Author Archives: brad

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?

Mark: Faith in Action

Week 4(28 Jan-3 Feb.)

Sunday – Sower Parable Explained

Scripture Reading: Mark 4:13-20

In answer to our questions, what do you mean… Jesus explains to His disciples the meaning of the Parable of the Sower.  The seed is the word.  The soil represents those whom the word falls upon and the action and result of how we respond.  The word is meant to take root in us, grow in us, and ultimately bear fruit by sharing the word – seed in soil becoming the Sower.  Christ, the Living Word, casts the Word of God, the Written Word – Scripture and the Spirit plants and nourishes it to grow in us that we may then bear fruit by becoming Sowers of the Word.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What soil represents your life and/or where in the growth cycle do you think you are?

Monday – Parable of Lamp

Scripture Reading: Mark 4:21-25

In the glory days of ministry, the light is not hidden but shines throughout the room/world.  Faith in Action means that Christ is to shine in our lives at all times in all places.  When it doesn’t it means we have hidden the light.  This is an action that is taken contrary to the expected and normal outcome of Christ in us.  The light is within to shine without and the only way it doesn’t is if we take action to hide it.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What are the concerns and actions we do that hide the light of Christ and prevent it from shining?

Tuesday – Parable of Growing Seed

Scripture Reading: Mark 4:26-29

There is an action process of growing in Faith like the growing of a seed.  The seed(word) is planted in the soil(heart).  For the head to appear requires the Spirit to form a stalk which happens when we are actively studying/meditating on God’s word through the Spirit and the word begins to form us.  When the head appears is when the Word has effectively become central in our lives and has changed us to the point that it leads our actions in life which is when the full grain appears and we are able to love others as Christ loves us even to the point of sacrifice for others which brings us to the point of harvest.

Pastor’s Pondering:  Where are you actively in the growing point of the word in your life?

Wednesday – Parable of Mustard Seed

Scripture Reading: Mark 4:30-34

The parable of the mustard seed is an encouragement for action in that it takes the smallest seed, the smallest amount of faith given to God to transform us into the largest shrub that becomes home and provides for God’s creatures.  The glory days of ministry is when out of that small faith, we are able to love as Jesus loves us by providing shelter and provision for those who are in need and desire to abide in the kingdom of God.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this encourage and challenge us in our life and life together?

Thursday – Stilling the Storm

Scripture Reading: Mark 3:35-41

Storms will come.  These storms may be physical, spiritual, emotional, relational but they will come.  In this case, as they face a physical storm, the disciples are taught a valuable lesson about Jesus the Christ.  Jesus cares about us.  Jesus has the authority and power over any storm.  Jesus will help us through the Storm if we come to Him.  Jesus will respond in God’s time.  Jesus has a reason for all that He does in our lives.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What do we need to know about Jesus when we are in the midst of storms?

Friday – Casting out and being Cast Out

Scripture Reading: Mark 5:1-20

When the glory of Jesus shines it is interesting to note that not all people who witnessed it  were drawn to but instead push Jesus away.  When the people witness the demon and pigs event instead of wanting to know more of Jesus “they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood.”  But, even then, Jesus does not leave them to their own demise.  Instead, when the healed man asks to go with Jesus, Jesus tells him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.”  For many of us, our Faith in action is not to go to the mission field but instead recognize the mission field is where we are and the people we already know.  It also is to recognize that not everyone will receive the good news as good news.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this story impact our sharing the glory of the Lord?

Saturday – Healing and Raising

Scripture Reading: Mark 5:21-43

Jesus reached the point where he didn’t need to go to people, they were coming to him.  It was even to the point that it wasn’t about getting Jesus attention to heal but to just touch Him or His clothes for the power to heal.  They had seen and heard and believed in the power of Jesus.  Jesus teaches the woman and the crowd that the power of Christ comes not just through Him but through faith in Him.  This faith in Jesus brings about not just healing but in the ultimate healing with the power over life and death.  Faith in action brings about the glory of the Lord which brings about opportunity for life over death.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this story highlight the connection between Faith and Christ’s action in our Life?

