Monthly Archives: July 2016

Make Your Mark – Part 14

So what can we learn from Mark 14? There is such a lot happening in the lead-up to Jesus’ crucifixion, and so much to learn, but I would like to focus on something that you may not have thought of before. Peter. Yes, this is a very trying time for Jesus, and there is plenty that we could focus on, but that is often spoken about. What we may not have thought about, is Peter’s part in this, and what we can learn from it. Peter often reminds me of me, loads of potential, keen to do what he can, but constantly seems to mess up. Enthusiasm, mixed with failure. Let’s take a look at what Peter is going through, and see if it rings a bell with us.

Take a look at verses 29 to 31. Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same. Peter is keen, confident and self assured. He can’t possibly believe that he would desert Jesus. Even after Jesus tells him that he will, he still says that he won’t. His mouth is writing cheques that he just can’t cash. Do you find yourself doing this? What I find amazing is that Jesus knows that he will deny him. Does Jesus love him any less? Does Jesus give up on him? No. Jesus has already named him ‘the rock’, even though Jesus knows what he will do. That I find amazing. Jesus doesn’t seemed phased at what will happen. Peter is the one who is upset by the fact that Jesus suggested that he would deny Him. It appears that us messing up is not as big a deal to Jesus, as the fear of it is to us. Interesting.

Have a look at verses 66 – 72. Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth. But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed. When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept. Have you ever failed this miserably? This is one of the things that I admire about Peter. Even after this happened, he still went on to be the cornerstone of the church. This is the same guy that walked down the street, and people were healed when his shadow passed them! Do you see the change that must have happened in Peter’s life? The same stubbornness which caused him to get upset when Jesus said that he would deny Him, also helped him to be determined enough to reach what Jesus wanted for him. How many of us would like to be where Peter ended up, but how many of the same people would give up if they went through what Peter went through? We want to reach the destination, but we don’t want to walk the route.

Jesus never gave up on Peter, He knew what he could achieve. Jesus has never, nor will He ever, give up on you. He knows what you can achieve. If Jesus doesn’t give up on us, why do we so often give up on ourselves? If you have messed up, like Peter did, rest assured that Jesus still loves you. He still wants you to continue, He still knows what you can achieve. Do you still believe that you can achieve what God has called you to? Learn from Peter’s life, and don’t give up. However badly you think you have messed up, it came as no surprise to Jesus, and He still called you.

Learn from Peter, never give up.

Richard

Make Your Mark – Part 13

Ah, end times. I knew that I would eventually have to write about this, but I must say that it is not my favourite topic. Now I know that it is a bit scary, and that is why I don’t like to dwell on it, but that is not really the point of it. It tells us about some horrible things that will happen, but the reason why it tells us about this, is to assure us of Jesus’ second coming. You see if the Bible didn’t warn us about these things, we may be tempted to start to doubt that Jesus is still coming. We might even start to doubt God. Have you ever heard anyone saying, “If there is a God, why does He let all of this bad stuff happen?”? I have, often. Let me point out a few points, and just calm us all down a bit.

Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ I have heard this verse quoted so many times, to speak out against so many preachers. Let’s make this clear, this refers to people who claim to be the Messiah, not those who teach. That is why Jesus tells us how He will come. At that time, after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. Here is what you can take home from that. If this doesn’t happen, then it is not the Messiah. Simple. If all of this does happen, I guarantee you that there will be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this is Jesus. Just make sure that you are ready.

There are bits in this passage, that I would rather not dwell on, like this one. For there will be greater anguish in those days than at any time since God created the world. And it will never be so great again. This is not here to scare us, it is here to give us hope. Whatever happens, how ever bad it gets, God has not forgotten about us, He still loves us. Jesus is still coming back again. This is supposed to encourage us. Jesus is telling us this so that we will recognise the end times, and hopefully it will keep us ready for His return. What affect does it have on you? Does this inspire you to be ready, or does it just scare you? Here is Jesus’ reason for telling us this stuff. Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that his return is very near, right at the door.

There is one more point that I would like to make, please don’t listen to nutters who claim to know when the end of the world will happen. They don’t. However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. Not even Jesus knows the exact day that He will be coming back. Anyone who gives a date for Jesus’ return is at best a fool. Don’t listen to them. Does this mean that you should ignore Jesus’ return? No, just don’t believe people who give a date. We have some crazies out from time to time, giving exact days, just ignore them. So, if we don’t know the time and day, but we know that we are in (or at least approaching) the end times, what do we do? And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!

Make sure that you are ready. Get on with what God has called you to do, make sure that He is Lord of your life. Have no regrets when He returns.

Richard

Make Your Mark – Part 12

Today’s chapter is one where I actually can take a break from the ‘whirlwind’ book of Mark, as it is one where there are lessons to learn, but nothing as exciting as the last few chapters. Having said that, it is the word of God, and there is always something valuable to learn. I have 3 points from this chapter, but all towards the end. The first few sections are all about the Pharisees trying to catch Jesus out, which just ends up showing them as sinful, which upsets them even more. Anyhow, here are the 3 points which I got out of today’s chapter.

Love is the most important commandment. There is much in the Bible about love, and Jesus leaves no doubt that it is important. Unfortunately we see very little about it today, and when we do hear about it, people generally get it wrong. Lust is not love. Sexual activity is often portrayed as love, this is in fact not true. It should be, but it is not. Acceptance is not love. This is a big issue. We are lead to believe that if we don’t accept people’s sin, we don’t love them. This is complete rubbish. The Bible actually says that if we don’t encourage people to stop sinning, we actually hate them. Leviticus 19 v 17. Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives. Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin. This pretty much says that if we don’t confront people on their sin, it means that we hate them. Wow. We’re told that if we accept sin, then #lovewins, however the Bible say that accepting sin means that #hatewins. I’ll leave you to ponder that now that I have let the worms out of the can.

