The Pivotal Point in History

“The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead.” Mark 9:31b

The pivotal point in history is also the loneliest. Old Testament scriptures foretold the birth, suffering, death, resurrection and glory of the Messiah. The Prophet Daniel even recorded the exact day of Messiah’s coming.

“A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision and to anoint the Most Holy Place. Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus six-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One (Messiah the Prince KJV)—comes.” Daniel 9:24-25

When Artaxerxes Longimanus issued the edict to Nehemiah in 445 B.C. ordering him to return and rebuild Jerusalem, the countdown to Messiah the Prince began. 69 periods of 7 bring us to the time this week’s study in the Gospel of Mark takes place.

The prophecy given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel went on to say

“…the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing…” Daniel 9:26

The pivotal point in history: the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing. The Pharisees and religious leaders were blind to the truth and rejected him. How many times did he say something happened as fulfillment of scripture? Yet they condemned him. He stood alone amidst the hatred.

The Disciples looked for a political prince to change their circumstances. They misunderstood his purpose and slept. He agonized alone in Gethsemane and God sent angels to strengthen him.

Mary of Bethany’s faith honored him. He knew the depth of her personal sacrifice to anoint him with precious oil before he went to the cross alone.

When our sin ravaged his perfect soul, God—who cannot look upon sin—turned away. Jesus paid the sin-price alone.

For our sake he was rejected…doubted…misunderstood…grieved…killed. Because he accomplished salvation by his own shed blood, he has the right to bring us with him. Never again to be alone.

His Cross is the door by which every member of the human race can enter into the life of God; by His resurrection He has the right to give eternal life to anyone, and by His ascension our Lord entered heaven, keeping the door open for humanity.” Oswald Chambers His Ascension and Our Access

“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” John 11:25-26

by Marilyn Allison








I AM

“But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I AM,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” Mark 14:61-62

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The light shines brighter when it’s in the dark. I’ve found this to be true and am thankful for the times God has put me in a dark room and asked me to find my way out. It has helped to grow and mold my faith according to his truth. Where else can I go but to Jesus, the light of the world?

This particular “dark room” once again had to do with my Jehovah’s Witnesses friends who came knocking. This was several years ago, and I honestly didn’t know too much about what they believed, but felt confident that I had enough knowledge of Scripture to hold my ground in a friendly back-and-forth over our differing doctrine. When they began agreeing with me on so much, their eventual claim that Jesus was not in fact God, but just God’s son (they conveniently left out the part about Him being Michael, the archangel), threw me. Of course he was God! It was all through Scripture… wasn’t it?

At that moment the question for me became not whether or not Jesus was God, but rather, why I believed that He was. These very sincere people pointed out that Jesus never once claimed to be God in all of Scripture. Naively, I thought I had the perfect verse to contradict their claim:

“I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I AM.’”
John 8:58

Boom! Drop the mic.

But of course, what I thought was such a great response did not impress them much. Unbeknownst to me, they had been well prepared to combat just such a verse. As we parted ways, the conversation rattled me more than I wanted to admit, and set me on a mission to discover Jesus as God, and the way he revealed himself as such in Scripture.

The Bible does not record Jesus ever saying the words, “I am God.” However, He alludes to it plenty of times throughout Scripture. A claim that was not lost on His followers or His enemies. In our verse here from Mark, Jesus affirms that he is—in fact—the Christ. He also attributes God’s glory to Himself when He quotes in part from Daniel 7.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power…”
Daniel 7:13-14a

Caiaphus, the high priest, tore his robes at this, and called what Jesus said, blasphemy! Blasphemy not only involved reviling the name of God but also included any affront to His majesty or authority. Jesus’ claim to being Messiah—having majesty and authority belonging only to God—was seen as absolute blasphemy.*

In other words, unless Jesus was God, he was guilty of blasphemy by ascribing God’s majesty and authority to himself. The meanings and implications of what he said were abundantly clear to all who heard him, as they should be to us.

This leaves us, then, with two options. We can see Jesus as a liar who was seeking to glorify himself by claiming God’s majesty and authority as his own or we can see Jesus as God made flesh—worthy to claim the majesty and authority that are rightfully his. As the light of the world, Jesus has revealed this truth to us in no uncertain terms.

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” Colossians 2:9

by Siara Borning

*Zondervan NIV Study Bible











Lessons From the Mission Field: Lamb Selection

And Abraham said, ‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Genesis 22:8

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Easter has passed. It has brought several new lessons to the heart of this "city girl".

