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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Temptation

 

Response to temptation

After forty days of fasting, the Lord Jesus was tempted. His answers to the tempter are most enlightening . Let me quote them.

1    "people need more than bread for life " Luke 4 NLT

We are more than physical. We are spirit, soul and body in that order. The passions and needs of the body are very real, but the spirit is most important . The body connects us with earth. The spirit connects us with heaven.

 

2    "You must worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve"

The distractions of this world are very real. They become demanding, entwining and ultimately idolatrous. Be it religious, political, wealth, education, social status or self interest,,  anything that displaces God the  Almighty, God as priority, God as provident – such robs God of His rightful glory and is sin. 

 

3   " Do not test the Lord your God"

Trusting God's applicable promises is not sin. Seeking a sign is not sin. But doing or saying something that presumes upon the miraculous is tempting God. To pray 'Lord keep me' , then to drive dangerously is tempting God. If I pray 'deliver us from temptation', then choose to read the wrong, or watch the wrong things is testing God.

The Lord Jesus did not fall for the temptation. Let us watch and pray.

Lord keep my heart,.............

I need Thee every hour

Most gracious Lord

No tender voice like Thine

Can peace afford.

I need Thee every hour

Stay Thou nearby

Temptations lose their power

When Thou art nigh

Monday, June 20, 2022

In heaven

 

Now Christ has gone into heaven,

He is seated in the place of honour at the right hand of God,

and all the angels and powers are bowing before Him.

1 Peter 3:22

 

Heaven seems a far off place. To some it may seem like 'pie in the sky'. But wait – is the universe limited because I can't comprehend it all?  Is heaven impossible because we are limited and finite? I take the words of Jesus Christ seriously – He taught that God the Father is in heaven.

After Jesus died and rose again, the angels stood on the mountain called Olivet with these words:

"This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will return...." Acts 1

Another witness was Stephen:

"I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honour at God's right hand."  Acts 7

God the Lord in heaven, creator of all, judge of all,  has given Jesus the highest place of honour and power. -  Messiah, Lord, Saviour, King of kings.

For thousands of years people have risen up to claim great fame, power and honour, but they are gone. For example, the pyramids stand witness to the wealth and power of the Pharaohs. But the mummified bodies tell us of their ultimate weakness and eternal poverty. Only Jesus Christ the Lord has risen from death, never to die again. He alone has the official right and moral right to sit at God's right hand!

For those who love Him, this brings peace, hope and joy.

For those who reject Him, tomorrow is uncertain, the prospect of judgement is sure. Without Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour,  a person is without God and without hope.

 

Soon all the angels, all powers, all authorities and all humanity will bow before the Lord Jesus Christ.

As the scriptures record:

"At the Name of Jesus, every knee should bow......   every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."

Philippians 2:10

 

Better to bow the knee now, while mercy and grace are available.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Forgiveness

 Are sins really so bad that they need to be forgiven?  Ask the judge sitting in the courtroom. Does fraud really need to be punished? Most people respond – "Yes"

Peter the apostle of Jesus Christ, spoke to the Roman soldier Cornelius about Jesus being the 'Lord of all people'. He said Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil. Towards the end of his message, Peter said that the Lord Jesus ordered the Apostles to preach   : "that Jesus is ordained of God to be the judge of all – the living and the dead." Acts 10:42

So in the day of final judgement, what is Jesus the Judge going to assess? This chapter –Acts 10- reveals that He sees all, knows all,  the good and the bad. Cornelius was commended for his good works, but still needed forgiveness. Like us all, he was born into Adam's family, with the inclination to do wrong, to choose self before God. In the sight of men he was good living, but in the sight of God he had not measured up to God's standard. That is why he needed to have his sins forgiven before judgement day. Peter  did not tell him to keep on doing good so as to out weigh the bad – no,  no. Peter said all his sins could be forgiven, cleared, pardoned through the Name  of the Lord Jesus Christ! And not just for Cornelius! Peter said:

" Everyone who believes in Him (Jesus Christ the Lord), will have their sins forgiven through His Name"   Acts 10:43

Why was Peter so sure about forgiveness with a holy God?

