Preparing with Your Actions

* Theme Week – Jesus: Mark 14

Old Testament: Joshua Intro below

Psalms Reading: Psalm 94

This entire chapter is full of various preparations for the crucifixion of our Savior. 

It starts with a simple act of pure love and devotion. Jesus was in Bethany, eating with Lazarus and his sisters. And after this meal, a woman (John’s account tells us that it was Lazarus’ sister Mary) comes in with an expensive alabaster jar of fragrant oil and anoints Jesus. She has brought Jesus only the best and has complete disregard for its monetary value. Jesus tells us that what she is actually doing is anointing him for his burial. She isn’t giving to Christ for her sake, or out of guilt or in a rush of emotion. She prepared an offering of the best of what she had and gave. Jesus says that “She did what she could,” and she did it without direction or suggestion. She thought and found a way to serve her Lord and Savior whom she loved. 

In a different act of preparation we see the disciples taking direction from Jesus to go and prepare the passover meal. Jesus gives them all the direction they need, and when they follow those directions all is provided for them. They were given a mission, and all they had to do was follow – the means to complete it was supplied. 

And yet after the supper, when Christ asked a few of them to go with him and help him prepare for his coming death through prayer and fellowship, they couldn’t follow through. They fell asleep time and again. They fell short three times. Three times he checked on them, and reminded Peter to pray because the flesh is weak. Three times he came back and woke them and asked them to stay watchful and pray. Three times they proved themselves weak. Just as Peter would deny him three times. 

Take some time to prepare yourself with me by examining your actions and intentions today. Ask yourself: 

What can I do to show my love and appreciation for my savior? Am I too concerned with how others see my devotion to Jesus? How can I show my devotion as purely as Mary did?

When I’m given a task by God, do I follow through? Do I have faith that he will provide for my needs and give me a way to complete any task he gives me? 

My spirit is willing and like Peter I refuse to believe that I could ever deny or disobey my savior. But is my flesh weak? In what areas of my life am I sleeping rather than remaining watchful?

My prayer for you today is that you are able to look over your life and the decisions you’re making and analyze your motives and intentions. Take stock of how you are serving. Are you able to serve in faith and without worrying about whether or not you’ll be given what you need? Are you able to serve with the purest of intentions? I pray that you find a way to serve and follow and do it in a way that is pure and devoted. 

Jenn Haynes

Having finished Deuteronomy yesterday in our Old Testament reading, here is our introduction to the book of Joshua which we will begin reading tomorrow.

Joshua Introduction

The book of Joshua details the time from immediately following Moses’ death through the conquest of the land of Canaan.  We’re not told, but it is likely that Joshua himself wrote most of the book, since it sounds like a first-hand account of the events that happened and were recorded at the time.  At least the end of the book that records Joshua’s death had to have been written by someone else.

This book details the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be slaves in Egypt, but afterward would return to the promised land – the land of Canaan.  A promise God repeated to Moses.  We see this from the very beginning of the book, where in Joshua 1:2-3, God told Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead.  Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give them – to the Israelites.  I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.”

The first 12 chapters detail the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River, the battle of Jericho, the sun standing still over Gibeon for about a whole day during the battle with the Amorites, and the conquest of all of the land of Canaan.  Chapters 13-22 discuss the division of the land among the tribes of Israel.  Chapters 23-24 close with a challenge to worship God alone.

Some well-known verses in Joshua include:

Joshua 1:7-8, “Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

Joshua 23:14, “…You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed.  Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”

Joshua 24:14, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

This is an exciting book.  As you read it, consider the blessing and successes of Joshua, who faithfully followed God, contrasted with the punishment of people like Achan for disobedience.

Interestingly, the Hebrew name Joshua is the same as the new testament name Jesus.

-Steve Mattison

A Day to Remember

Mark 14

Friday, August 5, 2022

It’s a story we’ve heard a thousand times – Mark chapter 14. Jesus predicts that one of his disciples will betray him, one will deny him, and they feast for one last supper. He’s arrested and, in the face of threat of death, commits to remaining non-violent; even going as far as to heal those who oppose him. The archetype of betrayal, prophecy, and endurance coming together in one of the final chapters of Jesus’s time on earth. So, what more could we take away from these things after hearing it repeated our entire lives? There is always something new to be learned or applied if you’re willing to try to find it.

