Monthly Archives: February 2018

Mark: Faith in Action

Week 8(25 Feb. – 3 Mar.) – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Sunday – Christ foretells 3

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:32-34

As Jesus and the crowd is heading to Jerusalem, Jesus is leading them walking ahead of them.  Some were “amazed” and probably figuring that this is the time that Jesus as the Messiah will triumphantly ride in and begin to establish the Kingdom of David once again in all of its glory.  Some were “afraid” maybe because they believed that when this occurred what followed would be fighting and war and the dark days of battle looming ahead.  We are told that Jesus took the twelve disciples aside for the third time to explain to them what was to come so they were prepared to face the dark days of ministry that was ahead.  To truly understand what lies ahead we must rely on Jesus for the truth.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How can we best discern the future as disciples of Christ wanting to put our faith in action?

Monday – Wrong Ambition  

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:35-45

The danger of leading is losing sight of following.  The same personality that makes strong leaders is the same that can lead to false ambition.  True ambition as a leader is to follow Jesus.  But, even in the physical presence of the Lord, the disciples begin to think of themselves.  As the ones who were called in the beginning, the ones that are part of the inner circle and the ones there at the transfiguration, James and John, felt their place would be at the right and left hands of Jesus “in your glory.”  When the other disciples hear of this their thoughts then turn to “what about me?”  But, to be that close to Jesus, one must recognize that Christ came to serve, not to be served and we must do likewise as leaders.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What is required for Leaders of the Church to truly lead?

Tuesday – Bartimeus receives Sight

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:46-52

Bartimeus, a blind beggar on the side of the road along Jericho, begs Jesus to have mercy on him.  This mercy comes in Jesus calling to Bartimeus to come to Him.  When he comes, Jesus asks Bartimeus what he wants Him to do for him.  Bartimeus responds “My teacher, let me see again.”  Not only does his faith make him well to physically see but recognizing Jesus as the Teacher enables him to spiritually see.  As such Baritmeus follows Jesus on the Way.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this say to us about seeing and following The Way?

Wednesday – Triumphant Entry

Scripture Reading: Mark 11:1-11

The outward perspective of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem is of a glorious entry and day.  The miracle of the colt provision and the parade with people laying coats and palm branches on the road shouting, “Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!” makes for a glorious day in ministry!  But in the midst of this is the knowledge of what this really will bring in the days ahead.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does it mean to be triumphant in ministry?

Thursday – Barren Fig Tree – No Fruit

Scripture Reading: Mark 11:12-14

Sometimes in life, we may witness Christ doing something that would seem to have no significance such as this moment with the fig tree.  It is only later that we may learn how God is using that moment for us to learn.  With the disciples we may be left to wonder what that was about until later when Christ makes it clear.  Then Christ is able to teach us to bear fruit.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What may be a barren fig tree be in your life that you are waiting for God to make clear for you?

Friday – Temple Cleansing

Scripture Reading: Mark 11:15-19

In Jesus teaching of the cleansing of the temple he states, “Is it not written, “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations?”  We find that it is not just the marketing of the temple business that angered Jesus but also, the exclusion of others in the temple access that angered Jesus.  All faithful people were to have access not just the Jews.  With the profiteering of faith in action of people and the exclusion of the access to the temple, Jesus rightfully recognize it as a den of robbers – robbing God and the people!

Pastor’s Pondering:  How do we keep our churches as houses of prayer and not dens of thieves?

Saturday – Power of Faith

Scripture Reading: Mark 11:20-25

Now is the time to teach from the barren fig tree.  Amazed that the tree died, Jesus is able to teach the disciples about the power of faith.  Mountains are moved when we believe, pray (talking with God for proper perspective), and Forgive.  All three are required for God to move the mountains in our lives.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How can lack of faith, prayer and forgiveness keep us from having faith in action in life?

