Mark 4:10-13 Jesus Helps Us to Understand, See, Hear, Feel, and Know God

Mark 4:10-13 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that
“they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?

 

1. How do you learn in school?

 

 

2. Do you think it is the same way you learn about God?

     Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

(1 Corinthians 2:12 cf. 1 Cor 3:18-23, Heb 6:1-3)

 

3. Do you think Jesus was calling his disciples stupid?

 

 

4. When do think the disciples finally understood Jesus?

     When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

     Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

(Acts 2:1-13 cf. Luke 24:49)

Series: I have made mentioned of our family devotions on the Internets and gotten a few requests for my notes. So that is what I am doing just that here. Every Wednesday as a regular weekly series, I will share my notes that I write in preparing for family devotions.

Influences: He Saved Us, Titus 3:3-7

All of our sins are laid bare before us.

When we truly see who we really are, we see our shunning of God’s wisdom; ignoring of God’s word; our turning away from His lovely face; our insistence to the crap the world has offer; our addiction to the pains and sickness; and our desires fueled by the love for ourselves at the increase of hate and apathy towards one another.

When we can honestly see, we see that these are the “gifts” we give to the Almighty God: the One True God who is swift in his justice, terrible in his holiness, unflinching in his righteousness and uncompromising to His own glory.

Why do we turn to such a God? He is the only one who can save us. He is the one who promises He will give life. He is the only one has the power to free us from slavery.

How do we turn to God? He said, “Ask of me, and it shall be done.” The moment we stop asking what He can give and ask for just Him, He gives exactly that. Himself. Himself truly and fully. He gave Himself over to us. Now we have him forever.

Our sins are long as the shoreline of all the worlds’ oceans. Our transgressions lay out from the beginning of the west and ending of the east. Our iniquities are as wide as the horizon.

The Majestic Triune steps into our broken lives, shattered cosmos and the fallen world and cuts that line into two.

 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
  righteousness and peace kiss each other.
 Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
  and righteousness looks down from the sky.
1

When He appeared, He saved us.

One and done.

Forevermore.

Titus 3:3-7 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Notes:

  1. Psalm 85:10-11

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 3

My God,

In my finite perception, my circumstances would seem to say I am in despair. I feel that. I feel that onslaught. I feel that pressure.

Many would say, ”Ah, your God has failed. Your God is not good. Your God does not deliver. Your God does not save.”

They would be wrong on all accounts.

When I turn away from all of my oppressors and turn towards you, I see the loveliness of your face. It is because of your presence, my soul is now at rest.

Your Son took all of my affliction and wrath and absorbed all the violence that can ever be dealt to me. I will see no punishment from you. I will see no anger from you. I will see no rejection from you. You will not forsake me. You will not forget me.

Salvation belongs to you, O Lord, for you are the mighty one to save.

Be with me, Lord. I have no one else to turn to. You alone have the words to eternal life.

By Your Son’s beautiful name,

Amen

Ps 3:1-8; Ps 23:1-6; Eph 6:12; Ps 17:15; Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 John 4:10; Josh 1:5; Jonah 2:9; Zeph 3:17

Series: As a young believer, I have not had the chance to read all the way through the Bible. The Psalms and Proverbs will be the last books before I finish the Old Testament in Ezekiel, Daniel, then Isaiah. As I read through the Psalms, I was struck by the very personal and intimate nature of the Psalms despite the deep theological, doctrinal, and Christocentric focus of the written songs themselves.  Using the Psalms as a mere template and an outline, how I would I respond? So doing just that, I began writing out prayers based on each of the Psalms.

Influences: Love Song – Psalm 119

Psalm 119 is the love song to God for all time.

It is the extended, smooth-out, quiet storm version. It’s the singer’s voice dropping to a bass-baritone. It is the passion towards the one the writer loves. It has the ultra-smooth whispers of sweet desires over the radio waves and the crackle of the vinyl in the extended beatdrop. This song is the mixtape track that says everything.

It was made for one person.

And it is all about His righteousness.

Why?

