Saturday, December 26, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Mark- Chapter 11

Mark 11

-Jesus is now nearing Jerusalem from the eastern way. Up from Jericho, He approached Jerusalem through the desert coming to Bethphage and Bethany, which was near the Mount of Olives that overlooks the Holy City. From there the Christ sent two of His disciples into a village opposite them to find a colt tied there on which one no had ever sat. The Master commanded them to untie this donkey colt and bring it back to Him. Jesus even gave them instructions if someone should ask why they were untying the colt. It happened just as the Lord had predicted as they came into the village. They found the donkey colt (actually two if you cross reference gospel accounts, Matthew 21:1-7), and some of the bystanders did ask what they were doing untying the colt. When they told them the Lord had need of it, they were given permission to take the animal for Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. They put coats on the tender animal, and Jesus got upon the humble beast of burden to receive His prophesied glory as He entered Jerusalem during this time of His ultimate sacrifice for humanity (Isaiah 62:11, Zechariah 9:9). Those who went in front and those who followed were placing their coats and palm branches out before Him in the road shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD; blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” Jesus entered the Holy City going straightway to the Temple, and after looking around a bit, He retreated back across the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives to Bethany with His twelve disciples since it was already late in the day (Mark 11:1-11).

-The next day began the time of preparation for His crucifixion. He would clean out the Temple and be tested for purification from the priests and scribes. But before all that, a symbolic gesture was made using the fig tree. Jesus was hungry as He left Bethany, much like the people He had encountered in the land of Israel and the surrounding locations were spiritually hungry to the point of desperation as He ministered to them. He saw a fig tree in leaf with all the appearances of producing good fruit on the outside, but when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, “for it was not the season for figs (figs symbolizing the religious establishment).” He cursed the fig tree telling it that it would never produce eatable fruit again. His disciples took note of this and found the fig tree withered from the roots up the next morning when they passed by. Jesus’ conclusion from this didactic was this, “Have faith in God.” This was no doubt in comparison to men who were imperfect, robbers, and corrupted, (i.e. the religious leaders), which most mistakenly looked to for their well-being (Mark 11:12-22). Jesus went further on this faith issue when He matter of factly taught, “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea.’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted to you.” Then He made a huge point on forgiveness, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in Heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in Heaven forgive your transgressions (Matthew 6:12-15, Mark 11:23-26).”

-The inspective testing in the Temple area continued as the chief priests and scribes came to Him with a question. They wanted to know by what authority Jesus did these things that He was doing. Jesus wisely came back at them with an unanswerable question. He told them He would answer their question if they would first answer His. The question was this, “Was the baptism of John from Heaven, or from men?” They reasoned among themselves and could not answer. If they said it was from God, then they would have to concede that they had not believed in Him. If they said it was from men, then they would face an angry mob, for everyone considered John to have been a legitimate prophet. They feared the people; therefore, they could not answer the Christ His question, and He got out of answering theirs (Mark 11:27-33). Just like the sacrificial lambs had to be examined for imperfections before the Lawful Temple rituals, God was having His Son pass the test of questioning with dynamic flair without the religious establishment even aware of what was going on.

-*Application* Do we look to God or man for our salvation? This is an ultra-important question now isn’t it? There is only One Mediator between God and man, and that One is Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). He is our hope and our promise. He is the fulfillment of every prophesy. He is our King. We need not look to anyone or anything else. Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD! The Son of David is the Son of the most high God. And His Kingdom will never end. Believe in Him, trust His provision, and forgive your neighbor as He has forgiven you. This is the path to life eternal.

Verses to Memorize: Mark 11:17, 24

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Mark- Chapter 10

Mark 10

-Chapter 10 has many key components as Jesus now leads His followers toward Jerusalem and His ransomous crucifixion for the world. He begins His journey on the eastern side of the Jordan in the region of Judea. Here in approximately the same area that John the Baptist ministered, large crowds were again gathering to hear His teachings. It was His custom by now to instruct on these occasions when the people were coming to Him for the insight, knowledge, and miraculous demonstrations from this most unusual Individual. Some Pharisees were about and tested Him on the lawfulness of divorce situations. The Christ asked them first off, “What did Moses command you?” Moses, under God’s direction of course, had allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send the wife away in the Law. The Lord clarified His true position on the matter, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” This statement led the disciples to question the Rabbi later in a house concerning the subject at hand. He plainly stated to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” another gospel gives some more insight onto this issue, but the main point is that man’s hardness of heart is the primary problem with temporal relationships (Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:1-12).

-The people were bringing children to Jesus in this region that He might touch them, but the disciples were rebuking them as an inappropriate gesture. But, when Jesus saw this, He became indignant and told them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” After this profound statement, He took the children in His All-powerful Arms and began to bless them, laying His Holy Hands on them (Mark 10:13-16). What is it about a child that so closely relates them to the Kingdom of God? I can think of several things here:

1)     Humility- There is no place in the Kingdom of God for those who trust in themselves (previous) or those who believe they can earn or work their way to Heaven (after). The ones who are low, who will humble themselves and seek the LORD, will be accepted (Matthew 18:4). We must give up our rights and our pride to come to this Savior, there is no other way. It is a death to self and children are willing. A nothing to lose mentality.

2)     Dependence- That these were (and still are) the ones that cast their dependence on the LORD. Little ones know that they can’t do it by themselves. They need help and are willing to allow those more capable to assist them in what they need done.

3)     Faith- They have faith and trust in the LORD much more than adults (Warning on causing them to stumble Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42).

4)     Purity- They are less tainted by the world, closer to the image of God that He created us to be, they are more pure (although there is ample evidence of a sin nature).

5)     Freedom from worldly desires- Little ones have a special enthusiasm for the things of God, a joy in the little things, don’t worry about things as much (see Matthew 6 on being anxious, Matthew 6:33 “Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you).

-As Christ Jesus was setting out from this place on the journey which would take Him ever closer to Jerusalem, the antithesis of a childlike faith is noted by the author in the text. A rich-young ruler (Luke 18:18) ran up to Him and knelt down before the Lord to discern an important question. He asked, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus seized upon this opportunity to clarify His deity. He responded, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Then He began an attempt to bring this young man into the Kingdom of God. He began with the commands, and the man thought he had done everything to abide by those requirements. But Jesus went further and deeper into his real state. Looking at the wealthy individual with love He stated, “One thing you lack; go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow Me.” This called out the fact that he neither loved God with all his heart, mind, and soul, nor did he love his neighbor as much as himself. These are the two concepts that the whole Law is built on (Matthew 22:36-40). He wasn’t as righteous as he made himself out to be as he walked away from the Lord’s call saddened and grieving due to his inability to give up his worldly riches. This had to have grieved the Lord too as He looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed by this comment since from an earthly perspective it seemed like the more prosperous had it all. But Jesus corrects this thinking when He continues, “Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” This astonished the disciples even more as they all chimed in, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus, the Master Teacher, then brought the themed lesson to completion, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” This led the thoughtful Peter to draw some rewarding conclusions. He began to say to the Master, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” Jesus, I can picture probably smiling, replied, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last, first (Mark 10:17-31).” What a promise! What a good, good, good God!

-Like Willie Nelson, Jesus and His disciples were on the road again going up to the majestic Jerusalem, where the Temple of the LORD was and where Christ would give His life as a ransom for all mankind to purchase them from spiritual death. Jesus walked ahead of His posse in determination of purpose. Those who followed Him did so with amazement and fear the Bible says. The Christ again took the twelve aside for a ministry briefing to alert them as to what was about to happen to Him. He told them matter of factly:

that He would be delivered (paradidōmi- betrayed) to the chief priests and the scribes, that He would be condemned to death,

that He would be handed over to the Gentiles,

that He would be mocked,

that He would be spit on,

that He would be scoured (whipped),

that He would be killed,

and that He would rise again from the dead in three days (Mark 10:32-34).

