Communion Meditation — Matthew 26:21, 22

Communion at Mizpah Church 2010
Communion Meditation – Matthew 26:21-22 – An irresistible Self-reflection

When I was in middle-school some, of the teachers worried about student hygiene. Perhaps the dirt under the farm boy’s fingernails was a health threat. So, they installed full-length mirrors in the hallways.
The effect was pronounced. Middle school boys and girls began preening like never before. They found the mirrored self-reflection irresistible.
During the Last Supper something Jesus said acted like an irresistible mirror-image to make each disciple pause to look at himself.
Matthew 26:21 and 22 says: As they were eating, [Jesus] said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray me.” And being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to him, “Surely not I, Lord?”
The original language says they were responding one after another. The participation rate was 100%. Believing the statement was for each of them they found it irresistible.
Were you listening to what he said? “One of you will betray me.”

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Studies in the Gospel of Mark — Mark 3:13-19

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Studies in Mark – Mark 3:13-19

See also: Matt. 5:2; Luke 16:12, 20; Acts 1:21-22, 5:15-16; John 13:21, 26-27; John 3:22; Acts 8:20-21

D – O – Z – E – N

Disciples – During his ministry Jesus had many disciples. From those he chose his Apostles, those whom he sent.

Ordained – After a night of prayer Jesus set aside twelve. In Luke’s Gospel we see the Sermon on the Mount as an ordination sermon.
Zoography – Study the apostles. You find they were with Jesus from his baptism to his resurrection and ascension. They were qualified eye witnesses. Can any who claim to be apostles today offer these credentials? I think not. They are apostles, but they represent the ecclesiastical body that sends them.

Empowered – A student in Bible study resisted this teaching. The apostles had authority unlike the disciples of their times. They were empowered to lay hands upon the sick, to heal to cast out demons.

Names and Nominees – Read again the list of names. Simon called Peter, James, John, etc. What a diverse group. Some were extraverts and some were introverts. Some were rich and some were poor. Some were common and some were of the priest class. Some were from the city, and some were from the country. It really does take all kinds of disciples to do the work of the Lord.

Exemplary story: A family member presented me with a dozen eggs. The eggs were given by a church lady to another family member. I was the final recipient of the gift. When I opened the carton of eggs I found white, brown, and blue eggs. Yes, some hens do lay blue eggs. When I cracked the eggs, I found they each had a white and yoke. Though the disciples differed one from another they were each a son of Adam and they each had a message for the children of God.

Studies in the Gospel of Mark — Mark 2:18-22

Studies in the Gospel of Mark – Mark 2:18-22

See also: Matt. 6:16, 25:5-6; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Lev. 23:27; Eph. 5:23

O – I – N – O – S

Opposition – v. 18 – In verses 6 and 16 Jesus has offended the powers of his day. Jesus already has opponents during his first year of ministry. Soon they will begin to plot against him.

Incident – v. 18 – The opponents look for an offence and find one. They protest that Jesus does not follow their rules for fasting.

New standard – v. 19 – Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom. A new standard has come. It is not fitting to act as if he and his disciples were in mourning.

Oinos – v. 20 – Jesus chooses a fitting example to describe his ministry. It is like new wine.

Skins – v 22 – What is needed for new wine is new wine skins. They are flexible. What a powerful message for his followers. He is the new wine, and we are prepared to be his vessels only if we are flexible and can yield to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Too many religious folk find themselves in the same predicament as the scribes – they are too rigid in their religiosity. When the Spirit prompts us to move, we must be ready.

Exemplary story: Yes, this will take us back. Do you remember a product called “fizzies”? These were tablets that you would drop in a glass of water to make a soft drink. They would bubble and fizz. They were great fun if you followed the instructions. The effervescence of the Spirit needs room to work, and we need to give it that room.

Jesus from the Deesis Mosaic

Studies in Ephesians – Ephesians 6: 1-9

H – O – N – O – R

See: Exodus 20:12; I cor. 14:40; Col 3:20-21, 23; Prov. 10:1; Rms. 13:1 Matt. 5:14

Haven of Home – vs. 1-3 – God ordained home and government.

