Acknowledging Our Holy Discontent! Acknowledging, Allowing Ourselves to be Overcome by our Savior. Mark 1:12-13

Mark 1:12-13Amplified Bible

12 Immediately the [Holy] Spirit forced Him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted [to do evil] by Satan; and He was with the wild animals, and the angels ministered continually to Him.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

“I can resist everything but temptation!” says the Irish Poet Oscar Wilde.

“I generally avoid temptation unless I cannot resist it any longer.” Mae West

“I can resist anything but temptation!” says the bumper sticker.

“Temptation is the devil looking through our keyholes. Yielding is opening the door, inviting him in to stay and live with us for awhile.” Billy Sunday

As Christians, we know that temptation toward sinful, illegal or destructive things needs to be resisted, and yet we often find ourselves losing the battle.

That is not only frustrating, it can get downright depressing, it can even make us start to raise inner doubts, question whether God still loves, cares about us.

The promised land was just across the Jordan River, but the land on the near side of the ­river looked good for grazing.

So the tribes of Reuben and Gad petitioned Moses to let them settle in that area.

In doing so, they faced the temptation of settling in a place determined by their possessions rather than by the Lord’s promise.

When Moses challenged them, choose their “stuff or choose God” the tribes relented, agreed to go with the others across the Jordan to conquer the land.

Settling down and being content an being fulfilled merely with the things of this earth around us is so tempting.

The more we have, the easier it is to focus solely on this life.

Rather than keeping our eyes on the promises of God, we tend to see the things around us and be satisfied with them.

Christian faith is supposedly marked by our measures and our degrees of holy discontent with earthly treasures.

That choice, that decision and those affirmation are easy when things are easy.

That array of things, perhaps not no easy to live with when things are difficult.

But as Chris­tians, we need to long for Christ and his kingdom even when things are good, because we know Jesus is the greatest example, the greatest mentor.

Mark 1:9-13Common English Bible

Jesus is baptized and tempted

About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11 And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”

12 At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.

We all face temptation.

No one is immune from temptation.

The bad news about temptation is that it usually doesn’t happen when we’re ready for it.

It usually happens in those moments when we’re tired, or sad or disappointed about something.

And while we all face temptation, when we give into it, we often feel really bad.

We wish we were better about fighting it or saying no to the things tempting us.

Immediately after being baptized by John, immediately after hearing all of the wonderful all thumbs up accolades and affirmations from His Father in Heaven, we read that Jesus is immediately driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.

What prior planning and preparation did he have?

Complete Faith and Trust in His Father God and the Holy Scriptures!

What preparation did he ask for as a precondition to entering the wilderness?

Complete Faith and Trust in His Father God and the Holy Scriptures!

What time did His Father God give him to “pray and study himself into shape?”

Complete Faith and Trust in His Father God, His perfect understanding and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures as taught to Him! Psalm 119:1-16

What resistance did Jesus offer up to His Father in Heaven before His entering?

None but implicit and innate trust in the truth found in God’s Holy Scriptures!

Hebrews 4:11-16Amplified Bible

11 Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], so that no one will fall by following the same example of disobedience [as those who died in the wilderness]. 12 For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged [a]sword, penetrating as far as the division of the [b] soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account.

14 Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior]. 15  For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. 16 Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].

Jesus is so much more than a role model

The fact that Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are teaches us at least three things.

One thing is Jesus’ perfect reliance on the Power of God through Scriptures.

One thing it teaches us is that just as Jesus overcame every temptation, so we need to follow his example, make every effort not to fall to temptation either.

But there is so much more here to acknowledge, and it makes all the difference.

If Jesus were merely a great role model that we should follow, there would be no hope for us.

Following Jesus would then just be another of the world’s many religions — humanly devised systems of coping with bad behavior and plagued consciences.

The other thing these temptation passages teach us is Jesus overcame every temptation in our place, as one of us, both representing us and substituting for us before God.

Notice where Hebrews 4 places the emphasis:

First, Jesus is presented as an incomparable High Priest (v. 14).

The job of a high priest is to mediate on behalf of the people toward God.

He offers the sacrifices and acts as the go-between to get everything straightened out between sinning people and God.

In religion, this concept keeps people mindful of the need to behave better and establishes a hierarchy of humans that can exercise control over the masses.

The Gospel is not, can never become, another religion

But the gospel is not another religion.

The gospel tells us that the real and true High Priest is God himself, the Second Person of the triune God — the one who became Jesus Christ. He died and rose from the dead in glory, and now is in heaven as a glorified man and the Son of God at once, making actual peace between sinning humans and God.

Jesus did not sin; he took all the sin of humanity onto his own shoulders.

But all the sin in the world was no match for the Son of God. In him, sin, all sin, found its demise. In Christ, God destroyed the work of the devil and defeated sin — our sin — once and for all. This is not religion; it is the gospel of our Savior.

That is why Hebrews 4 emphasizes the truth that Jesus sympathizes with us in our weaknesses, and the truth because of Jesus doing what he did regarding sin, we can come forth with a holy discontent for the world and a holy boldness to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We find the same emphasis in Hebrews 2:17-18.

He became like us humans in every respect for the express purpose of being a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God.

He can help those who are being tested because he was tested like they are.

How does he help them?

By his sacrifice of atonement (restoration to fellowship with God) and by being merciful (He forgives you) and faithful (He will do it every time).

Hebrews 3:12-19Amplified Bible

The Peril of Unbelief

12 Take care, brothers and sisters, that there not be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving [a]heart [which refuses to trust and rely on the Lord, a heart] that turns away from the living God. 13 But continually encourage one another every day, as long as it is called “Today” [and there is an opportunity], so that none of you will be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [its cleverness, delusive glamour, and sophistication]. 14 For we [believers] have become partakers of Christ [sharing in all that the Messiah has for us], if only we hold firm our newborn confidence [which originally led us to Him] until the end, 15 while it is said,

“Today [while there is still opportunity] if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your heart, as when they provoked Me [in the rebellion in the desert at Meribah].”

16 For who were they who heard and yet provoked Him [with rebellious acts]? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose dead bodies were scattered in the desert? 18 And to whom did He swear [an oath] that they would not enter His rest, but to those who disobeyed [those who would not listen to His word]? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest—the promised land] because of unbelief and an unwillingness to trust in God.

If we will only 100% fully and completely Trust him

Influenced by all this temptation, how do you get in on all this grace and mercy?

With such an astoundingly horrible track record of disobedience to rely upon,

I believe what makes resisting temptation difficult for many people is they don’t want to expend any of the necessary effort to discourage it completely.

Hebrews 3 says, “Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (v. 12, NRSV)

It goes on to say, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (v. 13).

How does sin deceive us?

One way is by telling us, in effect: “Ha! God won’t forgive you this time. You’ve crossed the line, pal, and the jig’s up. His mercy only goes so far, you know, and frankly, it’s reserved for those who clean up their act and stay in shape — not for the likes of you, you old filthy worn out completely useless ugly bag of sin.”

Look how verse 14 puts it: “For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end” (NRSV).

In other words, trust him.

Trust him to do what he says he does for you — forgives you. Trust him to be what he says he is for you — faithful.

Trust him to know what he’s doing.

Trust him to love you the way he says he loves you.

Trust him to be the Creator, the Redeemer of his Creation that he claims to be.

How can you lose out on such a great salvation?

The same way you would lose out on a million dollars if you got a letter from the bank telling you someone had put it in your account, but you did not believe the bank and never went to take it out — by not believing, by not trusting in God.

By not trusting the giver of the gift. By not trusting God to love you and forgive you and transform you and make you his own child like he tells you he has already done (Ephesians 2:4-6; Colossians 1:13-14, 22; 2:13; 1 John 3:2).

Good news

The gospel really is good news!

Trouble is, for many of us, it seems too good to be true.

We want to have at least a short list of “do’s and don’ts” to separate the wheat from the chaff.

But God gave us no list.

God’s purpose in creation was to let us prove ourselves.

The plan was explained to us within the Psalms (139) before we were born.

We were weaved enough there to qualify for the opportunity to choose against temptation here to prepare for eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God.

He gave us himself.

In Christ, I thoroughly believe we have everything we need for salvation.

John 16:29-33Amplified Bible

29 His disciples said, “Ah, now You are speaking plainly to us and not in figures of speech! 30 Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; because of this we believe [without any doubt] that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now [at last] believe? 32 Take careful notice: an hour is coming, and has arrived, when you will all be scattered, each to his own home, leaving Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

We are not worth caring about or saving because we convince him we are; we’re worth caring about and saving because he decided we are and he did it by Christ.

In the name of God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Father God, my only believable and faithful Way Maker, My Chain-Breaker, My Promise Keeper, My Light of my life in the Darkness of sin, I know that You want me to resist temptation. I know You have not allowed any temptation to befall me which is beyond my strength to resist. In You, I have the freedom to choose not to sin, and You have given me Your Spirit to stand firm against temptation. When I am tempted to sin, help me instead to focus on Your goodness to me that is demonstrated by the cross. Fill me with Your Spirit and make me hate sin as much as You do. You have bought my life with the precious blood of Your Son and in His name, I pray. Amen.

A Lesson in Beginning Transition: 4 Tips to Understanding, Communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark 1:1-8

Mark 1:1-8 Common English Bible

Beginning of good news

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:

Look, I am sending my messenger before you.
He will prepare your way,
a voice shouting in the wilderness:
        “Prepare the way for the Lord;
        make his paths straight.”[a]

John’s preaching

John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

The 66 books of the Bible include diverse and various kinds of literature, but the Four Gospels may be the most unique literary genre included in God’s Word. 

So how should we seek to handle these four amazing and awesome books?

Please, keep reading to discover a few tips for understanding the Gospels.

The book of Mark begins like this: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

The Greek noun translated “gospel” is euangelion.

The word refers to an announcement of good news or “glad tidings.”

It was in common use in the Roman world when Mark connected it to his account of Jesus.

However, Mark claimed it and redefined it, declaring the ultimate good news to be Jesus Christ and His message of salvation.

(Note: Most scholars believe Mark was the first Gospel written.)

Sometime around the end of the 1st century, the church formally began to use the word “gospel” to identify the written accounts of Jesus’ life.

The Gospels became a new and unique literary genre. 

The Gospels share some similarities with biographies since they focus on the multi-faceted life of one person.

However, the Gospels don’t cover all of Jesus’ life, but instead focus primarily on His ministry, death, and resurrection.

They also feature the teachings of Jesus.

As a literary genre, the Gospels uniquely blend history and theology.

They combine a narrative of Jesus’ life with large blocks of His teachings.

And each is presented from a different eye-witness account. 

4 Tips for Gospel Interpretation

The following tips will equip us for more properly understanding the Gospels!

1. Read Horizontally

Since many of the actions and teachings of Jesus appear in more than one Gospel, we can expand our understanding by reading the different accounts.

Scholars refer to this as “reading horizontally” or reading across the Gospels.

For instance, the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is recorded in all four Gospels (Matthew 4:13-12, Mark 6:32-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-15.)

Keep in mind, that each Gospel writer brings their own distinctiveness to the account. Each chose to highlight different aspects of an event of teaching for a specific purpose. Differences between the Gospels don’t equal contradictions.

For a good resource to help you read horizontally, look for a synopsis or parallel of the four Gospels.  

2. Think Vertically

Each passage must be kept in the larger context of that individual Gospel.

Ancient Jewish writers were more concerned about overall structure and theme than they were strict chronological order.

The Gospel writer strategically placed each event and teaching in a particular order within the book for a reason. Pull back from your primary passage and look for and examine themes and similarities in the larger surrounding context.

3. Keep the Purpose and Audience in Mind

The apostle John ended his Gospel like this: “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).

None of the Gospel writers recorded the whole story.

Each selected the specific events and teachings to include, arranged them in a particular order, and presented them in such a way to fulfill a writing goal and connect to his audience and their needs.

For instance, John’s purpose was theological. (See John 20:30-31). That’s why John’s Gospel contains more of Jesus’ teachings than any other Gospel.

Matthew’s Gospel is very “Jewish” and Luke’s is more oriented to the Gentile reader. This kind of background helps us better appreciate the author’s intent. 

4. Recognize the Genres within the Genre

As mentioned above, the Gospels uniquely combine historical narrative and Jesus’ teaching. Even Jesus’ teaching includes a variety of styles and literary devices like parables, metaphors, hyperbole, and more. To properly understand a passage, we need to correctly identify and deal with interpreting each style. 

Example: Consider one possible approach to communicating the Gospel.


How would you describe the message of John the Baptist? 

Mark said that John preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” but that his message was, “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

To set the context, Mark cites the words of Isaiah, combining them with a well-known prophecy from Malachi 3:1, about the messenger whom God would send to “prepare the way for the Lord.”

Mark 1:1-8 Christian Standard Bible

The Messiah’s Herald

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.[a] As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:[b]

See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.[c][d]
A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight![e]

John came baptizing[f] in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John wore a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.

He proclaimed, “One who is more powerful than I am is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with [g] water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

A Logical Series of Questions which might come to your mind and may be asked:

What is the connection between preparing the way for the Lord and repentance for the forgiveness of sins? And what does that have to do with Mark’s statement of John’s message: one more powerful than he would come, one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit?

Let’s begin with the message from God’s Prophet Malachi.

Time to Repent

The prophecy the Evangelist Mark quoted from Malachi warned about a coming day of great judgment against unfaithful Israel and Judah.

In Malachi 2:17, the prophet declared, “You have wearied the Lord with your words … By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?”

The next verse, Malachi 3:1, is the one Mark used in describing the role of John the Baptist. It is the answer to the rhetorical question just posed by Israel.

Here is what the God of justice is going to do:

“’I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will certainly come,” says the LORD Almighty.”

But, says verses 2-5, the Lord’s coming will entail a harsh, powerful cleansing and purifying of his people. He will come, He will set things right and He will deliver the weak and disadvantaged and the lost from their cruel oppressors.

The Lord Himself declares His intent, sets the stage for future generations:

One day soon, His Judgement will come and who will dare stand against it:

“But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.”

What can this mean, considering God’s unchanging faithfulness, but a call to repentance — a call to turn back to God?

