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April 23, 2017: Take Up Your Cross

Today’s Bible Reading: Ruth 1, Psalm 92, Mark 8:31-38, 1 Corinthians 15:1-28 Mark 8:31-38: Remember the healing that began this section of Mark? The man who was blind, was first partially healed, and then fully healed so he could see completely. Similarly, Peter (yesterday) gave the right answer to the question about the identity of Jesus. And yet it now becomes apparent that he only understood, or saw, partially. When Jesus starts to explain, and explain “plainly” (8:31) that he must be crucified, Peter will have none of it. He has the temerity to take Jesus to one side and rebuke him (8:32). But Jesus recognizes that this attempted correction of his identity to move his destiny away from the cross was really a manifestation of a divine temptation. He is the Christ, the King, the anointed one; but that King must be crucified for the salvation of sinners. To fail to go to the...

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April 22, 2017: The Christ

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 20-21, Psalm 91, Mark 8:22-30, 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 Mark 8:22-30: This section is the first half of an enacted parable and section of teaching about spiritual sight. The blind man (8:22-25) first does not see at all. Then he sees partially. Finally, he sees “clearly” (8:25). A similar pattern is experienced by Peter. He sees that Jesus is the Christ (8:29), but he does not see that Jesus must be crucified (8:32). For us to see or understand spiritual truths, our eyes need to be opened. Do we worship Jesus as the King, the Messiah? It is not enough simply to admire Jesus as a great leader, or a good teacher. He is more than that. He is not simply another prophet. He is “The Christ.” That is, the Messiah, God’s anointed King, long predicted, and now arrived. We are to see him as this King, and yield the sovereignty of our...

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April 21, 2017: Yeast of Pharisees

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 19, Psalm 90, Mark 8:14-21, 1 Corinthians 14:1-25 Mark 8:14-21: Having forgotten to bring bread with them, Jesus uses their lack as an object lesson for a moment of teaching. “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” This statement or principle evidently confuses the disciples, or their minds start to go in a wrong direction. Hearing Jesus’ comment, they then start to discuss among themselves that they have no bread. Evidently they thought that Jesus was critiquing them for not bringing bread along, or not bringing the right kind of bread. They thought he was commenting on the physical lack of bread that was with them. Jesus then asks them a series of questions related to the miracles of the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand. “Do you not yet understand?” is the repeated question that frames the others. How is...

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April 20, 2017: Believing

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 17-18, Psalm 89:19-52, Mark 8:1-13, 1 Corinthians 13 Mark 8:1-13: Again they gather—a great crowd—and they have nothing to eat. This time Jesus’ miraculous feeding of them is through seven loaves and a few fish. But the end result is basically the same. The hungry are fed. This “feeding of the four thousand” is another miracle pointing to Jesus’ divinity. Sometimes it can feel as if we have no resources left to serve Jesus. It can feel as if we have nothing but seven loaves and a few fish to feed a great multitude. Let us remember that God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. In Christ, and as his disciple, we are not promised that everything will be easy. But he does promise never to leave us or forsake us. And he who is in us is greater than he who is in the...

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Interview with Janet Parshall

In today's interview, Janet Parshall, host and executive producer of In The Market with Janet Parshall, talks with me about biblical content in contemporary culture, while also sharing with us some highlights of her long-running career in radio and providing encouragement for us to go where God leads. JM: Janet, your show has a well-deserved stellar reputation for delivering biblical content in conversation with contemporary cultural issues. how do you go about keeping the content levels up in this fast moving action world called daily radio shows? JP: Bill Belichick, the coach of the New England Patriots, has always challenged his team to play what he calls "situational football." It means having a key sense of what's going on around you on the playing field. I think keeping an ear tuned to what's being discussed in the marketplace is a great way to harvest topics for talk radio.  Paul walked around Athens for a...