-James and John come up to Jesus at this point and ask for something special. They wanted to sit on either side of Him in His glory as the Kingdom came. Jesus wisely told them that they really didn’t know what they were asking for. He challenged them to see if they were really willing to go through the suffering baptism of fire that He was about to go through with pain and torment. They both said that they were able, and Jesus prophesied that indeed they would go through intense persecution. But then He told them frankly, “…to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” The other ten disciples were put out upon hearing this request from James and John. Jesus used the teachable moment to bring His followers closer to the Kingdom of God, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:35-45).”

-Now they came to Jericho, the regional place where Joshua had led the children of Israel across the Jordan into the Promised Land many years before. As the Christ was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus cried out from his sitting position on the road, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He had heard that Jesus the Nazarene was approaching. Since he could not see, he was probably just randomly calling out as he heard voices approaching his presence. Many were trying to shut him up from speaking out, but he persisted in crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped when He came and said, “Call him here.” So they obeyed and told the beggar, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling you.” We get a vivid impression of his excitement from the text. He threw aside his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus. Jesus asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?” God always wants us to be relational and specific. Bartimaeus responded, “Rabboni (My Master), I want to regain my sight!” Jesus told him that his “faith” had made him well. Immediately, a healing miracle occurred and Bartimaeus began following the Lord on the road, a new disciple in Christ (Mark 10:46-52).

-*Application* The things that jump out to us the most in this lengthy chapter are the origins and costs of discipleship. Do we have that childlike faith that it takes to enter the Kingdom of God and receive His miraculous works in our lives? Have we truly loved Him more than anything else, and do we really love our neighbors as much as ourselves? Is our heart hard or pliable for goodness sake? When we are confronted with these calls and challenges, will we go His way or our own? This makes all the difference now and for eternity. I love what the Lord says though. When we do give everything up for Him and die to ourselves, He raises us back up in His overwhelming power and gives us more than we ever could have hoped or  imagined (Ephesians 3:20).

Verses to Memorize: Mark 10:21, 45

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Mark- Chapter 9

Mark 9

-Chapter 9 continues the ministry of Jesus Christ with more incredible theological discoveries for the reader. The Lord had remarked that there were some of His disciples with Him that would not taste death until they had actually seen the Kingdom of God come in Its power. Six days later, the Christ took His inner circle, Peter, James, and John, to a high mountain (I believe it to be Mt. Hermon in northern Israel near Caesarea Philippi), and He was transfigured before them. The Bible says His garments became radiant with exceeding whiteness that no launder on earth could perform. Elijah and Moses appeared on the mountain and were talking face to face with Jesus. Peter spoke up in a daze of trepidation and humbly offered to build them three tabernacles. Then a cloud formed to overshadow the scene, and a Voice was heard, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” All at once they looked around and saw no one but Jesus anymore. Coming back down the mountain, Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what they had seen and experienced until He was resurrected from the dead. The disciples seized upon that statement and discussed what they might mean. They also entertained the prophetic question about Elijah’s appearance before the coming of Messiah (Malachi 4:5). The Christ explained to them that this had indeed happened. He doesn’t discuss it Mark’s text, but John the Baptist had already come and suffered in the Spirit and power of Elijah, the Spirit of prophecy and repentance as a forerunner (Matthew 11:10-15; 17:12-13, Mark 9:1-13, Luke 1:13-17).

-Upon coming back to the rest of the disciples, they observed a large crowd with the scribes arguing with them. When Jesus was recognized, people were again amazed and began running up to Him to greet Him. He was still a very popular figure at this point of His ministry. Jesus basically asked what was going on, and found that they had come upon a difficult situation in trying to cast out a powerful demon from a boy. His father was desperately trying to get help in this situation. The boy was stricken with muteness and seizers of fits that would slam him down on the ground making him foam at the mouth and grinding his teeth all while stiffening out. The convulsions from the demonic influence would often attempt to kill him when they were near fire or water. The father was understandably begging for help and pity. He asked Jesus IF He could help the situation. Jesus rhetorically replied, “If You can? All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately and spontaneously the father cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” This honest contradiction of statements moved Jesus to quickly help his son as He saw a large crowd beginning to gather. He rebuked the unclean spirit of deafness and muteness. He commanded that it never enter the lad again. The demon cried out and threw him down one last time in terrible convulsions before leaving. The boy became so dysfunctional that most thought him to be dead at this point, but the Christ lifted him up by the hand; and he got up. As Jesus went into the house, His disciples beseeched Him as to why they had no power over this particular unclean spirit. He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer (some manuscripts and translations include fasting here too as a prerequisite, Mark 9:14-29).”

-The theme of Christ’s death re-enters the narrative as the chapter proceeds. The group of Christ’s followers went out and had begun to go through Galilee again, but Jesus did not want anyone to know about it this time. This was a teaching mission. He began to say unto them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” The disciples didn’t really understand these statements, but they were too afraid to ask Him for further clarification at that point (Mark 9:30-32).

-As they came to their home base of Capernaum once more, the Lord questioned His disciples as to what they were discussing on their way. In His omniscience He knew that they had been arguing with each other in pride about who was the greatest among them. Who was the alpha disciple, if you will. He explained before the twelve, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all. Then taking a child that He set before them, He illustrated, “Whoever receives one child like this in My Name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him (the Father) who sent Me (Mark 9:33-37).” John speaks up at that time and wonders if they should continue trying to prevent those that were not of their group who were casting out demons in the Name of Jesus. The Lord matter of factly stated, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My Name, and be able soon afterword to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is for us (Mark 9:38-40).” Jesus then returns to the child who is present to teach more lessons to His disciples. Giving is extolled, as well as not becoming a stumbling block to people’s, especially children’s, spiritual growth in faith. Jesus has hard words for those who disrupt another’s progress in the gospel. Then He goes back to individual responsibility. He lists a series of things that could cause a person to stumble, and warns that getting rid of those things for spiritual purity in the Kingdom of God is the primary concern. His warning is precise as He begins to teach on the awfulness of being separated from the Father in Hell, “where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” He goes on to say that everyone will be salted with fire. “Salt is good” He says, “but if salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another (Mark 9:41-50).” In other words, keep an eternal perspective on all that you do in this life.

-*Application* Have we seen the Kingdom of God with all Its power in our lives? It really can when we believe and receive Him and His Holy Spirit that desires to indwell us. This is how Heaven comes to earth and manifests His presence most powerfully, a changed and contrite heart bent on an eternal perspective that loses everything to follow Jesus. Be transformed and transfigured.

Verses to Memorize: Mark 9:23-24

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Mark- Chapter 8

Mark 8

-Jesus does yet another miracle of multiplication with a large crowd of 4,000. They had been with Him for three days in a desolate place, and the Christ had compassion on them since they had nothing left to eat and, for some of them, had a long journey back. The disciples were slow. They had not yet grasped the concept that the Lord could provide something out of nothing, or very little in this instance. Jesus took seven loaves of bread and a few small fish, gave thanks to the Father, and then had His disciples once again distribute the food until all ate and were satisfied. Once again there were left overs. This time seven large baskets were used to full capacity to gather the scraps. After this Jesus sent the crowd away and entered the boat with His disciples to come into the district of Dalmanutha, which is on the western side of the Sea of Galilee. Here, the Pharisees came out to begin arguing with Him seeking a sign in order to test Him. This affected a deep sigh in the Spirit of the Messiah and a pertinent question, “Why does this generation seek for a sign?” Then He went on, “Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” He left them at that point, embarking to the other side of the sea (Mark 8:1-13). On this journey, the disciples had forgotten to bring along bread for sustenance. Only one loaf of bread was with them when Jesus commented, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” The disciples were slow to understand His point, and began to discuss the fact that they had not brought enough bread. The Lord rebuked them here for not understanding what He was trying to teach them and for hardening their heart. They had been short to remember that He was “Jehovah Jireh (God will provide)” and could easily feed them. He recounted His two great miracles of multiplication, and ended the lesson with a rhetorical question, “Do you not yet understand (Mark 8:14-21)?” One day they would get it, but it had not yet occurred to them, even though they had seen incredible things, that this Man was God in the flesh. He and the Father were One, and soon the Lord would probe them some more to draw their attention to this fact.