Peter had seen Jesus die. Then he saw and heard Jesus alive again. The risen Lord Jesus gave the Apostles this commission:

"I was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day. With My authority take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem. There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me."     (Luke 24:46)

So on judgement day the first question is ' have we believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour?' Second question is 'What about our sins?'

I encourage you to read the prophet Isaiah chapter 53, and there discover how it is possible for a just judge to forgive the sins of the guilty person.

Oh how blessed are those can say:

"We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"   (Romans 5:1)


Sunday, June 5, 2022

A debt paid

 

When we were utterly helpless,

Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 

Bible -Romans 5:6

Helplessness is not something we enjoy. Yet in life it is a moment when we discover the kindness of others. I was quite helpless when I was electrocuted – locked onto the electric current, unable to move or speak. Only through the wise action of my wife in turning the power off, am I alive today.

Most psychology systems seek to use self help. But God has a different approach. Jesus said we need to become as little children, not immature, but childlike in trust and dependence on Him. It was special to me when my children accepted my word, especially in moments of danger. They trusted my wisdom to make things work out for their good.

            So it is vital that we accept God's word. God speaking through Jesus and His apostles is trustworthy. He knows our helplessness better than we do. He has a twofold solution to our greatest needs. From His perspective, sin is very offensive and warrants judgement (like in a court case). He sees the debt of sin and has paid that debt in the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. Secondly He sees the problem of unconquerable bad habits. To the repentant person, He grants freely the Holy Spirit to change hate to love , despair and depression to joy, from fear to peace, from impatience to patience, from greed to generosity, from vindictiveness to self control. God's way is to change people  from the inside to outside. Then society will change as the people change. For all who feel their need (helplessness), God has promised transformation.

"Despite all these things, victory is ours through Christ Jesus who loved us."  Romans 8:37

Perhaps you don't have a Bible to check what I am referring to – I have some to give away and your request is welcome.

johnmckee@internode.on.net

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Love that changes us from the inside

 

God so loved the world that He gave His only Son

So that everyone who believes in Him

will not perish

but have eternal life

John 3:16

In a world of confusion and violence, people need the love of God. So many forget God. Others are against God. Yet God still loves all of humanity.

God's love does not give us what we want. Rather, He is wise enough to give us freely what we need. More than food and clothes, we need inner peace and hope for the future.

            Our lack of peace is due to our disconnect from God. Our uncertainty about the future is because we are short-sighted, trusting in our own strength,  or the achievements of other people.

God's promise of peace is achieved through Jesus Christ the Lord. Millions of people have confessed their sins as the cause of angst with God. God by Jesus Christ His Son (once crucified and now alive again), gives forgiveness, acceptance, reconciliation, fatherly love.

God's purposes for those who believe Him, are not only for our lifetime, but beyond this life. It is the purpose of God for all to have a family relationship with Him forever – Eternal life!

Be warned of danger.

Be wise, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son,  today.

 

johnmckee@internode.on.net

Saturday, May 28, 2022

 God so loved the world
that He gave His only Son
so that everyone who believes in HIM
will not perish 
but have eternal life 

                                                                        John 3:16

Friday, May 20, 2022

Evangelism

 

What a delight to find teenagers willing to work for the Lord Jesus

Young people's question 3.   

What can I do to serve the Lord?

The Lord Jesus said to some young people – "follow Me". One day they went with Him to the meeting place and there He did the Bible reading. Another day He was out in the community helping, healing, teaching. Then He led them to a lonely place where just one man needed freedom from demons. He gave them a clue to effective service – "I am meek and lowly in heart"

Young people often find it harder 'being a Christian" than "doing something for Christ". Zeal is good and often leads to experiences that develop maturity. So I seek to encourage teenagers to reach out for Jesus Christ our Lord. Some discover they can evangelise, others are better at encouraging.

Someone will ask: "Do I need to go to Bible school?" That can be helpful, but not essential. "Should I to work in some existing evangelism structure or church system?" That can be helpful but not always.  Paul the Apostle had a team. Phillip  was often alone.  George Muller involved many. Robert Chapman went alone.

