GOD’S OPEN DOOR

Mark – God is On Our Side!
 
Admit it, we humans are suspicious of those who are not of our religion, heritage or culture all because we do not know them. Some of us choose not to know or find out who they are for we fear and do not trust the unknown. Some of us humans even hate before we find out who they are and what they believe. We have been conditioned to fear because of the acts of terror that have been executed by a growing group of haters. It is still no excuse to be led by hate but to lead in love.
 
Mark 7 womanJesus, who knows all hearts, speaks to a Gentile woman who has fallen at his feet with what seems to us a harsh rebuke, but He is actually helping her understand his mission. It occurs to me, that Jesus is trying to keep His whereabouts a secret as Mark relates, but someone let this woman inside the home where Jesus is staying. How did she know He was there? Word of mouth? Was she following Him?
 
She is determined for Jesus to hear her out because of her dire need to have her daughter healed from demons. Her faith in Jesus is strong. He listens to her. She responds well by calling Jesus, “Lord”. She humbly and desperately tells Jesus she will take what she can get from Him. Jesus sees her heart and heals her daughter.
 
THIS is an example of knowing and loving before hating. Jesus’ unconditional love and care is for everyone. His mission was to go to the Jews, God’s chosen first, but the rest of the world is welcomed into His salvation. Was this conversation for the benefit of his disciples who would learn that salvation will be for everyone?
My prayer for myself and the rest of the believing world is that Jesus will respond to our heart cries of requests with “good answer” when faced with hard times that requires His healing, restoration and help. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when our words fail us.
 
Mark 7, NLT
The Faith of a Gentile Woman
Mark 7 begs Jesus24 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret. 25 Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit, 26 and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter.
 
Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia, 27 Jesus told her, “First I should feed the children—my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”
 
Mark 7 faith of woman28 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.”
 
29 “Good answer!” he said. “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.
 
GOING DEEPER…
 
Mark records three miracles that Jesus performed as He ministered to the Gentiles in the region of Tyre and Sidon. This is the only recorded instance of our Lord actually leaving Palestine. He was practicing what he had just taught the disciples: there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, for all are sinners and need the Savior.
 
Jesus came to this area (about forty miles from Capernaum) so that He might have some privacy, but a concerned mother discovered He was there and came to Him for help. There were many obstacles in her way, yet she overcame them all by faith and got what she needed.
 
To begin with, her nationality was against her: she was a Gentile and Jesus was a Jew. Besides that, she was a woman, and society in that day was dominated by the men. Satan was against her, for one of his demons had taken control in her daughter’s life. The disciples were against her; they wanted Jesus to send her away and let Him (and them) have some rest. For a time, it looked as though even Jesus was against her! It was not an easy situation, and yet she triumphed because of her great faith.
 
The first time she cried for help, the mother addressed Jesus as “Son of David,” a Jewish title, but the next time she cried out for help, she simply said, “Lord, help me” (Matt. 15:25). It was then that Jesus spoke about feeding the children (Israel) first and not throwing their food to “the little pet puppies.” Jesus was not calling the Gentiles “dirty scavenger dogs” as did many of the proud Jews; He was giving her hope, and she took hold of it.
 
Mark 7 faith greatHer reply revealed that faith had triumphed. She did not deny the special place of the “children” (Jews) in God’s plan, nor did she want to usurp it. All she wanted were a few crumbs of blessing from the table, for, after all, “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). It must have rejoiced His heart when she took His very words and used them as a basis for her plea! She accepted her place, she believed His Word, and she persisted in her plea, and Jesus not only met her need, but commended her for her faith.
 
Mark 7 prayer.jpg
Great faith is faith that takes God at His Word and will not let go until God meets the need. Great faith can lay hold of even the slightest encouragement and turn it into a fulfilled promise. “Lord, increase our faith.”
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.
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MISSING THE POINT…WE NEED A POWER WASH!

Mark – God is On Our Side!
 
mark-7-clean-heart.jpg
Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was responsible for recruiting a team of people to work together to provide an event for mostly born again church people for a denomination. We provided daily, separate “events” for infants, children, youth, women, men and pastors. This took a ton of coordinating planning and constant care and attention to details. Contracts for keynote speakers and bands were gone over with a fine tooth comb, making sure we didn’t miss what was required from us for them to speak or provide music.
 
