- If you're not already using the Faithlife app (available for iPhone and Android), they have recently made some upgrades that make it a really useful app. One of the really cool features is that it functions almost like a church app because it provides easy access to our church website. All you have to do is to click on the little church icon on the bottom left of the screen. From there you can use all the functionality of the website - listen to sermons, see the calendar and sign up for events, give online, read the blog and more.
In Mark 13, Jesus is teaching his disciples about His second coming. This passage obviously raises a lot of questions. Most of us would like to know exactly how all this is going to play out. And there is no shortage of people who have formed their own ideas about that. But the question I want to apply to the text today is this:
Why did Jesus share this with His disciples?
While there are a lot of ideas about what Jesus said here, most would agree that Jesus is largely speaking here of events that His disciples would never experience since Jesus didn't return in their lifetime. So I guess one answer to my question is that Jesus shared this for our benefit, knowing that His words would be recorded and passed down to future generations.
But for the disciples, it seems to me that the benefit for them was that these words prepared them for the daily tribulation that they were going to experience as they lived in a world that would largely be hostile to them. Jesus wanted to encourage them by letting them know that when they faced opposition, the Holy Spirit would guide them. And He also wanted them, and us, to live with a sense of great expectation so that when He does return, we will not be caught off guard.
As we'll see in this week's sermon, we need to be willing to accept that there is a degree of mystery when it comes to many of the things that God has revealed to us. And that is certainly the case with this passage. I think a lot of the people who think they have this all figured out are going to be in for a big surprise when Jesus does return. But the one thing we all take away from this passage is that we need to live our lives each day in a way that we are ready for His return.
1 Kings 10: “The Queen of Sheba”
The Queen of Sheba heard of all the great things that Solomon was doing. She heard of his riches, his wisdom, but most importantly, his Lord. She brought a lot of gifts, and sought Solomon’s wisdom. They spoke about all of her questions and he answered each and every one of them. Evidently, she only previously heard of half of what Solomon shared with her. One of the notable things that she saw was how happy people were. She then blessed Solomon and praised the Lord. Here, it appears as though Solomon’s witness for the Lord surpassed even his reputation as King. It also appears as though she brought this information back to her people. As was custom, before leaving, she left Solomon with gold, precious stones and an abundance of spices. He also repaid her with whatever she desired from him. With the gold and stones from the Queen of Sheba and from the gold that Hiram seized, Solomon had many shields and instruments. We are reminded of Solomon’s great riches, and the annual gifts and offerings added to his wealth. Solomon was a great tradesman, using his resources to trade and sell with other nations. Likely one of the reasons that the Queen heard of him. Solomon, by these accounts, seemed to be a great politician and leader for his people.
One of the things we can learn from this chapter is clear. Verse one tells us that the Queen heard of Solomon “concerning the name of the Lord”. He was known more by Sheba for his connection with God, than because of his riches and wisdom. This is how we should be known. Not by our profession or hobbies, but by our relationship with the Lord. How are you known to people?
1 Kings 9: “The Lord’s Second Appearance to Solomon”
The Lord appeared to Solomon back in chapter 3, with a similar message to what we see here in His second visit (particularly 3:14). Remember, in the 3rd chapter, Solomon was given wisdom, riches and honor from God. This visit was different in that the Lord had already given Solomon all that He had willed. Here, He consecrates the house that Solomon built (9:3), and gives Solomon a great warning (9:4-9). The Lord warned that if Solomon didn’t follow in the ways of his father David, than Israel would be cut off.
The chapter breaks here, and covers the next part of his life. The first thing we read about is the payment Solomon gave to Hiram, which apparently he was not pleased with. We also get a glimpse of how Solomon deployed the labor. We read that the people of Israel were the soldiers, commanders, horsemen, etc. and that only the non-Israelites were forced labor. Hiram also sent some seamen to Solomon, and they went out to gather gold, adding to Solomon’s riches.
The most critical words of this chapter comes from the first 9 verses. The warning from God to Solomon could really be applied to any believer. We must stay close to the Lord and what He desires from us. There are consequences to not following His statutes. While, we are not saved by religion or works, we know from the Scriptures that works are a response to our salvation. Works also, according to James, the Lord's brother, show our faith in practice. We should not "do" for the purpose of gaining favor with God, but we should "do" because we are grateful to God for the work that He has already done. Are you grateful for His work?
Do we become angels when we die?
Today's Bible reading is Mark 12 and one of the questions I asked about this passage comes from Jesus words in Mark 12:25:
"For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven."
Here's my question about that verse:
"Do we become angels when we die?"
Based on what I see on Facebook and elsewhere that certainly seems to be a common sentiment expressed by a lot of people when a loved one dies. But I think that idea is based more on movies and TV shows than on the Bible.
