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A Day in the Life

The Gospel of Mark introduces the inauguration of Jesus? ministry uniquely. It can be titled ?A Day in the Life of Jesus? or ?A Day in the Ministry of Jesus.? It takes place on a Sabbath in Capernaum (Mark 1).

Mark, just sixteen chapters long, is the shortest Gospel. It features accounts where what is narrated occurs in an approximately twenty-four-hour period. In chapters 4 and 5, we find parables, a trip across the lake, the healing of a demoniac, a trip back across the lake, the healing of a woman, and the resurrection of Jairus?s daughter?all in a span of about thirty-six hours. In chapter 8, there is the feeding of the four thousand, crossing the Sea of Galilee, arguing with some Pharisees, traveling back across the lake, instructing the disciples, and healing a blind man. In chapter 9, we find the Transfiguration and the healing of a demon-possessed boy. And finally, in chapters 11?16, the last week of Jesus? life is chronicled. Events include His coming to Jerusalem, dying on the cross, and rising from the dead. All told, the chapters that present a twenty-four-hour period or a continuous time of about one week amount to eleven of the sixteen chapters of the book!

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The Hour of His Judgment

?For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?? (1 Peter 4:17, ESV).

?I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned? (Matthew 12:36, 37, ESV).

?Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead? (Acts 17:31, ESV).

We could go on and on: Bible text after Bible text about God as a God of judgment, and the certainty from heaven above that the injustice and evil on earth below will, one day, be accounted for, answered, and justly punished. The concept of God?s judgments permeates the Scriptures. There?s not one single overarching judgment that rights all wrongs, that punishes all evil, and that rewards all goodness. Instead, God?s judgments have been ongoing events depending upon the time and place and circumstances, and from His judgments in the past we can learn about the judgment now and to come.

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Grace Abounds

Through Christ's redeeming work the government of God stands justified. The Omnipotent One is made known as the God of love. Satan's charges are refuted, and his character unveiled. Rebellion can never again arise. Sin can never again enter the universe. Through eternal ages all are secure from apostasy. By love's self-sacrifice, the inhabitants of earth and heaven are bound to their Creator in bonds of indissoluble union.

The work of redemption will be complete. In the place where sin abounded, God's grace much more abounds. . . . And through endless ages as the redeemed walk in the light of the Lord, they will praise Him for His unspeakable Gift,? Immanuel, "God with us."

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Coming Prince

John proclaimed the coming of the Messiah, and called the people to repentance. As a symbol of cleansing from sin, he baptized them in the waters of the Jordan. Thus by a significant object lesson he declared that those who claimed to be the chosen people of God were defiled by sin, and that without purification of heart and life they could have no part in the Messiah?s kingdom.

Many of the scribes and Pharisees came confessing their sins, and asking for baptism. They had exalted themselves as better than other people, and had led the people to entertain a high opinion of their piety; now the guilty secrets of their lives were unveiled. But John was impressed by the Holy Spirit that many of these people had no real conviction of sin. They were timeservers. As friends of the prophet, they hoped to find favor with the coming Prince. And by receiving baptism at the hands of this popular young teacher, they thought to strengthen their influence with the people.

John met them with the scathing inquiry, ?O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance; and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.? ?The Desire of Ages, pp. 104?106.

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The Pearl

?Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it? (Matthew 13:45, 46).

?Could that be the man we saw at the market?? the disciples quietly asked each other.

When Jesus had finished telling stories, He and the disciples walked back through the market to the place where they were staying. At the market, they recognized the man who had looked at the fabulous pearl. He had a bag and was showing its contents to the shop owner. The two men shook hands. The owner took the bag and gave the pearl to his customer.

?Just like Jesus? story,? someone said.

That evening as they ate the food that they had bought at the market, Peter asked, ?Jesus, what does the pearl story mean??

?What do you think it means?? Jesus returned the question.

?Nothing is as important as following You?? Andrew suggested.

?You are right. You left your fishing boats and tax collector?s booth to follow Me,? Jesus said. ?But the story also has another meaning.?

