1130.) Mark 5

August 30, 2013
“Raising of Jairus’ Daughter” by Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov, 1871 (The Museum of the Academy of the Arts, St. Petersburg, Russia)

“Raising of Jairus’ Daughter” by Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov, 1871 (The Museum of the Academy of the Arts, St. Petersburg, Russia)

Mark 5 (New Living Translation)

Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Man

1 So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from a cemetery to meet him. 3 This man lived among the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. 4 Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones.

6 When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. 7 With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.”

9 Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”

And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” 10 Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place.

11 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby.

12 “Send us into those pigs,” the spirits begged. “Let us enter them.”

13 So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.

14 The herdsmen fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. 15 A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons. He was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 16 Then those who had seen what happened told the others about the demon-possessed man and the pigs. 17 And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.

They cared more for their swine than for their souls, more for bacon than for true belief.

18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him.

“That is a striking name for a man, ‘he that had been possessed with the devil.’ It would stick to him as long as he lived, and it would be a standing sermon wherever he went. He would be asked to tell the story of what he used to be, and how the change came about. What a story for any man to tell!”

–C. H. Spurgeon

19 But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” 20 So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.

Jesus Heals in Response to Faith

21 Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. 22 Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, 23 pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”

Mk5 woman touches hem

24 Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. 25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

Matthew 9:20 says she touched the hem of His garment, and that actually means one of the borders of the outer garment that all Jews wore.  Barclay says, “Every devout Jew wore an outer robe with four tassels on it, one at each corner. These tassels were worn in obedience to the command in Numbers 15:38-40, and they were to signify to others, and to remind the man himself, that the wearer was a member of the chosen people of God.”

29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

St. Augustine said of this story, “Flesh presses, faith touches” — and Jesus can tell the difference.

32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before.  I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)


Why did God decree that Jewish men were to wear tzitziyot (tassels)?  They seem meaningless—and so odd, such a negative fashion statement.  What earthly purpose could they serve?  But there it is in Scripture:  “Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel.  You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord” (Numbers 15:38-39).

By wearing tzitziyot, a Jewish man was signifying that he was trying to become obedient to all the laws of God.  How fitting, I thought—an arbitrary law to symbolize all the arbitrary laws God had given them.  And to think that Jesus wore them too!

My attitude toward the tzitziyot and the rest of the law finally began to change when I realized that Jewish scholars posed a far wiser question than I had, asking, “What good purpose would a loving God have for giving us this command?”  The rabbis agreed that some laws seemed to lack an obvious purpose, and they called them hukim (“decrees”).  Obeying such laws, they believed, displayed one’s love for God because it showed you trusted him regardless of whether you understood his intent . . .

Though the command to wear tzitziyot makes no sense to modern people, it made perfect sense to those who first heard it.  In ancient times, the garments people wore indicated their status in society.  The hem was particularly important because it symbolized the owner’s identity and authority.  Legal contracts written on clay tablets were actually “signed” by pressing the corner of one’s hem into the clay . . .

Tassels were also a sign of nobility; in the ancient world kings and princes decorated their hem with tassels.  Remember how the high priest’s blue robe was decorated?  From it hung an elaborate border of bells and pomegranates (Exodus 28:33).  The blue thread in the tzizit that ordinary Jews wore was dyed with the same expensive royal blue dye as the robe of the high priest.  It signals the entire people of Israel are to become a nation of priests.

By means of the tzizit, God was encouraging his people to be obvious about their commitment.  In a world where other nations prostituted themselves to idols and sacrificed their children to demons, the Jews stood out.  The tassels were a visible reminder that they belonged to God in a special way.  Whatever they did, good or evil, was a witness to the God they served . . .

Now think of the scene with the woman with chronic bleeding in terms of the significance of the hem of a person’s garment.  The hem would have signified Jesus’ authority and identity.  What’s more, the place where the tassels were attached would have been considered the holiest part of his garment.  So it seems like that the woman knew exactly what she was reaching for.  Jesus’ purity was so great that instead of becoming defiled by her touch, it healed her impurity.  What a beautiful picture of the power of Christ’s holiness to heal and to bless.

(pp. 148-153)

35 While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”

36 But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”

37 Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. 39 He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”

40 The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying.

“The raising of Jairus’ daughter” by Edwin Long

“The raising of Jairus’ daughter” by Edwin Long

41 Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” 42 And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. 43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.

*     *     *     *     *

The account of Jesus raising the little girl is a story with great personal meaning to me.  Twice I have sat at my daughter’s bedside in a hospital, fearing that she would die, thinking of this story, praying to the Lord to “heal her, so she may live.”  The first time Maureen was 11 months old and required open-heart surgery.  The second time she was in first grade and had contracted Toxic Shock Syndrome.  Both times the Lord heard my cry and answered with kindness.  How grateful I am that now my daughter is alive and well, married to a man who loves her and mothering two lovely children!  Here’s a picture of Maureen, my miracle child, and their little Liam.



God, there is none like You!  Because of You and Your grace, we are alive!  HERE  is “You Alone”  by David Crowder.