Our God will never turn away from his covenant faithfulness despite Israel’s unfaithfulness, and for this reason Israel will not be destroyed (v. 6).

Therefore God will, in his grace and love, save all who will turn to him (v. 7).

It may have appeared for a time that there was nothing to gain by serving God and that only evildoers prosper (vs. 14-15), but that was never really the case (v. 16). God never leaves nor forsakes those who put their trust in him (vs. 16-18).

Therefore, God says, before this great and dreadful day of judgment comes, he would send them “the prophet Elijah”, who would bring together as one the hearts of the fathers, the children, that is, the hearts of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob unite with the hearts of the generation upon which this judgment falls.


In this righteous way (Psalm 69:9, Romans 3:21-22, Matthew 3:15), through the sudden coming of the Lord, His Zealousness for His House, to his temple in cleansing judgment and forgiving grace, preceded by the voice of preparation crying deep into the wilderness, God would bring together the old with the new.

The Genesis creation would find its redemption in its transition into the new creation in Jesus Christ.

The old covenant would find its fulfillment in its transition into the new covenant in Jesus Christ (see Jeremiah 31:31; 2 Corinthians 3:14).

The prophets of Israel would find their climax in John the Baptist (see Matthew 11:11 and Luke 16:16) and their fulfillment in the transition to the One whose sandals John knew he was “not worthy to stoop down and untie” (Mark 1:7).

And utterly wretched sinners like you and me would find love, forgiveness and redemption in the welcoming arms of the Father as he transitions us into his new creation in Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Romans 8:38-39).

The “beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:1), rooted in creation itself and expressing itself unceasingly throughout history in God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises, finds its grand consummation in the One who is “here walking among us” and “will baptize you with Holy Spirit” (v. 8).

In Christ Jesus, God has brought together all things in heaven and earth and reconciled them to himself in his new creation (see Colossians 1:19-20 and Ephesians 1:9-10).

That is why the Apostle Paul instructed the church at Galatia,

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation” (Galatians 6:15).

New Creation

Let’s be brutally honest for a necessary change of pace.

It might be encouraging or even inspiring to hear that we are a new creation, but the truth is, we don’t often feel very much like a new creation.

We usually feel more like a continuously struggling creation, a tired, worried, depressed, bipolar, barely-hanging-on-by-our-toe and fingernails creation.

I encourage you today – PLEASE do not let that get you down.

That is how things are right now, but it will not always be so.

The day will come when the new creation God has already made you to be in Christ will be fully unveiled (Colossians 3:1-4). And when that happens, there will be no more crying, no more pain and no more death (Revelation 21:4).

Even now, our hope lies in this: God has proven in Christ his love for us and his faithfulness to us (consider the much deeper implications of Romans 5:6-8).

He has made our cause his own.

He has taken responsibility for us, sins and all.

He has taken us under his wing, and he will never let us go.

That is why we trust him.

God, who proved himself faithful to faithless Israel, is exactly the same God who is faithful to faithless you and me.

He is the same from the beginning, which means he has and always will be for you, working to help and to heal, and not to condemn (consider John 3:17).

If you have turned your back on God, please do not think nor believe for very long that He has turned his back on you. Quite the contrary. He’s got the porch light on and dinner on the table, waiting for you to come home. (Luke 15:20-24)

Individual Reflections: Begin Pondering “Transition”

  1. How was John the Baptist related to the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ (v. 1)?
  2. How did John fulfill the prophecies about preparing the way for the Lord (vs. 2-4)?
  3. What does Mark say is the connection between forgiveness and judgment?
  4. What about Mark’s opening words – “the beginning of facts regarding the Good News of Jesus Christ , the Son of God” has you thinking about past experiences?
  5. What about the physical appearance of John the Baptist which repels you from Him that draws you unto him, to his message of repentance and return to God?
  6. What does John’s message about a greater one to come mean for you?
  7. Where do you believe God is leading you through these first 8 verses of Mark?

    In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

    Let us Pray,

    God who is my Father, My God of encouragement, there are so many philosophies and conflicting views out there. Give me an understanding of your truth, so I can discern, know what is right. May the Holy Spirit of God guide me into all truth. May I also be taught by Spirit-filled ministers and teachers of your word. I pray that I will, day by day, be purer in heart, soul and mind, so that I don’t hinder or block your truth through my sin and stubbornness. Jesus is my Cornerstone! I know your truth is my foundation for spiritual maturity and for wisdom in all facets, parts of my life. As I walk in your truth, help me better live out your daily purpose for my life. Amen.

    Please Do Not “GIVE UP” but instead, “TAKE UP” All of GOD’S Promises, all of GOD’S “YES!” and “AMEN!” for Your Life! 2Corinthians 1:18-22

    2 Corinthians 1:18-22Amplified Bible

    18 But [as surely as] God is faithful and means what He says, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No” [at the same time]. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, Silvanus, and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but has proved to be “Yes” in Him [true and faithful, the divine “Yes” affirming God’s promises]. 20 For as many as are the promises of God, in Christ they are [all answered] “Yes.” So through Him we say our “Amen” to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who establishes and confirms us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and who has anointed us [empowering us with the gifts of the Spirit]; 22 it is He who has also put His seal on us [that is, He has appropriated us and certified us as His] and has given us the [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as a pledge [like a security deposit to guarantee the fulfillment of His promise of eternal life].

    The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

    When we endeavor to look more closely at where many Christians are at in their lives, and what they are (or are not) successfully accomplishing, or miserably failing at, we inevitably realize we do have to keep encouraging one another to enable us to successfully fulfill the calling and purpose of God for our lives.

    He has not called us to walk and live in defeat; to be discouraged; to give-up and become negative and defeated about life generally.

    Jesus came to give us much more than that!

    He came, that we might know Him, to give us “Life, and life more abundantly (“super-abundant, excessive, above the ordinary measure”)” (John 10:10).

    Know that the life Jesus gives us is so totally different ~ and far better ~ than any other kind of life that can be found this side of eternity. Do not forget that.

    Far too often we give in too quickly.

    Far too quickly we give up on God, the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    The great cacophony of “Yes!” and “Amen!” loses its deeper meanings to us.

    If it does not work out exactly right the first time, we often do not try again, thinking it is not God’s will for us, or that the devil is trying to deceive us, etc.

    Faith is something that supposedly causes us to press onwards, upwards and outwards ~ to persevere and to press through until we see the required result.

    I am here reminded of what Elijah said to his servant in 1 Kings 18:43-46.

    Elijah the Prophet had declared that “there is a sound of abundance of rain” ~ but there was no evidence at all of any clouds or signs of rain (after three-and-a-half years of no rain – James 5:17-18).

    He sent his servant up a hill to look for the clouds.

    He returned with a negative word ~ there was nothing to be seen.

    Elijah the Prophet was not going to to be put-off by that report and sent him again, even seven times – there would be no quitting on God’s Promises here!

    Six times there was nothing to be seen. 

    Maybe Elijah the Prophet had got it wrong?

    But no!

    No Quit Here!

    On the seventh time the servant came back with a report of a little cloud in the sky the size of a man’s hand.

    That was all the goo news Elijah required.

    He jumped into action and it was not long before the sky was black with rain clouds and heavy rain began to pour down. He prevailed!

    We, too, need to have the word of the Lord in our hearts, in our souls and in our strengths in such a way that we know, without any questions or errors, it is God.

    1 Samuel 17:41-47Amplified Bible

    41 The Philistine came and approached David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 When the Philistine looked around and saw David, he derided and disparaged him because he was [just] a young man, with a ruddy complexion, and a handsome appearance. 43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with [shepherd’s] staffs?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine also said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a [a]javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. 46 This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the corpses of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that this entire assembly may know that the Lord does not save with the sword or with the spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will hand you over to us.”

    Often, when He speaks to us, there is no physical or outward evidence it is so.

    But faith comes with the hearing and responding an actually acting upon the voice of the Lord, and when we choose to press on through regardless of what our mind tries to communicate to us, what other people tell us, circumstances tell us, etc., we will find that we inherit the promises. (David versus Goliath)

    They will come to pass!

    Know also that God uses these “delays” to work something precious into our spirits, so that we are prepared and equipped for even greater things ahead.

    We have to be refined for His purposes.

    It is easy to give up, but giving up does not accomplish anything in God.

    Naaman the Syrian was told by Elisha to go and wash seven times in the Jordan River.

    It greatly offended him and touched his pride, causing him to “storm off” in indignation. 

    But when he humbled himself and did as the prophet declared, he was healed of his leprosy.

    I am simple enough to believe that if he only dipped five or six times, he would not have been healed (see 2 Kings 5:1-14).

    He had to persevere in spite of his pride and arrogance. God used it to humble the man and cause him to acknowledge that there is no god like Elisha’s God.


    We are exhorted to be like Jesus and to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him Who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

    Christianity is a marathon race, not a sprint. It calls for endurance (“to stay, stand fast, continue, abide; to remain behind after others have gone; to keep one’s ground, hold out; a brave bearing up against sufferings.”

    It is keeping focused and keeping going in that which God has called us to. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9-10).

    If Jesus Himself needed to endure, then so do we. Have we got our eyes focused on what is ahead, or are we allowing present, natural, negative circumstances to discourage us and make us give up?


    What has God promised you that is yet unfulfilled in your life?

    Have you given-up on it, thought it was too difficult, caused too much criticism and opposition against you, etc.?

    What God promises He desires to deliver on.

    He wants to fulfill His sure promises in your life in our Savior Jesus Christ. 

    Be encouraged to pick up those promises again and to press on until you see the victory. 

    Know that He does not change His mind about you.

    Do not allow negative thoughts, things, people, circumstances, criticisms, opposition, persecutions, etc., rob you of the blessings of a Super-Abundant God Who wants only the very best for you.

    Press in and press through until the victory is yours!

    It is so worth it and you will accomplish so much more as you keep pressing through, enduring and not giving up on that which God has promised YOU!

    Even believers get discouraged. Rediscover what leads to true joy.

    The Bible tells us that even believers struggle with trusting God because life is hard and cruel at times.

    But we know there is hope and we know that immeasurable, indescribable joy is possible because of the eternal life we have through our Savior Jesus Christ.

    Therefore, God wants each of us to be full of lively faith and grow in His divine direction, comforted by the Holy Spirit. In this complete trust of our Lord and Savior, we can share the Gospel message of real life with true peace and joy.

    One day, When you and I feel like giving up?

    The answers are all in the Bible – the Word of God for the Children of God.

    It is in the Bible, 2 Timothy 2:16-17 Amplified

    16 All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 17 so that the [a]man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    Challenge yourself and wrestle with God for the truth(s) you need to be healed.

    It is in the Bible, Genesis 32:24-28 Amplified

    Jacob Wrestles

    24 So Jacob was left alone, and a [a]Man [came and] wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the Man saw that He had not prevailed against Jacob, He touched his hip joint; and Jacob’s hip was dislocated as he wrestled with Him. 26 Then He said, “Let Me go, for day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing on me.” 27 So He asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but [b]Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.”

    Team up with God and challenge yourself to wrestle with the Word of God against what is generating the thoughts and feelings of quitting on God.

    It is in the Bible, Psalm 119:9-16 Amplified


    How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to Your precepts].
    With all my heart I have sought You, [inquiring of You and longing for You];
    Do not let me wander from Your commandments [neither through ignorance nor by willful disobedience].
    Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart,
    That I may not sin against You.
    Blessed and reverently praised are You, O Lord;
    Teach me Your statutes.
    With my lips I have told of
    All the ordinances of Your mouth.
    I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
    As much as in all riches.
    I will meditate on Your precepts
    And [thoughtfully] regard Your ways [the path of life established by Your precepts].
    I will delight in Your statutes;
    I will not forget Your word.

    Let it ALL go, Go Hardcore – Be brutally honest with God about your feelings. 

    It’s in the Bible, Psalm 13:1-2, NIV.

    “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”

    Ready to Give up because of a very negative experience with your Church?

    It is in the Bible, Psalm 42, English Standard Version

    Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

    To the choirmaster. A Maskil[a] of the Sons of Korah.

    42 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
        so pants my soul for you, O God.
    My soul thirsts for God,
        for the living God.
    When shall I come and appear before God?[b]
    My tears have been my food
        day and night,
    while they say to me all the day long,
        “Where is your God?”
    These things I remember,
        as I pour out my soul:
    how I would go with the throng
        and lead them in procession to the house of God
    with glad shouts and songs of praise,
        a multitude keeping festival.

    Why are you cast down, O my soul,
        and why are you in turmoil within me?
    Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
        my salvation[c] and my God.

    My soul is cast down within me;
        therefore I remember you
    from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
        from Mount Mizar.
    Deep calls to deep
        at the roar of your waterfalls;
    all your breakers and your waves
        have gone over me.
    By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
        and at night his song is with me,
        a prayer to the God of my life.
    I say to God, my rock:
        “Why have you forgotten me?
    Why do I go mourning
        because of the oppression of the enemy?”
    10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
        my adversaries taunt me,
    while they say to me all the day long,
        “Where is your God?”

    11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
        and why are you in turmoil within me?
    Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
        my salvation and my God.

    God has promised strength when we need it. 

    It’s in the Bible, Colossians 1:11-12, NKJV.

    “Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”

    Giving up often causes us to miss the best God has to offer. 

    It’s in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, NKJV.

    “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”

    When our hearts condemn us, we should not give up. 

    It’s in the Bible, 1 John 3:19-20, NKJV.

    “And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”

    God’s presence is not always a glorious, fantastic, awesome display—He might be in a still small voice. 

    It’s in the Bible, 1 Kings 19:11-12, NKJV.

    “Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.’ And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”

    You are not alone. 

    It is in the Bible, Deuteronomy 31:6, NKJV.

    “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

    Though we make mistakes, we are still in God’s hands. 

    It is in the Bible, Psalm 37:23-24, NKJV.

    “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand.”

    Mistakes happen and sometimes we fall—don’t give up, get back up. 

    It’s in the Bible, Proverbs 24:16,

    NKJV. “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.”

    Nothing can separate us from God’s love. 

    It’s in the Bible, Romans 8:38-39, NKJV.

    “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Trust God and wait on Him. 

