What Comes Out Of You?

Scripture: Mark 7:

15-16 Nothing outside you can defile you by going into you. Rather, it is what comes out of you that defiles you.

Job 22; Mark 7,8 – Passage Lookup – Today’s New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation:  That which flows from us, our words, our actions, our forgiveness and grace is what is important to God.

Application:   We worry about what is going into our bodies, and into our minds.  Are we eating right?  Are we getting the right kind of mental stimulation and being fed the right kind of thoughts?  This is natural for us, and it’s important for us to be aware of these things, but Jesus said – it’s not what goes in you that defiles you but instead it’s what comes out of you.  The greater concern for us should not be what we are taking in from the world around us, but rather our greater concern should be what we are putting out into the world from within us.

Imagine a person that goes to church every time the doors are open, they stay away from all the bad influences that the world so abundantly provides, they eat right and try to live a healthy lifestyle not only spiritually but physically.  A person like that may seem to be doing all the right things, but even so, inside they may be a mess.  Even though they have followed all the rules on the outside, inside they may be full of stress, anger, accusation, judgment and hatefulness. Conversely, a person who seems to live life haphazardly without much thought of what they are doing may have within them much peace, love and grace.  They may not worry about the influences that are around them, they may eat what they want and not worry about their health, but still be in good shape spiritually and physically. 

Luk 10:19  Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

The important thing is what comes out of you, because that which flows from within, shows the true inner you. 

Prayer: God Almighty,

Thank you for your protection and grace.  Thank you for your forgiveness and love.  Thank you for the power that you grant to those of us who are in the world but not of the world.  Keep us safe from the enemy and help us to show forth your love.  Let what comes out of us be a glory to You and Your Son Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

Love Michael

The Awful Price Of Truth

Scripture: Mark 6:

17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife." 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled [d]; yet he liked to listen to him.

21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of [e] Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.

    The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you." 23 And he promised her with an oath, "Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom."

24 She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?"
       "The head of John the Baptist," she answered.

Job 21; Mark 5,6 – Passage Lookup – Today’s New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: For someone who has adopted a lie, the truth is a hard pill to swallow and they may fight against it and attack those who deliver it.

Application:  Are you a truth teller?  Are you unafraid of speaking the truth to people, even if it’s not what they want to hear?  We are all subject to avoiding the truth in certain areas of our lives.  Has anyone ever asked you how a certain piece of clothing looked on them and you told them something like, "It looks good!" even when it didn’t?  How about this one, "Do you like my new haircut?"  Hmmm, what do you say if the answer that you know to be the truth is different from the answer you know they are wanting to hear?

As I read this scripture today, I am amazed at the boldness of John and his dedication to the truth.  Not only is he telling someone something he knows they don’t want to hear, but he’s saying it to people who are powerful and mean, and he knows it

Jesus said, "The truth shall set you free."  Joh 8:32, but it may not set you free in this life.  The freedom Jesus spoke of was of an eternal nature, from the origin of heaven, it is freedom of the spirit and soul.  But here in this imperfect life, truth may have it’s consequences.  People don’t often want to hear the truth, and may even be violently opposed to it.

It’s like when you’ve been sleeping in a very dark room and someone comes in and turns a bright light on right beside your face.  What is the first thing that you do?  You cover your face, you may yell at the person to turn the light back off, and if they don’t you may get angry at them for blinding you with the light.  The truth is like that – people who have grown accustomed to the darkness, may not be able to handle the light of the truth.

Sometimes the truth may have an awful price in this life, but the payoff of following the truth, seeking the truth, and sharing the truth has payoffs in the life to come.  "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Prayer: Father of Truth,

Thank you for the truth that is found in the teachings of Jesus, thank you for the truth of your love and salvation that He gives us.  Help me to be bold in the truth, and keep me on the path of truth.  Forgive me when I fail to accept it and turn rather to the darkness.  Flood me Lord with the light of your truth and love and grace and healing.

Love Michael

Do Unto Others

Scripture: Mark 4:

24b …"With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more.

Job 20; Mark 3,4 – Passage Lookup – Today’s New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: What goes around comes around.

Application: What you do comes back to you.  This concept that Jesus was teaching is something that has a place in almost every religious system in the world. It has been taught by various teachers in ancient Judaism, India, Greece, and China but it is best known through our Lord Jesus when he puts it this way "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you." 

Many have termed it The Golden Rule, but there is also a negative side to it.  The lesser known Silver Rule speaks of the wrongs we do to others and this is probably closer to our scripture this morning than The Golden Rule; If you do evil to another, that will also come back to you. As Jesus says here in Mark, "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more."

So we need to not only be aware and conscious of the opportunities to do good that come our way, but also of the opportunities to avoid the bad.  What you send out comes back to you, so make every moment, every action, every thought and word count.  What goes around comes around.

Prayer: Father in Heaven,

Help me to shine forth in love so that I may receive love in return.  Forgive me, and help me to forgive others.  Strengthen me and help me to strengthen others.  Lift me up so that I may lift up someone else.  Guide me and help me to lead someone in need of guidance.  Let me measure out good so that I am measured the same and more in my own life.

Love Michael

Remember The Sabbath

Scripture: Mark 2:

27 Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

Job 19; Mark 1,2 – Passage Lookup – Today’s New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: The Sabbath is a gift from God to man.