The psalmist is not in love with the law. The love was never directed towards a bunch of rules that they could never perfectly do. If I fail to do them all correctly, I have fallen. If I break one rule, I have failed. If fail to do one rule, then I separated from my precious love.

By the time I realized that there were some laws that supersedes my material reality, I have already failed. If I never realized the laws, then surely I have gone against my conscience and seared my conscience from time to time.

Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

What hope do I have?

How can I have faith?

Ah, but I have love.

I have love for the One who did it all.

I love the King who wrote the laws and perfectly followed them to the letter. And my lawgiving King doesn’t hold His law over my head. Instead, He showers me with His banner of love over my heart.

My King has me. He has it all. He just needs me to look into His eyes, hold his hands, and trust Him when He says, “Everything’s gonna be alright.”


Continue reading Influences: Love Song – Psalm 119

Here is Love: Necessary Surgery—Ezekiel 36:22-28

This is the good news for all time: that Jesus Christ has come to make all things right-standing with Him. 1

This is the unquenchable thirst of holiness: He will do so by saving His people from Him, by Him, for Him, through Him, and to Him forever and ever. 2

This is the weight of the glory: His word will be preached among the dead—the valley of dry bones—and  because He is life, he speaks life into the dead and those who were once dead, now they shall live! 3

This is His will: our sanctification. He will cause us to walk in His statutes and be careful to obey Him. This is not that we would behave well but so that we will be facing and connected to the Source of life so that in His presence we will have the fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore for His glory forevermore. 4

This is how He will do it: the Skilled Physician performs open heart surgery on each and every one of his precious children and places His life-giving Spirit into every heart opened by Him:

Ezekiel 36:22-28  “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

We were once dead. Good news: Jesus is alive. The same Spirit that raised Him from the dead is life because of righteousness. If that same Spirit that raised Him from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal, feeble, decaying bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 5

Vacuum to Breath of Life. Decaying to Growing. Sickly to Invincible. Death to Life.

By the Spirit alone and with the new breath, we proclaim:

That is love.

Notes:

  1. Romans 5:17; Romans 8:10; Romans 10:4; Romans 14:17; 2 Cor 5:21; Galatians 5:5
  2. Matt 1:21; Rom 11:36
  3. Isa 55:11; Eze 37:1-14; John 11:1-44; Eph 2:1-10
  4. Genesis 1-2; 1 Thess 4:3 Psalm 16:11
  5. Rom 8:12-13

Influences: The Apex of the Glory of God – Romans 8

All Scripture read.

Every instinct preached.

Every thought taught.

Any book studied.

Every sermon heard.

Every theology revealed.

Every doctrine learned.

Any and all things processed were with Romans 8 in my sight.

I have heard it said, “The Epistle to the Romans is the Himalayas of the Bible and with Romans 8 is the Everest.” Martin Luther calls Romans 8, “the clearest Gospel of them all”.

If I were to memorize any passage of Scripture, it is because I wanted to get to where I can memorize Romans 8.

Any passage memorized now is because I am camped out on the summit that is Romans 8.

Memorized it. Dwelled on it. Read about it. Focused on it. Prayed on it. Prayed using it. Recite it. Practiced preaching it.

I plan to write a multi-part blog series on the entirety of Romans 8 in a few weeks so I won’t expand on it here.

For now, enjoy your view of God’s glory.


Continue reading Influences: The Apex of the Glory of God – Romans 8

Influences: Walking Into Death, Walking Into Life – Ephesians 2:1-10

Either I was dead or I wasn’t.

Either I was following the course of this world or I wasn’t.

Either I was following Satan or I wasn’t.

Either I was a son of disobedience or I wasn’t.

If I deny to be any of those things or pretend I was not that bad off, then God did not come to save me.

Luke 5:31-32 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

What is life? Is it because I breathe air and have blood course through my veins? Animals do that. That cannot be life because our life ends in death. When we are born, we, as mankind, were destined to die.