-A blind man was healed as they came to Bethsaida on the north side of the Sea of Galilee. On this occasion, He brought the man outside the village by the hand, spit on his eyes, and laid His Hands on him. The first sight this man saw was what appeared to him to be men as big as trees walking around. Jesus quickly laid His Hands on his eyes again to completely restore the blind man’s sight. He then sent him home telling him not to even enter the village (Mark 8:22-26). Again the Lord was trying not to gain a popular following preceding His crucifixion. This would have created a civil disturbance that was definitely not the Lord’s will. He came to bring peace, not war, with His first incarnation. The other interpretive issue here in this section deals with what the blind man saw when he was first regaining his eyesight. Did he have spiritual insight into another realm? Or, was he just foggy in his perception of his surroundings? This we may never know until we can ask in Heaven, but it is an intriguing part of the text.

-Jesus now went north probably along some of the feeder springs, creeks, and rivers that feed the Sea of Galilee up to the village of Caesarea Philippi. This was a very pagan area full of demonic sacrifice and polytheistic worship of the Hellenistic gods. Along the way, Jesus took the opportunity to question His disciples further in regards to who He was. His pointed question, “Who do people say that I am?” began the discussion in the text. They were giving the common answers such as: John the Baptist, Elijah, or maybe one of the other prophets of old. The Lord continued though, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter, the budding leader of the group, spoke up, “You are the Christ (anointed Messiah).” Again Jesus warned them not to tell anyone what they were discovering about Him (Mark 8:27-30). This was an important event, the acknowledgement of the Divine. This was truly a marker in the development of the Lord’s disciples, but they would see more and learn more as the saga continued.

-God began to teach them at this point that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the establishment in Israel. He prophesied that He would be killed, and after three day He would rise again. This He was stating plaining as the gospel writer goes back and recalls. Because of this negative word, Peter pulls the Lord aside and tries to rebuke Him. Jesus’ response is classic as He turns and sees the disciples, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” At that point He gathers everyone who was following Him and said these powerful words, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels (Mark 8:31-38).”

-*Application* Have we acknowledged the Christ for who He really is in our own hearts? This is truly the decisive question now, isn’t it? The Word says that we should sanctify (set Him apart as Divine) Him in our hearts, and be ready to defend our faith and hope with gentleness and reference (1 Peter 3:15). It is important to note that Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned those Words of God at a more mature point in his life. Like the disciples, we sometimes are slow to grasp these spiritual concepts and lessons that God is trying to teach us. Often we are hard hearted and need to be chiseled at to refine our thinking and spiritual response. Are we really ready to lose our lives today for His sake so that we can gain everything in eternity? True relationship with the King involves sacrifice and confidence before Him in a marred world. Faith is the key to these vital things and what it all boils down to. Is it easy to give it all away for life in Jesus? No, not at all. But, is it worth it in the end? Absolutely, no doubt about it. We who have believed in the Son of God and given up our lives for Him will ultimately find His favor forevermore.

Verses to Memorize: Mark 8:25, 33-36

Monday, December 21, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Mark- Chapter 7

Mark 7

-The Lord’s teaching on inner purity continues in this seventh chapter of the book. Scribes and Pharisees who had come from Jerusalem noticed that the disciples of Jesus were not following their man made traditions of hand washing and cleansing before they ate their bread. Jesus spoke from the prophet Isaiah to address this issue, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men (Isaiah 29:13, Mark 7:1-7).” He went on to make a point on the fact that they often set aside the clear commandment of God to hold to their religious traditions. The case He used here was in regards to taking care of parents in an honorary way for Corban (given to God). They invalidated the Word of God with their man made traditions handed down as false worship. Jesus enlightened them that there were many such things like this in Judaism (Mark 7:8-13). He continued with a lesson that He wanted everyone to listen carefully to and understand. Nothing outside the body defiles a person, but the things that proceed out of them is what defiles them. Later, His disciples questioned Him on what appeared to be a new teaching in regards to their faith. Jesus admonished them for lacking understanding in this instance. Things that go into the body go through the stomach are eliminated. Thus, He declared all foods clean in the sight of God as it pertains to salvation and relationship with Him. What He was getting at was the heart. He taught, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these things proceed from within and defile the man (Mark 7:14-23).”

-Jesus’ Kingdom mission headed north and east from there to the region of Tyre and Sidon. He wanted to escape notice, but His popularity and renown followed Him to these distant regions. He entered a house and had a woman, who was a Gentile, entreat Him to heal her daughter of an unclean spirit. She was persistent in her request to the point that it caused Jesus to make what seemed like a rude statement. He was actually prophetically speaking and testing when He commented, “Let the children (Jews) be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” He knew her heart and what her response would be in His discernment. She kept making her case that even the dogs are nourished from the scraps and that she was capable of receiving blessing from the Almighty. Her answer impressed the Messiah, and He healed her daughter. In faith she went back to find her child lying on the bed and cleansed from the tormenting demons (Mark 7:24-30).

-He then came through Sidon, which was further north of Tyre, before coming back over to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of the Decapolis (ten cities). The people there brought Him one who was deaf and had difficulty speaking. They implored Him to lay His Hands on him for healing. Jesus, this time took him aside from the crowd by Himself and put His fingers in the man’s ears. Then after spitting, He touched the deaf man’s tongue with the saliva. Looking up to Heaven, with a deep sigh, He commanded, “Be opened!” The man’s ears were opened, and he could both hear and speak plainly. The Lord told them not to broadcast this event to anyone, but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim His marvelous works. In astonishment they were saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak (Mark 7:31-37).”

-*Application* When the inner man is well, the whole being will be well spiritually speaking. Take care of your heart; it is the well spring of life (Proverbs 4:23). Jesus is the only One that can change our heart. We only need to look to Him to heal the brokenness in our lives. His grace is always enough. Even the crumbs of His goodness provide all we’ll ever need. He does all things well.

Verses to Memorize: Mark 7:21-23, 37

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Mark- Chapter 6

Mark 6

-Jesus visited His hometown in Nazareth with His disciples following Him. When Sabbath came, He began to teach in their synagogue, and the many listeners were astonished at His wisdom from above. His miracles too were being noticed, but He could only do a few in this place where He grew up. His famous statement concerning that goes something like this, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” People thought of Him as the good little boy of Mary with normal brothers and sisters. They missed the fact that He was the anointed Son of the Most High God. Their unbelief prevented Him from doing many miracles there in Nazareth. He wondered at their lack of faith and acceptance, and He was therefore going to other villages around the area teaching and ministering (Mark 6:1-6). At around that time, He summoned the twelve and began to make them apostles (sent out ones). He sent them out in pairs and gave them authority to cast out unclean spirits. The work of the Kingdom was beginning to multiply and manifest from the Divine. He instructed them with specific instructions. For this particular mission (not every mission of course, we need to note that) they were to take nothing for their journey. This would be a test of faith and other people’s hospitality. The only things they were allowed to bring with them were a staff, sandals for their feet, and their normal clothes. They were not even allowed to bring along a second tunic (inner garments, what we would call underwear). They were to go into homes that accepted their ministry and stay in that house until they left town. Any place that would not receive their message or listen to them would receive this: they were to “shake the dust off the souls of their feet for a testimony against them (Mark 6:7-11).” Their preaching was on the theme of repentance, the first step towards salvation by the grace of God. The twelve were casting out demons and anointing the sick with oil for healing. Many miracles were now taking place through normal-natural-everyday people (Mark 6:12-13).

