Reading through Mark 6 (today’s Bible reading) one word struck my mind: authority.
In the beginning paragraph, we see Jesus’ townspeople only seeing Jesus as “Joseph and Mary’s son”. They didn’t see Him for Who He was, so they didn’t recognize the authority He had. Neither did people recognize the authority of the prophets. Because of their lack of belief, Jesus is only able to heal a few people. (Mark 6:5)
In the next section, Jesus gave His disciples authority over unclean spirits (Mark 6:7) They went out in His authority and saw great success in their ministry. (Mark 6:13)
In the next section, we see that Herod misuses his authority and even submits to the wishes of his daughter to deliver John the Baptist’s head on a platter because he wants to save face in the presence of his guests.
In the next section, Jesus exercises His authority over the natural realm by multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish to the point that over five thousand people (5000 men, plus wives and children!) eat their fill. And after all was said and done, they collected twelve baskets of leftovers!
In the next section, Jesus exercises His authority over the natural realm to walk on water. After the storm calmed, His disciples were astounded.
In the final section of the chapter, Jesus heals everyone who even touches His clothes. Why? Simply because they recognized His authority.
Do you recognize Jesus’ authority? Really?
Is Jesus able to heal and do miraculous things? Really? When was the last time you saw Him do it? Did you give Him credit for it? Or did you deep down inside think it was a coincidence or perhaps the marvels of medical science that brought it about?
I think it’s safe to say from today’s reading that the more we believe and recognize Jesus’ authority in the world around us, the more we will see His authority demonstrated in the world around us.
In today’s Bible reading, John is commanded to eat the scroll held by the angel straddling the earth and sea. The angel warns John that the little scroll will taste sweet, but will upset his stomach.
God’s Word is difficult to digest but is sweet to Believers. The Psalmist says, “How sweet your word is to my taste— sweeter than honey in my mouth.” (Psalm 119:103 CSB) and “The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are reliable and altogether righteous. They are more desirable than gold— than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey dripping from a honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:9–10 CSB)
Ezekiel, too, was told to eat a scroll. (Ezekiel 3:1-3) His scroll was also sweet when he ate it. In both cases, having eaten the scroll, the men are commanded to prophesy (to speak God’s Word)
All too often, preachers prepare their sermons by studying the Bible without personally applying it to their lives. Oftentimes we will let our sermon prep be the only time we read and study the Word. It’s very easy to fall into this habit. And that is very sad.
Fortunately, most of us aren’t preachers. But how do you approach your Bible reading? How often does God’s Word come across as bitter to you? Perhaps it doesn’t sit well with how you have understood it in the past. Or perhaps it highlights something in your life that doesn’t line up with God’s character or His ways as revealed in His Word.
I would venture to say that if you aren’t confronted and convicted by God’s Word, you aren’t reading/studying it well. How does that taste? Bitter?
God has inspired His Word to teach you, but also to confront your sin and to prepare you for doing His work, regardless of whether or not you are a preacher or Bible Study teacher.
Spend some time asking God to show you something new in His Word as you read and study it. Ask Him to sanctify you with His Word, because His Word is truth. (John 17:17)
Expect to be confronted. Expected to be convicted.
In today’s Bible reading, Paul says that those who are unwilling to work shouldn’t eat. In other words, Believers aren’t to be freeloaders. Now, is that a cut-and-dried statement? Or is it a principle?
I think Paul intended this to be a principle. It comes down to a person’s heart, his/her motivations. If a person is able to work, but chooses not to, that’s a problem. If a person goes around constantly mooching off others, that’s a problem.
But what about someone who is “called to do God’s work”? It’s no different! If someone is called to do God’s work he/she shouldn’t wait until a paycheck comes along before doing the work. If God has called someone to do ministry, they should do ministry! If someone is genuinely called to do God’s work of sharing the gospel, Paul says they should be paid for doing the work if they so choose. If they want to work voluntarily, that’s fine. But no one should be shamed for accepting money for doing ministry. In fact, elsewhere, Paul says that laborers are worthy of their hire. (1 Timothy 5:18)
Taking on a second job in order to put food on the table is commendable; it can open up ministry opportunities as well. And a missionary or pastor shouldn’t be shamed if he does take on a second job. Neither should he be shamed for asking for financial support as his income source. Depending on the ministry, sometimes taking on a second job is impractical or impossible. And oftentimes, the people receiving ministry are unable to cover the expenses of a pastor or missionary.
