Tag Archive: devotional

Continuing my slow plodding walk through the book of Mark [which i would love for you to join me on, by the way – would love to hear different comments and responses to the passages i tackle than just my own so feel free to share yours below] i am now starting with chapter 12 and we have some very fun passages ahead, starting with this one which perhaps challenges our modern day attitudes of tolerance-for-all and everyone-makes-it…

Here i go with Mark 12.1-11

[For the next passage titled ‘Caesar’s Salad’ click here]

This short one feels like a traditional David rant against his closing in enemies and while his enemies were more than likely actual enemies wanting to do him physical harm, i find connection to the description of them more through a metaphorical sense of people who are against me or something i’ve said or done, in less combatative but still quite real-feeling ways:

1 Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
    protect my life from the threat of the enemy.

2 Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
    from the plots of evildoers.
3 They sharpen their tongues like swords
    and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
    they shoot suddenly, without fear.

5 They encourage each other in evil plans,
    they talk about hiding their snares;
    they say, “Who will see it?”
6 They plot injustice and say,
    “We have devised a perfect plan!”
    Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.

But when i read the next piece i have to see this as David’s wishful thinking or heart’s hope and desire rather than a Biblical teaching on how things are going to play out:

7 But God will shoot them with his arrows;
    they will suddenly be struck down.
8 He will turn their own tongues against them
    and bring them to ruin;
    all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.

Because i’m not convinced God was actually going to shoot arrows at them or that they would necessarily even be struck down, not in this life anyways. We read elsewhere in Scripture how often the wicked seem to prosper and i can bear witness to that. And while we trust in an eternal justice from God, there does not always seem to be a local karmic system in place that brings bad to those who commit bad. And often, rather than scorn, it is praise and delight and adulation that is heaped upon these people. So we really have to believe there is something more bigger picture going on…

But, as always, even in the midst of a gloomy situation, David manages to end off strongly with a focus on the God who saves and is worth praise:

10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
    and take refuge in him;
    all the upright in heart will glory in him!

And so we are left with that challenge that regardless of present circumstances, where d we put our faith and trust and are we glorifying God as we should?

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

Jesus loses it.

Or at least that might be what you suspect if you arrived late at this party. Yet the Bible is very clear that ‘In your anger, do not sin.’ [Ephesians 4.26]

We know that Jesus never sinned, and so this passage found in Mark 11. 12-17 would suggest that there is a time when something like righteous anger – when God’s things and the people He loves are being messed around with – is absolutely called for. The danger/temptation for us would be labelling something as ‘righteous anger’ when in fact it might just be us losing our cool. Let’s take a look and see how this episode plays out:

[To watch the next one dealing with Faith that moves mountains, click here]

Wow, love me some psalm 63 – was contemplating just sticking the whole thing in here cos it is such an uplifting psalm [we caught David on a good day, people] so i highly encourage you to go and read the whole thing, but as per usual, here are some thoughts or reflections on part of it:

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

[vs 1]

i guess you can read this two ways. the first time i read it i found it highly encouraging – this hunger and thirst for God… but now that i see it again it does look like it could be a cry of desperation – i really need you right now God, because life is not looking so good at the moment…

but it is still a statement of knowing – ‘You, God, are my God’ and that really feels hopeful again. so no matter how life or circumstances appear right now, i know that God is my strength and refuge and the One i am needing to rely on and call out to.

And then this next section really expands on David’s understanding of who God is and you start to sense the depth of relationship that exists and can learn a lot from how he is able to express that so poetically:

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

[vs 2-5]

This psalm smacked me a little [okay a LOT] in the face this morning. It is easy [when employed or engaged in ‘ministry’ type work] to fall into the trap of everything being about God and not enough just being God. So do I earnestly seek God? Not enough right now if i am brutally honest [although i have been trying to eat lunches outside as a continuation of the non-rush experiment – just stopping and being and trying in that time to ‘be still and know that He is God’ so that helps].

When last did i ‘earnestly seek God’?

When last have i ‘beheld His power and His glory’?

Are my lips glorifying Him? How about my keyboard and fingers?

And is my relationship with You, God, something that satisfies me as with the richest of foods?[which in my case would be double chocolate frosting in a can or some form of ribs with mashed potato on the side]

i guess i really could go through the whole thing, but let me leave some for you. but this next piece is a great way to end and an encouragement to finish your days like this:

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
 Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
 I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

[vs. 6-8]

 [To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

This is another great little Psalm so i thought it would be good just to post the whole thing:

1 Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

3 How long will you assault me?
    Would all of you throw me down—
    this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
4 Surely they intend to topple me
    from my lofty place;
    they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
    but in their hearts they curse.

5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

9 Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
    the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
    together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
    or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
    do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken,
    two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
and, “You reward everyone
    according to what they have done.”

Verse 1 and 2 are just so comforting – what a way to begin a prayer – my soul finds rest in God, my salvation comes from Him, He is my rock and my salvation and then followed by the powerhouse piece of ‘He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.’

These are the words of someone who intimately knows the God they are talking about.

Then he breaks into a mini rant about the people that are giving him a hard time.

But then it’s almost as if his thoughts are interrupted and he heads back to the focus on who God is , taking it up a notch and just pretty much gushing on God. And then calling on others to join in: Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge. So he has moved from an individual appreciation to a community related declaration. He is our refuge.

And then works towards the end where He focuses on two aspects of God – how powerful He is and that He rewards people for their deeds.

Just a really delightful piece and one to turn to when feeling a bit down or distant from God

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

eyepatchThis is one of those passages that we like to speed our way through and assure ourselves how understood it is that Jesus is speaking completely in metaphor.

The cost would simply be too high if He wasn’t. Gouge out your eye? Really? Well obviously Jesus doesn’t mean that… or does He? Not in terms of actually wanting anyone to literally take a spoon [or whatever you use for eye-gouging, to me a spoon feels right] and go at their eye… but in terms of really hearing the seriousness with which He makes the suggestion that THIS THING is just THAT IMPORTANT…

This reminds me of the passage where Jesus says it is better for a man to lose the whole world rather than forfeit His own soul… Let’s take a look at Mark 9: 42-50:

[To read the next passage where Jesus deals with Divorce, click here]

childrenAs we continue to wander with Jesus through the book of Mark He comes across some children and relates to them in a way that would have been quite unfamiliar and possibly quite scandalous to the adults of His time…

There is so much to be learnt simply from observing how Jesus behaved around people – how He spoke to them and how He spent time with them, and it is good to reflect that back to our own lives and ask if we are doing the same…

Let’s head to Mark:

[For the next passage that deals with cutting things off rather than missing out, click here]

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