Serious Prayer

Mark 14:35 ~ He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.

The scene here, is in the Garden of Gethsemane. This this is the garden where Jesus so feverishly prays to God his Father just before he is arrested on trumped up charges. But Jesus isn’t praying because he is fearful of his impending arrest, he is praying because he realizes the weight of humanity’s sin and the judgment for it. In the heat of this moment, the humanness of Jesus does become a little preoccupied about the prospect of facing the cross of crucifixion and asks his heavenly Father if there is another way to deal with sinful man. “If it is possible…..”, Jesus asks, “Do I really need to be part of this record-breaking death?” Again, the humanness of Jesus feared the cross, but through his communion with God the Father, he became obedient to God’s will to endure the wrath incurred at the cross for humanity’s sake. Though we may not understand God’s method for atonement, Jesus trusted his heavenly Father with his life. If sin can only be dealt with through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, so be it. There is no other way possible. This hour will not pass from Jesus. Jesus will not get a free pass from bringing redemption to a lost world. Despite the horror of the cross, Jesus willingly allowed himself to be nailed to a cross to take your punishment. My punishment. How then do we respond?

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Am I Invincible?

Mark 14:28-29

“But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.”

The scene is just before Peter denies his association with Jesus. No sooner after Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper, Peter makes a bold yet humble declaration of allegiance to his Lord and Savior. But Jesus gives a firm warning against being so over confident. Yes, Peter is famous for his confession of Jesus, “You are the Christ!” (LK 9:20). But here, Peter exemplifies spiritual pride that will usher in a devastating separation between himself and Jesus. The NKJV is kind in its description as “stumblers”, but other translations render the meaning more as deserters or those who commit apostasy. Nonetheless, we know Peter was a strong disciple of Jesus but was going to publicly deny him at least three times after Jesus was arrested. I personally can relate to Peter in the sense I once thought I was spiritually invincible. But it turned out I wasn’t the spiritual giant I thought I was and fell very hard. Behold the mercy of God as He restored me as He did Peter. If we think are unshakable, if we think we’re on the inside track with Jesus, we may find ourselves brought to a point of breaking. Which for me was a blessing.

Jesus is Where?

Mark 13:21-22

At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

Jesus is teaching about The Great Tribulation – a time of horrific persecution of Christians in the last days. Aside from the terrestrial disasters which occur, Christians will need to endure suffering for their faith in Christ. They will need to be savvy and strong enough not to succumb to false teachings about their Savior. Jesus warns us about the danger of taking our eyes of him in exchange for an easy way out. If someone says Jesus is over here or over there, it is a deception. When Jesus returns for us, we will know it. There will be no question. Even today, Jesus is being re-branded to sooth itching ears. A likeness of genuine Christianity is being peddled but lacking the exact source of truth in Christ. Christians even know are being deceived, trading Jesus in for something more conducive to their less than sanctified lives. Dear brothers and sisters, let us fix our gaze upon the Jesus who accepted us as we are and longs for us to allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse our hearts. Let us not return to our vomit as a dog, but continue our love affair with Jesus – walking by faith until we reach the Eternal City. Have you been enticed to chase after the watered down version of the gospel? Have you been tempted to dabble in the carnal affections which put distance between you and God? Don’t be deceived. Jesus has warned us about false teachers and for good reason.

Power of Belief

Mark 9:19-23 …Jesus said, “Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

The Gospel of Mark underscores the reality of the supernatural and the existence of the demonic realm. Many passages deal with Jesus’ victories over demons and disease and this passage contains two “ifs” which pertain to God’s power and our faith in that power. A father brings his boy to Jesus for a healing from demonic influence that kept him mute and in debilitating seizures. The request from the boy’s father is something we rarely ask, if ever. The father asks for compassion to be granted towards him and his son. The father says to Jesus, if you can do anything, please have compassion on us and help us. And what does Jesus do? Jesus shows concern, sympathy and care for this boy as he teaches the crowd about faith and belief. Jesus knowing how blind we may be to the spiritual realities that cripple us, shares the imperative of unfettered belief in God’s mastery over both the physical and spiritual realm. Jesus is victorious over his creation and the devil who seeks to thwart man’s relationship with God. However, though God is all powerful, He may allow us to remain in dire situations. And why? To perfect us in holiness, to refine us in Christlikeness.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. ~ James 1:2-6

Faith Leads to Action

Mark 5:28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

The woman who said this out of desperation had a bleeding disorder for an extended period of time. She had seen all the specialists with no hope of recovery. On this particular day Jesus was coming down the street amid the rowdy crowd. The woman heard how Jesus was performing miracles among the afflicted and tried to get to him in hopes of being healed. In her desperation she reaches out to Jesus and touches his clothes. She was instantly healed! What inspired her to reach out and expect results? It was her faith in knowing that Jesus being the Son of God had mastery over disease. Her action was motivated by her faith. Had she not exercised her faith, she most likely would have died. She reasoned, “IF” I reach out and touch him, he will deliver. We should never cease to reach out to Jesus and never cease to expect miracles in our life.

One or None

Mark 3:24-25 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

Wherever conflict breaks out, there is no harmony. Struggle lead to clashes and things fall apart. If discord rips through a nation, there is revolution and strife. If a battle rages within a home, family unity disintegrates. And if there is division within ones soul, only confusion and defeat awaits. Our spiritual health is determined by our loyalty to Jesus. If we allow entities or negative attitudes to compete with the Spirit of God, will stumble and possibly fall causing life-threatening injury. This passage from Mark’s gospel teaches us to be wary of sharing allegiance with things that draw our focus away from the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If we try to serve two masters, we can become frustrated to the point of surrendering to our lower instincts thus bringing great disappointment to our heavenly Father.

What If We are Sick?

MARK 1:40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Just as leper came to Jesus for healing, so can ANYONE. Anyone can come to God the Father through his Son and be cleansed of sin. The leper is symbolic of the shunned castaway because of his unsightly and contagious condition. Surely he desires to be clean, to be made whole but is reliant on God to do the cleansing. In humility, the leper kneels and practically begs to be healed saying, “if you are willing, you can make me clean”. First, we see that the leper recognized God’s power over disease. Second, the leper also recognized the sovereignty of God to act in accordance with His what He wills. If God wants to cleanse the leper, He will. If God’s wants to forgive and cleanse us of sin, He will. Of course the condition for that is If we repent. God indeed wants all of us to be cleansed and do it…but is it something we want; are we willing to humble ourselves as the leper and plead to be healed of the disease of sin.