-Now when King Herod heard of these things of Jesus, gossip circulated as to who this Man was. Rumors of a resurrection of John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the other prophets of old were being discussed and believed. Herod was convinced that John the Baptist had come back to haunt him. And, in part this was true. John the Baptist was of the Spirit of prophecy, and Jesus certainly was filled with that Presence. This led Mark to recount the back story of John the Baptist’s beheading because of King Herod’s foolish words during a time of pleasure and a vindictive wife of the king who had tremendous influence over her daughter. We see the dichotomy in this earthly king as we read his intrigue with John’s words and the grudge that he held against the prophet of the LORD and forerunner to the Christ. We observe King Herod’s fear of man and capitulation to doing something that grieved him for well past the moment of its occurrence. His guilt was palpable. It probably carried over some years later to when he finally was able to meet this Messiah face to face at the time of His trial and execution (Luke 23:7-12). As the disciples heard the news of John’s death, they came and took his body away to be laid in a proper tomb (Mark 6:14-29).

-The apostles regathered with Jesus to report all they had done and taught. His desire was to go away for some seclusion and recuperation with rest due to all the chaos of ministry and the demands of doing God’s work on earth. They took off in the boat to find this area of privacy, but the people saw them taking off and ran on foot from all the cities and got there ahead of them. As Jesus went ashore, He saw the large crowd, and His heart—filled with compassion for them because they were like sheep without a Shepherd—went out to them. The Lord shows great flexibility in this situation as He began once again to teach them many things of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. It must have been awesome to be in His presence in such a forum. It was already quite late in the day when all this happened, and the disciples asked if the crowd should be sent away into the nearby countryside and villages to buy some food. Jesus had another idea for provision. He told them matter of factly, “You (disciples) give them something to eat!” Not getting the point at first, they replied with typical concern due to the costs of such a task. Jesus took inventory on what they had on hand. It came to a measly five loaves of bread and two fish. He commanded them to all sit down by groups on the green grass of that place in hundreds and fifties. He took the provision they had, offered a blessing by looking toward Heaven and began breaking the bread and separating the fish, giving it to the disciples for distribution among the crowd. They ALL ate and were satisfied! When the remnants were picked up, twelve full baskets of the broken pieces of bread, and also of the fish, were gathered. How big was this large crowd you may ask? 5,000 men and possibly some women and children as well had been adequately feed. It was a miracle of multiplication (Mark 6:30-44).

-Right after this, Jesus made His disciples get in the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida as He was sending the crowds away. After giving them farewells, He went up a mountain to pray to His Father in solitude. In the evening, the disciples were in the boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. In the fourth watch of the night, Jesus saw them “straining at the oars” for the wind was blowing hard in their face. He came to them, walking on the sea with the intention of passing them by. However, they saw Him and supposed Him to be a spirit. Of course this terrified them, but He calmed them down, exhorting them to “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” When He finally got in the boat with them and the wind stopped, they were utterly astonished. The text says “they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened (Mark 6:45-52).” We get more insight into this adventure and how one of His disciples, Peter, also stepped onto the water to supernaturally walk on it in faith in another gospel account (Matthew 14:28-31).

-The disciples and Jesus finally landed at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. When they got out of the boat, the Christ was immediately recognized by the people there. They ran about that whole country and began to carry all the sick to Him for a possible healing. Wherever Jesus was heard to be, in the villages, cities, or countryside, people were coming to Him and laying the sick in the market places begging that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; “and as many as touched it were being cured (Matthew 14:53-56).”

-*Application* We see more of the incredible power that Jesus had over the natural realm in this narrative. What amazing things has He performed in your own personal life? Reflect on that today, and it may surprise you just how many miracles you’ve actually experienced yourself. God is amazing, and He is still in the miracle business. He sends each one of us out to do His work in His power with giftings, talents, and abilities that only He could have blessed us with. Use those for His glory every chance you get, and multiply your ministry.

Verses to Memorize: Mark 6:5-6, 12, 16, 26, 52

Friday, December 18, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Mark- Chapter 5

Mark 5

-On the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee in the country of the Gerasenes, Jesus and His disciples encounter a man who was demon possessed to the point that he was uncontrollable. He had to live in the cemetery since no one was strong enough to subdue and bind him, even with chains. Every day and night he would constantly scream among the tombs and in the mountains because of his torment, gashing himself with stones. The Bible paints a very bleak existence for this man before Jesus came along. When this man saw Jesus from a distance, he ran up to Him and bowed down shouting, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” Jesus then began calling out the unclean spirit that was within him. The Messiah was asking for the demons’ name, which got the response, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” The demons begged for the Christ not to send them out of the country, so the Lord disposed of them into a herd of unclean swine who were feeding nearby on the mountain. When they entered the herd of two thousand pigs, they immediately rushed down the steep bank of the mountain into the sea and they all drowned. Their herdsmen ran away in a tizzy and reported the event both to the city and the country. When the people of the area came out to inspect the situation, they found Jesus and the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down calmly, clothed and in his right mind. This frightened the populace, and they beseeched the Lord to leave their region once they had heard the story of what had occurred. As the Lord was getting into the boat to depart, the man who had been delivered approached Him and wanted to accompany the team of disciples. Jesus Christ did not have that plan for this man. He responded with His perfect will, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” The man went away praising God and proclaiming the great things he had experienced by the power of the Almighty in the Decapolis (10 cities area). Everyone was amazed at this transformation (Mark 5:1-20). 

-Upon His return on the other side, the Lord stayed in the seashore to speak since a large crowd had gathered around Him. One of the synagogue officials, who no doubt had witnessed some of His miracles by this point, fell at His feet and begged Him desperately to lay His Hands on his very sick child so that she would be well. Faith triggered Jesus’ response. He went off with the official, and the large crowd followed behind them. While on their way, another miracle took place, also triggered by faith, which becomes our theme here in this section. A woman who had dealt with a female part hemorrhage for twelve years with suffering and constant medical attention costing her everything she had without any success (in fact the text says she got worse with physicians help) came up to the Christ and touched Him in the midst of the crowd of people. Her thinking was simple, but profound, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” There was an immediate drying up of the flow of blood from her body when she touched the Savior! She could actually feel the healing from her affliction. Jesus, perceiving in Himself that His raffa power had gone out (Psalm 103:3), turned around and addressed the crowd, “Who touched My garments?” The undiscerning disciples couldn’t understand His preciseness. Many people had been pressing in and touching Him. Why would He call this out? The Lord noticed the woman by now. She was afraid and trembling, aware of what had just happened to her. She came before Him and told Him the whole truth. Christ’s words reveal His compassion and mission, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction. While still speaking these beautifully profound words, messengers came from Jairus’ house with terrible news. The daughter had passed into eternity. There was no longer need for the Messiah’s healing touch, or so they thought. Jesus overheard this conversation and petitioned the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid, only believe.” Only Peter, James, and John were allowed to accompany the Lord as He entered where the dead girl was. Outside the house was a large commotion with many people weeping and wailing loudly. Jesus told them that she was only asleep; she was not dead. Because they thought they knew otherwise, the crowd began to mock His comment. Jesus put everyone away except the faithful. His companions, the mother, and the father entered the place where she lay. Then, Jesus took the child by the hand and said directly to her, “Talitha kum (“Little girl, I say to you, get up!)!” Another immediate miracle took place! She got up and began to walk around. The twelve year old astounded the witnesses, but Jesus gave them strict orders that no one should know about this. Then, recognizing every practical need, Jesus tells them that they should give the girl something to eat (Mark 5:21-43).

-*Application* Jesus’ sole mission on His trip across the Sea of Galilee was to drive out a legion of demons from a maniac that could not be previously contained. He drove the unclean spirits completely away into a herd of pigs. They were demolished. That man and that place was radically changed because of the power of God. We who have His Spirit in us have that same authority today, right now. Christ has all the power!!! Just think of it like this: Christ in you to drive out the evil afoot. Meditate on it and then go apply it in love.

-Jesus’ mission as He came back across the sea was to supernaturally heal on the basis of faith. The Lord can’t work with doubt. Trust in Him alone and observe what He does. The great thing about that these days is that we are exhorted to proclaim His excellencies to the world (1 Peter 2:9). We don’t need to hide it anymore. His Kingdom has come and His will should be done (Matthew 6:10). He’s no longer the suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). He is the King of an everlasting Kingdom (Psalm 145:13, Daniel 4:3, 34; 7:14, 27).

