NT Reading – April 22

Mark 10

Jesus’ Teaching about Divorce

10 Getting up, He *went from there to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan; crowds *gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them.

Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

10 In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11 And He *said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

Jesus Blesses Little Children

13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

The Rich Young Ruler

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

23 And Jesus, looking around, *said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus *answered again and *said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”

Jesus’ Sufferings Foretold

32 They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, 33 saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”

35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41 Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. 42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight

46 Then they *came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they *called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” 50 Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

Weekend Passage – March 7

Genesis 49

Israel’s Prophecy concerning His Sons

49 Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come.

“Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob;
And listen to Israel your father.

“Reuben, you are my firstborn;
My might and the beginning of my strength,
Preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.
“Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence,
Because you went up to your father’s bed;
Then you defiled it—he went up to my couch.

“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Their swords are implements of violence.
“Let my soul not enter into their council;
Let not my glory be united with their assembly;
Because in their anger they slew men,
And in their self-will they lamed oxen.
“Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will disperse them in Jacob,
And scatter them in Israel.

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
“Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He couches, he lies down as a lion,
And as a lion, who dares rouse him up?
10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
11 “He ties his foal to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine;
He washes his garments in wine,
And his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 “His eyes are dull from wine,
And his teeth white from milk.

13 “Zebulun will dwell at the seashore;
And he shall be a haven for ships,
And his flank shall be toward Sidon.

14 “Issachar is a strong donkey,
Lying down between the sheepfolds.
15 “When he saw that a resting place was good
And that the land was pleasant,
He bowed his shoulder to bear burdens,
And became a slave at forced labor.

16 “Dan shall judge his people,
As one of the tribes of Israel.
17 “Dan shall be a serpent in the way,
A horned snake in the path,
That bites the horse’s heels,
So that his rider falls backward.
18 “For Your salvation I wait, O Lord.

19 “As for Gad, raiders shall raid him,
But he will raid at their heels.

20 “As for Asher, his food shall be rich,
And he will yield royal dainties.

21 “Naphtali is a doe let loose,
He gives beautiful words.

22 “Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a spring;
Its branches run over a wall.
23 “The archers bitterly attacked him,
And shot at him and harassed him;
24 But his bow remained firm,
And his arms were agile,
From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob
(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 From the God of your father who helps you,
And by the Almighty who blesses you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 “The blessings of your father
Have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills;
May they be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.

27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
In the morning he devours the prey,
And in the evening he divides the spoil.”

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him. 29 Then he charged them and said to them, “I am about to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site. 31 There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah— 32 the field and the cave that is in it, purchased from the sons of Heth.” 33 When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

Looking to the Future

Genesis 48

Jacob adopts and then blesses his grandsons with a blessing that points them to God…the Almighty God who would walk with them, shepherd and guide them and redeem them from all evil.

So what are the implications for us today? A father blesses his children, and we are reminded of the power of a father’s words. We will flesh this out a bit more next week, but for now, What does it look like for us to be a Jacob today, to bless those in our circles of influence? What does it mean to bless? The idea of blessing has encouragement, hope, anticipation, love, happiness…all rolled into one. It’s calling out the best in another, painting a picture of the future, helping them dream what could be, defining success and encouraging them toward it. Those are things anyone can do. But for those of us who striving to see them transformed so that they live and love like Jesus, that isn’t enough. We do all of those things, but from a distinctly Christian perspective. We define success differently…inspiring a fervent love for Jesus through a lifestyle of worship, renewing hearts and minds through biblical teaching, intentionally pursuing Christ-centered relationships, and strategically creating opportunities for them to impact their worlds for Jesus.

There are key moments where blessing is more profound…high school or college graduation, wedding, new parents, at the end of one’s life. But there are also multiplied opportunities for blessing during the everyday events of life…a wise decision made, character shown in a sporting contest, hard work that pays off in a performance…Remember a father’s words are powerful…both for good and evil. Sometimes we find ourselves cursing more than blessing, calling out the bad rather than the good, and painting a dismal picture of the future based on current actions. Sometimes we are afraid to bless, living life apologetically…regrets over past mistakes. But each day is a gift, and each new day is a new gift. Wherever you are, it’s never too late to start.

Blessing is really about hope. It’s remembering the God we serve…But you can’t pass on what you don’t have. So if you don’t know this God…the God who promises to be present with you, who wants to shepherd and guide you, who wants to redeem you from all evil, today is the day. Then you too can hope for a future eternal with Him as His son or daughter, a hope that you can pass on.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

Weekend Passage – February 28

Genesis 48

Israel’s Last Days

Now it came about after these things that Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is sick.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him.When it was told to Jacob, “Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,”  his strength and sat up in the bed. Then Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and He said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.’ Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. But your offspring thathave been born after them shall be yours; they shall be called by the names of their brothers in their inheritance. Now as for me, when I came from Paddan,Rachel died, to my sorrow, in the land of Canaan on the journey, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”

When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” So he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” 10 Now the eyes of Israel were sodim from age that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11 Israel said to Joseph, “I neverexpected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.” 12 Then Joseph took them from his knees, and bowed with his face to the ground. 13 Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 He blessed Joseph, and said,

“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,
16 The angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
And may my name live on in them,
And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.” 19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” 20 He blessed them that day, saying,

“By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying,
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’”

Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. 21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers. 22 I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.”

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

Family Feud

Genesis 27

What do you want so bad that you’ll sin to get it?

From the reader’s perspective, this entire episode is a tangled web of lying and deception. We could ask, “Whose fault is this mess?” Isaac the failed leader of his family and despiser of God’s Word? Rebekah the crafty manipulator and deceiver of her husband? Jacob the liar, the cheater, the swindler? Or Esau the unbeliever? All are to blame. The sad thing is…three of these characters are believers. Isaac, Rebekah and Jacob are all recipients of the Abrahamic Covenant. They are children of the King of the Universe. They should know better. Esau is the only one acting in character…he’s acting like an unbeliever. We shouldn’t expect him to act otherwise, but the others behave even worse. Ultimately the failure of each character is their failure to trust God…that He could bring about what He had promised regardless of the circumstances. Too big a deal to trust God with. Have to take care of this one themselves, do what’s right in their own eyes regardless of the consequences.

No one is unscathed in this episode…except the LORD whose redemptive plan would move forward and whose purposes are realized despite the sin of the players involved. Jacob is the guy. God still works through imperfect people to accomplish His will. Our sin doesn’t thwart His purposes…His plan for us remains, but we still have to endure the consequences of our sin.

The deeper story is God’s grace…where sin abounds, grace super-abounds. Rebekah says, “Let the curse fall on me.” Think about that statement… That’s what Genesis 3.15 is all about, that God would one day send the Head-crushing Seed of the woman, to defeat the serpent giving His own life in the process. The innocent dying for the guilty. What Rebekah says with careless defiance, Jesus will echo with deep compassion, grace and mercy. He took on our curse…all our lies and deception, our murderous rage and defiance, our unbelief…so that we might take on His righteousness.

I don’t know which character you most identify with today…but know that the gospel is good news, not just for those who haven’t trusted in Jesus yet, but it’s good news for us every time we act out of character…like a child of the world rather than a child of God. May God’s grace spur us on to love yet more and more this week and to let go of our own questionable means to accomplish His ends.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Download the podcast at: Family Feud, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster