Belief- S1E5: Mark 5- by John Stapleton

Belief- S1E5 by John Stapleton’s Weekly Bible Lab. Be sure to subscribe to John Stapleton’s channel by clicking on the icon on the YouTube video below. Also, if you’re on the go or in the car, click on the podcast play button to listen to the audio just below the YouTube video.

Belief

BIG IDEA: We fight fear with faith. Based on Mark 5. 

1. The Story

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. (5:21-29)

2. Comparison of Jairus and the Woman 

3. Responses to Jesus: Fear and Faith.

Jesus switches the two, raising the status of the woman by making her the one to emulate. The woman was afraid, but she professed her faith. “Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just believe.’” (5:36).

Jesus goes and raises the girl and the witnesses still don’t believe. “They were completely astonished.” (5:42). The root of unbelief is fear. Fear is a lack of faith and this is a theme that serves as an undercurrent of this gospel. 

  • The disciples were afraid when Jesus calmed the sea (4:40). 
  • The townspeople were afraid when they saw the demoniac healed (5:15).
  • Peter was afraid at the transfiguration (9:6).
  • The disciples were afraid of thinking about Jesus dying (9:32).
  • The disciples were afraid of going up to Jerusalem (10:32).
  • The women were afraid at the tomb (16:8)

CONCLUSION: “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” (5:36)

March 1, Q&A

1). Is it possible to witness the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation slowly coming to fruition in the modern world?

Prophecy tends to have a “near and far” application. The near application is how the text applied to the original hearers. The far application is how that text ripples out to future generations.

John 17 is a good example of this; Jesus starts praying for his followers and then for future believers (verse 20). Matthew 24 is another example. The near fulfillment was 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple. It was the end of the world to a Jew as it would be difficult to imagine life relating to God without a temple. The far application is the return of Christ at the final chapter of human history.

I say that to say this: Daniel and Revelation (to some point) has already been fulfilled. However, since the Bible speaks to the deepest needs of humanity, the struggles and such that is the human experience will repeat from generation to generation. So maybe we aren’t dealing with the beast empires of Daniel or Rome in Paul’s day, but we know what it is like to be a marginalized group under a godless government – like Paul and Daniel.

2). Which character of the Bible has the most personal relationship with God?

It is hard to pick just one person because the Bible is intentional about reminding us of many men and women who were close to God. However, if I had to pick one person, it would be Abraham. He is called “God’s friend” in James 2:23).

I love how the Bible reminds all of us that we can be friends of God too if we place our trust in God, taking him at his word.

3). Is the Book of Daniel a book of folk tales?

The short answer is no. Daniel is essentially 2 genres in one book. The first 6 chapters are historical and the last 6 are apocalyptic. The book of Daniel tracks the life of a teenage Israeli captive that got taken to Babylon and he is a ripe old age by the end of chapter 6.

Daniel is a great example of how to live faithfully to God while serving a pagan government. He outlives the reign of 3 Babylonian kings and has unwavering faith in God.

Apocalypse serves the purpose of peeling back the curtain to see the spiritual realities and how they affect physically present situations; this includes foresight into the future. This is the intent behind all the weirdness in the book of Daniel.

4). What is the meaning of ‘one day’s burden is not enough for one day’ that’s been mentioned in the Bible?

That’s not in the Bible. However, Jesus did say that “each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:44, NIV).

In the passage, Jesus was preaching on why we shouldn’t live our lives worrying about things we cannot control. Why carry the burden of worry when we cannot control the outcome? Why worry if it doesn’t make us any healthier or live longer?

By now we should be on the same page, right? If I’m not able to change this situation and I’m in the middle of it, I’m going to trust God as I keep going. Worry is not an option because it is too expensive, yielding negative results on our body and soul.

5). Why does the Bible say that nobody is beyond the grace of God but in another part it says that God will harden people’s hearts?

From the start, I admit that I don’t have a concrete answer, but I’ll give the best answer I presently have.

First, we need to know the heart of God. He is not playing games with people’s lives, playing a divine game of Duck, Duck, Damn. God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4, NIV).