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April 19, 2017: What a Great Savior

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 16, Psalm 89:1-18, Mark 7:24-37, 1 Corinthians 12:14-31 Mark 7:24-37: Jesus is under increasing pressure, even not being able to be hidden in a house. The needy press in to see him. A Gentile comes, and Jesus first puts her off with what seems like a harsh expression, but has the effect of raising with her the faith to which he responds. “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” There is a right kind of importunate prayer that seeks God’s blessing after initial apparent resistance—see the parable of the persistent widow. Then he comes across a man who is deaf and has a speech impediment. Jesus acts what he is about to do because the man is deaf and cannot otherwise understand—touches his ears and his tongue indicating he is about to heal him. He then dramatically looks up to heaven and speaks, “Be...

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April 18, 2017: Religious Traditionalism

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 13-15, Psalm 88, Mark 7:1-23, 1 Corinthians 12:1-13 Mark 7:1-23: Religious traditionalism did not die with the Pharisees, and it continues extending its tentacles through the religious instincts of humanity in the clothes of various religious movements and tendencies today. At its heart is a root that issues in one particular fruit. The fruit is illustrated in the interaction that Jesus has with the Pharisees in the first half of the passage (7:1-13), and the root is explained in Jesus’ teaching about that interaction in the second half of the passage (7:14-23). The Pharisees were outraged because Jesus’ disciples were eating with “defiled,” that is unwashed, hands. Mark explains this tradition and others like it in an aside that suggests his original audience was not familiar with the Pharisees’ practices. The disciples of Jesus, they felt, were not walking according to “the tradition of the elders.” Jesus replies that the Pharisees are,...

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April 17, 2017: Walking on Water

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 10-12, Psalm 87, Mark 6:45-56, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Mark 6:45-56: Under all this pressure, Jesus instructs and “makes” the disciples go into the boat to cross to the other side. Meanwhile he retreats to the mountains to pray. Take note, disciple of Jesus: if our Master prays, so must we. He retreated from time-to-time to find refreshment and renewal in prayer, and to seek God for renewed power and provision for the great work of which he was about. We are not to take as unnecessary that which Jesus himself regarded so highly; prayer is not to be spurned by the disciples of Jesus but to practiced with zeal and commitment and joyful freedom as Jesus himself prayed. Then comes the famous walking on the water. He meant to keep on going—as if he is taking a short cut to meet them at the other side—but when they are frightened (thinking...

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April 16, 2017: Five Loaves and Two Fish

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 9, Psalm 86, Mark 6:30-44, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 Mark 6:30-44: The humanity and divinity of Jesus is here on display. First, he recognizes the tiredness facing his disciples. They had been on mission. They returned and gave their report. And now they needed to rest. So busy were they, so impactful was their ministry, that they did not even have time to eat. The pressures of work and the pressures of Christian ministry, whether salaried or not, can be intense. The businessman can face huge challenges in his office, massive opportunities for witness at work, and then come home and face leadership needs in his home church—before repeating the same cycle starting early the next morning. The preacher can face massive pastoral challenges, leadership challenges, preaching opportunities, and the pressure can build and build and build. Take note that Jesus does not expect his servants to be superhuman. He understands that...

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April 15, 2017: Beheaded

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 8, Psalm 85, Mark 6:14-29, 1 Corinthians 10:14-33 Mark 6:14-29: The introduction of Jesus’ evident growing fame, and the knowledge of that fame reaching the ears of the notorious King Herod, leaves Mark the opportunity to tell the story of John the Baptist’s end. Because Jesus is preaching so powerfully, Herod, with a guilty conscience plaguing him, associates that preaching with the fearful righteous preaching of a radical prophet all-too-familiar to him: John. When a man is plagued by guilt, they drum up ghosts and terrors out of every righteous preacher. John the Baptist had boldly spoken “truth to power,” in the modern parlance, telling Herod that it was not lawful for him to have his brother’s wife. Herodias, Herod’s wife, had naturally enough taken a disliking to John, and so John was in prison. But she also, in her wickedness, sought to put an end to the troublesome preacher. Herod...

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