As we choose to follow the master, He may lead us in unusual ways. Ours is to be ready unto every good work as Peter said:

"Worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way." (1Peter 3:10)NLT

With gratitude to the Lord and others, I will tell you of my younger experiences. At age 17, away from home training  in Sydney, I helped at Sunday Schools in Migrant hostels, gave out Gospel leaflets in George Street, sat with the homeless men in the parks and invited them to the gospel meetings, purchased a printing press with my brother to print Gospel leaflets, visited a young man in the mental hospital who became a friend for life......  In my twenties I assisted in open air preaching, Sunday Schools indoors and in the parks, manufactured and distributed Bible plaques  at agricultural shows and markets.......... to God be the glory.

Oh so much opportunity there is for those willing to take up the cross and follow Jesus.

Young man, young woman in Christ, let me encourage you to live selflessly for Jesus Christ and for others, and let the Lord lead you.

Acts 20:24  " My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus' - Paul


If you need ideas, write to me johnmckee@internode.on.net


Saturday, May 14, 2022

The questions of life

 

A Job – I feel the need to write short articles to help young people find their way in this world.

Question1 " What job should I do?"

Let the Apostle Paul give us a clue

"learn to maintain good works for necessary uses." Titus 3:14 KJV

As a teenager, I passed the exam to become a telephone technician and this question presented itself – was a telephone a necessary part of life?

Paul himself was quite academic, but first learned to be a tentmaker. So he says: "Settle down, and get to work. Earn your own living" 2 Thessalonians 3:12

For some a chosen career may lead to useful service for God. For many the employment, career may change if we stumble, and if we submit to the leading of God. Trusting HIM is more important than the perfect job.

Most important is to answer the question – 'why do I want a particular job?' – for myself, for others, or for the Lord Jesus.

Remember Jesus became a carpenter, but that was not the significant part of His life. Rather, in the Father's good time, He laid down the hammer and began teaching, healing and laying down His life for others.

Pause and pray, God still speaks to those who take the time to listen.

Questions welcome johnmckee@internode.on.net


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Peter writes

 

Peter's considered teaching about Jesus and His death

1 Peter 1:2  The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is 'cleansed by His blood'.  Just as the priest in the Old Covenant set the people apart  to God by blood sacrifice, so believers today are sanctified to God by the death of the Lord Jesus.

1 Peter 1:19   Peter infers that the ritual of Torah is insufficient. Instead, the voice of John the Baptiser identifies Jesus as the Lamb of God. Peter   confirms that Jesus is the Lamb of God who sets us free from the power and penalty of sin. His blood ( blood is a metaphor for a life taken or given),  is like the blood of the Passover lamb that protected from the judgement of the LORD.

1 Peter 2:22  Peter witnessed the sufferings of Christ and gives this detail:

"He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled He did not revile in return. When He suffered He did not threaten  ..........."

Peter identifies Him as the Shepherd suffering for His sheep (John 10)

1 Peter 3:18  - this is special:

"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit."

Jesus never sinned, but He died for us sinners, to bring us safely home to God.

This explanation of the death of Jesus changes  the narrative from tragedy to triumph. Jesus Christ by dying, makes believers forgiven and fit for heaven.

1 Peter 3:22 The happy ending according to the plan of God

"Jesus Christ has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities and powers having been made subject to Him"

 

And there is so much more – read the letters written by Peter and Paul and John, and highlight the mentions of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. – you will be blessed.


JRM

Sunday, May 1, 2022

The Old Testament speaks

 

The Old Testament predictions of Jesus:

Is it important? – Yes – Peter speaks (Acts 3) "What God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled." In these prophecies we find many secrets as to why Jesus died. Please look them up in your Bible.

Deuteronomy 18 – Moses foretold the character of the coming Messiah – one whose word was final and to be obeyed.

Psalm 2 – David prophesied of the coming King – God's Son

Psalm 22 – graphically describes the sufferings of the crucifixion

Psalm 110 – previews the exaltation of the Messiah

Isaiah 53 – explains very clearly the cause of Jesus sufferings

I quote "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities....

"The Lord laid on Him the sins of us all

"When His soul is made an offering for sin..

"He was numbered with the transgressors, yet He bore the sins of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors."

 

The whole crucifixion story takes on a new meaning when we read Isaiah 53 – it is God at work reconciling people back to Himself.

