RE Verse reading–Mark 5:22-43 (day one)
“A large crowd followed and pressed around him. A woman. . .came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. . .at once Jesus realized that power had gone out of him.” (vs 24,27, 30) It is THE most impressive characteristic of Jesus. Ok, one of the most. He was never in a hurry. Never stressed by outward pressure or deadlines or urgent needs stacking up around him. Modern folks talk about being “present in the moment”. Jesus knew how to do it, even before it was cool. A calm heart comes from inward concentration on God, inward confidence in God. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee” (Isaiah 26:3) As the New Year comes, with all of its demands, may we learn this lesson from the Savior–we can be calm in pressure-filled situations when our mind is stayed on God. Be still, dear friends, be still.
RE Verse reading–Mark 5:1-20 (day seven)
“For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart.” (vs 4) It is a sad story. Sadder because it is still being repeated. People try to help others and sometimes only make it worse. The Gerasenes had not ignored the demoniac. Not at first. They had tried to subdue him. Like locking a person up. But it didn’t work. He was so maniacal that he tore the chains apart and moved further away from society, more of a danger to himself and others than before. We live in this same world–a world where people without help and hope get guns and hurt school children. Only Christ can do the healing that is needed. Only Christ can free a person from this kind of torment. “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21) May the Lord teach us to give real and much-needed help.
RE Verse reading–Mark 5:1-20 (day six) “(They) told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man–and about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.” (vs 16-17) Almost comic! The people of Geresa are more concerned about the pigs who drown than the man who was healed/restored. I get it. A herd of 2000 pigs is worth alot of money. Perhaps, the Lord did not cause the “pig suicide”–the blame for that resting with the destructive demons. Even so, it is strange that the people are so unimpressed with the salvation of a person and so overly concerned that the Lord’s Kingdom might cost them something at the bottom line. We sacrifice pigs all the time for physical health. Bacon. Ham. Why not spiritual health? All of us must choose what matters most–possessions or LIFE. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36 )
RE Verse reading–Mark 5:1-20 (day five)
In the New Testament, the most effective evangelists were individuals who were faithful to tell “their story”. John 4 (The woman at the well) and John 9 (the man born blind) are 2 examples of people faithfully sharing about their encounter with Jesus. The Christian faith is more about biography than theology. When believers share their own story and experience with The Living Savior, the Kingdom grows. Each story of a human heart changed and shaped by Jesus gives witness to a great and glorious God rescuing the human race one life at a time. The Bible ends with this reminder: Revelation 12:11 – “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” There is such power in the Work of Christ and the Words of His followers. Will you share “your story” with someone who has not heard?
RE Verse reading–Mark 5:1-20 (day four)
Jesus had taken His disciples to an area known as the Decapolis. It was a region of ten cities on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. The Decapolis was a gentile region…a place where mainly Greek-speaking Roman soldiers could have protection from militant Jews. When Jesus entered the region, it was a completely pagan land. After the experience with the demoniac, who had legions of demons within him, the townspeople responded…just as you would expect a pagan culture to respond…they asked Jesus to leave the area. As Jesus prepared to go, the former demoniac requested to go with Him, but Jesus gave him an assignment…go and tell others in the region what Jesus had done. If we fast forward to Mark 7:31, when Jesus returns to the area, we find the reception is much different. They come looking for Jesus. The former demoniac had been a faithful and effective witness. We have the same commandment!
RE Verse reading–Mark 5:1-20 (day three)
“No one could bind him anymore.” Leaks always get bigger, tears always get wider, and corrosion always goes deeper. When our machinery or equipment fails, the breakdown is simply the outcome of neglecting to address breaches, rips, or rust. You can’t patch forever. There comes a time when you must repair. In our society, greed becomes more insistent, lust becomes more insatiable, and anger becomes more destructive. We patch these things with money or serial marriages or blaming others, but the day comes when people break. And society breaks. And no one can bind it anymore. In a society that is well, no one lives among the tombs. But healing from the Savior will come with the burden of submitting our will to his. This is what the people of the Gerasenes were afraid of. So they decided to keep on patching.
RE Verse reading–Mark 5:1-20 (day two)
“No one was strong enough to subdue him” (Mark 5:4). What’s the difference between a terrorist bomb and a car engine? One unleashes explosive power with destructive effect, while the other harnesses explosive power for a productive effect. Power out of control tears down. Power under control builds up. Freedom without authority is anarchy and breeds destruction. Freedom under authority is peace and brings fruitfulness. The same principle is at work in your life and mine. If we would know the productive potential of our lives, we must also kneel before the Man who commands demons, disaster and disease. There is a reason that both wise men and demon possessed men bow before the one Man, Jesus Christ. He alone is able to harness all the forces, good and evil, that make up our life. Can you even imagine the good that would come from the explosive power of your life harnessed by His command?
RE Verse reading–Mark 5:1-20 (day one)
“Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ” (vs 8) It is a miracle story. It is also a picture of salvation. For people who are demon-possessed, and for those who are trapped/broken in other ways. It must have been frightful! Naked, irrational man runs at you screaming the moment you arrive in a new country. Complicated situation. Not too complicated for Christ. He talks with him. He begins a careful and confident search for the man inside the tangle of conflicted words and actions. What is YOUR name? the Lord says to the the man in an effort to establish contact with the real him, the one who had been captured and confused for so long. “Thou art a God who sees!” (ELROI–Genesis 16:13) Sees what? Value! Potential! Purpose! What great good news! Beneath the fears and the mistakes and the wasted years, He sees the me that He came to redeem.
RE Verse reading–Mark 2: 13-17 (day seven)
“He said to him, ‘Follow me!’ And he got up and followed Him. And. . .many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him.” (vs 14-15) When Jesus called Levi to follow, it set off a chain reaction. Soon Levi’s friends (many!) were introduced to Christ and they followed Him too. Every believer has this same power and potential for service. In Matthew 13, Jesus speaks of the man who “bears fruit. . .some a hundred times more, some sixty and some thirty.” (vs 23) Levis’ story reminds us that people are the fruit that Christ values most. The old saying goes, “Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple, but no one can count the number of apples in a seed”. Every converted soul has this same amazing opportunity. When we follow Christ, we should influence others to do the same.
RE Verse reading–Mark 2:13-17 (day six)
“And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them. As He passed by, He saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth.” (vs 13-14) It is a characteristic trait of Christ. He dealt with crowds and still noticed individuals. Even when days were packed with people and pressure, Jesus took time to notice the people who could use some extra attention. Had Levi signaled his interest by showing up whenever the Lord spoke? Did the Lord see the spiritual hunger in Levi’s eyes? We don’t know. What is clear from this story is that the Lord looked at huge crowds and saw individual needs. Do we? Do we notice the child who needs a little extra attention? Do we see the business man who is searching for light? May the Lord give us His eyes and His heart of love.