The Person of Jesus is of the utmost importance! He challenged His disciples regarding this in Mark 8:27-30: “And Jesus went out, and His disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way He asked His disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto Him, Thou art the Christ. And He charged them that they should tell no man of Him.” Matthew 16:16 includes in Peter’s recognition of Who Jesus is, this additional statement: “the Son of the living God.” This Truth is one of the most essential doctrines in the Bible! Son of God and God the Son displays both unity and deity. If He is not God, we humans have no hope and no help! Only an infinite God, Who is sinless, could be an adequate sacrifice to fully atone for all human sin and make salvation possible for whosoever will receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. Those who truly receive Him have no doubt that He is sinless and that He is God. Henry Collins shares his response to Jesus in his hymn, “Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All.” “Jesu, my Lord, my God, my all, hear me, blest Saviour, when I call; hear me, and from Thy dwelling-place pour down the riches of Thy grace. Jesu, too late I Thee have sought, how can I love Thee as I ought? And how extol Thy matchless fame, the glorious beauty of Thy name? Jesu, what didst Thou find in me, that Thou hast dealt so lovingly? How great the joy that Thou hast brought, so far exceeding hope or thought! Jesu, of Thee shall be my song, to Thee my heart and soul belong; all that I am or have is Thine, and Thou, sweet Saviour, Thou art mine. Jesu, my Lord, I Thee adore, O make me love Thee more and more.” Selah! We can have a personal relationship with God through His Son. If you have that relationship, has the wonder of it gripped your soul? Ron
Blindness is a very difficult burden to bear. It can be healed only by miracle and in a few cases by doctors. Some have to be blind all their lives. When one is healed, what a cause for rejoicing and gratitude. Jesus did this for a man in Mark 8:22-26: “And He cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him. And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that He put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And He sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.” When that man awoke that morning, he probably had no idea what he would experience that day. That night, he was likely so thrilled and excited that He found sleep evasive. It was a tremendous miracle! There is a blindness far worse than this man’s. We are born with it and it can only be healed by miracle. It is the blindness of being dead, spiritually. Without the miracle of Spiritual rebirth, it will never be healed in time or eternity! The Spirit of God shines some light into our spiritual blindness. He gives a hint of the possibility of spiritual healing, if we respond positively to the amount of light that He has given. Those who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord are cured and they have overwhelming joy and gratefulness. I’m sure that this is what Eugene M. Bartlett had in mind when he penned the second stanza of, “Victory in Jesus.” This is how he put it: “I heard about His healing, of His cleansing pow’r revealing, how He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see; and then I cried, “Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit,” and somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory.” Selah! When we respond to the light and heed His Word and yield to His control, His life enters our inner being and more and more light is given through His Holy Word. Ron
Jesus challenged His disciples regarding their understanding. He warned of “the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.” Leaven speaks of evil, as used here. The disciples, having forgotten to take bread and having only one loaf on the boat, assumed Jesus was talking about them not having the necessary amount of bread. Mark 8:17-21 records Jesus’ challenge: “And when Jesus knew it, He saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto Him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And He said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?” Jesus seems to be telling them (and all who know Him as Savior and Lord) to use their eyes, ears and memories to discern Spiritual Truth. Unaided, these three things will never give us understanding. However, as we are faithful and disciplined in using them, while depending on Him for discernment, we will gradually and increasingly come to understand His Word. If our attitude and prayer is like Clara H. Scott’s, in her hymn, “Open My Eyes, That I May See,” understanding will come: “Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth Thou hast for me. Place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free. Silently now I wait for Thee, ready, my God, Thy will to see. Open my eyes; illumine me, Spirit divine! Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth Thou sendest clear. And while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear. Silently now I wait for Thee, ready, my God, Thy will to see. Open my ears; illumine me, Spirit divine!” Selah! For all who are born again, faithful study, yielded hearts, prayerful dependence and disciplined effort, will yield more and more understanding. We will experience wonder, love and praise! Ron