The song is good

"Bearing shame and scoffing rude

In my place condemned He stood

Sealed my pardon with His blood

Hallelujah , what a Saviour"

Many more Old Testament places tell more about the Lord Jesus. Try reading Zechariah (9:9, 12:10 13:6-9 14:4)

For the many who do not read the New Testament eg Jews, this OT teaching is very relevant.

If you don't have a Bible let me know at johnmckee@internode.on.net

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Peter explaining Jesus

 

Peter speaking again. – Acts 3

Peter's second message to the people is similar but different. After healing the lame man, Peter explains:

An extract - "......  you denied the Holy and Righteous one, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you. You killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead."

This message is full of special titles for the Lord Jesus. As you read the chapter through , highlight them:

3  verse 13  -- God's servant Jesus

        14  --  Holy and Righteous one

        15  --  Author of life

        18   --  suffering Messiah

        22  --  the Prophet

On the basis of Jesus raised from the dead and glorified in heaven, Peter assures the Israelites that God can forgive, and could restore the promises of restoration for the nation. But as Peter finishes, he goes to the root of the problem:

"God, having raised His Servant (Jesus), sent Him to you first, to bless you by turning everyone of you from your wickedness." (Acts 3:26).  Before national restoration could happen there needed to be individual turning from sin, turning to God through His Son.

The sad history of this book, Acts, is that the Jews (Israelites) refused the offer, and eventually their very precious temple was destroyed and the land occupied by Gentiles.

This message is full of links to the Old Testament – more for next time.


JRM

Friday, April 22, 2022

Jesus Christ from God's perspective

 

Peter preaching – Acts 2

On the day of Pentecost, when so many people were focused on Jerusalem as the centre of Jewish worship, God demonstrated that He had a wider agenda. The disciples of the Lord were enabled by the Holy Spirit, to speak of the wonderful works of God in many different languages. God was reaching out beyond Jerusalem, beyond the Jews, to save people of every nation.

So Peter explained the life of Jesus:

"Listen carefully...............

In the last days God said :'I will pour out my Spirit upon all people ........'

Peter continues: " People of Israel listen. God publicly endorsed Jesus of Nazareth by doing wonderful miracles, wonders and signs through Him, as you know. But Jesus was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. With the help of lawless Gentiles you nailed Him to the cross and murdered Him. However God released Him from the horrors of death and raised Him to life again, for death could not keep Him in  its grip."

Peter concludes his message:

"Know for certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah (Christ the anointed one)."

My summary of this is  -  God at work

The end of the message brought promises of forgiveness, salvation, the Holy Spirit.

Read this account in Acts 2 again and remember Peter is speaking , not from himself, but by the Holy Spirit – speaking for God.

And many did respond in repentance and faith, showing their change of mind by baptism and joining with the disciples in commitment to the risen Lord and one another.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

A new day

 

The crucifixion was over. The body of Jesus lay in the sealed up tomb. For the Sabbath day, everyone had time to ponder the big questions – why?  How? Where?  When?

But the journey in Mark's record is not finished. The first day of the week has come and the women who watched Jesus die, had prepared spices for embalming. Mark with usual brevity, describes the ongoing journey. The sun had risen and the women are surprised at the tomb to find the large stone rolled away from the door. Venturing in, they see a young man in white who spoke:

"Don't be afraid. You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified: He has risen. He is not here. See the place where they laid Him"

To the women these words were unbelievable!

Mary of Magdala encountered Jesus alive from the dead, but the disciples were slow to believe the reports. Two other people were engaged in conversation with the Lord Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Finally the Lord Jesus appeared to the eleven and commissioned them to take the Gospel to the whole creation – a very great task for the stumbling disciples.  But the promise of salvation, the power of the Holy Spirit would make it possible.

But what of the journey with Jesus. The time has arrived for the parting of the ways. Jesus was now risen from the dead, with the appointed destiny being at the right hand of God in heaven. So as He blessed them, He was taken up into heaven to take up His rightful place as both "Lord and Christ".

The apostles went everywhere, declaring the good news that the once crucified Jesus was now alive as Lord and Saviour.

This story has no end. Through eternity we will praise the "Lamb that was slain"

We have reached the end of Mark's record, and I ask you to read it again taking note of the many things that are 'not normal'. These are signs of God at work.

Some will point out that I have not really explained why the Lord Jesus died.  Quite so, for I was following the narrative  recorded by Mark. I plan to follow these articles with teaching from Peter (Marks's mentor), who explains the "why" very well.

