Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. —Mark 5:19-20
Legion was so grateful to Jesus for releasing him from the demons that possessed him that he wanted to go with Jesus and be with Him. Jesus did not permit him to do so, but instead told him to bear witness to his friends at home. He was to tell them what the Lord had done for him and how the Lord had mercy on him.
How about us? Have we told our hometown friends of what our Lord has done for us? Have we told them the mercy He has shown us? This was where our Lord told the man that ministry began for him. It was not going off somewhere with Jesus. No, instead it was bearing witness right where he was with those he knew. Have we done so?
This man did not stop at telling his friends at home though. We are told that he “began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” Decapolis means “10 cities” and was in an area east of the Jordon River. So the area of this man’s witness was extensive. He witnessed to many people. He was drawn to do so because of that great mercy he was shown by our Lord!
How about us? To what extent would our Lord have us be a witness? To what areas would He have us go to tell others about the mercy He has shown to us? Do you and I have a desire to be a witness for Jesus wherever He would have us go in obedience to Him? (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Oh, may we be like this man who understood what great things our Lord did for Him and then wanted to tell others so they too could experience the freedom in Jesus that he now had!
MORE RESPONSIBILITY IS GIVEN TO THOSE FAITHFUL IN THE LITTLE
If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” —Mark 4:23-25
Are we being careful to pay attention to God’s Word? Jesus said, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Matthew 13:11-12). We are responsible with the knowledge that our Lord has revealed to us. The way that we apply that knowledge will determine if we will be given more.
Ever wonder why those who claim to be followers of Jesus never seem to mature? It just may be this principle Jesus gave us— “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much: (Luke 16:10). If you or I cannot be faithful with the little that He has given to us, whether it is knowledge or anything else He stewards us with, then why would He give us more responsibility?
Think about this principle as it applies to so many things. If I am just learning a vocation of any kind— baker, mechanic, carpenter, nursing, accounting etc — chance are if I am not faithful in the basics, then I will not be faithful in the larger things. If I am not faithful with the small responsibilities I surely will not be given larger responsibilities. If I am not faithful in service to King Jesus with the little He has given me, why would He give me more? He won’t!
I think many times we want to accomplish great things for the Lord (and that is wonderful as He leads), but we may not be presently responsible with the little things He has given us to do right now. If that is the case He will not give us greater things. This is clear from His Word. “He who has ears, let him hear!” Be faithful with what He has given to you now! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLX83HbefrI&list=UUf1NPIFOBwzTLVQiEDnq4Cw&index=13
Dear Father please help me to be faithful in the little things in the race You have marked out for me. May You be pleased then to give me greater responsibility to bring honor and glory to Your Name. May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians. I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk in uprightness. —Leviticus 26:13
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. —Philippians 2:12-13
We must understand that all we are and all we do is by God’s grace! (I Corinthians 15:10). Anything that has eternal righteous value in us or through us is because God does it. We could not come to Jesus for salvation unless He drew us and enlightened us (John 6:44; II Corinthians 4:6) and we cannot accomplish any righteousness unless He enables us and “works in (us) to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” And yet “Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him” (John 14:21). We still have the responsibility to obey and continue in Him (John 15). Surely, “apart from me you can do nothing” as Jesus has said. It is a marvel how God has woven His sovereignty together with our responsibility. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvN897T0zVc
Dear Father I am so grateful for how You are working in my life. Oh, that I would be faithful with the responsibility You have given to me. May I use the gifts and abilities You have given me to bring honor and glory to Your Name. May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.
FAITHFULLY FOLLOW HIM WHEREVER HE DESIRES US TO GO
Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and slipped out to a solitary place to pray. Simon and his companions went to look for Him, and when they found Him, they said, “Everyone is looking for You!” But Jesus answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns so I can preach there as well, for that is why I have come.” —Mark 1:35-38
Jesus’ disciples came looking for Him in the early morning. He had gone by Himself to pray. When they found Him and told Him that “Everyone is looking for You!” He said, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns so I can preach there as well, for that is why I have come.” Jesus came to preach all over the region, not in just one area.
Let us not limit sharing God’s Word to one area. Instead, let us share the gospel wherever we go. There also may be an area we have not thought of where our Lord wants us to proclaim His Word. Is He putting one on your heart? Will you be obedient to go? It may be a neighbor. It may be a co-worker. It may be a fellow student. It may be a stranger. It may be in a nursing home. It may be in a hospital. It may be in another state or country. Where does He want you to proclaim His Word today?