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Polenov.     http://allart.biz/up/photos/album/P/Polenov_Vasily/raising_jairus_daughter_1871.jpg
pigs.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/piggy.jpg
bacon.    http://www.impactwatch.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/bacon_slices.jpg
woman touches Jesus’ clothing.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/cc492-woman.jpg
Long.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/jairus-daughter-edwin-long.jpg

1129.) Mark 4

August 29, 2013


It was Pastor Mark Pries who taught me to love Van Gogh, and this, “Sower with Setting Sun” (1888), is one of my favorites. I guess I am always an Iowa farm girl at heart!

It was Pastor Mark Pries who taught me to love Van Gogh, and this, “Sower with Setting Sun” (1888), is one of my favorites. I guess I am always an Iowa farm girl at heart!

Mark 4 (New Living Translation)

Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed

1 Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore. 2 He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before.  I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)


Jesus was not the only rabbi who told parables.  Most rabbis used traditional motifs, themes that shed light on the parables Jesus told . . . Once we identify the traditional forms of rabbinic parables, we can better understand what Jesus was saying.

Consider the following rabbinic parable:

There are four types among those who sit in the presence of the rabbis:  the sponge, the funnel, the strainer, and the sieve.  “The sponge,” which soaks up everything.  “The funnel,” which takes in at this end and let out at the other.  “The strainer,” which lets out the wine and retains the dregs.  “The sieve,” which lets out the chaff and retains the fine flour.

That is what’s called a “four types” parable, where four kinds of people are compared in their way of living.  It reminds us of Jesus’ parable in Luke 8:4-11 (and in Mark 4:3-20) about the soil that fell in four places:  the rock, the path, the thorns, and the good soil.  Each parable focuses on how various people respond to God’s Word.

In the above parable, the rabbi is saying, contrary to our preconceptions, that the best disciple is not the “sponge,” who retains absolutely everything, but the “sieve,” who sifts through the teaching to retain what is best.  What great advice for Christians!  It reminds us that we are not called to be parrots, unquestioningly repeating whatever we learn from a favorite teacher.  Instead, we are to exercise wisdom and discernment, continually asking questions, weighing answers, seeking understanding, and grounding our beliefs within the context of God’s Word and the wisdom of Christian tradition.

(pp. 30-31)


3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9 Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

10 Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant.

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, 12 so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:

‘When they see what I do,
they will learn nothing.
When they hear what I say,
they will not understand.
Otherwise, they will turn to me
and be forgiven.’”

13 Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? 14 The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. 15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. 16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 17 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, 19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. 20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Parable of the Lamp

terracotta oil lamp, found in Jerusalem  and dated from the 1st century BC

terracotta oil lamp, found in Jerusalem and dated from the 1st century BC

21 Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. 22 For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. 23 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

24 Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. 25 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.”

Charles Spurgeon said, “The hearer of the gospel will get measure for measure, and the measure shall be his own measure.”  And it works out just this way.  To the one with no interest in the gospel, the preaching of the gospel seems uninteresting.  To the one who wants to find fault with the church or the preacher, they find plenty of faults.  On the other hand –- the more blessed hand –- those who hunger find food, and those who want the solid truth receive something from any faithful ministry.

–David Guzik

Parable of the Growing Seed

Mk4 growing seed

26 Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. 28 The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. 29 And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

For me, one of the classic interpretations of this Biblical passage about the seed growing automatically (Mark 4:26) was written by Martin Luther when he said about this text: “After I preach my sermon on Sunday, when I return home, I drink my little glass of Wittenberg beer and I just let the gospel run its course.” I like that. Luther said that after he pounded on the pulpit and expounded the gospel, he would go home and pull out the Sunday newspaper, and pull out his glass of warm Wittenberg beer and start to drink it and enjoy the afternoon. Luther knew that the power of his sermon was not based on the power of his theological acuity. He knew that the power of his sermon was not based on his eloquence or his abilities. He knew that the power of the sermon would have no effect whatsoever unless the very Word of God got into a person’s heart. Luther knew that he couldn’t do that. It was the Holy Spirit who did that. Luther keenly understood the power of the Word.

–Edward F. Markquart, The Mustard Seed

Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? 31 It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, 32 but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

33 Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand. 34 In fact, in his public ministry he never taught without using parables; but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them.

Jesus Calms the Storm

“Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee” by Rembrandt, 1633

“Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee” by Rembrandt, 1633

35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.

“Peace, be Still” by Stephen Gjertson, 1997 (St. John’s Lutheran Church, Mound, MN)

“Peace, be Still” by Stephen Gjertson, 1997 (St. John’s Lutheran Church, Mound, MN)

40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Truth is a person, not a concept.  Jesus said He was the Truth (John 14:6).  That means you cannot know the truth of your circumstances unless you have first heard from Jesus.  The disciples thought they were perishing in the storm.  They were fishermen who knew the sea and knew what their condition was.  They had allowed their circumstances to convince them that the “truth” was their imminent death.  But they were wrong.  Truth was asleep in the back of their boat!

When Jesus spoke, the disciples saw the real truth of their situation.  There was absolute calm.

–Henry T. Blackaby

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”



HERE  is “Be Still, My Soul”  sung by Selah.

“Be Still, My Soul” was the favorite hymn of Eric Liddell.  He is perhaps best known for refusing to run on Sunday in the 1924 Olympics (a story made famous in the film, Chariots of Fire).  But later in life, Liddell would become a missionary to China.  During World War II he was captured and confined to a prisoner of war camp, where he eventually died of a brain tumor.

It was this hymn that he taught to the other prisoners in the camp to provide comfort and hope, to strengthen their faith.  In the midst of loss, disappointment, grief, and fear, Liddell remembered and taught others that the day was coming when all of that would be gone, and Jesus Christ would remain forever.


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Van Gogh.    http://bwfavorites.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/sower.gif?w=450&h=342
farmer scattering seed.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_WcRPTOHdMvs/SY_DQAMJDdI/AAAAAAAAAUM/ncAeEGdFYrU/s400/i09006.jpg
oil lamp.    http://www.ancientresource.com/lots/greek/oil-lamps-greek.html
growing seed.    http://www.dkimages.com/discover/previews/874/30020399.JPG
mustard seed – mustard plant.    http://www.ebibleteacher.com/children%20flip%20charts/mustard/01_plant_1024.jpg
Rembrandt.     http://www.enterthebible.org/media/images/source/Rembrandt_Christ_In_The_Storm_On_The_Sea_Of_Galilee.jpg
Gjertson.    http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artwork.php?artworkid=2236&size=large

1128.) Mark 3

August 28, 2013
The main attraction at Capernaum is the synagogue.  The limestone remains of the synagogue are most likely dated to the fourth century AD, and are built on the remains of a first century AD synagogue made of basalt.  The first century synagogue would have been in existence at the time of Christ.

The main attraction at Capernaum is the synagogue. The limestone remains of the synagogue are most likely dated to the fourth century AD, and are built on the remains of a first century AD synagogue made of basalt. The first century synagogue would have been in existence at the time of Christ.

Mark 3 (New Living Translation)

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. 2 Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.

3 Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” 4 Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.

5 He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts.

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before—more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
–Charles Dickens, in Great Expectations

Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 6 At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.

(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before.  I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)


Luke’s gospel tells us that Jesus had been teaching in synagogues even before his ministry formally began (Luke 4:15).  Why is this important?  Because it tells us two things about Jesus’ Jewish reality.  First, Jesus must have been quite learned by the standards of his time.  If not, he would never have been invited to teach.  Even his toughest critics never questioned his scholarship.  Second, Jesus must have been observant of the Torah.  If he hadn’t been, he would have been barred from even attending the synagogue, let alone speaking in it.  So it seems that Jesus was an integral part of the Jewish world of his day, making sophisticated contributions to the high level of conversation that was going on among the rabbis of his time.

(p. 29)


Crowds Follow Jesus

7 Jesus went out to the lake with his disciples, and a large crowd followed him. They came from all over Galilee, Judea, 8 Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far north as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him.

9 Jesus instructed his disciples to have a boat ready so the crowd would not crush him. 10 He had healed many people that day, so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him. 11 And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” 12 But Jesus sternly commanded the spirits not to reveal who he was.



Those demons were told not to tell who Jesus was — but we have been instructed to share this wonderful news!  HERE  with Matthew West, we say, “You Are Everything.”


Jesus Chooses the Twelve Apostles

13 Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. 14 Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, 15 giving them authority to cast out demons. 16 These are the twelve he chose:

Simon (whom he named Peter),
17 James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”),
18 Andrew,
James (son of Alphaeus),
Simon (the zealot),
19 Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).

Tim Hansel, in his book Eating Problems for Breakfast, has a humorous and fictional letter to Jesus regarding the search for the twelve apostles.  He imagines that Jesus hired a management consultant firm to do the picking and choosing of the Twelve, and this letter serves to qualify the one who is the best candidate to be a follower of Jesus.  The letter reads:

To: Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafter’s Carpenter Shop
Nazareth 25922

From: Jordan Management Consultants

Dear Sir:

Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.

The profiles of all tests are included, and you will want to study each of them carefully.

As part of our service, we make some general comments for your guidance, much as an auditor will include some general statements. This is given as a result of staff consultation, and comes without any additional fee.

It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew had been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.

We wish you every success in your new venture.


Jordan Management Consultants  (pg 194-195).

–from   http://www.redeemerlancaster.org/pastorssermons/followingjesuschrist.html


Jesus and the Prince of Demons

20 One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. 21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.

22 But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”

23 Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. 24 “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. 25 Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive.

On June 16, 1858, more than 1,000 Republican delegates met in the Springfield, Illinois, statehouse for the Republican State Convention.  At 5:00 PM they chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the U.S. Senate, running against Democrat Stephen A. Douglas.  At 8:00 PM Lincoln delivered an address to his Republican colleagues in the Hall of Representatives.  The speech has become known by a part of its introduction (below), “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” a concept familiar to Lincoln’s audience as a statement by Jesus recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention:

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.

We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation.

Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.

In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.

I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

It will become all one thing or all the other.


27 Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

28 “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, 29 but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” 30 He told them this because they were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.”

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Mark 3:5 (King James Version) —   And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

Mark 3:21-23 (King James Version) –  And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.  And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.  And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?

When our Lord had looked round on them in anger, being grieved for their hardness of heart, He said a loving word to a poor man who was probably a good deal troubled because of the excitement in the place.

What do we say when we are grieved and angry?  Do we speak a kind word to someone who needs it?

Some said, “He is beside Himself.”  Others declared, “He casts out devils by the prince of the devils.”  But He asked, How can Satan cast out Satan? There was not a word of indignant self-defense, just a quiet question.  It was the overflow of the sweetness and peace of His heart.  When we are unkindly and unjustly accused, perhaps just when we have been helping someone, how do we react?  Perhaps there is not time for a long prayer in that moment of quick temptation, but there is always time for a look up to Him.  “Thy sweetness, Lord.  Thy peace, Lord.”

It will always be given.


The True Family of Jesus

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. 32 There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.”

33 Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 34 Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
synagogue.    http://www.biblearchaeology.org/image.axd?picture=84_9.jpg
hard hearted.     http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_6tSq6JYliqo/TNd7qtIPDXI/AAAAAAAAAxc/mEJ73f-dJ2Y/s1600/Hard_Hearted-rou638-d.jpg
Jesus and 12 disciples fabric art.     http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_yKwDTmqOmJM/Ssi7Vv-m7CI/AAAAAAAAAYw/wumfdESAmIc/s400/JesusAnd12Apostles_Lg.jpg
Judas betraying Christ with a kiss.    http://www.nndb.com/people/843/000101540/judas-iscariot-1-sized.jpg
Abraham Lincoln.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_n0kOLTsDBsw/TTpCmY8cvOI/AAAAAAAABNE/xCfgfG-vyqA/s1600/abraham-lincoln-2.jpg
peace of Christ — photo by Myra Johnson.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/peace%20of%20Christ/myragjohnson/Peace-1.jpg
family of Jesus.    http://www.foundationsforfreedom.net/Topics/Abiding/_ResAbiding/FamilyJesus.jpg

1127.) Mark 2

August 27, 2013
Mark is full of vivid pictures of Jesus in action!

Mark is full of vivid pictures of Jesus in action!

Mark 2 (New Living Translation)

Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man

1 When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, 3 four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. 4 They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. 5 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

6 But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, 7 “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”

8 Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 9 Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’?

An interesting question!  Of course, it is impossible for humans to forgive a man all his sins or heal him on the spot of his paralysis.  For God, on the other hand, both are easy.  In another way, though, it is easier to say “Your sins are forgiven” because that is invisible.  To say, “Stand up” demands clear proof which would be satisfied only when the man begins walking.

10 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw


The first thing God wants to do for us is to give us his gift of grace and forgiveness.  Even among the people of God, I find a lot of people who live with great guilt.  We will never develop into what God wants us to be until we find out what it means to have God’s forgiveness.  That forgiveness is a gracious gift that we can never earn.  In fact, there is nothing we can do to receive it except to take it from his hand in repentant faith.  When we have accepted his gift, we are on our way to grace and growth.

The story of the paralytic who was lowered through the roof illustrates this beautifully.  This man’s friends brought him to Jesus for physical healing, but Jesus knew what the man’s real need was, so he said to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven.”  Everyone thought Jesus was sidetracked from the real issue of physical healing, but Jesus was the only one who saw the problem clearly.

The forgiveness of our sins is the doorway into a relationship with the Lord Jesus.  Tragically, I have seen some people who cannot accept this gift.  But we will never know any further growth or grace until we can say that our sins are nailed to his cross and that we are forgiven and free.


12 And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”



Very rarely in the gospel accounts do Jesus and the religious leaders join together in celebration.  That’s about as crazy as Lord of the Rings battles and dancing penguins in the same song!  HERE  is Tim Hughes to make you smile with “Greatest Day in History.”

Verse 1:
The greatest day in history, Death is beaten
You have rescued me
Sing it out Jesus is alive
The empty cross, The empty grave
Life eternal You have won the day
Shout it out Jesus is alive
He’s alive

Oh happy day, happy day
You washed my sin away
Oh happy day, happy day
I’ll never be the same
Forever I am changed

Verse 2:
When I stand, in that place
Free at last, meeting face to face
I am Yours Jesus You are mine
Endless joy, perfect peace
Earthly pain finally will cease
Celebrate Jesus is alive
He’s alive

Oh what a glorious day
What a glorious way
That You have saved me
Oh what a glorious day
What a glorious name


Jesus Calls Levi (Matthew)

“The Calling of St. Matthew” by Hendrick Terbrugghen, 1616 (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest)

“The Calling of St. Matthew” by Hendrick Terbrugghen, 1616 (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest)

13 Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him.

15 Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) 16 But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”

17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before.  I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)


In Matthew 18:22 Peter says, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me?  Up to seven times?”

Jesus responded, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (italics added).  What did Jesus mean?  Most of us immediately check the footnote in our Bible, which says, “Or, seventy times seven.” We like the fact that 490 is so much larger than 77.  So that’s what Jesus was saying!  Believe it or not, we are still missing the punch line.

