Believe, and Believe for Your Life!

“That sad and yet blissful hour when Abraham was to take leave of all that was dear to him, when yet once more he was to lift up his head, when his countenance would shine like that of the Lord, when he would concentrate his whole soul in a blessing which was potent to make Isaac blessed all his days–this time would not come! For he would indeed take leave of Isaac, but in such a way that he himself would remain behind; death would separate them, but in such a way that Isaac remained its prey. The old man would not be joyful in death as he laid his hands in blessing upon Isaac, but he would be weary of life as he laid violent hands upon Isaac. And it was God who tried him. Yea, woe, woe unto the messenger who had come before Abraham with such tidings! Who would have ventured to be the emissary of this srrow? But it was God who tried Abraham.

Yet Abraham believed, and believed for this life. Yea, if his faith had been only for a future life, he surely would have cast everything away in order to hasten out of this world to which he did not belong. But Abraham’s faith was not of this sort, if there be such a faith; for really this is not faith but the furthest possibility of faith which has a presentiment of its object at the extremest limit of the horizon, yet is separated from it by a yawning abyss within which despair carries on its game. But Abraham believed precisely for this life, that he was to grow old in the land, honored by the people, blessed in his generation, remembered forever in Isaac, his dearest thing in life, whom he embraced with a love for which it would be a poor expression to say that he loyally fulfilled the father’s duty of loving the son, as indeed is evinced in the words of the summons, “the son whom thou lovest.” Jacob had twelve sons, and one of them he loved; Abraham had only one, the son whom he loved.”

 – Søren Kierkegaard. Fear and Trembling, 2012. Kindle 180.

Mark 1:4-7 Jesus Baptizes With the Holy Spirit

Mark 1:4-7 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 

What do you think John meant by “Christ will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”?

What does it mean if the Holy Spirit (Spirit of God) is in your heart and with you always?

Parents: I know I am assuming a lot when it comes to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, not knowing your religious background, upbringing or your church’s stance on the Holy Spirit. Parents, simply do a word search on the Spirit (as oppose to spirit, see Romans 8:16) and talk about this distinct person of the Holy Spirit. Emphasize, while we can’t see him (like the Father), he is fully God and does a real work in our hearts when we are saved to God.

Note: I originally posted this as Mark 1:4-11 and suddenly remembered that passage better serves as two distinct conversation: Who is the Holy Spirit (this post) and What is the Trinity? (next post). For posterity sake, I have taken the liberty of updating the old post, splitting into two, re-titling both and posting up. Sorry for the confusion. Enjoy. –Ed.

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.

Mark 1:2-3 Jesus Will Be Here Soon

Mark 1:2-3 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

500 years before Jesus came as a little baby, the entire Old Testament spoke of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said it himself:

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Christ interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27

Can you think of any place in the Old Testament that was similar to Jesus? What about David, Ruth, Solomon, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Isaiah?

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.

Mark 1:1 Jesus is the Good News

Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Lets go through this grand introduction, idea by idea.

The beginning

Who wrote Mark?

Who is Mark
Mark is said to be the writer for Peter

What does Mark write about?
Mark testifies about Christ Jesus

Each of the Gospels tells a different perspective about Jesus:

Matthew – Jesus is King (Lion of Judah)
Mark – Jesus is Servant (The Ox)
Luke – Jesus is Man (The Human)
John – Jesus is God (The Eagle)

In Mark, we are going to talk about all that Jesus did (like a Servant, like a hard working ox) for us, in us, and through us for the glory of God.

of the gospel

What is the gospel?
Parents: This is the good news—that God has done everything to save His people to Himself forever. All we need to do is trust in Him, believe in Him and love Him and know that everything He does is for His glory and our joy. If God is not out for His glory, we are never free to have joy. But since He is for His glory and His name sake and not just for us, we have the fullness of the freedom to love, worship and trust in Him joyfully. The Bible is not a bunch of rules. The Bible is all about Jesus Christ. The Bible speaks on who exactly God is, what He has done and what He will do.

The question is: do you want in on the fun? Do you wanna come play and be in continuous awe, wonder, joy and love of His glory? Come on. Let’s go.

Jesus Christ

Parents: What we will see in Mark is basically little bitty tightly wounded passages that speak of all that God has done. Now, if you have read any part of the Old Testament, these little passages in Mark are merely the OT in bite size chicken nuggets, except they are much more tasty and actually good for you. In other words, you are going to see these little passages of “Jesus did this” and “Jesus did that” solidifying what God did in the OT.

Who is Jesus Christ?

Son of God

Parents: Ah what an audacious claim. In America, some of us were not blessed with good dads that love Jesus. Some of us got dads that were not so perfect and sometimes, there is a struggle not to compare God as Father in light of our earthly dads when in fact it should be the other way around. As we might struggle with that, the culture of the Middle East struggles with Jesus Christ as being the Son of God. That is highly offensive to them. How could Jesus Christ claim to be the Son of God. For Christ to be the Son of God is Christ declaring He is One with the Father.

I and the Father are one. John 10:30

Yet, as Athanasius (early church father) so boldly declare:

The Son of God became man so that men might become sons of God.

What does it mean to be a son of God? Are you an adopted son of God? Are you his precious child? Are you his little boy and his little girl?

If you believe and trust in Him, what He said, what His Son did, then yes, you are his little kid—forever.

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.

Signed in Blood

The keynote in the mouth of every prophet-preacher, whether in Isaiah’s day or Jesus’ day or our day, is, “Your God reigns!” God is the king of the universe. God is the king of the universe. He has absolute Creator rights over this world and everyone in it. But there is rebellion and mutiny on all sides, and his authority is scorned by millions. So the Lord sends preachers into the world to cry out that God reigns, that he will not suffer his glory to be scorned indefinitely, that he will vindicate his name in great and terrible wrath, but that for now a full and free amnesty is offered to all the rebel subjects who will turn from their rebellion, call on him for mercy, bow before his throne, and swear allegiance and fealty to him forever. The amnesty is signed in the blood of his Son.

John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Revised Edition. Baker Books, 2004.26-27.

The Hidden Cry of the Soul

People are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: “Show me thy glory!”

John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Revised Edition. Baker Books, 2004. 13.

Worship Beyond Singing

More than ever I believe in preaching as a part of worship in the gathered church. Preaching is worship, and it belongs in the regular worship life of the church no matter the size of the church. In the small church it does not become conversation or “sharing.” In the megachurch it does not become hype and jingles. Preaching is worshiping over the Word of God—the text of Scripture—with explanation and exultation.

John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Revised Edition. Baker Books, 2004. 9.

The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper, A Thought

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:2-5

You know something? I don’t have to preach like anybody else I have ever heard.

I get to make much of God when I proclaim His Word. I get to lift Christ on high and know nothing except him crucified. I get to be totally and utterly dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit.

What a joy it is to preach the passage at hand. What a relief it is that I don’t have to mention the verse once in the sermon, then go on my own diatribe and spit out my own opinions. What heart-filled gladness that I can see the magnificence of God exalted and in falling so short, I would my very best to explain to others what I am seeing.

But oh, how naïve of me: to be called to preach but only preached just a few sermons. Every single little opportunity savored, gracious and humbled to get that one shot to preach the gospel of God—well, that is maybe your one and only shot. You may not be asked back. You might be barred from preaching there ever again. You might not make it back to preach again next Sunday.

But you get another try at it. God’s grace abounds and you get one more chance to love, serve, and feed His flock. You get to swallow your pride and open your heart and mind and let His Spirit work through you.

So, what are you going to do with that one shot?

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; 2 Timothy 4:1-2a