#18: In His Presence

Welcome to our study, Knowing Jesus! Have you ever wondered what it was like to be in Jesus’ presence? Let’s read from the Word.

Read Mark 3:7-12. Also read Matthew 9:35-36 and 12:15-21.

The Jewish leaders’ foul attitude toward Jesus hadn’t lessened the crowds’ fascination. People came from great distances to see Jesus, hear Him teach, and witness His miracles. They jostled and pushed to be near Him, to touch Him, to be healed by Him. So strong was their press that Jesus asked the disciples to keep a boat ready in case the surging crowd pushed Him into the sea!

How many were drawn to Jesus during the few years of His ministry? How many, like the woman described in Mark 5:25-34, were instantly made well by touching Him? How many, tormented by demons, were freed by simply being near Him—His sheer power forcing evil spirits to fall before Him and confess His name (Mk. 3:11)?

The word used for “diseases” (Mk. 3:10) is an interesting one; in all but one other New Testament uses it means to scourge or flog, as to whip a prisoner. Satan has often “whipped” men through disease or weakness, beating down and discouraging them. Jesus’ presence provided a refuge, a healing place, hope against despair. Read More

#17: Envy—Four Ways to Beat It (Part 2)

My friend was giving me a grand tour of her newly-built house. I do mean grand. Every room was beautiful from lofty ceiling to gleaming floor. Even the garage was perfect.

Walking through her large living room, I heard the first whisper in my heart: “Wow, look at that gorgeous fireplace. I always wanted a fireplace in the living room.” In about the fifth bedroom, the whisper got a little louder. “How many bedrooms does she need? I mean really….” By the end of the tour, the voice was shouting, “It’s not fair! Two kitchens—both nicer than mine? And a pool? and a hot tub? What did she do to deserve this?” Thinking back on it, I’m ashamed of the unfriendly thoughts I aimed at my beloved friend’s back. The green-eyed monster was crawling all over me.

As we learned yesterday, when someone else’s good news is my bad news, envy is on the move. It can bite anytime, anywhere. Its poison spreads quickly.

We can disguise it as moral indignation (“Nobody needs a car that expensive; it’s just sinful.”). We can feed it, letting it gnaw on our minds. We can give it a feast, nursing our “right” to resentment. But can we overcome it? Read More

#17: Envy—Four Ways it Destroys (Part 1)

Glad you’re here, joining in as we begin studying Mark 3 in Knowing Jesus!

Envy—nicknamed “the green-eyed monster”—has been gnawing on humans since Eden, when satan’s siren song enticed Eve to eat forbidden fruit out of desire to have what belonged to God. Envy bites us all at times, and will devour us if unchecked.

How did Jesus react to envy? What would He want our reaction to be? Let’s find out.

Read Mark 3:1-6. Then look at the same account in Matthew 12:9-14 and Luke 6:6-11.

Jealous over Jesus’ popularity, the Jewish leaders had taken to following Him, looking for reasons to accuse Him. On this Sabbath, they were positively salivating, knowing that in the synagogue’s assembly was just the sort of victim Jesus loved to heal. If they could successfully lure Jesus to “work” on the Sabbath by healing a shriveled hand in front of many witnesses—hah!—they would have Him dead to rights. Read More

#16: Getting to Know Jesus

Welcome to Knowing Jesus, our Wednesdays In the Word study through the book of Mark. We’re on a quest to understand holy living through the example of Jesus—God in flesh. Last week, we completed Mark 2. Let’s sum up what we’ve learned. Read More

Five Ideas for Alphabet Fun!

Fall is almost here! School is about to start—or maybe has already started in your area. Time for morning wake-up calls, sleepy breakfasts, packed lunches, and loaded back packs. (Do you welcome the return to routine? Or would you keep summer’s carefree days a little longer if you could?)

In the back-to-school spirit, combine fun and learning with these five alphabet activities for kids and their parents, grandparents, or caregivers.

Read More

#15: The Heart of the Matter

Welcome to Knowing Jesus, our study through the book of Mark. Are you seeing Jesus more clearly as we go? I pray so. (Remember that earlier posts in this series are in the archives. Take a look, if you’ve missed any!) Grab your Bible. There’s more to learn!

Read Mark 2:23-28.
Also, take a moment to read Matthew 12:1-8 and Luke 6:1-5.

