In Jesus’ Words: A new era of God (Mark 1:1-20)

Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!”  (Mark 1:14-15)

A new era of God’s relationship with mankind had begun, just as it had been promised to Abraham’s generation.  The time had come for mankind to make a decision.  The Old Testament sacrifices and laws were now represented through the long-awaited Messiah.  The Kingdom of God was present on the earth, and this certainly was good news!

The last prophet was John the Baptist.  He was the messenger sent ahead of time to prepare the people for a new era, a new way.  Mankind’s only required response to receive God’s salvation: Repent and Believe.  It sounds simple, and it really was.  Jesus would take the place of the sacrifice.  A new era had begun and it changed the world in a very short time-frame, unlike no other ever has.

But even in today’s more-sophisticated climate, repentance seems hard for people.  It requires admitting our faults, admitting there is a higher power than ourselves, and admitting that we cannot be our own savior.  But Jesus says this is Good News!  Take a look around at our world.  The probability of us doing very well in this life (and death) by our own power are not very high odds.  Every day I pass by car accidents, or hear of friends and family with sudden health problems, and I’ve lived long enough to see people at the top of the world one day only to fall so hard the next.  The good news is that we do have a higher power who is compassionate, merciful and only has our best interest in mind.  It would be very frightening to live in this world without having a stronger help than myself, someone I can call out to anytime.

“Follow Me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fish for people!”  (Mark 1:17)  I imagine Jesus saying that with a smile and delight.

Jesus did not ask the people their qualifications, where they came from or what they had done.  He wanted to have a relationship with them, teach them, and show them what life was really meant to be.  Mark’s first recorded words from Jesus says almost everything we need to know about Jesus’ message in this new era of God: “Repent. Believe. Follow Me. It’s good news!”

In Jesus’ Words: Seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:16-34)

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Jesus genuinely cared about people.  No one could accuse him of not caring.  He never asked the crowds for their money.  He was never self-serving.  He was not political.  He did speak as someone who had authority, but that is the only thing he could be accused of.

The answer to everything – our lives, our struggles, our questions – can be found in Jesus’ words that he has given to us.  So for a few minutes, tune out the noise from the media and our world, from everything we see and hear around us, and just listen to what Jesus has to say.  As I continue on this journey of reading through Jesus’ words in the New Testament, I come to the next passage in his Sermon on the Mount.  This sermon has so much great advice, and I feel like this next passage is one that is talking to us in a personal way.

“Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be provided to you.”
Matthew 6:33

That is a strong statement.  There is a lot of bickering going on around us – who is right and who is wrong, boycotting the state of Indiana, giving unbelievable amounts of money to a pizza restaurant in protest while others on our streets go hungry, and the list goes on and on.  We will never all agree, and most of these actions are fruitless.  If we cared as much about the welfare of others, despite our differences, we would have a better testimony about Jesus and a better world.  Seek God first, starting with ourselves, and our own families, and those who need our help.  Then the rest will fall into place.  And God will provide.

~ Matthew 6:16-34  Seek first the kingdom of God ~

“Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. For they make their faces unattractive so their fasting is obvious to people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you fast, put oil on your head, and wash your face, so that you don’t show your fasting to people but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness!

No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.

This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

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