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Fear

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.  As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8, NRSV)

I always loved this ending to Mark. Scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark originally ended here with verse 16:8. But people didn’t like the fact that the gospel ended with the women fleeing from the tomb and not telling anyone what they had seen. But here is what they missed.

Mark 1:1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And the end where the women flee in terror is not the end, but the end of the writing. You see as long as we believe the story, it is still being written. The gospel has not ended, the good news is still being told.

We are all gripped by fear, but Jesus is still living and active in our world, and we can keep writing the Gospel and sharing the story.

So don’t let fear seize you in terror, but go and shout it from the mountaintops that Jesus Christ is Alive and working in your life, and show His love, grace, and mercy in all that you do!

 

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The beginning…

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8, NRSV)

This is the end to the gospel of Mark. Now if you look in your Bible you will see more to verse 8 that is in [ ] and verses 9 – 20 of chapter 16. Most scholars believe the bracketed text and everything after was added later.

And the reason someone added it is because the women would not run away from the tomb in fear! Jesus was alive, someone had to tell the good news even if it was women!

We can’t take that as the ending of the gospel. Jesus rising is too good of news to leave no one knowing.

But see here is the kicker, even verse 20 is not the end of the Gospel of Mark!

Mark begins: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God…” and the women leaving the tomb wordless, is not the end, but a step.

You see you are continuing the gospel of Mark! We are still sharing the story.

Alleluia Christ is Risen! That is the best news any of us can share and as we share it the gospel continues!

So go and shout it from the mountain tops that Jesus is alive.

Alleluia Christ is Risen!

 

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MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN

King Belshazzar made a great festival for a thousand of his lords, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand. Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar commanded that they bring in the vessels of gold and silver that his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.  So they brought in the vessels of gold and silver that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.  Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the wall of the royal palace, next to the lampstand. The king was watching the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s face turned pale, and his thoughts terrified him. His limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king cried aloud to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners; and the king said to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever can read this writing and tell me its interpretation shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around his neck, and rank third in the kingdom.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king the interpretation. Then King Belshazzar became greatly terrified and his face turned pale, and his lords were perplexed. The queen, when she heard the discussion of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall. The queen said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts terrify you or your face grow pale. There is a man in your kingdom who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father he was found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners, because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.” Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king said to Daniel, “So you are Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard of you that a spirit of the gods is in you, and that enlightenment, understanding, and excellent wisdom are found in you. Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and tell me its interpretation, but they were not able to give the interpretation of the matter. But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you are able to read the writing and tell me its interpretation, you shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around your neck, and rank third in the kingdom.” Then Daniel answered in the presence of the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, or give your rewards to someone else! Nevertheless I will read the writing to the king and let him know the interpretation. O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar kingship, greatness, glory, and majesty. And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. He killed those he wanted to kill, kept alive those he wanted to keep alive, honored those he wanted to honor, and degraded those he wanted to degrade. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he acted proudly, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and his glory was stripped from him. He was driven from human society, and his mind was made like that of an animal. His dwelling was with the wild asses, he was fed grass like oxen, and his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals, and sets over it whomever he will. And you, Belshazzar his son, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this! You have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven! The vessels of his temple have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them. You have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know; but the God in whose power is your very breath, and to whom belong all your ways, you have not honored. “So from his presence the hand was sent and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN. This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed in purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made concerning him that he should rank third in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was killed. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old. (Daniel 5, NRSV)

Daniel read the words because the were in Hebrew.

And he refused the purple robe and gifts Belshazzar wanted to give him. Daniel said to the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, or give your rewards to someone else!”

He looked to God and trusted only in Him. That was the issue with King Belshazzar. He trusted in himself and his father. And he used everything else around him…

So are your days numbered and brought to an end?

Have you been wieghed, and if so are you found wanting?

Will your life be divided?

 

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Death is not the end…

For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again. Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Philippians 1:21-30, NRSV)

Paul here is telling the Philippians that he knows that they need him, but if it was up to him, he would chose to be with Christ.

You see as humans death is something we can not escape. The death of our fleshly body will happen. But it is not the end, nor is it the beginning of anything. It is but a step in the whole master plan. You see we are with Christ as His brothers and sisters, He is always with us. He is walking with us through the valleys, and the mountain tops. He is living in that God shaped hole in our hearts where He resides.

So while we are here, in both kingdoms, we need to walk as if death has no hold on us, for we know that death is gain, and we are to show forth the glory of His love which has bridged the gap for us.

This world will not win for we have the victor living in us, so the victory is already ours! Death is not the end!

 

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a new self…

20130802-101746.jpgNow this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24, NRSV)

You must no longer live the way you use to live. What does that mean?

We need to live in the light and and be open and sensitive to those around us, not only looking out for our own needs, but more focused on the other than ourselves. We can not be deluded by our own lusts for self preservation and elevation, but sympathetic to the needs of the world around us. That is what Jesus did, and that is the new life we are called to.

So the beginning is here, follow Jesus and be more concerned with the other than you are with yourself!

 

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