Stay tuned

If you don't have a Bible, try reading it in your own language from  www.biblegateway.com

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The end or not the end

 

The end of the road. To the human eye, confusion and disaster appear to take over. Judas decides to betray his teacher. The high court of the Jews has condemned Jesus to death for claiming to be the Son of God.

As the next day dawned, they bound Jesus and presented Him to the Roman governor. Pilate soon worked out that He was innocent, yet handed Him over to the soldiers to be crucified (execution on a cross).  After flogging Him, the soldiers decide to make fun of His claim to be the King of the Jews. They dress Him in a purple robe and place a crown of thorns on His head, then mock Him 'Hail King of the Jews'.

On the road to Golgotha, Jesus was too weak to carry the cross, so Simon of Cyrene carried it. Then at the place outside the gate of Jerusalem , they nail Jesus to the cross along with two criminals, Jesus in the middle. From midday to midafternoon a strange darkness covered the land. Before sunset, Jesus  was dead. Strangely, a rich man took the body of Jesus and put it into a new burial tomb which was nearby.  The Jewish leaders insisted that the tomb be sealed and a guard be set to prevent foul play. They thought it was the end!

But through discerning eyes the record is not confusion. Jesus has deliberately come to Jerusalem. He arrived as their King on the donkey. He had called on the leadership to acknowledge Him as God's Son. Then on that difficult night He had warned the disciples that this situation was permitted by the Lord God for a purpose.

In the courtroom trials, the Lord Jesus refused to respond to accusations of what He had done, but responded directly to questions of His identity – before the Sanhedrin "Son of God", and before Pilate "King of the Jews". In all the torture, one witness said "When He was reviled, He did not revile, when He suffered, He did not threaten".

When Jesus was about to be nailed to the stake, he refused the wine mixed with myrrh. Rather He chose to feel every pain, and understand the horrible shame of insults hurled at Him by all around.

But what about the unusual darkness at a most crucial time?   And then Jesus took control of the moment and yielded up His Spirit to God whom He called 'Father'!  The centurion soldier in charge began to understand  who he had executed:  he  said "Truly this man is the Son of God"  (Mark 15:39)

Jesus was dead, but God was still in control. His body would not be treated as other criminals. Rather, as prophecy had said,' he would be buried in a rich man's tomb'(Isaiah 53) – and so He was.  Witnesses watched all that had happened and most thought this was the end of the road.

But the is another day. Read on into Mark 16

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The difficult days

 

The journey with Jesus has reached a situation of conflict. Reading Mark chapter 14 presents the devotion of an unnamed woman. Then the treachery of Judas the betrayer. Then the fickle boast of loyal Peter. And then the sleeping apostles!

But I would like you to watch and listen to Jesus. He knows the Jewish leaders are envious of His popularity- even to the point of planning to kill Him. Instead of leaving the city to save His life, He leads His close followers into a deeper understanding of God about to do something special in the midst of seeming disaster.

Chapter 14:8 – He accepted the anointing of perfume for His burial.

14:24 – He announces that His blood being shed (being killed) was for the purpose of sealing a new covenant between God and people.

14:27 – He interprets the Old Testament scripture as predicting His death as a Shepherd.

14:28 He makes an appointment to meet the apostles after the resurrection.

14:36  In prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, He anticipates the impending suffering as dreadful, yet a deliberate cup of Divine purpose (read slowly through His prayers).

14:49 – Again He recognises, even in the actions of cruel men, the prophecy of scripture being fulfilled.

14:62 – Finally He begins to speak in the Jewish high court. His response to the challenge given is so important:

"I am (Messiah, Son of the blessed God), and you will see the Son of Man sitting at God's right hand in the place of power and coming back on the clouds of heaven."

This statement was so important, the high priest and his councillors called it blasphemy, worthy of death.

We also must react to this high claim!

   Shall we agree with the court?

   Or shall we with Thomas say "My Lord and my God"

The destiny of Jesus Christ is secure – after the death of the cross is the throne in heaven.

The destiny of you and me is totally determined by our reaction to HIM.

