Orwell Bible Church

Today’s Devotional: Mark 12

You can download this week’s entire Daily Devotional in booklet form here.

Jesus followed up the back-and-forth with the religious leaders (11:27-33) with a parable teaching what was happening right then: God sent prophets to Israel calling them to repentance, yet Israel continually ignored/rejected them (vv. 1-5). God then sent his eternally begotten Son, but Israel would not only reject but kill him (vv. 6-8). God would thus judge that generation of Jews who rejected their Christ (vv. 9-11). This infuriated the religious leaders who thus sought to do exactly what Jesus just said they would do (v. 12; cf. v. 7).  

The Pharisees and Herodians then tried to get Jesus to say he was either for or against Rome (vv. 13-15). Being “for” Rome would infuriate the Jews; being “against” Rome would be an act of treason. Either way their goal was his execution, but they failed (vv. 15-17). Then the “liberal” side of Israel’s religious leaders (v. 18) tried to get Jesus to speak against the Law (vv. 19-23), but they also failed (vv. 24-27).  

One scribe, having heard Jesus’ answers to the Sadducees, asked Jesus which of God’s laws was most important (v. 28; Jewish traditionalists added 613 commands to “protect” the Law). Jesus’ answers (vv. 29-31) impressed the scribe (vv. 32-33). While the scribe agreed with Jesus, true faith is seen in a whole-life commitment and action, which Jesus said he yet needed (v. 34).  

Jesus then proved from Scripture that he, the Messiah, while a human being was also eternal God (vv. 35-37). He also warned Israelites against their hypocritical religious leaders that God would judge (vv. 38-40; Matt 23 gives Jesus’ full warning).  

These proud, self-righteous religious leaders flaunted their wealth and made a show of their giving, but Jesus pointed out that what matters in giving is the heart (vv. 41-44).  

Truths to Nail Down and Apply

  1. Some right responses to God’s truth and agreement with it is not saving faith (vv. 28-34). There must be complete and total dependence and reliance on Jesus Christ.
  2. Jesus responded to attacks with wisdom—the correct and right application of Scriptural truth to different situations.
  3. Man may look at and be impressed by externals, but God looks at and knows the heart (vv. 41-44).

Today’s Devotional: Mark 11

You can download this week’s entire Daily Devotional in booklet form here.

Though Jesus had foretold his betrayal and death in Jerusalem, that did not change who he was, the Son of God, Israel’s King and Messiah. So when he entered Jerusalem he did so as Israel’s promised King, the Son of David, in accord with OT prophecies (vv. 1-11; cf. Zech 9:9).  

In the OT the Lord referred to Israel as a fig tree (Hos 9:10; Joel 1:7) and a vine (Isa 5:1-6) that he planted expecting good fruit from. Jesus’ judgment of the fruitless fig tree (vv. 12-14) demonstrated his judgment on Israel; despite their appearance as God’s people, their lack of faith and righteous fruit proved otherwise. Jesus also used this event to teach his disciples about prayer and faith (vv. 20-26).  

As the Son of God Jesus drove merchants out of the temple, his Father’s house, which was to be for prayer, not commerce (vv. 15-19).  

When Jesus was in the temple the religious leaders challenged his authority for what he did (vv. 27-28). Jesus thwarted their efforts by showing that as they did not submit to God’s authority manifested through John the Baptist’s message, so they would not submit to the same heavenly authority Jesus acted from (vv. 29-33).  

Truths to Nail Down and Apply

  1. Zechariah 9:9 foretold of the Messiah’s entrance into Jerusalem and 9:10 of his judgment of the nations, bringing an end to war, and establishing his worldwide rule. Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming (Mark 11:1-7), and 9:10 will be fulfilled in his second coming (Rev 19:11-20:6).
  2. Looking like a Christian and being a Christian are two entirely different things. Though Israel looked like God’s people because of their religious actions, most of them were not God’s people because of their unbelief.
  3. Whenever you pray you must have a right attitude toward your sin before God (confession) and be forgiving toward those who sin against you.

