Sacred (Mark 11:15-17)

There are some things that God sees as sacred.  Sacred is something that is set apart as holy unto God.  The tabernacle was sacred as well as all of the items inside.  Samson because of his Nazarite vow was sacred.  The silver, gold, brass and iron of Jericho was consecrated or considered holy unto The Lord.  In this passage, it was the temple.  When The Lord arrived, it appeared that it was being used for every reason other than for what it was intended.  There may have been offerings there, but the actions were mechanical and heartless.  Greed, profit and the mundane ceremonial practices filled the place that was intended for heart communion with God.

 
There isn’t any temple today and sacrifices are no longer needed.  So what is there that is holy to God.  As the temple and all other sanctified objects of the Old Testament were set apart unto The Lord, he wants our hearts set apart for him.  He wants our hearts to long for his presence and to occupy themselves with motives and desires that are holy.  The Lord admonishes us to keep his commandments (John 14:15).  The word keep in this passages carries the idea of guarding something.  The Lord wants us to guard our hearts so that only that which is pleasing to him will reside in it.  The Psalmist stated it this way, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer”. 
 
We cannot accomplish this task on our own, but with the power of his spirit and the working of his grace, we can have a heart like this.  As you walk through life today, continually ask for God’s grace to reveal that which you should shun and to direct your focus towards things that will motivate you to praise him.  We don’t have much to give back to him, but we do have a heart and all of its desires that can be presented to him daily.
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Root of Bitterness (Heb. 12:15)

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
 
Bitterness may spring up like a root, but if left unattended, will grow to mammoth proportions.  Bitterness in the heart of the believer is like a poison.  Important questions to ask are how does a person become bitter and where does bitterness come from?  
 
As humans, we interact with people daily and in that interaction, we can be offended or hurt.  If we carry these hurts in our hearts and fail to forgive as the scriptures instruct, the hurts will remain.  As future days pass, daily hurts continue to accumulate.  If this process continues for a while, it will not be long until the individual is facing major issues of hurt and anger.  This person’s anger will continue to grow towards others and even themselves for allowing the hurt to happen.  Bitterness develops from unresolved hurt and anger.  Anger is best described as a person’s emotional state, but bitterness will develop and become their attitude or perspective towards life and others.
 
To keep yourself from being overcome with hurt, anger and bitterness, you must forgive those who have sinned or wronged you.  Forgives means to release.  A common phrase that people say today instead of telling people to forgive is, “Let it go”.  When we forgive, we let people go or release them from any obligation towards us.  Because they don’t owe us, it will be difficult to become angry towards them and without anger, there also be an absence of bitterness.
 
So, as you face people daily who hurt or offend you, look for reasons why you should forgive them. It may be because of issues in their lives.  It may be because of things that you have done towards them or possibly because they simply may be having a bad day.  But by releasing them, you are really freeing yourself rom all of the baggage that leads to bitterness.
 
Take a quick inventory of your life.  If you have hurt, anger or bitterness, identify the causes and those involved and LET THEM GO!
 
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:31-31

Expectation (Mark 11:2-6)

Jesus sent his disciples into a village to get a colt.  Under normal circumstances if a person were to walk up to an animal, unloose it and begin to leave, it would be considered stealing.  Normal reactions would be to contact the law and prosecute.  However as the owner sees these men, he ask about their intentions.  Their reply of, “The Lord hath need of him” caused the owner to allow them to take his possession.
 
I have often thought about this passage.  What took place behind the scenes?  Did God previously speak to the man and let him know that the disciples of The Lord would come for the animal?  Had the man recently yielded himself to the Lord and dedicated all of his possessions or did he beckon The Lord to use him in some way to bring him glory?  For now, we cannot know, but what we do know is that The Lord knew how he would respond.
 
As I consider this text, I ask myself, ” What choices does the Lord know that I will make?  Is he expecting me to make choices that reflect my dedication to him or is he knowing that I will stagger in my faith?  How can I know that my choices and actions will be pleasing to him?  I can better accomplish this and direct my actions of the future to be pleasing to him by following a few guidelines: keep a short account of sins and confess them immediately, spend time with God in his word and in prayer, yield myself to him daily, express thanks for what he has done for me, and forgive those that have offended me.  By doing these, I am not guaranteeing that I my actions will always be pleasing to him, but it will cut off those things in the world which may negatively affect me.

One Way Or The Other (Mark 10:24)

Trust is an important word in Christianity.  It is similar to the word faith in that it carries the idea of being convinced or persuaded.  Man’s heart is the aspect of his being that contains trust.  Just as you are only able to think of one thing at a time, so your heart can only focus trust on one entity at a time.  The greatest problem that man has is recognizing his heart and what it is trusting.

 
In this passage we see a perfect example of one who believes that his life is pleasing to The Lord.  He questions as to what he needs to do so that he may inherit eternal life.  Jesus responded with the measuring stick of the Law.  The young man, as looking into the law, saw himself as blameless.  He may have appeared blameless on the outside, but his heart was a different matter.  The one thing that the young man lacked was not another action, but a heart that trusted the LORD and not the idol of financial security.  After his short discourse with the Lord, he is left standing at the crossroads: shall I give up everything and completely trust this Jesus or shall I hold on to what I have.  His answer revealed his heart.
 