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."  (Acts 16)

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Shock predictions

 It was coming to Passover week

The temple that had been expanded and embellished by King Herod was indeed something spectacular. A model of it can be seen in Jerusalem or on youtube. So I can understand the admiration of the disciples :- " Master look at these tremendous buildings". What a disappointment was the response of the Lord Jesus.

"These magnificent buildings will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another" (Mark 13:2)

       And so it happened , just as Jesus said – AD70, the Roman army reduced it to rubble and all that is left is the 'western wall'.

       If the Lord Jesus could so accurately predict that, then we had better listen to the remaining predictions of chapter 13. The highlight prophecy is Mark 13:26:

"Then everyone will see the Son of Man (Jesus) arrive on the clouds with great power and glory." This could happen soon.

When God rises up to judge the world, Jesus predicted that it would involve extreme horrors, but the end result would be good – righteousness will control the earth, Jesus Christ will be King, all of His subjects will be given honour, glory and authority. The crucial question now is – whose side of the impending conflict are we on – Jesus Christ or anti-christ. The urgency of the moment is found in the reply of Jesus :

" Don't let anyone mislead you" (13:5)

Religion has many deceptions. The commercial world is marked by corruption. The political world is often seeking to usurp the place of Jesus Christ.

Today, many despise Jesus.

Tomorrow Jesus will be King of kings and Lord of Lords.

If you do not have a bible to check this out, please send me an email.

johnmckee@internode.on.net


Sunday, March 27, 2022

Reaching the end of the road

 

The final days of the journey have arrived. Mark chapter 11 announces a special time and place. The King arrives at Jerusalem in the appointed way – riding on a donkey (see Zechariah 9:9). The crowd is elated and begin to sing the anthem from Psalm118:

"Hosanna, blessed is He that comes in the Name of the LORD, blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David. Hosanna in the Highest"

Previously Jesus had rejected the crowds' enthusiasm to make Him king, but now in the right place , at the right time He gives the Israelites the opportunity to open wide the gates and receive Him as their rightful King.

But what happens? The leaders respond – "Who is this?" In their willing ignorance they missed this God given opportunity. The Lord finds a welcome in the home at Bethany village.  The temple, which was intended for prayer , He finds over run by merchandising! The nation (fig tree) has no fruit for the Master. Then the leaders seek to silence the Teacher of Truth with the question "By what authority are you doing  these things?"

True, He was not ordained by men, nor schooled in the academy of Jerusalem. The three years of signs and teaching confirmed that He was sent by God in heaven!

Now chapter 12 demonstrates the heavenly teaching of Jesus the Messiah.

1  The authority of the Son as sent by the owner of the vineyard.

2  The scripture prophecy of the stone rejected.

3  The wisdom of separating God's things from worldly authority

4  The summation of the law – to love the LORD our God and our neighbour.

6  The prophecy of David, that his Lord would sit on the highest throne in heaven.

7  The true evaluation of giving.- two copper coins out of true devotion

 

Such a lot to learn! I encourage you to read Mark 11 and 12 and let your heart rejoice in Him and His Divine wisdom. What an opportunity to praise Him, trust Him and become wise in Him.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Travelling to Jerusalem

 The journey with the Lord is making me nervous.(Mark 10). Where do I fit into this crowd of people. The Lord Jesus does not have much space for sideline critics or half hearted followers. We were hoping that He might use some of His mighty power to subdue the enemies, but instead He is talking about being killed. The trip to Jerusalem for the Passover was meant to be joyful, but everyone has become fearful that something dreadful might happen. 

The good things that happened were :- He took time out to receive and bless the children. Then as they were leaving Jericho, He stopped to heal blind Bartimaeus. 

At times I like to be near the twelve apostles as they have much to learn:

 Learning that the Lord's teaching supersedes that of Moses (Mark 10:11)

 Learning that great wealth is an obstacle to entering the kingdom (10:24) 

Learning that God will reward true commitment to Him (10:30)

 Learning that religious leaders seldom can be trusted (10:33) 

Learning that leadership is achieved by service (10:44) Learning that His impending death was deliberate , to die as a ransom payment for others.

 Chapter 11 begins well – for next time.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Mountaintop experience

 

On this journey with the Lord Jesus, I am learning  of His character and His purpose. Mark chapter  eight  we read of His compassion. Once again He feeds the crowd, using  seven loaves of bread. Following this He gives a warning- "beware of the yeast of the Pharisees (religious extremism)  and of Herod ( political manipulation).  Jesus, in the plan of God was independent of both.  He was serving God and saving people.