Today’s Devotional: Mark 10:1-31

You can download this week’s entire Daily Devotional in booklet form here.

Jesus the Son of God left the region of Galilee for Judea (v. 1; cf. vv. 32, 46; 11:1, 12, 15, 27). As he traveled he taught the people and was frequently tested and opposed by the Pharisees. The Pharisees did not agree among themselves about what were legitimate grounds for divorce. Many Pharisees as well as Mark’s Gentile, Roman readership believed that one could get divorced for any reason and then remarry. In verses 3-12 Jesus denied this, teaching that God created marriage to be a life-long relationship between a man and a woman (vv. 6-12). In OT Law divorce had very strict parameters and was permitted to protect spouses from fickle abandonment (v. 5; cf. Deut 24:1-4).  

Parents brought their children to Jesus but the disciples told them to stop it (v. 13). Jesus rebuked the disciples, commanding them to allow the children to come to him and teaching the character of saving faith (vv. 15-16). The disciples had not listened to nor learned Jesus’ teaching earlier (9:33-37).  

One came to Jesus asking about the way to eternal life (v. 17). Jesus told him that the evidences of faith must be present in his life (vv. 18-9), which included not loving the things of this world but rather loving the Lord and one’s neighbor (v. 21). The inquirer left, loving the world too much (v. 22). Jesus taught the disciples that while truly believing in and following him involves denying oneself, the Lord abundantly cares for his children (vv. 23-31).  

Truths to Nail Down and Apply

  1. Nothing has changed about God’s intention and will regarding marriage. Marriage is a life-long covenant between a man and a woman. Though our society thinks it can ignore and change the character and plan for marriage, God’s will still stands.
  2. Children are the Lord’s blessing (Psa 127:3-5) and Christians and the church must have Jesus’ valuation of them, not the world’s (v. 14).
  3. You will love and live for what you trust in, whether that is the things of this world or the Lord. You cannot trust in, love, and live for both the Lord and the world. Following—believing in—the Lord necessarily involves “taking up the cross” (v. 21), being willing to leave everything for the sake of Christ and the gospel (v. 29).

Today’s Devotional: Mark 9:30-50

You can download this week’s entire Daily Devotional in booklet form here.

Jesus a second time taught his disciples that he, the Son of God and Messiah, would be apprehended and executed, but three days later would rise from the dead (vv. 30-31). The disciples, however, were still clueless about what he talked about (v. 32).  

On the way to Capernaum the disciples competitively jostled with each other for number one status among themselves (vv. 33-34). Jesus, however, taught them that fellow believers should not jockey for position with one another but humbly serve and love each other (vv. 35-37).  

Jesus also taught them that there are true brethren who live and serve the same Lord elsewhere and they should accordingly love and support them (vv. 38-41).   Jesus warned that anyone seeking to cause believers to sin and fall away from him (“stumble,” v. 42) is guilty of great sin, proving that such persecutors are lost and eternally condemned (v. 42). Jesus then taught that true believers should not yield to temptation, taking whatever drastic measures are required to avoid falling away from him back into a life of sin (vv. 43-48).  

Believers who experience fiery persecution of those who seek to make them stumble should not yield to such (“if the salt loses its flavor,” v. 50) but continue in the faith (“have salt in yourselves,” v. 50) and love one another (“have peace with one another,” v. 50).  

Truths to Nail Down and Apply

  1. Jesus is the greatest pattern and illustration of humbly serving and loving others (vv. 35-37; cf. Phil 2:1-16). You must have the same frame of mind as Jesus! Don’t jockey for position, humbly love and serve your brethren!
  2. Christians are responsible for doing whatever it takes to not sin (vv. 43-48). The bill for enjoying sin’s temporary pleasures is paid with the eternal suffering of the soul. Christian, take whatever drastic measures are required to avoid sin!
  3. Christians will be opposed and hated by unbelievers because of their faith (Phil 1:29; 2 Tim 3:12). Do not be surprised by this, Christian. Persevere in the faith, looking to Jesus.

Today’s Devotional: Mark 9:1-29

You can download this week’s entire Daily Devotional in booklet form here.

