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?

1st week of Advent (3 – 9 Dec) – Fullness of Time

1st week of Advent (3 – 9 Dec) – Fullness of Time

(Prophesies of Messiah)

Sunday – Angel to Mary

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-38

When the angel Gabriel is sent by God to Mary it is because it was time for the Messiah to come.  When the angel tells her “The Lord is with you,” it is going to take on a whole new meaning.  God is requesting of her to give birth to the one who “…will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”  These are all traits of the coming Messiah.  As we look this week to the prophesies given of the Messiah in the Old Testament, this is all according to God’s plan from the very beginning of time.  In the Fullness of Time, Mary was willing to give birth to a baby as was prophesied throughout the ages.  Pastor’s Pondering:  How would you respond if you were Mary and what might this mean that Mary was uniquely qualified as the right person at the right time to do the right thing according to God’s Word for God’s people?      

Monday – From the Beginning

Scripture Reading: Genesis 3:15

As we turn to the beginning of life, we find that after the serpent had tempted Adam and Eve to separate themselves from God by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that God casts judgement on the serpent, “He will strike your head and you will strike his heels.”  Though Satan will strike at us in our lives there will come someone who will strike down Satan from his head.  This is not just a literal view of the fighting between humankind and snakes but more a figurative view of the spiritual battle that will be fought by us and won by Christ for us.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this tell of the struggles we have with good and evil and the victory that we can have through Jesus Christ?    

Tuesday – Born to a Virgin

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 7:14

As we look to Isaiah, the prophet, it is in his words that we find that the Messiah would come from a woman who is a virgin.  This foretells that a young woman who is not married and thus has had no sexual relations with a man will bear a son and she will name him Immanuel, which means God is with us.  It is this verse that the angel quotes Joseph in Matthew 1:23 to assure him (and us) that this is all of God’s doing and plan for in the fullness of time.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this prophesy given hundreds of years before the angel appears to Joseph assure us of this being according to God’s plan in the fullness of time?

Wednesday – For a Child has been born…

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:6,7

When Isaiah describes the coming Messiah as a child…a son… who is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.”  How do all four titles fit Jesus?  I consider that the Holy Trinity can help us understand.  Jesus calls the Holy Spirit, a Mighty Counselor, calls God “Abba” Father and He is the Prince of Peace.  The three together as Jesus reveals to us is the Mightiness of God that we get to know, know God’s love through, and love God back.  All because in the fullness of time, a babe was born.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this prophesy given hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus assure us of this being according to God’s plan in the fullness of time?

 

Thursday – Coming Messiah

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6

“The Lord is our righteousness” is the last phrase used in this prophesy of the coming Messiah.  This prophesy points to the fact that the Messiah who will “execute justice and righteousness in the land” somehow will gather the scattered sheep, not only reign as Lord over them but also instill God’s righteousness in them.  His righteousness will be their righteousness!  This we find in Jesus that in the fullness of time only Jesus is the one who fulfills the prophesy of the coming Messiah and God’s righteousness.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this prophesy given hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus assure us of this being according to God’s plan in the fullness of time?

Friday – But, you, Bethlehem…

Scripture Reading: Micah 5:2-5

Why Bethlehem?  Notice that in this passage, the Messiah who will gather God’s people, feed God’s flock in the strength of the Lord, great to the ends of the earth, and will be one of Peace will be born in Bethlehem, one of the smallest clans in Israel.  What are the odds of this one person coming from this one clan in all of Israel?  Only in the fullness of time could this come true in this place with the birth of Jesus.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this prophesy given hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus assure us of this being according to God’s plan in the fullness of time?

 

Saturday – I am sending my messenger…

Scripture Reading: Malachi 3:1-5

Even though this prophesy is more about John the Baptist as it is about Jesus notice the significance of this.  This is a prophesy of two people coming in the fullness of time – one to prepare the way of the Lord and one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  The likelihood of one person coming at the right time and place is slim but when you add in another one who will be key to the fulfillment of prophesy makes it even less likely to occur unless it is in the fullness of time according to the plan of God and we can say, “the rest is His Story.”

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this prophesy given hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus assure us of this being according to God’s plan in the fullness of time?

Life in God’s Creation

Week 11 (19-25 Nov.) – How to Connect in Grace and Truth

Sunday – Future Hope

Scripture Reading: Revelation 22:16-21

As we began looking at life in God’s creation with “In the beginning so we look to the end of the Bible for the ending to the Study.  Christ’s purpose is to call all people to come to their life to God in God’s creation (tree of life and holy city.)  The Church as the body of Christ is to be about issuing that call also to those in the wilderness.  How are we to do it?  With not only the good news of the way, the truth and the life but with the same grace that Christ extends to us in love.  That makes us useful as the saints perfectly forgiven in Christ.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does it look like to share Christ in grace and truth?