          The disciples had been with Him for almost 3 years, and it was time for the most important question:- : " Who do you say that I am?" Peter said "You are the Christ  (Messiah)".  Jesus accepted that confession, and Peter was later martyred for believing that.

At that critical point on the journey, The Lord explained to them the cost of being a disciple (Follower) , along with the eternal reward. I quote:-

" If a person is ashamed of Me and My message in these adulterous and sinful days, I the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when I return in the glory of My Father with the holy angels."  Mark 8:38

This is challenging to me. But it is more important to understand the principle stated – everything  depends on our relationship to HIM.! And then the promise – He will return in glory with the holy angels.

Chapter 9 is a mountaintop experience for three witnesses. They saw a glimpse of the coming kingdom – whiteness, companionship, heavenly approval. Read it for yourself and worship Him.

The journey is nearing the end. He explained to the disciples in detail that He would be killed and the rise to life again. They didn't understand.  The prophet Isaiah had prophesied 600 years earlier that the LORD's servant would suffer death for the purpose of atoning for the sins of the people. It was all happening according to God's plan.

He said "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross and follow Me."  (8:34).

Are we ready to continue with Him?

Saturday, March 5, 2022

A journey of the unexpected

 

My journey with Jesus has hit some difficult moments. Reading in Mark 7, He denounced the religious critics as hypocrites. He explained that extreme tradition keeping suppressed the commands of God. To the people, He then explained the deeper problem of the human heart. Instead of affirming the people, He laid bare the common reality of sin in the mind and often pondered in the heart, leading to sinful behaviour. He said " all these vile things come from within: they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God".

 I encourage you to read the list, to recognise the problem; to renounce them as sin; to repent and seek forgiveness. Our God, through Jesus Christ the Lord, can and does forgive. Ours is to walk in the light, not claiming privacy, but openness.

"If we are living in the light of God's presence, as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus Christ  His Son cleanses us from every sin".  (1 John 1: 7).

When Jesus visits the city of Tyre,  the encounter with the Gentile woman is puzzling. He seems to ignore her, until she takes low ground . Then, when she expresses her unworthiness, His response is superlative.

"Good answer, and because you have answered so well, I have healed your daughter."  Mark 7.29

Most of us are unworthy Gentiles. His mercy and grace is not added to our best behaviour. It is freely granted when we admit our need and unworthiness.

The next miracle overcomes a different problem. A man who cannot hear Jesus nor speak to Him.  The mercy of the Saviour again prevails and the people are amazed.

"Everything He does is wonderful , He even heals those who are deaf and mute" Mark 7.37

May you too be amazed at the character and kindness of God's perfect servant.


johnmckee@internode.on.net

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Walking with Jesus

 

The Journey with Jesus continues to be encouraging and devastating.

Mark chapter 5 records the deliverance of a man from demon possession. He is so blessed. He becomes a missionary for the Lord.

"He began to tell everyone about the great things Jesus had done for him"

The tragedy was that the people of the region asked Jesus to leave them, and being the gentleman He was, He left!

Another moment of need arose – a dying girl. The moment was special and Jesus responded, but seems in no hurry! He does what doctors could not do. A woman with a haemorrhage for twelve years secretly reaches out to touch His garment. She is healed instantly, but Jesus somehow knew she had touched Him in faith. He pauses to affirm her faith in Him. Tragic news arrives – the girl is dead – why had He delayed? This girl could not reach out to touch Him so He reaches out to her and with the command of His voice calls her back to life.

 

Does He need more credentials as evidence of Him being the Son of God, the Saviour of the world?

He arrives at His boyhood town of Nazareth, but instead of receiving Him in His wisdom and power, they despise Him as nothing more than one of themselves.

"He was amazed at their unbelief" (Mark 6:6)

The challenge is for us – are we now suitable for Him to send forth as witnesses for Him?  Or are we choosing unbelief?  The twelve apostles went out in His Name.

But a mystery interrupts the good progress  – Herod executes John the baptiser – why, why did not Jesus intervene? Why did God permit such a tragedy? Why do evil things happen to good people today? One clue is found in Acts 13 – check it out.