The key to understanding Jesus’ meaning is embedded in the passage to which he alluded.  The phrase “seventy-seven times” is found in only one other place in the entire Bible—Genesis 4:24, in the ancient song of Lamech.  But who was this obscure biblical character?  Lamech was a descendant of Cain who had inherited his forefather’s murderous instinct, but who, in his shocking lust for revenge, outdid even Cain:

I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for injuring me;
If Cain is avenged seven times,
then Lamech seventy-seven times.

Anybody who crosses Lamech would have been paid back big time—not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!  In Scripture, seven is a significant number.  It symbolizes completeness.  But Lamech lusted for a vengeance that went far beyond completeness.

Once you understand Jesus’ reference, you understand the contrast he is making.  He is saying that his followers should be as eager to forgive as Lamech was to take vengeance.  Just as Lamech was vowing a punishment that far exceeded the crime, we should let our forgiveness far exceed the wrong done to us.  We should be Lamech’s polar opposite, making it our goal to forgive as extravagantly and completely as possible.  As Christ did.

(pp. 38-39)


A Discussion about Fasting

18 Once when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and asked, “Why don’t your disciples fast like John’s disciples and the Pharisees do?”

19 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can’t fast while the groom is with them. 20 But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

21 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

22 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.”

A Discussion about the Sabbath

Shabbat itself is an honored guest, likened to a “queen,” in a Jewish household, so the table for the Sabbath meal must be beautiful.  A lovely tablecloth, challah (traditionally braided), wine, and candles all contribute physical graciousness and enhance spiritual enjoyment.

Shabbat itself is an honored guest, likened to a “queen,” in a Jewish household, so the table for the Sabbath meal must be beautiful. A lovely tablecloth, challah (traditionally braided), wine, and candles all contribute physical graciousness and enhance spiritual enjoyment.

23 One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. 24 But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”

25 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 26 He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.”

27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Christ healing the paralytic.    http://kingofages.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/paralytic.jpg
my sins, nailed to the cross.    http://wordunplugged.com/wp-content/files/crosswsin.jpg
Terbrugghen.    http://www.wga.hu/art/t/terbrugg/1/matthew1.jpg
Shabbat table.     http://www.empirekosher.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Shabbat_dinner_table_istock_photo1-670×445.jpg

1126.) Mark 1

August 26, 2013
The Gospel of Mark has a special place in my heart, since I have learned it by heart. It takes a bit over two hours to tell the book from beginning to end.

The Gospel of Mark has a special place in my heart, since I have learned it by heart. It takes a bit over two hours to tell the book from beginning to end.

Mark 1 (New Living Translation)

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

1 This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began 2 just as the prophet Isaiah had written:

“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way.
3 He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’”

4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. 5 All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 6 His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.

7 John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

“Baptism of the Christ” by Daniel Bonnell points the viewer towards the sacrifice Christ will make on the cross (St. George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem).

“Baptism of the Christ” by Daniel Bonnell points the viewer towards the sacrifice Christ will make on the cross (St. George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem).

9 One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”

(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before.  I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)


It is difficult to overestimate the love that the rabbis had for their Bible.  On a good day, they would link text after text after text.  They were said to be “stringing pearls”—bringing together passages from different places in order to explore their great truths.

Believe it or not, God himself seems to enjoy “stringing pearls.”  Do you remember the scene in which Jesus is being baptized by his cousin John?  Listen to how the Father spoke from heaven at Jesus’ baptism (Mark 1:11):  “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  At face value this seems like a simple, though wonderful, affirmation.  But it’s so much more than that.  Did you catch all the references?  If not, here they are:

  • “You are my Son” is from Psalm 2:7:  “He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’”
  • “whom I love” is from Genesis 22:2:  “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
  • “with you I am well pleased”  is from Isaiah 42:1:  “Here is my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.”

What was God saying by making use of these quotations?  To answer this question, you need to know two things:  the context from which each passage is drawn and the way in which the people of that time understood the passage.  Both Psalm 2 and Isaiah 42 were understood as powerful messianic prophecies.  In Psalm 2, God makes a royal proclamation announcing his Son, the King of kings who would rule over the whole earth.

But in Isaiah 42, God speaks about his “servant” (also understood to be the Messiah).  Paradoxically, God’s Messiah is both a king and a servant.  This passage from Isaiah also proclaims that God’s Spirit is upon his servant.  How fitting since the Father utters these words as the Spirit descends upon Jesus in the Jordan River.

The reference “whom I love” is likely drawn from Genesis 22, one of the most poignant scenes in the Old Testament.  Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac out of obedience to God.  Genesis heightens the drama by emphasizing how precious Isaac is to Abraham, foreshadowing the Father’s own feelings for his only Son.  When Jesus is baptized in the Jordan, the Father is saying, “Here is my precious son, my Isaac,” hinting at the sacrifice he will soon ask of Jesus.

In just three brief quotes from the Scriptures, God speaks of Jesus as a king, a servant, and his Son, who will become a sacrifice.  When God speaks, he packs a lot into his words!  And be sure to notice where the three passages come from:  the Torah (Genesis 22), the Prophets (Isaiah 42), and the Psalms (Psalm 2).  Just like the rabbis, God links together the words from the three parts of Scripture.  By quoting all three, he is proclaiming that the entire Scriptures point to Jesus as their fulfillment.

