The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

October 2020:

Jonathan Norton

October 1-2 | Matthew 19-20


Dr. Kevin Calhoun

October 5-9 | Matthew 21-25


Dr. Craig Bowers

October 12-16 | Matthew 26-28

Mark 1-2


Rev. JT Overby

October 19-23 | Mark 3-7


Jonathan Norton

October 26-30 | Mark 8-12

  • October 1, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Matthew 19


    In verse 26 the disciples have asked Jesus who can possibly be saved if rich people can’t get into Heaven; after all, this was a time period when wealth was thought to be a sign of God’s blessing. Jesus responds by saying “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”. 


    Now do a little word exercise for me. In place of the word “everything” in this verse, use the most impossible item in your life right now. Maybe it is a person, finances or another situation that seems impossible for you. When you replace the word “everything” with something from your impossible list, then you will begin to see that our Lord is a God of the impossible. With God, that thing in your life is possible! God specializes in the impossible. He does what we have absolutely no power to do. That’s the way He has planned it. Now, it might not go exactly how you want or how you planned, but it is possible. God’s answer to your prayer may be delayed or even sooner than you anticipate, the details might not be how you envisioned them, but we can always trust God’s plan is far better than any plan we could ever come up with.


    When we stop to think about it, we are actually more opposite from our God than we realize. We are limited and restricted; He has no limitations nor restrictions. We are impotent; He is omnipotent. We are finite; He is infinite. We have boundaries; His parameters have no boundaries. What we call impossible, God sees as no problem at all. As one pastor put it “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations”. Put your impossible situation in God’s hands, and when you do, you will experience God’s blessing like never before

  • October 2, 2020

    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Matthew 20


    The closing verses of this chapter recounts the healing of Bartimaeus and his friend, both of whom are blind (Mark 10:46-52). We see Jesus put into practice what He had just taught the disciples earlier in this chapter. Jesus, the Messiah, became the servant to two rejected blind beggars. What great lessons for us to learn from our Lord - how we need to be aware of those in need around us that society rejects, and how we are called to serve those who are outcast. 


    Jesus did three things in these six short verses. He Heard the beggars, He Hushed the crowd and He Healed the beggars. Isn’t it comforting to know that no matter how big and loud the crowd is, Jesus hears us when we cry out to him? These men who were blind and rejected by society waited for Jesus on the side of the road. When they heard the crowd, they shouted to Jesus to get His attention. The crowd around Jesus tried to silence the two men, but Jesus hushed the crowd so He could ask what their needs were. Once Jesus heard their needs, He had compassion for them and He healed them. Wow! What a simple yet powerful story.    


    This chapter as a whole contains some things that are hard for us to receive, and especially practice. We cannot acknowledge Jesus as our Lord unless we love Him above all else, obey Him unconditionally, glorify Him completely, and serve Him by serving others in need. When we do these things, we get the blessing of sharing in His life, His joy, and reign with Him in Heaven one glorious day!              



    What did Jesus’ attitude toward the two blind beggars show us about being a  servant?  


  • October 5, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Matthew 21

    Our reading for today begins with what we commonly refer to as “The Triumphal Entry.” This is a fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy, “Behold, your king is coming to you, gentle and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden,”(Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:5). However, Jesus was not the kind of King expected by the Jewish people. They anticipated a King who would bring an end to the oppression they experienced at the hand of the Roman government. 


    In Matthew 2:2, the Wise Men (Magi from the east) bowed down and worshipped Jesus as “King of the Jews.” At His crucifixion a sign was placed over His head mocking Jesus as “The King of the Jews,” (Matthew 27:37). Matthew also tells us one day in the future we will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory,” (24:30). Jesus was born in humble surroundings, ridiculed in His death, and awaiting His future glory when He returns for His Church. In every circumstance, whether people acknowledge it or not, Jesus is King.


