In the case of “bloom where you are planted,” it’s not enough to object, “That’s not in the Bible!” We should bring the whole teaching of Scripture to bear not only on the words of a phrase, but also on its meaning. This practice honors Paul’s admonition, “Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9; cf.1 Thess. 5:21–22). In other words, ask what’s true about a statement—and what’s false.
When we allow sin to gain dominance in our lives, we start to experience death, even while we live. In Romans, death and life are not just options for the afterlife; they are conditions we experience now.
Throughout high school, I felt drawn to be a professional golfer but also had a call on my life that had been affirmed by others at church for vocational ministry. During my teenage years, I often asked myself, “IsGod’s willfor my life to go into vocational ministry or to go into professional golf?”
Great leaders are great communicators. Communication certainly includes making a great speech, or for pastors, delivering a compelling sermon. That kind of communication is important, but it’s less so than communicating well one-on-one.
Paul tells the Christians in Corinth to “flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor 6:18). Men, don’t gloss over the urgency in his words. The imagery calls to mind refugees fleeing a war-torn battle zone. “Forget going back to the house for our stuff. Grab the kids, we have to run—now!”
The root of these men’s faithfulness is their love for God and His Word. They remember what God has done for them throughout the years, how He has always been faithful, and they cling to His Word. They revere His holiness and they find rest in serving Him.
The pursuit of holiness, then, is both easier and harder than many of us imagine:Easierbecause our growth in grace often happens gradually, one small step at a time.Harderbecause sanctification has now invaded all of life. Holiness is hidden in offensively ordinary tasks, and those tasks areall around us.
Are you struggling to understand God’s will for your life? Are you discouraged about his purpose for you? It’s too easy to misplace our hope inourplans and goals. God’s will is about so much more than just our circumstances, and He is more persistent than our problems too.
In the times when we feel invisible, we can counter those fickle feelings that tell us we don’t matter with the truth that God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13 v 5). When the disappointments of life weigh us down, we can remember that God is the lifter of our heads (Psalm 3 v 3). When we feel like we are doing life alone, we can know that it is God who helps us (Isaiah 41 v 10). God also gives us hope in his word. He knows he can be counted on, and he kindly fastens our hearts to his promises.
We have more God-given, communication resources than any people who have ever lived. Ever! How now should the wise Kingdom steward live in light of the fact: Every computer and cell phone is a recording studio, and book, magazine, and blog publisher?
Sticktoitiveness is not something we value today. We are a nation of quitters. We quit jobs, quit towns, quit wives and children, and quit churches at an alarming rate. Just drive around on any Saturday morning for evidence of our quitting ways. Garage sales dominate our neighborhoods and enable us to attempt to receive back some return on our investment for all of the hobbies and life improvement changes we started but couldn’t complete.
Jesus’ baptism was not your ordinary event. When Jesus comes up out of the water, the approval of heaven comes blaring through like lightning in a dark sky. Immediately we realize this is no ordinary event, this is a commissioning from the Father and a declaration of war from the enemy.
Hundreds of years before Jesus we read Isaiah’s cry to the Lord,
If we look throughout the nation of Israel’s history we can picture in our mind what Isaiah is asking for when we look at the story of Moses and the giving of the Law, when the Lord came down and spoke to Moses and shook the mountains with his thunderous voice. Isaiah is asking for the Lord to break open the skies and speak to his people.
In Mark 1, hundreds of years later the answer to Isaiah’s prayer finally arrives. But it isn’t like anything the Lord has done in the past. This time the Lord shows up on the scene in the person of Jesus, God in human flesh. He doesn’t come on the clouds or a royal throne, but through the humble family of Joseph and Mary, growing up in Nazareth. At his appointed time, he approaches John to be baptized and we are invited onto the scene by the Gospel writers.
Mark puts into words to help us visualize the answer to Isaiah’s prayer. What is interesting in Mark compared to the other Gospel writers that tell them baptism narrative, is Mark uses the word σχίζω/schizo. Schizo describes something torn or split open. Mark is doing his best to describe this event of the Father from heaven splitting open the skies and displaying for everyone God is now here in the person of Jesus.
Mark also describes the Spirit descending on Jesus, the Greek intensifies this union by describing the Spirit coming “into him” indicating Jesus’ complete filling and equipping for ministry. Isaiah points out that one who was to come will but filled with the Spirit and power,
The heavens ripped open, the Spirit descended on Jesus and now we have the sweet sound of the Father’s joy from heaven declaring, “you are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.” Mark describes the Father’s love and stamp of approval over his Son, which is also an Old Testament theme.