(pp. 43-45)


12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.

14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”



HERE  is some Taize for our first chapter of Mark!

“The kingdom of God is justice and peace
and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Come, Lord, and open in us
the gates of your kingdom.”


The First Disciples

16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers


“Come ye after Me.” –Mark 1:17

One of the greatest hindrances in coming to Jesus is the excuse of temperament. We make our temperament and our natural affinities barriers to coming to Jesus. The first thing we realize when we come to Jesus is that He pays no attention whatever to our natural affinities. We have the notion that we can consecrate our gifts to God. You cannot consecrate what is not yours; there is only one thing you can consecrate to God, and that is your right to yourself (Romans 12:1).

If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you. God’s experiments always succeed. The one mark of a saint is the moral originality which springs from abandonment to Jesus Christ. In the life of a saint there is this amazing wellspring of original life all the time; the Spirit of God is a well of water springing up, perennially fresh. The saint realizes that it is God Who engineers circumstances, consequently there is no whine, but a reckless abandon to Jesus. Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you.

If you abandon to Jesus, and come when He says “Come,” He will continue to say “Come” through you; you will go out into life reproducing the echo of Christ’s “Come.” That is the result in every soul who has abandoned and come to Jesus.

Have I come to Jesus? Will I come now?


19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. 20 He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.

Jesus Casts Out an Evil Spirit

21 Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.

23 Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit began shouting, 24 “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One sent from God!”

25 Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. 26 At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him.

27 Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority!  Even evil spirits obey his orders!” 28 The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee.

Matthew 28:18 (English Standard Version)

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Jesus Heals Many People

29 After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s home. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. 31 So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.

“Christ healing the mother-in-law of Simon Peter” by John Bridges

“Christ healing the mother-in-law of Simon Peter” by John Bridges

32 That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. 33 The whole town gathered at the door to watch. 34 So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.

Jesus Preaches in Galilee

35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.”

John 10:10 (NIV)

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.

Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy

40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.

41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. 43 Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: 44 “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”

45 But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.

The leper’s cheerful disobedience caused problems for Jesus.  Christ cured the leper so that such outcasts were no longer confined to secluded places, only to be forced there himself.


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
the Gospel of Mark.    http://www.christchurchmesa.org/wp2/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/The-Gospel-of-Mark.jpg
Bonnell.   http://pastorblog.cumcdebary.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/baptism-of-the-christ-by-daniel-bonnell.jpg
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus.    http://media.zondervan.com/images/product/original/9780310284222.JPG
Jesus calls the fishermen.    http://lh4.ggpht.com/_cuCqe7ED9qY/ST7OjsrvtrI/AAAAAAAADqQ/3YVDxaKy-4c/Fishermen.jpg
Bridges.    http://www.impactbiblestudy.com/wp-content/gallery/healings/Jesus%20healing%20Peter%27s%20mother-in-law%20%28by%20John%20Bridges%29.jpg
Jesus heals a leper.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_pQZf3-JFkdM/StleLODLSgI/AAAAAAAACM4/0am0Nnp6pf8/s320/a_Jesus-heals-the-Leper.jpg

1125.) Proverbs 26

August 23, 2013

Pr26 snow in summer

Proverbs 26   (NIV)

Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
    honor is not fitting for a fool.
Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
    an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
    and a rod for the backs of fools!
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
    or he will be wise in his own eyes.

These two verses present an apparent contradiction.  The first says not to answer a fool, the second says to answer him.  What is the explanation?  The latter part of each verse holds the key.

Do not answer a fool in such a manner that you become a fool in the process.  Don’t lose your temper, or behave rudely, or speak unadvisedly.

But answer a fool.  Don’t let him off with his folly altogether.  Reprove and rebuke him, as his folly deserves, so that he will not be wise in his own eyes.

–William MacDonald

Sending a message by the hands of a fool
    is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.
Like the useless legs of one who is lame
    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

Like tying a stone in a sling
    is the giving of honor to a fool.

Pr26 slingshot

A sling is useless as a weapon if a stone is tied into it, so it would be absurd to prevent the stone from leaving the sling.  It is just as absurd to give honor to a fool.

Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand
    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
10 Like an archer who wounds at random
    is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.
11 As a dog returns to its vomit,
    so fools repeat their folly.

Do you know dogs like this?  We had a certain dog for a short time when my kids were little which would lick up their spit-up as well as any of its own.  Oh, yuck.  But I did appreciate that the floor under the kitchen table was clean at all times!

12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?
    There is more hope for a fool than for them.

13 A sluggard says, “There’s a lion in the road,
    a fierce lion roaming the streets!”
14 As a door turns on its hinges,
    so a sluggard turns on his bed.
15 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
    he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.
16 A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
    than seven people who answer discreetly.

17 Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears
    is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.

I grabbed a dog by its tail when I was in kindergarten.  The dag turned and snapped in my face.  I was afraid of dogs for many years after.  So I can attest to the truth of this proverb!