    The question for us today is this – Is Jesus the King of my life? Do I acknowledge His Sovereignty? Do I give Jesus my complete allegiance?   Or, have I made someone or something else Lord of my life?




    List any areas in your life that may take first place in your life, (sports, money, family, work). 


    Write a prayer of faith committing your life to Jesus as your Savior and Lord. 




    Lord Jesus, I turn to You today as the Lord of my life. I want to follow You, and You alone, by faith.  I trust You as my King!  Amen!

  • October 6, 2020                                                                                                    

    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Matthew 22


    As the date for elections draws closer, I find verses 15 – 22 in today’s reading very challenging.  I feel certain we all have strong opinions about the elections coming in November (national, state, and local).  With that in mind, what does Jesus have to say to us?


    In an effort to trap Jesus the Pharisees asked Him a loaded question in verse 17, “Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” The question involves three touchy subjects - government, politics, and religion. If Jesus answers “no” He will be in opposition to the mandates of the Roman government. If Jesus answers “yes” He will risk making the Jewish people angry. It appears that Jesus is in a difficult position no matter how He answers.


    Jesus, however, provides a wonderful answer. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” (vs. 21).  To put it in simple language – be a good citizen, pay your taxes, but give your ultimate allegiance to God. Or, as a friend of mine likes to say, “be involved, support a candidate, vote, advocate for policy in the public square, or run for office yourself. But do not make politics your ultimate priority.” Our first priority and ultimate allegiance should always be to Jesus.



    Make a list of political issues that stir up strong feelings of emotion in you.  



    List examples of how these issues and emotions may hinder your walk with Christ. 



    List any times your political convictions may have caused broken relationships with others.  




    Lord Jesus, I pray today for wisdom and insight as I prepare to vote in the upcoming elections. May I seek Your guidance as my Lord and God.  Amen!

  • October 7, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Matthew 23

    I have often heard people say things like, “If you are going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk,” or “actions speak louder than words.”  Statements like these cause us to consider how our actions illustrate what we truly believe. Thus, Jesus’ words in verses 13-36 of our reading today should cause us to consider the impact of our actions. Although these comments are directed toward the scribes and Pharisees, they are applicable to us today. Jesus expects us to live lives of character each day. Our actions reveal what we believe.


    Notice the seriousness expressed by Jesus in these verses. Eight times in this passage Jesus uses the phrase “woe unto you” (vss. 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27, and 29). Seven times He calls them “hypocrites” (vss. 13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, and 29). Three times He speaks of them as “blind guides” (vss. 16, 19, and 24). Once as “fools and blind” (vs. 17), and once as “you serpents, you brood of vipers” (vs. 33). These words and phrases must not be taken lightly. We must practice what we preach (vss. 1-4).  We must exhibit true humility (vss. 5-12). We must know salvation personally (vss. 13-15). We should be honest and truthful (vss. 16-22).  We must care more about our character than our image (vss. 25-28), and we must honor Jesus and those who follow Him (vss. 29-36).



    List any areas of your life where your actions may contradict what you say.  



    What steps can you take to be more faithful in your actions?  




    Lord Jesus, I cannot live a life of faith in my own ability. Fill me with Your Spirit so that I may walk by faith each day.  Amen!

  • October 8, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Matthew 24


    Matthew 24 provides for us a chapter full of prophecy, much of which is yet to be fulfilled. I am reminded of Peter’s instruction to “do well to pay attention,” (2 Peter 1:19). 


    We must beware of deception. Jesus is quite clear in verse 4 when He states, “see to it that no one misleads you.” Jesus continues in verse 36 by saying, "of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” We learn many truths in the pages of Scripture, but the day and hour of Christ’s return is not one of them. Be careful of anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.


    We must be prepared to persevere through difficult days. We are not to expect a time of universal peace and happiness prior to the return of Jesus. There will be wars and rumors of war (vs. 6), there will be times of tribulation (vss. 9, 21, and 29), but the chosen of God, His elect, will persevere (vss. 22, 24, and 31).“The one who endures to the end, he shall be saved,” (vs. 13).