?Another meaning?? they all asked. ?How can it have another meaning??

?It?s something about Me. In another way, I am the merchant looking for a gorgeous pearl,? Jesus said.

?How can You be a merchant?? Peter asked.

?Does it mean that You are the man looking for pearls?? John wondered. ?You have given all to find us??

?Both meanings are correct,? Jesus said. ?Finding God?s kingdom is more important than anything else in life. Also, finding you is the most important thing to Me.?

?See, Peter. Jesus always has a deeper meaning than we imagine,? Andrew said.

?I?m glad that He tells us the meaning of His stories,? Peter answered. ?Otherwise, I would never figure them out.?

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The Best Storyteller Ever

For thousands of years, God lived far away from the people He had created because sin had separated them from Him. Information about His creative power could be seen in nature (Romans 1:20). Stories about Him were passed down from parents to children. However, people started making assumptions about God that were not always accurate. And then, one day God arrived on Earth as a baby named Jesus. He came, in part, to clear up the confusion about who God is and what He is like.

Jesus was the best Storyteller ever. He often began His parable stories with the phrase ?The kingdom of heaven is like . . . ,? and then He would use something in nature or an experience from real life to teach a truth about God. It was a popular teaching method in those days. He knew not everyone would understand everything right away, but He left a seed planted in their hearts that would take root and grow as they remembered the story details.

?Build your life on the foundation of My teachings,? Jesus told His listeners. ?It?s the only way your life will be secure.?

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The Whole Truth

Why do we need a Matthew, a Mark, a Luke, a John, a Paul, and all the writers who have borne testimony in regard to the life and ministry of the Saviour? Why could not one of the disciples have written a complete record and thus have given us a connected account of Christ?s earthly life? Why does one writer bring in points that another does not mention? Why, if these points are essential, did not all these writers mention them? It is because the minds of men differ. Not all comprehend things in exactly the same way. Certain Scripture truths appeal much more strongly to the minds of some than of others.

The same principle applies to speakers. One dwells at considerable length on points that others would pass by quickly or not mention at all. The whole truth is presented more clearly by several than by one. The Gospels differ, but the records of all blend in one harmonious whole.?Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 432.

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The Beginning of the Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark begins with an incomplete sentence (Mark 1:1?3). Many Bible translations make verse 1 a sentence of its own, even though it has no verb. But in Greek, the sentence, which is still incomplete grammatically, may actually extend through verse 3. It is a conversation between God the Father (?I,? verse 2) and God the Son (?your,? verse 2), couched in the language of three passages from the Old Testament?Exodus 23:20; Isaiah 40:3; and Malachi 3:1. Each of these verses contributes to the message, but Mark only refers to Isaiah: ?As it is written in Isaiah the prophet? (Mark 1:2). The reason for this focus on Isaiah has to do with a major theme of the Gospel of Mark?Jesus? ultimate destination.

This focus on movement?where Jesus is headed?is highlighted by the words ?the way of the Lord? in verse 3, which come from Isaiah 40:3. In the book of Isaiah, this ?way of the Lord? will be a new Exodus of God?s people.8 Jesus? ministry in Mark will open before His disciples this new direction in life. But the path will lead to a location they do not expect? the cross. It will be the place where Jesus? death becomes ?a ransom for many? (Mark 10:45). However, the disciples first must come to recognize who He is before He can reveal the tragic reality of His destination.

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Satan's Efforts To Deceive

Revelation 16:13, 14 describes Satan?s efforts to draw the world and its leaders to his side in his great controversy with Christ. He uses the religious powers of the world. The dragon in verse 13 represents Satan in his boldest forms of paganism or spiritualism; the beast represents Roman Catholicism; and the false prophet represents apostate Protestantism, which originally taught truth but, in the end, will totally apostatize and join the work of the antichrist. Through these religious powers, Satan works miracles to deceive and lead multitudes to his side to battle against God and His people.