    It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 25:9, NKJV.

    “And it will be said in that day: ‘Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.'”

    God will not fail you in your day of adversity. 

    It’s in the Bible, Psalm 57:2-3, NKJV. 

    “I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me. He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.”

    Nothing is apparently more helpless, yet really more invincible, than the soul that feels its nothingness and relies wholly on God. 

    It’s in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NKJV.

    “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

    Today, you and I have the opportunity to renew our eternal perspectives.

    God is a redeemer and restorer and rebuilder of all our most “ancient ruins.”

    It is in the Bible, Isaiah 58:6-12 English Standard Version

    “Is not this the fast that I choose:
        to loose the bonds of wickedness,
        to undo the straps of the yoke,
    to let the oppressed[b] go free,
        and to break every yoke?
    Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
        and bring the homeless poor into your house;
    when you see the naked, to cover him,
        and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
    Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
        and your healing shall spring up speedily;
    your righteousness shall go before you;
        the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
    Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
        you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
    If you take away the yoke from your midst,
        the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
    10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
        and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
    then shall your light rise in the darkness
        and your gloom be as the noonday.
    11 And the Lord will guide you continually
        and satisfy your desire in scorched places
        and make your bones strong;
    and you shall be like a watered garden,
        like a spring of water,
        whose waters do not fail.
    12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
        you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
    you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
        the restorer of streets to dwell in.

    The compassionate invitation to Rebuild, Restore and Redeem is Always Open.

    It is in the Bible, Isaiah 55:1-3 English Standard Version

    The Compassion of the Lord

    55 “Come, everyone who thirsts,
        come to the waters;
    and he who has no money,
        come, buy and eat!
    Come, buy wine and milk
        without money and without price.
    Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
        and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
    Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
        and delight yourselves in rich food.
    Incline your ear, and come to me;
        hear, that your soul may live;
    and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
        my steadfast, sure love for David.

    Be Persistent

    It is in the Bible, Luke 18:1-8

    The Parable of the Persistent Widow

    18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

    Be encouraged and learn to walk through the Word of God for the Children of God each day, searching for old truth with a joyful spirit and a refocused mind.

    It is in the Bible, Colossians 2:1-4 English Standard Version

    For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.

    Because in the name of God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

    For you are constantly and continuously being prayed for by the saints.

    It is in the Bible, Ephesians 3:14-21 English Standard Version

    Prayer for Spiritual Strength

    14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

    20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

    When we Feel Disappointed in God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, what is our response? What is our God’s first response? John 11:1-7

    John 11:1-7Amplified Bible

    The Death and Resurrection of Lazarus

    11 Now a certain man named Lazarus was sick. He was from [a]Bethany, the village where Mary and her sister Martha lived. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, he [our brother and Your friend] whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness will not end in death; but [on the contrary it is] for the glory and honor of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Now Jesus loved and was concerned about Martha and her sister and Lazarus [and considered them dear friends]. 6 [b]So [even] when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed in the same place two more days. Then He said to His disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

    The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

    We are not sure how it happened.

    We are not sure how such an occurrence was even conceivable.

    It is echelons beyond our ability to even begin to try to frame it adequately.

    But the reality of the situation was still the reality of the situation.

    None of our expectations were being met when we required them to be met.

    Then the inevitable happened – and we cannot begin to fathom it.

    But here it is, moment by moment, things were definitely getting worse.

    In truth, things were getting significantly worse.

    The Teacher had not come as he promised and the sickness was progressing.

    Messengers were rushing sent ahead – had the message not reached Him?

    Their brother Lazarus lay dying in his bed.

    In the greatest of urgencies they sent for Jesus.

    And they waited for Jesus to come.

    And they waited for Jesus to arrive.

    They looked unto the hills from whence they expected their help to come from.

    And they kept looking and they kept waiting and they kept anticipating.

    And the looking and the waiting and the anticipation just kept right on going.

    They knew deep in their hearts Jesus loved Martha and Mary. He loved Lazarus.

    So when they urgently sent word to Him that Lazarus was sick . . . Jesus waited.

    Somewhere in all of that waiting on the Lord to be immediately there for them:

    Their Brother Lazarus – DIED ….

    What a giant God sized belly drop – a hardcore face plant into the hard earth.

    Now we are told in our narrative that a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.

    It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.

    So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”

    With such a love for them as they knew Jesus had for them and their family, they expected Jesus to immediately pack up all of his belongings and Come!

    But instead of the righteous “reasonably expected” response, when Jesus heard it he immediately turned, said unto his disciples, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

    Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

    So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he instead stayed two days longer in the place where he was (John 11:1–6).

    When the message reached Jesus, He waited. He stayed two days longer.

    He didn’t rush. He didn’t run. He didn’t even heal from a distance like He did with the centurion’s servant.

    Jesus waited.

    We do not even read in the Gospel text where Jesus sent one of His disciples running and rushing ahead to notify Mary, Martha and Lazarus of his delay.

    Jesus and his disciples just stayed in their camp by the fire and did what?

    We are not told – but on the surface, the response seems to be unusually cold.

    A response that we who have the 20/20 hindsight today would call fully and completely and utterly out of Character for the Jesus we know and love today.

    The word “disappointed” is never penned in this text, but it is clearly written all over the story, weaved into and between every single word and every sentence.

    Can we even begin to ponder being even minimally disappointed in God?

    Can we even begin to ponder being even minimally disappointed in Jesus?

    Can we even begin to ponder being even minimally disappointed in God the Holy Spirit?

    Yes or No?

    Conceivable or Inconceivable?

    Not What They Hoped For Nor Expected

    I am reasonably sure Mary and Martha were disappointed. They knew Jesus could heal their brother. They knew it would be no problem for Him. They told Him as much, as soon as He had showed up (four days late according to them).

    I can just see Martha’s arms crossed and her stern glare as she rebukes Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).

    She angrily lays every last ounce of blame for Lazarus’ death square at His feet.

    She poured out her heart with an urgent request, she expected an immediate and loving response and shockingly Jesus failed her and didn’t come through.

    He let her down.

    He tripped her up.

    Perhaps there were even thoughts and feelings an sharp words of betrayal.

    Can you and I relate to any of this story?

    I have unanswered prayers. I have urgent requests, and too, requirements that haven’t been attended to, loved ones who are dying without hope of eternal life.

    “I am desperate for any answer which will lift this “nearly impossible” burden off of my shoulders and out of my life – I need immediate relief and freedom.”

    Where is God, my Father – who never slumbers nor sleeps, night and day, keeps me from stumbling, protects me from the burning rays of the sun and my foes?

    Where is Jesus?
    Why is He delaying?
    Doesn’t He care?
    Isn’t He listening?
    Where is He?

    Where is God the Holy Spirit, who is supposedly continually, continuously interceding on my behalf, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year long?

    Waiting for the Greater

    God was still, as promised by scriptures, still wide awake!

    The Holy Spirit, as promised by scriptures, was still interceding!

    Jesus is exactly, as promised by scriptures, where He was supposed to be.

    He loved them, as promised by scriptures, with an everlasting love,

    So, He waited.

    His heart was always for their best, so He waited.
    His vision was beyond the expected, so He waited.
    His obedience was to the Father’s plan, so He waited.

    Jesus was in no hurry to move because in the waiting there is always great purpose.

    John provides the details, so there is no mistaking who “this Lazarus” is. He is Lazarus of Bethany, “the village of Mary and her sister Martha.” But to add to that emphasis, John includes this detail: “It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.”

    Note that detail.

    The Holy Spirit through John is signifying to us that He knows which Mary it is;

    we should pay attention to the fact that this is no “common Mary.”

    This is the Mary who prepared Jesus for His burial.

    The anointing would take place later, after this incident, but John wants the reader to realize this was the Mary who was deeply devoted to the Savior, the same Mary who sat at His feet to soak up every word an lesson from His lips.

    The sisters sent the message, not with the bare facts “Lazarus is ill” but framed the message with a touching urgency as they relayed “he whom you love is ill.”

    So God waited.

    So the Holy Spirit waited.

    So Jesus waited.

    Jesus waited because this was about far more than sweet Mary. This was about more than faithful Martha. This was about even more than the beloved Lazarus.

    Jesus waited for the glory of God.

    Jesus waited so that the greater “than we can hope to imagine” would occur.

    If Jesus had come exactly when Martha called for Him, there would have been no stretching, testing of their faith. There would’ve been no crowd of mourners on hand to bear true witness to the Life-Giver in action. There would’ve been no resurrection to astound the Jewish community and stir up a death sentence.

    If God, Jesus and Holy Spirit had responded exactly when the sisters first called, the greater moment would’ve been sacrificed for what Mary thought was best.

    But because He loved them, because He desired God’s max glory, Jesus waited.

    He Knows Your Heart

    Beloved Child of God, what are you and I asking Him for today?

    Have we been crying out for a very long time without any sign of response?

    Be disappointed – YES! But please, I pray of you – do not lose heart.

    Be discouraged – But please do not think nor believe even for one moment, God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit does not see, or does not know, or does not care.

    God, the Father knows and cares; He will never turn a blind eye to those who cry out to Him for mercy and forgiveness … but He may still wait for the exact time.

    Jesus knows and cares; He will not turn a blind eye to those who cry out to Him for mercy an forgiveness . . . but He may wait for exactly the right God moment.

    Because He loves you, Jesus may wait.
    For God’s glory, Jesus may wait.
    For God’s greater work, Jesus may wait.

    Go the Holy Spirit knows and cares; He will not turn a blind eye to those who cry out to Him for mercy and forgiveness … but He may wait for the right God time.

    While you wait, turn your heart in full devotion to Him knowing that all that He does is good:

    Psalm 13:5Amplified Bible

    But I have trusted and relied on and been confident in Your lovingkindness and faithfulness;
    My heart shall rejoice and delight in Your salvation.

    Psalm 16:9-10Amplified Bible

    Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my innermost self] rejoices;
    My body too will dwell [confidently] in safety,

    For You will not abandon me to Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead),
    Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

    Psalm 27:3Amplified Bible

    Though an army encamp against me,
    My heart will not fear;
    Though war arise against me,
    Even in this I am confident.

    Psalm 27:14Amplified Bible

    Wait for and confidently expect the Lord;
    Be strong and let your heart take courage;
    Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.

    Psalm 40:3Amplified Bible

    He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
    Many will see and fear [with great reverence]
    And will trust confidently in the Lord.

    Psalm 56:11Amplified Bible

    In God have I put my trust and confident reliance; I will not be afraid.
    What can man do to me?

    Isaiah 43:1-3Amplified Bible

    Israel Redeemed

    43 But now, this is what the Lord, your Creator says, O Jacob,
    And He who formed you, O Israel,
    “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you [from captivity];
    I have called you by name; you are Mine!

    “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    And through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.
    When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched,
    Nor will the flame burn you.

    “For I am the Lord your God,
    The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
    I have given Egypt [to the Babylonians] as your ransom,
    Cush (ancient Ethiopia) and Seba [its province] in exchange for you.

    Nahum 1:7Amplified Bible

    The Lord is good,
    A strength and stronghold in the day of trouble;
    He knows [He recognizes, cares for, and understands fully] those who take refuge and trust in Him.

    Philippians 1:3-6Amplified Bible

    I thank my God in every remembrance of you, always offering every prayer of mine with joy [and with specific requests] for all of you, [thanking God] for your participation and partnership [both your comforting fellowship and gracious contributions] in [advancing] the good news [regarding salvation] from the first day [you heard it] until now. I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].

    At all times and in all places and under every given circumstances … we will wait and sometimes we will be disappointed and discouraged by all our failed efforts.

    As the Holy Scriptures have given expression to God’s indescribable love for us, so we too must give adequate expression of and unto our witness to God’s Glory.

    In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

    Let us Pray,

    Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Builder of all things, giver of life, reminder of all things of God and not of myself, I know that when in my whole heart and in my whole life I fully and completely acknowledge your authority and your power that you will make my paths straight in front of me. Please empower me to live a greater life in Christ. May your Holy Spirit who lives in me draw me closer to you. Give me a mind of understanding. I Pray, Let me see as you see, and not as the world sees. I trust your judgment fully and know that my own judgment is severely limited. I believe you have everything in control, and you will guide me exactly where you want me to go. All Glory and Honor be unto the Father and to the Son and the Holy Spirit Amen.

    About our Developing our Passion for Communicating the Gospel. Mark 1:14-15

    Mark 1:14-15Amplified Bible

    Jesus Preaches in Galilee

    14 Now after John [the Baptist] was arrested and [a]taken into custody, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of [the kingdom of] God, 15 and saying, “The [appointed period of] time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life] and believe [with a deep, abiding trust] in the good news [regarding salvation].”

    The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

    How are you as a communicator—are you direct, or subtle? 

    Are you interesting or dull?  

    Are you gracious or harsh?

    One husband really lacked tact–he just couldn’t say anything graciously.

    So while his wife was gone on a trip, leaving him at home alone with the dog she adored and his mother-in-law, she called and asked her husband, “How are things, Honey?” 

    The first thing out of his mouth was, “The dog’s dead!”  She was devastated.

    After collecting her emotions, she asked her man again,

    “Honey, why can’t you be more tactful?”  

    He humbly replied, “I’m sorry dear–how could I have said that differently?”

    “Well,” she said, “You could say when I called, ‘The dog is on the roof.’  Then the next time I called you could say, ‘The dog fell off the roof and had to go to the vet.’  Then when I called again you could say, ‘The dog is not doing well.’

    Then finally, when I called again you could say, ‘Honey, brace yourself–our wonderful dog has died.’”  He responded with, “Oh, okay, Honey–I will try!”

    So the wife then asked her man, “By the way, how’s my mother?” 

    The husband said, “She was up on the roof trying to carry the dog down.”

    Communication is a difficult task, but it is one God excels at. 

    God communicates to us primarily through His Word, and He has communicated to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. 

    As Mark has begun His gospel of go immediately, he’s been proving to you that Jesus is sent from God to provide the only way you can be right with God. 

    Jesus brings you good news. 

    And so far in Mark, we have seen that Christ’s coming was planned before the foundation of the world, announced by the forerunner, affirmed by God the Father, empowered by the Spirit and victorious over sin and evil, defeating the devil in the wilderness.

