Do you believe or not? Do you think it can be done or not? Consider your thoughts and your words! When you are going to say something consider what you are trying to say. Imagine if my previous statement has started with if the difference that makes to the comment. It’s not if, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when because you will say something, I believe that. So there is no if’s about it!
How many times do you hear people say “If …”? How many times have you started or thought “If…”? Now when this happens the next time consider stopping yourself when you are about to do it or when the other person is starting to do it, ask do you mean when? The main reason is that when you believe something it becomes when not if. When you aren’t sure or don’t know that is when you will hear people saying “If…”
We see this in today’s morning reading from Mark 9-10, Psalm 103 when Jesus is confronted by a man whose son needs a touch from God.
21-22He asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been going on?”
“Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”
23Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”
24No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!”
25-27Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: “Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!” Screaming, and with much thrashing about, it left. The boy was pale as a corpse, so people started saying, “He’s dead.” But Jesus, taking his hand, raised him. The boy stood up.
— Mark 9
All things are possible when we believe. Do you have doubt or fears and need help from God? Consider what this man said: “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” As Jesus said: “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.“, it becomes a matter of when! God’s timing is perfect, He is never late, rarely early, and always on time! So where will you put your trust? What are you going to believe? Do you believe it’s possible? Do you believe it’s going to happen? Are you asking God to help you with your disbelief? Are you asking God to help you with your doubts?
What are you facing today? Are you trying to do it all in your own power? Are you trying to do it all in your own strength? Think about it a different way…Turn to God and talk to Him about it. Pray for wisdom and direction! Pray for power and strength in the name of Jesus to be able accomplish His will today! And walk it out trusting and believing in Him.
We see how the disciples we having troubles and Jesus affirms what needs to happen:
28After arriving back home, his disciples cornered Jesus and asked, “Why couldn’t we throw the demon out?”
29He answered, “There is no way to get rid of this kind of demon except by prayer.” — Mark 9
When we walk with God, building up our relationships, He prepares us for what is ahead so that it won’t be such a surprise and that we won’t lose faith but remember what He said and keep our hope and trust in Him. Fear may shake us up, but joy comes in the morning. We may not always walk it out or listen, but when we get to a point, a pivot point, we will remember and turn back. Some walk away and when they hit rock bottom they come back. Some walk away and realize what is going on and turn back sooner. Have you walked away from Jesus? How far will you have to go before you will turn around and run back into the open and loving arms of Jesus? We see how much God is interested in finding and saving the lost in His Word! Today may be your day to go home to God and allow the angels to celebrate your return. There is a huge party because you were lost and now you are found, you were good as dead and now you are reborn and alive. It’s a matter of trusting and believing!
All things are possible for those who believe!
Where are you focusing today? Are you trying to get there first or help others also get there? Are you leading from the front or hurrying others from the back? Consider a shepherd or a sheepdog they try to keep everyone together and going in the right direction. If they went from the front, someone could sneak in from the back and try to lure them away. If you are leading from the front, it is possible that not everyone would make it in before the gate closed. If you are leading from the back, you are sure everyone got in! Are you a servant leader who is caring for others? Are you leading from a place of power demanding of others? Are you leading from a spirit of love?
I’ve taught my kids when I ask them if they want to go first or last and I have had situations where they are all asking to be last because God’s Word tells us that the first will go last and the last will go first. This is how Jesus put it:
33They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”
34The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.
35He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”
— Mark 9
So do you know how to treat others? Do you realize it has implications?
36-37He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”
38John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.”
39-41Jesus wasn’t pleased. “Don’t stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.
42“On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.
43-48“If your hand or your foot gets in God’s way, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.
49-50“Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.” — Mark 9
So let’s persevere! Let’s press on! Let’s be peace makers! Let’s be lovers! Let’s shine the hope of Jesus to the lost around us! People are looking for a reason to hope and a reason to be loved. Will you point them to the source? Will you tell there is a way? What role will you play today?
Ever been faced in the situation where someone is trying to trip you up? Asking trick questions? Trying to trick you into saying something that they can use against you? Trying to get some leverage they can use? Consider God’s advice… Even a fool seems wise if he doesn’t say anything. We should ask God for wisdom and understanding when asked or confronted. We can then have the right questions to ask in return or the right words to speak if we should even speak. Jesus demonstrates such a situation in today’s reading:
1-2From there he went to the area of Judea across the Jordan. A crowd of people, as was so often the case, went along, and he, as he so often did, taught them. Pharisees came up, intending to give him a hard time. They asked, “Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife?”
3Jesus said, “What did Moses command?”
4They answered, “Moses gave permission to fill out a certificate of dismissal and divorce her.”
5-9Jesus said, “Moses wrote this command only as a concession to your hardhearted ways. In the original creation, God made male and female to be together. Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman—no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.”
10-12When they were back home, the disciples brought it up again. Jesus gave it to them straight: “A man who divorces his wife so he can marry someone else commits adultery against her. And a woman who divorces her husband so she can marry someone else commits adultery.” — Mark 10
Are you pointing people to God or away from God? Are you trying to get in the middle of it all? Are you trying to help them get there?
13-16The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. — Mark 10
Have you given everything to God? Is there anything in your life that you are holding back? Is there anything that you are holding onto and not allowing God to be ruler of all? He is either the savior of all or He is not savior at all. Just like so much of our lives and where we end up, we have to make a choice! What are we going to do with our free will? Will we give every part of our lives? For those who had nothing and walked with God to prosperity, they trust Him with all (the enemy tends to try and shake them up with fear though). For those who come to Him with or in prosperity giving it all up into His hands can be a challenge. Jesus shares such a story with us in today’s reading. Nothing is impossible with God! It may be impossible without Him, but with God all things are possible!
17As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?”
18-19Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.”
20He said, “Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!”
21Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”
22The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.
23-25Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.”
26That set the disciples back on their heels. “Then who has any chance at all?” they asked.
27Jesus was blunt: “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.”
28Peter tried another angle: “We left everything and followed you.”
29-31Jesus said, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.”
32-34Back on the road, they set out for Jerusalem. Jesus had a head start on them, and they were following, puzzled and not just a little afraid. He took the Twelve and began again to go over what to expect next. “Listen to me carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. Then they will hand him over to the Romans, who will mock and spit on him, give him the third degree, and kill him. After three days he will rise alive.” — Mark 10
Be careful what you ask for! Are you sure you want that? You may get what you asked for just to learn that you don’t really want it! Or that it wasn’t everything you thought it would be! Consider what happens next in our reading…
35James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.”
36“What is it? I’ll see what I can do.”
37“Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.”
38Jesus said, “You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptized in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?”
39-40“Sure,” they said. “Why not?”
Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.” — Mark 10
So do you want to be first or last? Do you want to serve or be served? Do you?
Do you want Jesus? Do you need Jesus? Will you let anyone get in the way of getting you to Him and into His presence? Will you allow anyone to detract or derail you from being with Him? What if people shushed you or tried to quiet you down?
46-48They spent some time in Jericho. As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!” Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”
49-50Jesus stopped in his tracks. “Call him over.”
They called him. “It’s your lucky day! Get up! He’s calling you to come!” Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus.
51Jesus said, “What can I do for you?”
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52“On your way,” said Jesus. “Your faith has saved and healed you.”
In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.
— Mark 10