Why did Jesus come into our world? To conquer sin? Sure, but that wasn’t a real problem to him. To conquer Satan and demons? Okay, but Satan and his demons are creature with finite powers and is subjected to the sovereign Lordship of God Almighty. To conquer hell? No, Jesus is Lord of all—heaven, earth and especially, hell.

Jesus came into our broken universe so that we might have life.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

You might say, “But I was already alive.” But is this life? Life that results in death. Life that has pain, confusion, heartbreak, sadness, brokenness, and sin? Can that really be life?

Jesus goes on in the Gospel of John to show exactly what he has come to do for all of us. 1

Jesus’ dear sweet friend Lazarus was dead. Not just any kind of dead, but four-days-in-the-ground dead. The funeral was scheduled. The crying and yelling was on. Hearts were shattered.

Friends trying to dictate what God should have done. They are trying to figure out, “Why didn’t God protect Lazarus? Why didn’t God heal Lazarus? Why did God take away Lazarus?”

In other words, “If God was really here, Lazarus would not have to die!”

Jesus told his peeps before, “I have come so that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus turns to us in all of our ‘God should have’s’, and calmly says, “I have come so that they may have life and have it abundantly. Don’t try to debate Ecclesiology with me right now. Listen to me. I have come so that you might have life right now and have life abundantly right now.”

In other words, “Do you want to see the glory of God?”

Christ’s tear ducts drained from his cries. His beard soaked with sorrow. His face flushed with sadness. His throat raw from anguish. He turns what appears to be facing his long dead friend. In actuality, Christ turns to look into the eyes of Death himself. Christ wipes the tears from his face. He looks over the split of two destinies that loom over his sweet friend: one into death and one into life. He unflinchingly stares down right at Death and gives the command, “Roll away this stone.”

Jesus Christ, Word Incarnate, Majestic Savior, and Triune with the Father and Spirit, cries out with loud voice and calls out, “Lazarus, come out!”

At one time, Lazarus followed the course of this world.

At one time, Lazarus followed Satan.

At one time, Lazarus was a son of disobedience.

At one time, Lazarus was dead.

However, the Sovereign Almighty Lord of Grace, Love, Mercy, Righteousness, Faithfulness, and Holiness would not abide by Death. Instead, He called out to his friend, whom he knew and love before the foundation of the world was in place, and spoke life into him.

We were once dead in our trespasses and sins.

We were once following the course of this world.

We were once following Satan.

We were once sons of disobedience.

However, the Sovereign Almighty Lord of Grace, Love, Mercy, Righteousness, Faithfulness, and Holiness would not abide by Death. Instead, He called out to you, his friend—his friend whom he has known and loved before the foundation of the world was in place, and spoke life into you.

Do you trust Him? Do you believe Him? Do you take God at his word? Then you are God’s and God is yours forever.

Ephesians 2:1-10 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Notes:

  1. see John 11:1-44

Not By Logic Alone

“The goal of bringing ourselves or others to a true and sin-conquering knowledge of God will never be reached by instrument of logic alone. Jesus sent Paul on an impossible mission. He said to Paul, ‘I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins’ (Acts 26:17-18). This is what happens when strongholds are destroyed, and arguments against the truth of God are overcome and thoughts are taken captive for Christ.

This is supernatural work. The eyes of the mind and heart do not open automatically. Logic alone cannot bring it about. That’s why Paul said, ‘No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit‘ (1 Cor 12:3). No logical argument for the lordship of Christ will bring about submission, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. This is also why Jesus responded to Peter’s recognition of him with the words, ‘Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven’ (Matt 16:17).”

John Piper. Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. Crossway, 2010. 125-126.

The Opposite of Barren Intellectualism is not Anti-Intellectualism

Ephesians 3:1-6 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Miss Auras by John Lavery
It is therefore futile counsel to tell the church that thinking is worthless. There is no reading without thinking. And there is no reading carefully and faithfully and coherently without thinking carefully and faithfully and coherently. The remedy for barren intellectualism is not anti-intellectualism, but humble, faithful, prayerful, Spirit-dependent, rigorous thinking.

John Piper. Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. Crossway, 2010. 123.