    Now as Mark continues his description of Jesus, the God man, in verses 14 to 15, he tells us what Jesus preached, what He taught, that Jesus was well known for communicating to the crowds. 

    What was the message of Jesus Christ?

    Open your Bibles to Mark 1:14 and follow along in your outline, and embrace the passion of Christ for the message of good news, and be prepared to be offended.

    He is about to share with you good news, but it’s not, easy news. 

    The good news doesn’t say you are good, but the Gospel starts with, you are all bad–far worse than you can begin to imagine. 

    The good news describes you as an evil rebel, sinful to the core. 

    You do not merely do bad things, you are utterly sickening in your vileness.

    Can you recall a person you met who really made you mad, sick, or disgusted? 

    I remember becoming disdained by a beggar in a “Tent City”. 

    I would see him almost every trip I made into work in the city. 

    He was dirty, with ragged clothes, smelly, ugly and “in your face.” trying to hand you a newspaper and reach his other hand into the car for his money.

    What made me disdain him was his hypocrisy–I was around enough that I could observe him talking to friends, laughing it up, looking just like a normal guy.

    Then when he saw the light turn red and cars arriving, he’d mess himself up more, hunch over, turn his head to crick his neck, put his hand out, widen his puppy dog eyes, beg with his “anything will help” sign–it was all fake, a game.

    Yet the Gospel says you are just as bad as that beggar. 

    The way you talk to friends, make yourself look like the victim, talk about others, the greed, jealousy, anger and lust in your heart make you just as sinful and just as guilty before a holy God. 

    And what is equally sad about sin is we carry our own signs, can’t fix ourselves up, hand out newspapers advertising to everyone who can see us: we cannot repair ourselves, clean our own selves up or take care of our evil motives at all.

    Oh, we may be able to alter our outward behavior, but just like a leopard can’t change his spots, none of us can transform our hearts, fix our motives or clean up our thoughts. 

    There are many who try through religion, but sadly religion is the story of what a sinful man tried to do for a holy God. 

    But Jesus brings us the Gospel, which is the good news of what a holy God has done for sinful man.

    The Gospel is not a human plan for reaching up to God, but a divine plan for reaching down to man. 

    The Bible is unashamedly blunt–because you and I are 100% a filthy sinner, you and I are dead, poor, blind, naked, condemned and so guilty, God is completely ready to just to throw us into the eternal, conscious, burning tortures of hell.

    This is why we need God to rescue us.  

    We need good news. 

    And this is what Jesus is proclaiming in verses 14 to 15. 

    As you read it with me aloud, notice the mention of good news two times. 

    “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’”

    The message of good news is the Messenger Himself–God is the good news. 

    The Gospel is the message of the work of Christ for His own. 

    And this message is the most important truth, you’ll ever know. 

    And this message is the most powerful truth you and I will ever embrace. 

    Think about it—J.C. Ryle said, “There are no incurable cases under the gospel. Any and every single sinner may be healed, if he will only come to Christ.”

    But beware–there are many attenders who don’t know Christ—they are those churchgoers who have a “Christianity” without Jesus. 

    There are people in our churches who have prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, made a decision once, but still are not regenerate. 

    To fully embrace the Gospel, you must understand it, be utterly crushed by it, then transformed by it.  So, to help the church-going “lost”, from your kids to your friends, you must clearly hear what Mark is saying in verses 14 and 15.

    #1  The Timing of Christ’s Proclaiming Good News

    Read verse 14, “Now after John was arrested . . . “–in your Bibles, between verses 13 and 14, write “one year later.” 

    For Mark’s purposes, most of Jesus’s first year, called the year of obscurity, is left out.  

    During this first year of public ministry, Jesus traveled between Galilee in the north, where he did some of his miracles, and Judea in the south, where He did his earliest teaching. 

    We would not really know about this early period except for The Gospel of John, who informs us this first year is when Jesus first meets his disciples, attends the wedding at Cana, interacts with Nicodemus, and impacts the woman at the well. 

    Now nearly a year has passed since those events–so verse 14 says, “Now after John was arrested.”

    John, the immersing one–John the Baptist was taken into custody for his scathing comment against Herod for taking His brother’s wife. 

    Nothing more is said at this point, though later Mark 6 will give us more clarification about John the Baptizer’s arrest and beheading by Herod.

    But now, John was arrested, meaning taken into custody–the Greek word arrested has the idea of handing someone over, just like our Lord would be handed over. 

    But unlike Jesus, instead of six immediate unjust trials overnight, leading to His crucifixion on a cross at 9 am the next morning, John would be placed in a deep, deep, dark terrible prison hole, in the fortress of Machaerus on the southeast border of Israel, and be held there for ten long and lonely months.

    Amazing, isn’t it? 

    The last Old Testament prophet, a mighty man of God is now in jail for speaking the “in your face” hardcore truth to the unrepentant. 

    The Gospel does not always result in comfort–life is not always easier when we follow Christ, but life is always better–not easier, but better, joyful, restful.

    But to simply view John’s arrest and ultimate beheading as the cruel scheme of a wicked man and his spiteful wife is to distort what God is teaching here. 

    The verb arrested, put in prison, is passive, implying God’s sovereign purpose was being acted out in John’s arrest. 

    Think about it.

    But now verse 14 says John has done his job, John has prepared the people of Israel for the coming of their Savior. 

    And once John the Baptizer’s mission is established as “complete”, Jesus moves immediately from semi-obscurity, directly and decisively, into the public eyes. 

    From this point, everyone will know who Jesus is. 

    Once John is arrested, the ministry of Jesus was fully, immediately activated. 

    The good news is going to be spread like never before–the author and content of the good news is going to be known. 

    After “the soft opening” of the first year, here is “the grand opening,” 

    the spreading of the Gospel like never before.  And where will it begin?

    #2  The Location of Christ’s Proclaiming Good News

    Verse 14, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.” 

    This is it–Mark says Jesus came to Galilee. 

    He has been here before, but now He comes to spread the message–Galilee was His home region.  

    There were three major regions of Israel in New Testament times–

    Judea in the south, Samaria in the middle, and Galilee in the north, and Christ focused most of his ministry here. 

    Galilee was the most fruitful, and had the largest population. 

    But there is more to Jesus’ focus on Galilee.

    Mark moves directly, immediately from the temptation in verse 13, to Galilee in verse 14—but only Gospel Narrators John and Matthew will relate to us Jesus’ reason for leaving Judea after His first year of semi-obscure public ministry.  

    John 4:1, “Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, ‘Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John.’”  Verse 2 —although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized, verse 3–he left Judea and started back to Galilee.

    Jesus went to Galilee because it was not as priest-ridden and Pharisee-dominated as Judea, and would offer a freer environment to proclaim a non-religious, no works, humble path to salvation. 

    The priests and Pharisees taught a path of human achievement, but Jesus was teaching a path of divine accomplishment. 

    Jesus was announcing that God Himself had provided a way for people to be cleansed and forgiven of their sins–the very best of all possible good news.

    At the end of verse 14, Jesus was proclaiming the good news of God. 

    Proclaiming is preaching, to announce or publicly proclaim. 

    It is what a herald did, and heralds were those in Greek culture that were the voice of their king, known for their strong voice. 

    These men were the ancient microphones of rulers, who would cry out loud, shouting to make something known–like giving directions, presiding over competitions, announcing awards, making kingly proclamations and edicts. 

    And the Greek word “proclaiming” remained in use during New Testament times to give us the same sense, to be the voice of the kind–to proclaim His will and communicate the king’s word.

    And now in Galilee, the verb “proclaiming” tells us Jesus is continually preaching–and every place He goes and at every time, Jesus is continually taking every opportunity at announcing the message of God’s Kingdom. 

    The King’s Word is being made known.  And what is that message?  

    Verse 14, “the good news of God.” 

    Good news is the word euangelion in Greek and combines angelos, the word for one announcing news, and the prefix eu, which means joyful.- Gospel means news that brings joy.

    The word “Gospel” had currency when Mark used it, but it was not religious currency.  

    It meant history-making, life-shaping news, as opposed to merely the daily news. 

    Reverend Dr. Tim Keller writes of an ancient Roman inscription from about the same time as Jesus, which starts,

    “The beginning of the gospel of Caesar Augustus,” which is the story of the birth and coronation of the Roman Emperor. 

    A gospel was news of some event that changed things in a meaningful way.

    When the people of Greece were delivered from the cruel invading Persian army, heralds or evangelists were sent to every Greek city with the message of freedom from slavery. 

    Had the Greeks lost, every citizen would have lost his freedom, he’d have lost his family to slavery, and many would have lost their lives. 

    But now they had been delivered by a victory–that was gospel.

    A gospel is an announcement of something that happened in history–something that’s been done for you that changes your status forever. 

    That is a major difference between Christianity and all other religions, including no religion. 

    The essence of religion is advice. 

    But Christianity is essentially news. 

    Religion says, “This is what you do in order to connect to God–this is how you have to live in order to earn your way to God.” 

    But the gospel says, “This is what has already been done “for you” in history–this is how Jesus lived and died and lived again to earn the way to God for you.”

    Christianity is completely different–it is joyful news. 

    Some of you do not feel the difference, but you should. 

    How do you feel when you’re given good advice on how to live? 

    Here is a hero, a teacher, a principle to follow–and this is how you ought to live, or the way you can love. 

    Maybe you feel inspired, but you don’t feel the way the Greek listeners who heard those heralds felt when their victory was announced and they would no longer watch their wives be ravaged, or their children made into slaves. 

    Can you or I imagine the indescribable relief of that news–the burden lifted?

    The Gospel of Christ is that kind of news–your burdens fall away and you are not a slave anymore. 

    The Gospel is the good news God connects to you, not on the basis of what you have done or haven’t done, but on the basis of what Jesus has already done in history for you.  

    And that makes it absolutely different from every religion or philosophy.

    So Jesus is in Galilee proclaiming the good news of God. 

    It literally is the good news FROM God, BY God, FOR God–ABOUT God. 

    This joyful news is so unique, instead of the normal religious message of an array of accusations, it’s a message of genuine living hope, mercy and grace. 

    Because the Gospel of God is the message from God to people, this message is declaring the work of God on your behalf.  On the basis of Christ’s life, death and resurrection for you, you can have full life now and life eternal with God.

    This good news is overwhelming for it is God Himself seeking to save. 

    Our Lord continually preached this Gospel, as He was the Gospel–Jesus is both the subject and object of the good news.

    And Jesus’s Gospel message was the same message as John the Baptist, and it’s the same message the apostles preached. 

    As we move from the gospels to the epistles, the Early Church continued to proclaim this same good news.  Romans 1:1,Paul, . . . set apart for the gospel of God,” Romans 15:16, to be a minister of Christ Jesus . . . in . . . service of the gospel of God,” 2 Corinthians 11:7,I proclaimed God’s good news to you free of charge?

    The Gospel is the same message all healthy churches today live and proclaim. 

    And it is this commitment to this Gospel that’s the dividing line between what a true church is and what is not. 

    Jesus didn’t preach pop psychology–this is the good news of God not of man.

    God has the authority to forgive sins, heal the sick and defeat demonic forces.

    Jesus was not driven by any tradition, personality, finances, family, programs, buildings, events, food or the incredible need to be inoffensive or feeling good.

    Though Jesus taught on almost every topic at some level, He didn’t focus on fun series about sex, money, family or relationships, but Christ was driven to share and live this good news. 


    Because unless people understand this good news, they cannot be saved, they cannot know forgiveness, they cannot know God, they cannot go to heaven, and they cannot be right with God.

    Ask yourself this, what good does it ultimately do if people support biblical marriage, believe in a godly morality, want small government, stop feeling entitled, know desire to help the poor, think man’s ways are “good enough?”

    What good does it do if they spend eternity separated from God in hell forever? 

    That is why Jesus was driven to proclaim the good news. 

    In fact, Mark tells us Christ was determined to share this news.

    #3  The Urgency of Christ’s Proclaiming Good News

    Look at verse 15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near.” 

    Notice the first two words of verse 15. 

    Jesus is saying, Jesus is continually uttering definitive words. 

    Jesus is continually putting this message before the Galileans. 

    You can’t stop Jesus.

    For now, instead of a world in rebellion to God’s perfect rule, now Jesus is announcing a message that can restore people and this planet to its intended design under God.

    Jesus says, “The time is fulfilled.”  Fulfilled is emphatic—literally, “fulfilled is the time–we are ready. 

    It has begun–here we go!” 

    The Greek word “fulfilled” is in a tense telling us, the time God had appointed for the Messiah’s arrival has now fully come. 

    And the Greek word “time” is actually favorable season, the appropriate time, the golden time, the door is open, it is the opportune moment for the world to meet God in the flesh, and for the establishment of His kingdom. 

    This is the exact season–the time is exactly right, everything is exactly set.

    All the Old Testament prophecies and promises are going to begin to be fulfilled. 

    What’s coming? 

    The kingdom of God has come near. 

    The Jews hearing this were very familiar with these terms, and were expecting a future messianic kingdom to be established.

    Mark 11:10, Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

    Mark 15:43,Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.”

    Luke 1:31 to 33,And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

    The Jews in Galilee were aware that the Scriptures teach the Lord is King, who in Exodus 15:8 will reign forever and ever. 

    And as the Creator of the world, our God is exalted above the heavens and all its creatures.  

    He reigns in splendor.  This reign was manifested to Israel, but it would be supremely seen in the coming Messiah, who would usher in the reign of God.

    What is the kingdom of God?  

    The kingdom of God is God’s sovereign, kingly reign over a people and a realm.

    It is seen today in the hearts and lives of believers, and will one day be seen on this planet as God’s realm. 

    The kingdom of God has two facets to it.

    First  The kingdom of God is a present reality–now

    Jesus said in verse 15, “the kingdom of God has come near”–it’s at hand. 

    We know the kingdom is a present reality from what Jesus taught us in:

    Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

    Matthew 12:28, But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

    Mark 10:14,Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.”

    Mark 12:34,Jesus said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’”

    Luke 17:20 and 21, Jesus was asked . . . “when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; 21 nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.’”