Christ warned His people of Satan?s efforts (Matthew 24:24). Many will be deceived by these efforts of Satan and will think they are actually serving God (Matthew 7:21?23). Christ pointed out that the real evidence of our relationship with God is the ?fruits? that our lives bear?not miracles and other apparent gifts of the Spirit (verse 20). Many will be deceived because they do not love the truth of God?s Word (2 Thessalonians 2:9?12). God?s truth is our only shield against Satan?s deceptions (Psalm 91:4).  

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What's in a Name?

The name Israel was first given to Jacob after he had wrestled with the angel of the Lord all night (Genesis 32:24?30). Jacob was given the name Israel because he refused to let the angel go until God blessed him. The name means ?a prince of God? or ?one who prevails with God.? Therefore, a true Israelite is one who knows from experience how to prevail with God in prayer. A true Israelite has a close, meaningful, saving relationship with God. God?s Israel today, His church, is made up of all those who are faithful to Him and who have accepted Jesus Christ. This definition applies to both Old Testament and New Testament Israel. It does not apply to the modern state of Israel, which, like every nation, is composed of individuals of all religious faiths or no faith at all.

Every true Israelite will have the experience Jacob had with God. That experience is described by Ellen White in these words: ?Through humiliation, repentance, and self-surrender, this sinful, erring mortal prevailed with the Majesty of heaven. He [Jacob] had fastened his trembling grasp upon the promises of God, and the heart of Infinite Love could not turn away the sinner?s plea.?

Every true Israelite will walk humbly before their God in daily personal repentance and self-surrender. They will be men and women of prevailing prayer. In the end, their experience will be like that of Enoch, who is described as walking with God (Genesis 5:24). As Enoch daily walked with God and one day walked with Him into heaven, so will be the experience of true Israelites who are living when Jesus returns. They will be daily walking with God, which will result in their being caught up with Jesus in the clouds and taken to heaven to be with God forever (John 14:1?3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).

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The Devil's Plans

Christ is removed from many of the prophecies by dispensational teachings, which suits the devil?s plans perfectly. Satan?s hatred of Christ dates back to the war in heaven when he and his followers tried to overthrow Christ and usurp His position (Revelation 12:7?9; Isaiah 14:12?14). Ever since that conflict in heaven, Satan has been in mortal combat with Christ and His people. His goal is always to replace Christ?s authority on Earth and in the lives of Christ?s people. Removing Christ from the prophecies is unscriptural and Satanic in origin. Those who are deceived by a Christless prophetic interpretation will, in the end, find themselves without Christ and fleeing from His presence when He returns (Revelation 6:14?17).

Today, Satan is leading many Christians to focus on the literal nation of Israel, which takes our eyes off Christ?a Christless focus. True prophetic interpretation will always have Christ and His people at the center of the interpretation.

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Remember Your Belt

Life is pressing. I know you feel it too. I have faced a family death, stress on the job, family turmoil, health issues, and a recent COVID-19- related financial hit. Add the nation?s political climate, ravaging wars, and decline of kindness, and the yoke is heavier than ever. And here?s the worst part?my tired spirit felt more real to me than God?s Spirit. Then someone spoke truth to my heart with the words, ?You are going to get through this. The devil does not like what you are learning and doing. Just do not forget your belt in the morning.?

My what? The belt of truth! I had become so weakened, I could not hold my shield of faith or my sword of the Spirit. I could not wear my helmet of salvation or my breastplate of righteousness. My prayer at night was, ?Keep this tired servant going,? rather than ?Refill this servant with truth.? I was a perfect candidate for the devil?s strike. So what now?

I believe that as Adventist women, we should lift the name of Christ boldly and allow the notion of religious perfection to fall away in shambles. I believe we should buckle the truth around our waist and live as women who find their worth in Christ alone?all day long. I believe we should show young girls the access to Love they have in this life of confusion and conflict. As Adventist women, we are called to empower our homes and the workplace with the belt of truth. We are redeemed even when we are exhausted. We can walk in beauty with a messy bun. We can walk as worthy despite our mistakes. We are forgiven, chosen, redeemed because we are loved by the King Himself. So do not forget your belt in the morning, girls. Warrior. Redeemed. Loved.  

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