Verses to Memorize: Mark 5:19, 34, 36

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Mark- Chapter 4

Mark 5

-Jesus teaches from the boat in the sea many parables for the masses that were gathered as curious observers in these times of Messianic fulfillment. Most did not recognize Him, but they knew He was something special, even abnormal, given to them. Jesus explained everything to His followers and disciples. He wasn’t trying to hide things with His parables, but He did want people to seek out the deeper meaning and explore what the Truth was all about. That is why He would say, “To you has been given the mystery of the Kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven (Mark 4:11-12, 33-34).” He spent time giving agricultural parables (an earthly story with a heavenly/spiritual meaning). Some got it, when they asked, sook, and knocked (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9). Others left their misunderstandings alone and walked away still clueless and unforgiven. Christ’s mission centered on the belief of the individual answering His call for change in the heart.

-He gave them a fundamental parable at the beginning concerning the sower and the soils (Matthew 4:13). The sower sows the Word of God. Some seed falls on the hardened road where Satan comes and easily takes away the Word which has been sown in them. Some seed falls on shallow places where rocks are underneath. The Word is received immediately with joy, and springs up looking like a healthy plant. But, it has no firm root to nourish it to make it last. This person has a temporary experience of tasting the Word of the LORD (Hebrews 6:4-8), but when persecution or affliction comes their way, they fall away as apostates. There was really never any relationship here in this second type of soil. Some seed falls on a third type of soil that is infested with thorns, or contaminants, to a healthy plant. The thorns, which are described as the worries of the world (or age), the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things rather than God, choke out the Word and these individuals become unfruitful. There is great debate on whether or not these will enter the Kingdom of God. On one hand they could be carnal Christians (1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:1-16). On the other, they may not actually have a real-authentic relationship with the Savior (Matthew 7:21, John 15). The last soil is the desired good soil. These people hear the Word of God, accept it in repentance and life change by faith, and bear fruit according to their giftings and talents, some thirty, some sixty, some a hundredfold (Mark 4:3-20).

-Jesus went on to teach about letting the Light that we have in Him shine for all to see using the analogy of a lamp in relation to a lampstand. No one would put their light under a bed, but expose that illumination for all to see. Jesus went on to say that He would be the One to bring all things to light, nothing in the end will be hidden or secret; it will all be revealed. “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear (Mark 4:21-23).”

-The next line of reasoning has Jesus telling the crowd to “Take care what you listen to.” Obedience to His Words will begin a growth process that will grow the Kingdom of God. Whoever wants more and more of it will be rewarded. Those who reject it, though they be religious, will never have and in the end have eternity taken from them (Mark 4:24-25). The Kingdom of God is like a man who puts his seed out on the soil. He doesn’t have to work for his increase. He goes to sleep while the divine process takes effect. The seed spouts and grows, but the person really has no clue as to how it happened. The soil (the Holy Spirit) produces the results by itself (Itself), the blade first, then the head, and then the mature grain in the head. When the crop is ready, it is harvested with the sickle of judgment because the harvest has come. Only those who have a Savior, which is Christ the Lord, will survive this (Mark 4:26-29). Another picture of the Kingdom of God is given with the analogy of the mustard seed. A mustard seed begins very, very small when it is cast upon the soil, but it grows into a mighty tree larger than all the garden plants that surround it and form large branches so that birds can nest (rest) in its shade (Mark 4:30-32).

-Now on that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” They would cross the Sea of Galilee that night with another lesson from the Creator. A fierce gale came upon them as they crossed over, and Jesus, probably from exhaustion, was sleeping in the stern of the boat. The disciples thought they were perishing and woke Him up. Jesus simply rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” The wind died down quickly and the sea became “perfectly calm.” To bring home the point, Jesus looked at His followers and asked, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The fact that they still had no clue that this indeed was the Messiah is evident from the last verse of the chapter. “They became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him (Mark 4:35-41)?’”

-*Application* What an amazing Savior we have. Think about all of His wisdom and power today as you do life. Seek, ask, and knock to find His answers and open door into the everlasting abundant life. What a good, good, good God!

Verses to Memorize: Mark 4:22, 28

Monday, December 14, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Mark- Chapter 3

Mark 3

-The Lord’s Sabbath healings continue with a man who had a withered hand. The Pharisees by now were watching closely to see what He would do in this situation. Jesus called him forward and asked the question, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” Everyone kept silent, which angered the God Man. “Grieved at their hardness of heart” He commanded the man to stretch out his hand, and his hand was restored like new. This led the Pharisees to go out and conspire with the Herodians, a political powerhouse of the day, as to how they might destroy Him (Mark 3:1-6).” They mistakenly thought He was a blasphemer and law breaker because of their own man-made traditions and hard hearts.

-Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples, and a great multitude followed Him to see what would transpire next. They came from the Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea (to the south of Jerusalem), beyond the Jordan River to the east, and the vicinity of the coastal regions to the north of Tyre and Sidon. A tremendous amount of people got the news and were coming to hear and see what Jesus was doing. Jesus showed great preparation in having His disciples get a boat ready for Him so that He could project His Voice from the water and maintain a teaching distance for His message. He had healed many and knew that the crowds would be pressing in on Him to touch Him. Whenever unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and cry out, “You are the Son of God!” However, He earnestly warned them not to divulge His identity to the populace (Mark 3:7-12).

-The events rapidly move to the point when the Christ appointed His twelve disciples. On an unnamed mountain, Jesus summoned who He wanted as His inner circle to train and prepare for His world changing mission. His plan was to send them out to preach as they became ready with His message empowered by His Spirit (Matthew 28-18-20, Mark 16:15, 20). He appointed the twelve so that they could be with Him intimately as He sojourned in His earthly ministry. They would have authority to cast out demons, which was to multiply the ministry of the Kingdom as it was advancing. Simon (Peter), James and John (the sons of Zebedee, the sons of thunder “Boanerges” was their nicknames), Andrew (Peter’s brother), Philip, Bartholomew (Nathaniel), Mattew (Levi), Thomas (the doubting one, the twin), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (Judas, son of James), Simon (the Zealot), and Judas Iscariot (the betrayer of Jesus) were called as the disciples of Jesus (Mark 3:13-19).

-Now, the Lord came home and the crowds pressed them to the point that they could not even eat a meal. People started to talk and make comments that He had lost His senses. They even tried to take Him into custody. Scribes who had come down from Jerusalem started claiming that He was possessed by the devil, which gave Him power over the demons that He was casting out of people. Jesus called them to Himself and rationalized the situation in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house. Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin (Mark 3:20-29).” He was saying this because they accused Him of having an unclean spirit (Mark 3:30). Denial of the Holy Spirit is blasphemy and incurs eternal condemnation from God. The Spirit of Jesus is One and the same as the Holy Spirit. They are in complete unity, and these scribes were denying His supreme authority, an unpardonable sin.

-Then, we get the scene when the Lord’s mother and brothers arrived, but had to stand outside because of the crowds. Being made aware of their presence outside the house, Jesus made a community of Kingdom point. He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” Then looking around at those gathered with Him, He continued, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother (Mark 3:31-35).”

-*Application* Have you ever thought of yourself as the brother, sister, or mother of Jesus? We are in complete fellowship and relationship with Him when we have trusted in His loving grace. He, the King, has called us “friends (John 15:15-17).”