Hypocritical teachers. This is something that Jesus pointed out, and we’re quick to point fingers at the Pharisees, but does this relate to any of us. Yes, it talks about teachers, but how do we all handle this? Do you say one thing and do another? Do we act ‘holier than thou’ at church, but lie, cheat and deceive at work during the week? I try and be the same person throughout. Christian people often think that I am a bit rough and blunt and my business associates think that I am a saint, but if I were in the same room as both of them, I would be as I usually am. I don’t act differently when I think people are watching. Even this blog, I try to be honest with where I am. If I post something here to teach you, and I don’t put it into practice, my wife will call me on it. It is good that she does that, because I don’t want to be a hypocrite. What do you do that could be hypocritical? Is there anything in your life that you need to be more consistent on, regardless of your present company? I’ll leave you to decide.

God wants our heart, not our money. This is an age old dispute. People say that God hates money, that He doesn’t love the rich, that it is a sin to have money. That is beyond complete nonsense. The thing is that God does want to see us blessed, and He wants to see us bless others. The reason why we are told to give, other than to bless others, is that God knows the hold that money can have on us. People often say that the rich love money, and the poor don’t, I beg to differ. If I had the money that Bill Gates has, I would have no issue giving away millions. If I had no money (which is closer to the truth), and God asked me to give just £50, how would that affect me? I find it harder to give, when I don’t have, than when I do. A little money is precious when it is all you have. That is why Jesus says what He does about the widow. “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on”. Jesus isn’t interested in getting our money, He is interested in us trusting Him. That is what this woman showed, and that is what He responded to. Do we trust God to this degree? I do try, and I am on a journey to do this more, but sometimes I struggle. How about you?

Until next week.

Richard

Make Your Mark – Part 11

Today I would like to share a verse with you which has changed my life, and is continuing to change my life on a daily basis. The reason why I want to do this today, is because this verse comes up in today’s chapter. This is not the only time that this is shown, in fact it is often taught, but it is one of the biggest misunderstanding in the Christian church today (in my opinion). This has been a revelation to me in recent years, but I am still trying to get my head around it completely, as it changes the way that you do just about everything. At least it should. I’ll get to that it in minute, but let’s first look at some other interesting points in this chapter.

The Pharisees. We love to look at them and think about how silly they were, always getting things wrong, but sometimes I think that we act more like them than we care to admit. When Jesus rides in on the donkey, all the people seem to love Him, singing His praises. Next thing we know, the Pharisees are planning to kill Jesus, so what went wrong? Now don’t get me wrong, the Pharisees may not have been singing Jesus’ praises, but there was definitely something that was the final straw. There was an event that pushed them over the edge. Jesus challenged them on money. Jesus does His table turning demonstration, which doesn’t really fit into our ‘meek and mild’ picture of Jesus. This scripture is often used to show how Jesus was ‘anti-wealth’, which is complete nonsense, Jesus is not anti-wealth. Jesus is anti the LOVE of money, in place of loving God. Jesus knows that we can only serve one master, and He wants to be the object of our worship. When the Pharisees were using God’s house as a place to make money off of His people, that upset Jesus. When Jesus challenged them on this, they couldn’t take it, so they planned to kill Him. Interesting. Maybe that is why the Bible talks so much about money. Maybe God realises how much it means to us, maybe that is why He addresses it. I’ll leave you to think about that.

So, this verse that will change your life. Jesus and the disciples were out and about, and rather hungry, and they come across a fig tree. The tree has no fruit as it is out of season, so Jesus curses the fig tree. A bit harsh I fear, but you’ll see where this is leading. The next morning they passed the fig tree again, and it was dead. Verses 21-25. Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, “Look, Rabbi! The fig tree you cursed has withered and died!” Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

Let me make it clear, the fig tree does not represent us. Jesus does not curse us if we don’t produce fruit. Jesus is telling us to curse the things in our life that don’t produce fruit. Illness (physical or mental), sin, anything else in or lives that don’t produce good fruit. Get rid of it. Now I understand that getting rid of sin, may be ‘easier’ than getting rid of illness, because we have more ‘control’ over that. Let’s take a look at what Jesus says, which is the verse that I was referring to. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. If you believe that you have received it, it will be yours. You already have it, but it isn’t yours yet. If you believe that you already have it, it will be yours. It sounds contradictory, but it is fact not. Allow me to explain. We already have the Holy Spirit living in us. We have all of the healing, deliverance and salvation that we could ever need. We may not experience it yet, because it is not yet ‘ours’, but we already have it. Jesus did what He needed to on the cross, He has provided everything, we just haven’t received it yet. Why? Because we don’t believe that we have it already. We are taught to see to believe, but Jesus tells us to believe to see. Here is how it will change your life. Next time you are praying and pleading with God to heal you or deliver you from something, how about looking at it from a different angle (the real one). You already have it. Believe that you already have it. Thank God for it. Release what Jesus has already done from within you. Receive in your body and mind, what Jesus has already provided in your new spirit. This changes how we do things, because we no longer have to wait for God to do something, but rather just release what Jesus has already done for us and receive it. We no longer have to wait to see if Jesus will give us the Christmas present that we want, we just have to open the present already sitting under the tree. It is easier to believe for something if we understand that we already have it.

I’ll chat more about this at some point, but think about it in the meantime.

Richard