For me, it began on my knees seeking what God wanted to accomplish in the attenders. Who and what will help them see Him and grow in their faith? That was always in the forefront of my mind. With that focus we trained volunteers with the same purpose in mind no matter what their particular task was…it must help others find and follow Jesus. We must provide an environment where you can’t help but see Jesus!
 
So, when an evaluation, (only purely negative one), came back with angry (all caps) words about a missed detail came across my desk, I was flabbergasted. What “sinful” thing did we do? We did not provide hot tea or ways to make tea at the coffee and cookies tables provided for breaks for the adults. This person wrote paragraph after paragraph of how we “discriminated” against those who do not drink coffee. She reprimanded “those in charge” with how could you do this? It is time you thought about the needs of “tea drinkers” along with the coffee drinkers.
 
I wept. That particular year, (as in others years) God moved in the lives of His people. Many young students received Christ as their Savior for the first time. The Holy Spirit moved in ways beyond our wildest imaginations! My first thought after reading this tirade was, “How did you miss Jesus?” He was here! He moved among the hearts of many. He worked through speakers and musicians in ways that led attenders of all ages to pure worship of God alone, salvation through Jesus, re-dedications, and strong commitments to follow Him!
 
How did you miss Jesus and the power of His Holy Spirit moving in the lives of His people? Then I prayed for her.
 
Jesus dealt with many who missed the point. Listen to what Jesus said to the religious elite who grossly missed the point of helping others return to God. Not only did they forget their work, they side stepped God altogether.
 
Mark 7 cartoon
Mark 7, NLT
Jesus Teaches about Inner Purity
Mark 7 hand washing
7 One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. 2 They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. 3 (The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands, as required by their ancient traditions. 4 Similarly, they don’t eat anything from the market until they immerse their hands in water. This is but one of many traditions they have clung to—such as their ceremonial washing of cups, pitchers, and kettles.)
 
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”
 
Mark 7 wood heart6 Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,
 
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7 Their worship is a farce,
for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’
 
8 For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”
 
9 Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition. 10 For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ 11 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ 12 In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. 13 And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.”
 
14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”
 
mark-7-inside-out.jpg17 Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used. 18 “Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? 19 Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)
 
20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”
 
REFLECTION…
 
Mark 7 meDo we, as church people, have agendas and unwritten laws of doing things that do not pertain to helping others find and follow Jesus? Is it time to evaluate and cast aside what is unnecessary and might even hinder those from seeking, finding and following God?
 
Where are our hearts this day at this hour? Do we help or hinder God’s work in and through us?
 
What spews from our hearts in difficult situations or circumstances when we lose control? Envy, Jealousy, Hate that leads to hurtful words? Is it time for a “Power wash”?
 
Mark 7 dirty cupsWhat can we do to get clean from the inside out?
Ask for the Holy Spirit to address your sin so you can confess your sin. I did. The blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross is the Power Wash for our sin!
 
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6, NIV
 
Mark 7 power washGet a “power wash” from Jesus today by asking Him to cleanse you from the inside out and make you whole once more. He is standing nearby, waiting for you to ask Him in. Truly IN. Don’t miss the point of real life in Him! Get a power wash now! It feels good to be clean and shiny again for Christ!
 
Mark 7 God looks at the heart
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Thank you for saving my soul and making me whole. Thank you for continually teaching me and power washing my heart daily. Thank you for Truth, Way and Life found in You alone! Thank you for helping me help others find and follow you, too just by pointing the way to YOU. I love you, Lord, with all my heart, mind and soul.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
And I’m singing…POWER IN THE BLOOD
 
Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There’s power in the blood, power in the blood
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful power in the blood
 
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the blood of the Lamb
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb
 
Would you be free from your passion and pride
There’s power in the blood, power in the blood
Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide
There’s wonderful power in the blood
 
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the blood of the Lamb
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb…
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BY HIMSELF

Mark – God is On Our Side!
 
