Wild Men and Women For Jesus

Wild Men and Women For Jesus

5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. Mark 1:5-6

I believe we’ve only seen a sanitized view of John the Baptist. His diet was one none of us would choose, his clothing was certainly not what others were wearing during that period, but his message must have been forceful.

A friend of mine recalled going to a Billy Graham crusade. She remarked that his preaching was what she considered mediocre at best but when he gave the altar call, hundreds came forward. Thousands or hundreds of thousands were regularly praying for Billy Graham and his ministry. The anointing was on him and his message. Usually people came to those crusades by invitation of a believing friend. The seeds had been sown long before the crusade took place. Billy Graham just helped to facilitate their conversion.

Not surprisingly, though, many “strays” flocked to a Billy Graham crusade to see what the big fuss was, as they did with John the Baptist.

Could the wild man preach? What was the big fuss?

The “problem” they ended up having was they would actually listen to John, and the Holy Spirit would convict them. They were no longer spectators, but active participants in what John was doing. In fact, they were the reason he did what he did. If he hadn’t been so wild and up front, he probably wouldn’t have garnered such a broad audience.

In many countries across the world, single men and women put themselves in harms’ way for the gospel. They take more risks, are more mobile, and are in greater danger. They, like John the Baptist attract people who would not otherwise be attracted. I recall a single man in Mongolia who decided he wanted to go evangelize a group of people in the western part of the country. Very few Westerners had ever been there and he believed this was their time. How many seeds were planted during his time there is hard to tell. He did have adventures that you only read about in Missions books.

Still, there are men and women who feel called to go these more remote regions to do and eat things you and I shudder at. It’s not only Westerners who are doing this. I’ve heard that many in the Chinese church are doing this in large numbers. They believe they have only small windows of time to do this before their own government catches on and imprisons them.

Pray that thousands of other “wild” men and women are raised up to do this very thing, and then pray for their sustained activity while there.

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Repentance Leading to Forgiveness

Repentance Leading to Forgiveness

4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Mark 1:4

John preached a radically different “model” of repentance and forgiveness. Those worshiping in the temple era prior to John required sacrifices. As the forerunner to Jesus, John was preparing them for the internal work of grace and forgiveness that Jesus offered. Yes, they were required to repent.

Jesus continued the repentance and forgiveness message, and it was carried along by Peter and Paul. It was a radical change and would have been seen that way by the Jews.

It’s still as relevant today as it was then. You can’t have forgiveness without repentance. Repentance is breaking up that fallow ground we discussed yesterday, a softening of the heart, as it were.

First, people have to be shown that they’re sinners and need to repent. Otherwise, there’s no need to turn from your ways. If your ways aren’t wicked or even bad, why do you need to repent?

As we’ll see later, John would go at least a step further by pointing out people’s sins. He would pay the ultimate price for such courage, but he stuck to the message of forgiveness through repentance.

Two thousand years have passed and the message is the same: Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. (Matthew 3:2)

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The Precursor Has Come

The Precursor Has Come

2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.'” Mark 1:2-3

Mark wrote about a man named John. Jesus was six months younger than John but the text has a different meaning. John would be going into the wilderness preaching, teaching, and otherwise causing people grief, not because he wanted to.

No, he caused them grief because of their own sin and immorality.

John was plowing and tilling the ground to get it ready for Jesus.

Plowing digs up the rocks and other debris that has been buried for a while.

Plowing also softens the soil for seed to take root.

As we walk through this text, we’ll get glimpses into the wild man that was John the Baptist. He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, to be sure, but he was necessary.

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The Book of Mark

The Book of Mark

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Mark 1:1

Let’s transition over to Mark, the shortest of the four Gospels, but often the one with the most detailed accounts of incident during Jesus’ time on Earth. Le’t see what we can learn from this fast-moving book.

As you read through the book, take time to stop and ponder the truths you read about. Sure, this is a book you’ve probably read a dozen times or more, but let the Spirit of God illuminate its powerful words once again.

In His opening statement, Mark declares four truths.

First the Good News or the Gospel. The Gospel is good news. It’s what it gospel means. It certainly is good news in a sea of pessimism and strife.

Second, Mark declared that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus was His name and the Messiah (or the Christ) was His title.

The third truth is that the title Messiah speaks of Jesus’s incarnate being, the one who came to Earth.

Lastly, the Son of God obviously speaks to Jesus’ divinity. We don’t quite capture all of this in English, but to those reading it in Greek it was all of that and more.

Jesus Christ, 100% man and 100% God, has given us good news to read and learn about.

May He be praised both now and forever more.

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Grace and Peace, Grace and Peace

Grace and Peace, Grace and Peace

17 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:17-18

Paul ended this letter with a blessing he’s used throughout all of his writings. He also wanted them to know he wasn’t dictating it but writing it by hand. It would be the modern day equivalent of writing a personal letter or note card instead of an email or letter typed.

But the blessing, once again, is important here. As he’s done in other place, so he wishes God’s grace upon the church meeting in Thessalonika.

Traditionally in Greek culture, the writer would give a salutation and farewell similar to this. However, Paul used both peace and grace in his salutation and parting as means of surrounding his text with blessing. It’s subtle but effective. Peace and Grace were what they needed.

Those two blessings are also what we need. In abundance. Every day. There’s so much turmoil and unrest in the world, so much agitation, so many reasons to need it.

Pray these blessings liberally over your friends and family, and watch them grow because of it.

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