Starting at the beginning of the passage, a woman approaches Jesus with an exorbitantly expensive container of perfume. She takes this jar of perfume and dumps it all over Jesus, to which she receives backlash. Those in the company ridicule her for not utilizing the perfume for something better, like helping the poor. Admittedly, this would be a very honorable thing to do. But surprisingly, Jesus stands up for her and tells them to not shame her for doing a good thing to him. “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.” Mark 14:7.

This is an interesting thing for Jesus to say, as I would imagine him having the mindset of ‘do everything to help those in need,’ but this circumstance seems to be different. There will always be the poor and needy, there will always be the hurt and the wicked. Jesus is the light in darkness, as darkness is the default state, only interrupted by the presence of light, not vice versa. If we spend all of our energy trying to eliminate the darkness, we will lose sight of the light that sustains us incipiently.

Jesus is well aware of this, as the light that sustains and empowers him is God. He cries out “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36. Jesus is crying out in the most passionate and sincerely affectionate way imaginable to his father, begging that his death be made unnecessary, that this burden will be taken from him. However, he takes the proper mindset of being able to accept that what he wants may not be what God wants. When you pray to God for an answer, are you able to accept what He responds with in the same faith Jesus could? It’s no mere feat, but then again Jesus is no mere man.

Not only does he accept what needs to happen, but he also stands firm on what he teaches. If you remember from yesterday, Jesus specifically said to not be afraid when we are brought before the court for our faith, but to answer as the Spirit guides you to, as it is the voice of the Spirit that will talk for you. When they had arrested him and grilled him with questions, “… Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.” Mark 14:61. He needed not respond to their trickery but waited until he knew what he was saying to tell them the truth. For this, they killed him. Could you stand for truth until the end? Could you stand with what you believe and know to be true even if every person would hate you for it? If so, you would be stronger than Peter. He lacked this ability, and defied Jesus 3 times—to which end it destroyed him.

“Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” Mark 14:72. Have you ever gotten to the point in your sin where you don’t even recognize who you are anymore? For Peter, he had been spending the past couple years of his life devoted to following Jesus to the end. And yet, when it mattered most, he denied even knowing him. He had become so distraught by his sin that he had nothing else to do than weep at what he’d done.

Sometimes, when we recognize that we’ve fallen so far from the righteous path laid before us, and become so wrapped up in our sin, all we can do is weep and pray that God can forgive us. In fact, it’s often in these moments that we convince ourselves that there’s no way God could possibly forgive us for what we’ve done… but that would be missing the whole point of the story! Jesus died so that even in the midst of our most egregious pain from sin, we have the opportunity to be forgiven. Even Paul, who was a Christian-slaying murderer found salvation! Do not waste this opportunity that Christ has given to you, but rather repent for your sins and devote your life toward serving his purpose. Amen.

-Mason Kiel

Application Questions

  1. Even if you’ve read Mark 14 many times before – what stands out to you today?
  2. How can you extravagantly love and honor Jesus?
  3. What does it mean to pray, “Not my will but yours be done”? What do you need to surrender and give up to God?
  4. In the past, how have you deserted or denied Jesus? Have you accepted Jesus’ forgiveness?

Finding Ourselves in Scripture

Mark 14

            Have you ever read scripture and thought to yourself, “That is definitely me”? I know I have, and every time I read Mark 14 I get that same feeling all over again. In Mark 14:32-42 we find the scene were Jesus takes his disciples to Gethsemane to pray before his arrest. Jesus sets a few of his disciples on watch while he goes away to pray. When Jesus returns, he finds them sleeping and says these piercing words in verse 37, “’Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?’” Ouch! How bad would you have felt if you were Peter right then? Well, I’ve felt almost exactly like this once.

            One night, while I was in high school, one of my best friends was doing a late night shift in a 24 hour prayer campaign. He had the duty of praying for an hour in the middle of the night. I can’t remember for certain, but it was something like 3am – 4 am. He asked me and one of our other best friends if we would be willing to stay up with him to help him pray and be alert during this shift. We both happily agreed! After all, how often does your best friend ask you to stay up and help him pray? This is something we could not turn down. So we are all hanging out, sitting on the couches in my living room, waiting for his shift to begin. The next thing I remember are my two friends walking inside after his prayer shift was over. In that moment, I felt a lot like Peter. I couldn’t even stay awake for one night to help my friend pray. To be honest, I was a little bit embarrassed and disappointed in myself. I can’t believe I had let my best friend down.

-Josiah Cain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 33-34 and Mark 14

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