Mark 6 follow
It is healthy in all kinds of ways to close down the shouts of the world, the situations that challenge us and circumstances around us that concern us. It is good to get by ourselves to talk with God. It is spiritually and emotionally healthy because God designed us to stop in the midst of helping others to remind us it is HIS work and HE invited us to HIS work. When we can really understand this, we relax, for the results of the work do not belong to us, only to God. Our part is to trust and obey willingly and immediately. The rest is up to God.
 
Jesus “went up to into the hills by himself to pray”. He didn’t go away just to pull away from the crowds so much as He was drawn to that part of Himself who said and did only what the Father tells Him to say and do. God, the Father, and His Son needed to talk. What were those conversations like? Father to Son? What I do know from reading God’s Word is that Jesus, as the Son of Man, didn’t move ahead of God. He went to God first, in between and sometimes during times of helping people turn to back to God. The will of God and the obedience of His Son were in perfect harmony.
 
We cannot do anything of significance without first drawing close to the One with all the answers, the One who loves us most, and the One who is in control. Jesus is our perfect example of asking the Father what HE wants next, “not my will, but Yours”.
 
Mark 6 walking through stormsAfter time alone with the Father, until the early hours of the next day, Jesus walks on water! Did God tell Him to do this? Did God remind Jesus who God is, the Creator of the winds and the waves? Did God give the command in their talk in the mountains to go across the lake in this way…to walk across? Did God chuckle a bit when He told Jesus, “You know what would be fun…walk across the lake.” “Don’t worry, we can do this!”
 
Whatever God asks us to do, will we do it, no matter how incredible it seems to us? What is the measure of our trust and resulting obedience?
 
I’m asking myself that question as I read our next passage…
 
Mark 6, NLT
Jesus Walks on Water
45 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46 After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.
 
Mark 6 courage47 Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. 50 They were all terrified when they saw him.
 
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” 51 Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, 52 for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.
 
53 After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. They brought the boat to shore 54 and climbed out. The people recognized Jesus at once, 55 and they ran throughout the whole area, carrying sick people on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 Wherever he went—in villages, cities, or the countryside—they brought the sick out to the marketplaces. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.
 
ONE MORE THOUGHT…
Mark 6 walks
Jesus “intended to go past them” but they saw Him…as not real, an apparition. How many times does Jesus walk past us without recognition? Do we look for Him as He works in our lives to settle our seas of trouble? I love watching God work in our daily lives.
 
Jesus calms their hearts with “Don’t be afraid, take courage, I’m here!” Wow, we can take courage, too, knowing His Holy Spirit is always with us as promised by Jesus. So let’s do it right now, today! Take courage! It is a gift. Have peace on the rocky waters of our lives. Love greatly because Jesus loves us even more! Jesus is here among us, living in those who believe and follow Him.
 
Mark 6 don't be afraidDear Heavenly Father,
You are God and we are not. We cannot do life without you. We do not want to do life without you. YOU are life! Thank you for living in us. Thank you for calming our fears, giving us the gift of peace, and forever loving us unconditionally. Here I am, before you, listening for what You want me to think, say and do for today. Guide my every thought and action. I want what you want.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
And I’m singing…an oldie but a goodie…to me, anyway.
 
JUST A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS
I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in
And then a little light from Heaven filled my soul
He bathed my heart in love and wrote my name above
And just a little talk with Jesus made me whole
 
Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry and we will answer by and by
Now when you feel a little prayer wheel turning
You’ll know a little fire is burning
You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right
 
I may have doubts and fears my eyes be filled with tears
But Jesus is a friend who watches day and night
Oh, I go to Him in prayer, He knows my every care
And just a little talk with Jesus gonna makes it right
 
Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry and we will answer by and by
Now when you feel a little prayer wheel turning
You’ll know a little fire is burning
You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right
 
Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry and we will answer by and by
Now when you feel a little prayer wheel turning
Then you’ll know a little fire is burning
You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right
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HOW GOD WORKS….

Mark – God is On Our Side!
 