Mark: Faith in Action

Week 7(18-24 Feb.) 1st Sunday of Lent

Sunday – Transfiguration

Scripture Reading: Mark 9:2-13

Transfiguration – the physical embodiment of the “Glory of the Lord” the light that shines in the darkness.  When Peter, James and John witness Elijah and Moses coming to Jesus and witness Christ’s change, they were terrified and not knowing what to say ask Jesus if they should build shelters for Him, Moses and Elijah.  They were provoked to action but did not know what action to take.  Sometimes, the action to take is to watch, listen and learn and in due time, God’s time, will be the time to do.

Pastor’s Pondering:  For us how important is the action to watch, listen and learn to being transformed to shine with the “Glory of the Lord.”

Monday – Demoniac Youth Healing  

Scripture Reading: Mark 9:14-29

Straight from the mountaintop transfiguration experience to the reality of the darkness of the world in the valley, Jesus comes down to find the rest of the disciples and the scribes arguing with a crowd gathered around them.  A faithless generation is one that tries to do all things, even religion, on their own, in their own way, for their own benefit.  The only true way to overcome the darkness is by knowing Christ, growing in Christ, and sharing Christ which requires walking and talking with Jesus in our lives thereby praying without ceasing.  Prayer draws us close to God, God’s power and God’s light.  Thus, without prayer, disciples don’t have the power to overcome the dark days.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What is the connection to prayer and having faith in action especially during the dark days of life/ministry?

Tuesday – Christ foretelling 2

Scripture Reading: Mark 9:30-32

As we see in this passage, the reason Jesus did not want people to know he was there was so that he could focus on teaching the disciples especially about the forthcoming dark days of His ministry.  But, we see they didn’t understand and were afraid to ask Jesus.  This results in their being surprised, afraid and overcome when Jesus is arrested, tried, convicted, crucified, and buried.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How often are we afraid to ask God/Jesus/Others when we are uncertain about what is happening especially during the dark days of our lives?

Wednesday – Humility

Scripture Reading: Mark 9:33-50

One of the most important lessons we have to learn as disciples of Christ is of humility.  The darkness of the world is when Self is the most important thing in life.  That is our human nature.  The teachings of Jesus on humility focuses on making God and Others the focus in life.  The Salt that we are to have in life is our Love for God and having God’s love for others which means putting Faith (God’s Love) in action in the world.  True peace comes when the Love of Christ becomes our love in our life together – denying ourselves, taking up our crosses and following Jesus.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How is humility a sign of Faith in Action?

Thursday – Marriage

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:1-13

Why is marriage so important to our life and Faith in Action?  Because it is to be the closest thing in life that testifies to the covenant of love that God shares with us.  Marriage is to be a sign to the world of God’s love and what it means in life.  Divorce is the sign of not only the broken love between a couple but the brokenness of our world.  The more broken our world the more broken is our concept of marriage.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does marriage become a reflection of the world’s understanding of God’s love?

Friday – Blessing the Little Children

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:13-16

As parents are bringing their children to see Jesus, the disciples view them as the world views them – not important until they are older/adults.  Jesus emphasizes that not only are they important but we must be like them to enter the kingdom of God.  We must allow Jesus to take us up in His arms, lay his hands on us and bless us.  We must see this world as children trusting in God, our Father, to care for us, Jesus, our brother, to walk and talk with us and the Holy Spirit to bring God’s love to us that we may know God’s peace and light even in the dark days that we may have in life.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How are we to approach life with our faith in action as a little child in God’s kingdom?

Saturday – The Rich Young Ruler

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:17-31

The perils of becoming an adult is when we begin to trust and rely on our own ability.  The rich, young ruler may have been a good moral person by the ten commandments but when it came time to be willing to give all he had to follow Jesus, he was not willing and thus would not nor could not enter the kingdom of God.  When our possessions become burdens to us in life, weights that hold us down and barriers that prevents God’s light to shine through then we must strip them off so that we can “go through the eye of the needle.”

Pastor’s Pondering:  When our faith is in action in life how can we keep serving God and not our wealth?

Mark: Faith in Action

Past 2 – The Dark Days

Week 6(11-17 Feb.)

Sunday – Dogs and Crumbs

Scripture Reading: Mark 7:24-30

As we enter the “dark days of ministry” it is with the story of Jesus dealing with darkness of prejudice (seeing someone as less than human).  The Syrophoenician woman is seen by the Jews as a dog.  So, when Jesus talks to her he is using this situation to teach his disciples.  When Jesus talks about feeding the children first, he addresses the view of the Jews (children at the Table) and Dogs (everyone else).  When she responds with “even the dogs get the crumbs the children drop” it is recognizing that God’s love is for everyone.  Jesus physically affirms this in healing her daughter by casting out the demon.  She understands God’s love, gets God’s love and God’s light overcomes her darkness in life.

Pastor’s Pondering:  Who are the people you may view as dogs in your life and how can you bring light to their darkness?

Monday – Deaf mute Healing  

Scripture Reading: Mark 7:31-37

When Jesus heals the deaf mute, it is engaging the struggle this man had that brought darkness to his life.  Notice the unusual way Jesus went about healing him – privately, away from the crowd, stuck his finger in the man’s ears, spit and touched the man’s tongue, said “Be opened.”  Why?  Not sure, other than there is no cookie cutter, one size fits all, way to do ministry.  It has to be a personal, Spirit-led ministry that will bring about the change that people will take notice.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What needs to be done to keep ministry personal and Spirit-led for others to see?

Tuesday – Feeding the Crowds II

Scripture Reading: Mark 8:1-10

After three days of feeding the people the Bread of Life which is the Word of God, Jesus teaches the disciples that we are to also have compassion on the people not just spiritually but also physically.  This brings about the second miraculous feeding of the masses.  As people gather to hear the Word of God, the challenge can be how to provide for them by dealing with their needs.  Faith in Action means not just bringing light into someone’s spiritual darkness but also into their physical darkness.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How do we see this being lived out in the first church of Pentecost and the Church today?

Wednesday – Seeking Signs (Ash Wednesday)

Scripture Reading: Mark 8:11-21

Corresponding with Ash Wednesday (beginning of Lent) when the Church traditionally looks to Jesus and his wilderness temptations, we look to the passage where the Pharisees come to Jesus seeking signs to prove that He is the Messiah.  Likewise, Satan tempts Jesus to do something that will prove to others that He is the Son of God.  Just as Jesus tells Satan, “No” so Jesus tells the Pharisees, “no sign will be given to this generation.”  Jesus follows this up with the lesson on not being like the Pharisees, “are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see?  Do you have ears, and fail to hear?  And do you not remember?”

Pastor’s Pondering:  This season of Lent, let us focus on having faith in action with softened hearts and open eyes and ears that the light of Christ may shine through us upon a darkened world.

Thursday – Blind man Healed

Scripture Reading: Mark 8:22-26

As Jesus heals this blind man, it is with two steps.  The first step brings light in but with Fuzzy sight and the second step brings clear focused vision.  Why?  Maybe to teach us that receiving the light into the darkness can be a process that it is not a once for all but rather a gradual process for the light of Christ, the Word of God, to bring about clarity in life.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How might this healing of blindness encourage us in our healing of spiritual blindness?

Friday – Great Confessions

Scripture Reading: Mark 8:27-30

What we are willing to say with our mouths, confess with our lips is what we really believe.  When Jesus asks, “Who do people say I am?” and “But who do you say that I am?” it is to bring this out.  Peter answers him, “You are the Messiah.”  Jesus then warns them not to tell anyone.  It is not the time for them to proclaim it because they do not understand completely what this will mean.  They have received the light but the picture is still fuzzy and have to receive more light for the darkness to be overcome in them in order for them to truly have a clear vision to be able truly confess that “Jesus is the Messiah!”

Pastor’s Pondering:  How important is it to have a clear understanding of the good news of Faith in Action before we can truly confess Jesus as Savior and Lord?

Saturday – Christ Foretelling

Scripture Reading: Mark 8:31-9:1

This begins Jesus work at trying to teach the disciples of the dark days of ministry.  When Jesus tries to tell them that “the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again, Peter rebukes Jesus.  Which, like Peter, when we do this we are letting Satan take control.  We must be focused on “divine things” which means taking up the cross and following Jesus!

Pastor’s Pondering:  What might “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me” look like in your life?