Order – vs. 5, 7, 9 – In home and government there is a God ordained order. When we respect the order we work within God’s plan.

Nurture – v. 4 – Fathers are to bring up children in the Lord. If we were to follow this order the home would be blessed. We would see children as a heavenly trust given us by God.

Obligee – v. 9 – Those under authority have their obligations, and those in authority have their obligations. All are obliged to act right in their proper roles. This applies to workers and their supervisors today.

Repose – v. 6 – We are to obey, that is, to respect authority, as if we were showing respect to Christ. Here is a practical question: Would you treat Christ that way? If not, why treat your brother or sister that way?

Exemplary Story: It is a wonderful thing to watch a bird such as a dove or a robin build a nest and hatch its young. The nest is carefully shaped, the eggs are lain, the parent set on the eggs until they hatch. The hatchlings cry out for food and they are fed by the parents. Then the young birds flex their wings and take flight. They have followed a divine pattern by instinct. We must follow a divine pattern set for home and work to see the greatest blessings that may follow.

Studies in Ephesians — Ephesians 6:1-9

Studies in Ephesians — 2:11-22

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber to be an example of a charismatic religious leader. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Studies in Ephesians – Ephesians 2: 11-22

 

B – U – I – L – D

 

See also: Gal. 3:27, 28; I Cor. 3:11; I Peter 2:6; Rms. 12. 1, 2; I Cor. 12:14-15; Is. 28:16; Ps. 118: 22

 

Blood that bonds  – v. 13 – Ever watch an old western?  You might have seen the ceremony of two men becoming blood brothers.  When we were immersed into Christ we became brothers and sisters by a bond of blood.

 

Unity – v. 14, 18 — There is a strength in unity, and there is a unity in the body of Christ.  We are united with Christians across the world, and we are united with Christians through the ages.  The voices of Christian leaders echo over the ages.  They thrill us with their love of God.  They shame us with their absolute devotion.

 

Intertwining – v. 19 – In Christ we are a body knit together.  The aches and pains of one are those of the body.

 

Leadership – v. 20 – The church is built on one cornerstone, Christ.  Its support is the apostles and prophets.  As I rest my hand on the Bible with its New Testament I have the apostles with me.  They are no farther than arm’s reach.  These apostles – Matthew, Mark, John, James, Peter, Paul – and these prophets – Luke and the writer of Hebrews – still offer that leadership and order that the church needs.

Dwelling – v. 22 – When Jesus left, he gave a promise that he would send the Comforter.  That Holy Spirit abides in the church, since we are intended to be the dwelling place of God.  When the sick, poor, and lonely turn to the church for refuge, the church must respond in the loving spirit of Christ.

 

Exemplary story:  No doubt you have heard of how Sam pieced together the map of the world.  For her geography lesson one teacher distributed to her pupils copies of a world map from an activity book.  The teacher cut each sheet of paper into a dozen or so pieces.  She asked her class to reassemble the map. The challenge seemed formidable.

Sam completed his puzzle first. The teacher praised for his accomplishment.  Then she asked how he had finished his work so quickly.

He replied, “I just put Jesus together and then the world fell in place.”  Sam saw something the teacher had  overlooked. On the reverse side of the map was a picture of Jesus.

Friends and Thanksgiving — A Meditation on Proverbs 18:24

Friends and Thanksgiving – Proverbs 18:24

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...

English: “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Banquets, anniversaries, and friends. How do you manage them all? On Friday morning received an invitation to attend a student’s anniversary celebration. On Friday afternoon the pastor’s wife called me to request that I speak at her church’s Thanksgiving banquet. Only by the grace of God was I able to give my well wishes to the student-pastor at noon and then be in place to share a devotional at the Thanksgiving banquet.

Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Proverbs says much about friendship. The writer of Proverbs uses his antithetical parallelism to speak of the highs and the lows of friendship. At every level there is dependability. You can depend on friends for better or worse. Let’s begin at the bottom and see where it leads.

Harassing Friends – These are friends who you can depend upon to lead you astray. They are your “dare-and-double-dare-you” friends. When the writer of Proverbs in chapter 1 speaks of the companions of the youth inviting him to crime, these are harassing friends. See Proverbs 1:10-19.

Happenstance Friends – These are the friends upon whom you can depend in a pinch. Your paths cross by happenstance, but these friends are there for good and God. Proverbs 27:10 says, “better a neighbor nearby that a brother far away.” On an Easter weekend I found I had a problem. I had been visiting family, and when I stopped about noon I made a bad discovery. Stuck in the tread of a tire I spotted a screw. What was I to do. I reported the problem to a member of the family. She called the tire store that had serviced her car when she had a flat. They said they closed at 1 PM, but they would wait until I got to the shop. I drove to the shop on State Line Road, met the men who were working on their car for a weekend race. They put my car on the rack, removed the screw, and plugged the tire. All this took about fifteen minutes. I asked the service technician the question, “How much do I owe you?” He said, “Five dollars.” The men working at Haywood Tires were being happenstance friends. Thank God for every one you and I meet. Pray that you and I can be that too.

Honorable Friends – These are the friends upon whom you can depend time and again. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Glenda is on my honorable friends list. When my late wife was ill, Glenda supported the family and assisted in ways only females understand. When some years had passed and my father-in-law fell ill Glenda was there again. She would bring a pan of hot homemade rolls to the house just because Jim loved them. She was there. Now if I am visiting I always get a welcome telling me I am loved and missed. Yes, Glenda is an honorable friend.

Holy Friends – These are the friends upon whom you can depend absolutely for God’s sake. They will push you closer to God. Have you found a holy friend? It may be someone who just takes time to say that they are concerned about your eternal salvation. Paul writing in Romans tells us all we can have just such a friend. That friend is Jesus. Read Romans 5:6-8: you see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Give thanks for the good friends you have. Give thanks for the holy friend who is available to us all, Jesus.

Scary Bible Stories — Mark 5: 15 — The Demoniac of the Gadarenes

The Gadarene - Graphic Novel (Trailer) on Vime...

The Gadarene – Graphic Novel (Trailer) on Vimeo by Edd Blott (Photo credit: R♪ch♡rd F. Mc♫eil™)

Scary Bible Stories – Mark 5:15 – The Demoniac of the Gadarenes

See also: Rms. 12:2; Dan. 4:33; I Cor. 6:20; Col 1:21; Matt. 22:27; I John 4:1

M-I-N-D

Mania – v. 4-5 – The demoniac displays classic signs of mental distress – he suffers self-inflicted wounds when he cuts himself, and he is unable to live with others.

Isolation – v. 3 –The demoniac suffers from social dysfunction. His withdraws from a society where he cannot and will not fit in. These are warning signs that the individual is suffering mental distress and social dysfunction.

Neighborhood vs. 13-17 —  So often it is not just the mentally distressed who are dysfunctional. The maniac lives in a dysfunctional society with its values turned upside down. It loves the business of unclean things, and this is exemplified in its production of swine. The maniac is its designated sick, but the society itself is sick.

Divine – vs. 8, 15 – It is Jesus who has the power to put the man in his right mind. Jesus gives the man self-love and mission when he restores the man. At the same time his restoration is the beginning of the destruction of the community cycle. The community no longer has its designated sick person. What is scary is that the neighborhood asks Jesus to leave. Can you imagine asking Jesus to leave? That’s really scary.

Exemplary story: When Bram Stoker tells about the legends of vampires and werewolves, he gives readers a rule of thumb. Vampires cannot cross the threshold and come into a home uninvited, but once they are invited they come and go at will. How many of us have invited into our lives dark forces that come and go at will? Perhaps we need to allow Jesus to cast them out.