Application: In today’s world, there are many people of faith who must work on Sundays and are not able to attend regular church worship services.  I have thought about this many times.  Many years ago there were very few jobs that required people to work on Sundays, but now if you say that you absolutely can not work on Sundays, you are limiting yourself in the work force and leaving many jobs that might provide well for you and your family behind.

The Jews who questioned Jesus about the actions of His disciples on the Sabbath were very strict in the things they would and would not do.  They followed all the restrictions of the Sabbath as closely as they could, and to see someone not reverencing those restrictions upset them a great deal.  But Jesus says, "look, the Sabbath is something God is doing for you, it’s not something you’re doing for God." 

God knew that man needed a day of rest and solitude every now and then, and so He told us to take one day out of seven and don’t work, think about Me, make the day holy and sacred.

Whether that day is Saturday, Sunday, or whatever day it is just take one out of seven and rest, relax and think about God.  I was once asked if I felt that I was sinning because I preach on Sundays.  Of course not.  I’m doing God’s work on Sundays, that’s how I see it.  I do try to take another day of the week off and not do much of anything – usually its Mondays.  But in our world today we need to realize that not everyone is able to put their jobs aside on Sundays, we need to respect that and understand that many companies will not even consider you for employment unless you are at least available on Sundays and in our economy today many times we have to take what we can get.

The Sabbath was not made for God, the Sabbath was made for man – take one day a week and make it your Sabbath – rest, relax, recharge, think about God.  If you can do it on Sundays and go to church – Hallelujah, if not – don’t neglect it altogether (Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy)– find a time when you can take off and make that your Sabbath.

Prayer: God Almighty, creator of every day –

This day – today is a day that you have made.  Help me to rejoice and be glad in every day, and to see the sacredness and holiness that you have created all around me.  Help me to take one day a week for rest, relaxation and reflection on you.  I thank you for all days, and for all the opportunities you have given me in life.   Help me always to know that all blessings come from you!

Love Michael

Calloused Hearts

 Scripture: Acts 28:

25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: "The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:

26 " ‘Go to this people and say,
       "You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
       you will be ever seeing but never perceiving."

27 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
       they hardly hear with their ears,
       and they have closed their eyes.
       Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
       hear with their ears,
       understand with their hearts
       and turn, and I would heal them.’ [a]

28-29 "Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!"

Job 18; Psalms 114; Acts 27,28 – Passage Lookup – Today’s New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: Those who will not open their eyes, or listen can never understand when God is doing a great and powerful thing.

Application: The Spirit spoke to the people through Isaiah, then many years later, the same message is given to the people of Paul’s era, and now it is given to us.  Are we as guilty as the Jews who had hardened their hearts so that they could not understand what God was doing?

Go and preach to the people of the church and tell them

You say "Amen" and nod your head but you don’t understand that a new time is dawning;

you see only that which you want to see, and turn a blind eye on that which doesn’t meet the norms or answer to the traditions you have learned to follow.

The people of this age are skeptical and bitter,

they are afraid to be persuaded that they may be wrong, or that something different might be happening, so they cup their hands over their ears, and pull the covers over their own eyes so that they can not see, and they can not hear and they can not be shown anything new. 

It’s so sad, because God has such wonderful blessings for them.

But since they will not listen, God will send the blessings that the church misses out on, to those who the church rejects and despises, and they will listen and be healed.

Prayer: God Almighty,

Help us to open our eyes and see, and to pay attention and hear.  Let us not turn a blind eye, nor fail to hear the true words of your message which is yet unfolding for us today.  Help us to understand that you are alive, well, active and involved with us. Let us not become so callused that we can no longer feel your presence and experience your life among us.

Love Michael

The World Says Foolish, God Says Wise

Scripture: Acts 26:

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?"

29 Paul replied, "Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains."

30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. 31 After they left the room, they began saying to one another, "This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment."

32 Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar."

Job 17; Acts 24,25,26 – Passage Lookup – Today’s New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: It may seem unwise to the worldly, but God’s wisdom goes beyond what we see, hear and understand with our physical eyes.

Application: As we begin to approach the final chapters of Acts and see what the end of Paul’s race looks like we can notice some similarities here in his and Jesus’ story.  One thing that is brought out is the fact that Paul seemed to know what was coming, and despite the knowledge that he would end up dying for the cause, he continued on his mission to complete what he felt God wanted him to do.

Agrippa takes notice that if it had not been for Paul himself appealing to Caesar that he would have been set free.  So what is it that makes Paul want to continue down a road that he obviously knew would lead to destruction?  I think it is the knowledge that God is doing something through his actions that is bigger and broader than his physical life.  Because Paul knew that God had a plan for him, and felt that he was being led into this confrontation for a reason, Paul was able to go on without fear. 

I think many of us feel that we have a higher purpose that God has laid out before us.  It is the purpose of spreading the good news of Jesus to a world who is in desperate need of a savior. No matter what happens to us, we know that God is bringing about wonderful things through the ministry that he sets us to, and we should feel privileged to suffer for Christ in whatever way we do.  So as we continue with our work, and we feel that we are outcast by the world, count it all joy, and with a glad heart continue on till the race is won and God calls us home.

Prayer: Lord God,

Thank you for the ministry you have called me to.  If I face struggles and hardships, help me to realize that I am in good company with the Saints of Light and help me to continue on in the example that they have laid down before me.  Forgive me when I feel sorry for myself or think that the road ahead may be too hard to travel.  Give me courage to stand up for you in all that I do, and if this cup shall not pass without my drinking it, let your will be done!

Love Michael