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Encouragement

One thing that jumped out at me from today’s Bible reading in Mark 16 is “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there just as he told you.’” Mark 16:7 (CSB)

After the disastrous events of Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ Crucifixion, the Disciples may be planning to flee Jerusalem in fear that they might suffer the same fate as Jesus: death by crucifixion. Evidently, they are still in town on Sunday Morning because the angel tells the women to tell the Disciples and Peter that Jesus was going ahead of them and He would meet them in Galilee.

While dealing with the initial shock of hearing that Jesus had been raised from the dead, I’m sure Peter didn’t know what to make of this. When he gets back to Galilee, is Jesus going to “call him to the Principal’s Office” because of his triple denial? What will Jesus say? And how will he respond?

Assuming that they were to go to Nazareth (Jesus’ hometown in the region of Galilee), it would take them about three days to make the 65-mile trip.

That’s a lot of time to attempt to sort out the events and conversations of the previous week. And for Peter, that’s a long time to grieve over his words and behavior on Thursday Night. But Jesus says He will meet them there.

Peter and the other Disciples had a choice: go to Galilee and meet Jesus… or run away somewhere else.

Application

Regardless of the choices you’ve made and how you’ve behaved, know that Jesus will meet you … if you will simply go to Him.

Spend some time talking with Him today. He’s already there, waiting to meet you. When Jesus met Peter there on the beach (John 21:15-19), He didn’t scold him. He simply asked, “Peter, do you love me?” and then Jesus restored Peter.

If you’ll spend some time to meet with Jesus today, you’ll find that He won’t scold you. Like Peter, He’ll restore you, too! But you must go to Him.

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There are two things I want to point out from today’s Bible reading from Mark 6.

The chapter begins and ends talking about Jesus’ miracle ministry. The end of the chapter is very familiar to those of us who grew up in church. People come to Jesus to be healed and some are trusting in God’s healing if only they could touch the edge of His robe. And at the end of the chapter, Mark tells us that everyone is healed.

But the beginning of the chapter may be somewhat unfamiliar territory for those of us who grew up in church. Mark tells us that as Jesus was ministering in his hometown, He didn’t do any miraculous things, but that he laid His hands on a few people and they were healed. Jesus was astonished at their unbelief. (Mark 6:5-6)

I don’t like that! Jesus is supposed to heal everyone. And everyone is supposed to live happily ever after, right?

But that’s not what we’re always given in God’s Word.

Occasionally, when we come to God’s Inspired Word, we will see things that don’t fit with the way we have always believed or what we think is right. It’s in times like these that we have to trust that God knows what He’s doing. We may wrestle with what we see in the Bible and that’s ok. And each time we encounter things we don’t understand, we must simply trust.

God is God. And We aren’t.

The other thing I want to point out is something that I don’t know I ever saw before: Herod liked to listen to John the Baptist. He wasn’t always comfortable listening to him, but he liked listening to this strange man who wore strange clothes. Herod recognized that there was something special about John. He feared John, so he protected John … until he couldn’t. (Mark 6:20)

How about you? Do you like to listen to gifted Bible teachers? Do you find yourself drawn to them, even though you sometimes feel uncomfortable? Now, in asking this, I assume that the gifted Bible teachers you’re listening to are faithful with God’s Word.

One of my classes in seminary was Church Music. The professor said that all music in church is for ministry (to God, to the church, and to the world), but music in church is never for amusement.

We don’t use the word much anymore, but to muse is to think. Jesus said the Great Commandment is to love God with all that we are: heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30) My professor pointed out a-musement is “not-thinking”. Jesus says that we are to love God with all of our mind. When we come to Scripture, one thing Jesus commands us to do is to think.

Application

Are you amused by the things of God? Are you amused by the people of God? Or are you challenged in your beliefs? Are you encouraged in your beliefs?

Don’t be amused. Let God’s Word challenge your beliefs. Let your mind be transformed and renewed by God’s Word.

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I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.

Refrain:
I will hasten to Him,
Hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest,
I will come to Thee.

I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.

I am resolved to follow the Savior,
Faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
He is the living Way.

I am resolved to enter the kingdom,
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.

I am resolved, and who will go with me?
Come, friends, without delay;
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
We’ll walk the heav’nly way

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What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

I don’t mean to throw a wet blanket on your plans, but according to my friend, Gerry Lewis, 25 percent of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after one week and 60 percent of people abandon them within six months. The average person makes the same New Year’s resolution 10 ten separate times without success. Wow!

So do you want next year to be different? You’ll probably need some help, especially if you’re wanting to make real changes in your life, and even more so if you want to make changes in your walk with God.

In addition to the normal issues with trying to make life changes, spiritual changes are even more challenging. Why? Because there’s a war for your heart! Proverbs 4:23  says they we have to guard our hearts above all else because our life springs from our heart!

Have you ever wanted to know God in a more personal way? Have you ever intentionally tried to know Him? If we are His children, He speaks to us through several ways, including “the still, small voice”, Bible teachers and yes, even preachers! But how do you know that the “word” you heard is really from God, as opposed to feelings of indigestion? I know of no better way to hear God than to spend time reading the Bible! You can discern His voice with the Bible, weighing every other “word” you think you may be hearing. He’s the God of Truth. He’ll never contradict Himself!

So where do you start?

Check out the Bible App (iOS, Android, Windows8, and Blackberry) or head over to YouVersion.com if you don’t have a smartphone or tablet. Sign up for a free account and choose from one (or more!) of their Bible reading plans. They have plans for just a few days to plans that last all year. They have plans to read through the entire Bible in a year, or just parts. Pick a plan, then  take a look at this practical article: http://ow.ly/GzHTd.

Not only will the Bible App help you with planning your Bible reading, it can remind you to read your Bible at a particular time of day. The App will even send you an email if you’re running a few days behind … and suggest ways to catch up! You can even share your reading plan with friends and help each other!

And for some additional incentive, the Bible App is offering a 21-day challenge! #BibleFor21

In 2015, I’m going to change things up a bit. The past few years I have read through the whole Bible. In 2015, I’m going to slow down a bit and read the New Testament in five minutes a day, five days a week. Join me! Follow me using the Bible App and let’s be as iron sharpening iron as we sharpen each other!

Bible reading isn’t about reading the Bible. It’s about getting to know God in a deeper way. Don’t end 2015 with no more knowledge of God than you do here at the end of 2014.

So what’s your plan?

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