    We are to be found faithful when Jesus returns. The slowness of the return of Jesus should not cause us to doubt His coming. We are instructed to be on the alert (vs. 42) and be ready (vs. 44). Until such time, we are to be holy and faithful in our walk with Christ.



    List any other truths about Christ’s return revealed in Scripture.  


    What steps can you take to be prepared for Christ’s return?  




    Lord Jesus, thank You for saving me through Your life, death, and resurrection. May I be faithful to You as I await Your return. Amen!

  • October 9, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Matthew 25


    We ended our devotion yesterday with a challenge to be found faithful when Jesus returns. The two opening parables today (The Ten Virgins and The Talents) teach us to be patient. The time of His return might be a longer wait than anticipated. In the parable of the ten virgins we read “while the bridegroom was delaying” (vs. 5), and in the parable of the talents we read “after a long time” (vs. 19). This delay should not cause us to doubt the coming of our Lord. We should not become casual in our walk with Christ. Rather, we are called to be watchful, alert, and ready at all times.


    We also learn something about our personal responsibility in these two parables. Each of the young virgins was responsible for providing the oil for their own lamps, and each of the servants was called to give an account of their stewardship of the talents given to them. When we stand before our Lord, each of us will be responsible for our own response to Jesus. Will we hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful slave,” (vss. 21 and 23)?


    The chapter closes with what we understand as the separation of the sheep from the goats. When Jesus comes again, ALL nations will stand before Him. Those who have turned to God by faith in Jesus will receive eternal salvation, but those who have turned away from Jesus will receive eternal punishment, (vs. 46).



    Have you trusted in Jesus as your Savior and Lord?  If not, will you do so today? 



    List ways you can walk more closely with Jesus today.  




    Almighty God, fill me with Your grace today that I may walk by faith in Jesus. Amen!

  • October 12, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read Matthew 26

    The Passover meal was celebrated annually to remember the deliverance of Israel from slavery. The death angel passed over those who applied the lamb’s blood to the doorpost and lintels. On the eve of going to the cross, Jesus transformed the meal. Now, we celebrate the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ that was shed to deliver us out from under the slavery of sin! This blood is applied to the hearts of those who trust in Jesus’ work on the cross as the substitutionary atonement (payment) for our sin. He is the unblemished, sinless Lamb of God.


    The key to this celebration is found in the words, “do this in remembrance of me.” When Jesus gave the bread and wine to the disciples, He shared with them the symbolism of each one. The bread represents His body; the wine represents His blood. These elements do not have any supernatural powers. They are simply symbols of the actual body and blood of Jesus. No grace is dispensed by the bread and wine. They do not transform into the actual body and blood of Jesus as the Catholic Church teaches. That is called Transubstantiation. Other denominations such as the Lutherans, believe that the elements coexist with the body and blood of Jesus. That is called Consubstantiation.


    The New Testament makes it clear that the purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to remember our Lord’s sacrifice for us. Participating is actually a proclamation of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 11:26). The table is to be approached with serious and sincere reflection. It is a celebration of our unity with the Lord and His Bride. God’s judgment falls on all who participate with malice or rebelliousness in their hearts (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).



    Lord Jesus, thank you for setting aside Your glory and rightful place in order to become a human. Thank you for allowing Your body to be beaten and Your blood to be shed for my sin. Throughout today, may my heart be filled with gratitude for all You have done for me.

  • October 13, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read  Matthew 27


    “Are death bed conversions real?” Through the years I’ve been asked that question many times. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the matter. Let me go ahead and say it: Opinions often reveal biblical illiteracy! Notice the  exchange in verses 38-44. The paragraph begins with the two robbers positioned on each side of Jesus and ends with them joining others in hurling insults at Jesus.


    One of the robbers had a change of heart. Luke’s account reveals that one asked Jesus for mercy as he confessed that he was receiving justice. He confessed the righteousness of Christ. Jesus said to this dying man, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). This man was saved on the last day of his life! Thank God for His grace and patience!