Religion tries to change, explain away, add to or ignore the Word of God. Religion has positions to defend, and/or interests to protect. Instead of thoroughgoing study to determine what the Bible actually teaches, portions are used to attempt to validate religion’s false teachings. In Mark 8:10-13, Pharisees come to Jesus, asking for a sign: “And straightway He entered into a ship with His disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha, and the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with Him, seeking of Him a sign from Heaven, tempting Him. And He sighed deeply in His spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. And He left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.” Instead of asking what He had to say, they tried to trick Him into proving Himself to them. Such is the pride and foolishness of religion! God was there with them, as they had been told would happen and which their own Scriptures verified. They wanted control! They did not intend to be controlled by God’s Word. This is always the way with religion. All who are willing to hear and learn what God has to say will identify with the hymn, “Teach Me, O Lord, Thy Way of Truth.” It will be our prayer and purpose: “Teach me, O Lord, Your way of truth, and from it I will not depart; that I may steadfastly obey, give me an understanding heart. In Your commandments make me walk, for in Your law my joy shall be; give me a heart that loves Your will, from discontent and envy free. Your Word sheds light upon my path; a shining light, it guides my feet; Your righteous judgments to observe, my solemn vow I now repeat. Your wondrous testimonies, Lord, my soul will keep and greatly praise; Your Word, by faithful lips proclaimed, to simplest minds the truth conveys. I thirst for Your commandments, Lord, and for Your mercy press my claim; O look on me and show the grace displayed to all who love Your name.” Selah! If we spent as much time discovering and applying what God has to say as we do to defending our religious ideas, there would be real Spiritual experience for us, each day of our lives. The religious leaders wouldn’t listen to Him, “And He left them…! Ron
Mark 8:1-9 records another incident where Jesus again miraculously feeds a huge group of people: “In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. And His disciples answered Him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? And He asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to His disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and He blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and He sent them away.” Jesus cares about our physical needs. He has on a number of occasions provided food for His children, miraculously. God has provided enough food for all to eat, if we humans followed His principles. These miracle feedings highlight a greater miracle of satisfying our appetites: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). God has fed multitudes of Spiritually starved people since the beginning of time, when they crave righteousness enough to open their lives for Him to fill their beings with salvation. Clara Teare Williams testified to this in her hymn: “Satisfied,” as can all who have looked to Jesus to be saved: “Well of water, ever springing, Bread of Life so rich and free, untold wealth that never faileth, my Redeemer is to me. Hallelujah! I have found Him, Whom my soul so long has craved! Jesus satisfies my longings, through His blood I now am saved!” Selah! There is still an inexhaustible supply of the Bread of Life and living water to be drawn from the wells of salvation for all who are ready to eat and drink! Ron
Two of the greatest physical gifts given to men are hearing and speech. Too many times we fail to recognize that these kinds of things are gifts from a gracious and loving God. How many times do we pause and thank God for them? Only when we don’t have them, or when we lose them, do we realize how precious they are. Jesus extended His healing ministry to one such man in Mark 7:31-37. Here is Mark’s account: “And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, He came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto Him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech Him to put his hand upon him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers into his ears, and He spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to Heaven, He sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.And He charged them that they should tell no man: but the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: He maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.” Can you imagine the joy that man experienced on that day? Jesus’ compassion for this man extends to us today. Sometimes He heals physically. He always heals spiritually, those who receive His salvation. Selah! Those who do take Him as Savior and Lord, learn to hear Him. As they listen and respond in love and obedience, God gives them a voice to speak forth the Word of God. Listen and share! Ron
Christmas is a wonderful time of year with the traditions, the music, the excitement, the special programs, etc. On the other hand, the gifts, the cards, the expenses, the activities, the last minute responsibilities can leave us exhausted. We usually manage to enjoy this special time of year and, hopefully, rest and recover. However, in the midst of all this, there is a danger! Do we lose sight of the significance of the celebration? Is the cradle buried in the details and duties of this time of year? Or is the mission overlooked when we focus on the manger? It doesn’t much matter to Satan if we focus on the manger, as long as we don’t think on the reason that Jesus was born. It doesn’t matter to him, if we are too busy and tired to think much about any of it. Anything that distracts us from thinking about the Cross will serve his purposes. Does the cradle overshadow the cross? The cradle was necessary and a truly momentous event and should be celebrated. We make a serous mistake, if we don’t extend our thoughts and meditations to include the Cross and the eternal choice it makes possible. This is that from which the devil tries to distract us! D. W. Whittle likely had this in mind when he penned the words of, “Have You Any Room for Jesus?” He wrote: “Room for pleasure, room for business; but for Christ, the Crucified, not a place that He can enter, in the heart for which He died?” This applies to those who have never received Jesus as Savior and Lord and it speaks of the danger to those who have lost sight of Him, in the hustle and bustle of daily living. Selah! And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins!” Think this through and focus on what matters most!