The Eye of the Needle

Mark 10:23,25- Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” NKJV

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I’m not much of a seamstress, but I did learn to sew. Trying to get a piece of thread through the eye of the needle required a steady hand and good eyesight. Even still, it is a challenge for some. But eventually, I learned to get the thread through the eye with little to no effort.

As Jesus is walking down the road with His disciples, a young man runs to Him and bows before Him, asking Him what must he do to inherit eternal life?

“Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

Mark 10:17 NKJV

Apparently, he had heard the message of the kingdom that Jesus shared everywhere He went, and the thought of eternal life appealed to him. So he wanted to know what did he have to do to have eternal life?

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”

Mark 10:18-19 NKJV

The young ruler addressed Jesus as the Good Teacher, and Jesus asked the ruler why did he call Him good? No one is good but God, Jesus responds, so are you acknowledging that I Am God?

Then Jesus says that the young man knows the commandments, don’t commit adultery, don’t commit murder, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness, and don’t cheat people, or defraud them, and honor your father and mother. The young man looked at Jesus and told Him that, yes, he had done all of these things since he was a young boy. In other words, he was morally upright and a good person at that. But Jesus knows how to get to the heart of the matter, how to reach us when no other can. So with His next statement, He does just that. He addresses the ruler’s heart.

He looked on this young man and love-filled His heart for him. One version states that compassion filled Jesus’ heart. He knew what He needed to say to this young ruler, and He knew it would be a struggle for him.

“One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

Mark 10:21 NKJV

After Jesus tells this to the young man, he walks away saddened because he had a lot of property. The bible says that he was rich. Isn’t it interesting that the young man asked Jesus what he had to do to have eternal life, and then when Jesus tells him what to do, it’s too much! He can’t do it! He can’t give up all that he has obtained to follow Jesus! He wasn’t interested in treasure in heaven when he had so much treasure on earth. For him, this was a hard saying.

People learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus then realize the cost is too deep. They can’t walk away from their lifestyle. They can’t leave that individual. They can’t give up who they are to become what they don’t know. Fear grips their heart and paralyzes them, disabling them to answer the call to come to Jesus. It’s too hard. It’s too much!

Jesus looks at His disciples who have watched all of this transpire and makes an interesting statement:

“How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 

Mark 10:23 NKJV

Mark tells us that the disciples were astonished. It’s my personal opinion that they were surprised because some of them had money and possessions. And a lot of it. After all, they were fishermen with more than one boat and others working for them. Matthew had made a lot of money as a tax collector. This probably was a shock for them to hear. If they were poor, they would have had a different reaction. You know the have nots enjoy watching the haves be rejected. That’s why I don’t believe the disciples were poor. So Jesus repeated it, this time adding something else to His statement.

“Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Mark 10:24-25 NKJV

The first time Jesus addresses the subject of riches and the kingdom, He remarks that it is hard for people with wealth to enter the kingdom. Then He restates it for the disciples that those who trust in riches will have a hard time entering the kingdom of God. This is where some attack prosperity-minded ministers saying that riches prohibit us from entering into the kingdom of God. Yet, some of those same people who protest prosperity ministers are equally rich. The religious leaders were wealthy, and the Pope is rich. Lots of people become rich off of the gospel message. And many others remain poor. Some speak of having money, and others don’t. Jesus isn’t against us having money, He doesn’t want money to have us! That’s us trusting in riches!

Some in the body say that when Jesus made this analogy of a camel going through the eye of the needle, He was referencing a gateway in Jerusalem. I watched some videos of the gate that is supposed to be the eye of the needle. It was demonstrated that if the camel had nothing on his back, it could crawl through the narrow gate, referred to as the eye of the needle gate. So the camel could get through the gate, but it would be with much difficulty.

Since Jesus used a lot of figurative language when He spoke to His disciples and the crowds, this could be what He was referencing. However, I tend to think it was an actual eye of a needle. It may not have been a sewing needle like I used to stitch a hem, but a needle nonetheless. Whatever view you have, Jesus said that it would be difficult or hard for a person who is trusting in their wealth to enter the kingdom of God.

Why? Look at the rich young ruler. His money was so important to him, he allowed it to keep him from following Jesus. Had Jesus told Him to set up a food bank, he probably could have handled that. But Jesus asked him to sell everything and give it away, then follow Him. But the young man could not because he trusted his wealth more than the promises of the Savior! The One he called Good Teacher!

What hinders you from following Jesus? Is it riches? Is it a position you hold in government, in a company? Is it social media? Friends? The attention of the opposite sex? Can your eye of the needle be pornography, or drugs, or sex? Whatever it is that hinders you, it has become your god. It means more to you than the promises of the Savior.

Jesus didn’t say that this ruler or other rich people could never enter the kingdom of God; He said it would be hard. We’ll discuss it more in my next blog. Wonderful Jesus!

Let Them Come!

Mark 10:14- “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” NKJV

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Sometimes, as adults, we can miss it! Such was the case with the disciples. In chapter 9, Jesus demonstrated His love and willingness to interact with children:

Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”

Mark 9:36-37 NKJV

Jesus held the child in His arms and told His disciples that whoever receives a child in His name receives Him. You would think that the disciples would understand that Jesus loved kids and didn’t mind having them around. As a matter of fact, He made them sound pretty important to Him, when He said that to receive them, was to receive Him.

Yet, here in chapter 10, we can clearly see that those words went right over their head!

Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.

Mark 9:13 NKJV

The people are starting to bring their children to Jesus, wanting Him to touch them, and the disciples rebuked the parents! It makes no sense! Jesus had just finished saying that if anyone would cause a child to stumble or fall, it would be better if they had drowned in the sea, and they are trying to keep children from Him!

Mark lets us know that Jesus wasn’t happy with His disciples. Not only was He not happy, but He was also greatly displeased! Can you imagine His displeasure? Their embarrassment?