Mark 6 crowd.jpg
I don’t have to wonder too much how the disciples felt after a “ministry tour” of helping people in all kinds of ways by the power and authority of Jesus. I can hear them tell of all the ways they were able to help people see the need to repent and turn to God. Can you imagine coming back to the One who sent them and telling Him, face to face, in person, excitedly how it went? Can you see the smile of Jesus as He listens? I passionately tell my family and friends about a tour of ministry or mission trip that was beyond our capabilities and out of our comfort zones and their eyes kind of glaze over ready for my exuberance to settle down. Why? Not because they don’t care, it’s because I am very excited as I spray a fire hose of stories at them all at once. (Trying to control that!)
 
Mark 6 tellingI can imagine Jesus, sitting on the grass, listening to his disciples, all talking at once, as they tell their stories. “AND do you know what happened next?” “Oh Jesus, it was so amazing!” “Jesus, because of what you put in us we could actually help people like you do!”
 
THEN, as they are still telling, (don’t let this slip by you as we read this passage), Jesus, while still listening to their hearts to what God did in and through them, He looks in their tired eyes and says…”LET’S REST AWHILE.” The “people ministry”, (helping lost souls return to God), was overwhelming. Jesus knew that even though the disciples were excited, a tired was soon going to wash over them soon unless they “got away to a quiet place to rest”. However, the people followed them to this place.
 
What trumped Jesus’ compassion for his workers, was His ongoing, relentless compassion for those who needed what He had to offer…Life.
 
Is it because the disciples were tired and overwhelmed that they retorted, “Send them away…”? We can imagine this feeling when people want more than we have left to give. But here we have an example of Jesus still providing what is needed in “people ministry” situations that tax our human systems. He teaches those He has invited to HIS work that HE is on our side. HE will provide. HE will find rest for you at the right time. But for now…
 
Mark 6 more“YOU feed them.” says Jesus to his weary disciples. “What?” Can you see the eyes roll? Can you hear the voice inflection when they ask, “With what”? However, I am so impressed with the disciples, even though ready to rest, were obedient to the Master. They were looking forward to a “get away for awhile” with Him, but instead were asked to be obedient in yet another ministry task. The result? They experienced another grand, only God can do, miracle of power, compassion, and love. They experienced, in person, that God is definitely on our side!
 
Mark 6, NLT
Jesus Feeds Five Thousand
Mark 6 come away30 The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. 31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
 
32 So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. 33 But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. 34 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
 
35 Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. 36 Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.”
 
Mark 6 feeding 500037 But Jesus said, “You feed them.”
 
“With what?” they asked. “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people!”
 
38 “How much bread do you have?” he asked. “Go and find out.”
 
They came back and reported, “We have five loaves of bread and two fish.”
 
39 Then Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of fifty or a hundred.
 
Mark 6 leftovers41 Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. 42 They all ate as much as they wanted, 43 and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. 44 A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed.
 
Maybe you are the one in ministry who needs rest. Ask God to guide you. He will provide. He is on your side. Ask for His timing. Until that time of rest, “rest” in Him each morning before you begin your day. Trust and obey.
 
Maybe you are one of the people who needs what Jesus has to offer and you need help finding Him. Don’t let anyone or any situation or circumstance keep you from asking for help. RUN for help. Ask God to guide you to the one He has prepared to help you. (He has many who are are ready!) No one in the ministry of obedience to God is too tired to help you find and follow Him. No one. Find that person.
 
Mark 6 followDear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
You have provided yet another perspective to Your Story of how You work in our lives as we trust and obey. You are amazing! You are compassionate, loving and kind beyond what this world has to offer. I am so grateful you listen, challenge, discipline, direct and guide me. Help me help others find and follow you, too. Show me your ways. I am your servant. I am listening.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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HORRID AND HEROD

Mark 6 battleOne wonders if the word horrid and all other forms of the word comes from the name of a wicked, manipulating and easily manipulated leader named Herod. Horrid and Herod are not related, I looked it up. But the two terms can be used interchangeably! He was called “Herod the Great”. But this “great” man who let evil of all kinds control him, was extremely afraid of losing his power and leadership to Jesus. He did everything he could think of to stop God in human form from taking the lead in his kingdom. Herod ordered the horrendous act of killing all babies under the age of two in an effort to kill Jesus. When that didn’t work he aided the religious elite in nailing Jesus to a cross.
 
