveway, get in your car, and start it up. Dumbfounded at the audacity of what is going on all you can choke out is a simple question, “Why are you doing this?”
“The Lord needs it. We will bring it back soon. By the way, can I have your shirt? The Lord is going to drive over it when he comes into town.”
How do you respond? Would you respond the same way the Jews in Jerusalem did? Would you let us drive off with your car the way they let the two disciples were allowed to walk off with a colt? Would you take the shirt off your own back and let Jesus walk on it? What are you willing to give up for Jesus? Jesus is not asking for your car, but he does ask for your first and your best? Are you willing to give it to him? Are you willing to give him the shirt off your back like those early Jews did?
He must have been one special “Lord” to merit all this special treatment. A free ride, a road covered with cloaks and branches. Praise being shouted from every side.
He was, no, he is a very special Lord. This Lord was triumphantly marching into Jerusalem about to die for the sins of the whole world. He marched to secure for us a kingdom that will last forever.
So I will ask it again: What are you willing to give to Jesus? He gave his whole life for you, what will you give in thanks for all your King has done for you? Make your life one lived in glorious praise for Christ your King. Make all you say and all you do bring glory and praise to Jesus.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, your love for us made you willing to die so that we could join you in heaven. While we wait for our Lord to come again we ask that you would motivate us to give our lives in service to you. You are more than worthy of our praise and thanks. Help us to see the things we have as gifts from you and use them accordingly. All this we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Text: Mark 1:12-15
No problem, right? He’s God!
Doesn’t it seem a little silly to even talk about Jesus being tempted by Satan? When I was younger it was a little laughable to me. It’s like an NBA team playing a grade school team in basketball. Satan doesn’t even belong in the same gym as Jesus!
But not so fast! While we Christians take great pride in Christ’s power as true God, we must also remember that Jesus is true man. He is human in every way that we are. He ate. He slept. He cried. He got tired. That means that Jesus, as true man, was also susceptible to temptations.
These were real temptations by Satan. Real, dangerous temptations! Satan knew just how to attack. We don’t have the details here in Mark, but we do elsewhere. Satan tempted a hungry Jesus with food. Satan tempted Jesus with a misuse of trust in his heavenly Father. Satan tempted Jesus with a way out of all the suffering he would soon endure.
Oh, how we would have crumbled under the pressures of these temptations! Oh, how we stumble every day!
But Jesus, who faced real and difficult temptations as true man, is still also true God. He perfectly resisted these temptations and showed his power over Satan.
What a comfort to know that we have a brother in Jesus who was tempted in every way we are! What a comfort to know that we have a brother in Jesus who continually showed his power over Satan until his complete victory at the cross!
This, your brother, is with you in temptation. He will provide a way out. He will provide the power to overcome. Go to him in prayer for help!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as you defeated Satan and resisted temptation, give me the power to overcome temptation and to keep from sin. Allow me to walk in your paths each and every day. Guide me on this narrow road, safe from harm and hell, until I join you in everlasting perfection. In your name I pray. Amen.
Devotion Text: Mark 1:40-45
“Our God is an Awesome God!”
So often, those words–the name of a popular Christian Contemporary song–are spoken in response to great news. In this story from Mark, a man once afflicted with leprosy had plenty of reason to praise God. He was healed! The disease of leprosy meant that this man had to live away from his family and friends. Leprosy meant being unable to worship with his fellow believers at the temple. Leprosy was a death sentence!
When this man had been healed by Jesus, how could he help but go from village to village screaming to anyone who would listen–“Our God, this Jesus, is an awesome God!”
Yet, for some reason, Jesus didn’t want this man to tell that story. Reading just a little further shows us why, “As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places.” Because this man pointed to the tangible blessings of Jesus, people looked to Jesus as someone who could heal all of their diseases rather than one who could heal their one truly deadly disease–sin.
Jesus certainly can heal every disease, but it is always important to remember that the real reason he came was to heal the world of its sin. Christ did not promise that the lives of Christians would be filled with every blessing imaginable. Instead, he promised that each Christian would be called upon to carry a cross, just as he did. Yet, at the end of our journey here, heaven is waiting for us.
Our God, truly, is an awesome God.
Prayer: Dearest Lord, thank you for the crosses you wish for me to carry. Though their burdens seem so heavy to me here, I know that you have intended them for my good. Though my pain here be great, I know that you are with me. Give me the strength to see your grace in every hurdle as I race onward toward Heaven. Amen.