But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.

Mark 10:14 NKJV

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me.” I mentioned in my previous blog that my mother-in-law was involved in child evangelism. My husband and his siblings speak of how they came to the Lord at an early age, along with all of their friends and the kids in the neighborhood. What a legacy! Every Saturday, their mom would host child evangelism classes in their basement as kids came to hear about Jesus. For years!

I remember being in church as a kid and sharing my “determination” that Jesus would be my Savior and heaven would be my home. Everyone thought that this was “cuteness”, but I was very serious. Many people share their testimonies of backsliding and then coming back to Jesus. I can genuinely state that I have never walked away from Jesus, I have never “laid down my religion”, and I have never wanted to. I just needed Him so desperately, I realized at an early age, I couldn’t do life without Him.

Jesus understood the heart of a child and was trying to help His disciples to also understand.

“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.

Mark 10:14 NKJV

Children are important to Jesus. Their open spirit is waiting to be written upon, and as adults, we need to make sure the right message is written in their hearts. No child is too young to genuinely open their heart to the savior. While they might not understand theology 101, they understand how He makes them feel loved and protected. I’m a witness!

There are parents who choose to not see the value of bringing their children to Jesus while they are young. They were made to go to church so they won’t make their children go. It’s their only time to sleep in. The kids don’t want to get up because they stayed up late playing video games. It doesn’t take all of that! I’ll let them decide when they are older.

But when we take this position or have this attitude, we are forbidding them to come to Jesus. If Jesus was displeased with the disciples for trying to keep the children away, how do we think He feels when we keep our children away?

For such is the kingdom of God. Prayer is communicating with God. Children may not be able to throw bible verses into a prayer, but their hearts of trust and faith make their prayers just as powerful as an adult. Maybe more! Worship may be something they cannot articulate, but when they lift their hands in praise and worship with all of their heart, it’s magnifying. When they tell others about their Savior, they may not be able to explain the four spiritual laws, but they understand the One Who loves them.

I’ve worked with children most of my life and I know they can come to Jesus and be sincere as they come. Especially since that is what happened to me. I’ve also seen them come to Jesus, want to really learn of Him, and had to watch their parents snatch them away. It’s heartbreaking!

I’ve watched children serve the Lord with all of their hearts. They get involved in children’s choir, dance, playing instruments, praying, evangelism, and they are serious about Jesus. If nurtured and trained by godly adults, they will grow into godly teens, and later godly adults. If children are tolerated in a church, and not allowed to be a part, they will drift away feeling irrelevant and unimportant. Forbid them not!

What if I did all of that, and they walked away from Him? When I think of wayward children I think of this verse in Isaiah:

I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.

Isaiah 43:6 NKJV

Some of us need to become mediators for our children. Instead of giving up, we need to tell the devil, the drugs, the sin in their life to give them up! This is your baby, not the devil’s baby, and the devil shouldn’t be allowed to have free access in their life! Fight the good fight of faith for them, especially if they had a heart for Jesus in their youth! Trust God to bring them back to Him!

Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.

Mark 10:15-16 NKJV

If you follow me, you know that I believe that the kingdom of God is real. The kingdom of God is accessed and experienced through faith! Jesus said that if we don’t receive the kingdom of God as a little child, we won’t enter it! Children are trusting until you teach them not to trust. They just accept what they are told as truth. This is how we operate in the kingdom. If we are to experience it, we are going to have to trust that what Jesus taught about the kingdom is true. And to access it, we must believe. Plain and simple!

This isn’t talking about going to heaven, per se! But that’s for another blog on another day! Wonderful Jesus!

With This Ring!

Mark 10:7-9- ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” NKJV

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When I was newly married, I had a conversation with my mother-in-law. It wasn’t an adversarial conversation, but looking back, I know it was a necessary conversation. When my husband and I first met, he spoke often and highly of his mother. He talked of her love for the Lord, her quickness to pray, and her willingness to tell them the truth of God’s word, even if it angered them. She was known by many as a prayer warrior and a child evangelist.

One day she called the house looking for my husband, her youngest son. He wasn’t at home. Then she made a comment that I was keeping her son away from her. My husband is his own man, quite capable and willing to do what he believes needs to be done. I would have never tried to interfere with his relationship with his parents, and he wouldn’t have allowed it. It just wasn’t true!

Marriage is God’s idea. He established it in Genesis. The Pharisees knew this. Yet, they came to Jesus to test Him by asking Him about the legality of divorce. This is how the conversation went:

Pharisees: Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?

Jesus: What did Moses command you?

Pharisees: Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.

With this ring, I thee wed! That is the promise couples make worldwide, and it has been happening for millennials. We pledge to love, honor, and be together until death departs us. Not through us murdering one another but understanding that nothing but death can separate us.

However, we know people who have not made the lasting journey. For a variety of reasons, they ended up in divorce. Can I be honest and say that “but for grace,” none of us could be successful at anything, including marriage? And had I experienced some of the situations I have heard through the years, my story might be different! So I’m not being judgmental; I am making a point. The Pharisees were not really interested in what Jesus thought about divorce; they just felt they had found a way to trip Him up!

And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.  But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’  ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,  and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Mark 10:5-9 NKJV

With His reply to the Pharisees, Jesus tells us what we need to know about marriage and divorce from God’s perspective.

First, Jesus agrees that a divorce was made possible with a law from Moses. Moses, however, didn’t give a divorce decree because he thought it was a great idea but because he understood the hardness of the heart of man. Some people are just determined to make others miserable. Some people are just plain mean and selfish. Some people should never get married. They have hard heart issues.

Jesus shares that when God instituted marriage in Genesis, it was not with divorce in mind. God, from the beginning, created them male and female. It matters not that we are in a time when marriage is being redefined; before God, in the beginning, it was for males and females. This was the first thing about marriage that Jesus shared!