It’s the time of year for the highest sales of lamb—much enjoyed meat here (also one of JeJe's favorites ). I love lambs too much to really enjoy eating them (although Elli has found a way to make delicious roast lamb).

The flavor of lamb is definitely impacted by how the lamb itself was raised and cared for. It has an effect on whether or not the meat will smell.

If a lamb has been raised in a "clean" environment and fed good food, it is less likely to have a pungent odor.
If it is raised on a "dirty" farm and fed lesser quality food, it is more than likely going to smell.
If the diet has been garbage—as in "pig slop”—it’s definitely going to have a pungent scent. The odor is enough to make one lose their appetite.

The indoor area of our marketplace is where the butchers have their stands. Included in their display of slaughtered and skinned lambs are the cheeses from cows, lambs, and goats so the area is ripe with odor. Since the goal is to buy one without smell, the chosen carcass must be separated and taken outside to test in the fresher air. The odor from one lamb taints the scent of another. It’s difficult for me to see the many lambs on display and I do my best to avoid this area.

Beside knowing about odor, our family has learned it’s important to know the owner who has raised the lamb chosen for purchase. Has he raised it locked up all day in a pen? Or did he allow it to roam free, feeding off good grass? Was he watchful in keeping it safe, or does it have injuries from predators? Was it raised in a clean environment….with a clean place to sleep…and a clean food stall?

The past few years, JeJe has developed a good business relationship with a farmer/shepherd who lives in a village about 20 minutes from us. He delivers lambs "fresh" to a place outside the marketplace—kept separate just for us. His lambs are clean. Their transport is clean. The area they live in is clean. The shepherd himself is clean and well groomed. JeJe continues to purchase the lamb from him because we know the care he has given them. The meat is so good and has no odor. Family members have enjoyed the lamb at gatherings in our home and now they, too, are buying from this man.

I couldn’t help but think of today’s churches and their sheep. Are the shepherds careful with the flock? Do they feed them the truth of God’s Word or are they looking out for themselves? Do they love them enough to tell them—with a heart filled with compassion—when they are in danger? Why are there so many bad sheep? Why are there so many sick and hurting sheep? Why do the sheep stay with someone who really isn't caring for them the way they should?

If the quality of our faith is not producing good fruit—results—for others to see, it’s time to allow God to search our hearts (Psalm 139:23-24) and examine what needs to change. If our faith isn't growing and we are stagnant at best, It’s time to get off the hamster wheel of insanity—expecting new results while doing the same old thing. If we are constantly in a rut that isn't changing, we need to get before God, ask him what needs to change. and then do it—get things cleaned up.

He’s waiting to speak to us directly, if we will just let Him in (Jeremiah 29:13 & Revelation 3:20). We need to keep ourselves well fed on the truth of His Word—personally and in a good Bible teaching church. We need to put ourselves in environments where we’re well cared for so we don't stinketh (my Grandma used to use that word).

Lord, help me be a sweet aroma of Jesus for Your Name’s sake,

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God."
2 Corinthians 2:14-17

by Coleen Jejeran










Watch and Be Ready

“Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!” Mark 13:35-37

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When you read a novel—or watch a suspenseful movie—and your insides start to churn at the dilemma the heroine (or hero) is facing, do you turn to the last chapter or fast forward to the final scene to learn if everything turns out okay? I have to confess—I often do just that. I want to know what’s going to happen—how it all turns out—so I can go back and enjoy the journey.

In a way, that was what the disciples did with Jesus. He used earthly parables to teach them about the heavenly kingdom—that he would return and take them there. They asked him three questions.

“Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3b

Like readers of a novel, they asked, how will we recognize the climax of the story? Throughout his description of the warning signs, Jesus repeatedly told them to be alert, stay awake, be vigilant. The time of his coming was not to catch them unaware—unprepared. Jesus didn’t want them to think he was delaying his coming so they would get caught up with…providing for their families…righting the wrongs in society…spreading the gospel to the nations. Don’t misunderstand me, he does want us to fulfill our calling as women—daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, grandmothers—all with the awareness that Jesus Is Coming. And that’s good. His coming shouldn’t frighten us.