Jesus told the disciples that some of them would see the Kingdom of God (v. 1). Six days later Jesus’ physical, outward form was radically transformed (vv. 2-3), giving Peter, James, and John a glimpse of the glory of God’s coming Kingdom. Peter concluded that the kingdom was finally being established and so asked about setting up booths to get things going (v. 4; cf. Zech 14:16). God’s recognition of Jesus as his Son emphasized the disciples’ need to learn from and submit to Jesus (vv. 7-8). Jesus told them that Elijah came in the person of John the Baptist, but just as the Jewish leaders rejected him so they would reject Jesus, the Messiah (vv. 9-13).  

Returning to the other disciples, Jesus found them in a verbal scrum with the scribes (vv. 14-16). The disciples were unable to cast out a demon that had long afflicted a young man (vv. 17-23), and perhaps the scribes took the occasion of the disciples’ failure to accuse them and Jesus of being frauds. Jesus told the father to trust in him (vv. 23-24) and then commanded the demon to leave the young man (vv. 25-27). Jesus told the disciples who failed to remove the demon that depending on God through prayer is how spiritual changes are made (vv. 28-29).  

Truths to Nail Down and Apply

  1. Many Christians say that the Kingdom of God is merely spiritual in nature, present in believers’ hearts. However, the radical transformation of Jesus’ physical, outward form from his then just-a-normal-looking-man appearance to brilliant glory disproves the “spiritual kingdom” idea. Jesus will return and reign in full glory when he establishes his kingdom on earth.
  2. The disciples believed that Jesus was Israel’s king but could not grasp what Jesus meant by his suffering, death, and resurrection (v. 10). Only after Christ’s resurrection would they finally grasp how it all tied together (Acts 2:22-36).
  3. Prayer to God is the bedrock and foundation of faithful, effective life and ministry (v. 29). Without expressing your belief in and dependence on the Lord for all things, you will live and minister in your own strength and wisdom, and will be frustrated and ineffective.

Today’s Devotional: Mark 8

You can download this week’s entire Daily Devotional in booklet form here.

Mark 8   Large crowds stayed with Jesus for three days and had exhausted whatever food they brought with them (vv. 1-3). Jesus then instructed his disciples to gather what food they had, told the people sit down, gave thanks, and dispersed it throughout the 4,000 present (vv. 6-9). Jesus and his disciples then sailed to the north western side of the Sea of Galilee (v. 10).  

Despite all Jesus’ teaching and miraculous works, the Pharisees’ spiritually hard hearts demanded yet more “proof” (vv. 11-12). What they needed was faith, not more miracles. Jesus warned his disciples of the danger of unbiblical teaching and living as illustrated by the Jewish religious and political leaders (vv. 13-21).  

Mark’s gospel is the only one that tells of Jesus’ healing the blind man in verses 22-26. Jesus touched the blind man’s eyes (cf. 7:33), and his eyesight miraculously returned (cf. Isa 35:5).  

Jesus and the disciples left Bethsaida and went north to Caesarea Philippi. On the way there Peter expressed his true belief that Jesus is the Christ, Israel’s promised Messiah (vv. 27–30). Most people wrongly viewed Jesus merely as a miracle working prophet.  

From this point Jesus began telling his disciples of his coming betrayal, rejection by Israel, death, and resurrection, but they failed to grasp the significance of what he said (vv. 31–33).   Jesus then taught what believing and following him means and involves (vv. 34–38).  

Truths to Nail Down and Apply

  1. “The leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod” (v. 15) is always present. “Leaven” works through dough, changing it entirely. Wrong teaching and living works through a person causing great, damaging change. Heed Jesus’ warning: “Take heed, beware”!!
  2. Jesus did not begin openly teaching about his coming death and resurrection (v. 31) until about a year before that happened.
  3. Jesus said that truly following him (which is just another way of saying believing in him) involves and demands willingly living according to God’s will, not your own (vv. 34–38).
  4. Jesus the Son of God describes those who do not believe him as “this adulterous and sinful generation” (v. 38).

Today’s Devotional: Mark 7

You can download this week’s entire Daily Devotional in booklet form here.