Another horrendous act was to cut the head off of God’s prophet who prepared the way for Jesus Christ, John the Baptizer. It is amazing to read how John affected Herod. John repeated called Herod out on the sin of adultery and other sins in Herod’s life. Herod was “greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.” What would have happened if John could have persuaded Herod to turn from evil and the sin that resulted to come to God?
 
But Herod did not. He was a weak man who was easily tempted and manipulated by evil who worked through his brother’s wife whom he took to be his own. Together, in an unholy relationship, they performed horrendous acts of evil that took the life of John. John, whom Jesus said, “there will no other person born of a woman who is greater than John”.
 
Mark – God is On Our Side!
 
Mark 6, NLT
The Death of John the Baptist
14 Herod Antipas, the king, soon heard about Jesus, because everyone was talking about him. Some were saying, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead. That is why he can do such miracles.” 15 Others said, “He’s the prophet Elijah.” Still others said, “He’s a prophet like the other great prophets of the past.”
 
Mark 6 guilty16 When Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has come back from the dead.”
 
17 For Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favor to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip’s wife, but Herod had married her. 18 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But without Herod’s approval she was powerless, 20 for Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.
 
21 Herodias’s chance finally came on Herod’s birthday. He gave a party for his high government officials, army officers, and the leading citizens of Galilee. 22 Then his daughter, also named Herodias, came in and performed a dance that greatly pleased Herod and his guests. “Ask me for anything you like,” the king said to the girl, “and I will give it to you.” 23 He even vowed, “I will give you whatever you ask, up to half my kingdom!”
 
24 She went out and asked her mother, “What should I ask for?”
 
Her mother told her, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist!”
 
25 So the girl hurried back to the king and told him, “I want the head of John the Baptist, right now, on a tray!”
 
26 Then the king deeply regretted what he had said; but because of the vows he had made in front of his guests, he couldn’t refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner to the prison to cut off John’s head and bring it to him. The soldier beheaded John in the prison, 28 brought his head on a tray, and gave it to the girl, who took it to her mother. 29 When John’s disciples heard what had happened, they came to get his body and buried it in a tomb.
 
GOING DEEPER STILL…
 
The reports of Christ’s ministry, augmented by that of His disciples (Luke 9:7), even reached into the palace of Herod Antipas. Mark called him “King,” which is what Herod wanted to be called, but in reality, godless Herod was only a tetrarch, the ruler of a fourth part of the nation. When Herod the Great died, the Romans divided his territory among his three sons, and Antipas was made tetrarch of Perea and Galilee.
 
Herod Antipas had married the daughter of King Aretas IV and then had divorced her so he could marry Herodias, the wife of his half-brother, Herod Philip. It was a wicked alliance that was contrary to the law of Moses (Lev. 18:16; 20:21), and the fearless John the Baptist had denounced the king for his sins. When Herod heard about the wonderful works of Jesus, he was sure that John the Baptist had come back from the dead to haunt him and condemn him! Herod’s conscience was bothering him, but he was unwilling to face his sins honestly and repent.
 
At this point, Mark shifted into a flashback to explain how John the Baptist had been cruelly and unjustly arrested and slain. Even in this brief account, we sense the tension in the palace, for Herod feared John, privately listened to him preach, and was in a state of perplexity over what he should do. “Queen” Herodias, on the other hand, hated John, wanted to kill him, and patiently waited for the most convenient time. In their evil character and lawless deeds, these two remind us of Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 18—21).
 
The “strategic day” came (Mark 6:21 nasb) for Herodias to put her plan into action: the celebration of Herod’s birthday. Royal feasts were extravagant both in their display of wealth and in their provision for pleasure. The Jews would not have permitted a woman to dance before a group of men, and most Gentile mothers would have forbidden a daughter to do what the daughter of Herodias did. (History informs us that the girl’s name was Salome.) But the girl was a part of the mother’s plan to get rid of John the Baptist, and Salome played her part well.
 
When Herod heard the girl’s macabre request, he was “greatly distressed” (see Mark 14:34, where the same verb is used of Jesus), but he had to be true to his promise or lose face before a group of influential people. The word oath in Mark 6:26 is actually in the plural—“for his many oaths’ sake”—because Herod had repeatedly declared his desire to reward the girl for her performance. This was one way he had of impressing his guests, but it backfired. Herod had not been courageous enough to obey John’s word, but now he had to obey his own word! The result was the death of an innocent man.
 
