August 19 – 23, 2019


Mark 1

“The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this?’” —Mark 1:27

Scripture is a funny thing. We can try to master the Bible by studying it or reading through it. But we cannot control it; the Bible must control us. This comes about through meditating on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). We meditate on the Scriptures in order to “be careful to do everything written in them” (Joshua 1:8).

Mark introduces us to Jesus and the kingdom of God with a jolt—a series of jolts, really. “What is this?” the people asked. Mark begins to tells us what the people were experiencing. This pertains to us because their story is our story, too. The Gospel according to Mark is the story of Jesus—His teachings and accomplishments. By recording events and connecting the dots, Mark gives us a tool for “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

“What is this?” This is … the kingdom of God.

Mark 1 records the introduction of Jesus to the people of Galilee in Roman times. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ coming as prophesied by Isaiah in the Old Testament (Isaiah 40:3). Jesus told four fishermen to follow Him, and if they did, He promised to make them fishers of men. They followed Him and became fishers of men.

Jesus’ message was the gospel of the kingdom of God that He demonstrated by healing people and casting out impure spirits. This created such a stir that people asked, “What is this?” More and more people came to find out what was going on.

Early one morning Jesus went to a solitary place to pray. His disciples found Him and said that people were looking for Him. Jesus replied, “I need to go to other villages, too. That’s why I came” (v. 38).


What does Mark 1 say to you individually and to us as a church about becoming fishers of people? 

Prayers for Shepherd’s Pantry

Pray for Shepherd’s Pantry, which serves food to over 100 individuals and families every week. There are many who are living in our community with a critical lack of income, resulting in substandard situations and an inability to afford food.



Mark 2

“We have never seen anything like this!” —Mark 2:12

“What is this?” This is … different. Different from what they’re used to.

How is this different? Mark presents two sets of contrasts in chapter 2. The first comparison is between the response of the people and the reaction of the teachers of the law. The crowds “heard Him with delight” (12:37); The teachers of the law—not so much!

The people were amazed at His teaching, and the news of it spread like wildfire. Some embraced His message; some weighed what He said; some rejected it. On the other hand, the teachers of the law were offended by His message and questioned His bona fides as a genuine rabbi (teacher). They began to gather a list of ways Jesus did not measure up to their idea of how a good rabbi acts:

(1) Jesus healed on the Sabbath. (2) Jesus hung out with sinners and tax collectors. (3) Jesus touched an unclean leper. To be fair, they saw themselves as the defenders of the law (Torah and Jewish writings). Did not the Scriptures say, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you” (Isaiah 52:11; 2 Corinthians 6:17)?  Somehow, they had missed God’s heart. With a clear conscience and a clean heart, Jesus touched lepers and enjoyed the fellowship of sinners.

The second comparison in Mark 2 is between the version of Judaism presented by the teachers of the law and the way of Rabbi Jesus.  The words of Jesus brought life (John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 3:6) and they were words of power (Matthew 22:29; 1 Corinthians 4:20).  People sensed there was something missing in the religion they were accustomed to hearing, but they were not sure what it was. Maybe  Jesus had the answer. They wanted to hear His challenges to their current system. They were not used to words of life, power, and love,  and they were attracted to Jesus.


What reactions do people have to our words and actions? What sort of Christianity do we present to our neighbors and friends?

Prayers for Shepherd’s Pantry

Hundreds of seniors come through the doors at Shepherd’s Pantry each month, living on Social Security and not able to afford food. Our clothing donations may be the only new clothes they receive. Our prayer is that we can continue being a blessing to these friends and a place for hope and comfort.



Mark 3

“No one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.”
—Mark 3:27

“What is this?” This is … the will of God.

Mark 3 continues the narrative. Jesus heals on the Sabbath asking, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” (v. 4). The Pharisees did not like this. They began “to plot how to kill Jesus. This was still early in Jesus’ ministry. However, Jesus continued to teach, heal, and cast out impure spirits. He appointed twelve who would be with Him and apprenticed them to preach and drive out demons as well.

Then came a bump in the road. The teachers of the law accused Jesus of being in a league with the prince of demons, and they reasoned that was how He was driving them out. The religious leaders were dragging Jesus’ name through the mud and discrediting His message. Their discernment was 180 degrees off the mark.

How will Jesus respond with His freshly chosen disciples and with the people looking on? Jesus does not fret because of these evil doers (Psalm 37:1). Jesus reasons with them, “How can Satan drive out Satan?” (v. 23). That makes no sense.