Last week, we saw Jesus urge the hard-hearted Pharisees to let go of rigid legalism and open their hearts to His “law” of love. This was challenging for people who had grown up submerged in the Law plus a myriad of added rabbinical rules. Their brand of righteousness was exhausting work—an unscalable mountain of do’s and don’ts.

Today’s scripture shows one specific instance of Jesus’ way clashing with their way. Read More

#14: New Wine

Happy Wednesday! Welcome to Knowing Jesus, our study through Mark’s gospel. Last week we saw Jesus criticized for hanging out with “sinners.” Today, we’ll see Him tell His critics, “Get used to it. I haven’t come to bring more of the old. I’ve come to bring the new!” Let’s read.

Read Mark 2:18-22.
Also look at Matthew 9:14-17 and Luke 5:33-39.

A group of people approached Jesus asking, “Why don’t your disciples fast? The Pharisees and their followers do, and so do John’s disciples. Why don’t yours?” The Law required fasting (going without food for spiritual purposes) one day a year—the Day of Atonement. Jewish tradition had added a load of ceremonial fasts. By Jesus’ day, some Jews fasted twice a week, making a show of righteousness and imposing the same “proof of holiness” on others. (See Isaiah 1:11-17; Matthew 6:16-18; 23:1-32; Luke 18:9-14.)

They were sure they had godliness nailed. They knew the signs and they practiced them. Anyone who didn’t, they despised as ungodly. Then Jesus turned their neat religious world upside down. They couldn’t understand Him. In their view, He might talk the right talk, but He didn’t walk the right walk. Read More

For TYMs: One simple way to build lasting family memories

When our three boys were very young, I read a wonderful, warm book about creating family traditions. I loved the concept, but felt overwhelmed by the elaborate preparation and expense involved in many of the ideas. I knew if we could do those things, we’d have some great memories (not to mention some great photos for scrapbooking). I also knew I didn’t have the energy, time or money to follow through week after week, month after month, or year after year. I finished the book feeling like an inspired failure.

Looking back now I can see that, in the midst of the mundane, our family accomplished the same thing! We didn’t set out to establish traditions or make memories. We were just having fun together. The memories happened on their own through little repeated moments I’ll call “tiny traditions.”

Family traditions are defined as “shared, repeated occasions that bind families together, creating memories and a deep affection for home.” Some are intricate and costly. But tiny traditions happen almost accidentally. Your family shares a moment you all enjoy. Then it happens again—and again. You all recognize how great the moment feels, and you want to repeat it. It happens again, this time on purpose. Voila! A tiny tradition is born.

Here are examples from our family. Read More

#13: An Example of Grace

Glad you’re joining us for Knowing Jesus—our study on Mark. If you’ve ever felt the sting of judgmental attitudes, you’ll appreciate the theme of today’s study. Christians who have been saved by God’s mercy can be very unmerciful! Let the hard-hearted example of the Pharisees remind us to keep our hearts soft and our opinions gracious.

Read Mark 2:13-17.
Then read Luke 5:27-32 and Matthew’s own account in Matthew 9:9-13.

Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, one of His favorite places. He spent a lot of time on or near this sea and logged many miles walking its shores. He’d become acquainted with local folks—fishermen, sail makers, merchants and customs collectors—many of whom were in the crowds listening as He taught. In fact, several fishermen were now among His disciples. Read More

#12: The Heart-Reader

Welcome back to our study on Mark! My prayer is that each week you’re getting to know Jesus better. Today we’ll see Jesus’ insight into our hearts, needs and motives. Open your Bible and take a look at Jesus, the Heart-Reader.

Read Mark 2:1-12.
Also read Matthew 9:1-7 and Luke 5:17-26 for different views of the same event.

News raced through Capernaum: Jesus was back in town! On His last visit, Jesus had healed many of the townspeople, starting with a demon-possessed man in their synagogue (Mark 1:21-38). This time, the people didn’t wait for a Sabbath. They came straight to Jesus—a crowd so thick that every available space was taken. Even the doorway was packed. Pharisees and teachers of the law from all over Galilee and Judea were there also, with motives of their own (Lk. 5:17).

Jesus began to teach. The people listened intently until their attention was drawn away by dust—and then pieces of ceiling—falling in front of Jesus. Within minutes, daylight streamed in through a large opening in the flat clay roof. Then something began descending through the hole. A mat—and on the mat, a man. Peering down through the opening above were four anxious faces of the rope-holders.

At this point, we see Jesus reading the intent of three parties in the story. Read More