Verse to Memorize: Mark 3:35

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Mark- Chapter 2

Mark 2

-The activities in the ministry of Jesus continue into this next chapter with several key events that Mark notates. First, we see the healing of a paralytic in Capernaum as Jesus comes back to His home base. In a crowded house, four men brought their crippled friend to be healed, but found no room for them to enter. In faith they devised a way to get to the Healer by removing the roof right above Jesus and letting him down on his pallet on which he was lying. The Christ saw their faith and purposed to heal them, but He made an important statement before the physical healing took place. He intently spoke to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Some of the scribes who were in attendance reasoned in their hearts about this perceived blasphemous comment by the Rabbi. Jesus, understanding their hearts and motivations, quickly addressed the situation. He claimed, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk?’ But so that you may KNOW (emphasis mine) that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” The crippled man got up immediately picking up his pallet and went out in the sight of everyone in attendance. Certainly they were amazed by this miracle and glorified God saying, “We have never seen anything like this (Mark 2:1-12).” Only Jesus could do this: forgive sins (the greater spiritual need first) and provide a miraculous physical healing (the material need after).

-Jesus then goes out by the seashore of the Sea of Galilee again to find people coming to Him, and he began to teach them. He passed by a hated and loathed tax collector by the name of Levi (later to be known as the gospel writer, Matthew), the son of Alphaeus, and He called to him, “Follow Me!” Levi got up and followed his new Master, even throwing a party for Him and His disciples in his house along with many other tax collectors and sinners. Jesus was gaining a large following. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with these types of people, they wondering why this Man would do such a thing. The Lord’s response was classic, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners (Mark 2:13-17).”

-Later, John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, and they questioned why Jesus’ disciples did not fast. The Lord took the opportunity to teach about His body, the church. While He, the bridegroom was with them (the bride, i.e. the church), it was a time of celebration and rejoicing. But, there would come a time, He predicts prophetically, when the bridegroom is taken away, and then they would certainly be fasting to draw close to the Spirit of God. He then begins to instruct on the New Covenant dispensation that was coming. This church era would be a new “wineskin” that would disrupt and irritate the traditional establishment (Mark 2:18-22). The Redeeming Savior would provide a lot of changes in people’s perceptions of what the Kingdom of God was all about. No longer would the Jews have a priority on the Law and knowledge of God. The nations would soon be able to experience the Holy Spirit in His fullness as He indwelt and moved in the whole world. This would be hard for the traditional Hebrews to accept, even though it had been clearly foretold by the prophets during the Old Covenant (Psalm 4:5-8; 67:2, Isaiah 56:7, Ezekiel 36:26 to name just a few).

-Jesus begins to assert His authority over misguided interpretations of the Law as it pertained to the Sabbath. As He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, His disciples were picking the heads of grain, which drew the ire of the lawful Pharisees in their midst. Jesus reminded them of David’s exploits when he was in need with Abiathar the high priest and the eating of consecrated bread, which was definitely unlawful to eat. The Lord’s point on this was, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28).”

-*Application* The healing of the paralytic gives us ample instruction on how we should do benevolence. We must address the spiritual need of individuals first, and then take care of their material needs with the supernatural abilities of the LORD. It is also important for us to note the aspect that triggers this whole process in a person of need, that being FAITH. Faith unlocks spiritual well-being as well as opens door for God to do incredible miracles in a person’s life.

-*Application* We also see the conflict between the traditions of man verses the righteousness of God begin to rear up as we study these events of the Messiah’s life. God is always focused on the heart of the matter rather than the outward compliance of a given statue. When we get into arguments over interpretations of God-given directives we are in danger. Remember to assess the heart, or true intent, of any law before you go condemning a situation. Let love, mercy, class, goodness, and grace be your guide, and we will do well.

Verses to Memorize: Mark 2:12, 22

Friday, December 11, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Mark- Chapter 1

Mark 1

-Introduction: Mark is written by one known as John Mark, who was not actually one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He did however accompany Paul from what we know of Scripture on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:13; 15:36-38); therefore, we can conclude that he had intense and direct access to other early Christians who were writing down gospel accounts. Barnabas, along with Peter, are traditionally given much credit for Mark’s development as a disciple and his source for factual accounts in the life of Jesus. His synoptic gospel closely associates with Matthew’s biography as well as many parts of Luke’s testimony under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The date given for this brief and synthesized text goes somewhere between the years of 55-65 A.D. making it quite possibly the first gospel account written down in textual form. It was set to a Roman cultural context under the emperors’ Pax Romana for rapid progression of this message with common language and adequate transportation methods across the region. This good news account presents Jesus as the Servant (Mark 10:45) who came teaching and working miracles to initiate the Kingdom of God as deity in the flesh. In vivid action, Mark details parts of the ministry of Christ Jesus for the world to experience while omitting things like His birth and various details that other gospel writers would focus on. What was important for this gospel was the mighty works of the Messiah and the obedience He displayed to the Father in His earthly ministry of redemption. The events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, His actual death, and His dynamic resurrection become the focal point of this message by John Mark, the imperfect but growing man of God (2 Timothy 4:11).

-Chapter 1: Mark starts out with the fact that this is the gospel (euaggelion- the good news or tidings of Christ) of Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. He quotes Isaiah, the prophet of some 750 years prior, to make a point about the ministry of John the Baptist, “Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘make ready the way of the LORD, make His paths straight (Isaiah 40:3, Mark 1:1-4).’” Mark gives some brief descriptions of John’s ministry for the reader. He preached a baptism (baptisma- immersion, submersion) of repentance (metanoia- changing of the mind) for the forgiveness of sins. Everyone from Judea, including the population in Jerusalem was going down to be baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins before God and having a true change of heart. John’s personal characteristics are described here as having clothes of camel’s hair (a plentiful animal in that region) and a leather belt around his waist with a diet of locusts (a devouring animal being eaten) and wild honey (probably the date palms that surround the area in the Jordan Valley). His preaching concerned a pointing to the Messiah, saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:5-8).” Jesus came down from Nazareth in Galilee in those days and was symbolically baptized by John in the Jordan to begin His public ministry. As He came out of the water, He saw the heavens open up with the Holy Spirit like a dove (symbol of peace with God) descending upon Him; and a Voice uttered these words, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased (Mark 1:9-11).” This was the Trinity meeting together at a specific time and place, which is theologically important.

-“Immediately” the Holy Spirit took Him out into the wilderness with the wild beasts to be tempted by Satan for 40 days. There in this brief account of a dramatic encounter between good and evil, Jesus prevails with no sin and then His angels ministered to Him (Matthew 4:1-11,Mark 1:12-13. Luke 4:1-13).

-The scene quickly shifts to the time when John the Baptist had been taken into custody by Herod (Matthew 14:3). Jesus at that point came into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:14-15).” As He was going along the Sea of Galilee, He began to choose His followers with an invitation for becoming His disciples. Simon (Peter), Andrew (Simon’s brother), James, and John (the sons of Zebedee) were called from their fishing business to become “fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and went away to follow the Christ (Mark 1:16-20).

-They went into the northern lakeshore town of Capernaum and entered the synagogue there on the Sabbath, and Jesus began to teach there. Everyone was amazed at His teaching because He was not teaching like the normal scribes of the area. He was preaching boldly of the things of God with authority and conviction. A man with an unclean spirit in him cried out, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus quickly rebuked this spirit commanding it to come out of the man. “Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him.” All were freaked out and began to debate over what had just occurred. They concluded it to be a new teaching with authority over unclean spirits, which was the truth. And, as expected, immediately the news about Him spread into all the surrounding district of Galilee (Mark 1:21-28). Healings continued as they left the synagogue there in Capernaum and came into the house of Simon and Andrew. With James and John in their presence they found Simon’s mother-in-law lying sick with a fever and beckoned Jesus concerning her. He came to her, raised her up by the hand, and the fever left her miraculously. Then she served them, and the evening came. When it came, there was no small hubbub in the community. After the sun had set, the populace began to bring to Him all who were ill and demon-possessed. Many were healed and set free from the demonic powers over them. Jesus, in His supreme authority, was not permitting any of the demons to speak, because they certainly knew who He was (Mark 1:29-34). By the early morning, Jesus retreated, while it was still dark outside, to a secluded place and was praying with the Father. Simon and his friends were looking for Him, and when they found the Lord, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” Jesus replied with discernment and intent of purpose, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” He then went into the Jewish synagogues throughout all of Galilee, preaching and casting out demons (Mark 1:35-39). In one unnamed village, a leper came to Jesus falling on his knees before Him asking to heal him if He was willing. Jesus indeed was moved with compassion for the man and healed him with outstretched hand and His touch. Jesus sternly warned him not to tell everyone what had happened, but to show himself to the priest in accordance with the Law of Moses. But, this individual couldn’t help it. He went out and began to proclaim His miracle freely. This forced Jesus out into unpopulated areas because He could no longer publicly enter a city due to the commotion His presence was causing. His time for earthly Kingship had not yet come, and there would have been an uprising which was not of God had He not done this. But the needy people came to Him in these remote places from everywhere. The Kingdom of heaven had come to earth (Mark 1:40-45)!

