Day #40: The Greatest Commandment

"Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

"The most important one," answered Jesus, "Is this: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second one is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these."

Mark 12:28-31, NIV


One of the reasons that we are taking our time in reading just one chapter from the New Testament each day is so that we can isolate an important thought from that day's reading and take it with us, thinking about it throughout the day. Since we are looking for an important lesson to think about, and since Jesus said that these were the most important commands, I can think of no greater passage to ponder today than this particular one.


The beautiful thing about the Word of God is that it does not take someone with a PHD in religious philosophy to explain what it means. God loves us and wants us to understand His holy Word. He has given us that word in it's pure form and has stated it in a plain and simple way so that we can understand it on our own. Our job is to read it and to think about what it means so that we can better serve Him. And from the very words of Christ, we are told that there is no more important commandment than these we read above.


So, wouldn't today be a great day to truly think about these greatest of all commandments, so that we may better apply them to our lives?


Today's reading is Mark 12. As Jesus said, it contains the most important commandment ever given.






Day #39: Jesus Clears the Temple

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned tha tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as He taught them, He said,

"Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of robbers."

Mark 11:15-17, NIV


Have you ever wondered why Jesus cleared the temple in such a forceful fashion? After all, isn't He the same one who taught the need for turning the other cheek? Yet here we find Him turning over tables and driving out by force those who are buying and selling in the temple. What is going on here?


What is "going on" is that Jesus is teaching men from all ages that they cannot make a mockery of our service to God. Especially, they cannot treat the worship of our holy Father in an unholy way. Did you note in the passage above the phrase, "as He taught them"? It is interesting to observe the diverse manners in which Jesus took the opportunity to teach important lessons. In this particular instance, Jesus is teaching is that God must be held in reverence, therefore, we are to be reverent whenever we go before Him in worship.


As Jesus teaches this vital lesson, He also gives another important teaching: We do not "turn the other cheek" on God's behalf.


I truly believe that this is one of the areas we have really fallen down on in modern times. We, in our cowardice, will often fail to defend the holiness of God, and then we will claim that we do so in obedience to His command to turn the other cheek. While it is certainly true that we are required to turn the other cheek when it is our cheek, we have never been given the command to "turn the other cheek" on God's behalf. God is holy and is to be treated in a holy manner at all times.


I think this is a lesson that men of our era, especially in the church, should learn... don't you?


Today's reading is from Mark 11. It has some great lessons that we would all benefit greatly from in taking the time and effort to learn.

Day #38: The Secret to Greatness

"Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whever wants to be first must become slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."

Mark 10:43-45, NIV


It's popular whenever men come together to argue over who is the greatest of all time. It is true in sports, it is true in business, and, surprisingly, it was even true among some of the apostles. And though men may never settle the question as to who is the greatest in certain fields of achievement, Jesus settled once and for all what it takes to become great in the only area that really matters:


We must become a servant!


Do you still want to be great? If serving others is the standard, most people don't have a particular longing for greatness. But, for those who do, God has a lifetime of great service, and then an eternity of the same.


Today's reading is from Mark chapter 10. It will teach you all you need to know about becoming great in the eyes of the only One who truly matters.

Day #37: The Kingdom of God

And He said to them, I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."

Mark 9:1, NIV


For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin... and He is the head of the body, the church...

Colossians 1:13-14, 18, NIV


One of the benefits of reading the Bible is that it helps us to understand vital facts like the one we read about today: The Kingdom of God! Jesus and the apostles talk about the kingdom on many different occasions and in many different ways. Sometimes they appear to be taking about heaven after the Second Coming, but at others such as we see in the verses above, they seem to be talking about a kingdom here on earth... so which is it?


The answer, is both!


But how could that be? How can the kingdom be both here on earth and in heaven. The answer is that the kingdom is eternal. As is pointed out in Mark 9:1, it was something that some of the people that Christ was talking to at that time would see before they died. So, were there going to be a bunch of really old people living until the Second Coming of Christ? No, but there would be many people who would see the kingdom, because it has an earthly side to it - the church:


And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:47, NKJV


The Scriptures reveal an important fact about the kingdom of God that will help us to better understand the eternal nature of the kingdom. First, God adds us to the kingdom when we obey the Gospel. Those who remain faithful (and therefore in the kingdom) on this side of Judgment, will surely be a part of the kingdom on the other side of Judgment throughout eternity. Obviously, we have not connected all of the dots in this short set of readings today, but that's one of the reasons you are reading - so that you can connect the dots for yourself, and better understand this kingdom of the saved, that extends from this physical life into life eternal. 


Today's reading is Mark 9. Aren't you glad that you have decided to read the Word!



Day #36: The Second Touch

And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Him and entreated Him to touch him. And taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands upon him, He asked him, "Do you see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men, for I am seeing them like trees, walking about." Then again He laid His hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.

Mark 8:22-25, NASB


Why the need for the second touch? Why do you think that the blind man was not fully healed the first time Jesus laid His hands upon the man? It clearly was not because Jesus somehow lacked the power to heal him the first time. Maybe it was a lack of faith on the blind man's part, but I'm not sure that would not explain why Jesus couldn't have healed him fully, all the same.


So, why the need for a second touch? Whatever the reason, a second touch was necessary and it was in fact given, and the blind man was in fact healed all the way.


When you think about it, aren't there times in all of our lives when we need a "second touch" from our Savior? I think we all have such deep struggles at times that we need more than just one touch from our Lord. One of the reasons that we need to read the Bible every day, and to think deeply about what it says, is because we need more than just a brief brush with God's Word - we need that second touch! I think this is one of the main reasons that we read!


Today's reading is Mark 8. Even if you have read it many times before, I know that the additional "touch" will help you to more clearly see God's love and His will for your life.