He tells us that a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife. In biblical days, the family stayed together, frequently living in the same house, under the same roof. Even if that is the arrangement, the man is to cling to his wife. Some men believe their moms are more important than their wives. If that is true to them, it isn’t biblical. A man shouldn’t have to choose between the two special women in his life, and they should not ask him to. But if there is to be some choosing, his biblical responsibility is with his wife!

This leads me back to my conversation with my mother-in-law. The Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit before I replied to her and told me to ask her if she believed the Bible? She said that, of course, she did. I then asked her if she believed what God said about a man leaving his father and his mother to be joined with his wife? She said that she did. And that was the end of that conversation. I never felt like I had disrespected her or slighted her in any manner. As believers, we had chosen to honor His word and His perspective on the situation, and it was settled. I shared what happened with my husband, and being the wise man he is, he began to visit her more.

Then Jesus explains what is supposed to happen in marriage. The two become one flesh. How? Through sexual intimacy. Paul gives us a little more insight into what this looks like.

 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 

1 Corinthians 7: 3-5 NKJV

Sexual purity within a marriage is a blog unto itself. But suffice it to say, sex is not a tool we use to manipulate one another; it is bonding material. It makes us one! This is why fornication and adultery are not suitable for us. We can’t keep binding ourselves to all of these people and then taking them into our marriage bed!

The only point I am going to make is the one about withholding sex. We don’t withhold sex because we are mad or trying to punish one another. That’s a dangerous game to play, and it opens the door to the enemy. Keep that door closed!

What God has joined together, let no man put asunder! That includes you. Don’t be the reason that your marriage fails. Don’t invite the devil into your bedroom or into your home. Fussing and fighting, name-calling, anger, bitterness, insensitivity, disrespect, and selfishness are marriage killers. Making your spouse the butt of your jokes is childish. Comparing your spouse to an ex, a parent, a pastor, a friend, a sibling is not cool. These things, over time, will lead to a hard heart which will lead to divorce. Don’t let it happen!

Everyone needs someone to confide in, but be really careful about the influence you allow people to have in your life and marriage. Your friend who is trying to convince you to leave your spouse may have ulterior motives. They may want you or your spouse. Be careful! Ok! My passion is showing, and I need to stop!

With this ring, I thee wed! God intended for it to be a lifelong journey of love, respect, and intimacy. Not a revolving door. The original plan for marriage is still the best plan! Wonderful Jesus!

Cut It Off!

 Mark 9:42-43- “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched” NKJV

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My plan was to skip over this part of chapter 9 and move on to 10, but as I spent time with the Lord, He began talking to me from this passage. Let’s dive in and see what God has for us today!

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.

Mark 9:42 NKJV

As we come to the end of 2021, it’s amazing to think of all that we have experienced as a nation, as a church, and even as individuals. If anyone prophesied to us in 2019, what 2020 and 2021 would look like, we would have thought they were false prophets. But looking at where we are, we have to be honest in our private time with God and ask, how did we get here?

Yes, the pandemic threw us for a loop, shutting down much of the world. Yes, many lives were lost, and therefore, many more were changed. Jobs were stopped, businesses were closed down forever, the world went digital through IoT (internet of things), and the way we do life saw many changes.

Online services have become the norm causing some to be content to stay home during service times. Those who were left out because they were ill or the church was inaccessible can now enjoy worship with their friends and family. This is a blessing! But for those who are just staying home, you are causing others who are babes in Christ, quite possible yourself, to stumble.

Jesus said that if we cause one to stumble! That’s a pretty high calling by which to live. For if we cause one to stumble, Jesus said, it would be better if we were thrown in the sea! Now let me stop to say that Jesus isn’t encouraging suicide or murder here. He is saying that it is really and truly serious to Him if we conduct our lives in such a manner that it causes others to stumble.

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched

Mark 9:43 NKJV

Let me also point out that I don’t believe for a second that Jesus believes in self-mutilation. Nothing anyone could ever write in a commentary or preach in a sermon could ever convince me that we are to start cutting off our body parts if we sin with them. But I do believe, because I heard Him addressing me, that there are some things that we do need to cut off. As a matter of fact, the phrase, “cut it off” has been ringing in my heart for days.

Let’s read this in the Amplified version:

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe and trust in Me to stumble [that is, to sin or lose faith], it would be better for him if a heavy millstone [one requiring a donkey’s strength to turn it] were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.  If your hand causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It is better for you to enter life crippled, than to have two hands and go into hell, into the unquenchable fire.

Mark 9:42-43 AMP

When God spoke to my spirit this week, this is what He said to me. If there is something that will cause us, or others to stumble, that we are involved in, it’s time to cut it off! Today, is my first time reading this passage in the AMP version, so I know that I wasn’t just meditating on this version. God said, some things need to be cut off, or out of our lives.

What things? There is absolutely no way that we can live the kind of life that won’t offend someone. I know people who get offended at the concept of supporting their church financially. Let them! But there are other things that are offensive, and we know they are offensive and divisive, yet we participate with them or at least approve of them. It’s time to cut them off!

That individual who you are still involved with, knowing what God has to say in His word, is an offense to young believers and a sin you need to be rid of. It’s time to cut it off! Your heart may break, your life may change, children may be affected, but in the end, your eternity is what matters! Get mad with me if you need to, but you can stop deceiving yourself by thinking God is okay with homosexuality, fornication, adultery, or any other sinful lifestyle. Just because you are living what you think is a good life, He is not in it! Cut it off and go on to live His best life!

When our daughter was in undergrad, she attended a church that believed it was okay to drink alcoholic beverages. We had many conversations about that! I know all the scriptures about Jesus drinking wine and sitting with the sinners. But deep in our spirit, we know that is not the behavior of believers and it could inadvertently cause people to stumble, including us! Just cut it off! It’s not necessary for a healthy and prosperous life!