Mark 6 deathHerod had feared that John’s messages would stir up a revolt among the people, something he wanted to avoid. Also, he wanted to please his wife, even though it meant the murdering of a godly man.
 
John’s disciples were permitted to take the body of their leader and bury it, and then they went to tell Jesus what had happened (Matt. 14:12). No doubt the report of John’s death deeply stirred our Lord, for He knew that one day His own life would be laid down.
 
We meet Herod Antipas one more time in the Gospels, when he “tried” Jesus and hoped to see the Lord perform a miracle (Luke 23:6–12). Jesus would not even speak to this adulterer and murderer, let alone please him by doing a miracle! Jesus called Herod a “fox” (Luke 13:31–35), an apt description of this crafty man. In AD 39, Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1), nephew of Herod Antipas, denounced his uncle to the Roman emperor, and Antipas was deposed and sent into exile.
 
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
 
Are we manipulating or manipulated by evil?
 
How do we overcome?
 
What or to whom do you have the temptation to lose your soul? It is important to consistently evaluate our walk with God in this way. Daily ask God what stands between you and your growing relationship with Him. Then ask for His Holy Spirit to help rid yourself of anything that would cause you to lose your soul.
 
Mark 6 persecutionDear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
We read of this evil and we know this and other horrendous acts of evil still exist today all over the world. We pray for the victims and survivors. We pray for those executed and the the families who were forced to stand by and watch. There are many of Your people who are persecuted. Be their strength today. Be their courage. Protect them.
 
Protect us. Help us to be alert to the manipulation of evil in our own families and among our friends. May nothing stand in the way of our relationship with You. I Love you, Lord with all my heart, mind and soul. YOU are on our side for eternity. Continue to transform us.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.
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SENT

Mark – God is On Our Side!
 
Mark 6 go.jpgWhen God says, “GO” to our minds and hearts and tells us specifically how to go, we must listen. He knows the specific needs of others around us. Being anxious to meet those needs He uses us to provide that specific help to each other. That’s what being “SENT” means to those who believe and answer with an immediate “YES” to God.
 
Does God need us to help others? No, not really. God can do whatever is necessary for His people, with or without us. He uses these “go time” situations as training grounds to teach us His way, His purposes, His plan and His will. Being sent out of our comfort zones is a way to mature us, to rely on Him, to tap into His power, so we will begin to bear the fruits of His character such as unconditional love, kindness, gentleness, patience, joy of Christ in us, peace and a cool head in times of trouble, goodness and self control to avoid striking back or paying back evil for evil. All these characteristics were shown to us in the way Jesus did ministry while here on earth. All these characteristics are opposite of what the world teaches. Being sent means we have his help by the power of His Holy Spirit to grow in His ways. We help each other find and follow Christ in the process!
 
(“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Gal 5 Berean Bible)
 
mark 6 sent with only themselvesSent people give God, the One and Only, who gave the order to go, and provided what is needed, all the glory for the results. Sent people love God with all their minds, hearts and souls. Sent people are teachable. Sent people live expectant lives, waiting for their next assignment. Sent people do only what the Father tells them to say and do. Sent people walk humbly with God.
 
Mark 6, NLT
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Disciples
 
Mark 6 sent outThen Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people. 7 And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits. 8 He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick—no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. 9 He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes.
 
10 “Wherever you go,” he said, “stay in the same house until you leave town. 11 But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”
 
12 So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. 13 And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.
 
GOING DEEPER…
 
Mark 6 two by twoWhen the Lord originally called the twelve apostles, His purpose was to teach and train them so that they might assist Him and eventually be able to take His place when He returned to the Father (Mark 3:13–15). Before sending them out, He reaffirmed their authority to heal and to cast out demons (Mark 6:7), and He gave them some pointed instructions (see Matt. 10 for a more detailed account of this sermon).
 
He told them to take what they already owned and not go out and buy special equipment for their itinerant travels. They were not to be loaded down with extra baggage. (You cannot miss the note of urgency in this “commissioning sermon.”) Jesus wanted them to be adequately supplied, but not to the point of ceasing to live by faith. The word bag means “a beggar’s bag.” They were definitely not to beg for either food or money.
 