Jewish religious leaders came from Jerusalem to Galilee where Jesus was to see for themselves the reports they were hearing about him (v. 1). Pharisees followed the OT Law, adding hundreds of their own commands to it (“traditions”) and interpreting the OT Law by their commands. Scribes were leaders of the Pharisees.  

The Pharisees condemned Jesus and his disciples as Law-breakers because they did not follow their traditions (vv. 2-5). Jesus, however, condemned them for elevating their man-made ideas above God’s commands (vv. 6-13). Jesus also pointed out that one’s standing before God is not affected by the kinds of food one eats, but by the spiritual condition of one’s heart and life (vv. 14-23). (The correct location of the end of Jesus’ words in v. 19 is after “eliminated,” with Mark noting Jesus’ point: “Thus purifying all foods.”)  

In verses 24-30, a Gentile woman asked Jesus to deliver her daughter from demon possession. Jesus’ response in verse 27 emphasizes that the primary, not exclusive focus of his ministry at that point was to Jews, not Gentiles. Her belief that he was the Messiah, however, resulted in Jesus granting her request.  

Jesus then healed a man who could not hear or speak (vv. 31-35). Jesus’ actions in verse 33 helped the man believe in him—the fingers in the ears indicated they would be cleared, and the saliva on the tongue showing it would return to normal use. Jesus’ instruction in verse 36 were given because people needed to believe in Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah, not merely as a miracle worker.

Truths to Nail Down and Apply

  1. Whenever man makes his ideas “equal” with God’s, God’s truth is always rejected. Beware of falling into this trap!
  2. People must believe in who Jesus is—the eternal God who became man, the only Lord and Savior. Beware of focusing only on the effects of Jesus’ salvation at the expense of forgetting who Jesus is. 
  3. After his resurrection Jesus did command his followers to spread the message of who he is far and wide (Acts 1:8).

Today’s Devotional: Mark 6

You can download this week’s entire Daily Devotional in booklet form here.

The people of Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, did not believe Jesus was the Messiah and because of their unbelief he did little miraculous works (vv. 1-6).  

Jesus sent out six groups of two disciples to proclaim throughout Israel that Jesus was the Messiah (vv. 7-13). He gave them the ability to do miracles which served as God’s “stamp of approval” on their message (vv. 7, 12-13). Jesus’ traveling instructions (vv. 8-9) were only for this “preaching tour.”  

Herod’s beheading of John the Baptist—who preached that Jesus was Israel’s promised Messiah—showed that he rejected Jesus as the Messiah (vv. 14-29).  

When the twelve disciples returned from their preaching tour they reported to Jesus, who then led them away for needed rest (vv. 30-32). Crowds, however, followed them so Jesus spent the day teaching them (vv. 33-34) and then miraculously feeding them all (vv. 35-44). 

Jesus then sent the twelve to the east side of the Sea of Galilee while he went alone to pray (vv. 45-46). Walking on the water, Jesus came out to them and calmed the sea (vv. 47-52).  

Arriving on the east side of the Sea of Galilee in Gennesaret, many immediately recognized Jesus and brought many to be healed by him (vv. 53-56). This was the result of the former demon-possessed man whom Jesus delivered and who told the locales about Jesus (5:18-20). The people’s response significantly contrasts with those of Jesus’ home town in verses 1-6.  

Truths to Nail Down and Apply

  1. Sadly, frequently those who “grow up” knowing about  Jesus do not believe in Jesus (vv. 1-6). We cannot assume that children of Christian parents will follow the Lord. Christian parents and the church must teach them, pray for them, live godly lives before them, and urge them to trust Christ.
  2. The objective of the twelve disciples’ traveling ministry was calling the people to repent—turn from their sins and believe that Jesus is the Christ (v. 12). Their “ministry goal” was not to improve people’s physical lives, but to call them to salvation. Christian, when you have opportunities to teach the gospel, you must tell unbelievers to repent!
  3. Before Jesus ate he stopped to thank the Lord for the food and ask his blessing on it (v. 41). Sadly more professing Christians do not do what their Lord and Savior did.