Paul said it this way:

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.

1 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV

You may be feeling like you have the liberty in Christ to drink, to smoke, to do whatever, and I won’t argue with you about it. But Paul wrote that our liberty can become a stumbling block to those who are weak, and we should be mindful of that as we exercise our liberties.

Cut it off! It’s really, really hard to look at our lives and think that there is anything in our lives that can cause others to stumble. I can look at Sister So and So’s life and see that she just needs to stop doing this or stop acting like that. But can she look at my life and do the same? I am sure of it!

James wrote this to the church:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:22-25 NKJV

We don’t want to be that person who looks in the mirror of God’s word, sees something He is showing us, and then walks away with our heads hung because we can’t see ourselves letting go of it, like the rich young ruler. No! We want to respond immediately!

Just this week, as I was before the Lord, He showed me something in my life that I need to cut off. I know it’s the truth! So I repented of that thing and asked Him to help me as I learn to walk free of it. It’s a blessing to realize that He loves me so much He wants to prune me to look more like Him.

Maybe He is speaking to you through today’s blog. Maybe He is using it to confirm something He has already spoken to you. Whatever it is, take courage and cut it off today! Wonderful Jesus!

Becoming Great!

Mark 9:35- And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” NKJV

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Jesus’ disciples did a lot of walking in the course of their time spent together. They were having a conversation that they didn’t want Jesus to be privy to on this particular occasion. They were discussing who would be the greatest in the kingdom.

Now that we all know Jesus’ feelings on the subject, it is easy for us to look at them and think, seriously? But if we are honest with ourselves, each of us has had thoughts of greatness in our hearts. Every little kid who picks up basketball desires to be the greatest basketball player ever! He doesn’t have dreams of washing out in high school! No! He’s dreaming of the NBA and having a career greater than Michael Jordan or LeBron James! Every singer wants to be greater than Whitney Houston or Cece Winans. We all have visions of greatness!

Allow me to be vulnerable. I am a minister and have been preaching for over forty years. I am unknown, and my only ministry right now is in my blog. I’m not complaining; however, I realize that many may see me as insignificant, unproven. But that is how they see me, not how Jesus sees me. And although I have been serving faithfully in the kingdom since I was a teenager, I still look at my life and want to do something great for God. I’m not discounting all that I have done in the kingdom, I am just admitting that I want to do so much more!

Jesus shares His point of view on what it takes to be great in the kingdom. This statement qualifies as one of those times when His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways.

And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

Mark 9:35 NKJV

No one wants to be last! Have you ever seen students line up for recess? I have. They all rush to get to the front of the line. It doesn’t matter that you tell them they will all get there simultaneously; no one wants to be last getting there! Have you ever been riding down the road, and someone speeds ahead of you to get to the corner first? They are still acting like they are in elementary school. They will not be last! Yet Jesus says that being great, being first is not the goal. It doesn’t look like what we think it looks like!

If you want to be great, be a servant. Well, no one remembers the servant, Jesus! How can we do great things for Him as a servant? Where is our model?

Jesus is our best model. As we look at His life in the book of Mark, we see Him as a servant. He made Himself available to meet the needs of the people, even when He was exhausted. He healed the multitudes of sick people and provided meals for thousands of people. He trained the disciples and taught the people for hours on end. His church was on the seashore, at the base of a mountain, in a cemetery, or a field. Wherever He was needed and whatever He could do to serve others, we see Jesus doing it. So Jesus, being Great, told us that His greatness was demonstrated by His willingness to serve and be last! Not by lording His rulership over others!

As a result of His servant’s heart and lifestyle, Paul wrote these words about Jesus:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV

Although He is God, when He came to Earth, He didn’t come looking to make a reputation for Himself. Paul stated that Jesus took on the attitude of a bondservant just by coming in the likeness of man. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death on the cross! He served God without worrying about if people thought He was great or not, without being concerned about His reputation, even without regard to being honored and received. I don’t know about you, but this blog is speaking to me!

Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”

Mark 9:36-37 NKJV

Jesus presents a child to the disciples. I’m not sure why, although commentators have an opinion. Whoever receives a child in Jesus’ name is doing something great. If I am still thinking about being a servant, maybe the comparison to a child indicates that there will be some people we don’t want to serve. During this age, children didn’t carry a lot of value, according to the commentators. In today’s society, we see people who are not valued every day. Young people, old people, poor people, people who are different from us can all be treated as if they are not important. Lord, help! In light of this comparison, Jesus encourages us to receive and serve those the world turns its backs on!

My husband and I attended a primarily white church when we first married. They had an outreach ministry to the Black community. Every Sunday, they would send out buses to pick the children up and bring them to church. There had to be a couple of hundred kids present every Sunday. We worked in this ministry during children’s church, and they were provided a meal. The only problem with the outreach was that they wouldn’t allow their children to mix with the Black kids. Still, those children got to hear about Jesus, and I am sure that some of them live for Him today because of it!

Jesus said that when we receive these children in His name, we receive Him. If that be true, you would think that we would certainly treat them with the utmost care. Reaching out to others as if we were actually reaching out to Jesus could change our whole approach to serving others.

Lastly, Jesus said that when we receive Him, we welcome the One who sent Him, the Father! I’m a work in progress, and I know that you are also. People can be really annoying, and with some people, their needs seem to have no end. But when we think of what it means to Jesus and how He sees our service to others, it bears thinking about and making some changes!

I don’t think the disciples were all wrong about wanting to be great for God. I do think arguing about who was going to be the greatest was a little childish. I’m not concerned about who will be the greatest in this life, but I am still interested in doing something great. I believe there is a vast difference between wanting to do something great and wanting to be great! Now that Jesus’ words have reminded us of what that looks like, I believe that we can all work towards greatness! Wonderful Jesus!