    Romans 14:17,For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

    The kingdom is taught as a present reality in the Scripture, and it is seen as God’s rule is manifested in the hearts of His children. 

    Do you and I live as one who appears to live under the rule of Christ?  

    Do you and I do what He says? 

    But the Bible also promises Israel and all God’s children that . . .

    Second  The kingdom of God is a future promise—not yet

    God is a God of His word.  

    He does not lie.  

    He promised He would physically come to rule this planet–He would rule in Israel, and God keeps His promises.  

    Just as God promised Christ would come in His first coming, and all the details of that promise were literally fulfilled. 

    So Christ will come again and set up His physical, literal kingdom, and all those details will be fulfilled literally.

    Ezekiel 36:26 and 28,A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; 28 Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”

    Ezekiel 37:21, “I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from every quarter, and bring them to their own land.”

    Daniel 7:27,The kingship and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.”

    Zechariah 14:9,And the Lord will become king over all the earth.”

    And this coming literal, physical kingdom is also promised in the New Testament.  

    At the last supper, our Lord said in Luke 22:18, “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

    Matthew 6:10, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

    Matthew 8:11,I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”

    Matthew 25:34,Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

    Acts 1:6 to 7, “’Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ 7 He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.’”  Christ did not deny a literal coming kingdom, but only that they would not know the time.

    Revelation 20:4 to 5, They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.” 

    The kingdom of God is the rule of God in the hearts of believers, and it is also the coming literal thousand year rule of Christ on a restored planet earth.  

    The kingdom is now, and it’s not yet.

    And this kingdom is verse 15, “Of God”–it belongs to Him, it’s His rule, it is the kingdom He establishes and rules over. 

    It is a kingdom God gives, and not something men build. 

    And this coming kingdom is perfect–glorified saints live forever, children rarely die at 100 years, animals all get along again, and the land returns to an Eden-like state.

    And Jesus is calling for an urgent response to this Gospel, since God’s rule is currently taking place in people’s hearts and will one day take place on this planet, beginning with only believers. 

    Only those who have responded to the good news of Christ are now a part of God’s kingdom, and will later rule with Him in His literal, physical 1,000 year reign on earth.

    So Jesus is continually saying, “The time is fulfilled,” and “The kingdom is at hand, the Kingdom has come near.” 

    In other words, this anticipated kingdom is now so near that the King of God’s kingdom is now present among you. 

    Therefore, the hearers of Christ’s preaching, then and now, are urged to enter into God’s kingdom by responding now with two crucial conditions.

    #4  The required response to Christ’s good news

    Verse 15 ends with two strong commands—“repent”, and “believe in the good news.” 

    There’re people in our churches who say, “to call sinners to repent is heresy.” 

    They say “it adds works to the Gospel of grace. 

    They teach an “easy-believism” and a shallow gospel, that results in phony self-deceived believers and a weak and weakened church.

    Let me ask you again, one more time

    –what makes a great church? 

    Not a fancy or dilapidated brick building, not a great or mediocre preacher, not a snappy techno program, not any cool ministry leaders or happening worship music that reaches a few – what makes a great church is genuine Christians. 

    And what’s killing the Church today–it’s loaded with make-believers. 

    Friends, all genuine Christians have, verse 15 “repented and believed.”

    Make-believers have bought into a cheap, easy gospel message–one that does not call for genuine faith and true repentance. 

    They believe “repentance is a false addition to faith when it is made a condition for salvation.  Others alter the meaning of repentance to merely be a change of mind about who Jesus Christ is, making repentance only a mental affirmation.

    But true, biblical repentance is totally different–what is it? 

    When you have saving faith in Christ, it means you believe, trust, and obey Jesus. 

    You cannot turn to Jesus unless you turn away from sin.  

    Turning from sin is the negative aspect of repentance–faith and obedience are the positive aspects of repentance.  

    But if there is no turning from sin, then there is no repentance and there is no saving faith.

    Repentance and belief are two sides of the same coin. 

    They go together.  

    In fact, they are used together in Acts 20:21, “Testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    The Bible teaches that repentance is a sovereign gift of God. 

    Acts 11:18,God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

    2 Timothy 2:25, Perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” 

    So repentance is a gift of God, but it is also a command to obey.  

    Mark 6:12, They went out and preached that men should repent.”  

    Acts 17:30, “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.”

    So what is repentance?  

    The Greek word is metanoia—meta is “after”, and noeo “to understand”. 

    Literally it means change of mind, in a decisive, life-changing manner.

    Repentance is not merely an idea change, it is a direction change. 

    Repentance, always results in a change of lifestyle, a turning from sin to the pursuit of Christ-likeness.

    Prove it.  

    Okay, I will.  Acts 26:20, “kept declaring . . . even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.” 

    Repentance results in a different lifestyle–deeds are changed. 

    When you are truly repentant, you don’t keep sinning the same way. 

    Berkoff, in his Systematic Theology describes three elements of repentance.

    1  There is an intellectual element to repentance

    You recognize your own sin, and “own” your personal guilt, defilement and helplessness. 

    You become aware of sin, grow sick of sin, and in your sickness, realize you need a physician. 

    You’re completely undone in the presence of Christ. 

    Like the prodigal, 

    who came to himself” and saw his own sin, 

    or David who said, “Against you, you alone I have sinned.”  You’re not merely sad for sin, but realize you have offended God.

    2  There is also an emotional element to repentance

    You are emotionally broken over what you’ve done. 

    Instead of the Pharisee who prayed, “God, I think you that I am not like other people,” you pray like the tax gatherer, “God be merciful to me the sinner,” in Luke 18

    True repentance is much more than a fear of punishment, or sadness you were caught in sin. 

    It is deep contrition, where you would say with David, “There is no health in my bones because of my sin,” in Psalm 38.  

    It is a “sorrow according to the will of God which leads to salvation,” in 2 Corinthians 7 it’s a sadness that always leads to obedience.

    3  The volitional element to repentance

    There is a turning away from sin through a life-altering determination. 

    Like Luke  19:8, Zaccheus said, ‘Lord, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’” 

    Or like the prodigal in Luke 15:18 to 21,I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.’ . . . 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.’”

    Often in the New Testament, the Greek word repentance is linked with the Greek word epistrepho, which means to turn around, to return. 

    Like in Acts 3:19, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

    Or Acts 11:21,The hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed, turned to the Lord.” 

    Or Acts 26:20, “Declaring . . .  they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.” 

    Repentance leads to lifestyle change–disobedience is terminated.

    Kittle, in his dictionary, defined this word repentance as a radical conversion, a transformation of nature, a definitive turning from evil, a resolute turning unto God in total obedience. 

    Repentance affects the inner man, which leads to an observable change in thoughts, words and deeds, from sin toward obedience.

    All three elements are a necessary part of true repentance. 

    You can see them clearly in 2 Corinthians 7:10-11, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, 11 for behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong!  In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.”

    Foundational to your salvation and yours and mine Christian life now is genuine repentance. 

    Are you and I genuinely saved? 

    Have you or I genuinely Psalm 51 repented?  

    Do you and I live genuine repentance? 

    When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg door, sparking the Reformation, the very first point of the 95 was this, 

    “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’, He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

    Mark tells us, as Jesus preached, He urgently proclaimed repentance and belief. 

    Verse 15, “Repent and believe in the good news.” 

    Believe is to trust, to depend, to rely upon, have confidence in. 

    Instead of depending on yourself, or relying on some form of religion, you totally depend on God’s Person to save you. 

    You depend on God’s path as the only way. 

    You trust your life exclusively, solely to God’s provision. 

    You commit your life and eternal future to the good news that God has made a way for you to be forgiven now and forever.

    Repentance is to change directions–you turn from sin to follow Christ alone.

    Belief or trust or faith in the New Testament is a change of dependence–you stop trusting in yourself and others, and you depend on Christ alone. 

    Have you?  Do you have a passion for God’s good news? 

    To embrace good news, you and I first have to admit you and I are really bad. 

    Have you and I actually been given the gift of repentance? 

    Are you and I a part of His kingdom now, and will we be in the future? 

    Do you and I genuinely follow God’s Word alone?

    Or are you following your own form of casual Christianity,

    which is a false religion, where you serve if you feel like it, give only if it’s not a sacrifice or you’re not in debt (which you always are), love others only when it makes you feel good, “attend church” only if you can get up on time, and think preaching is good only when it makes you smile, lifts you up, warms your heart.

    Or have you and I really surrendered your life to Jesus Christ in salvation, where He is your first love–you want to please Him in everything, you are willing to do anything He asks you to do, and your worship is as a living sacrifice to Christ, who quite literally sacrificed everything He was all for us. (Philippians 2:5-11) 

    And you and I live our lives humbly and repentantly, always seriously turning from sin, and trustingly always seeking to depend on God’s living Word alone.

    In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

    Let us Pray,

    God of all truth an wisdom, sometimes I not sure if I’m actually hearing your voice, or if it’s just my own ideas or my own unrepentant thoughts or even another spirit. I do now Pray! Please God of my entire life, Sharpen my spiritual hearing, Lord, so I can recognize your words when you are speaking to me. Help me know it’s really you, with no doubt or second-guessing. When considering the Words of your Gospel, the gravity of all the truths contained therein, When I’m asking for your guidance in important decisions, give me your peace that surpasses understanding with your answer alone. Help me remember that your words to me will never go against your written word in the Bible. Give me a clear mind and push out all my confusion. For Christ my Savior alone. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

    Mark 1:14-15 – Our Life’s (?)Tiny, Timely Lessons about our alleged “Successes” and God’s Long Established Record of Living by His Promises and Fulfillment.

    Mark 1:14-15Amplified Bible

    Jesus Preaches in Galilee

    14 Now after John [the Baptist] was arrested and [a]taken into custody, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of [the kingdom of] God, 15 and saying, “The [appointed period of] time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life] and believe [with a deep, abiding trust] in the good news [regarding salvation].

    The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

    John’s message of repentance was over; he was in Herod’s prison and soon his life would come to an end and then; time had come for Jesus’ message to begin.

    Jesus’ message is not identical to John’s.

    John preached about a time to come; Jesus preached that the time had come.

    John preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; Jesus preached that the kingdom itself was at hand, so believe the gospel.

    John did not preach the gospel; he preached that the gospel bearer was coming.

    Jesus was the greatest preacher who ever lived.

    Do you know the main topic of his sermons?

    Jesus’ most important theme: announce the good news of the kingdom of God.

    This captured the core of his teaching.

    He immediately grabbed the people’s attention – Turn to Him and Him Alone!

    By his Baptism, his completed temptation experiences, He boldly announced God had broken into human history and through Jesus himself God’s rightful reign over creation, and human history, and every human being had arrived.

    Mark 1:14-15Common English Bible

    Jesus’ message

    14 After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15 saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”

    All of Jesus’ sermons, talks, healings revolved around this good news of God’s kingdom coming – “change your hearts and lives, fully trust this good news.”

    Mark 1:14-15Authorized (King James) Version

    14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

    Repentance and faith

    Jesus preached the gospel, the good news that God had fulfilled his promises to Israel by sending the Messiah, or the Anointed One, to save the people.

    As a whole, however, the nation of Israel rejected Jesus as Messiah, because he did not fit the commonly accepted profile of what the Messiah should do.

    The Messiah was expected to militarily lead the Jews to victory over the Roman occupation forces and restore the nation to a place of dominance in the world.

    Jesus showed no signs of becoming such a military minded genius Messiah.

    From his prison cell, even John the Baptist finally began to wonder whether Jesus was really the one sent by God or was another to come (Matthew 11:3).

    The Messiah God sent was different from the one the people expected, because God’s purpose in the world was different from what the people expected.

    The people expected God to vanquish their enemies by mighty armies of heavily armed followers – utterly crushing all oppressors and make their nation great.

    But God’s sole purpose for His Messiah was to make a new covenant with the people, to write his laws in their hearts – to visualize final fulfillment of the law.

    In the very midst of their rejection of God’s Messiah, a rejection in which every human shares, God chose to bring all sin to a head, destroy it once and for all.

    In that one singular and utterly radical act of turning the pinnacle of all human rebellion and opposition to himself into the means of human salvation, God not only fulfilled all his promises to Israel for their redemption (Acts 13:32-33), but also his word of promise for all the world (Genesis 22:18).

    In other words, we are saved by God’s act of salvation on our behalf, not by our repentance and faith.

    Were it not for the righteousness and the faith of the Son of God, we would not have repentance and faith.

    Our repentance and our faith have meaning only because they are taken up into Jesus’ righteousness and faith on our behalf and given meaning in him, for they neither have even minimal meaning or any identifiable substance on their own.

    Not a transaction

    It is a popular notion that repentance and faith are two different things.

    The idea is that all any person has to do is repent of all his sins, then ask Jesus to come into his life, and then, on the basis of this repentance and commitment to Jesus, God will forgive the person’s sins and grant him eternal salvation.

    That is not the gospel.

    The gospel is not a transaction.

    It is not a deal.

    It is not a tit for tat, nor any I’ll-do-this-if-you-do-that arrangement.

    When we believe the gospel we are not causing God to save us.

    We are not satisfying some prerequisite.

    What we are doing when we believe the gospel is trusting God’s word that he has already saved us through what he has already done for us in Jesus Christ.

    Our faith enables us to finally and fully and completely and utterly realize, enjoy and 100% embrace the gift we already have; it doesn’t cause God to give it to us.

    The gospel is good news.

    It is the good news that God loved everybody so much that he did something so completely unexpected to save them from the destruction and alienation of sin.

    What God did — send his Son — he did purely and simply because he wanted to, not because we expected something of that nature to happen, did something, or said something, or thought something in our hearts to actually bring it about.

    We are saved because God already, in Christ, did everything necessary to make our salvation the reality that it is.

    Jesus said, “God so loved the world,” not “God so loved several carefully picked ones.”

    For us to repent and believe the gospel is to turn from our empty lives, ignorant of God’s love and grace, and turn to belief in God’s word about who he is for us and what he has done for us in Christ. It is a matter of believing a thing that is already true. And it is a matter of believing it because God tells us that it is true.

    From the very beginning (Genesis 1:1) the message of God is always been there!