Mark: Faith in Action

Week 5(4-10 Feb.)

Sunday – Rejection in Life

Scripture Reading: Mark 6:1-6

Jesus’ first rejection at Nazareth occurred in the beginning of Christ’s ministry.  When he returns home with the glory days of ministry behind him, the expectation of the disciples probably was that it would be different this time.  After all, everyone will have heard all of the things that Jesus has done.  Yet, when Jesus came home and taught in the synagogue, “And they took offence at him.”  Even Jesus experiences and points out, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, among their own kin, and in their own house.”  With their lack of belief in Jesus then, “he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.”  Only a few would believe in Jesus.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this tell you about effectiveness in sharing?

Monday – Field Training

Scripture Reading: Mark 6:7-13

In this passage, we find that Jesus begins to send out the disciples two by two to help prepare them for what they will be doing as Apostles when He leaves them.  There is a time when we are expected to put what we have learned into practice by sharing the Glory of the Lord in our own ways.  For the twelve Disciples, it was to cast out demons and through anointing of oil curing people of their sickness.  For those who welcome them, they were to stay until time to leave.  For those who don’t welcome them, shake the dust off their feet and move on.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this teach us in sharing Christ with our faith in action?

Tuesday – Evil that men do…

Scripture Reading: Mark 6:14-29

In Herod, we find out what evil people can do and we are not immune to the consequences of it.  John the Baptist, recognized as a man of God, when talking with Herod, told him, “it is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”  Herod puts him in prison and though he liked to listen to him, eventually cuts off his head, puts it on a platter and gives it to Herodias’s daughter as requested.  One must recognize that when we live lives of faith in action that it doesn’t mean that we won’t suffer the consequences of what evil people do.  Faith in action means that there will be times when there will be rejection, ridicule, and, yes, Christians being beheaded.

Pastor’s Pondering:  Where and how do you see this today?

Wednesday – Feed the Crowds

Scripture Reading: Mark 6:30-44

When the Apostles tell Jesus “all that they had done and taught,” Jesus takes them across the sea to rest but getting to the other side a crowd had formed to listen to Jesus teach.  Jesus takes this opportunity to teach the disciples/apostles that it is not just about teaching the Word but having compassion on the people and when needed – feed the people.  Without compassion, the Word is not heard.  Without faith in action the Word is not heard.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this challenge us in having faith in action and teaching God’s word?

Thursday – Walking on Water

Scripture Reading: Mark 6:45-56

In light of the miracle of Jesus walking on water to them as they were struggling against the wind, the disciples lack of faith and understanding comes out.  Even after the miracle of feeding the 5,000+, they are “astounded” that Jesus walks to them on the water “because they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.”  The disciples have not yet understood what it means to truly have faith.  In Jesus, they were just beginning to see what it means to have faith that can move mountains.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this story challenge us in the actions of our faith?

Friday – Ministry at Gennesaret

Scripture Reading: Mark 6:53-56

When Jesus arrives in Gennesaret, he finds people that have heard and believe and come to him for healing.  This is a place and scene where the Glory of the Lord is shown as Christ ministers to all.  It is this scene that the disciples are probably watching and thinking yes, this is the Messiah.  Look at what he is doing!  Look how the people are coming to Him!  This is the Messiah that is making all things right and the Kingdom of God is surely near!   When true Faith is in Action as a Church, people can see the things that are being done in the Lord.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How can true faith in action in the Church bring about the glory days of Ministry?

Saturday – Real Defilement

Scripture Reading: Mark 7:1-23

In light of the fame of Jesus, the Pharisees and scribes (the religious teachers) come not to observe and learn but to discredit Jesus and His followers.  These Teachers who were supposed to be teaching God’s Word and leading people to be clean in their life in God confronted Jesus about the disciples eating with their defiled hands.  When the glory of the Lord shines, some receive it, some will reject it and some will attack it.  Jesus confronts them and teaches the crowd about what real defilement is and where it comes from.  Christ’s ministry has reached the point where it now will be challenged and attacked by the false teachers as Jesus convicts them with the True Law and Faith in Action.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How do we see this battle continuing today in what is true faith in action?