Dynamic Duo!

Mark 9:28-29- And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” NKJV

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Some things in life just go together, like peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, hamburger and fries. Occasionally each of these ingredients will be placed with other ingredients, but when you go back to the basics, these are some of the dynamic duos of food. There is another dynamic duo that is the subject for this post, fasting and praying, and when coupled together, the power unleashed is unstoppable.

Jesus’ disciples were faced with an obstacle that they could not overcome. As a matter of fact, it put them in an embarrassing situation. Jesus had left most of His followers behind as He went to the mount with Peter, James, and John to pray. While there, He was transfigured and Moses and Elijah met with Him. While He and the disciples were on the mountaintop having a glorious experience, the other disciples met a situation they were ill-prepared to handle.

A father had come looking for Jesus to set his son free from an unclean spirit that had been terrorizing his son for years. When he couldn’t find Jesus, he asked the disciples to help his son, and they could not. I can imagine their deliverance service looked a lot like some of ours look. We expend a lot of energy with very little results. Jesus comes upon the scene, finds out what is happening, and sets the young man free. When the disciples are alone with Jesus they ask Him:

“Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”

Mark 9:28-29 NKJV

Jesus told the disciples that there are some things that only move after a time of fasting and prayer. Most of us want to be able to exercise authority over principalities when we are only willing to fast from candy and pray the Lord’s prayer. That might get you something, but it won’t get you the power unleashed when you begin to really turn down the plate for some serious fasting, and carve out time in your day to meet with God.

This demon was no imp. He had been manifesting in this boy’s life for most of his existence and he wasn’t leaving without a fight. But Jesus was more than equipped to handle the situation, and if we are going to take on the tough situations of life, we are going to have to fast and pray.

I clearly remember a time when someone was praying about her marriage. God instructed me to fast for three days. I automatically knew that I would be praying. I informed her of what the Lord had spoken to me. She immediately decided that she would be fasting and praying also. God had given me a specific timeframe when her husband would return home to her after years of separation (and then He told me to fast). Sure enough, after those three days of fasting and praying, things went downhill. But I stood on what God had told me. As sure as He is King, He turned that situation around, when He said that He would, and they are still married to this day! Glory be to God!

During times of prolonged illnesses of a loved one is an excellent time to fast and pray. David wrote:

But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth (mourning garment); I humbled my soul with fasting, and I prayed with my head bowed on my chest.

Psalm 35:13 AMP

This doesn’t mean that every single time I have fasted and prayed for someone who was sick that they had a miraculous recovery. I would be lying if I said it or led you to believe it. But when I finish fasting and praying, I know that I have prayed and done all that I knew to do. The opportunity for healing was certainly not hindered because I chose to do nothing, so peace reigns in my heart.

Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher…and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38 NKJV

Anna spent her life fasting and praying to the Lord. During one of her times with the Lord, He spoke to her and told her that she would see the Messiah before she left the earth. One day, as she was going about her daily tasks, she walked into the room where she saw the Messiah, Jesus, who would redeem Israel from their sins. What a blessed day that was for her! For mankind!

It is my personal belief that a lot of what we experience today can be stopped with fasting and praying. Not one person fasting and praying, although it has to begin with someone, nations fasting and praying to see God standing in the midst of our situations and circumstances!

It’s true that if you are just fasting, and not praying that you haven’t connected to the power unleashed by the dynamic duo, but don’t underestimate the power of doing one or the other. They both work alone, but together, they are more powerful. Jesus said so in our text that some things require that we both fast and pray.

Cornelius wasn’t even saved when he tapped into the power of fasting and praying!

So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”

Acts 10:30-33 NKJV

Cornelius had a hunger in his heart. He wasn’t a believer, as a matter of fact, he wasn’t even a Jew. But his heart cried out to the Lord. And as he hungered for God he felt to fast and pray. During that time, God sent an angel to him with specific directions of where to find Peter so that Peter could share the gospel with him. Cornelius obeyed the angel, gathered his family, and waited for Peter’s arrival. He and his entire household received salvation!

Some of our friends and family members are stubborn. They are bent on having their way. But when prayer isn’t working, it may be time to unleash the power of the dynamic duo. It may be time to fast and pray! How long should you fast and pray? How serious is your need?

There are some demonic attacks that won’t let go just because you prayed and exercised your faith. There will be times, when what you are facing is greater than what you are prepared for. But that’s okay because with fasting and praying you can get prepared. And if you lead a fasted life, you can be in a ready position, staying ahead of the devil!

Every believer needs to understand fasting and praying is not just a spiritual discipline, it is access to the power of God for breakthrough in our lives. Determine today that you will be opened to spend time fasting and praying about the situations in your life, and the lives of others, that seem to be too stubborn to move! Make it your mission to fight back with the weapons that God has given us, then stand on whatever He speaks to your heart, or obey whatever He directs you to. Wonderful Jesus!

A Father’s Request!

Mark 9:21-22- “So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” NKJV

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Jesus and His disciples were returning from the mount of transfiguration when they notice a crowd of people with His other disciples. The scribes are disputing with His disciples, and as He comes upon them, He asks a question, “What are you discussing with them?”

Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”

Mark 9:17-18 NKJV

Since Mark doesn’t make it plain what the discussion was about, and the man spoke up and shared this situation with Jesus, let’s just assume they were discussing the boy’s condition and the disciples inability to handle the situation.

The father brought his son to Jesus, but at the time Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration. When it was evident that Jesus wasn’t around, the father assumed that because of the disciple’s association with Jesus, they could get the job done.

Can you imagine watching your child going through such horrendous experiences as this father did? He said the demon threw his son down, caused him to foam at the mouth, to grind his teeth and then become rigid, locking his body. This was terrible! Yet, this was their reality! Most parents can’t bear their children having a fever, or the chicken pox, let alone seizures and fits that are demonically controlled. And if this wasn’t enough, the child had no ability to voice what he was feeling because he was mute.

