VIDEO Go! Into all the World! Fitting End to Mark’s Gospel

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

Our modern English words ethnic and ethnicity come from the Greek word ethnos which meant people groups. When Jesus told His disciples to go and make disciples of “all the nations” (Matthew 28:19–ethne), he wasn’t referring to political nations. He was referring to all the world’s peoples—the Gentiles of the world. And in Mark’s version of the Great Commission—“preach the gospel to every creature”—the same thing is meant: preach to all creation (Greek ktisis—creature or creation).

In other words, Jesus’ Gospel was not just for Jews. Since the days of Isaiah the prophet, the Servant of the Lord was destined to come as a “light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; Acts 13:47). It has never been easier to take the Gospel to every person, every ethnicity, every creature, than it is today. In your neighborhood and workplace, you likely have people representing a diversity of ethnicities from around the world. Can you share the Gospel with them?

To be a missionary today, you only have to leave your front door. The world has come to us; we must offer Jesus to them.

Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.  Charles H. Spurgeon

The Fitting End to Mark’s Gospel (Mark 16:9-20)

Slow, but yes Sure

Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree. Matthew 13:32

I ran into an old friend who told me what he’d been up to, but I confess it seemed too good to be true. Within a few months of that conversation, however, his band was everywhere—from charting top singles on the radio to having a hit song pulsing under TV ads. His rise to fame was meteoric.

We can be obsessed with significance and success—the big and the dramatic, the quick and the meteoric. But the parables of the mustard seed and yeast compare the way of the kingdom (God’s reign on earth) to small, hidden, and seemingly insignificant things whose work is slow and gradual.

The kingdom is like its King. Christ’s mission culminated in His life, like a seed, being buried in the ground; like yeast, being hidden in the dough. Yet He rose. Like a tree breaking through the dirt, like bread when the heat is turned up. Jesus rose.

We’re invited to live according to His way, the way that’s persisting and permeating. To resist the temptation to take matters into our own hands, to grasp for power and to justify our dealings in the world by the outcomes they may produce. The outcome—“a tree . . . that the birds come and perch in its branches” (v. 32) and the bread that provides a feast—will be Christ’s doing, not ours.

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

What small and seemingly insignificant things could you do to encourage or bless the people in your life? Where do you need to turn away from comparison with others or from a false picture of significance and success?

Dear Jesus, thank You for often working in small, hidden, and seemingly insignificant ways. Help me to trust You’re at work even when I can’t see You. Grant me the grace to remain faithful.

No Lone Rangers

Ephesians 4:11-16

Perhaps you can recall the fictitious cowboy known as the Lone Ranger. He was a self-appointed guardian of the law who brought many outlaws to justice. Although he was actively fighting against evil, his independence is not a good example for Christians.

When we trusted in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, we became members of His body, the church. We weren’t saved to be independent agents; rather, God’s intention is that we be subject to Christ, bound together with fellow believers, and submitted to the elders who keep watch over our souls (Heb. 13:17).

The trouble is that many of us want Jesus and the benefits of salvation without having to answer to anyone. Yet God has placed certain individuals in leadership positions at the local church for our benefit. The proud, who go it alone, will become targets for our adversary—like a roaring lion, Satan sees lone rangers as easy prey (1 Peter 5:8).

Don’t forsake the protection of the church. If you do, you’ll become vulnerable to false teaching, the trickery and craftiness of men, and the deceitful schemes of the devil.

A Watchful Sobriety

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Several words are used in Scripture to imply spiritual watchfulness, and each has a slightly different meaning. Only as we compare and combine these words do we get the full force of the Scripture exhortations to watchfulness.

One such word is the Greek word agrupneo, translated “watch.” In Mark 13:33 we read, “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” The word literally means to be sleepless and comes from two Greek words meaning “to chase” and “sleep.” It implies a purposeful and active state of awareness.

More commonly used is gregoreo. It is a stronger word, meaning to arouse oneself and shake off lethargy, implying activity as on the part of one who is fully awake. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13), and “continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). “Watch ye, therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh” (Mark 13:35).