Second, the Bible doesn’t directly say that nobody is beyond the grace of God, but that’s the conclusion we draw after reading about the character of God. There are two main passages of Scripture that I would like to draw from; the story of Pharaoh in Exodus 5–12 and Romans 9–11.

What’s curious about Pharaoh is that he hardens his heart and then it later says that God hardened his heart. I believe this is the same thing. Since God gives us the ability to choose or reject him, we have the ability to harden our hearts against God; we can be stubborn. The other side of the coin is that God’s hands aren’t tied; nothing happens without God allowing it to happen.

That’s the mystery of free will and God’s treatment of our rebellion.

6). What are your favorite things to read in the Bible?

I love the gospels! I don’t have a favorite because they are all so wonderfully unique.

I also love the book of Romans as it the place to go for deep theology. The Proverbs are useful for practical living. I guess I have a lot of favorites; it depends on what I need at a given time.

The more I read it, the harder it is to have a favorite part.

7). Do you think Leviticus 20:15 is considered ‘too harsh’ or would you consider it to be fair?

It’s not my call to judge how ‘harsh’ this law is. All I know is God calls it perversion and as the Creator of the universe, he gets the right to make whatever laws he wants over his creation.

Matthew Henry says this about the verse: “What praises we owe to God that he has taught the evil of sin, and the sure way of deliverance from it! May we have grace to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things; may we have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness, but reprove them.”

Instead of critiquing God’s law, we need to let it critique us. The standard is God’s holiness. He commanded us in the previous chapter to “be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2 NIV). Even in the chapter above that, we see that God wants his people to be different (which means holy) from their neighbors that did deplorable things like burning children as sacrifices to demon gods.

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 18:1–5 NIV).

In closing, we need to thank God for his high standard of living, because when people follow God’s laws, society flourishes.

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Out of the Wilderness by Steve Stroble

Out of the Wilderness
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Out of the Wilderness

Sam Smaltz just wants to be left alone.

But being sandwiched between the Greatest Generation and Gen X and the Millenials offers him no such comfort.

As a Baby Boomer, he does not get to be a respected hero by fighting German and Japanese warriors during WW II or North Koreans invading South Korea, but instead leaves behind a stepson who is sucked into the nebulous world of present day international terrorism, where everyone is suspect and no one can be trusted.’

Life is not easy as it requires his stepson Jack Smaltz to be just one more nameless, faceless hero whose story gets lost in the shuffle even as it makes his generation shine.

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Short Stories Book 5 (Short Stories Series) by Steve Stroble

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Short Stories Book 5 (Short Stories Series)

A collection of short stories:

  1. “The Fixer” — Vacation to Mount Rushmore is ruined by protestors
  2. “If It’s Thursday, It Must Be Jordan” — Son tries to convince ex-pat parents to move back to America
  3. “Earth, This Is Mars Base 3” — A case of space psychosis upends Mars Base 3
  4. “The Case of the Lost Child” — P. I. Bobbi Heck takes on a case as a favor to a crush of hers from high school days

This is Book 5 in the Short Stories Series.

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The Weekly Bible Lab: S1E4- The Parables- with John Stapleton

YouTuber John Stapleton continues with the Gospel of Mark 5- The Parables. Be sure to subscribe.

Also, if you’re on the go or in the car, click on the podcast play button to listen to the audio just below the YouTube video.

The Parables
Get it on Apple Books

BIG IDEA

We fight fear with faith. Based on Mark 5.

1. The Story

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered
around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and
when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying.
Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to
bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had
spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from
her suffering. (5:21-29) 1

2. Comparison of Jairus and the Woman

1 Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and
“New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica,
Inc.™

3. Responses to Jesus: Fear and Faith

Jesus switches the two, raising the status of the woman by making her the one to emulate. The
woman was afraid, but she professed her faith. “Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just believe.’”
(5:36).

Jesus goes and raises the girl and the witnesses still don’t believe. “They were completely astonished.”
(5:42). The root of unbelief is fear. Fear is a lack of faith and this is a theme that serves as an
undercurrent of this gospel.

The disciples were afraid when Jesus calmed the sea (4:40).