Monday – Worship – Know Christ  

Scripture Reading: Luke 9:18-36

As we look to the stories of Peter’s confession, taking up the cross, and Christ’s transfiguration we find the starting point for us to share our hope in life in God’s creation.  It is knowing Christ which is our worship.  To know Christ is to confess our faith in Christ.  It is to know that his death and resurrection was for us.  It is to know Christ’s ability to bring new life replacing the old life which makes us shine when we share God’s Grace in action and speak the truth of Christ.  That is our true worship and knowing Christ in our lives.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Tuesday – Bible Study/Small Group/Church – Grow in Christ

Scripture Reading: Acts 2:37-47

As we look again to the first church in its purist form and their sharing the hope we can have in our life in God’s creation, we find that they were gathered together in the Spirit, focused on growing in Christ through learning God’s word, being accountable to each other, worshipping and dining together in their life in God’s creation.  This created a community that others saw and in curiosity found themselves drawn to and becoming a part of knowing and growing in Christ and their life in God’s creation.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Wednesday – Put Love into Actions – Share Christ

Scripture Reading: Acts 3:1-10

The next step in bringing hope to people living life in the wilderness is for the Church to put love into action in grace and truth.  For Peter and John, it is to reach out in grace and give the man what they had to offer – healing in the name of Jesus.  God calls us to reach out to others and offer grace in the practical way that God provides.  It is then to share the truth of Christ’s name and love that opens us to share in our lives in Christ together in God’s creation.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Thursday – Put Love into Words – Share Christ

Scripture Reading: Acts 3:11-26

Just as with Peter and John, when we put love into action in Christ then it will open us up to opportunities to share Christ by speaking with grace and truth.  This means sharing about life in Christ without being judgmental or with condemnation but with love and the desire to share with them about the possible life in God’s creation.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Friday – Using Gifts – Share Christ

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:1-16

In this teaching from the Apostle Paul, it is about the unity of the church in sharing Christ and life in God’s creation.  We all have different gifts and opportunities to reach out to those living in the wilderness.  Through these gifts and opportunities, we are to share Christ with “all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Saturday – Outreach – Share Christ

Scripture Reading: 1 John 3:11-24

As we look to sharing Christ through the Apostle John’s teaching it starts with being an Abel and not Cain.  We are to be one who is focused on love and not on murder.  To reach out is to love in truth and action.  If we do not have the actions of love then people will not hear our words of love in reaching out in Christ.  If people don’t see Christ in us then they will not listen about Christ in us.  If people don’t see us living life in God’s creation then they won’t see their life in the wilderness.  If people don’t feel the love from us then they won’t listen about the love Christ has for them and the life they can have in Christ and in God’s creation.  Lord, may they see the Love in us.  Amen (So let it be).

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Life in God’s Creation

Week 10 (12-18 Nov.) – God’s Law for Life in Creation/Kingdom

Sunday – Purpose of Law

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-3; Matthew 22:34-40

Just as in God’s creation where there are certain natural laws, systems and conditions that exist to keep life going so there are certain laws, systems and conditions that are to exist to keep our life going.  This is all rooted in God’s love.  These are given to us in God’s Word/Law and are to be lived and taught to our children.  Jesus condenses them all to Loving God with our everything and Loving others not just as we want to be loved but more importantly as God loves us.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How is God’s Law essential in our lives together?

Monday – Love God Commandments 1-3  

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:6-11

The first three commandments of the 10 commandments from God teach us how we might Love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.  It is about putting God first and foremost in our lives.  It is about not confusing creation for the creator and loving God so much that even God’s name would only be spoken reverently and with love.  This has to be the starting point in our lives so that we might know and grow in God’s love as it comes to us in Jesus Christ.  Without God’s love first in our lives then our love for others will be a distortion at best.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Tuesday – Love God/Others Commandment 4 -Keeping the Sabbath

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:12-15; Exodus 20:8-11

The fourth commandments transitions from loving God to/and includes loving others.  God desires for us to spend one day a week focused on our relationship with God.  This is the Sabbath.  God commands us to take one day a week to spend at rest with God.  It is about resting and about being together in rest.  This goes for our relationships with each other as well.  The Sabbath day is a day a week when all God’s people stop from their daily pursuits to rest together and remember our life in God.  Just as God rested after creation and redeemed his people so we are to take a day a week to rest and reflect on God’s redemption which is why it is on Sunday, the day of resurrection for Christians to experience the Sabbath day together.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What should this look like in life?