18 Like a maniac shooting
    flaming arrows of death
19 is one who deceives their neighbor
    and says, “I was only joking!”

Pr26 wood gossip

20 Without wood a fire goes out;
    without a gossip a quarrel dies down.

21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.

22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
    they go down to the inmost parts.

I am more deadly than the screaming shell of a howitzer.  I win without killing.  I tear down homes, break hearts, and wreck lives.  I travel on the wings of the wind.  No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to daunt me.  I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless.  My victims are as numerous as the sand of the sea, and often as innocent.  I never forget and seldom forgive.  My name is Gossip!


23 Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware
    are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
    but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
    for seven abominations fill their hearts.
26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,
    but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;
    if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them.
28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts,
    and a flattering mouth works ruin.



Several animals mentioned in this chapter, but dogs get double billing!  So in honor of man’s best friend, I have a dog song for you!  HERE  is Kenny Rogers and “Ol’ Red.”


New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
Like snow in summer.    http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1269/664977894_a435ca6933_z.jpg?zz=1
slingshot.    http://tereasa.com/campstore/images/stories/virtuemart/product/Wandawega%20store%20slingshot%20main%20image%20replacement.jpg
Without wood a fire goes out.    http://www.workersforjesus.com/100326-proverbs26_20.jpg

1124.) Psalms 132 and 133

August 22, 2013

P132 ark

Psalm 132   (ESV)

The Lord Has Chosen Zion

A Song of Ascents.

One possible viewpoint as to the author and occasion of this psalm:  It was composed by Solomon when he brought the ark of the covenant to its proper place in the newly-constructed temple in Jerusalem.  The first ten verses, then, are Solomon’s prayer that the Lord will descend in the Shekinah (the glory cloud) and dwell above the ark . . .

Remember, O Lord, in David’s favor,
    all the hardships he endured,
how he swore to the Lord
    and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
“I will not enter my house
    or get into my bed,
I will not give sleep to my eyes
    or slumber to my eyelids,
until I find a place for the Lord,
    a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
    we found it in the fields of Jaar.
“Let us go to his dwelling place;
    let us worship at his footstool!”

Arise, O Lord, and go to your resting place,
    you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
    and let your saints shout for joy.
10 For the sake of your servant David,
    do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

Verses 11 and 12 reaffirm the covenant God made with David . . .

11 The Lord swore to David a sure oath
    from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body
    I will set on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
    and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
their sons also forever
    shall sit on your throne.”

And the last six verses contain specific promises from God corresponding to Solomon’s specific requests. 
–William MacDonald

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion;
    he has desired it for his dwelling place:
14 “This is my resting place forever;
    here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless her provisions;
    I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
    and her saints will shout for joy.
17 There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
    I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
18 His enemies I will clothe with shame,
    but on him his crown will shine.”

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now!
Heaven’s royal diadem adorns
The mighty Victor’s brow!

–Thomas Kelly



I think David, who longed to honor God and build God’s temple, would have liked this song!  HERE  is “Cry of My Heart” by Terry Butler.

It is the cry of my heart
To follow You
It is the cry of my heart
To be close to You
It is the cry of my heart
To follow all of the days of my life

Teach me Your holy ways oh Lord
So I can walk in Your truth
Teach me Your holy ways oh Lord
And make me wholly devoted to You

Open my eyes so I can see
The wonderful things that You do
Open my heart up more and more
And make it wholly devoted to You


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P133 unity

Psalm 133   (ESV)

When Brothers Dwell in Unity

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
    when brothers dwell in unity!

But David’s own sons did not live in unity.  They fought each other bitterly — Ammon against Absalom, and Adonijah against Solomon.  Yet here the reference could as easily means tribal and national comrades as they unite in worship.  (The Reformation Bible)

It is like the precious oil on the head,
    running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
    running down on the collar of his robes!

This refers to the anointing of Aaron, the high priest.  The special and exclusive blend of oil (Exodus 30:22-33) was poured out extravagantly, running down his beard and onto his sacred robes.  In the same way the unity of the people of God is a rich perfume making their worship pleasing to Him (Romans 15:6).  (The Reformation Bible)

It is like the dew of Hermon,
    which falls on the mountains of Zion!

With its high altitude, regular precipitation and heavy dew, Mount Hermon is known for its lush greenery even during the summer.  The experience of the pilgrims singing these psalms was like Hermon’s refreshing dew.  From May to October virtually no rain—or even dew—falls on Jerusalem.  During these months at least two pilgrimages were held.  Regardless of the harsh conditions of life in general, or of the pilgrimage in particular, the unity of God’s people was refreshing.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
    life forevermore.


English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Let them make Me a sanctuary.    http://holyisthelord.webs.com/46.jpg
Unity.    http://www.wednesdaynightservice.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/unity_432x3281.jpg

1123.) Psalms 130 and 131

August 21, 2013

P130 depths

Psalm 130    (ESV)

My Soul Waits for the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!

The allusion is to the deep waters of sorrow that overwhelm the psalmist.  (The Reformation Bible)

    O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    that you may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;

1 Peter 1:3-4   (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
    from all his iniquities.



HERE  are the Sons of Korah and their soulful rendition of Psalm 130.