I can imagine the father’s desperation. I can imagine his anguish over watching his son being tormented by the demon, and the helpless feeling that would overcome him as he watched his son being abused time and again by this demon. Jesus’ disciples were unable to assist him. They wanted to, and they tried to set him free, but to no avail. And the father’s state of hopelessness returns. So when he sees Jesus, hope is renewed and he races to Jesus to tell him what is going on.

He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.

Mark 9:19-20 NKJV

Bring him to Me! When they brought the boy to Jesus, the demon saw Jesus and immediately caused the boy to go into convulsions. Do you see that? The demon was putting on a show of defiance for Jesus, trying for the last time to destroy this boy. Because one thing the demon is certain of, his days of hurting this boy are over!

So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.  And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

Mark 9:21-22 NKJV

Jesus asks the father how long had his son been going through this? The father gives Jesus a summary of his son’s experiences. He tells Jesus that since his son was a boy he had been experiencing these episodes, or attacks from the enemy. When the episodes happened, his son was thrown in the fire and in the water to destroy him. Then he looks at Jesus and makes a heartfelt request: “But if You can do anything have compassion on us and help us.”

The father’s request is not just for the son, it is for him also. Everything that his son has experienced, the father has been right there with him. When the demon threw his son in the fire, he had to rescue him from the fire and bandage his wounds. When the demon threw his son in the water to drown him, he had to pull him out of the water to rescue him. I imagine he couldn’t let the boy out of his sight for long. Either that or he had someone assigned to watching over him. He loved his son and wanted him free. He had done all that he could and now he asks Jesus if there is anything that He could do for them, would He please have compassion on them and help them?

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:23-24 NKJV

Jesus said to the father, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” The father immediately cried out, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”

Jesus stated that if we can believe, all things are possible to him who believes! The ownership of faith is always on us! It’s not about what Jesus can do, but what we believe that Jesus will do!

My husband comes to mind when I think of a father’s request! Watching him over the years as he has prayed for our girls about situations in their lives reminds me of this father.

When I was pregnant with our second born, my husband prayed that we would have a healthy child, that I would have a natural delivery, and that it wouldn’t be expensive because we were paying out of pocket. Well, on the day of delivery, I had a C-section, our child was rushed to PICU, and we knew it was going to cost a lot of money. While this is in no way as severe as the father in our text, for us, it was major because they told us she could die.

He went back to the Father, and told him, “I asked for a natural delivery, and she had a C-section. I asked for a healthy baby, and we’re being told she could die on us because of her larynx being under developed, and I asked for the cost to be kept down, and its climbing into the thousands.” As he went to bed that night he meditated on this scripture:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV

The very next day when he arrived at the hospital things started changing! The hospital submitted paperwork to someone and the bill was taken care of by them. The money we had paid was returned to us. Our daughter is living her best life with no trace of what she experienced, and I recovered quickly!

Parents, our prayers make the difference in our children lives. No matter their age! And as this father was courageous in going to Jesus, and honest about where he was in his faith, so must we be!

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

Mark 9:25-27 NKJV

Jesus set that father’s son free. That deaf and dumb spirit had to release him at Jesus’ command! Jesus healed our daughter and she had no further issues with her larynx. He’s just good like that! Never underestimate your ability to pray a prayer that says, I have to have a yes! That’s called faith! Wonderful Jesus!

That’s Supernatural!

Mark 9:2-4-“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.” NKJV

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Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.

Mark 9:9-10 NKJV

Most of the time when I read that Jesus told someone not to say anything, I have to admit that I’m a little confused by the request. But on this occasion, I completely understand it. Can you imagine what would have happened if the disciples had shared that they witnessed Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah? Someone may have wanted to have them committed!

Jesus takes them to the mountain to get away. I believe He knows exactly what is about to happen, and His disciples are clueless, as usual. He takes a select group with Him, Peter, James and John.

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. 

Mark 9:2 NKJV

When they got to the place that Jesus was leading them to, He was transfigured. The Greek word for transfigured is “metamorphoo” which means to change into another form. What form could He have been transfigured into? I think, based on my studies, that He looked more like His divine presence of Glory, then He looked like a man. The glory of God resonated so brightly through Him, that the disciples didn’t know how to describe it. Yet, they tried.

His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.

Mark 9:3 NKJV

This transfiguration was about more than Jesus’ clothes being white. However, Mark states that they were whiter than white, and whiter than any person on earth could have ever gotten them. Matthew wrote:

 And He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

Mark 9:2 NKJV

In Matthew’s description of the event, Jesus’ clothes were white as light, but He added that Jesus’ face shone like the sun. Matthew wasn’t there, but when he heard it described, someone told him that the whiteness was like light! This certainly sounds like the Glory of God being released in Jesus! Luke used a different word to describe what happened:

As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.

Luke 9:29 NKJV

I read that it is believed that Luke used the word “altered” instead of “transfigured” because he was writing to a Gentile audience and didn’t want to confuse them with their ancient beliefs of gods. But whatever word was used, something unusual took place on that mountaintop and the disciples had a hard time putting it into words. If that wasn’t enough, Jesus had visitors!