    From the very early days of God’s Prophet Isaiah – we learn of God’s desire for a restoration of our relationship with Him – God’s expressed desire to reconnect:

    Isaiah 1:18-20Authorized (King James) Version

    18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:
    though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
    though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
    19 If ye be willing and obedient,
    ye shall eat the good of the land:
    20 but if ye refuse and rebel,
    ye shall be devoured with the sword:
    for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

    That is not a transaction.

    It is not a matter of the gospel not applying to us unless or until we do the right thing.

    Salvation is not remuneration for repentance.

    It is not remuneration for faith.

    It is not remuneration for anything.

    It is a FREE gift, a FREE gift given to the world is ours, whether we like it or not.

    It is a matter of our coming to the senses lost to our sin in the Garden of Eden.

    It is a matter of activating our God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit awareness.

    Role of faith

    To believe that God has given you a gift is not a pathway to receive the gift.

    It’s a gift, and it is given by grace, not by saying the magic words. But believing is the path to taking up, using and enjoying the gift. If you do not believe you have a gift, you’ll never take it up and use it, and you’ll never enjoy its benefits.

    So it is with the gospel.

    The gospel is true for us because God made it true for us.

    It does not suddenly become true when we repent and believe.

    It does, however, suddenly become plain to us what God has given us when we repent and believe.

    And in belief, or faith, or trust, we can walk in the light of our Savior Christ, where we once walked in mindless empty darkness because of our unbelief.

    Our unbelief did not mean the gospel was not so for us; it only meant we could not sense it. We were imprisoned in the dark about it, did not know beyond our sin born prison bars, God redeemed us in Christ long before we were ever born.


    The gospel was fulfilled when the Son of God became one of us for our sakes.

    He was the undeniable fulfillment of all the prophecies promised unto Israel (Acts13:32-33), and the very means by which Israel became a blessing to all other nations (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:8).

    He transformed the meaning of human life, human history and human time.

    All times, from the creation to the end of the world, are redeemed in him.

    All of human history — past, present and future — including your personal history, are redeemed in him. Human life itself, including your human life, is redeemed in him, made new, saved (see Colossians 1:19-20; Ephesians 1:9-10).

    This is not something we are waiting for — it is fulfilled already, though we do not yet experience its fullness.

    We still wait for the redemption of our bodies, as Paul said, when “this mortal shall put on immortality.”

    We still wait for the revealing of the new, clean and righteous us, which is hidden with Christ in God and will be revealed with him in glory when he is revealed (Colossians 3:3-4).

    But please permit the Holy Spirit to remind you of this: we already walk by faith in the light of the knowledge of the Son of God, tasting and drawing upon today the 100% fulfillment of the reality that awaits us with Christ in the age to come.

    Christ has wrought a new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), which we do not, and indeed cannot, yet see in full, but we are definitely part of it. In Christian believers, the age to come has already begun to manifest itself.


    It is this light, the light of the gospel, that we seek to share with all those who still walk in the darkness of unbelief.

    When we share the gospel, we are not saying,

    “You are hanging by a thread over the fires of hell; say these words and God will change his mind about you.”

    Instead we are saying, as Scottish Theologian Rev. Thomas F. Torrance put it,

    “Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him…. He has believed for you, fulfilled your human response to God, even made your personal decision for you, so that he acknowledges you before God as one who has already responded to God in him, who has already believed in God through him…in all of which he has been fully and completely accepted by the Father, so that in Jesus Christ you are already accepted by him. Therefore, renounce yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus as your Lord and Saviour” (The Mediation of Christ, page 94).

    When we understand the gospel of the unconditional grace of God, we no longer rely upon our faith or our commitment, but upon what Christ has done for us.

    Indeed, as Mark’s narrative immediately, succinctly informs and teaches us:

    Jesus said in Mark 1:1-14-15, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, change your hearts, and change your life and believe the gospel.

    Two thousand years ago, Jesus himself spoke these words immediately before he fully and completely and utterly gave his life for us and died upon Calvary:

    John 19:28-30Amplified Bible

    28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said in fulfillment of the Scripture, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of [a]sour wine was placed there; so they put a sponge soaked in the sour wine on [a branch of] hyssop and held it to His mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and [voluntarily] [b]gave up His spirit.

    We just need re-ignite our awareness: reason this Gospel truth out with God!

    In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

    Let us Pray,

    God of all truth and wisdom, sometimes I not sure if I’m actually hearing your voice, or if it’s just my own thoughts or even another spirit. Sharpen my spiritual hearing, Lord, so I can recognize your words when you are speaking to me. Help me know it’s really you, with no doubt or second-guessing. When I’m asking for your guidance in important decisions, grant me your peace that surpasses understanding with your answer alone. Help me remember your words to me will never go against your living written Word in the Bible. Give me a clear mind, push out all of my confusion. Amen.

    Who among us does not long to hear these words pointing them, directing them, to their Living Hope: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World?” John 1:25-34

    John 1:25-34Amplified Bible

    25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize [only] [a]in water, but among you there stands One whom you do not recognize and of whom you know nothing. 27 It is He [the preeminent One] who comes after me, the [b]strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie [even as His slave].” 28 These things occurred in Bethany across the Jordan [at the Jordan River crossing], where John was baptizing.

    29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God [c]who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I and has priority over me, for He existed before me.’ 31 [d]I did not recognize Him [as the Messiah]; but I came baptizing [e]in water so that He would be [publicly] revealed to Israel.” 32 John gave [further] evidence [testifying officially for the record, with validity and relevance], saying, “I have seen the [f]Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize Him [as the Messiah], but He who sent me to baptize [g]in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this One is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I myself have [actually] seen [that happen], and my testimony is that this is the Son of God!”

    The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

    John, the Baptizer was born miraculously to aged parents (Luke 1:11-18), had the mission of preparing the way for Christ, the Messiah.

    As a Charismatic preacher, he drew great crowds. He denounced people’s sins, called for immediate repentance, and baptized many who turned back to God.

    The high point in John’s life came when he was baptizing at the Jordan River and Jesus approached him. John called out, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” He also had exclaimed, “This is the Son of God.”

    A low point came, however, when John was in prison and began to wonder if Jesus really was the Messiah (Matthew 11:1-5).

    From deep within his prison cell John the Baptist sent friends to find out, and Jesus assured him by saying that the sick were being healed, the dead were being raised, and the good news of God’s kingdom was being preached.

    The first time we read the word “lamb” in the Hebrew Testament, the speaker is Isaac, is asking his father Abraham, “Where is the lamb for the [sacrifice]?” (Genesis 22:7).

    In the New Testament at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, we see this word again as John announces, “Look, the Lamb of God …”

    John pointed us to Jesus, the Son of God, instead of himself, as the Lamb who came to meet our very deepest need by becoming the sacrifice for all our sin.

    What truly matters to us is that John identified Jesus not once but twice before others as the Lamb of God and that we understand the meaning. Only through Jesus do we receive salvation. Jesus, God’s son, died a sacrificial lamb for all.

    Why Did John Say, ‘Behold the Lamb of God’?

    For any devout Jew in the time of Jesus, a lamb would have evoked powerful religious meaning.

    Far more than a typical food source in that day, a lamb was considered the most appropriate sin-substitute when it came to making ritual sacrifices, which were a huge part of the role of the Jewish Temple and community tradition back then.

    Jesus himself was raised Jewish and came from a long line of Israelites dating back to Abraham, the first major patriarch in the Bible.

    Abraham’s son was Isaac, and his grandson was Jacob, from whom the 12 tribes of Israel came. Jesus was descended from the tribe of Judah, a son of Jacob.

    They all would have been very familiar with the need to regularly make animal sacrifices to the Lord as a way to atone for their sins, particularly the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb as a way of cleansing, purifying, and honoring the Lord (Exodus 12:3-13; Leviticus 14:10-25).

    But when John the Baptist encounters the man Jesus walking towards him in the wilderness, as Jesus is walking toward him, John announces, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, ESV).

    Why would John refer to Jesus as a lamb, which was a typical religious sacrifice?

    Why a lamb of God?

    And what does he mean, who “takes away” sin?

    Why did John say, “Behold the Lamb of God”?

    What Does This Text Mean?

    In the original Greek used by the Apostle John, who wrote the Book of John, he uses the Greek word ide for behold, meaning “look,” “see here,” or “consider.”

    He uses amnos for lamb, meaning exactly that — a young sheep.

    And he uses theos for God, referring to “the one true God.”

    He also uses the word airō for takes away, which means “carries away” or “gets rid of.”

    He uses hamartia for sin, meaning “wrongdoing.”

    And he uses kosmos for the word world, referring to the entire world — that is, the universe, not just the local place in which he is situated.

    Essentially, what John the Baptizer is communicating to everyone nearby:

    Essentially, what John the Baptizer is communicating to generations to come:

    “Look, it’s God’s lamb who gets rid of the wrongdoings of the entire universe.”

    Who among us, right in this exact moment, do not long to hear these words?

    Who among us, right in this exact moment, does not need to hear these words ringing and resounding through, into every last empty cell of their their souls?

    We’re in constant state of need to hear someone exclaiming “Hope is Possible!”

    Hope, indeed our Living Hope is Here – And he is Jesus Christ – The Son of God!

    This would have been a powerful and revelatory statement to make about Jesus.

    Why Were Sacrifices Important to Jewish Culture Then?

    Sacrifices had been prioritized in the Bible since the very first days. Genesis 4:4 talks about how Abel gave the Lord the very best firstborn of his flock of sheep (that is, a lamb), which greatly pleased God.

    We also know Jesus’ descendant Abraham was severely tested by God and asked to sacrifice his only son. heir, Isaac, with whom God had promised to establish His covenant and bring forth a multitude of offspring.

    Isaac’s apparently innocent question to his father, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7) is a poignant moment between them, for only Abraham knew he was supposed to be sacrificing Isaac upon the mountain.

    Father Abraham insisted to Isaac that God would provide, and God did indeed, providing a ram at the last moment for him to sacrifice instead of his own son.

    Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy further prescribe animal sacrifices, usually a lamb but also other animals, as a way for the Jewish people to make up for their wrongdoings, providing forgiveness and the removal of sin.

    But these were temporary sacrifices.

    They had to be done repeatedly — yearly or whenever a person was in need of cleansing from unrighteousness — to ensure good standing with the Lord.

    What Was the Context of This Verse, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’?

    In this first chapter of John, we are introduced to John the Baptist, whom the Bible here calls “a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him” (John 1:6-7).

    But Scripture is extraordinarily careful to note that John himself admitted he was not the light but rather the precursor to that light, the one who introduced, the one who announced, who pointed us to the light or bore witness in advance.

    Like the person, the Master of Ceremonies, asked to introduce the main speaker onstage, John was the introducer; and Jesus was the “keynote,” the main event.

    Later in this first chapter of John’s narrative, we are told priests and Levites from Jerusalem asked John who he was, for he’d been baptizing people in the wilderness and urging them to turn from sin.

    They asked if he was a prophet or even if he was the great prophet of old Elijah.

    No, John said, adding, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said” (John 1:23).

    He further added that he was baptizing with water as a way of forging the path to Jesus, so he could bear witness and point Jesus out when the time came.

    And indeed, John emphatically added, “I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34).

    Does John Actually Say Jesus Is the Lamb of God?

    John reiterates twice that Jesus is the Lamb of God, first here, when he’s with the priests and Levites and sees Jesus walking toward him, and then the next day, when he’s standing with two disciples and sees Jesus, he points this out again: “Behold, the Lamb of God” (John 1:36).

    Those two disciples included Andrew, who immediately followed Jesus and then went to fetch his brother, Simon Peter.

    The two were Jesus’ first disciples and among the 12 apostles.

    Make no mistake, John is saying: Jesus is the Lamb of God.

    The Apostle Paul describes him later as “Christ, our Passover lamb, (who) has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

    What Does ‘Lamb of God’ Mean?

    There are two key inferences here. One is that Jesus, as the “lamb” of God, is God’s perfect sacrifice.

    Sacrificial lambs were required by Levitical Code to be unblemished, typically the best of the best, pure, and perfect.

    They also were innocent — blood, and lives, were exchanged as debt payment.

    In His willing sacrifice on the cross, Jesus paid our sin debt penalty “once for all” (Colossians 2:14).

    It’s a substitute for sin, the way the people could enter the presence of God, to atone for wrongdoing, and what God was willing to accept to make things right.

    John was perhaps referring to Scripture foretold in Isaiah 53:7, where the prophet described the savior of the world as one oppressed and inflicted, a “lamb that is led to the slaughter.”

    The other meaning is the lamb being described in the Book of Revelation, the triumphant “Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (Revelation 5:6).

    Did John Know What He Meant Here?

    We aren’t told whether John knew what he was alluding to by calling Jesus the “Lamb of God,” especially as later he seemed doubtful and sent word asking if Jesus really was the one who was to come (Matthew 11:3).

    That doesn’t really matter, though, for sometimes people speak words of the Lord without understanding what they fully mean, such as in prophecy.

    What matters is that John the Baptizer clearly identified Jesus not once but twice before others as the Lamb of God and that we understand the meaning.

    John the Baptizer’s intent and meaning are very clear! Only through Jesus do we receive salvation. Jesus, God’s son, died a sacrificial lamb for all (John 3:16), but only those who genuinely repent, believe and follow Him receive that salvation.

    We must understand that Jesus is the only way — indeed, as the Apostle John later notes Jesus as stating, “The way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

    So, behold, all reading this piece — Jesus is Lord, Word become flesh, the Living God, our living Hope whose innocence, purity and perfect, divine nature paid the price of our sins forevermore so we who believe may live forever with Him.

    He did this for you, for me, and for us all.

    He is the Lamb of God, and we are His.

    John the Baptizer repeatedly proclaimed him ….

    Can any of us here claim that we repeatedly proclaim the exact same sentiment?

    In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

    Let us Pray,

    Most Holy and Gracious God,

    You have enriched and enlightened us by the revelation of your eternal Christ. 

    Comfort us in our mortality

    and strengthen us to walk the path of your desire,

    so that by word and deed we may manifest the gracious news

    of your faithfulness and love.