Jesus brought, and He still brings today, both the message and the reality of the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom of light and Satan’s kingdom of darkness clash. Paul said he was sent “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). That’s why we need to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (Ephesians 6:10). That’s why Jesus said, “In Me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus came to tie up Satan and plunder his house.

Mark 3 closes with Jesus saying, “Whoever does God’s will is My brother and My sister” (3:35). Doing God’s will requires us to confront evil in God’s way—with love, trust and truth.


What do you do when trouble overwhelms you?

Prayers for Shepherd’s Pantry

Through the Shepherd’s Pantry warehouse in Irwindale, homeless individuals receive a small quantity of food three days a week. Without personal storage capacity, cooking ability, or refrigeration, this helps them with two basic needs: food and dignity. We continue to pray with and for those living without a roof over their head.


Mark 4

“Consider carefully what you hear.” —Mark 4:24

“What is this?” This is … a chance to learn from Jesus.

We can learn from Jesus, the Master Teacher, about things that really matter concerning life and living in the kingdom of God. Jesus wants to awaken us to the fact that what He is teaching pertains to us and applies to our world and our circumstances. This is a school of discovery.

We lament sometimes that Jesus is not here physically. But He promised He would never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He will not leave us orphans (John 14:18). And part of His all-sufficient grace package (2 Corinthians 9:8) is the Gospel of Mark. In chapter 4, Jesus is still teaching us, His present-day disciples, using parables and life events.

The first parable, the Parable of the Four Soils, deals with fruitfulness and harvest, including the things that prevent fruitfulness. Two more parables on what the kingdom of God is like also relate to seeds and growth (Parable of the Growing Seed and Parable of the Mustard Seed). Jesus tells His listeners (and readers) to pay careful attention to what they hear (v. 24).

Jesus says a lamp is put on its stand in order to give light to the whole room (v. 21). For 30 years Jesus was in preparation waiting (Isaiah 40:31) for His Father’s perfect timing to be released into public ministry and to give light to the world (John 8:12). If you feel that you are in a holding pattern, trust God to release you to put your light on a stand at the proper time.

In this chapter’s closing scene, a storm finds the disciples in a boat with Jesus. They are afraid, but Jesus is asleep on a cushion in the stern. “Wake up! Don’t you care that we’re about to drown?” Jesus calms the storm, asking His disciples, “Have you no faith?” They wonder out loud, “Who is this?” showing us that they are on a steep learning curve—and so are we.


Do you identify with the disciples (being in God’s school)? How do you identify with them?

Prayers for Shepherd’s Pantry

Adults without the ability to help their children with basic homework often struggle with life’s economic challenges. Breaking that cycle is critical for families and for society. Through the tutoring we see children surpass the hopes and dreams their parents had for them. When a child succeeds, the joy on their face is priceless!



Mark 5

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.”  —Psalm 37:23 NKJV

“What is this?” This is … the way Jesus lived life—one day at a time (Matthew 6:34).

Mark 5 chronicles two days in the earthly life of Jesus. In the first day, Jesus and His disciples go to the region of the Gerasenes, where they encounter a man full of impure spirits. This may have seemed to be a distraction from the main purpose of their trip; but in hindsight, it was the main purpose of the trip. After delivering the man from a host of impure spirits, Jesus denied his request to go with Him, saying, “Go home to your people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you” (v. 19). And all the people were amazed.

On the second day recorded in chapter 5, Jesus is interrupted on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter by a woman who had been sick for twelve years. “Your faith has healed you,” Jesus said (v. 34). Then upon learning of the death of Jairus’ daughter, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; only believe” (v. 36). When Jesus raised her from the dead, the people “were completely astonished” (v. 42).

How could two interruptions plus one delay turn into the three notable events recorded here: a transformative deliverance, a dramatic healing, and an unbelievable raising from the dead? What was the secret of the way Jesus lived His life? Here are some thoughts:

Jesus was a man of prayer (Mark 1:35). He urges us to be people of prayer (Matthew 6:6; Matthew 7:7).

Jesus was a man of the Word (Matthew 4:4). The Bible tells us to be people of the Word (Joshua 1:8).

Jesus did not turn people away (John 6:37). The second commandment tells us to love people (Matthew 22:39).

Jesus was in union with His Father (John 5:19; John 8:28; John 12:49). He tells us the only way to fruitfulness is to abide in Him (John 15:4-5).


What are your days like? Who is your appointment secretary?

Prayers for Shepherd’s Pantry

Recently Los Angeles voted to reject rent control, which had a swift effect. Some landlords quickly raised rents and evicted their tenants onto the streets. Shepherd’s Pantry saw the tears, the fears and frustrations of many. Our prayer is for those in the middle, those living check-to-check facing these difficult times.


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