  • The townspeople were afraid when they saw the demoniac healed (5:15).
  • Peter was afraid at the transfiguration (9:6).
  • The disciples were afraid of thinking about Jesus dying (9:32).
  • The disciples were afraid going up to Jerusalem (10:32).
  • The women were afraid at the tomb (16:8).

CONCLUSION: “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” (5:36)

Q&A

1). Why did the Biblical God give humanity the option not to follow God?

Because love would not be freely given if it is forced. The ability to choose love
over hate; to choose who we will love, is what makes love so genuine. But if God
pre-programmed humans to love him, that wouldn’t be love from the will; it
would be instinct. If love is free, it is possible that some people won’t choose to
follow God.

2). I’m getting better at knowing how to read the Bible and understanding it.
Why is that?

I don’t know you personally, so I can’t tell you specifically what is working, but
my guess is you have devoted a lot of time to learning it.

It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. Your commitment to the
day in, day out, rhythms of daily devotions, Bible reading, and Bible study has
certainly paid off!

The Bible has been described as pond that an infant can splash in, as well as an
ocean that the biggest of elephants can wade in. Perhaps you want to start
learning the original languages to know the precision of the text better. Maybe
you want to read commentaries. I just want to challenge you, as I also encourage
you, to keep up the good work as you grow deeper in love and understanding (as
you always can)!

3). What is the most relevant to modern life, the Old or New Testament?

The New Testament is more applicable to Christianity, since the New
Testament is the words of the New Covenant that was inaugurated by the blood
of Jesus

However, the question is about modern life. Well, the Bible is an ancient book
that records ancient history and people; the Bible however is timeless, so it’s able
to speak to any people at any time. We are not that different from them.

The book of Proverbs (in the Old Testament) is a great practical book that is
modern people could stand to benefit from. It has a wealth of information about
living well – from money to relationships! I think we rob ourselves when we pick
and choose of gleaning from all of the Bible.

4). Will this current generation live to witness the rapture and Christ’s return?

No generation can confidently affirm that they will see Christ return. Howbeit,
we are one generation closer to his return than before.

It’s tempting for every generation to look at the brokenness of the world in their
given era of history and assume that they are the last generation, but we would be
false prophets if we make that claim.

When I consider what Jesus taught about this, I conclude that he wants us to
know about the day of his return (it won’t surprise us like it will surprise the
world) but we won’t know the precise time of the event itself, and that is how
God wanted it because only he knows. Our ignorance of when Jesus is coming
back encourages us to live faithfully and expectantly, like the Old Covenant Jews
waited for the Messiah. Faithfulness is our only option, not predicting dates.

5). What does “for the time is at hand” mean in Revelations 1:3?

John means that the time is near. This creates more questions though, like, “The
time for what?” and, “How soon is soon?”

When John says that the time is at hand, he’s saying it’s time for Jesus to be
revealed and for the curtain to be pulled back that divides life on earth from
spiritual realities. The book of Revelation wasn’t given to us so that we can know
the future timeline of world events; it was given to see Jesus’ authority over all
time and space.

What does ‘soon’ mean? I’ve done a word study on it and it simply means… soon.
One thing to keep in mind when reading the Bible is it is a mix of God’s
perspective and ours. What does ‘soon’ mean to God who is not confined by
time? It will mean something different than how we consider soon. It’s almost
comparable to how long you thought an hour was when you were a kid versus
now; an hour felt like forever and now it’s a small window of time.

6). How do you pronounce ‘Selah’ in the Bible?

“Say-law”

Selah is a Hebrew word that appears many times throughout the Psalms and
means something like an interlude. It is an invitation for the hearer or reader to
stop and reflect on what was just said.

In general, Selah is a constant reminder in the Bible to not just read it, but
meditate on it, mull it over, keep chewing, keep pondering; have the scriptures on
playback in your mind.

7). What does it mean in the Bible, “godliness with contentment” in 1 Timothy
6:6?

In order to understand godliness, we need to understand what wickedness is.
Earlier in this passage, Paul gives us a definition:

“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our
Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand
nothing” (1 Timothy 6:3-4 NIV).

If wickedness is against biblical teaching, godliness is what lines up with what
God’s revealed will is in the Bible.