    I have found that death bed confessions are very rare; however, they are also very real. In His grace, God allows those in the last moments of life to be saved. Those who trust Christ with very little time left in life recognize the tremendous grace of God. They have nothing to offer God. Time has run out. They often have no opportunity to be baptized or do anything else “religious.” So they appreciate to a deeper degree the grace of God. There is no hope deep within them to “do something for God.” They can do nothing but trust. Praise God that is all He requires. Grace is possible for those on their death bed just as it is for those in the prime of life. However, in both cases, grace can only be received with empty hands. We cannot receive God’s grace while offering Him any acts of “righteousness” on our part.



    Thank you God that I am saved by grace, kept by grace, and will stand before you one day in grace.

  • October 14, 2020


    by Craig Bowers

    Read Matthew 28


    “Make Disciples” is the only imperative in what is often referred to as the Great Commission.  There has never been any debate about the declaration. However, there is much debate as to HOW we make disciples.

    Jesus tells us in the context of the Commission HOW!  He uses three  participles that indicate the continuous action of the activities:

    They are “going…baptizing…teaching.”

    We make disciples as we are GOING about our lives sharing the Good News!  A disciple can only be “made” by first becoming a Christ follower.  So the first step in making disciples is leading someone to turn to Christ and trust in Him.

    The second word is “baptizing”.  After a person trusts Christ, they are to be baptized. This is the outward profession of faith! It is the visible identification and association one makes to the Lord and the community of faith. We are all to be baptized in the name of the Triune God we follow. While water baptism doesn’t save one, it publicly shows others we are saved. We believe it is best to take this literally so that we baptize people by immersion.  The word “baptize” simply means to immerse! 

    The most neglected aspect of the Great Commission is “teaching.” Our Lord taught the Disciples formally and informally. They learned more from Him in the unexpected, serendipity moments of life. He taught them through His example! He demonstrated a passion to do all that the Father wanted Him to do. We are to teach others by our words and actions. We teach them “all that (Jesus) commanded.” That is pretty much the entire New Testament. We are to obey the Lord. That’s not legalism, that’s love!!

  • October 15, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read Mark 1

    In his excellent work on Mark, Dr. Daniel Akin, asks this pertinent question based on verses 21-28, “Why should Jesus have absolute authority in my life?” Absolute authority is uncontested, undisputed, ultimate power! The burning question of this hour is this: In every area of my life, without exception, does Jesus Christ have absolute authority? Let’s get back to Dr. Akin’s question, Why should He?

    Two reasons are drawn from our text. Because of His teachings and His  power over demons. Jesus taught with authority because He is the source of all authority. There is no authority that exists anywhere in the world without His permission. He taught with authority because He is the One in ultimate authority. Do not fear him who has the power to kill the body; but rather fear him who has the authority to condemn the soul for eternity. When He stood before Pilate, who in his royal pomp reminded Christ of his authority over Him, Jesus responded with the ultimate truth that Pilate had no authority over Him except what was given to him by the ultimate authority. Jesus clarified that His Kingdom was not of this world. His words are authoritative over the demons of hell and every power on earth.

    Jesus’ authority over the forces of darkness does not appear to be winning! That’s because this world is doing exactly what God’s word teaches us – it will continue to rebel against His authority. All rebellion against God is rooted in pride. This world is full of arrogance and pride. The question we must ask ourselves as Christ followers is this: Do I demonstrate a humility that readily, willingly, and quickly yields to the   authority of God in my life?

  • October 16, 2020

    by Craig Bowers


    Read Mark 2


    As we journey together in reading the Gospels, we must continue to ask this question every time we approach a text: ‘What is God teaching about Himself?’ In this passage the answer to that question is very clear! God is teaching us that Jesus Christ is God. Jesus did not come into the world as half man and half God. Jesus, God Himself, did not set aside His deity when He became a human. Of necessity, He sat aside His glory. While being in the role of Messiah, the Suffering Servant, the Lamb of God, He never, ever had a diminished position as God.