Mark: Faith in Action

Week 3(21-27 Jan.)

Sunday – Healing the Multitude

Scripture Reading: Mark 3:7-12

As the news of this man, Jesus, spread, so more and more people from seemingly everywhere were coming to Jesus.  This begins what I call the glory days of Jesus’ ministry.  There are so many people that Jesus had “to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him.”  As the crowd’s witness, Jesus continues to heal diseases and cast out demons with them recognizing that “You are the Son of God.”  This would be a scene that, as a witness, would confirm to me that Jesus is the Son of God with faith in action.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What would be your reaction if you were part of the crowd witnessing this man, Jesus?

Monday – Appointment of 12

Scripture Reading: Mark 3:13-19

The next action step we see Jesus make here is appointing the 12 disciples that would be the Apostles.  These were people called to “proclaim the message and to have authority to cast out demons.”  Talk about a glory day in ministry, to be called by Jesus from the crowd of followers to be able to minister like Jesus as an apostle.  Though, there is one who’s position is to be the one to not be like Jesus but to betray Jesus as an apostle desiring not the glory of the Lord but the glory of the world.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does it mean to be called to ministry in a life of action like the 11 disciples/apostles and how might that also lead to a life of betrayal like Judas, who betrayed Jesus?

Tuesday – Answering Slander

Scripture Reading: Mark 3:20-27

With more and more people recognizing the glory of the Lord in Jesus, the scribes of the Pharisees came to discredit him as a man of God saying he himself is possessed by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.  Jesus refutes them with common sense and logic, a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.  Instead, one must bind up the strong man of the house in order to plunder it.  Obviously, Jesus is able cast out the demons because he has authority over them (and Satan) which is the glory of the Lord.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this story teach and encourage us followers of Jesus in living our life of action with the glory of the Lord?

Wednesday – The Unforgivable Sin

Scripture Reading: Mark 3:28-30

The lesson of the unforgivable sin (Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit) comes as a result of the scribes/people accusing him of “having an unclean Spirit.”  If one’s life of action is through the Holy Spirit then they cannot speak against the Holy Spirit.  Only those without the Holy Spirit are able and willing to speak against/blaspheme the Holy Spirit.  God’s house is not divided against itself.  Especially since the Holy Spirit is not only the sign but the seal and the gift from Christ for God’s glory in us.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does it mean for someone to blaspheme the Holy Spirit and what is that action itself a sign of when witnessed?

Thursday – True Family

Scripture Reading: Mark 3:31-35

Christ continues to teach about the unified glory of the Lord in that “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  To truly be in God’s family is live a life of action like Jesus doing the “will of God.”  It is to recognize that all who repent, receiving forgiveness of sin, taking up the cross of Jesus and follow himing are those who do the “will of God” and become family – God’s family!   That is the true Kingdom, true Family, true Church are those who have taken the action of coming to Christ.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How can we recognize those that are a part of God’s true family?

Friday – Sower Parable

Scripture Reading: Mark 4:1-9

Christ’s next action in life is to teach a parable to the crowds that gather.  The parable of the Sower is told as an action story of a Sower of Seeds that Jesus ends with, “For those who have ears to hear listen!”  This doesn’t mean that the seed is corn but more importantly that the action we are to take in listening to Jesus is to have “ears to hear.”  That means not just listening and leaving like a form of entertainment but listening and thinking about what is being said like a form of education.  In order to have faith in action we have to have faith to Listen to learn to live.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How can we have ears that hear and ears that don’t hear?

Saturday – Reasons for Parable

Scripture Reading: Mark 4:10-12

When those around Jesus ask him why He teaches in parables, he shares with them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables…”  The difference is the action of the people.  To those truly following Jesus and are there asking him questions, “secrets of the kingdom are revealed.”  But, to those outside because they didn’t stick around to ask questions and truly listen…”they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand.”