Contentment is not complacency. It is being satisfied with your situation while
planning for the future. It’s not a constant grabbing for more; not a constant
ache for the next stage of life.

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That’s Life (Short Stories Series Book 3) by Steve Stroble

That's Life (Short Stories Series Book 3)
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That’s Life: Short Stories (Short Stories Series Book 3)

A collection of short stories:

  1. The Conqueror Earthworms — Granddaughter’s fascination with earthworms brings grieving widow back to the land of the living.
  2. You Asked for It — New pastor tries to cure church of “But we’ve always done it that way before.”
  3. Something Smells Good; It Has to Be Brownies — Struggling writer and artist team up to sell their wares.
  4. The Case of the Rich Dead Mom — P I Bobbi Heck is asked by one of the heirs to investigate a rich woman’s death.
  5. Carrier Pigeon — Fledgling missionary is recruited by an organization that is not what it appears to be.

That’s Life is Book 3 in the Short Stories Series.

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The Weekly Bible Lab: S1E3 -Proximity Of Jesus- with John Stapleton

YouTuber John Stapleton shares with us more on the Proximity of Jesus with a deeper look into the Gospel of Mark 3:7-35. Be sure to subscribe to his channel by clicking on the icon on the top of his video screen below.

Also, if you’re on the go or in the car, click on the podcast play button to listen to the audio just below the YouTube video.

3 | Proximity To Jesus

BIG IDEA

Many people wanted to be with Jesus, but Jesus only selected a few to
be with him.

Mark 3:7-21, 31-35 (Markan sandwich)
● The Crowds
○ The Apostles
● The Family of Jesus

1). Jesus Withdrew from Crowds

Mark 3:7-12
The first two words we see in our passage today is that “Jesus withdrew”
(verse 7). In fact, every section we are looking at today begins with this
idea:

“Jesus withdrew with his disciples” (verse 7).
● “He went up a mountain and called to him those whom he desired”
(verse 13).
● “Then he went home” (verse 20).

In correlation to this, look at the reaction of the crowds:

“Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd
followed” (verse 7).
● “When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to
him” (verse 8).
● “Then he went home and the crowd gathered again” (verse 20).
● “His mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent
to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him” (verses
31-32).

This is very clear from the passage: Jesus is highly sought out because he
is a miracle-worker (verse 8-10).

2). Jesus Selected Those He Wanted

Mark 3:13-19
The passage starts off with Jesus separating himself from the crowds,
then he “called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him”
(verse 13). Jesus intentionally puts distance between himself and the
crowds, and he calls his disciples to do the same. This harkens back to the
Old Testament when God reveals himself as a holy God, which means he
is separate from sin and sinners (Leviticus 19:2; Hebrews 7:26).

Now, it is interesting to notice “those whom he desired” (verse 13). It is an
eclectic mix of dysfunction; they were also unimpressive. They were
blue-collar guys who would have been rejected from rabbi school. The
only thing that is consistent about this bunch is that they are slow and
unbelieving throughout this gospel account. One of them “betrayed him”
(verse 19). Peter was a hot-head, usually acting or reacting before
thinking. Matthew collected taxes for Rome and Simon was a freedom
fighter who would have despised Matthew (who probably slept with one
eye open). James and John were immature (Matthew 20:20-24 ;Mark
9:38-39; Luke 9:54). The rest of disciples are so common that they aren’t
mentioned in many places.

These were the guys that Jesus picked.

3). Jesus Redefines Family

Mark 3:20-21, 31-35
This last section brings our sandwich to a close. In contrast to the apostles
(the sent ones), Jesus’ family shows up to get him because they think he’s
lost his mind. Can you blame them? Jesus is so familiar to them that it is
weird that he now has a ministry. Why is he preaching and healing? Why
is he casting out demons? This is likely the kind of thoughts they had
(Mark 6:2-3).

The other interesting factor is that the religious leaders show up in the
section above this one, basically accusing Jesus of being empowered by
demons. Already, his family thinks he’s crazy and the Pharisees think he’s
empowered by Satan.

Q&A

1). When you read Matthew 23:1-12, what is the most important thing
that you can gather and really remember for the rest of your life?