Before i jump on the band wagon and attack this man, I need to ask myself the following questions.  How often have I balked on The Lord?  Since saving my soul, how often has my heart been divided against him?  How often have I been motivated by my idolatrous heart and tried to work myself out of my troubles.  How often have I focused my deliverance on a person instead of The Lord.  Am I trusting my job as security or am I really focusing on God.  To be honest, my heart is a constant battle ground.  It is not so much over whom I will trust, but recognizing when my heart has turned to trust another.  The heart is still deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9).
 
The way to victory is to stay close to The Lord, expose yourself to his word, daily submit yourself to his will and pray for him to reveal to you the unpleasing things in your heart
 
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.  Psalm 19:14

 

Law Versus Grace (Mark 10:3-4)

The Pharisees were again trying to test The Lord by posing a question that they believed to be settled by the law.  Can a man divorce his wife?  As The Lord answered the question, he revealed the root cause for the giving of the law: it was because of the condition of man’s heart.

As you look at the law, you will see countless “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots”.  The lost see these as rules for earning salvation, but as the scripture states, the law was our school master teaching us our condition before God so that we may recognize our need for a savior.  Another purpose for the law was to restrict the man who walks in his flesh and to create a cognitive reminder as to limits he must live within.

However grace is just the opposite.  Grace does not hinder the believer from performing any act, but is intended to enable him to perform works beyond his ability.  The Pharisees, like many of us today, wanted to live their lives in the realm of the Law with the end result being a strict, stifled, unfulfilling life.  However those, who have experienced victory and the abundant life, found that grace is essential for that life.

For us, we must decide how we shall conduct our lives before God.  Shall we have the view of him as unaccepting and always needing to be pleased or shall we see God as our loving and accepting Father who wants to deliver us from the works of our flesh and cause us to abound in his grace.  You cannot have both.  Both views are manners by which believers strive to yield themselves as instruments of righteousness to God (Romans 6:13): the former unto greater bondage and the latter to victory.

God’s Completing Work (James 1:4)

Grin and bear it.  How many times has that been said to you or you have said it to yourself?  I remember a comic strip in the papers that boasted that title.  It was about the trials in life that we need to just deal with and move on.  There is a biblical term that has much the same meaning.  It is, patience.  Patience is not waiting because waiting only entails enduring until the end.  However patience is enduring until the end, but with cheerfulness.  How many people have you met who are in the midst of a great trial and struggle and yet they remain cheerful.  It isn’t any secret to have that attitude because it will result from the Holy Spirit meeting with you and changing your hopeless view to that which agrees with his perspective.  

But, how do I get this view?  You get this view by seeing the end.  Just as God sees the end from the beginning, so you need to do the same.  You may not be able to see the details as he sees them, but you can see that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  You can see that whatever takes place it will be what is best for you and greatest for his glory.  You can even see that God will continue to be in control and that whatever happens, it is only by his will that it can take place.  When you truly have this perspective, you will also have patience.

Now when you have patience, it will do a work for you and in you.  When you allow God to do his complete work in your life, you become complete. The word perfect in this passage does not pertain to somebody who is without sin, wrong or error, but it means to be complete as in a complete set.  Patience is what you need so that you can be what you are intended to be.  The only place that You can get it is from trials.  Trials bring you to the end of yourself and when You are there, it is then that God can do something in and through you.

So, think of your trial.  Will you allow it to cause you to give up and quit, or will you yield to God so that he can do something even greater in your life: the completing work of patience?

 

 

Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-9)

Jesus leaves the crowd of people and takes three disciples with him up onto a high mountain.  While on the mount, he is transfigured into his glorified state as John would again see him on the Isle of Patmos.  As the disciple see Jesus changed and also the presence of Moses and Elijah, they become exceedingly afraid.  In response to the fear, Peter suggests making three tabernacles.  Peter is corrected by another manifestation of God as his voice is heard from the cloud.

Over the years, I have asked myself countless times why would Peter suggest making three tabernacles similar to that made by Moses.  It is difficult to explain why we do what we do when we are afraid, but fear is Peter’s reason.  Man’s motivation since the fall has been to perform some work in response to his fear of God.  It started in the garden and has been ever present even up to today.  What Peter failed to grasp is that God wanted to do a work in Peter and the others and was not looking for them to do any work.

When God reveals himself to you it is intended to affect your relationship with him and not cause you to perform a work.  When he revealed himself to you at salvation, he was working to get you to cease from works and to trust him and his resurrection power for salvation.  As we walk through difficult trials, we are always put into a position so that our works cannot deliver us.  At some point in the trial, God will reveal himself to you.  it will not be a physical manifestation, but he will reveal himself through his word.  It is only when we trust him who is invisible (Heb. 11:27) that deliverance comes.

As God reveals himself to you focus on your relationship with him.  Search your heart for motives, fears, selfishness, shame, goals and worries.  God is trying to work on the condition of your heart.  If there is a work he wants you to do, he will perform it through you when your heart is as he desires.  God is concerned about what you are and not what you do for him.  When you are what he wants you to be, you can then do what he wants you to do.