A third word is nepho, which literally means to abstain from drink that would produce stupor, as well as sleep, and therefore conveys the additional idea of sobriety. By combining the teaching of these three words, we are instructed not only to keep awake but to keep active and to avoid the intoxication of this world’s seductive pleasures.

In our text, we see that we are not only to be sober (nepho) and vigilant (gregoreo), but we also see the reason why. Our “adversary the devil” is a vicious opponent. He stalks us both day and night with brutal cunning. We dare not underestimate him by figuratively closing our eyes in sleep or dulling our senses with intoxicants. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober” (1 Peter 1:13). JDM

Our Own Dowry of Everlastingness

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children. —Psalm 103:15-17

We who follow Christ are men and women of eternity. We must put no confidence in the passing scenes of the disappearing world. We must resist every attempt of Satan to palm off upon us the values that belong to mortality. Nothing less than forever is long enough for us. We view with amused sadness the frenetic scramble of the world to gain a brief moment in the sun….

The church must claim again her ancient dowry of everlastingness. She must begin again to deal with ages and millenniums rather than with days and years. She must not count numbers but test foundations. She must work for permanence rather than for appearance. Her children must seek those enduring things that have been touched with immortality. The shallow brook of popular religion chatters on its nervous way and thinks the ocean too quiet and dull because it lies deep in its mighty bed and is unaffected by the latest shower.   NCA009

Oh Lord, remind me constantly of this eternal perspective. Amen.

Cultivation Means Fruitfulness

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. —1 Corinthians 13:4

This is the problem. We try to arrive at the fruits of Christianity by a shortcut….Everybody wants to be known as being spiritual, close to God and walking in the Truth….This is the answer. Every flower and every fruit has a stalk and every stalk has a root, and long before there is any bloom there must be a careful tending of the root and the stalk. This is where the misunderstanding lies—we think that we get the flower and the fragrance and the fruit by some kind of magic, instead of by cultivation….

“Be ye therefore followers of God…and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us…” (Ephesians 5:1-2). This is the likeness of Christ in the human heart and life—and our neighbors are waiting to see Him in our lives! WPJ020

What a multitude of words the Holy Spirit has given us for the various forms of love and patience. The list includes: love, charity, brotherly kindness, tenderness, meekness, longsuffering, patience, forbearance, unity, gentleness. They are like many shades of a colorall in the same class, yet no two exactly alike. LCL147

Can You Say “I Know”

2 Timothy 1:12

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2 KJV). It is always the work of the Spirit of God to bring order out of chaos, light out of darkness, definiteness out of indefiniteness, certainty out of uncertainty, a clear experience out of a mixed state of the affections and will.

My comrade, does your spiritual experience somewhat resemble the primal earth? Is it shapeless when compared with the rounded, clean-cut life of some Christians you know, void of the triumphant experience of salvation which they possess, and with gloom and deep shadows where there should be an unbroken flood of light? The Holy Spirit is continually brooding over you, moving over the God-created depths of your heart, to change this unhappy state of things and to bring your experience to that condition of which even the Father Himself shall say that it is “good.”

A man ought to be as sure of his salvation from sin as of his existence. There is no foundation in the Bible for a “hope-so” religion. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God,” wrote John, addressing Christians, “that you may know [not guess, or think, or hope, but know] that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

Read the things that John says “we know” in his very positive epistles. “We know that we are of God” (1 John 5:19); “We know that the Son of God is come”

(1 John 5:20); “We know that we dwell in him, and He in us” (1 John 4:13); “We know that we have passed from death unto life” (1 John 3:4); “We know that we have the petitions that we desire of Him” (1 John 5:15); “We know that we are of the truth” (1 John 3:19).

Have you this certain knowledge? Have you let God finish His fair creation of purity and peace in your heart? The Spirit of God is brooding over you always, to help you, to teach you, to carry you ever forward, to finish the work of your glorious salvation.

The Bible hope is a sure one. Make sure of yours by believing God till you can exchange its faint expression for that triumphant cry of Paul’s, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Elizabeth Swift Brengle, Half Hours with My Guide