If you are religious, don’t live your life in such a way that shames
God and misrepresents Jesus. Don’t make Christianity look bad.

That’s the lesson. Jesus started off the entire chapter by telling us to
do what they say (because they teach the Bible) but don’t live like
them.

2). How can one say that they take the Bible literally when it is full of
so many contradictions? Surely one would have to be highly selective
when picking their poison or their cherries.

You assume a lot when you claim the Bible is full of contradictions.
In fact, the burden of proof is on you to back up your statement.
Serious study will clear up these so-called “contradictions.”

The other thing to know is the Bible is actually a library of 66 books
that comprise various genre’s of writing. That means that you won’t
read Revelation the same way you read Leviticus. The Psalms are
different than the gospels. The logical arguments in Paul’s letters
are not the same as the Job. Anyone that reads literature as
literature would get this concept.

3). Which character of the Bible had problems with impulse control?

Jephthah, hands down. My other example is Peter.

4). How long will Christianity last?

It is helpful to distinguish between Christianity and Christendom.
Christianity is following the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.
Christendom is the Western experiment birthed from the freedom of
religion, to have a culture that is broadly Christian.

What we have seen most explicitly in the last twenty years has been
the decline of Christendom. Christian culture is not cool anymore. It
is no longer a benefit to tell people that you are a Christian
business owner, or that you go to church, or that you are a minister.
That is like social suicide

The benefit of this is that we get a more accurate picture of what
the church really is, who really follows Jesus, and what things in
Christian culture are holy and pure. A lot of ridiculous things have
been burned away.

In response, Christianity is not dying and will not end. Historically,
the church always has an ebb and flow. There are revivals and there
are lean times. We are seeing nothing new.

5). Why shouldn’t you just read the Bible once?

Because the Bible is more than a book that we read; it’s a book that
reads us. You can read a news article once because it is merely an
exchange of information. The Bible however is a book of
transformation. Another reason we read it is because God uses his
written Word to feed our souls. As the body digests food, the mind
and heart is encouraged by and internalizes the Word.

Those are two good reasons to keep reading it.

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Togetherness (Book 2 Short Stories Series) by Steve Stroble

Togetherness (Short Stories): (Book 2 Short Stories Series)
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Togetherness (Short Stories): (Book 2 Short Stories Series)

A collection of short stories:

  1. Pink Belly Man — One of bully Pink Belly Man’s victims seeks revenge years later.
  2. Working by Committee — Three men and three women report to find answers about UFOs and Alien Abductions.
  3. I Quit — Guitar player and singer is odd man out as his bandmates harass him.
  4. Don’t Believe Them — POTUS’s departure from office leads to nationwide marital law.
  5. The Case of the Wayward Grandson — A grandfather hires P. I. Bobbi Heck to save his grandson.
  6. The Review — A review inspires a new author to higher expectations of turning her book into a movie.
  7. The Last Move — Worn down after 16 moves during his marriage, a husband swears, “This will be the last one.”
  8. No Drone Zone — Country resident declares war against a neighbor’s drone.

Togetherness is Book 2 in the Short Stories Series.

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The Weekly Bible Lab: S1E2- The Son of Man (Mark 2:1-12)- with John Stapleton

YouTuber John Stapleton shares on The Son of Man from the Gospel of Mark. (Notes Below)

2 | The Son of Man

BIG IDEA

Jesus proves his claim to be God by healing a paralyzed man to show that he has forgiven the man’s sins.

CONTEXT

Mark 1 was all about introducing Jesus Christ, second person of the trinity,
who demonstrated his authority as God by exercising his rule over demons
and sickness. As you could imagine, this captivates the appeal of large
throngs of people who then begin to follow Jesus around. This brings us to
chapter 2.

THE STORY

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, and by now Jesus is
residing in Capernaum. Jesus has been traveling from town to town
throughout the Galilean region preaching. Now that Jesus has returned
home, he still “was preaching the word to them” (Mark 2:2). If you are
wondering what he may had been saying, I would look at Mark 1:15: “Jesus
came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is
fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the
gospel.’” Jesus had one message: Repentance and kingdom allegiance.

