Morning Musing: Ephesians 6:14-18

“Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit–which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Last Thursday we started a short conversation about the armor of God. The two conclusions we came to then were that in the great battle we face as followers of Jesus, people are not our enemy, and our primary function as warriors in God’s army is to stand firm and resist the enemy’s attacks. Our place is not to go on the offensive to advance God’s kingdom. That’s God’s job. We follow Him, and we actively share our faith, but we must always make sure He is out front. We come in with love and the gentle spirit of Jesus. No one will be forced into the kingdom. That whole conversation, though, was a preface to talking about the armor itself. This morning, let’s continue our conversation by looking at the armor God has provided us.

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Morning Musing: Mark 16:8

“They went out and ran from the tomb, because trembling and astonishment overwhelmed them. And they said nothing to anyone, since they were afraid.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Today this journey comes to an end. It has taken us two days shy of 13 months. I’m so glad to have had you with me on it. As I said yesterday, we’ll start a new journey together soon, and I am very much looking forward to that. I’ll have more news on what that will be in the next few weeks. In the meantime, don’t tune out! We’ll spend the next few weeks looking at some of the lies followers of Jesus believe and why the truth is so much better. And just in case you’ve forgotten, here’s a link back to where we started on September 1 of last year. Thanks for reading and sharing. Now, let’s get to the task at hand.

Have you ever seen someone react to something in the wrong way? Perhaps it was a surprise party, and instead of excitement, they were angry. Maybe it was a Christmas present that made them start crying. It could have been really sad news that made them laugh. There is an endless combination of possibilities here. Sometimes people simply don’t react to something the way most folks think they should act. What we see here at the end of Mark’s Gospel is a perfect example of this. Let’s dig in to see what the reaction was, what it should have been, and what it means for us.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 14:1-2

“It was two days before the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priest and the scribes were looking for a cunning way to arrest Jesus and kill him. ‘Not during the festival,’ they said, ‘so that there won’t be a riot among the people.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

All good spy movies let viewers in on both sides of the story. What I mean is this: Rather than telling the tale from only the perspective of the hero, they let us peek behind the curtain on the villains as well. It gives viewers the sense that we know more than the characters do. Of course, the best ones manage to keep a few surprises waiting for the end just to keep things exciting. When I read the Divergent series a few years ago, the whole thing drove me crazy because it was entirely written from the main character’s perspective. The whole thing was in first person. We never knew anything more than she did. It didn’t add any drama to the story for me; it just made it boring. Well, here at the beginning of Mark 14, as we are preparing now for Jesus’ final hours on earth, Mark gives us a quick glance behind the scenes at what the “bad guys” were planning. If we do some careful thinking here, though, there’s even more than meets the eye.

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Morning Musing: Mark 10:45

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (CSB‬‬ – Read the chapter)

Humans are addicted to purpose. We can’t live without it…literally. Right now our culture is in the midst of a crisis. I’m not talking about Covid. We are in the midst of a crisis called “deaths from despair.” It started before Covid, takes nearly as many lives as the pandemic did, but unlike the virus, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. A death from despair happens when a person ends his life either intentionally or incidentally by taking actions intended to escape a sense of hopelessness, purposelessness, meaninglessness that has taken hold of his heart. Purpose matters. A lot. Well, here Jesus reveals the purpose of His coming. Let’s pay attention to what He has to say.

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Digging in Deeper: 2 Timothy 1:8

“So don’t be afraid of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What brings you shame? One time in second grade, I wet my pants right in the middle of class. I had skipped out on a bathroom break for some reason and was too embarrassed to raise my hand and say I had to go. I held it as long as I could, but eventually I couldn’t anymore. Then I was really embarrassed. I’m honestly not sure how I managed to avoid getting made fun of for it. I must have had some really good kids in class with me. Sometimes our shame is obvious like that. Other times, though, what causes us shame is more abstract. We are ashamed of ideas and of being associated with them. One of the ideas that is increasingly bringing people shame today is the Gospel. There is nothing new under the sun. Paul here wrote to Timothy about this very thing.

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