As they ministered from place to place, they would encounter both hospitality and hostility, both friends and enemies. He cautioned them to stay at one house in each community and not to “pick and choose” when it came to their food and accommodations. After all, they were there to be profitable servants, not pampered guests. If a house or a village did not receive them, they had His permission to declare God’s judgment on those people. It was customary for the Jews to shake the dust off their feet whenever they left Gentile territory, but for Jews to do this to their fellow Jews would be something new (Luke 10:10–11; Acts 13:51).
 
Mark 6 your turnThe word translated “send” in Mark 6:7 is apostello in the Greek and gives us our English word apostle. It means “to send someone with a special commission to represent another and to accomplish his work.” Jesus gave these twelve men both the apostolic authority and the divine ability to do the job He sent them to do. They were not “on their own”; they represented Him in all that they did and said.
 
We noted before (Mark 3:16–19) that a comparison of the lists of the apostles’ names reveals that the names are given in several pairs: Peter and Andrew, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, etc. Jesus sent them out in pairs because it is always easier and safer for servants to travel and work together. “Two are better than one” (Eccl. 4:9), and the law, as previously observed, required two witnesses to verify a matter (Deut. 17:6; 19:15; 2 Cor. 13:1). They would not only help each other; they would also learn from each other.
 
The men went out and did what Jesus told them to do. It is remarkable that a band of ordinary men could go out in this way to represent Almighty God, and that they could demonstrate their authority by performing miracles. God’s commandments always include His enablements (2 Cor. 3:5–6). They proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, called on sinners to repent, and healed many who were sick (Mark 6:12–13; Luke 9:6).
 
Mark 6 we are all sent
There are many benefits to being sent by God for a specific task or journey. The greatest amazement on my own journey is how God provides for every step. Say yes when He sends. God guides. God provides. You need nothing but Him.
 
Dear Heavenly Father, Savior and Lord,
Your ways are amazing because Your Love for us is amazing. I am Yours. You are mine. I believe. I’m listening. I wait expectantly for your next assignment, small or large. I love you, Lord with all my heart, mind and soul. I love seeing your glory in sent people.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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REJECTION STINKS!

Mark – God is On Our Side!
 
Mark 6 cartoonRejection is a bitter pill to swallow, isn’t it? Every person at some time in their lives has been rejected on this planet. Everyone has experienced the squinty eye look that judges severely when you become known for doing something good that others do not understand. Envy brings on some of this judgement.
 
Your family is the first to question why you do what you do especially if they are not doing it with you. Jealousy might be the driver that causes this to happen. It’s life with humans who don’t know God and live in His ways…yet. Yes, to be rejected can be a lonely feeling that can send us into a depression if we are not careful.
 
Rejection can cause us to think we are alone and no one else cares. But we would be very wrong. ALL of have experienced this hurt…even Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord…from His own family and the friends he grew “in stature” with in the local community of Nazareth!
 
Mark 6, NLT
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
 
Mark 6 unbelief6 Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. 2 The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” 3 Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
 
4 Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” 5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.
 
GOING DEEPER…
 
Charles Darwin said that belief was “the most complete of all distinctions between man and the lower animals.” If this observation is true, it suggests that lack of faith on man’s part puts him on the same level as the animals!
 
Agnostic orator Col. Robert Ingersoll took a different point of view, for he once described a believer as “a songless bird in a cage.” You would probably agree that his words better describe an unbeliever!
 
Mark 6, rejectionOne of the central themes in this section of Mark’s gospel is the unbelief of people who came into contact with God’s Servant. All of these people had every reason to trust Jesus Christ, yet all of them failed to do so, including His own disciples! God takes unbelief seriously, and so should we. Rejection takes on a higher plane…that of unbelief in Jesus.
 
Jesus returned to Nazareth, where a year before He had been rejected by the people and evicted from the synagogue (Luke 4:16–30). It was certainly an act of grace on His part to give the people another opportunity to hear His Word, believe, and be saved, and yet their hearts were still hard. This time, they did not evict Him: they simply did not take Him seriously.
 