To answer that question, we must first keep Jesus's words here in context and then also bring in some other passages that will help us answer that question.
Jesus is speaking here to the Sadducees, a sect of Jews who did not believe in the resurrection. They were presenting Jesus with a hypothetical situation that they hoped to use to prove that there is no such thing as a physical resurrection. When Jesus replied that the resurrected are "like angels in heaven", he was only speaking of the fact that they would be immortal like angels, not that they would actually become angels.
Although in this short post I don't have time to fully expound upon all the relevant Scriptures, let me just point out a few that will help us answer our question.
- Angels are a completely distinct type of beings created by God (Colossians 1:15-17). They existed even before the creation of man (Job 38:4-7). God made man in His own image (Genesis 1:26), but that is never said of angels.
- Angels have no need of, nor can they experience, the redemption from sin that comes through Jesus (1 Peter 1:12).
- When a human dies, his or her soul/spirit immediately goes to be in the presence of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:8) and the body "sleeps' and begins to decay. At the return of Jesus, our bodies will be raised and transformed into glorious resurrection bodies that will be reunited with our soul/spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:35-49).
- At the Transfiguration, neither Moses and Elijah had been transformed into angels. They were both recognizable. And the same is true for the resurrected Jesus.
While no human ever becomes an angel, the good news is that those who have put their faith in Jesus will experience something far greater - a physical existence for eternity in the presence of Jesus.
When Jesus doesn't meet my expectations
This week we are digging deeper into the text by asking and answering questions about the text. As I read Mark 11, here is one of the questions I can up with:
Why did the same people who were shouting "Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" turn against Jesus less than a week later and shout for Pilate to crucify Him? I think that at least one reason for that is found in verse 10:
"Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!"
Many, if not most of the people who were praising Jesus that day believed that He was about to usher in a physical kingdom and overthrow the oppressive Roman government. But just a few days later, when it became apparent that was not about to happen, those same people turned on Jesus because He did not meet their expectations.
That got me thinking about how we respond when Jesus does not meet our expectations - when He doesn't answer our prayers when or how we want, when there are conflicts on our marriage, when things aren't going well at work, when our finances are in shambles. We can either use those occasions as a reason to draw closer to Jesus or to turn away from Him. Which path will you choose?
- Pat Damiani published a newsletterReadThornydale Family ChurchKnow Jesus. Grow & Serve. Go & Share. January 14, 2019
I just continue to be amazed at your generosity. Since our purpose as a church is not to hoard our financial resources, but rather to use them for ministry, our budget surplus so far this year means that we are going to be able to increase the funding for the two new missionary families we have taken on this year to full funding rather than the one-half funding that we budgeted for. And after hearing Tom Terry tell us a bit about his ministry yesterday, I'm really excited about how we can be a part of reaching people in places like Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
We are also looking for other ways to use those resources right here in our community to further the gospel right here. I'm so thankful for all of you and your commitment to reaching people for Jesus!
Walking with you toward Jesus,
1 Kings 7: “Solomon’s Palace”
We just read in 1 Kings 6 that the temple, the place to meet with God, was built in 7 years. This seems like a fairly long time for a building to be erected and functional. Here, to open chapter 7, we read that Solomon's house took 13 years, and in verse 2 we read that he had a little vacation home in the Forest of Lebanon. He also had seperate living quarters built for the daughter of Pharoah, his wife. Now, what I don't know is whether or not these buildings were being built concurrently, or consecutively. My guess would be that this was completed concurrently, since we see in this same chapter some additional details for the completion of the temple. Namely, the bronze work completed by Hiram (not the same Hiram we saw in 1 Kings 5).
What I find to be facinating in this chapter was the amount of time and resources that Solomon put into his own house. Isn't that true of us too? Don't we find ourselves spending more time on the things of this world, than on the things of the Kingdom? At the time that I'm writting this, we are in the middle of the NFL Playoffs. I think about the fanatics, those who won't miss a game, but have no issue missing church, or even maybe missing out on family time. Solomon spent almost twice as long on his own house, than that of the Lord. Take a look at your own prorities. Where you spend your time, may determine where your heart is.
Finding a way to obey God
Today is a "reflection" day in my Bible reading plan, but since I didn't get a chance to post on Mark 10 on Saturday, I'm going to go ahead and do that today. Rather than just putting part of the chapter into my own words, I'm going to summarize in my own words one of the big ideas I took away from this chapter.
There is a common theme that I find in both Jesus' interaction with the Pharisees about marriage and with his conversation with the rich young man. Both the Pharisees and the young man were looking for "loopholes" that they could use to justify not being obedient to God and to instead just live the way they wanted to live. Here's my paraphrase of what Jesus wanted both to understand:
A genuine disciple of Jesus tries to find a way to obey God; those who try to find a loophole to avoid being obedient are not genuine disciples.