When I was a much younger believer, I was focused on establishing my life. College, career, marriage, children, starter home, bigger home. Then it was plans for college for our children and retirement. When I thought Jesus might come and interrupt all my plans, I was afraid he would come before I reached my goals. Then I felt guilt because I wasn’t trusting that his plan for my life was better than mine. I would pray for guidance, but what I really wanted was for God to co-sign my plans, not implement his. That was coming from a heart that believed in him, but didn’t know him well enough to believe him.

But God…in his gentle mercy and grace, taught me to know the heart and person of his Son, my savior. If there is one parable that has been a turning point for me in desiring to watch and be ready, it’s the parable of the ten virgins.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.” Matthew 25:1-10

Early on, I was convinced I was one of the five foolish ones who weren’t prepared to meet the bridegroom and my self-condemnation was painful. Since this parable was a picture of something the disciples would know and relate to, I was driven to do some research on Jewish weddings to see what the Lord had to teach me. I greatly needed his peace.

I learned Jewish marriage in Jesus’ day had several steps. First was betrothal, which involved the groom leaving his father’s house for the prospective bride’s home. There he would pay the “bride price,” which established the marriage covenant. The third step was for the groom to return to his father’s house and prepare the bridal chamber. The final step occurred when everything was ready for the bride. At the time of the father’s choosing, he would send his son to bring the bride home for the marriage feast.

Lights went on. That is what Jesus has done for me…and you. He left his father’s home and came to earth for us. When he was crucified he paid the “bride price” with his blood, death and resurrection. Then he returned to his father’s house to prepare a place for each one of us. He isn’t delaying his return, he’s preparing a place for his bride. And, he’s preparing to present his bride to the father gowned in dazzling white, without spot or blemish. It’s all his work, not mine. How could I not love someone who gave himself so selflessly?

Over time of study in God’s word, I’ve come to know this One who loves his bride and gave his life as the bride price. Those parables were written to a Jewish audience and primarily refer to the second coming of Jesus. But, hidden within is the blessed hope of the Rapture. Jesus is at the door, just waiting for the Father to say everything is ready. Now I’m happy to live the days allotted to me in this world, expecting any day now to hear the call, “Behold the bridegroom. Come out to meet him.”

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3

by Marilyn Allison



































The Perfect Building

“As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” Mark 13:1

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As I sit here writing this, the news is on in the next room. In fact, it’s been on just about all day. And though the sound is low, I can gather enough in the reporters’ tones to know how they feel over what they are witnessing. The great cathedral, Notre Dame, is burning.

What a tragedy. Having had the opportunity to visit this magnificent building nearly a decade ago, I know what a historic treasure it is, and my heart goes out to all of the people in Paris witnessing this devastation.

Though Notre Dame’s picturesque spire has graced the Parisian skyline for over 800 years and the gothic relief has stood timeless through all those centuries as well, the flames seem to be showing no mercy in sparing any of it. Surely no one watching from anywhere in the world would’ve thought to see this historic monument so utterly destroyed in our lifetime.

The disciples—whose own likenesses were to grace this cathedral centuries later—during their own lives gazed with wonder at the magnificent buildings all around them there on Temple Mount. No doubt, they could not have imagined these buildings’ untimely demise either.

According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, some of the massive stones making up these buildings were as long as 37 feet, as high as 12 feet and as wide as 18 feet. Despite their massive size and seeming indestructability, however, Jesus—speaking to the disciples—foretells of these buildings’ utter destruction saying,

“Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Mark 13:2b

No doubt this would have caught their attention. Curious to know even more. the disciples then ask about the timing of this destruction. Jesus doesn’t address their question directly. Instead, he warns his followers of many other things they might expect in the future. In the midst of this discourse, though, he holds out a promise seeming in contrast to the future tragedy of the fallen buildings. He says,

“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mark 13:13

As humans, we put a lot of stock in the historicity and grandeur of man-made things. When something as iconic as Notre Dame is destroyed, humans are overwhelmed with the grief of losing something so irreplaceable. And, no doubt, such a loss is very sad. The Jews, too, grieved at the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.

God, however, has a very different way of viewing things. He cares far more for God-made structures than anything man could ever make. Irreplaceable to him are the “buildings” designed to carry his image to the world—us. Long ago God gave up man-made dwellings and chose instead to make his home in us. Now he dwells in structures made by his own hand, and made perfect by his own Son’s precious blood.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Enlarge and purify the mansions of our souls that they may be fit habitations for Thy Spirit, who dost prefer before all temples the upright heart and pure. Amen” – A.W. Tozer

by Siara Borning