    Jesus demonstrated His authority as God through His power to forgive sin. No one has the authority to forgive sin but God. All sin is ultimately against God. In forgiving this man’s sin, Jesus made Himself equal to God! He declared His deity. There was no misunderstanding about this declaration as the scribes correctly reasoned in their hearts, ““Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?”” Mark 2:7


    In his excellent book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis challenges all who would declare Jesus as a good, moral teacher. Let me share this extensive quote:


    “That is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. “


    There is nothing in life more important than your thoughts about God. If you are wrong here, you are wrong for eternity. Choose wisely. Walk through this day in light of the fact that Jesus Christ is the Lord God.

  • October 19, 2020


    by JT Overby


    Read Mark 3


    “Whoever does this will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Easier said than done, right? Scripture gives us a holy God who cannot be in the presence of sin or anything unclean. His holiness would consume all that is sinful and unclean. He demands that all who would draw near to Him must be perfect. Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden for their sinfulness in not keeping the will of God, unable to enjoy God’s presence as they previously had. The Israelites were given a complex sacrificial system that allowed them to enjoy God, though not in full. The Psalmist prayed (notably in 15 and 24) that those who would seek to enjoy the presence of the Lord must be perfect and holy. What hope is there for us?

    Don’t be tempted to think too highly of yourself. We come like the man with the withered hand. We come like the crowds, broken and needy. But these outward imperfections are signs of inward imperfections. We are spiritually broken and needy. We are not holy or righteous and all attempts to be so leave us further from where we started (see Romans 3 and Ephesians 2:1-3). What hope is there for us?

    Our hope is in the incomprehensible and indescribable grace of God. The Father has sent the Son to rescue us. Jesus came to us, we who are unclean and broken and needy, and spiritually dead in our sins. God came to us in the flesh, not to consume us, but to bind the strong man (3:27) and rescue us from the house of slavery. He would do so by being consumed Himself.

    He would take our sin and all we deserve for it upon Himself. He would become the perfect sacrifice for our sin so that we could be perfectly cleansed. What hope is there for us? Jesus is our perfect hope.

  • October 20, 2020


    by JT Overby


    Read Mark 4


    If the sower is a good sower, why would he seemingly waste the seed by sowing it in places he knows it won’t grow? Why doesn’t he just judge the soils as bad and then move on, looking for good soil? Why would Jesus sow the seeds of the gospel in  seemingly wasteful ways?

    This is certainly a temptation we can fall into. We judge the soils. We judge people’s hearts and think, well they certainly won’t believe so why speak of the gospel to them. We fail to understand the sheer grace we have been shown.

    Even if we are good soil that has responded to the message of the gospel in faith, and by the power of the Spirit fruit has been produced in us, all of that was sheer grace. It had nothing to do with us. The sower sows in an act of grace and mercy. The sower in the parable doesn’t withhold the gospel message by judging the soils unworthy. He sows graciously.

    So, we look within. How receptive are we to the word of God? Are we growing in our love for God? Are we growing in our delight of Jesus? Have you grown in your faith in the past 6 months? Are you growing in your hatred of sin? Are you bearing fruit in repentance? Are you growing in Christ-likeness?

    Or do you find yourself loving what the world offers? Do you find yourself holding  onto pet sins you don’t want to give up? Gossip. Lust. Anger. Worry. Impatience. Grudge holding. What sins are you allowing to remain within your heart that will  slowly choke you out?

    The message of the gospel is that we can’t make ourselves right with God. It is all God’s grace. May we come all the more eagerly to God and pray for His grace that our hearts may be a good soil for His word, that much fruit may be produced in us to His glory!