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P131 quiet child

Psalm 131    (ESV)

I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
    my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
    too great and too marvelous for me.

In Biblical language the heart is the center of the human spirit, from which spring emotions, thoughts, motivations, courage, and actions.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child is my soul within me.

The soul is not a spiritual aspect distinct from the physical but an individual’s very self as a living, conscious, personal being.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

O Israel, hope in the Lord
    from this time forth and forevermore.

Romans 15:13   (NIV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Out of the depths.    http://www.enchristos.com/storage/psalm%20130.png?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1357847379055
quiet child.    http://orlandograce.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/weaned-child.jpg

1122.) Psalms 128 and 129

August 20, 2013

P128 fruitful vine

Psalm 128    (ESV)

Blessed Is Everyone Who Fears the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
    who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
    you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

One result of the Fall was that Adam would have to work hard to get food on the table (Genesis 3:17-19).  The Preacher of Ecclesiastes was driven to despair because some people labored while others, less deserving, enjoyed the benefits of their labor (Ecclesiastes 5:8-12).  The psalmist envisions the righteous prospering from their own labor, a just situation.  (The Reformation Bible)

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
    within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
    who fears the Lord.

The Lord bless you from Zion!
    May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
    all the days of your life!
May you see your children’s children!
    Peace be upon Israel!


My “children’s children” — Liam is four and a half and Calli is 8 months.  They belong to my daughter, Maureen, and her husband, Will, and they all live in Denver.



HERE  is a kid special!  Hillsong Kids and “Every Move I Make.”


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Psalm 129 "Furrows Not Fallow" (c) 2007 Aaron Collier

Psalm 129 “Furrows Not Fallow” (c) 2007 Aaron Collier

Psalm 129    (ESV)

They Have Afflicted Me from My Youth

A Song of Ascents.

“Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth”—
    let Israel now say—
“Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth,
    yet they have not prevailed against me.
The plowers plowed upon my back;
    they made long their furrows.”

P129 menorah

From the early days of nationhood, Israel had been sorely afflicted.  Their oppression in Egypt, for example, was an unforgettable chapter of servitude and suffering.  Yet the enemy never succeeded in exterminating the Jews.  God’s people were always delivered from captivity.  Their survival has been one of the great miracles of history.

–William MacDonald

The Lord is righteous;
    he has cut the cords of the wicked.
May all who hate Zion
    be put to shame and turned backward!
Let them be like the grass on the housetops,
    which withers before it grows up,
with which the reaper does not fill his hand
    nor the binder of sheaves his arms,
nor do those who pass by say,
    “The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
    We bless you in the name of the Lord!”

grass roof in Scotland

grass roof in Scotland

Grass that sprouted on the flat, sun-baked housetops would wither, since no plow could prepare a nurturing soil to sustain the young shoots—and so there would be no harvest.  This verse expresses the hope that the same would happen to those who “plowed” the backs of Israel (see verse 3).   (The Archaeological Study Bible)


English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine.    http://oi53.tinypic.com/14twfd.jpg
Collier.    http://cardiphonia.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/psalm-129_furrows-not-fallow.jpg
menorah.    http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/kaetana/kaetana1211/kaetana121100005/16124767-holiday-jewish-background-with-menorah–vector-background.jpg
grass roof.    http://seesawmagazine.com/photos/scotland_photos/scotland_grass_roof.jpg

1121.) Psalms 126 and 127

August 19, 2013

P126 sow sheaves

Psalm 126    (ESV)

Restore Our Fortunes, O Lord

A Song of Ascents.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
    we are glad.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
    like streams in the Negeb!

The wadis, or gullies, in the southern desert (Negev) are bone-dry in the summer, but when the winter rains come the water rushes down them with a great force, a sudden and powerful unleashing of blessing.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)

Those who sow in tears
    shall reap with shouts of joy!

P126 sow reap

God reverses the fortunes of His people!  He overrules evil with good, suffering with blessing!

Psalm 30:11-12   (NIV)

You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

He who goes out weeping,
    bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    bringing his sheaves with him.



I would guess it has been quite some time since last you heard the voice of Burl Ives.  HERE  he is with the old gospel song,  “Bringing in the Sheaves.”


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P127 unless the Lord

Psalm 127   (ESV)

Unless the Lord Builds the House

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.

The primary reference is to the actual building of a residence, but as a “Song of Ascents” written by Solomon, it is natural to think specifically of the temple.  Further, in the light of the second half of the psalm, the house refers to the family as well as to a physical structure.  (The Reformation Bible)

Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.

P127 children

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Legal proceedings and business transactions were conducted at the city gate.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)


English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Those who sow in tears (with grain).    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-gJhzH4vTHNY/URfAnyJz_DI/AAAAAAAAAMY/AQrFrPpmDOk/s1600/Psalm+126+-+5+-+6.jpg
Those who sow in tears (with flowers).    http://ourdailyblossom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/120109.jpg
Unless the Lord builds.    http://www.iglesiaunion.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/psalm-127v1a.jpg
Children are a heritage.    http://my52sundays.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/psalm-127-3.jpg