-*Application* There are many things we could pull out from this passage this are pertinent to our daily walk with Christ. What hits me specifically today is the call of the disciples. They left their lives to follow a Man with a Divine cause. Jesus’ charisma shines through in this text because He and God were One. We too have the Holy Spirit of the Living God within us to walk about this earth with the same authority and power as Christ did if we really think about it. Who needs healing around us today? How could we minister to a world in need with the gifts God has blessed us with? These are the questions we should be asking as we fulfill the great commission and commands of Christ (Matthew 22:36-40; 28:18-20). Have we left everything behind to follow the cause of Jesus Christ? Do we trust in His power to conquer the demons that surround us? Live strong, Christ is in us forever!

Verse to Memorize: Mark 1:35

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 34

Deuteronomy 34

-The wrap up comes here in this final chapter of the book. Moses, the matchless prophet in Israel whom the LORD knew face to face and who performed the mighty acts of God among the people with signs and wonders and great terror, went up from the plains of Moab to the peak of Mount Nebo to view the entirety of the Promised Land from its peak. This was the beautiful land that the humble servant worked 120 years to get to. It was the place that the LORD had sworn to give His people. It was the inheritance of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob along with all their descendants. Moses’ eyes rested on this incredible place, but again, he was not allowed to enter. The servant of the LORD died there on Mount Nebo in the land of Moab and was buried in the valley opposite Beth-peor by the LORD in a place no man knows until this day. At 120 years old, the man of God still had all his vigor, and his eyes had not grown dim. All of Israel wept and mourned for him in their loss for 30 days there in the plains of Moab. When those days were completed, Joshua, the son of Nun, was filled with the Spirit of wisdom from the LORD. Moses had laid his hands on this noble leader, and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses (Deuteronomy 34:1-12). The stage was now set for entrance into the Promised Land.

-*Application* Moses was a great man of God called to a specific purpose for a specific time. He answered the called, although he had his slip ups and faults along the way. We too are called from the time we are in our mother’s womb for a particular work that the LORD has for us (Psalm 22:9-10, Jeremiah 1:5, Luke 1:41, Galatians 1:15, Ephesians 4:1-8). Be faithful and humble in that call that God has placed in you, whatever it is. Use the gifts that He desires to stir up to build and expand His Kingdom on this earth (2 Timothy 1:6). There are promises and promised lands that He has for us all!

Verse to Memorize: Deuteronomy 34:9

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 33

Deuteronomy 33

-Moses, described as “the man of God,” is now in a position near physical death where he pronounces his final blessing upon the sons of Israel and His Almighty God who has been ever faithful in bringing him and his people to the verge of the Promised Land. The great prophet, speaking much like the patriarchs of previous generations, reiterated the fact that the LORD indeed loved His people as they, the holy ones, followed in His steps receiving His words. They were charged with a Law; it was the “possession for the assembly of Jacob.” They were together as a free people about to enter their inheritance, as God’s chosen and adored, each by their tribe (Deuteronomy 33:1-5). Ruben is blessed that he will live and not die with multiplicity of descendants (Deuteronomy 33:6). Judah has contended for his people and has been brought to them. God would help him against all of his enemies (Deuteronomy 33:7). The Godly men of Levi received the word of God through means like the Urim and Thummin. They contended for the LORD at places like Massah and Meribah. They were to be teachers of the laws and ordinances of the LORD in their nation burning the incense and making sacrifices on the altar before God. Their substance was blessed by the fellow Levite, Moses, as he beckons God to favor the work of their hands and shatter the ones that rise up against them in hate (Deuteronomy 33:8-11). Benjamin was beloved of the LORD and would dwell securely by Him, “between His shoulders (a place of affection and protection),” who shields all the day (Deuteronomy 33:12). Joseph was blessed on multiple levels. His land and the choicest things of the land were mentioned over him. Even things under the land in springs of water and all the animals of his territory were blessed. Joseph was one distinguished among his brothers; majesty was his with double portion, and his tribes would be conquerors to the ends of the earth (Deuteronomy 33:13-17). Zebulun should rejoice in his going forth and Issachar would be able to have joy in his tents. They will call people to worship the LORD on the mountain where they will offer righteous sacrifices. They will be sea faring people who draw out the abundance of the seas and hidden treasures of the sand (Deuteronomy 33:18-19). Gad will be enlarged with blessing as “he lies down as a lion” and “tears the arm, also the crown of the head.” The first part will be for himself, and he would execute “the justice of the LORD and His ordinances with Israel (Deuteronomy 33:20-21).” Dan is a lion’s whelp (cub, offspring) that leaps forth from the northern country of Bashan, which was northeast of the Sea of Galilee in what is today the Golan Heights (Deuteronomy 33:22). Naphtali, who was satisfied with favor and full of blessing, was to take possession of the sea and the south (Deuteronomy 33:23). Asher had pronounced favor by all of his brothers and would have dipped feet in oil (enjoying prosperity) with locks of iron and bronze (a protective barrier blessing for fortification along the highway where invaders would likely attempt to invade the Holy Land) in a leisurely walk (Deuteronomy 33:24-25). The final phase of the blessing glorified the Great God of Heaven and earth. There was none like Him. He helps His people. He is eternal and is a dwelling place for the righteous. Israel is safe in His everlasting Arms. He drives out the enemy before them and destroys the opposition. Therefore, Israel will dwell securely in a land of grain and new wine with moisture to provide abundance. Israel as a whole is blessed because they have been saved by the LORD. God is the shield of their help and the sword of their majesty frightening their enemies as they tread on the high places in victory (Deuteronomy 33:26-29).

-*Application* These blessings were more than empty wishes and once uttered carried the promise of fulfillment (from Deuteronomy: An Introduction & Commentary, J.A. Thompson, Inter-varsity Press: Leicester, England & Downers Grove, Illinois, 1974, pg. 306). Our words also carry much meaning. Are you speaking blessing with your mouth, or are you cursing and condemning people? In the final analysis, speak life, not death (see

Verse to Memorize: Deuteronomy 33:27

Monday, December 7, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 32

Deuteronomy 32

-Moses’ warning song is spoken to all the assembly of Israel on the eastern side of the Jordan in Moab. He begins with alerting the people to “give ear” to his words that were from God and to let them saturate within their being as the dew penetrates the morning grass with precious water. He ascribes greatness to the LORD who is the impenetrable Rock who has completed a perfect and just work with faithfulness, uprightness, and purity. Even though the people had acted corruptly towards Him becoming defected, perverse, and crooked as a generation, God had made them and established them (Deuteronomy 32:1-6). They were told that they needed to remember the days of old and consider the years spent in the wilderness; they were to ask their father for information and elders so that they could tell them the truth of God and the benefit of following His ways. God had done enormously great and mighty things in bringing His children to this place and setting their boundaries as such. “The LORD’s portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.” God had found them in a desert land that was useless. He encircled and cared for Jacob and guarded him as “the pupil of his eye.” He covered His chosen one as an eagle hovers over its young and carried them on His pinions. “The LORD alone guarded him, and there was no foreign god with him (Deuteronomy 32:7-12).” He made him to hide in the high places of the earth, and he ate the produce of the field sucking honey from a rock and used oil from a flinty rock. Jacob was blessed with curds of cows, milk of the flock, and the fat of lambs and rams. Grapes were abundant and provided sustenance, but Israel got “fat and kicked.” He forsook the God who had made him and “scorned the Rock of his salvation.” He made the LORD jealous with strange gods, and with abominations the nation provoked Him to anger. “They sacrificed to demons who were not God, to gods whom they have not known, new gods who came lately, whom your fathers did not dread.” They foolishly neglected the Rock (God) who begot and birthed them (Deuteronomy 32:13-18).