Airline tickets cost money. Visas cost money. Passport processing costs money. Insurance costs money. Gas costs money. Food costs money. Ministry costs money! Fortunately, many ministries are very lean and are very good stewards. Unfortunately, not all are. And not all of the “big name” ministries are the most efficient. Beware of wolves that fleece their flocks and siphon large salaries away from those in need.
In the past, I have mentioned uniting our church with a neighboring church. This is a good thing. This is a God thing. Combining our efforts under one roof and one fellowship body will bring down the operating costs of the two churches and will free up monies to do more of God’s work. This is good stewardship! And quite frankly, I wish more churches would prayerfully consider doing the same! With the changing face of society and the declining nickels and noses in local churches, it might be the best thing to close the doors on a few dead/plateaued churches and unite the members under a new body with a new vision and new energy.
Important note: I say this having closed the doors of the first church I pastored. God was in that and He brought new life to an old building. Now, a newer, younger church is absolutely flourishing where we once floundered. God is good!
Unfortunately, churches have turf wars and partnering with other churches is often difficult. It takes a lot of humility and repentance to set aside your own church and ministry preferences. We don’t like change. But oftentimes, God calls us to “suck it up” and follow Him, taking on His preferences in order to accomplish His work.
Doing God’s work requires God’s people to give. And those who work are worthy of the support of God’s people to accomplish the work.
I read today’s Bible reading a few hours after I read a Facebook post from friends, Billy and Cindy Foote. In Billy’s new song, he has set the Prosperity Gospel peddlers in his crosshairs and fired his shot.
Billy begins his song, “All the Wolves”, with, “I know some preacher men, men with some business plans. And I think this must be said. They’re making millions selling Jesus. They take but they never give.”
Billy’s description could not be further than the reality of Paul’s description of the preaching to and the reception of the Gospel by the Thessalonians.
For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our visit with you was not without result. On the contrary, after we had previously suffered and were treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God to you in spite of great opposition. For our exhortation didn’t come from error or impurity or an intent to deceive. Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please people, but rather God, who examines our hearts. For we never used flattering speech, as you know, or had greedy motives—God is our witness— and we didn’t seek glory from people, either from you or from others. 1 Thessalonians 2:1–6 (CSB)
The ideas of difficulty and suffering are foreign to the wolves. The wolves come only to take and never give.
The wolves are everywhere. They dress well and they sound good. They may also look like sheep. But beware the wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Be careful who you listen to. Be careful who you watch. Be careful who you read. Even the most popular Bible teachers and preachers can be wolves in sheep’s clothing. Look at the fruit of their work. Stay connected to the Word. Examine everything you hear, everything you see, everything you read. Run it through the filter of all of God’s Word. Does it fit with what you see in your Bible?
 Please take a few moments to listen and read the lyrics to Billy’s latest song, “All the Wolves“. Prepare
In today’s Bible reading, John tells us that Jesus washes the Disciples’ feet. All Twelve Disciples. Including Judas.
This is an Inconvenient Truth about Jesus’ ministry. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him. And yet, He served him. He washed Judas’ feet in the same way as He washed Simon Peter’s feet. And John the Beloved Disciple’s feet. Jesus knew their hearts completely. And yet, He served them all. Including Judas.
If Jesus knew His Disciples’ hearts completely, and yet washed their feet, then I — not knowing peoples’ hearts — don’t have a place to decide to whom I can/should minister.
And neither do you.
God doesn’t give me the choice of whom I minister to. When I said, “Yes” to Jesus’ call to discipleship, my answer was forever, “Yes”. My call to “The Ministry” is no different.
Jesus said that no student is greater than his master. (John 13:16) If Jesus had a Judas, how could I think that I am above having my own Judas(es)?
Jesus tells us to count the cost to be His disciple. And when I look at what Jesus’ death accomplished for me, what right could I possibly claim to exempt me from “having” to minister to anyone?
When it comes down to it, you really can never say, “No, Lord.” If Jesus is Lord, then the answer must be “Yes.” To answer, “No” is to deny Him as Lord.
Jesus is Lord of all or not Lord at all.