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New Testament beginning Mark

We've read through the Gospel of Matthew, and now we begin the Gospel of Mark.  Mark was the "John Mark" of Acts 12 & 15.  He was a young man when he traveled with Paul & Barnabas on their first missionary journey and mid-way into the journey he quit, returning home.  Subsequently, Paul did not want to take him along on the second journey.  Barnabas was insistent on taking him along and it caused a split among them. 
Later Paul wrote to ask Timothy to bring Mark, "as he is profitable to me".  Whatever else that happened, the relationship was restored and Mark served the church well.  He ended up as a disciple of Peter and it is - in all likelihood - wrote the very first of the Gospels as a record of Peter's records.

Mark moves quickly...the most common word in the Gospel is "immediately".  Over and over Mark keeps moving the story of Jesus along.  You'll notice that Mark is similar, in a shorter version, to Matthew's Gospel.  Along…

Valentine's Day - God's Love

Friday, the 14th, is Valentine's Day. In this week's readings in the New Testament, we come to Matthew 27:1-54. It is the Crucifixion of our Savior, and on Valentine's day, it's the story of "God so loving the world (us) that he gave his one and only Son". Read the unfolding drama of our Savior's crucifixion and come back to think a bit more with me.
I read that account in Matthew and the other Gospels with a sober sadness. How can we not think of the heights of God's love, and the depths of our own sin?
The story unfolds around people:
Judas - remorse and guilt without repentance and forgiveness.
Pilate - a Roman governor. He doesn't know Jesus, but what he does know is that he is a threat. "Are you the King of the Jews". Jesus' answer leaves him mystified, but not in search of the truth.
The Crowd and Barabbas - They dragged Jesus and Barabbas out in public. Pilate's wife warns him, but the chief priests and elders are worki…
Reading through the New Testament in a year is our goal.  This week's readings are from Matthew 22 thru 25.   Yesterday I looked at the first of the many confrontations that will take place this week in our readings.  The Religious rulers are on a quest to see Jesus condemned, and Jesus is confronting the shallowness of their religious show.  This is the notes I wrote about today's reading. Tuesday, reading through the New Testament, we come to the last half of Matthew 22:23-46. Read the section and come back so that we might think a bit more about what is happening. I mentioned yesterday that there were three confrontational questions given by the Religious authorities in their quest to trip Jesus up. In these questions, we get a glimpse of the two main groups of religious leaders in Jesus’ day. First, it was the Sadducees who came to Jesus with a rather obscure “what if” scenario concerning the laws of raising up children when a husband passes away. Sadducees were the “libe…

The last and first...seeing value in worth

I'm reading through the New Testament in a Year and would love to have you come along. This week read Matthew 18 - 21.   On Tuesday I read Matthew 19, and here's what I wrote:
It’s Tuesday and today in our reading through the New Testament we come to Matthew 19:16-30. Read the passage first and then come back and let’s think through what is happening and how it relates to us. Does it strike you that Jesus is not seeking popularity or approval from people? Whether talking to his disciples, the down and out, or the rich and popular, Jesus keeps the focus on the one key thing - Life in the Kingdom of God.
We need to realize that this story is descriptive, not prescriptive. What I mean is that it describes Jesus’ interaction with this young rich man. It is the only time in the Gospels that Jesus tells someone to sell all they have and follow him. It is not a prescriptive conversation in which Jesus outlines a mandate for all who want to follow him. He is not saying that in order t…

The Key chapter of Matthew's Gospel, chpt. 16

We are on Thursday, and as we read thru the New Testament in a year come to Matthew 16 - a pivotal reading in the story of the Gospel. Please read the chapter first and then if you have time come back and think a bit with me about what you read. The chapter opens as a footnote to the ending of chapter 15. Two groups of religious leaders - the Pharisees and Sadducees - traditionally enemies, but now together in their testing of Jesus. The Pharisees were legalists, using the Law to impose strict religious duties on people; and the Sadducees were liberals, who dismissed many aspects of the law to gain power and favor with the unbelieving Romans. Jesus makes one thing perfectly clear - “I won’t play either your religious or political games”. The “sign of Jonah” is not the 3 days in the fish, but the preaching Jonah was sent to do that took him to Nineveh and therefore to Gentiles. This Jesus just did (chapter 15) and the idea of the Gentiles receiving the Gospel is the only sign Jesus le…

New Testament in a Year, Matthew 15:1-20

As we read through the New Testament in a year we come to Matthew 15:1-20. Read the passage first and then take a look at some of my musings:
I cannot read the first part of Matt. 15 without hearing my mother's voice, "Make sure you wash your hands". At the time I didn't have any knowledge of Jesus' words, but they would have been handy.
What is going on is the continuing rising tension between the Religious rulers and Jesus. He confronts them with what I call their selectivity of what to obey. In selecting what to obey and what not to, they "void the word of God." WHY?
An important principle for our understanding of God's word is that if God's word is not authority enough in our lives we'll always be able to make things work the way we selfishly want and justify it as ok with God.
The quote from Isaiah 29 in vss 8-9 are especially condemning. It is also challenging as I look at them. I don't want to do that in my own life.
How can…

Reading the New Testament in a Year

This is certainly late for those of you who might have been interested, but I was urged by someone to post this to the Blog page.    Reading through the New Testament is not a difficult task as long as you keep at it on a daily basis. 
This reading plan begins in Matthew and has daily readings Monday thru Friday, with weekends free.
I don't want you to miss the early sections of Matthew but if you can catch up later on.

This week, we're reading Matthew 14 (today), and then the rest of the week is this:

Tuesday, Matthew 15:1-20

Wednesday, Matthew 15:21-39

Thursday,  Matthew 16

Friday,  Matthew 17

Weekend,  Matthew 18

If you want more, I am posting some thoughts also on Facebook.  If you don't have Facebook and you'd like those daily "musings", send me a note and I'll email them to you.  epollasch@gmail.com

Today's posting is below, and it's an example -

Reading through the New Testament in a year brings us to Matthew 14. Read it through and then think a bit a…

Living Under the Blessings

When someone loses a family member or friend through death, when they become jobless or fail an examination; when they live through a separation or a divorce; or the fear of a war breaking out; or when a natural disaster hits and destroys or touches us, the question “Why?” spontaneously emerges. 
“Why me?” “Why now?” “Why here?”  It is so difficult to live without an answer to this “Why?” that we are easily seduced into connecting the events over which we have no control with our perceptions of truth in our evaluation.  Worse yet, when we have cursed ourselves or allowed others to curse us, it is very tempting to explain all the brokenness we experience as an expression or confirmation of this curse.  Before we fully realize it, we have already said to ourselves, “You see, I can't do anything right, and I can't believe that God cares.  The facts of life prove it.”
The great spiritual call for the lives of people living by faith in Jesus is to pull our difficulties, unknown re…

A New Year and New Beginning

The voice of one crying in the wilderness:"Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." Luke 3:4 The voice crying in the wilderness demanded a way for the Lord, a way prepared, and a way prepared in the wilderness. I would be attentive to the Master's proclamation and give Him a road into my heart, cast up by gracious operations, through the desert of my nature. The four directions in the text1 must have my serious attention. Every valley must be exalted. Low and groveling thoughts of God must be given up; doubting and despairing must be removed; and self-seeking and carnal delights must be forsaken. Across these deep valleys a glorious causeway of grace must be raised. Every mountain and hill shall be laid low. Proud creature-sufficiency, and boastful self-righteousness, must be leveled, to make a highway for the King of kings. Divine fellowship is never promised to haughty, high-minded sinners. The Lord has respect to the lowly and visits the contrite in heart,…