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I am praising God today for Jesus words in Mark 4:9-12, 34, 35 where He explains that disciples (including us!) do have the ability to hear and understand beyond what the crowd perceives. I am grateful that the Holy Spirit is counselor and guide and that He does open up God's word to those who choose to be Jesus disciples. Leviticus again reminds us of a Holy God. To approach Him we come the new and living way with sins forgiven by the blood of Jesus. After our initial salvation, we can press in and spend time with God and ask Him to explain that which we don't understand. The miracle of it all is that He will receive us and He will teach us everything that we need to know for life and Godliness. 1 Cor 2 goes into depth on the subject. May God bless you all with more knowledge and wisdom that you might know Him better and better each day.

Well, here's my two cents on the clergy compensation issue. First, I think the differentiation between clergy and laity is false. The NT supports the notion that all in the church are ministers and, indeed, priests (Rev. 1:6). That being said, there is a difference between those in professional ministry and those in volunteer ministry. Professional ministers are paid so that they can devote time to ministry. The need for professional ministers differs by church and community culture. There seems to be no scriptural mandate for professional ministry, though various accounts of Paul and apostles/evangelists/missionaries receiving monetary assistance leaves room for it. So, while the teaching in Leviticus certainly supports the notion of paid clergy, we must be sure to compare apples and apples.

In the OT there is a clear priesthood. In the NT this is not the case; all are priests (and, yes, I realize this is a Protestant perspective, but I also believe it to be scriptural). So, local congregations, if they determine that professional ministers are needed for effective ministry in their communities, should then pay their ministers a living wage. Yes, there is abuse—both in underpaid and overpaid professional ministers (though underpaid is more common)—so congregations must use wisdom. If the congregation functions effectively without professional ministers, that is good. If the congregation functions most effectively with professional ministers, that is also good.

Mark

Parable of the Sower

[Is repeated basically the same as Matthew's version. But since the Holy Spirit inspired the writers to use some of the same key words - I am reposting 1/19/07 post from Matthew - in case some missed that post.]

The parable is fully explained, but I came across some interesting words.

1)The first seed fell on the "path" ("way side"KJV). In the Greek when this word "hodos" is used metaphorically it means - "a way (i.e. manner) of thinking, feeling, deciding.

So perhaps Jesus is saying that when one does not understand the message, it is because one is too locked into man's solution of spirituality - the way man has it figured out. Makes it easy for the "evil one" to come snatch away what "was sown in his heart". "This can't be right", "Not the way I understand it", "Interesting, but this can't be the "only truth", "good teacher, but the Son of God - come on", "Not what I was raised to believe", etc.

Evil one comes and reinforces - "You're right. This is garbage. You don't need this guy's help to get to heaven, Just someone else claiming to be the Messiah, you know better." - and voila the message is dismissed or "snatched away from the heart".

2) The seed that fell on rocky ("stony" KJV) places is interesting if you go back to the Greek roots. It might mean a person with a "firm outward appearance". They appear to receive Jesus' mesage with joy, but it is only expressed by outward appearance - there are no roots. When personal trouble or outward problems affect the believers he/she quickly falls away. i.e. They never believed - accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Their is no root - connection with Christ that is provided by the Holy Spirit.

3) The thorny ground? At it's Greek root can mean "the present time". So he/she hears the word, but is so preoccupied with the "world" and its daily problems (are not the ways of the world really just thorns that catch and grab at mankind?) That they just don't have time to even think about it. The Word (seed) just gets choked off by the near term issues, and there is no time for questioning and pondering the "long term". 'It will just take care of itself' type attitude.

4) The good soil. He/she hears AND understands. One has to turn to God, repent of our sins, and believe and receive in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. That person has deep roots in Christ and the Holy Spirit and will be productive in bearing fruit in the work and will of God.


Mark 3

Jesus' Mother and Brothers

Those that insist that brothers and sisters in the NT always refer to being "beleivers" of Christ's message - Bill O'Reilly of radio and TV come to mind - would have a hard time with Mark's account. The insistence is always that there is no family connection or implication in the NT in these types of passages.

Including "mother" in each of the four key phrases would preclude the above view. Clearly Christ is saying that those who do God's will (accept and receive Christ) are His (eternal) family.

So - mother being Mary, then brothers and sisters are family. To the closeness of those relations, whether actual brother and sister or cousins, etc. is beyond the scope of these passages.

Mark 4
A Lamp on a Stand

Is different context and meaning from Matthew 5. Mark inserts Jesus' illstration here on the heels of talking about the need for parables.

Here, the light is not meant to be hid - it should be brought out. Those that have ears (want to hear the Word of God), let them hear. Seek the meaning and they shall find - and can help illuminate the world.

Going into the symbol of a measure is perhaps a reference to Isaiah who used light and measure (harvest).

Isaiah 9:2-3, where the prophet uses these same two images to describe the intense joy Israel would experience when the light of Messiah came:

"The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
You will multiply the nation,
You will increase their gladness;
They will be glad in your presence,
As with the gladness of harvest."

Those that seek will find and be given even more - those that do not, whatever they do understand will fall by the wayside.

May we all be seekers of the Truth, and pray constantly for God's revelation of His Word to us, His children.

CULTURE DIGEST: ‘Blasphemy Challenge’ lures kids to renounce Holy Spirit;...

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--A radical new website is gaining popularity by challenging people to deny the existence of God, and it’s run by an atheist who was raised Catholic and claims he “became a born-again Christian when he was 13.”

“I loved Jesus and he was my best friend and I talked to him and God all the time,” Brian Sapient said on ABC’s “Nightline” Jan. 30. “I have to admit that they never talked back to me, and I think some people would say that God does talk to them and I think they’re not being honest with themselves.”

Now a dejected Sapient is part of the “Rational Response Squad,” which is behind the website www.blasphemychallenge.com and promises to give away 1,001 copies of a DVD espousing their views.
http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=24966

Don't usually post news, but since this came up in recent Mark readings thought it was relevant.

The website exists and says what the article says it says - so I assume the attendant other facts are correct.

There is a respondant website that counters the website in the article - challengeblasphemy.com

My thought on this is that compensation is good in moderation. Paul took none, he prefered to work with his own hand doing secular things to maintain himself - tent making... But that was his personal choice, and he had no wife / children to support, we must remember. Some other apostles got some compensation, and again that was their choice. The scripture does say not to muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the corn, and "the labourer is worthy of his reward" - Deuteronomy 25, 1 Corinthians 9, and Timothy 5...

Fat cat pay is over the top for a christian worker though, I feel. If a minister has a really large organisation, I think he should still take only enough for his needs and plough the rest back into the ministry. If he had been doing some secular work which the Lord blessed to such a great extent, I am sure he would have given a lot to the work of the church anyway... But serving directly as God's servant, the Lord Himself is his reward, and his provider, and the one who brings the increase and blesses his own work... And He has also laid aside a huge retirement home for his servants in heaven - plus the best reward of all, being in God's presence and praising Him for all eternity! So should such a minister draw a huge salary? I don't think so...

The parable of the seed is in regards to the gospel of Jesus to unbelievers hearing the word. All true believers are those who had good soil, but it is up to us to cultivate and continue to grow in the Lord and bear fruit.
I want to share what my study bible says:
The “word” as referred to in v 14 is the salvation gospel. The responses:
"v 16. Receives it with gladness. An enthusiastic, emotional, yet superficial response to the gospel that does not take into account the cost involved.
v.17 No root. Because the person’s heart is hard like stony ground, the gospel never takes root in the individual’s soul and never transforms his life- there is only a temporary, surface change.
Tribulation and persecution. Not the routine difficulties and troubles with life, but specifically the suffering, trials, and persecutions which result form one’s association with God’s word.
Quickly fall away (or stumble): the superficial believer is offended, stumbles, and falls away when his faith is put to the test.

v.19 Cares of this world. A preoccupation with the temporary issues of this present age blinds a person to any serious consideration of the gospel.

v. 20 Hear…accept…produce a crop (bear fruit). Three present particles mark continuing action. Believers, in contrast to unbelievers, hear God’s word because God allows him to hear it. They “accept” it—they understand and obey because god opens their mind and heart and transforms their lives. The result is that they will produce spiritual fruit."