-Therefore, God spurned them and hid His face from them, for He saw what their end would be. They were a perverse generation and had no faithfulness. They continually made their covenant God jealous “with what is not God.” Their idols made Him angry; therefore, He would consume them heaping misfortunes and violence on them designed to somehow bring them back to Himself and His good ways. But, they would insist on their own narrative, being wasted away with famine, consumed by plague, torn up by beasts of the earth (animals), and stung by the crawling things of the dust (like scorpions). Outside the sword would bereave, and inside the terror would affect both young man and virgin (the younger generation), the babies, as well as the elderly. Even though they would persist in denying that they had transgressed the LORD, these things would become evident upon their land (Deuteronomy 32:19-27). “For they are a nation lacking in counsel, and there is no understanding in them. Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future (Deuteronomy 32:28-29)!” They became impotent because their Rock had sold them. Even their enemies would acknowledge the ultimate strength of their God, yet they maintained an unbelief in their Maker and became a vine like the defunct vine of Sodom from the fields of Gomorrah. “Their grapes were grapes of poison, their clusters bitter. Their wine is the venom of serpents, and the deadly poison of cobras (Deuteronomy 32:30-33).”

-Vengeance is the LORD’s and retribution, for in due time they would slip because of their preposterous sinful nature. Their calamity would be near; the impending things would hasten upon them. “For the LORD will vindicate His people, and will have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their strength is gone…” He will say in that day, which is the day of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 2:28), “Where are their gods, the rock in which they sought refuge? Who ate the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise up and help you, let them be your hiding place! See now that I, I am He; it is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded, and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My Hand (Deuteronomy 32:34-39).” God asserts His authority further in this song with avenging tones that lead only His truly genuine people to rejoice in His righteous work (Deuteronomy 32:40-43).

-When Moses was done speaking these words to the Israeli assembly alongside the newly commissioned leader, Joshua, he once more warned them to take to heart all the words given them with an admonition to command their sons to observe every word of the LORD’s Law. It would never be an idle word for them; indeed, it was their life giving sustenance. By it they would prolong their days in the land God was giving them across the Jordan (Deuteronomy 32:44-47).

-That very same day, the LORD spoke to Moses telling him to go up Mount Nebo in the land of Moab and look across the river at the Promised Land of Canaan. Then he was told he would die on that mountain where he ascended, and that he would be gathered to his people as Aaron had been on Mount Hor. The reason was given as to why Moses was not allowed to lead this people into the Promised Land. He had broken faith with his LORD in the wilderness in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin. He had rebelliously struck the rock for water there instead of following God’s command to speak to it (Numbers 20:8-13; 27:12-14). Therefore, he did not treat God as holy (set apart), in the congregation. As a result, he would only see the Promised Land from a distance, never being able to enter into it (Deuteronomy 32:48-52).  

-*Application* America these days looks a lot like the words of this song, does it not? Human nature is fickle and on its own, destructive. Would that we were wise. LORD, help us fear You again in our nation. May we seek the Word of God and the Holy Spirit alone as our counsel. Give us the understanding, insight, and courage of Daniel and other righteous men and women as we traverse this new terrain where we see Your judgment upon a sinful situation.

Verses to Memorize: Deuteronomy 32:28-29, 39

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 31

Deuteronomy 31

-The time now comes for transition of power and leadership as Moses is told by God that he was about to lie down with his ancestral fathers in physical death. On the day of his 120th birthday he realized he was no longer able to come and go, and that God was not going to allow him to cross the Jordon into the Promised Land. The LORD would indeed cross before His people into this land flowing with milk and honey. He would be the One to dispossess; the people should look to their eternal King rather than any man even though Joshua was being raised up to take the mantle of Moses in headship of the nation. Just as God had defeated Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites, He would destroy the peoples of the land that He was about to give to the children of Israel. The LORD promised to deliver His people from the enemy; therefore, the Israelites were to obey all of His commandments. They were also commanded to be strong and courageous. They were not to be afraid or tremble at those that opposed them “for the LORD your God is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:1-6).”

-Moses then called Joshua to himself and further exhorted him to be strong and courageous as he led this people into the land. Moses then wrote this Law he had been given down and gave it to the priests, the Levites who carried the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD, and the elders of Israel. At that time he commanded them to read the Law every seven years to the people at the Feast of Booths in the year of remission of debts when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD at the place He would choose (Jerusalem would be this place). All the people of Israel, along with the aliens that were with them in their land, were to hear this Law so that they would learn it and fear the LORD their God being careful to follow all of His given ways. This was for perpetuity in the land (Deuteronomy 31:7-13).

-The time now came for Moses to commission his servant and confidant, Joshua. The two presented themselves at the tent of meeting before the LORD, who appeared there in a pillar of cloud. Moses was told that he was about to pass from the earth, but God had raised up another earthly leader to guide His children. It seems strange, but at this particular time the prophecy is given that this people would arise and play the harlot in turning away from their faithful God to the strange gods of the land in a forsaking act that would attempt to break covenant that He had made with them. His anger would be kindled at that point in a temporary forsaking and hiding His Face from them due to their unfaithfulness. Israel will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them to the point that they will realize that their God is not with them anymore (Deuteronomy 31:14-18). For this reason, the LORD commands Moses to write a song for themselves as a didactic measure on their lips as a witness for the LORD against the sons of Israel. God would be good to His people. There could be no doubt about that. When they would come into the land, they would have plenty and success. Their satisfaction and prosperity would turn to complacency, and their complacency to boredom, and their boredom into seeking after false forms of worship. They would leave their first love and play the whore serving other gods, spurning the Holy Father, and breaking His covenant. God foreknew their intent that was already developing in their hearts, so Moses obeyed the LORD and wrote this prophetic song the very same day he was commanded to produce it. Then, he taught it to the sons of Israel as a preparation (Deuteronomy 31:19-22). Joshua, the son of Nun and one of the two believing original spies, was then commissioned with the exhortation once again to be “strong and courageous” as he brought the sons of Israel into the Promised Land, which was sworn to their fathers by the LORD Himself. God would be with this new leader of the people. That was a golden guarantee. After Moses completed writing all the words of the Law in a book, he presented it to the Levites with the command to place it beside the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD that it may remain there as a witness against this nation should they turn away from their God. Again, the all-knowing Sovereign and His prophet perceived easily their rebellion and stubbornness, which was in their hearts. An assembly was called of the elders and officers for Moses to speak the LORD’s warning as a witness against them since corruption was sensed post the prophet’s death. “In the later days” this would happen, “for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands (Deuteronomy 31:23-29).” Then Moses spoke to all the assembly this God-given song in its completion (Deuteronomy 31:30). The next chapter details this amazing and foreshadowing song (see Deuteronomy 32).

-*Application* Passing the torch, or baton if you will, to the next generation is important as we see here in this passage. Warnings concerning perceptions that we might be given are critical to impart to those that will carry on after we are gone. We are but a vapor, a puff of smoke, that is here for a little while and then we go to our eternal destination (James 4:14). What we do between the dash that will eventually be on our tombstones is the important matter for us to consider. Are we faithfully serving the LORD in our generation (Acts 13:36)? Do we ensure that those who will come after us are trained up and ready for the spiritual attacks that are inevitable and very demanding. We have a job to do while we have breath. Fulfill your call, and cultivate faithfulness. And then pass it on.

Verse to Memorize: Deuteronomy 31:6