As Jesus was preaching in (what some scholars think to be Peter’s house),
many people gathered to hear him and then five men are introduced into
the narrative. “When they could not get near him because of the crowd,
they removed the roof above him” (Mark 2:4). Jesus saw their faith by
them thinking outside the box to get to Jesus. We also don’t if the
paralytic himself had any faith, but his friends did, and that was enough
for Jesus. He directs his attention to the man and forgives his sins. Some
religious people were present judging Jesus: “Why does this man speak
like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark
2:7).

But Jesus is already God!

“Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves…”
(Mark 2:8).

Only God can read people’s thoughts. It’s interesting whenever this word
“questioned” comes up, it often has negative contexts. Let’s look at other
occurrences in Mark’s gospel:

  • Mark 8:16-17 | They began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
  • Mark 11:31-33 | They discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Their mind would have gone back to this story in the Old Testament:
  • Leviticus 24:10-16 | 10 Now an Israelite woman’s son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel. And the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel fought in the camp, 11 and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. Then they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. 12 And they put him in custody, till the will of the Lord should be clear to them.
    13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 14 “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. 16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.
I love Jesus’ response:
  • Mark 2:9 | Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’?

I always missed what Jesus meant by saying this, but I’ve recently
discovered that it would be easier to say that the man’s sins are forgiven
because there is no tangible way to prove that. It’s harder to tell the man
to walk, because if he doesn’t walk, nobody will believe anything Jesus is
teaching.

  • Mark 2:10-12 | But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Jesus possesses the authority that he claims; he successfully backed his
claim to be God and forgive sin. This is an unmistakable miracle that
everyone became witnesses to and they “glorified God” (verse 12). People
are still curious about Jesus as he is the great miracle worker. As we get
deeper into Mark’s gospel, we will see two groups of people: People who
follow Jesus because of the miracles and others who follow Jesus because
they love him. In other parts of Mark, when people are “amazed,” that
usually indicates unbelief.

Ask yourself: Why do I follow Jesus? Do I believe what Jesus said about
himself? Why or why not?

Q&A

1). Is it true that the Bible has become a god to many who idolize it?
Can the Bible actually become a God to people and keep them from
knowing the true God himself? – Samuel Jones

While Christians don’t worship the Bible, we can never stress how
important it is because it points us to the God we worship. Without
the Bible, we will never would know God’s character, or God’s will, or
let alone how we are to interpret the world around us.

It would be really hard to worship the Bible because it points
outside of itself. The only times the Bible points to itself is when it
reminds us that these are the words of God.

2). Which character of the Bible displays great persistence? – Laurel
Anderson

Hebrews 11 give us many examples of persistence or faith, but 2
characters in particular come to mind for me:

The first is the fictitious widow in Luke 18, who keeps hounding a
careless judge for justice. The second is Job. He is a weird example
because as I read through Job, he isn’t all that patient. He whines
throughout the book. Yet James, a New Testament writer
encourages us to consider “the steadfastness of Job” (James 5:11).

Maybe the Bible is telling us in this example that it is okay to
grieve, even question God, but still be patient.

3). Is it possible that Isaiah 5:20 is occurring currently in society? –
Mark Bloemers

This is definitely happening today. We are always redefining things
to sound less bad. We don’t like to call infidelity adultery; instead it
is an affair. We don’t like to call abortions murder; it is a mother’s
choice… to murder. The examples I could mention are numerous.

If we can redefine terms, this directly effects how the next
generation thinks about morality. I firmly believe that the most
sinful thing we can do with our speech is not cussing (though I don’t
condone free use of profanity) but it is dishonesty. Calling good
things bad and bad good is dishonest.

No it was not God’s will. A closer look at 1 Kings 11:1–4 reveals that
these wives turned Solomon’s heart away from God. It also mentions
that God commanded not to marry foreign women from other
religions because that’s what will happen – the husband will be
influenced away from the Lord. So it is important to realize that
Solomon broke God’s law (see Deuteronomy 17:17).

Later, after the reign of Solomon, we get the reflection of
Nehemiah concerning this situation in Nehemiah 13:23-27.

Long story short, it was never God’s will for Solomon to have many
wives.