This whole event sums up the commissioning of Jesus and launching him out for ministry. What we discover is after the commissioning we have testing and a declaration of war from Satan.
Declaration of War
This should not surprise us, if you think back to the Garden of Eden, we have the commissioning of Adam and Eve to care for and fill the garden, when lo and behold we are introduced to the serpent who is there to declare war and to tempt Adam and Eve. If we think about the nation of Israel exiting Egypt and God’s hand protecting them and leading them to Mount Sinai, where they will be commissioned through covenant. We discover while Moses is on the mountain the nation is building and worshiping an idol. What we discover through out the Scriptures is whenever there is a commissioning of God on a person or a movement, their is a declaration of war by Satan.
Like Adam and Eve, like the nation of Israel, after the commissioning of Jesus their is a declaration of war on the person of Christ, unlike the other Gospel writers Mark’s description of the event is brief,
Mark 1:12–13 ESV
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
There are important elements in Mark’s telling of history. The first is, Jesus was not alone. Mark tells us the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness. In the Baptism narrative we read the Holy Spirit came into him, now we read the Holy Spirit directing him. We see Jesus obediently following the direction of the Spirit, they are working in tandem to defeat an enemy who has waged war on the mission of God. We also read of the angels ministering to him.
We know from the other Gospel accounts that Jesus while in the wilderness for forty days, he was also fasting for forty days. While the other Gospel accounts record three specific temptations, Mark tells us Jesus was being tempted by Satan for forty days. Day after day, Satan is pulling out his bag of tricks trying to defeat the Son of God.
What is also interesting in Mark’s account is the mention of the wild beast in the wilderness. It’s almost as if the wild beast’s were working with Satan. Why would Mark mention this? I find it interesting Mark mentions this and I believe it was important because of Mark’s Roman audience. We know from history that the Romans used wild beasts to persecute Christians. They would immediately associate wild beasts with persecution and suffering.
What does all this mean?
We read in Matthew and Luke Jesus was victorious. Where Adam & Eve failed, where Israel failed, Jesus succeeded. A new Adam has arrived, one who is victorious. His victory was not just for himself. His victory is for all those who will look to him, repent and believe. His first victory was in the wilderness, ultimate victory came when he walked out of the tomb on the third day.
Just like the Father commissioned the Son, the Son has commissioned us to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God on earth. He left us with a mission to be light in a dark world, to spread the good news of the kingdom to all the peoples of the Earth. His stamp of approval is on us who believe, His Spirit is in us, the words the Father spoke to the Son “you are my Son, you are my Daughter whom I love, with you I am well pleased”, echo throughout time and is spoken over us.
As we serve in our mission for the expansion of the kingdom of God, Satan will wage war on us. We are not alone. We have been empowered by the Spirit, we have ministering angels helping us, but most of all we have a high priests who was victorious, his victory is our victory.
Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). What an amazing truth. But what does it mean? Does it mean that he was tempted to do everything that any human has ever been tempted to do: murder, child abuse, genocide, and the rest? Most of us probably assume not. But why? And (more pressingly in our current context): how do we differentiate between the ways in which he was tempted, and the ways in which he wasn’t? If it says he was tempted “in every respect”, but there are a bunch of ways in which he wasn’t tempted, does that end up undermining his humanity, his priestly mediation for us, the clarity or authority of Scripture, and more besides?
Sadly, there has been a false dichotomy put forward in the church: Either you believe there is no distinction of roles at all (a position called egalitarianism), or you believe women don’t ever have the capacity or calling to lead.
We need to reject that dichotomy and adopt instead what the Bible puts forward: distinctions of position and function in the body of Christ, but not distinctions of gifting, dignity, or value.
If you are a Logos user, the Free book of the month and the discounted books that come with it are excellent resources this month.
Smartphones invite us to use them mindlessly, purposelessly, to alleviate boredom or provide shallow entertainment. It’s all too easy to start scrolling through apps as a form of procrastination, or when there’s nothing better to do.
Ultimately, I’m not sure that a distracted heart can be solved by removing Twitter, Netflix, Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or any other platform. My right-hand causes me to sin, so I take it to the butcher block, only to find my left is causing me a bundle of problems itself! Ultimately, we may strip our lives down to nothing but the dogs and hares and find that we are still consumed with “vain stupidity.”
Small but wise, weak but well-organised. Got it. But what are we supposed to do with this list? What are we supposed to think? Reading these verses might feel like listening to someone at a party drone on about everything they’ve done that day. A vacant “Mm, that’s nice,” is the natural response. There’s no demand being made of you, nothing profound to think about. Ants are not very strong, but they store up food in the summer. Right. And?