Jesus said He had come to preach in various locations and we should be open to that as well. It is comfortable to stay in our known circle of life that we move around in day after day. I am sure our Lord would have us break out of that so we might have contact with new people who desperately need to hear the gospel. Oh, that we would be sensitive and obedient to how our Lord wants to lead us today. May it be so. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8Sx_U0Ztr8
Dear Father may I go wherever You desire me to go to preach Your Word. May I do so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”And immediately they left their nets and followed him.And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. —Mark 1:16-20
Are you following Jesus? Then He will make you a fisher of men. This is what Jesus said He would do. So, if I say I am following Jesus, but I am not fishing for men then am I really following Jesus or just saying words? True, He said He would MAKE us a fisher of men. It is a process. We are not automatically fishers of men. There is a process of being made a fisher of men. Am I in the process of being made a fisher of men?
Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.
Week after week, month after month, and year after year these who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing. year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen.
Continually they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. Further they said, “The fishing industry exists by fishing as fire exists by burning.” They loved slogans such as “Fishing is the task of every fisherman,” and “Every fisherman is a fisher,” and “A fisherman’s outpost for every fisherman’s club.” They sponsored special meetings called “Fishermen’s Campaigns” and “The Month for Fishermen to Fish.” They sponsored costly nationwide and worldwide congresses to discuss fishing to promote fishing and hear about all the ways of fishing such as the new fishing equipment, fish calls, and whether any new bait was discovered.
These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however – they didn’t fish. In addition to meeting regularly, they organized a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. All the fishermen seemed to agree that what is needed is a board which could challenge fishermen to be faithful in fishing. The board was formed by those who had the great vision and courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing, and to promote the idea of fishing in faraway streams and lakes where many other fish of different colors lived.
Also the board hired staffs and appointed committees and held many meetings to define fishing, to defend fishing, and to decide what new streams should be thought about. But the staff and committee members did not fish.
Large, elaborate, and expensive training centers were built whose original and primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Over the years courses were offered on the needs of fish, the nature of fish, where to find fish, the psychological reactions of fish, and how to approach and feed fish. Those who taught had doctorates in fishology. But the teachers did not fish. They only taught fishing. Year after year, after tedious training, many were graduated and given fishing licenses. They were sent to do full-time fishing, some to distant waters that were filled with fish.
Some spent much study and travel to learn the history of fishing and to see faraway places where the founding fathers did great fishing in the centuries past. They lauded the faithful fishermen of years before who handed down the idea of fishing.
Further the fishermen built large printing houses to publish fishing guides. Presses were kept busy day and night to produce materials solely devoted to fishing methods, equipment, and programs to arrange and to encourage meetings to talk about fishing. A speakers’ bureau was also provided to schedule special speakers on the subject of fishing.
Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded. They were commissioned and sent to fish. But like fishermen back home they never fished. Like the fishermen back home they engaged in all kinds of other occupations. They built power plants to pump water for fish and tractors to plow new waterways. They made all kinds of equipment to travel here and there to look at fish hatcheries. Some also said they wanted to be part of the fishing party, but they felt called to furnish fishing equipment. Others felt their job was to relate to the fish in a good way so the fish would know the difference between good and bad fishermen. Others felt that simply letting the fish know they were nice, land-loving neighbors and how loving and kind they were was enough.
After one stirring meeting on “The Necessity for Fishing,” one young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The next day he reported he had caught two outstanding fish. He was honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible to tell how he did it. So he quit his fishing in order to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He was also placed on the Fishermen’s General Board as a person having considerable experience.
Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs and the fact that they claimed to be fishermen yet never fished. They wondered about those who felt it was of little use to attend the weekly meetings to talk about fishing. After all, were they not following the Master who said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men?”
Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who didn’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct. Is a person a fisherman if, year after year, he never catches a fish?
So, when was the last time you or I fished for men? Oh, that we may be doing so and by doing so prove that we truly are following Jesus. “Stop being afraid. From now on you will be catching people” (Luke 5:10).
Dear Father, please help me to fish for men regularly in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus. May it be so!
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciplesof all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” —Matthew 28:18-20
So… how are you and I involved in what Jesus has given us to do? Here’s what He said to those who follow Him—
All authority is Jesus’ in heaven and earth
We are to intentionally be making disciples
We are to be impacting all nations
We are to baptize new disciples
We are to teach new disciples to obey what we have been commanded
We have Jesus with us to the very end of the age
Again, I ask, how are we doing with what Jesus commanded His followers? Praise God if we are being faithful to what He has commanded us, but if we are not being obedient to Him, Why? Oh, that would be faithfully obedient to His desires! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yBzIt_z8oY
Dear Father may this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus!
Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. —Matthew 27:27-31
“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “ ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. —Matthew 21:33-45
These people will be standing before the King of kings and the Lord of Lords one day to give an account— as we also will. If they have not called on the Name of the Lord (Romans 10:13) then they will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). Jesus was a quiet Lamb before His tormentors the first time He was on this planet, but the next time He is coming as a roaring Lion and nobody will be able to stand before Him.