    Most Holy God, Giver of every Good and Perfect Gift,

    Divine Father of the man Jesus who asked the disciples,

    “What are you looking for,”

    and who offered the invitation to “Come and See,”

    open our hearts to what you reveal and give us the courage to follow. 

    By Your Spirit aid us in our journey,

    so that like John the Baptizer, our words and deeds point to the Lamb of God. 

    For those who are suffering, let us likewise point to Christ through comfort. 

    For those who are hungry, let us point to Christ through the giving of bread. 

    For those in the grip of despair, let us point to Christ through our example of hope.

    Almighty God,

    whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world:

    Grant that your people, illumined by your Word,

    may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory,

    that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth.

    We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ,

    who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

    One God in Three – now and forever, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

    Who of us does not long to hear these exact words from our God right now: “You are My Child, in whom I love; with whom I am well Pleased?” Mark 1:9-11

    Mark 1:9-11 New Living Translation

    The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

    One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him[a] like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”

    The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

    We might think that the world-changing and history-making beginning of Jesus’ ministry would begin with a major announcement.

    We might even reasonably expect that this history making event would come out as a big deal—like when a nation’s president or prime minister is elected.

    But the heavenly declaration that opens Jesus’ ministry is rather low key.

    It is also rather private, personal and extraordinarily intimate—Jesus had not announced himself yet gathered any disciples or followers to witness this event.

    It was a deeply personal event exclusively meant for exchange between a father and his son – a father and son moment – with meanings deeper than we know.

    What’s more, the heavenly power does not swoop in like a great eagle with exposed talons, swooping in while it is shrieking at the very top of its lungs.

    You do not get the idea it was meant to be observed by human eyes and ears.

    Instead it is described as gently arriving like a dove.

    The Spirit of God, who had hovered over the waters of creation (Genesis 1:2), similarly graces the person of Jesus, giving us an unmistakable sign that a new creation is getting under way and this new effort will also be good, very good.

    Mark’s gospel has an emphasis on showing the reading audience who Jesus is.

    He is the Servant of All and He is about to immediately begin His ministry and His mission of making a difference, if not THE difference in the affairs of man.

    The first eight verses of Mark focused on the immediate anticipation of Jesus’ arrival.

    Remember that the gospel opens calling for people to literally drop every last priority they have, immediately begin to prepare the way for the king’s arrival.

    The blessings of the Heavenly King … Humbly Clothed in His Divine Majesty …

    Let all the Earth Rejoice … Let all the Earth Rejoice …

    Everything, if not everybody in your life is immediately about to be changed.

    Every circumstance is about to become immediately subjected to redemption.

    Your life is about to be strengthened – thy self-esteem about to be maxed out.

    Get hyper-excited because thy salvation is about to become genuine reality.

    Immediately answer for yourselves this question: HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD?

    Get your hearts and souls ready by confessing your sins because the mightier, indeed very the mightiest One is coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.

    One question that we have when we come to the baptism of Jesus is why was he even needed to baptized?

    The answer is in verse 9: we see the humble king of all created things quietly arriving, slowly processing into humanity, for his royal coronation ceremony.

    Open your versions of God’s word to Mark 1:9-11 to see this coronation scene.

    Here in the Gospel of Mark we are given the heavenly insight that Jesus is the unique and truly loved Son with whom His Father God is beyond well pleased.

    Today’s highlighted verses tell us about God’s great love for His Son Jesus and how, as He came up, out from the water He has expressed His love for His Son.

    We see God’s wonderful expression of deep affection and deep pride in Jesus.

    It must have been a beautiful, inspiring moment and blessing to each of them.

    The great thing about this event is this: Jesus has immediately provided each of us with the blessed assurance of both God’s great favor and abundant delight.

    Christ’s death on the Cross not only paid the price for our sins, it also opened up the way to the loving-kindness and great goodness of God. Just as the Father was proud of His Son, God can now cherish and embrace us in the same way.

    Are not these the words we all need to hear from the ones we love the most?

    Look at what was being said by Father God: “I completely claim you as my child! I completely, utterly love you! I am fully, utterly completely max pleased with you!”

    The Father shared these incredible affirmations with his Son.

    And by extension, our Father God shares these incredible affirmations with us.

    In the subsequent verses, the man Jesus will face the temptations of Satan in the wilderness armed with the understanding his Heavenly Father lovingly and proudly claims him as his child – those words infusing Jesus with God’s might.

    You know, when we were baptized,

    I cannot help but believe my God immediately quietly expressing the very same fatherly sentiments about you and me – with the exact same degree of His love!

    In this moment, what does that thought immediately do for your self-esteem?

    No matter what you or I think of or about ourselves, here is a wonderful hint:


    God has entered the affairs of all mankind, come into the world with the loving intention of bringing about a new creation that includes you. What in your life needs to be re-created by the transformation and blessings of Savior Jesus Christ?

    Jesus himself declares in Chapter One verse 15: “The time has come. . . . The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and (hardcore) believe the good news!”

    No matter who you are or what you’ve done; no matter how you’re feeling or what you’re going through right in this exact moment, please know this: You are a beloved child of God, lifted up by His grace, and cherished by Him forever.

    Just a Quiet, Timely Reminder of Exactly Whose Beloved Child You Are?

    He was the Son of God.

    He was the Son of Man.

    He came down from heaven.
    He was born in a stable.

    Kings came to his cradle.
    His first home was a cave.

    He was born to be a king.
    He was a child of Mary.

    He was the greatest among rulers.
    He was the least among servants.

    He was loved and honored.
    He was despised and rejected.

    He was gentle and loving.
    He made many enemies.

    He counseled perfection.
    He was a friend of sinners.

    He was a joyful companion.
    He was a man of sorrows.

    He said, “Rejoice.”
    He said, “Repent.”

    “Love God with all your heart.”
    “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    “Don’t be anxious.”
    “Count the cost.”

    “Deny yourself.”
    “Ask and receive.”

    In him was life.
    He died on a cross.

    He was a historic person.
    He lives today.

    He was Jesus of Nazareth.
    He is Christ the Lord.

    He was with God in the beginning of all created things because He is God!

    And there is exactly NOTHING the darkness of sin and death can do about it!

    In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

    Let us Pray,

    ABBA, My Loving and adoring Father, I know I do not merit your love and grace. Yet, dear Heavenly Father of mine, I am completely and utterly overwhelmed with them and beyond thankful for the abundance of them. As your beloved child, please know that I love and adore you… even in those times when I make wrong choices and also when I succumb to temptation’s power. Father, do not ever let the evil one strip my love for you from me or let him cloud my eyes to your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

    The Ministry and Mission of Jesus Begins: Two Kinds of Wildernesses. Numbers 14:26-35 and Mark 1:11-15

    Numbers 14:26-35Amplified Bible

    26 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 27 “How long shall I put up with this evil congregation who murmur [in discontent] against Me? I have heard the complaints of the Israelites, which they are making against Me. 28 Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just what you have spoken in My hearing I will most certainly do to you; 29 your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness, even all who were numbered of you, your entire number from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against Me. 30 Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, not one of you shall enter the land in which I swore [an oath] to settle you. 31 But your children whom you said would become plunder, I will bring in, and they will know the land which you have despised and rejected. 32 But as for you, your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your sons shall be wanderers and shepherds in the wilderness for forty years, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness (spiritual infidelity), until your corpses are consumed in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of days in which you spied out the land [of Canaan], forty days, for each day, you shall bear and suffer a year for your sins and guilt, for forty years, and you shall know My displeasure [the revoking of My promise and My estrangement because of your sin]. 35 I, the Lord, have spoken. I will most certainly do this to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed [by war, disease, and plagues], and here they shall die.’”

    Mark 1:11-15Amplified Bible

    11 and a [a]voice came out of heaven saying: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased and delighted!”

    12 Immediately the [Holy] Spirit forced Him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted [to do evil] by Satan; and He was with the wild animals, and the angels ministered continually to Him.

    Jesus Preaches in Galilee

    14 Now after John [the Baptist] was arrested and [b]taken into custody, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of [the kingdom of] God, 15 and saying, “The [appointed period of] time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life] and believe [with a deep, abiding trust] in the good news [regarding salvation].”

    The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

    The wilderness is a place that captures the imagination and stirs the soul.

    Native Americans, for example, will journey into the wilderness on a vision quest; thrill seekers will flock to the mountains and remote places in search of adventure; those who are overworked will retreat there for peace and solitude; and Christians will even go camping in the wilderness for the purpose of fasting and praying, confidence building exercises, for adventures, looking unto God.

    The wilderness just innately seems to continuously beckon unto people.

    Jack London authored a book entitled The Call of the Wild, and Country Music songwriter John Denver once asked, “Does the call of the wild ever sing through the midst of your dreams?”

    In the Hebrew {old} Testament, King David declared,

    “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness” (Psalms 55:6-7).

    There’s an intrinsic romanticism concerning the wilderness.

    In the physical sense, it represents peace and finding oneself.

    In the spiritual, however, it can represent confusion and becoming lost to oneself, and realizing a deafening silence from God.

    Whenever the Lord allows His children to enter a spiritual wilderness, there’s nothing very romantic about it! The wilderness is a place one hopes to flee!

    I once read a story about a distinguished painter who was conducting a class for aspiring artists.

    He was speaking to them on the subject of artistic composition.

    He emphasized that it was wrong, for example, to portray a wooded area, a forest or a wilderness, without painting into it a path out of the trees.

    When a true artist draws or paints any kind of picture, such as a landscape, he always gives the picture an “out.”

    Otherwise the tangle of trees and the ceaseless, endless, trackless spaces will depress and dismay the onlooker.(1)

    (1) Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations, in Logos CD-ROM, version 2.1E (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996).

    The same thing can happen in your spiritual life whenever you feel as though you’re in a wilderness.

    If life ever appears as a tangled mass of branches under a dark leafy canopy or a vast expanse of dark forest with no obvious way out, then you can become down and discouraged, and even seriously distant in your relationship with the Lord.

    Somewhere along your spiritual journey you might enter a season in life where you will feel as though you are deep in a vast wilderness with no way out.

    In this message, I am going to compare and contrast two possible reasons why you might enter a wilderness period, and prayerfully show you and me how to make it through to the other side; as we try to compare and contrast following Jesus and both the “sin-driven wilderness” and “Spirit-driven wilderness.”

    A Sin-Driven Wilderness (Numbers 14:26-35)

    Sometimes when we have a wilderness experience in our life, it’s the result of sin.

    This is called a “sin-driven wilderness” – one where you are driven into the wilderness because of “your own” sin. This is what happened to the Israelites.

    The Bible says in Numbers 14:26-35:

    And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me.”

    “Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in’.”

    “‘But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection’.”

    “‘I the Lord have spoken this. I will surely do so to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die’” (Numbers 14:26-35).

    The Lord said, “The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness” (Numbers 14:29).

    The sin mentioned in these verses which resulted in the Israelites being driven into the wilderness was “complaining against God.”

    Complaining was just one manifestation of hearts an souls and spirits that were full of sin and lacking in even a minimum measure of faith in God’s deliverance.

    Since (I believe anyway) we have studied this passage before, this is a bit of a review; however, a review is necessary to get to the heart of the message.

    In Numbers thirteen, we read where the Lord sent twelve spies from the tribes of Israel on a reconnaissance mission into Canaan to check out its bounty.

    When they had returned, they reported how it was a land flowing with milk and honey just as the Lord had promised to them; however, they also brought back a seriously negative report of how the land was occupied with giants whom they could not overcome. This is when they began to become fearful and complain.

    In Numbers fourteen, we read where they refused to go forth and possess the Promised Land as God had commanded, and they attempted to select leaders and return to Egypt. The only ones who were faithful were Joshua and Caleb, who both repeatedly tried to encourage the people that the land could be taken.

    The Israelites refused to possess Canaan and the people were sentenced to wander in the wilderness forty years, until all who were twenty-years-old and above had perished.

    The Lord told Israel, “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you” (Deuteronomy 8:2a).

    This particular sin-driven wilderness served as a test for the people of Israel.

    Whenever you enter a sin-driven wilderness, you need to realize that it’s your sin that has driven you there – your sin – and not the Lord.

    It is not a God-driven wilderness, but a sin-driven wilderness.

    Whenever we enter a wilderness period because of our own sins, what happens is you and I are allowed to suffer from the wrong choices of our sin, and too be tested by the consequences of sin – just how long do we allow ourselves to hurt?

    The Bible says that sin leads to death (Romans 6:23).

    It was sin that resulted in the first man and woman being evicted from the Garden of Eden.

    In a sense, the sin-driven wilderness is a form of punishment, because God allows it to happen when He could actually intervene; but ultimately it is a person’s own fault for winding up there through their own disobedience to God.

    Whenever you find yourself in a sin-driven wilderness it’s because the Lord is allowing you to be purged of sin and purified. The Lord allowed Israel to enter the wilderness in order for the generation that sinned to perish and die out, so that Israel would be purged and cleansed of her negative and rebellious attitude.

    The Lord will allow you to enter the wilderness in order to be chastened and cleansed of sin, so that you will emerge on the other side as a different person, and hopefully a better and more faithful follower.

    Hebrews says, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (12:11).

    A wilderness experience will either make or break you.

    You will either grow closer to the Lord or become distant from Him.

    You might feel like Evan Baxter on “Evan Almighty,” when he said,

    “[Lord], I know whatever You do, You do because You love me, right? Do me a favor: Love me less.”

    When you should inevitably ever enter the wilderness experience because of sin, be sure to permit the experience to refine you into pure gold tried in the fire.

    Job 1:20-21Amplified Bible

    20 Then Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head [in mourning for the children], and he fell to the ground and worshiped [God]. 21 He said,

    “Naked (without possessions) I came [into this world] from my mother’s womb,
    And naked I will return there.
    The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

    A Spirit-Driven Wilderness (Mark 1:12-13)

    Sometimes when you have a wilderness experience it’s the result of sin; however, there can be other times when you enter the wilderness even though you’ve been faithful to the Lord.

    This is likely a “Spirit-driven wilderness” – one into which the Holy Spirit leads you.

    Even Jesus underwent a Spirit-driven wilderness.

    The Bible says in Mark 1:12-13:

    Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him (Mark 1:12-13).

    We read how “the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness” (Mark 1:12).