  • October 21, 2020


    by JT Overby


    Read Mark 5


    There is so much grace and goodness packed into Mark 5. What we see in this chapter are cases of broken and needy humans that are so reflective of our condition apart from Jesus. What makes Mark 5 all the more beautiful is reading it with the rest of Scripture in mind, as we ought to always seek to do.

    In the Law, the Israelites were not to be around the dead or where the dead were placed. They weren’t supposed to be around or come in contact with unclean animals. If a woman had a discharge of blood, she was unclean and anyone who came in contact with her was unclean. In order for Israel to dwell with God and God with Israel, they needed to pursue holiness and be clean in all their ways of living.

    We see in our human condition that none of us are clean and holy before God. We are all unclean. We have no right to enjoy the presence of God. We are spiritually lost, broken, needy, and dead. What we see in the conditions of the demon-possessed man, the woman with the discharge, and the girl who has died, is what we would see in ourselves if we had the spiritual eyes to see it.

    Yet, Jesus comes precisely to these people. This is no accident. He comes in contact with the unclean, the undeserving, the broken, and needy. What does He do? Kick them out of his presence? Consume them in righteous wrath? No, He restores their humanity. He cleans them. He makes them whole and alive.

    Is Jesus then unclean and unworthy of God? No. He perfectly takes upon Himself all of our uncleanness, our sin, so that we might be clothed in His righteousness. On the cross, He feels the forsakenness we deserve to experience so that we can enjoy the presence of God. What grace.

  • October 22, 2020


    by JT Overby


    Read Mark 6


    Familiar stories can be dangerous. Because of our familiarity with them we can often read applications from the text that don’t actually come out of a right interpretation of the text. Jesus feeding 5,000 and walking on water are certainly two very familiar stories. Let’s read through them slowly today.

    Why does Mark record that Jesus meant to “pass by” the disciples on the water?

    Dane Ortlund, in his book Gentle and Lowly, writes on Mark 6 that Jesus isn’t meaning to pass by the disciples like a car passes by another car. In the Greek Old Testament, the words “pass by” are used four times in Exodus 33-34, when God tells Moses that He will “pass by” him and reveal His glory to him. When He “passes by”, God reveals Himself in one of the most quoted Old Testament passages for understanding who God is, Exodus 34:6-7. God, to our surprise especially after the golden calf incident, reveals Himself to be a God who is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, gracious and merciful, remember sin to the third and fourth generation, but showing forgiveness and faithfulness to the   thousand generations. Amazing.

    Why does Jesus feed 5,000? Is it to show me how He will always feed me in times of need? Maybe, but not primarily. Why does He walk on water? To show me He will walk on the storms to rescue me? Maybe, but not primarily.

    Jesus is revealing Himself to be the true God, the God of Israel who has come in the flesh. Jesus is God who hates sin, yet is slow to anger, loving, and kind. He is God in the flesh who has come to lay down His glorious life for sinners.

    Will we believe? Will we gaze upon the glory of Jesus as He “passes by” in the Scriptures?

  • October 23, 2020

    by JT Overby

    Read Mark 7

    It seems easier and within our control to believe that whatever we put in our bodies is what makes us unclean before the Lord. What makes Israel unique is that they are God’s people. He is their God and they are His people. They are called to keep covenant with God by keeping the laws and commands. If they are unholy and unclean before the Lord, they will not enjoy relationship with Him, but face being exiled. If I were an Israelite, I’d like to think it were up to me to just avoid certain foods and to wash my hands in certain ways in order to be right with the Lord.

    And then comes the teaching of Jesus. It isn’t the washing of hands. It isn’t what food you eat or don’t eat. It is what comes out of the heart that defiles a person. And what kind of things come out of the heart? Things that are common to all of mankind. Do you avoid sexual immortality? Good. How are you doing with pride? How are you doing with slander? Psalm 10 teaches us that God sees all things and that He makes note of every “mischief” and evil. The Lord sees and knows the wickedness and evil of my heart.