And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 

Mark 9:4 NKJV

Can I just say that if I was the disciples, by now I would be freaking all the way out! Maybe it would have been happening inwardly, and maybe I would have been shouting! But I would have had a reaction I am sure! First, Jesus changes into a different person, He looks like God and not like a man! Then two men appear to talk with Him and they are recognized as Moses and Elijah! Moses disappeared on Mount Nebo before the children of Israel ever crossed the Jordan! When He died and where He was buried was only known to God. (See Deuteronomy 34:5-6)

And now, this great leader of Israel, the one who brought the children of Israel out of the promised land and gave them the Law from God on tablets of stones is before them! That’s more than amazing, that’s supernatural. And if that isn’t enough to cause them to be in a state of shock, Elijah that great prophet, the one who was carried away in a whirlwind on chariots of fire before Elisha was also standing there talking with Jesus! (See 2 Kings 2:10-11)

Can you just imagine how the disciples were feeling at this time? Jesus allowed them to witness this incredible moment in His life. They saw Him in all of His glory, and they also saw two men they thought were dead and buried, and but a memory, a spiritual icon. And according to the word, they were greatly afraid!

Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.

Mark 9:5-6 NKJV

Peter is the one who probably shared all of this with Mark before he wrote it down. I can imagine that Mark asked him, “Why did you tell Jesus that you thought you should build tabernacles for them?” And Peter probably replied, “I don’t know Mark. I was so scared that I didn’t know what to say, but the first thing that popped in my head was that we should build tabernacles and I just said it!” Yep! In the presence of the glory, people don’t always know how they will respond, and this was such a case! Peter may have said something that showed he hadn’t thought, but he recognized the moment as being monumental!

And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.

Mark 9:7-8 NKJV

At that moment, when the disciples probably felt that their thirst for the supernatural had been thoroughly quenched and was more than they could handle, God Himself descended in a cloud and overshadowed them all! God spoke and said, “This is My beloved Son! Hear Him!” In other words, Moses had his opportunity to speak to the people and he fulfilled his assignment. Elijah had his opportunity to speak to my people, and he fulfilled his assignment. This is Jesus’ time! There will not be any tabernacles made for anyone. Just hear what my beloved Son has to say!” And just like that, everyone was gone but Jesus!

Just describing this scene is causing my spirit to leap at the awesomeness of what they witnessed. Jesus being transfigured would have been enough. Seeing Moses and Elijah was more than enough! Having God descend on them and speak to them was indescribable! It was too supernatural to truly put into words. That’s why the descriptions seem so vague. How do you truly describe a God encounter?

I skipped over verse one, but now I will return it.

And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”

Mark 9:1 NKJV

I’m wondering if this is that moment that Jesus spoke of when He mentioned the kingdom of God being present with power? The one that some of them would see before they left the earth! What could be a more powerful demonstration to His disciples, outside of His resurrection, that He is God and the kingdom is really real? I’m telling you, this is deep! This is power! This is supernatural! I am truly at the end of my words as I reverence the God we are serving. Thank you, Father! Wonderful, wonderful Jesus!

Pay to Play!

Mark 8:34-35 –When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. NKJV

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How well we understand the concept that nothing in life is free. There is a price to be paid for anything worth having. For example, going back to school is an expensive endeavor in time and money. Most people aren’t willing to pay the cost of going back to school even when they are aware that it will get them closer to their dreams. But for those who are willing to pay the cost, they understand that there will be some events that they will have to say no to because of assignments or classes. They make the needed sacrifices, they pay the price with their finances and their time, and eventually they obtain the skills and the degree to pursue other avenues in life.

Then there is the case of a good marriage! There is no such thing as getting married and automatically have a good marriage. It’s work! And for some, the time and effort needed to make a marriage work isn’t worth it to them. So they end up divorced and broken. Even when one person is willing to pay the price, things will still go wrong and end badly, because two people made the commitment and both of them need to pay the cost to have a good marriage. That may look like swallowing your pride and saying that you are sorry. It may look like saying no to the friends who are single and still want to hang out on a regular basis. It could be as simple as saying good night to your boss, so you can hurry home and say hello to your spouse. Whatever you need to do in your marriage, it is going to cost you something else; but when you are committed to your spouse and your marriage, it is worth it!

Such is the case with our relationship with Jesus. He paid for our salvation, but there is a price to be paid. Not to obtain salvation, for it is free. But Jesus said that following Him requires a price from the follower!

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

Mark 8:34-35 NKJV

Most people just want to be saved and know that they won’t go to hell. That may be alright for the average person, but for those of us who hold Him dear and want to follow Him all of our days, we must understand that there is a price to be paid.

Self is hard to deny. Jesus understands that, and yet He asks it of us. If we are going to follow after Him, we must deny ourselves. We may say yes to denying a whole lot of folks, but rarely do we consider denying ourselves. Have you ever tried to lose weight by denying yourself a favorite food? I bet that was hard! As a matter of fact, the weight loss business is making money hand over fist because we would rather do anything, take anything, drink anything that will keep us from saying no to what we want to eat! And still, with all of that, we often fail to lose the weight. I should know, I have been trying to lose the same pounds for a decade. I take it off, it comes back, and then I work to take it off again, and it comes back again. It started with 10 pounds, but when it returned it brought some more with it. Yikes! You get the drift!

When a fast is called, there is usually griping in the ranks. People don’t understand why they have to let go of their food for a period of time because a fast has been called. Especially when someone adds in the fact that you should not be on social media, or watch the news, or television, or any other denial. We just have a hard time telling ourselves no. After all, I’m grown and can do what I want to do!

Spiritually denying ourselves can take on many forms. Denying self could be a time of fasting and praying. Denying self could happen when you allow Him to keep you pure during your singleness. Denying self could happen in marriage when you honor your vows of clinging to one another. Denying yourself could include church attendance when you would rather stay home. Denying yourself could include giving to others when you could easily spend on yourself. There are so many ways to deny yourself, and when He asks it of us, we should give it!

Taking up our cross! Can I start by stating that this isn’t a sickness or a disease that you will have to battle. If it was, Jesus wouldn’t have healed so many people because in doing so, He didn’t allow them to carry their cross. Your cross could easily be that you are the only Christian at your school or job, and as difficult as it is, as lonely as the weekends can be, you are determined to live for Jesus! That cross isn’t for always! Or maybe you are ridiculed at work, ignored, and looked over during promotion because you refuse to drink with the gang, sleep with the manager, or lie for the team. That cross isn’t forever, but for now, you have to carry it for the cause of Christ.

