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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 8:34-35 bible study (March 19, 2024)

March 19, 2024:  Tuesday Morning Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark 8:34-35

open books bible notebook pencils Exploring God's word
Exploring God's Word

Good morning, dear friends in Christ,

I am working from home today to save money on heat at the church.  Sitting in my dining room I can see our navel orange tree which is beginning to fill with blossoms.  The hummingbirds have been busy in it collecting food and helping move pollen, so we have oranges next Christmas.  I can see a few oranges that we missed too.  This week we are closing in on the entrance into Holy Week, Palm Sunday.  There is such a good reason to participate in the services starting with Palm Sunday, and moving to Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday, and then the surprise and joy of Easter Sunday Services.  All of this coming week helps to get us ready for Christ's suffering and degradation at the hands of those who should love Him, and then Christ's sacrifice of His life so that we can be right with our Father in Heaven in spite of our sin, and, of course, then we arrive at the Resurrection and our Lord's gift of new life for us to share with Him.  Next week I will be doing the Monday and Tuesday studies, but I will not be doing the Ezra study which falls on Maundy Thursday.  Remember that in Holy Week we have Thursday and Friday services at both Noon and 7PM.

Today we have only two verses to cover, but they tell us so much about Jesus, and what it means to believe in Him, and to accept His call to live differently than other people who do not know Christ in their lives, and who have not received the gift of faith in Christ.

1.       In this passage we encounter the startling honesty of Jesus.  No one can ever say that Christ failed to indicate to those who follow Him that it would not be an easy path.  Jesus makes no promise that following Him will bring peace, or glory, or an easy path in life.  When we look at the Master's own life, it does not take us long to understand that there will be struggle and difficulty, friendships and family lost, and worldly comforts set aside so that the work of Christ can be done.  Instead, it is as it has always been, this life journey of sacrifice will create those who people of faith see as great.  We get a picture of all of this when we think of the clergy we have known, their willingness to lead by example, to face challenges with the strength, to give their lives to the Holy Work of Our Lord and doing so with the fullness of joy in Christ, and without the worldly expectations of others for profit and power.  We also see these people in our congregations, our brothers and sisters in Christ who share joyfully of their time, talents, and resources so that Christ's Church might continue to carry God's Truth for the world, setting examples of God's justice and love in this broken world for all who will come to Him.

2.     A huge truth for us about Christ, is that He was unwilling to ask others to do the things that He too was unwilling to do.  He set the model for how we all should approach living in faith in the Savior.  We should love God above all else, and our neighbors as we love ourselves.  On the surface all of this sounds like it should not be too difficult, but when believers undertake this life in Christ, we discover that every one of us falters and stumbles from time to time.  Who are you willing to follow, or listen to?  Won't it be the one who leads the way by example with great love for each one of us, and when the time comes to be Christ's witness, we will be ready to follow where He has led us, to service and sacrifice?  Like Christ we should be humble before the LORD, knowing that we are never left alone to do the Kingdom Work.  All of this gives us courage to take up our own cross, bearing it with love and strength, carrying it with the Glory of the Holy One of God surrounding us. 

3.     Jesus calls all who will follow Him to deny themselves.  His model life shows us just how hard that can be.  Every moment of every day was filled with demands for his teaching and healing.  In many ways, just like the pastor of a congregation.  The shepherd must be willing to give of his time every day, no matter if it is night or day.  I can share an example with you from my time in my previous call.  A young woman, about 15, was out with friends having a "good" time. It was about 2AM when their group found themselves on a school playground.  One of her friends had created a metal pipe bomb, and that early morning they decided to set it off, thinking that it would be a great prank for the neighborhood.  The group moved far away from where the explosions would take place, but when it was detonated, this young woman, the only one in the group who was injured, had her head pierced by a piece of the shrapnel.  That small piece penetrated through her skull into her brain.  At about 3AM I got an early wakeup call that the family needed me at the hospital.  Away I went to spend the next 10 hours with them as they awaited the outcome of surgery and the subsequent post-surgery report.  The outcome was not good.  Their daughter remains quite challenged to this day.  There are other stories too, of people who have stopped at accidents and gotten involved saving lives.  Yes, they are people from our congregation, or of money found and returned by our teenagers.  And, it goes without saying, that clergy spouses often serve as examples of sacrifice offered out of love for the LORD.  People moved to share the love of their homes and lives in foster care and adoption are certainly examples of the sacrifice of Christ, and in doing so are giving their time, talent, and resources in love for the Lord.  Every one of us must set ourselves aside when we accept Christ's call to journey with Him in this world.  In these circumstances our hearts and minds and actions belong to the Savior.   Bearing a cross in our lives, means doing what Christ would do from circumstance to circumstance.  For each of us there are crosses that we do not yet know that we shall be called to bear, but like our Savior, we will take them on with God's Grace, and carry them with confidence in His love for us.

In the Love of Christ, Pastor Kim

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