Passage: Mark 14:3-9
Key verse: Mark 14:3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.
In the days leading up to Jesus’ death on the cross, He taught some of the greatest lessons of His earthly ministry. At Bethany, days before His crucifixion, Jesus was annointed for burial by a woman willing to give all she had. Here we can all learn about sacrifice.
While some plotted to kill Jesus, His disciples remained in denial about His certain death, despite many warnings. The woman at Bethany, however, stood apart from everyone else. Her concern was not with who would be the greatest, or how much money she could get for selling her oil. Her mind was set on full devotion to Jesus. Sitting at the feet of the Lord, she annointed Him with the costly oil. It’s a picture of how much more He meant to her than her earthly possessions did.
Are you willing to give it all in full devotion to Jesus Christ? Can you say that you’ve given your whole life to Him? Is following Him more important than anything else? Jesus gave Himself, suffering on a cross, willing to be considered cursed, for the sake of our reconciliation with God. Heaven was bankrupted of its most precious treasure all for us. Now what are we willing to give up?
Ephesians 4:11-13 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
The idea of gifting and that each person has a unique gifting is certainly a familiar one; however, there is a good chance that we need to widen our perspective. Take all of Ephesians 3 and the first section of chapter 4 as your context. Paul describes the radical love of Christ in chapter 3, and then goes on to make several radical statements about how the church is supposed to represent that love. Our lives ought to be worthy of this calling, and it is with that foundation that Christ gifted each of us.
In 4:12, we see the purpose clearly – we have our gifts so that we can be equipped for service, and so that the Body might be built up for Christ’s glory. Verse 13 tells us what each man must do. In present day language, it might go something like this:
“Look, each one of you has a skill set. But those skills and gifts are not an end in themselves. We have been called by Christ and given our lives to Him, and our purpose now is to create, in our interactions and daily lives, a picture for the world to see that represents the Love that has been showered on us. Every man must apply himself to growing in Christ. Just as children grow physically, we need to grow spiritually so that each part of the Body is mature and functioning. The people in Ephesus that don’t know Jesus, they should be drawn in by their interactions with you, and that will happen when each of us pursues Christ above all else.”
Don’t be passive. You have certain strengths that will bless other people. Those strengths must be put into action, and they must be under the headship of Christ and used with this over-arching perspective.
———- In what area of ministry are you currently using your God-given gifts and abilities?
Habakkuk 2:18 What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols!
As we look through the Old Testament of the Bible and see many examples of idol worship, it’s easy to arrogantly think that we’ve come so far from that way of life. It seems so silly that someone would fashion an idol out of wood or bronze and then worship something that they had just created. We know in our minds that God is the one worthy of worship as the Creator, but still we do worship the created.
Don’t think that this is true today? How about extreme environmentalism where man worships the earth, which God created? Or how about trusting in money to get you everything you want from position to health to security? Some of us even worship our own children, building our entire lives around their little needs and wants. We do worship idols that aren’t worthy of our full devotion. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of the earth, earning money, or loving your children. All of those are good things. But when they are the main focus of our lives, they are our gods.
Habakkuk rightly points out the absurdity of putting our trust in and directing our worship towards idols we’ve created and expecting them to better our lives somehow. Only God Himself is worthy to be praised and He deserves our full attention and devotion.
Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Our God is eternal. He has existed from before time and will continue in existence for all eternity. From everlasting to everlasting He is God. You’ve probably heard this truth before, but have you taken the time to meditate on it?
There’s assurance in the fact that the God to whom we belong has always been and will always be. He knew you before there was a you. He’s aware of your every struggle and He cares about your every pain.
Unlike the false gods of this world, our God lives and cannot die. He is present in your life and seeks a deeper relationship with you, His child. Take comfort in knowing that the Creator of all things has everything under His control. He is capable of being our dwelling place because He is eternal and unchanging. Abide in Him.
Continue reading Everlasting to Everlasting
1 Corinthians 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
Every bit of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, points us to Jesus. The foreshadowing given, the pictures painted, all are for the glory of God and to teach us about His character. The Old Testament and the Law set up the coming Christ and His fulfillment of the Law. Study of God’s Word can teach us lessons we never realized could be learned from these stories.
Paul shows us, in His letter to the church in Corinth, that the story of Moses in the wilderness with the children of Israel is more than just a story. The rock that Moses struck (Exodus 17:6) was more than just a rock, and this was more than just God showing His power. This, like so many other biblical illustrations, points us to Jesus, who is The Rock. In Him we find living water, water better than that which flowed to the thirsty people of Israel.
But this is also an illustration of what happens when we corrupt what is of God and celebrate it as man’s own (Numbers 20:10-11). The story of Moses striking the rock when God told him only to speak to it is a look at how we can be so quick to disobey God and make an idol out of our own achievements. Moses knew that once he had make water come from a rock by striking it with his stick, so when God told him to speak to the rock, Moses disobeyed and tried to repeat his previous feat. Moses took what was good and corrupted it. You know the rest of the story, he didn’t get to enter into the promised land with his people. Even with a great man like Moses, God didn’t tolerate idolatry.