Deciding to follow Jesus is the greatest decision a person can make. For me, it is synonymous with being saved. But for those of you who disagree, I am okay with that! Following Jesus says that where He leads, we will follow! If that pathway leads to few friends and lonely nights, I’ll just spend some more time with Him, but I refuse to compromise to be with others. Following Jesus may mean persecution on the job, in the neighborhood, in the family, or amongst friends, but it is what it is! Consider Him who gave up it all, that we might be saved!

What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him, the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:36-38 NKJV

Jesus asks the million dollar question when He asks, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? Isn’t that the bottom line. If you are more concerned about having a man, or a woman, then you are about His call to holiness, how will that help you in the end? It won’t! How will compromising on your job, lying to get ahead, ignoring unrighteousness to obtain riches help you with eternity? It won’t! Self-denial, taking up your cross, and following Jesus is a price that we all have to pay. None of us can avoid it. In doing so, it appears that we are ashamed of Him and that’s a sad place to be. For if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father! Let’s determine today that we are all in and ready to pay the cost, for we have counted it, and find it doable! There is no shame in our game because we adore Him and have made up our minds that He is worth the cost! Wonderful Jesus!

The Cost!

Mark 8:31- And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. NKJV

The Cost?

His Blood!

I’m amazed at how often I hear people say that salvation is free. They aren’t lying, but what I say in my mind is that it is free to us, but it was not free! Most things in life worth having, comes with a cost and this beautiful life with Jesus has the greatest price tag ever! His Blood!

When we started in the book of Mark, I shared that the portrait of Jesus in this gospel is that of the Suffering Servant. Thus far, what we have seen from the Pharisees and religious leaders have been minimal in comparison to what He will experience. We have seen them angry with Jesus. They have tried to trap Jesus with His words. They have tested Him with His compassion. And they have tried to turn others away from Him. But up to this point they have only been harassing Him.

Now, Jesus begins to teach them about what is getting ready to happen to Him!

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Mark 8:31 NKJV

The Son of Man must suffer many things. There is a saying, “Things will get worst before they will get better!” That was Jesus’ message to them. He told the disciples that He would be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and scribes. Nobody foretold of this time better than Isaiah:

He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53:3 NKJV

The phrase “be rejected” in the Greek is apodokimasthēnai, and it literally means “to disapprove of”. The evidence is there for all to see, how very much the scribes and Pharisees disapproved of Jesus. They didn’t like one thing about Him! And they allowed that to fester in their hearts to the extent of wanting to commit murder! We need to be really careful about what we allow to fester in our own hearts!

One commentator wrote that the phrase “be rejected” meant “failed to pass the scrutiny.” We know that the Pharisees felt that Jesus failed to pass their scrutiny of Him, but surprisingly this word, according to the commentator, means that they failed to pass God’s scrutiny of them! How many people today are in the same position that the Pharisees were in, thinking that they were in a place to approve or disapprove of Jesus, when in actuality, they were the ones who were found lacking?

He told the disciples that He would be killed. What? This is Jesus, the Messiah! Son of the living God! He heals the sick, open blind eyes, cause the deaf to hear, and the mute to speak. The lame walk at His word and demons flee upon command. And now He is saying that He will be killed? I’m sure the disciples were a confused bunched of people! And if that wasn’t enough, He said after three days He would rise again. They probably didn’t hear the rise again part because they were shocked that He would speak of being killed!

He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Mark 8:32-33 NKJV

A few verses earlier, Peter boldly proclaims that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. So when he hears Jesus talking like this, he thinks he has a right to tell Jesus that He has gone too far! Peter rebukes Jesus! Say what? I know he didn’t! Yes, he did! Meshuga! Yiddish word for he is crazy! But surprisingly, it appears that while the others may be wondering what Jesus is talking about, Peter seems to understand exactly what He is saying! Jesus will be murdered! Peter cannot accept this! Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ! He has come to reign in the kingdom that He has been speaking of. A glorious kingdom. The best one of all! Matthew let’s us in on what Peter said to Jesus:

Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”

Matthew 16:22 NKJV

No way is this going to happen to you Jesus! No way! Then Jesus in turn rebukes Peter!

“Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Mark 8:33 NKJV

Peter went from Jesus’ approval to being rebuked! It was the plan of God for Jesus to die. He had to pay the cost that no other being, human or otherwise, could pay. For Peter to so strongly protest His death was the devil! Jesus didn’t say, “Peter, I rebuke you!” He said, “Get behind Me, Satan!” He was dealing with the devil, who was using Peter, to interfere with the plan of God!

Now don’t get all sanctimonious on me! You know very well that there are times when someone says something to you or someone else and you know it’s the devil talking! Even when you really love that person! You are not saying that they are possessed by the devil, but they yielded to him for that moment in time when they said those words that were crushing to your spirit. Yep! That was the devil himself! Or at least, one of his demons!

Jesus points out an interesting nugget here. He said that Peter was mindful of the things of men, and not the things of God. Is it possible that when we get so carried away with what is happening in this world that we lose focus of what God is doing? Is it possible that we can find ourselves in the same place that Peter was in? More mindful of the the things of the world? Is God waiting to rebuke us? Scary thought!

I got carried away with this blog and had to cut out a chunk of it for another day! I started this blog by stating that salvation wasn’t free. Not from the viewpoint of heaven. It cost Jesus His life! It cost Him humiliation! It cost Him a time of separation from God, something He had never experienced. It cost Him dearly!

So the next time you think of your this great salvation that you enjoy, thank Him for the cost He so willingly paid, that we might experience it so freely! Wonderful Jesus!