    What hope do we have? We have hope in God who knows and sees all things, doesn’t ignore them, yet shows us grace and mercy in Jesus. Jesus takes the wrath that our unholiness deserves so that we can be given a new heart (Ezekiel 36) that loves and desires the Lord. He empowers us with His Spirit and sanctifies us in Him. Our hope is in Jesus and our boasting (and we should boast!) is in Him and Him alone!

  • October 26, 2020

    by Jonathan Norton

    Read Mark 8


    I think most of us would admit that it is easy for us to forget things if we do not take the time review and reflect on what we have experienced or learned. For instance, if students don’t review how to do math, they forget how to do it. If we don’t review scripture, we will forget what God’s Word says. If we don’t reflect back on events in our lives where God has blessed us and met our needs, we will forget how God always provides for us. That is why the story of Jesus feeding the four thousand here in Mark 8:1-9 is so important.


    Remember the disciples had just seen Jesus feed over five thousand people back in Mark 6, so how could they even think about questioning God now? We wonder why the disciples failed to trust Jesus this time, yet we often do the same thing. How often do we worry about certain needs in our lives, forgetting how many times God has come through for us? We do this even in the church. Time and time again God provides for us through His people and through a variety of ways. However, many times when we are faced with a challenging situation or a church need, we tend to start worrying and planning how we can address the need under our own power. The truth is the first place we should always start in these situations is on our face in prayer to our Lord. Giving Him thanks for always providing for us in the past, and praying that He will meet our needs again. For it is only by His power that we can meet needs and overcome challenges.     


    So once again we are encouraged here in Chapter 8 by our Lord’s compassion and His complete control over every situation. We must constantly review and reflect upon what God has done in our lives. All we need to do is trust Him and obey Him

  • October 27, 2020

    by Jonathan Norton

    Read Mark 9


    For today’s devotion let’s take a look at the end of the chapter in verses 38-49. Most of us have no idea what a millstone is. That is because we get our flour in bag already ground up and ready to use. However, in biblical times, grain was ground between heavy, circular stones that turned on top of each other. These millstones were incredibly heavy, which is why Jesus used them in His illustration. He knew His listeners would get the picture.


    The picture Jesus was using to teach was that people who hinder the faith of  others will receive no mercy because of the great damage they cause on the  others they influence. Unfortunately, we have seen this too much in our society today. False teachers who are smooth talkers, but distort the truth, or maybe backslidden Christians looking to manipulate others for their own benefit.  We see it too many times in some pastors, teachers and leaders. Under their influence are “little ones”, all God’s children who follow Christ and serve Him, believers who receive false information from those they respect and trust. They might use biblical terms, but they do not live by the Bible. The Bible is not their authority, they are their own authority using the Bible for their own gain. They are dangerously leading people astray. The fact is that the way we all treat other believers in the family of God is a serious thing. God wants us to “have peace one with another”  (v. 50).


    In reading this last passage of Mark 9, I am reminded of two things:

    1.) We must guard our hearts and minds through the peace of God          (Philippians 4:7).

    2.) We must teach and walk in the truth of God’s Holy Word, always pointing others to Christ with our words and actions. 

  • October 28, 2020

    by Jonathan Norton

    Read Mark 10

    Jesus was a master teacher and our Lord used many different methods to teach His Word to His followers. He used symbols, miracles, parables, proverbs and paradoxes to share the truth of God’s Word. A paradox is a statement that seems to contradict itself, but actually expresses a valid truth or principle. Chapter 10 in the Gospel of Mark gives us five examples of Jesus stating the truth using a paradox. As the great Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe points out, Jesus could have preached long sermons, but He chose instead to give us five valuable lessons that He communicated in five short paradoxical teachings.