Wednesday – Love Others Commandment 5 Honor Parents

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:16

When it comes to loving others it is to start with honoring our parents as they are the first to love us as God loves us.  They are the first ones to care for us like God cares for us.  They are the first ones who are to teach us about God, God’s love, Loving God and loving others.  We, ultimately, are to honor them by loving them in return, respecting them, and when needed help to take care of them.  In so doing, notice the outcome – long life in the land that God is giving you.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Thursday – Love Others Commandments 6-8

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:17-19

When it comes to loving others it is not just feeling love but more importantly putting that love into practice.  That means never wanting to murder, to push someone completely out of your life.  Never loving someone else like your spouse.  Never taking someone’s property from them without just compensation.  All of these things if done come from another place than God.  These identify those temptations that when committed tear apart relationships in life together.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Friday – Love Others Commandment 9

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:20

The next commandment is about not telling falsehoods about people with people as it puts a big strain not just on personal relationships but also in group dynamics of relationships.  We are to be focused on building each other up and when we falsely talk concerning people it says more about ourselves as it does the person that we are talking about.  It also damages the trust that people would have of us.   Bearing a false witness ruins the life that we can have together.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Saturday – Love Others Commandment 10

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:21

The last commandment is about spending our lives fretting over what we don’t have compared to our neighbors and not appreciating what God has provided for us.  This last commandment is over a sin that seems innocent enough but distracts us from loving God (how can we love him when we are fretting about what God hasn’t done for us) and from loving others (when we are focused on what the person has instead of the person themselves).  Coveting distracts and can disable us from loving.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Life in God’s Creation

Week 9 (5-11 Nov.) – Life in Wilderness: Prodigal Son Story

Sunday – Family/Society

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

As we look to the story Jesus tells of the prodigal son it is told as an analogy to life in God’s creation.  We are all created as children of God to be children of God in the world that God created.  But, to freely abide in God’s family, we have the freedom to walk away from God, God’s family and go our own way.  This is life in the wilderness.  This story teaches us the connection between life in the wilderness and life in God’s creation.  This week we explore the particulars of life in the world that God created.

Pastor’s Pondering:  Who are the characters in this story and in our lives?

Monday – God as the Father  

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

As with the two sons, we all are created as God’s children.  God is our Father whether we recognize it or not.  The basis of our practical relationship with God is not based on God’s love for us but based on our love for God.  As Father, God loves us all.  For those like the eldest son, God lives out the love in their life together.  God eats with them, works with them, teaches them, cares for them and provides for them.  For those like the younger son, who live their lives in the wilderness, God laments for them, looks for them, waits for them and in their return home, celebrates with them and restores them to their place in the family.  This is God as our Father in this story.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Tuesday – World/Wilderness Christians as Prodigal Son

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

The prodigal son is about all of us until we come to God in Jesus Christ and, yes, even as Christians, those who may wander in the wilderness after coming to God in Christ.  Whenever we are separated from God and God’s ways, we find ourselves being tempted to squander our inheritance and sinning.  In doing so, we find ourselves initially enjoying the thrill of that life in the world but eventually find ourselves in a pit, digging ourselves in a hole, in a miry bog and yes, in a pig pen wanting to eat pig slop!  It is at this point that looking at the life we had/can have as God’s servants/workers would be better than our current situation that we can return to God, find him waiting for us, receiving us in celebration and as children once again.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Wednesday – Faithful Christians as Older Son

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

As Christians actively living in God’s kingdom with God as our Father we do run the danger of becoming like the Eldest son.  Even though we have our life in God’s creation and an inheritance ahead of us knowing the joy of life with God as Father, we can look at the prodigal children with envy, jealousy, and/or judgement.  This takes away from the joy we can have focused on our father’s love and begin to replace that with spite against our father for the grace and love he has over His lost children.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Thursday – Celebrating Return

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

When a person becomes a Christian or a Christian who has wandered away from Christ and the Church returns there is much celebrating in heaven.  God celebrates.  The angels celebrate.  Do we celebrate?  The focus of the eldest son in the prodigal son’s leaving has been on how it left him with more work, how he is the more responsible son and how he is the better son.  When the prodigal returns, this all comes out in jealousy and feelings against the father for his unjust and unwarranted actions in killing the fatted calf to celebrate the return.  Yet, the Father lovingly reprimands the eldest son for these feelings and reminds him to love as He loves.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Friday – Continue as Family

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

As we see God the Father’s purpose is for us all to continue as family in our life together in creation.  This requires love.  This requires forgiveness.  This requires God the Father.  This requires God’s word.  This requires Christ.  This requires something supernatural.  This requires the Holy Spirit.  This requires us to live life in God’s love to be family together forever.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Saturday – Looking for the Souls in Wilderness

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

Finally, the overall teaching of this story and of the story of the lost coin and lost sheep is that we are to be looking for the prodigal sons, coins, sheep, souls that have left creation for the wilderness.  We are not only to be looking for them but sharing with them God’s love come to us in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, in God’s Word, and in God’s people.  We are to be looking, loving, and longing for those in the wilderness to return home to be with God, our Father.   Amen (So let it be).

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?