4). Is the Great Tribulation prophesied to be the same as the time
before Noah’s flood? – Stef Lynn

I would encourage you to look at Luke 17:26–27. Jesus compares the
flood and the Great Tribulation because of 4 basic realities: 1). The
world was sinful, 2). Life went on as usual, 3). God’s judgment took
everyone by surprise, 4). Except for God’s chosen people.

These events are very unique from each other. The first judgment
was a flood; the last judgment is fire (2 Peter 3:7). Moreover, Jesus
said that no other events ever have or ever will match or exceed this
event (Matthew 24:21). So according to Jesus, this is not the same
event. Jesus was using the flood as a point of reference.

5). Why is Paul’s name not mentioned in Revelation 21:14 where the
twelve apostles of the Lamb are listed?

The main thing to focus on is the symbolism of the number 12. The
reason I take this angle is because I can’t say with confidence who
the twelfth apostle is. Remember, Judas committed suicide. The
apostles then cast lots to decide who will officially be the twelfth
apostle “and the lot fell on Matthias” (Acts 1:23). Later, Saul gets
saved and becomes Paul.

Paul also saw himself as the outsider (2 Corinthians 12:11). That’s just
how it was. The twelve apostles are a class to themselves because
they walked with Jesus. “He appointed twelve (whom he also named
apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them
out to preach and have authority to cast out demons” (Mark
3:14–15). While Jesus picked his disciples, Paul was being a Pharisee.
He just didn’t pick Paul and after he got saved, he felt like he had a
lot to prove.

The big idea behind the symbolism in Revelation 21 is that the
twelve foundations and names reflect the twelve tribes of Israel. It’s
a symbol for Israel and spiritually, God’s people.

6). Which character of the Bible is overly trusting?

The person that comes to mind for me is Hezekiah. Isaiah 39:1–6
recalls the king showing envoys from Babylon everything in his
house. The prophet Isaiah came back to Hezekiah that he shouldn’t
have been so proud and gullible by showing everything off. He
predicted that everything would be stolen by them.

Check Out More By John Stapleton

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Mountain Mishap by Janice Cole Hopkins

Mountain Mishap
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Mountain Mishap

Anna Allen grew up in the Charleston Orphan House, but at eighteen, she must now leave. Her best option is to wed, and when a man from the Appalachian Mountains comes looking for a wife, she hesitantly agrees to marry him. However life with Elbert Ramsey and his father turns out to be miles from her dreams.

In 1851, Levi West decides to go stay with his brother in the Appalachian Mountains. His parents had died, leaving the farm in debt, and a brazen woman had caused a rift between him and his best friend. Although his sister-in-law’s younger sister acts almost as bad, Levi finds he loves the rugged mountains. When a hunting accident endangers his life, help comes from an unexpected source. Dare he hope for a family of his own or will another woman just disappoint him again?

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Perseverance (Short Stories Series Book 1) by Steve Stroble

Perseverance (Short Stories) (Short Stories Series Book 1)
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Perseverance (Short Stories) (Short Stories Series Book 1) 

Collection of short stories:

  1. What Smells? — Little girl’s fascination with garbage trucks takes her on a wild ride.
  2. Revenge of the Undead — Promoting and marketing self-published books turns out to be harder than it seems for an author and her book’s marketer.
  3. Riding the Bullet — Casual conversation on a high speed train escalates into unexpected consequences.
  4. The Case of the Missing Sophomore — Frantic mother hires P.I. Bobbi Heck to locate her missing daughter.
  5. OFFAL’s Last Stand — Changes intrude on a fraternal organization’s longtime members, threatening their number one source of fun and fellowship.
  6. Why Do You Look So Strange (All of a Sudden) — Life in a nursing home goes from mundane to bizarre for two of its residents.
  7. Porthole in the Fog — Small opening in a dense fog opens up some long repressed memories for a jogger.
  8. EMP Code Blue — The Mother of all solar activity leaves Earth’s nations scrambling for cover.
  9. Battling the Big CA in Sunny CA — Cancer in any form can be deadly, especially when it moves from one’s body to soul.

Perseverance (Short Stories) is book 1 in the Short Stories Series.

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