    Over in the book of Matthew, we read, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (4:1; cf. Lk 4:1-2).

    It was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness.

    The apostle John had a similar experience on the island of Patmos,

    for he said of the Lord,

    “So He carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness” (Revelation 17:3).

    These are not isolated examples in the Bible.

    In Nehemiah, we read concerning Israel’s exodus from Egypt,

    “You did not forsake them in the wilderness . . . [but] gave Your good Spirit to instruct them” (9:19-20); and in

    Isaiah we read, “[God] led them through the deep, as a horse in the wilderness, that they might not stumble. As a beast goes down into the valley, and the Spirit of the Lord causes him to rest” (63:13-14).

    It was the Holy Spirit that drove Israel from Egypt into the desert, and then onward toward the Promised Land.

    The Israelites actually endured both a Spirit-driven and sin-driven wilderness during the exodus:

    Spirit-driven Wilderness – First, the Holy Spirit drove the people into the desert (a wilderness-like place) as they made their exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land.

    This was supposed to be a short-lived experience, for it was only an eleven-day journey to Canaan.

    Sin-driven Wilderness – Later, however, when the Israelites sinned by refusing God’s command to go forth to possess Canaan, they were sentenced to wander in the actual barren and remote wilderness for forty long and very hard years.

    It’s one thing to enter a wilderness as the result, or consequence, of sin.

    This can sometimes seem more understandable when it happens.

    You can arrive at a time and season in your life, examine your life and say,

    “Oh, it all makes sense now! I can remember the time when God asked me to do this or that, and I was disobedient and did my own thing. Now I know I’m being humbled mightily and I accept I need to be chastened for my sin by my Savior!”

    The concept of a sin-driven wilderness seems easier to grasp than the Spirit-driven wilderness.

    Some of the most confusing and defeating times in life can be the ones in which you have been fully, completely faithful to do what God asked of you, and then you either trip and do a “face plant” or land flat onto your back in a wilderness.

    When you enter a wilderness period, and you know deep in your heart that you’ve remained faithful to God, then it’s likely that you have entered into a Spirit-driven wilderness.

    The Israelites had remained faithful to the Lord while they were in Egypt, and they had all their basic needs met.

    Daily provision meant that God’s favor rested on them.

    Once in the desert, however, their stability was shaken and they questioned and cried why they had ever left Egypt and the provision they once had (Nm 11:4-6).

    All at once they suddenly wondered where “all of” God’s inevitable favor had gone. When the Spirit drove them out into the desert it didn’t make any sense!

    The Israelites probably wondered what they had done wrong.

    They very likely felt that God had been unkind to them by forcing them into the desert to leave all the provision of Egypt.

    A collective thought process similar to one like this: “If only I/We had kept their focus on the primary reason why I/We, was/were being led out!”

    When the Holy Spirit pushed them into the desert it was because the Lord had a much better place in store for them down the road!

    When you find yourself in a wilderness period even though you’ve been faithful to the Lord, it’s easy to feel like you’ve done something wrong and it’s easy to complain; but if you know deep in your heart you’ve been obedient to the Lord, then you must be in the wilderness because the Holy Spirit has put you there.

    If the Holy Spirit has led you there, into a time and a season for “hitting the reset button on my life” then you can rest assured that it’s for a good reason.

    Why was Jesus led into the wilderness?

    The answer is “to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).

    This temptation was a test for the “Son of Man” in order to try Jesus’ spiritual stamina to remain faithful to the Lord in the midst of the temptation to sin.

    This test also proved to Satan that he couldn’t touch Jesus.

    The wilderness served to demonstrate to us Jesus’ faithfulness, and it resulted in an encounter with the Father’s presence as “the angels ministered to Him” (Mark 1:13; Matthew 4:11).

    When you an I enter a Spirit-driven wilderness, the every same thing will likely happen to us.

    You will grow spiritually and grow closer to the Lord.

    What seems like an unfair thing, to enter the wilderness when you’ve remained faithful, can actually have an indescribably abundant and beneficial end result.

    What seems like a bad thing might just be a display of God’s love, for the Lord says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten” (Revelation 3:19).

    Biblical Commentator John MacArthur says,

    God’s plan and purpose [is] to use Satan’s temptations as a means of testing and strengthening our faith in Him and of our growing stronger in righteousness. God allows testing in our lives in order that our spiritual “muscles” may be exercised and strengthened. Whether the testing is by God’s initiative or is sent by Satan, God will always use it to produce good in us when we meet the test in His power.

     John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1985), pp. 87-88.

    You might even be driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit in order to receive some much-needed rest.

    Jeremiah said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness, Israel, when I went to give him rest’” (Jeremiah 31:2).

    Jesus advised His disciples, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).

    Sometimes your faithfulness to the Lord can result in some harsh persecution and stress in your life as you take a stand for Jesus Christ.

    For example, in today’s context, consider any pastor who has taken a stand against sin in his congregation, and has become physically and emotionally drained. He has taken great abuse for the Lord and has remained faithful.

    Then one day, out of the blue, he finds himself blind-sided as he is asked to resign from his church.

    He then loses his ministry, his purpose and his livelihood, and then enters a wilderness.

    He/she could then become incredibly frustrated, angry against their fellow Christians, as it doesn’t appear to make any sense; but actually it does!

    The Lord could be “forcing” them to take a much-needed break, as He refreshes them and works to slowly restore their passion and love for Him and His people.

    If anything similar to this has happened in your own life, then take heart!

    God sees your faithfulness, and you’re in the wilderness for the very reason that the Lord God is doing some cleansing and hardcore refining, a new work in your life!

    God is growing you, God is handling you, God is maturing you and God is preparing, refining you, for something else and for a closer walk with Him!

    Keep your focus on the Lord while you’re in the wilderness and do not lose hope!

    Oswald Chambers said, “If God gives you a time spiritually, as He gave His Son . . . of temptation in the wilderness, with no word from Himself at all, endure it; and the power to endure is there because you see God.”

    Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, in Logos CD-ROM, version 2.1E (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1989).

    Time of Reflection

    Do you feel as though you’re in a wilderness right now?

    If so, then ask yourself, “Am I in the wilderness because I’ve been disobedient to the Lord, and have sinned against Him?”

    If you can genuinely and with your whole heart and soul answer “yes” to this question, then you need to confess your sin and ask God for His forgiveness.

    The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

    If you should examine your life and you can’t identity any known sin, then ask yourself, “Am I in the wilderness even though I’ve been faithful to the Lord?”

    If you can answer “yes” to this question then try not to become discouraged.

    Psalm 37:27-29Amplified Bible

    Depart from evil and do good;
    And you will dwell [securely in the land] forever.
    For the Lord delights in justice
    And does not abandon His saints (faithful ones);
    They are preserved forever,
    But the descendants of the wicked will [in time] be cut off.
    The righteous will inherit the land
    And live in it forever.

    The Lord has not forsaken you.

    The Lord God is upholding you while He is resetting you, while He refines you.

    In fact, you’re likely in the wilderness because Father, Son and Holy Spirit led you there in order for you to achieve that more intimate encounter with God.

    How will you an I respond to the wilderness?

    Will you and I gripe and complain, or will you and I gracefully endure until the Lord molds and refines us, into the man or woman of God that He has planned?

    In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

    Let us Pray,

    My God in Heaven, everything has crumbled around me. Everything has collapsed deep beneath me. Everything has burned above me. My God in whom I strive to trust more, Yet You remain! I call out to You to save me. Lord, You have never failed those who hope in Your name. In Jesus, You have demonstrated Your great love for me. Regardless of this illusion of hopelessness, grant me the grace and strength to be hopeful for I know of the coming days of glory. In the hope of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

    The Ministry and Mission of Jesus Christ Begins. About our Faithful Discipleship, about being able to Identify with Jesus. Mark 1:9-13

    Mark 1:9-13 Amplified Bible

    The Baptism of Jesus

    In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 [a]Immediately coming up out of the water, he (John) saw the heavens torn open, and the [b]Spirit like a dove descending on Him (Jesus); 11  and a [c]voice came out of heaven saying: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased and delighted!”

    12 Immediately the [Holy] Spirit forced Him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted [to do evil] by Satan; and He was with the wild animals, and the angels ministered continually to Him.

    The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

    The first chapter of Mark has it all. God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Angels and even Satan are all compacted here in the very same place at seemingly the same time, during the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist and Jesus’ temptation by Satan.

    The presence of John the Baptist arriving on the scene was the sign, the signal, and the moment that told the man Jesus to leave Nazareth, begin his ministry.

    So, the Narrator Mark, speaking to his audience of readers, begins to present to them a step by step recitation of first introducing Jesus, then relating to readers a strong recommendation how they are to respond to God and this Good News.

    First – Recognize that these Word’s of God are the Truth of God – spoken by God and are therefore trustworthy and true. God is active and attentive to their need.

    Second – Recognize that God Himself, through His Son Jesus Christ, through His messengers -God’s Prophets Isaiah and Malachi through John the Baptizer has a prophetic message of promise and fulfillment for them – God needs them!

    Third – God through His Son Jesus Christ, through His Messenger Mark, is now in need of their fullest possible attention – begin to shape the Kingdom of God.

    The called of God, those children of God, in the first century moment respond – “We hear God – we believe on His Son Jesus Christ, what must we do now?”

    A great expression of affirmation of faith followed by and even greater question.

    Mark’s response is to follow in the example set by John the Baptist and Jesus:

    Mark 1:9Amplified Bible

    The Baptism of Jesus

    In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

    First: Come willingly from wherever you are and recognize the authority of God.

    Second: Make a decision to service unto the Kingdom of God and your neighbor.

    Third: Recognize the absolute sovereignty of Jesus Christ over your entire life.

    Fourth: Fully, Maximally, Utterly, Surrender the entirety of your life unto God.

    Fifth: Present your whole body as a living sacrifice unto Christ and get baptized.

    God needed His Son, the man, Rabbi Jesus to be “seen of man by man,” baptized as the necessary first step or visual sign of the beginning of his earthly ministry.

    As one commentator said: It was a moment of decision; it was a moment of identification; it was a moment of God’s approval; was a moment of equipping.

    Mark 1:10-11Amplified Bible

    10 [a]Immediately coming up out of the water, he (John) saw the heavens torn open, and the [b]Spirit like a dove descending on Him (Jesus); 11 and a [c]voice came out of heaven saying: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased and delighted!”

    When he Jesus, came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

    A voice, and a message for the people came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son, whom I am delighted in, in whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

    This is one of the only places in the Bible where all three persons of the Trinity are in the same place at the same time communicating to those who are there!

    Immediately Connecting, Immediately Relating, Immediately Identifying with:

    The most significant moment of all – the first Moment of “God’s First Contact!”

    This makes it one of the more important events in Jesus’ life and the people’s.

    By visualizing the moment – the people are visualizing connecting their lives with God in the same way – to hear the exact same words Jesus heard from God.

    “You are my beloved children, whom I am delighted in, in whom I love and with whom, by this act, your choice of obedience – to this baptism – I am well pleased!”

    The people visualize, gain their most important “first impressions” of the man: why they should sacrificially, willingly, joyfully, utterly graft their lives into his.

    The man, just like every other man present in the moment – the man, Jesus is immersed into the every day events of humanity, subjected to all the very worst.

    Sixth: Repent and Prepare the entirety of yourself for maximum service by God.

    Mark 1:12-13Amplified Bible

    12 Immediately the [Holy] Spirit forced Him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted [to do evil] by Satan; and He was with the wild animals, and the angels ministered continually to Him.

    The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. “…and he was in the wilderness forty days, being mercilessly tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and all during that absolute worst misery: “the angels attended him.”

    Here we see that Jesus was tempted and triumphed, something humanity could not do because mere man couldn’t overcome the worst of the worst absent God.

    The people visualize that despite the worst of the worst – Jesus endured it and did not surrender one ounce of his faith in God – did not yield to Satan 1/8 inch.

    The people can visualize for themselves that the worst of the worst is a definite possibility when they are seen as being for Jesus Christ and not for the Emperor.

    But we can visualize ourselves enduring that worst of the worst because we can visualize Jesus doing it.

    When the worst of the worst arrives, we can identify with it and instead of our submitting to the inevitability of being overcome by it – we identify with Jesus.

    We visualize Jesus being continually administered to by the Angels.

    We visualize ourselves – during our own worst of the worst – being continually administered to by the Angels also.

    We identify with the moment of continuous comfort because it’s God’s promise.

    It is God’s faithful promise of His continuous presence and continuous comfort.

    Because: “The Word of God for His Beloved Children” is the absolute TRUTH!

    We identify with God.

    We identify with Jesus.

    We identify Jesus with God

    We identify Jesus’ victory over the very worst Satan can throw at us.

    We identify with Jesus’ victory over the very worst Satan can throw at us.

    Through that identification we can endure all things through Christ who is our strength through every single “worst of the worst” circumstance Satan inflicts.

    Our faith remains sure and our faith remains strong, steadfast and immovable.

    We are united in Christ, so that his victory might be our victory; so that when we are tempted, we can look to him and the living example Jesus first set for us.

    Why was it important for Mark to provide these details?

    Mark wanted to stress to his readers that Jesus is the only road to salvation.

    The Maker of Heaven and earth declared His only begotten Son, Jesus to be his anointed one, His chosen one. He is real; He is credible; He is alive in us today!

    Through these four rather short verses from the Gospel of Mark’s narrative ….

    First: we can immediately identify with the absolute truth of that reality!

    Second: we can immediately identify with the absolute truth of His credibility!

    Third: we can immediately testify to the absolute truth of His being 100% alive!

    Fourthly: we can immediately identify with the love of God and Jesus’ efforts towards preparing us for our ministry, mission: finish the Great Commission!

    In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

    Let us Pray,

    Lord God, Father to my Savior Jesus Christ, my Way-maker, my promise keeper. I know you have a destiny for me to achieve in this life. I want to follow the plan that you have laid out. Help me to understand and follow your call. Show me your will for my life and what I need to do right now to get started. Enable me to know who I am in Christ alone, and the special gifts and abilities you have given me. Give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation as I seek to know you more intimately. Amen.