Pastor’s Pondering:  How is the action of staying with Jesus, truly listening to Jesus key to having faith in action?

Mark: Faith in Action

Week 2(14-20 Jan.)

Sunday – 1st Preaching Tour

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:35-39 

The beginning of Ministry is just as Jesus did – “In the morning, while it was still dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”  In our life of faith, the first action we need to take is to begin in prayer.  From there, the Spirit can and will lead us, make the opportunities for us, so that we may faithfully act upon the doors opened for us.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How often do you begin the day in solitude and prayer with God?

Monday – Leper Cleansing

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:40-45

When the Leper comes to Jesus to be healed, he comes in faith, knowing and proclaiming he knows “If you choose, you can make me clean.”  Faith in action not only knows that Jesus can heal/do but that Jesus/God has the right and authority to decide or choose what to do.  Jesus not only chooses to heal him but does it in a way that heals not just physically (leprosy cleansed) but also emotionally (with a human touch that this person would not have felt since getting the disease.)  This healing results in the man sharing with others what Jesus can and has done for him.  Faith in action results in sharing with others Jesus place in our lives and the results of it.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does it mean to recognize Jesus’ authority and place in our lives and how can we share that with others?

Tuesday – Healing of Paralytic

Scripture Reading: Mark 2:1-12

The paralytic’s four friends put their faith in action on behalf of their friend.  Seeing it impossible to get their friend to Jesus through the door, they make an opening in the roof and lower him to Jesus.  The people listening to Jesus preach/teach had no compassion for the paralytic trying to get to Jesus.  Jesus uses the friends’ faith in action as an opportunity to teach that spiritual healing is the most important healing and that Jesus has the authority to do both.  One is the sign of the authority to do the other.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What action should result in recognizing that Jesus has the authority to forgive our sins and heal our afflictions?

Wednesday – Calling of Matthew

Scripture Reading: Mark 2:13-17

In the story of the calling of Levi (Matthew), the tax collector, we find that the call comes when we recognize that we are sinners in need of healing.  The action is allowing the work of Jesus to bring us true righteousness.  What prevents us from answering the call is our own self-righteousness which is a sin in and of itself.  Thinking we aren’t in need of Jesus is having a disease without recognizing it and therefore not going to the doctor.  The scribes of the Pharisees feel they have no need for Jesus because they have faith in their own actions instead of their actions coming from Faith in Christ.

Pastor’s Pondering:   What is the difference between actions of self-righteousness and actions out of true righteousness?

Thursday – Fasting Question

Scripture Reading: Mark 2:18-22

Fasting is a form of prayer lifted up to a distant God.  When the Pharisees’ and John’s disciples fast it is/was to God that is in heaven and separated from them by their sin.  Christ’s disciples did not need to fast because Christ is with them.  With Christ comes the new covenant, the new wineskin, that breaks through the hardness of sin, takes action and through grace that comes through Christ brings newness of life.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does the issue of fasting bring about an understanding of relationship with God through Christ?

Friday – Lord of the Sabbath

Scripture Reading: Mark 2:23-27

Faith in action means truly understanding the Law, the Word of God, which is given for us to know how to live.  The Sabbath had become a means of measurement of faith instead of being a means of maintenance of faith.  It had become a Strict law of do’s and don’ts without considering the intent which was to have a day spent resting, focusing and enjoying a day with God.  This was a day of the week given to us by God to restore ourselves and our relationship with God.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this tell us about how we should view the Sabbath?

Saturday – Sabbath Healing

Scripture Reading: Mark 3:1-6

To fulfill the Law, Jesus also teaches us that the Sabbath is not just between God and us but also other people.  In this healing, Jesus highlights that especially on the Sabbath we should do good to help other people.  If we use the Sabbath as an excuse not to help someone then we are not putting our faith in action but instead to inactivity and our faith is not a true faith in action.  It then leads us to sin and separation from God on the day that we are to be spending with God.  If God calls us to heal/help someone in need on the Sabbath then we are to step up in action.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this tell us about how we should view the Sabbath?

Part 1 – The Glory Days

Part 1 – The Glory Days

Week 1(7-13 Jan.)

Sunday – Beginning of Life of Faith

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:1-11

Mark begins his gospel with the purpose of it – sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The beginning of a Life of Faith is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  God provides Jesus to bring about a life of Faith in us that brings Faith into Action.  Just as God provides John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” so God provides us with people who put their faith into action that prepares the way of the Lord for us.  These are the people the Holy Spirit brings into our lives to bring us to Jesus that we may repent, be baptized, and begin our life of Faith in Action.

Pastor’s Pondering:  Who are the “John the Baptist” people in your life and how can or did you begin your life of Faith in action through Jesus Christ, God’s Son?    

Monday – Temptation in Life

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:12,13

Mark gives us a very short version of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness.  The key points Mark brings out is the Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness.  To live a life of faith in action is to follow the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was tempted by Satan.  In a life of Faith in Action, Satan will tempt us to bring us down to his level.  The angels waited on Jesus.  God sends us His angels i.e. messengers who bring us God’s Word to assist us.  A life of Faith in Action in Jesus is to battle temptation with the Word of God… and win.

Pastor’s Pondering:  In what ways have you experienced the battle with temptation as you live a life of Faith in Action?

Tuesday – Beginning of Ministry 

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:14,15

With the beginning of Christ’s ministry in Galilee, we are reminded what ministry is about – “proclaiming the good news of God… The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe the good news.”  This is what we are to be about, sharing with people how to be a part of the kingdom of God, repent and believe the good news of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, come to us.  As we put it – Knowing, Growing and Sharing Jesus – God’s love.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does Jesus challenge us through His ministry in defining what true ministry is to be about?

Wednesday – Call of Discipleship

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:16-20

When Jesus calls his first disciples it is to teach them how to “Fish for people.”  Discipleship is not just about our personal piety or changing ourselves but it is to learn how to share Jesus with others.  If we truly are going to be Christ’s disciples and live a life of Faith in Action then we are to learn how to share with others the Good News of Jesus, God’s Son, who brings us into God’s Kingdom and all the benefits that it brings.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How is sharing the gospel an integral part of being a Disciple of Jesus?

Thursday – Authority of Jesus

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:21-28

This passage highlights that a life of Faith in Action will recognize the authority that Jesus has in teaching us about life.  In the synagogue the people recognized that Jesus taught with authority.  The demon recognized the authority that Jesus has as the “Holy One of God.”  The people saw the authority that Jesus has over the demon in casting it out of the man.  Jesus is the authority when it comes to living a life of Faith in Action.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What authority do you give to Jesus in your life?

Friday – Mother-in-law Healing

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:29-31

The Mother-in-law’s response to Jesus is how we are to respond to Christ’s healing us – “and she began to serve them.”  Jesus and the disciples come to Simon’s house and find Simon’s mother-in-law sick in bed with a fever.  Jesus heals her by going to her and lifting her up by his hand.  A simple healing with a simple gesture that leads to her serving them out of gratitude to Jesus.  To live a life of Faith in Action is to do so and share out of gratitude as we know and grow in Jesus together.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What are the things that we can do to serve Jesus out of gratitude?     

Saturday – Sick healed/demons cast out

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:32-34

The word quickly spreads about Jesus and suddenly the whole town is gathered at the house witnessing Christ healing the sick and casting out demons.  No wonder the good news of what Jesus was doing spread like wildfire throughout the region even without the internet and social media.  When Jesus is at work in our midst as a part of God’s Kingdom and we are sharing what Jesus is doing in our lives then with the use of Social media and the internet, word should even spread that much faster today if we are living lives of Faith in Action.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What prevents the gospel from spreading like wildfire today?