Jesus is the true Rock, He is the source of all things good. Because we’ve experienced His goodness in the past, we can be too quick to assume that we had something to do with the blessings and try to get the same results in our own strength. This is idolatry, making ourselves into our own gods. There is only one Rock that has the water of life, and it’s Jesus.
Luke 2:47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
Even at a very young age, Jesus had a way about Him that amazed those with whom He had interactions. There was just something about Him. One can only guess what it would have been like to live around Him when He was only a child, but the Word tells us that even back then He was something else.
As Jesus visited the temple as a child, He asked questions of the experts and discussed heavy theological matters with them. The people in that temple probably would have been impressed with an adult that had the knowledge and wisdom that Jesus displayed, but for it to be coming from a child… They’d never seen such a thing! There they were discussing God with God face-to-face, and they didn’t even know it.
To experience Jesus is to be amazed by Him. It’s impossible to encounter Him and keep going along without any change, without even blinking. It’s impossible. To be with Jesus elicits awe and amazement. It makes one want to worship Him, not just carry on as usual. He’s the manifestation of God, the Lord’s revelation of Himself to man. How can we not be amazed when we see Him?
Luke 2:30-31 for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples
What must it have been like to wait for years and years with the promise of a Messiah to come, never knowing quite when He would arrive? Oh the faith of Simeon, to keep believing even into old age that God would keep His promise. Simeon is a good example of faith rewarded. He waited and he waited for the Promised One and then a day came when God allowed him to see Him with his own eyes. What a day that must have been for Simeon.
We know that he rejoiced and gave praise to God over the joyous occasion, but he also revealed that at this moment his life was complete. He had been promised that he would not see death until the Lord’s Christ had been born and there He was in front of Simeon, being presented at the temple. Simeon could die in peace. Are you so content with encountering Christ that you’d say you can die in peace right now because you’ve seen Him?
It’s a great occasion any time we get a taste of the Lord’s goodness. His salvation is a free gift that we can never earn and it comes only from Jesus Christ, and to experience this is something to sing about, to make a fuss over. But do we look at this as enough? Is your life complete now that you’ve seen the Lord’s salvation? For Simeon it was enough. There was nothing more that the world had to offer him that could even come close to meeting Jesus face to face. Somehow for us there is still a lot competing for our affections in this world, but the reality is that Jesus is enough and we should be content with Him. He’s all that we need.
Matthew 2:11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Long before Jesus was born, there was a group of people who studied the prophesies of the coming Messiah, hoping that one day they would be among those who would crown Him as king. The Magi were men of the east who had been watching for the Promised One for many years, each generation passing along the information to the next. Imagine being among those who finally got to see the Christ face to face. Imagine how that would make you feel. It would make you want to worship.
And so the wise men, as we call them, set out to find the child, for that very purpose. They longed to see Him and worship Him, bringing gifts with great significance. Because He was a King, they brought Him gold, because He was the great Healer, they brought Him frankincense, and because He would die for the sins of mankind, they brought Him myrrh. These were thoughtful gifts, they showed what the Magi thought of Jesus. They were not arbitrary.
So what will you bring before the King to lay down at His feet? What will you offer Him in worship?
Psalm 145:3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
Nobody’s perfect, right? Nobody is truly worthy of being praised. Well, not exactly. There is only one who is worthy of all honor we could possibly ever give Him and then infinitely more. The God of the universe, our Father, is worthy to be praised.
It’s not all about what He does for us – for that we give Him thanks. No, what we praise Him for is simply who He is. Just His character alone makes Him worthy of worship. So who is He?
He’s the beginning of all things, the eternal Creator, the sovereign and omniscient Lord who calls, commissions, protects, and provides. He’s omnipotent and omnipresent, the first among equals in the Trinity, knowable and yet unknowable, a place to find refuge and comfort.
He’s our portion, our treasure, our Father who adopts us into His family, so good and great and just that He disciplines us for our own sake. He makes no mistakes, shapes all things and brings all things to completion. He’s a holy judge who is patient and rules out of love. He is awesome. And He is worthy of all praise and honor and glory – forever and ever.
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
God is worthy of our worship. We know it because of who He is and what He’s done, but beyond that, there’s something within us that just knows. We are born with an inward hint pointing us to the greatness of God.
Look around you. Everywhere you look, the fingerprint of God is present. He’s evident in all of creation. The cells that form your body, the stars in the sky, the giant mountains spanning miles and miles of the earth. Even if you’d never heard of God, you’d know there’s Someone and you’d know that He’s deserving of your awe.
The Creator wants you to know Him. He’s got such a desire for you to turn to Him that He built you with a knowledge that He’s there. He wants you to take that knowledge, and the awe that comes with it, and seek Him out.
If you’ve lost your awe for the Creator, spend some time considering the creation. Look at the world around you and realize His greatness.