Mark 6 the carpenterOur Lord’s reputation had once again preceded Him, so He was permitted to teach in the synagogue. Keep in mind that He was ministering to people who knew Him well, because Nazareth was His “hometown.” However, these acquaintances had no spiritual perception at all. In fact, Jesus reminded them of what He had told them at that first dramatic visit, that a prophet is without honor in his own country and among his own people (Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24; John 4:44). Two things astonished these people: His mighty works and His wonderful wisdom. Actually, Jesus did not do any mighty works while He was there, so the people must have been referring to the reports they had heard about His miracles (see Mark 1:28, 45; 3:7–8; 5:20–21). In fact, their unbelief hindered Jesus from having a greater ministry among them.
 
WHAT WAS THEIR PROBLEM?
 
Mark 6 rejectWhy were they unable to trust Him and experience the wonders of His power and grace as had others? They thought that they really knew Him. After all, He had been their neighbor for nearly thirty years, they had seen Him at work in the carpenter’s shop, and He appeared to be just another Nazarene. He was a “commoner,” and the people saw no reason to commit themselves to Him!
 
“Familiarity breeds contempt” is a well-known maxim that goes all the way back to Publius the Syrian, who lived in 2 BC. Aesop wrote a fable to illustrate it. In Aesop’s fable, a fox had never before seen a lion, and when he first met the king of the beasts, the fox was nearly frightened to death. At their second meeting, the fox was not frightened quite as much; and the third time he met the lion, the fox went up and chatted with him! “And so it is,” Aesop concluded, “that familiarity makes even the most frightening things seem quite harmless.”
 
The maxim, however, must be taken with a grain of salt. For example, can you imagine a loving husband and wife thinking less of each other because they know each other so well? Or two dear friends starting to despise each other because their friendship has deepened over the years? Phillips Brooks said it best: “Familiarity breeds contempt, only with contemptible things or among contemptible people.” The contempt shown by the Nazarenes said nothing about Jesus Christ, but it said a great deal about them!
 
A tourist, eager to see everything in the art gallery, fled from picture to picture, scarcely noticing what was in the frames. “I didn’t see anything very special here,” he said to one of the guards as he left. “Sir,” the guard replied, “it is not the pictures that are on trial here—it is the visitors.”
 
Mark 6 unbelief.pngA carpenter was a respected artisan in that day, but nobody expected a carpenter to do miracles or teach profound truths in the synagogue. Where did He get all this power and wisdom? From God or from Satan (see Mark 3:22)? And why did His brothers and sisters not possess this same power and wisdom? Even more, why did His brothers and sisters not believe in Him? The people who called Him “the son of Mary” were actually insulting Him, because in that day you identified a man by calling him the son of his father, not the son of his mother.
 
The people of Nazareth were “offended at him,” which literally means “they stumbled over him.” The Greek word gives us our English word scandalize. Kenneth Wuest wrote in his book Wuest’s Word Studies(Eerdmans), “They could not explain Him, so they rejected Him.” Jesus was certainly a “stone of stumbling” to them because of their unbelief (Isa. 8:14; Rom. 9:32–33; 1 Peter 2:8).
 
Twice in the gospel record you find Jesus marveling. As this passage reveals, He marveled at the unbelief of the Jews, and He marveled at the great faith of a Roman centurion, a Gentile (Luke 7:9). Instead of remaining at Nazareth, Jesus departed and made another circuit of the towns and villages in Galilee. His heart was broken as He saw the desperate plight of the people (Matt. 9:35–38), so He decided to send out His disciples to minister with His authority and power.
Mark 6 1.jpegRejection breaks the heart of God but for reasons we may not think of first. Jesus looked beyond his own rejection to the cause of the rejection–Cold stone hearts of unbelief. This is what made him sad. That’s why this encounter did not stop Jesus from His divine mission. And we are glad!
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
We can be stopped at times by rejection that causes us to wonder if we are doing what you want us to be and do. When we come to you, You set us back on the right road with loving hearts who pray for those who reject us in the work you have given us. Thank, Jesus, for helping us to think about rejection in the right way. We pray for those who do not believe and follow you…yet.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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