Tomorrow we will read about the growing seed (in believers) which my study Bible says about vs. 26-29: this parable is recorded only by Mark and complements the parable of the sower by explaining in more depth the results of spiritual growth accomplished in good soil.

In Psalms, I’m just meditating on what promises to His followers:
“but the LORD upholds the righteous. The days of the blameless are known to the LORD, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither”
“For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever”

I simply LOVE these vs.:
23 If the LORD delights in a man's way,
he makes his steps firm; . ----------> amen!
24 though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand. ----> sooo true!
25 I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken”

verse 25 often comes to my mind. I think God puts it on my heart when I’m worried, like He’s saying, be still and just rest in Me, I will take care of you. I have told you, as my child, I will never forsake you!
Also, since I am getting older, tho not old, I am seeing more n more. I am seeing people who have lived Godly reaping the fruit. I’m seeing the ungodly yielding bad fruit or reaping the consequences, n its heart breaking really.

Um, I’m not gonna get too deep into what I think should be done concerning compensating pastors because I don’t feel that’s my business, I give to the Lord. Of course the funds should be given to ministry work, missionaries, getting the word out. I go to a church where I fully trust them. My pastor is the shepard of my church and he feeds me. A good church isn’t even gonna ask ppl to give, but God will put that desire in their hearts.
Of course I’m against any type of fraud, playing on ppl’s emotions to get money like some of those phony televangelists who beg for money, use the money to get themselves multiple houses n fancy cars, etc. Those men are in God’s hands n woe to those who use God’s name in a way to manipulate ppl n steal from them! But a joyful giver will be blessed by God no matter what. God looks at our heart, that is my responsibility.

Exodus

The need for a priest?????

So far needs of man have been listed - need for Acceptance/Love (by God), Joy, Peace, Forgiveness and Restoration.

Are the needs over? Do we need a priest?

Do we need someone chosen by God, anointed by the Holy Spirit, clothed in righteousness, one who can go to God for us, one we can hold up as a mirror and see our lacking nature, etc.?

In the OT - God is saying - 'Yes, you need that'. Of course later on it all got corrupted and messed up. But in its original intent the priesthood provided a place and person to go to - that would help a person align or re-align their lives with God - through going to God for us, Godly advice and the previous listed sacrifices.

Do we have that today? Certainly Jesus is our High Priest. Not only does Jesus fill all the requirements listed above, but He is Righteousness. I posted before that God is a God of great details,and I believe that the seven days between appaearances to the disciples (w/out Thomas and with Thomas) were the period Jesus spent before God being consecrated as our High Priest - just as Aaron did in the OT in the Tent.

On top of that "we" as "believers" are part of the priesthood.

1Peter2:4-5
"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." NIV

1Peter2:9
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." NIV

We also fulfill all the requirements of priesthood listed above. We offer spiritual sacrifices and sing God's praise (or we should be:), and when we are obediant and living through Christ - we are that mirror where people see themselves as different from us - who then want what we have.

Verses that stood out for me today:
Leviticus 9:6 "And Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded you to do so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you".
Mark 4:24 "Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given —and you will receive even more".
Psalm 37:16 "It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich".
Psalm 37:18 "For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the Lord takes care of the godly".
Proverbs 10:5 "A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace".

Reading Psalms gave me the chills, I love Psalms so much!!!! I love the points that are made in Psalms. It's all so true and has such wonderful messages that make you think, make you wonder and make your heart warm.

The discussion on paying clergy made me think more about the readings a week ago regarding the tabernacle. The OYB daily companion says that the value of the gold used to build the tabernacle was around $10M in today's dollars. Being a natural tight-wad, this struck me as ridiculous. Can you imagine if your church wanted to raise $10M to build a statue or a cross? While this isn't truly analagous, it's more a just thought-provoking question for me.
What I take from this is Yes, it's OK (in fact it's good) to be extravagant on things that really matter. I need to spend money to create traditions, rituals and heirlooms that can have a lasting impact on my family, friends and fellow saints. I'm reminded of my wedding last year that cost a fortune... and was worth every penny.

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