A Life in Service

John wore clothes made from camel’s hair. John had a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. This is what John told the people: “There is a person coming later who is greater than I am. I am not good enough to kneel down and untie his shoes.” – Mark 1:6-7

John’s whole life was defined by his service to God and to God’s Son. His clothing, his food, and his tasks were all defined by his mission—to prepare the way for the Lord. How could he live his whole life for someone else? He defined himself as unworthy to even be the servant or slave of this someone else, this coming one who is so much greater than he. Jesus comes to us and asks us in our day to let him define our lives as well. That’s what it means to call Jesus Lord—we see ourselves as unworthy to be his servants and slaves; yet, because of his grace, we are called his brothers and sisters. For such blessings, we offer him our lives in service to him and his kingdom. Gracious Father, thank you for being so gracious to me. Please accept my life in service to you as my thanks and praise. Romans 12:1-2 – Matthew 7:21 – Mark 3:31-35

From All Over

All the people from Judea and Jerusalem went out to John. These people told the sins they had done, and then they were baptized by John in the Jordan River. – Mark 1:5

John didn’t choose the most accessible location to do his ministry. Instead, he was located in the wilderness. Yet, people came from all over to hear him. Why? Because they were hungry for spiritual food. They longed to hear the voice of God through one of his servants, a true prophet. Distance was no barrier. Confession of their sins and baptism were not barriers. They were hungry for God. Are we hungry for God today? What barriers do we let keep us away from seeking God with all of our hearts? Father, help me hunger to know you better and serve you more faithfully. Please help me destroy any barriers that I have put between your grace and my need for it. Please, dear Father, never let my pride ever keep me from hearing your call in my life. Mark 3:7-8 – Mark 11:27-32 – Luke 7:24-28

Turn from Your Sins

So John the Baptizer came and was baptizing people in the desert area. He told the people to be baptized to show they wanted to change their lives. Then their sins would be forgiven. – Mark 1:4

God’s messenger was John. He was called The Baptist, or The Baptizer, because he baptized folks who came to him wanting to change their lives to align with the will of God. John’s mission was to prepare people for the coming of the promised Christ. The purposes of this baptism were to demonstrate people’s turning from sin to God and to receive the forgiveness of God. What can we learn from John’s mission for our lives today? First, God uses human messengers to reach the hearts of those seeking to find him. Someone is out there seeking for God and God can use you or me to be that messenger! Second, seeking God involves two things: we turn to God and turn away from our sins. Third, everyone needs the forgiveness of God; none of us is righteous and holy on our efforts. In other words, we need God’s gracious forgiveness. So I guess that each of us can choose the message that he or she needs to hear most clearly today. Have I come to God to receive his forgiveness and grace? Have I truly turned to God and away from sin? To whom will I be God’s messenger? Father in heaven, you are holy and awesome. Your power is beyond my comprehension. As I think about praying to you, I am humbled that you would hear me. Thank you for your gracious forgiveness that you have shared with me through the gift of your Son. I commit my life to you and I turn my back on sin in an effort to flee its grip on me. As a recipient of your grace, please help me see the person, or people, for whom I can be your messenger. Acts 19:14 – Acts 3:17-21 – Acts 2:36-39

Prepare the Way

The Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begins with what the prophet Isaiah said would happen. Isaiah wrote: “Listen! I (God) will send my helper ahead of you. He will prepare the way for you.” “There is a person shouting in the desert: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord. Make his paths straight.'” – Mark 1:1-3

Where does the Gospel actually begin? Where does God’s good news originate? Matthew and Luke begin their accounts of Jesus’ life with the stories surrounding his birth. John begins with the creation of the world where the Son of God was not only present, but also did the creating. Mark, with his focus on good news, chooses to begin a different place. If folks are going to be open to the good news of God, then someone is going to have to be a servant and prepare the way for Jesus to come and for his word to be heard. In many ways, the good news always begins in this place. The real question is whether we are willing to be used as servants like John the Baptist—who is introduced in the next verse—and prepare the way for Jesus’ good news to be heard by our friends. Father in heaven, please use my life to prepare the way for Jesus to come with his good news into the lives of my friends, acquaintances, and family. Mark 1:14-15 – John 3:26-30 – Mark 8:35

Good News

The Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begins. – Mark 1:1

We are beginning a journey through the Gospel of Mark. Gospel means “good news.” Mark wants us to know four things about our journey with him through the life of Jesus. First, it is a journey about God’s good news. Second, it is about a very human person named Jesus; his humanity is revealed throughout Mark’s Gospel. Third, this Jesus is also the Messiah (or Christ) promised in the Old Testament, and fourth, he is the Son of God. Never lose sight of the fact that Mark is telling us the good news of God about Jesus in the message that he shares with us. Sometimes the words and stories will be challenging and hard to understand. Yet at the heart of each story, event, or teaching is an implicit hope that God has brought us something very good in Jesus! Father, as I make the journey through the next year, please help me know Jesus better. Help me see Jesus as the source and foundation of your good news. Open my eyes and help me see Jesus. Psalm 96:2 – Isaiah 52:7-10 – Mark 8:35