Today’s Devotional: Mark 5

You can download this week’s entire Daily Devotional in booklet form here.

Jesus and his disciples traveled to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which was a kind of Jewish no-man’s-land as evidenced by the residents’ herd of pigs (v. 11; cf. Deut 14:8). When a demon-possessed man saw Jesus he came near and though he acknowledged who Jesus was he essentially said to Christ, “Don’t bother us, leave us alone, mind your own business” (v. 7). Jesus’ total authority over Satan and demons is demonstrated here. Sadly, eyewitnesses to the miracle wanted nothing to do with Jesus (vv. 14-17), but the former demon-possessed man’s witness and testimony was effective (vv. 18-20).

Jesus then went back to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (v. 21). He was asked by Jairus—a Jewish layman in charge of synagogue activities and upkeep—to come and heal is near-dead daughter (vv. 22-24).

On the way to Jairus’ house, a woman with an incurable bleeding disorder (rendering her unclean and thus unable to live and worship among Jews, Lev 15:25-33) came to Jesus believing that he could heal her if she simply touched him (vv. 25-31). Jesus’ conversation with her showed that because she believed Jesus was the Messiah she was delivered not only from her illness but her sin (vv. 32-34).

Jesus then went to Jairus’ house and by that time the daughter had died, but Jesus encouraged him to believe (vv. 35-36). Jesus raised the girl from the dead (privately, vv. 37-42), and told them not to publicize this lest he be viewed simply as a miracle worker (v. 43).

Truths to Nail Down and Apply

  1. Human beings are physically powerless before Satan and demons. Demons hate God, and thus seek to destroy humans because men and women are made in God’s image.
  2. Demons are no match for Jesus, the Son of God.
  3. When the Lord saves a soul from sin and Satan’s power it is His gracious and merciful work, resulting in total transformation (vv. 15, 19). Have you been saved from sin and Satan’s power? What’s the proof or evidence of that?
  4. Faith is the one thing needed (vv. 34, 36). Jesus’ encouragement to Jairus, “Do not be afraid; only believe” means “Only believe in Me, that I am the Christ, and I alone can save and deliver from sin and death.”

Today’s Devotional: Mark 4

You can download this week’s entire Daily Devotional in booklet form here.

Mark 4

Following the Jewish religious leaders’ public rejection and repudiation of Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus taught the multitude a series of parables.

Jesus taught about the nature of true faith (vv. 3-9, 13-20). While truth about Jesus would be widely spread, those who truly are saved are marked by faith, obedience, and growing godliness (v. 20).

Jesus taught so people would believe and understand. Those who hear and obey will learn more, but those who disbelieve will be hardened to Christ’s truth (vv. 21-25).

In verses 26-29 Jesus described the power of his word in the lives of those who hear, bringing repentance and faith.

Jesus then taught (vv. 30-32) that in the present age the number of those who believe and grow in maturity will continue to increase.

Mark then relayed Jesus’ miracle of the calming of the seas (vv. 35-41), which reinforced Jesus’ credentials as the Christ, the Son of God.

Truths to Nail Down and Apply

  1. Through parables Jesus concealed truth that his true disciples would either grasp or ask the meaning about, but his enemies would not understand (vv. 10-12, 33-34; cf. Matt 13:10-17).
  2. Each parable makes one point and the parable’s details must be understood in relation to that one point.
  3. The crucial issue with Jesus’ teaching is how will you respond? You will either believe or disbelieve. What your life is like (its character) and what you do (actions) show what your response to Jesus really is.

Today’s Devotional: Mark 3

You can download this week’s entire Daily Devotional in booklet form here.

Here Mark continues his account of Jesus’ ministry in the region of Galilee, especially noting how the Jewish religious establishment hated and opposed him.

When Jesus healed a man with a severely handicapped hand in a synagogue, the Pharisees (traditionalist Jewish leaders who did not like Rome) joined forces with the Herodians (Jews who aligned with Rome’s leader, Herod) to destroy Jesus (vv. 1-6).