Yes, the attitude of the people will be different— “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” (Revelation 6:15-16). “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30). The Lion Jesus will have His way. Let us be thankful that we are on the victory side!
Dear Father I am grateful that You drew me to Jesus to know Him as Lord and Savior. May I live a life of gratitude in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Your Son. May it be so!
Now it was the governor’s custom at the feast to release to the crowd a prisoner of their choosing. At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner named Barabbas. So when the crowd had assembled, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him. While Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered terribly in a dream today because of Him.” But the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus put to death. “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they replied. “What then should I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify Him!” “Why?” asked Pilate. “What evil has He done?” But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify Him!” When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but that instead a riot was breaking out, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “You bear the responsibility.” All the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” So Pilate released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed Him over to be crucified. —Matthew 27:15-25
(Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) —Luke 23:19
Barabbas was a violent murderer and the crowd yelled for his release and screamed to crucify Jesus in the stead of Barabbas. They wanted to kill the spotless, innocent Lamb of God and have the guilty, wicked Barabbas go free!
The spotless Lamb of God dying in the stead of we guilty, wicked sinners. He died in our in our place. He suffered the wrath of God in our stead. What we need to understand about this though is that in His death He took the punishment, the judgment for our sin. Sin is an eternal issue. If I only sinned one time in my whole life and yet never called on Jesus to be saved from my sin (Romans 10:13), that one sin would send me to hell forever! It took the eternal Spotless, innocent, perfect Son and Lamb of God to take away the eternal curse of sin, judgment, death and hell. How amazing is this!? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgsbaBIaoVc
Jesus was bullied, beaten, brutalized and banished to the cross for “not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2). We cannot begin to imagine the horrors of our Lord’s sacrifice. Not only did He take the horrible penalty for our sins and the world’s, but “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried” (Isaiah 53:4). The sorrows and griefs of the whole world He also bore! That is a lot of pain and “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Joy! We will be with Jesus forever in that perfect place! This is what He has done for us! Does that not give you great joy now and think of the absolute joy we will have when we are with Him in glory! If this does not give you joy, then you have not even begun to understand what Jesus has done in “God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23) for us. Wow!
Dear Father my heart is full at the purposes You have fulfilled, are fulfilling and will fulfill for Your glory. Thank You for the grace and mercy You have shown to me through Your gifts, Your Son, Your Spirit and Your Word. May I be lovingly faithful to You!
And Peter was following him at a distance… —Matthew 26:58
Peter thought he was somebody that he was not. He verbalized a willingness to follow Jesus even unto death. But, when it came right down to it that was not the case. After Jesus was arrested Peter followed Him “at a distance” into the courtyard of the high priest. When asked three times whether he was a follower of Jesus, Peter denied it.
How about you and I? Are we “following Him at a distance?” Do we verbalize things we are willing to do for Jesus, but when it comes down to it we do not do what we said we were willing to do? Do we deny Jesus when we are around those who do not follow Him?
This is the Peter before the resurrection of Jesus. After the resurrection and receiving God’s Holy Spirit, Peter is a different man. The once cowering man because a powerful preacher of the gospel and yes, he eventually did die for the Lord Jesus. What a change!
An empowered relationship with Jesus by His Holy Spirit will bring a boldness that only He can bring. If we are trusting in ourselves and try to love for the Lord in our own strength, well, it just does not work. We need to rely on God’s Holy Spirit, get out of our comfort zones and see His mighty hand at work. If we are constantly doing only what we can do we will not see the power of God. May we trust Him to work through us to accomplish His desires that only He can do through us.
Dear Father may this be so. May Your mighty hand be upon me and work through me to accomplish what You desire. May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus my Lord. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8jvfdDtoqY
Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priestsand said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. —Matthew 26:14
And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?”He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me.The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” —Matthew 26:21-25
Three years Judas had been with Jesus and His disciples… three years! Only Jesus knew who Judas really was— “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (John 6:70). The disciples did not have a clue what Judas would do. They thought Judas was one of them. He had gone everywhere with them. He was even the trusted treasurer — “… as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6). But the disciples didn’t really know who Judas was and what his motivation was.
In today’s value, Judas sold Jesus out for $3,000. Imagine someone putting such a low value on your life! Judas valued the King of Creation at less than the average month’s wage in the U.S. today! Wow! Jesus said of Judas that “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” And really, this is true of any person that does not call on the name of the Lord to be saved (Romans 10:13). It would have been better for that person not to have been born! Think of that!
But also think of this… How much do you and I value Jesus? Do I place anything above Him? Do I place any desires above His desires? Do I value any actions above His actions? Do my priorities conflict with His priorities? Do I live according to my word or according to His Word? Am I working out the works He has for me or my own works that I want to do instead of His? How do you and I answer those questions?
Dear Father may I have Jesus as the top priority in my life. Oh, that my life would honor You. May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwjTT2bqKk0