4th Week of Advent (24 Dec) – Full Salvation

4th Week of Advent (24 Dec) – Full Salvation

Scripture Reading: Matthew 1:18-25

As we look to Matthew’s account of the Angel appearing to Joseph, it reinforces God’s plan of salvation being revealed.  In the names that are used to identify the baby that will be born to Mary, we find the full salvation that Christ brings to us in the fullness of time.  As Son of Man, Jesus is able to save us from our sins by being the perfect righteous one to die for us sinners, to rise up and give us a new life in Him.  As Immanuel, God is with us, Jesus, as God, comes to be with us as human, and to give us the Holy Spirit so that God is with us in our own being.  With God in us then we can be transformed into the people we were created to be – People with God’s perfect love.  That is the gift of Christmas – Fully Saved in the Fullness of Time by our Savior (Son of Man) and Lord (Son of God).

 

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does the story of Christmas demonstrate it?

 3rd Week of Advent (17-23 Dec)

 3rd Week of Advent (17-23 Dec)

Fully Divine (Son of God)

Sunday – 

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:34,35

As we see, the significance of the virgin birth is in the telling of Mary how this baby would be conceived, “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.”  The unique nature of Jesus is his being fully human and fully divine.  This week we focus on the Son of God scriptures and discover what this means for us.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does it mean to you that Jesus was fully Divine as the Son of the Spirit, Son of God?

 

Monday – See and Testify

Scripture Reading: John 1:29-34

When John the Baptist sees Jesus walking towards him, he proclaims to the crowd, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  He is preparing the way of the Lord for the people of God.  It is interesting that John does not mention that it is during the baptism that John the Baptist sees and testifies that “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.  I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit,” And I myself have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.” The one born of the Spirit, the Spirit testifies about, is the one who gives the Spirit to God’s people is the Son of God.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How are we to see and testify to the Son of God at work through the Spirit in and through us?

Tuesday – To believe

Scripture Reading: John 3:18

In this verse out of the Nic at Night passage we looked at already, we find that the determining factor in being saved is “believing in the name of the Son of God” who is Jesus the Christ.  Condemnation comes not from our sin but from our not believing in the Son of God who can save us from our sin.  Life comes if we but just believe in Jesus the Christ as the Son of God.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does it mean to truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

Wednesday – To belong to Jesus Christ 

Scripture Reading: Romans 1:1-6

In the beginning of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, we find the significance of the Son of God in our lives together.  “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith…”  The Son of God gives to us God’s Grace and with the Apostleship, those who help lead us “to bring about the obedience of faith” among us all.

Pastor’s Pondering:  Where do you see the Son of God bringing you grace and apostleship to bring about your obedience of faith?

Thursday – The Gifts He gave…

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:11-13

As Paul refers to the Son of God in this letter to the Church at Ephesus, it is to identify the gifts that He gives to the people of God, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the full measure of the full stature of Christ.”  In other words, the gifts Christ gives through the Spirit are to make us more and more like the Son of God as the children of God.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What are the gifts and how are they used to accomplish His work in us?

Friday – Our Sympathizer

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16

As the writer of Hebrews (whether it is Paul, Barnabas, or Apollos,) his intent is to identify the Son of God as our “great high priest.”  But, he reminds us that Jesus is one who can sympathize with us as “one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.”  Because of this, we are to “approach the throne of grace with boldness.”  With this, we “receive grace and mercy to help in time of need.”  As our Priest, the Son of God is our Sympathizer, our Sacrifice, our Savior.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this passage focus on the Priestly aspect of the Son of God?

Saturday – LOVE

Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:13-17

“God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God and they abide in God… God is Love and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”  If we confess that Jesus is fully God as the Son of God and makes it possible for us to abide in God and God to abide in us the connection is God’s perfect love.  If we abide in God’s perfect love then that becomes our witness and testimony to the world about God’s perfect love come to us in Jesus Christ.  In the fullness of time, the Son of Man, Son of God, came Fully human, fully divine to love us fully!

Pastor’s Pondering:  What is the difference between God’s love and the world’s love?

2nd Week of Advent (10-16 Dec)

2nd Week of Advent (10-16 Dec)

 Fully Human (Son of Man)

Sunday – 

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:30-33

When the angel tells Mary, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son…” we find that Jesus being born of Mary is fully human and one who will save people from their sins.  This week we will focusing on the “Son of Man” scriptures and discover how as a man he saves us from our sin and brings us into God’s kingdom.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does it mean to you that Jesus was fully human as the Son of Mary, Son of Man?

Monday – Lord of the Sabbath

Scripture Reading: Luke 6:1-5

As we look to the scripture that Jesus calls himself, Son of Man, it is over a teaching of the Sabbath.  Here, Jesus entitles the son of man as Lord of the Sabbath.  As the issue of what is lawful to do on the Sabbath is in question, Luke records Jesus saying it this way.  In Mark’s account of it (Mark 2:23-28) he adds “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.”  The main point is the Sabbath was made for our good – a day of rest with God and we are to be free to observe it as Jesus the Christ leads for our lives and our good.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this say to you how you should observe the Sabbath?

Tuesday – Who do you say that I Am?

Scripture Reading: Luke 9:18-22

After praying with only the disciples around Him, Jesus asks them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  This is to get them to think about who Jesus is not just by what the crowds say but more importantly about “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter answers correctly, “You are the Messiah.”  This is the one who is going to bring God’s people into God’s Kingdom as God’s family.  Jesus then warns them about what lies ahead for the Messiah, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”  We must understand, believe this, and not be afraid to talk about Jesus in our lives – the Son of Man as the Messiah and what it took to be our Messiah.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does it mean to believe what we say and say what we believe concerning Jesus as the Son of Man, the Messiah?

 

Wednesday – They were afraid to ask Him…

Scripture Reading: Luke 9:43-45

Though the crowds were amazed at what Jesus was doing, the disciples got a reality check from Jesus when He said to them, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.”  Jesus was preparing them to know what is in store for him as the Messiah.  They didn’t understand, whether it was kept from them or they didn’t really want to understand, as it was different than what they thought was the future for Jesus as the Messiah.  Still, they were afraid to ask Jesus for clarification.

Pastor’s Pondering:   How have you encountered a hard teaching as a Christian that you may not want to accept?

Thursday – Son of Man/Son of God

Scripture Reading: Luke 22:66-71

When Jesus appears before the council, they ask him if he is the Messiah.  Jesus replies by pointing at their own hearts, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer.”  Then he describes the vision of “the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the power of God.”  When they reply with, “Are you, then, the Son of God?” which is the punishable statement, Jesus responds with, “You say that I am.”  They said it, not him, but they will convict him of it.  But, as the Messiah, both parts are true – Son of Man, Son of God.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What do our convictions say about who we believe Jesus to be in our lives?

 

Friday – The Descended Son of Man

Scripture Reading: John 3:13

As we switch to the gospel of John, we find the Son of Man title used by Jesus in the infamous Nic at Night from which we get John 3:16.  When Jesus describes himself to Nicodemus as the Son of Man, it is to highlight that the reason he can talk about “heavenly things” is that he is the only one who descended from heaven.  Jesus is the eye-witness account not just of heaven but of God’s ways and salvation.  Jesus is the only one who can truly reveal to us God because he is the one descended as the Son of Man.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this teaching give Jesus the authority to tell us about God and the reason for us to listen?

 

Saturday – God sent His Son…

Scripture Reading: John 3:14-18

The rest of the story of the Son of Man, is to describe how this son will save the world by bringing to it everlasting life in God.  God’s plan in Christ, is to give to us not condemnation (that we deserve) but to give us life in Christ.  God sent his son who was fully a man, to suffer and to die so that in his resurrection, we could be resurrected to new life in the light of God which is God’s love.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does it mean to you that Jesus was fully human in all that he did in his life, death, and resurrection for us?