When Jesus moved to the Sea of Galilee multitudes from throughout Israel sought him out (7-12). Jesus healed many and cast out demons, and though demon-possessed individuals knew and said who Jesus really was, Jesus would not allow them to give such testimony (cf. Psalm 50:16-17).

Jesus then chose from among all who followed him twelve men as his disciples. He trained and sent these out to proclaim throughout Israel that Jesus was Israel’s promised King and Messiah. Jesus gave them the ability to do miracles proving he was the Messiah (vv. 13-19).

As Jesus continued to do miracles—especially casting out demons—the religious leaders said that Jesus was able to cast out demons because he was controlled by Satan (vv. 22, 30). Jesus rebuked their foolish thinking (vv. 23-27) and judged them for their unbelief (vv. 28-30).

Only those who hear, believe, and obey Jesus will be blessed (vv. 31-35).

Truths to Nail Down and Apply

  1. God’s enemies may not like each other for any number of practical reasons, but they are united in their hatred of and opposition to the Lord.
  2. The “unpardonable sin” the “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” was when the Jewish religious leaders believed that Jesus was controlled by Satan, not the Holy Spirit (vv. 22, 29-30).
  3. Family is important, but they are not as important as hearing, believing, and obeying God’s will (vv. 31-35). Jesus did not let family keep him from doing God’s will.

Today’s Devotional: Mark 2

You can download this week’s entire Daily Devotional in booklet form here.

Mark focuses the readers’ attention on Jesus’ ministry in regions that included both Jews as well as Gentiles. In addition to Jesus’ ministry, Mark here also shows the Jewish leaders’ growing opposition to Jesus.  

Jesus entered Capernaum, a significant city in the region of Galilee and in Jesus’ ministry. While preaching in a packed home that he was Israel’s promised Messiah (vv. 1-2), Jesus told a paralytic that his sins were forgiven because the man believed that Jesus was the Messiah (vv. 3-5). Religious leaders present viewed Jesus as blaspheming, saying he was equal with God (vv. 6-7). Jesus rebuked them and proved he had the authority to forgive sins by healing the paralytic (vv. 8-12).  

Jesus then went to the Sea of Galilee to continue teaching (v. 13). On the way there he called a Jewish tax-collector, Levi (Matthew), to follow him as one of his disciples (v. 14). Matthew had a big dinner for Jesus and invited many other tax collectors and those who did not obey the Mosaic Law to join them (v. 15). This greatly offended the religious leaders (v. 16) but Jesus rebuked them and explained his purpose (v. 17).  

Some of John the Baptist’s disciples came to Jesus and asked why Jesus’ disciples did not fast like they and the Pharisees did (v. 18). Jesus answered in verses 19-20 by referring to how weddings were done then. The wedding party did not eat (“fasted”) until the bridegroom came, then they ate. Jesus used the Baptist’s own words to explain that he, Jesus, was the Bridegroom (cf. John 3:29), and so there was no need to pray and fast for the Messiah to come—he was here! Jesus then said (vv. 21-22) that he came to establish a new order (the Law of Christ, 1 Cor 9:21) that would replace—not be superimposed on—the old order (the Law of Moses).  

As Jesus and his disciples passed through a grain field on the Sabbath the disciples ate some of the grain (v. 23). The Pharisees had previously interpreted that as “harvesting” and thus breaking the command not to work on the Sabbath (v. 24). However, because Jesus is God he has the authority to say how the Sabbath command should be correctly interpreted and applied (vv. 25-28).    

Truths to Nail Down and Apply

  1. Jesus forgives the sins of those who truly trust in him. Do you? Are your sins forgiven?
  2. Verse 16 is sometimes used to justify Christians going to bars, etc. Jesus was in Matthew’s home and the “sinners” were invited by Matthew. The whole point of the get-together was to introduce Matthew’s unbelieving contacts to Jesus—a great pattern to follow!
  3. The law of Christ is Christ’s demands and expectations of his followers (the NT; cf. John 15:12; Rom 8:2; 1 Cor 9:21; Gal 6:2; Jam 1:25; 2:12; 2 Pet 3:2).
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