    1) “Two Shall Be One” (vs. 1-12)

    2) “Adults Shall Be As Children” (vs. 13-16)

    3) “The First Shall Be Last” (vs. 17-31)

    4) “Servants Shall Be Rulers” (vs. 32-45)

    5) “The Poor Become Rich” (vs. 46-52)       


    When looking at the first paradox when Jesus teaches about marriage and divorce, I can’t help but think about the 5 P’s of marriage: “Partnership, Peacefulness, Purity, Patience and Prayer”. Those of us that are married must have a prayerful partnership that prioritizes Jesus so we can experience a positive, pure and peaceful relationship that can only be produced from the power of His Holy Spirit. I know that’s a lot P’s, but it helps my simple mind guide my human heart.


    In the third paradox, Jesus pointed a young man to the Law of Moses.  Jesus wanted him to see himself as a sinner that cannot be saved from sin just by keeping the law. The law is a mirror that shows us how dirty we are, but it cannot wash us clean. The purpose of the law is to bring the sinner to Christ, which is what it did in this man’s case. Another important lesson for us to learn here is that “The law can bring the   sinner to Christ, but the law cannot make the sinner like Christ – Only Grace can do that”. Amen!       

  • October 29, 2020

    by Jonathan Norton

    Read  Mark 11


    Prayer is the key word in this chapter. In verse 17 we have the reminder that God’s house should be a house of prayer. But we must remember that our church buildings are not the only house of God. His house is wherever His people are. We are the church and we should take prayer wherever we go. What a blessing to know we do not have to go to a temple or church to enter into the presence of almighty God. That is why “Prayer is our Attitude” is one of our Core Values here at Wynnbrook Baptist Church. Prayer is vital to us as individual believers and to the Church body.   


    In verse 24 Jesus says, “whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours”. As Christians, it is important that prayer is not just an emergency line we call on when we have a problem or a need.  Real prayer is a part of our constant communion with God and worship of God. If we desire God to answer our prayers, we must be in true fellowship with both our heavenly Father and our brothers and sisters in Christ here on earth. As an old coach and to use a sports metaphor, “Prayer is a Team Game!” After all, the first word in the Lord’s Prayer is “Our” Father in heaven, not “My” father. Yes, each day we need to pray in private, but there is also power in corporate prayer. 


    Our Father in Heaven, we thank you for the power you have given us through prayer. We thank You for answering our prayers according to Your will. What an incredible blessing it is to know that we have a God who listens to our every prayer. May prayer be our attitude as individual Christians and as a Church  Family. Amen.

  • October 30, 2020

    by Jonathan Norton

    Read Mark 12


    In verses 13-34 of Chapter 12, we read about three types of Jewish religious leaders all trying to trick Jesus into saying something that they could use against Him. The Pharisees in verses 13-17 presented a political question, the Sadducees in verses 18-27 presented a spiritual question, and a religious teacher of the law (Scribe) in verses 28-34 presented a Bible question. It is not surprising that they all fail and actually end up getting a Bible lesson in the process from Jesus. These religious leaders of Jesus’ day had their own rules, laws, regulations, rituals and ways of doing religion. The problem was these legalistic leaders were missing the point of who Jesus is and why He came to earth. The problem for us is that some of these same types of people are in the church today.   


    A 2020 Pharisee would be someone who is legalistic, judgmental, opinionated and strict on those who do not keep the rules of religion. This person never misses a meeting, loves to critique others while pointing out how often they pray and read their Bible. Jesus teaches in this text that you can be full of religion and still be lost (or far away from God in your walk).   


    The 2020 Sadducee is more interested in politics than religion. This person likes the teachings of Jesus, but uses them in a humanistic and arrogant way. They are really concerned about position and possessions more so than the people of God. We are unfortunately seeing this type of religious leader really be the most vocal with the election coming soon.


    Lastly, the 2020 Scribe is someone who is well studied, understands theology, and seems to be a faithful follower. This person is smart and sensible. Where they fall short is on grace and their need to fully surrender to the Lordship of Christ. It is hard for them to grasp that faith, not just intelligence, is how we grow in Christ.


    May our prayer be to ask God to help us not become like any of these three “religious leaders”.