Unworthy

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Reading the Word

Mark 1:4–8 (ESV)

4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

John the Baptist drew a crowd. With his strange attire and diet and along with his message of repentance, it is no wonder that many were interested in seeing him. But John knew that his ministry was not about him. His purpose was to point to someone greater. John was there to point the people to Jesus Christ, the one who could save them.

John told the people, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” That is the role of each and every follower of Jesus. We are merely servants of the Mighty One. Our words and our actions should not be about drawing attention to ourselves, but pointing others to Jesus, the one who saves. We are unworthy, but he is of infinite worth and deserving of all of our worship.

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Strengthened by the Grace of Christ

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Reading the Word

2 Timothy 2:1–7 (ESV)

1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul wrote 2 Timothy to his friend and child in the faith, Timothy. He wrote the letter from prison as he neared the end of his life. It was meant to be an encouragement to Timothy, who was ministering to the church in Ephesus.

“Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” summarized Paul’s message to Timothy. Those who have labored in ministry know it can be tempting to give up and quit when we look at the task before us. It is overwhelming and when we examine our own credentials, we know immediately that we cannot accomplish anything in our own strength. We need help and the only help that will do is the grace of Christ working in and through us. We need him to strengthen us and we need him to change the hearts and lives of his people. Searching for inner strength or clever strategies will always fail. We need the supernatural presence of Christ to accomplish the supernatural work of ministry to God’s people. Let us seek his grace each and every day.

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The Gift of the Spirit

Acts 24 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Acts 2:1–13 (ESV)

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus had promised that he would send the Holy Spirit to empower his disciples. In these verses, we see the fulfillment of that promise. It was a promise that God had made in the Old Testament Scriptures in Joel 2:28-29.

We read that the Spirit came in great power with the sound of a mighty wind and the appearance of flames. As a result of the Spirit’s coming, the disciples began to speak in tongues. This allowed the people around, who were from many different places and languages, to hear the disciples speak in their own native language. This was a supernatural ability to communicate in other languages!

The disciples had been told not to depart Jerusalem until they had received the Spirit. The reason for this was because they were not yet equipped and ready to go into the world with the gospel. Now they were ready. They had the Spirit and he would equip them with his great power. Since this day, every believer has been given the gift of the Spirit and empowered for the work of ministry. Jesus did not call us to go into the world in our own power and abilities, but in the power of God through the Holy Spirit.

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Who Do You Serve?

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Reading the Word

Luke 12:41–48 (ESV)

41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Peter wondered if Jesus’ former words (cf. Luke 12:1-40) regarding coveting and readiness were meant for all people or for “us.” By “us”, Peter is most likely referring to the disciples and their roles as leaders. Jesus’ response tells us what he expects of all of his followers; those is leadership and those who are not.

In his response, Jesus uses an illustration of a master who goes away and leaves a servant in charge. To leave a slave in charge while away was quite common practice. However, while the master was away, the servant left in charge beats the other slaves left in his care because he does not think the master will return very soon and he is not concerned with fulfilling his master’s desires. To the servant’s surprise, the master returns unexpectedly and learns what has been taking place. The result is sever punishment. Jesus says this is what it will be like for those who are entrusted with leadership over his people.

Jesus went on to say what it will be like for the other servants who are not in leadership roles. They too will give an account for their service. Those who knew their responsibility and refused to do it will receive a severe beating, while those who did not know and failed to do what was expected will also be punished, but less severely. What does this mean? Those who have been given much will have greater expectations. Those who have been placed in leadership, those who have greater understanding, and those who have been given greater opportunities and resources, will be judged by what they have done with what they have received. Those who have received less will also be judged, but the expectations will be less.

In the end, we must realize that we will all stand before our Lord and we will give an account of what we have done with all he has given us. What have we done with our time, our money, our possessions, our intellect, etc. Have we made the proclamation of the gospel our top priority? Have we fulfilled our leadership roles as those who are stewards of God’s people? Have we sought to spend our lives in the service of our Master so that he will be pleased when he returns to inspect our work? How are we living our lives? Who are we serving?

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