The question of 'who' is more important than 'why'. The other records tell of the Lord Jesus taking the apostles aside  with this question "Who do you say that I am?"

Your eternity is determined by your answer!

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Travelling around the Galilee

 

Travelling around the Galilee was and is beautiful. For Jesus it involved some problem people – critical people, demon possessed people, blaspheming people and surprisingly his own family.

He was not distracted from His mission. He chose twelve unlikely men to be His apostles. In chapter 4, He presents important teaching and we do well to pause and consider it.

Lesson 1: "If you have ears to hear,  listen and understand". How often people "like" a facebook post without reading it! That was His dilemma. Many did and do enjoy good Bible teaching, but it goes no deeper than the intellect. We need to hear and accept into a good and honest heart, the Word of God. This understanding produces change  such as the fruit of the Spirit.

Lesson 2: He rebuked believers for hiding the light of truth.

Lesson 3: He taught the true secret to knowing God –" Listen, understand, pay attention, be open to my teaching"

Lesson 4:  Another farmer parable that goes to show that it is not the flurry of our activity that achieves a crop. Rather the seed is sown and in God's time a harvest is ready.

Lesson 5: Such small things, as a mustard seed, in God' good design can become quite big and useful.

I was deeply blessed this morning by the incident upon the sea. A serious storm arose and the boat was rocking, ready to sink. He uttered a word – "peace, be still", and the extreme forces of nature obeyed His voice. We, with the disciples ask the important question – "Who is this man, that even the wind and waves obey Him?"

Let us ponder the answer and let it increase our faith in Him.

JRM

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

An interesting journey

 

To Journey with Jesus has some unusual twist and turns. Reading the record of Mark's Gospel will help to deliver us from creating a Jesus of our own imagination.

I am up to chapters 2 and 3.

The healing of sick people was wonderful. His claim to have authority to forgive sins was unexpected. – read chapter two. Then He chooses one of the tax collectors to be a trusted disciple. Tax collectors were considered traitors and dishonest. How embarrassing for the disciples to have dinner with such persons. The Lord was making an important point – He came into the world, not to call righteous people, but sinners to repentance. (like a doctor healing sick people).

As the journey continued, His contempt for unhelpful religious regulation became clear. Healing on the Sabbath was to Him more important than being bound by a rule. Plucking ears of wheat on the Sabbath invoked criticism. But again He makes a great claim – to be Lord over the Sabbath!

I am sure many wondered what was He about? Was He seeking to reform religion? Was He seeking to save lost sheep? Was He seeking fame?

The more important question was who does He think He is ?  - and that is so important. Little by little He unveiled His true identity.  We hardly know who we are or where we have come from, or why we are here, or where we are going! But He knew His own identity precisely and the purpose of His coming to planet earth.

Read again Mark 1-3 and place yourself in the shoes of Andrew or Peter.  What might they have been thinking?

Keep reading, and let  the Bible speak for itself.


JRM

Friday, February 11, 2022

Bible reading and meditations.

 

I invite you to travel with me through the Gospel of Mark.

This Book in the New Testament is a brief biography of Jesus with particular focus on Him as active in serving God.

The first Adam was given a job to do – care for the garden of Eden – and he failed. Jesus, the last Adam, was given the task of rescuing  lost humanity – and He fulfilled His task which will be finalised soon.

At the beginning He is identified as the Christ, the Son of God.

His commission to serve God was in harmony with the Old Testament prophecies.

He showed His empathy with the people by being baptised by John (although He had  no sin to confess)

His personal worthiness is declared by a voice out of heaven.

He had total victory over the deceiver – Satan

His dominion over wild animals and angels was evident

At the time appropriate He goes public (after thirty years in obscurity).

The anointed Messiah calls others into training, and to assist Him.

His teaching is different – with authority

His rescue work means dispelling demons.

Sickness is dispelled.

A new day begins and Jesus is found alone praying with God in a quiet place .

Please read Mark chapter one again, and catch the beauty of God's servant moving in God's will to save a world of lost people. So far we notice He is teaching the people the truth about God and caring for their present needs. He does not seek to build another religious party, but moves on to other villages, to help more people that need the Lord.