Luke 8 – Verse by Verse

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Luke 8 starts with teaching, but this will be followed by several amazing examples of Christ’s power.  Jesus will encourage us to share the word with hope and to trust him when things begin to look hopeless.

Luke 08.pdf

Luke 08.mp3

Luke 6 – Verse by Verse

Photo for LukeIf we had to pick one chapter in the New Testament that we could read to get the quickest summary of the Christian faith and life, it might be Luke 6.

Luke 06.pdf

Luke 06.mp3

Mark 14 Verse by Verse

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Christ is getting closer to the cross. This chapter will highlight a woman’s sacrifice, Peter’s failure and Christ’s obedience.

Mark 14.pdf

Mark 14.mp3

Mark 11 Verse by Verse

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Jesus makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  When he exercises his messianic authority, however, that authority is immediately challenged.

Mark 11.pdf

Mark 11.mp3

Mark 7 Verse by Verse

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Jesus will address issues of tradition and ceremonial uncleanness, which were very important to Jewish life.  He will also go out to Gentile areas and begin a ministry to people there.

Mark 07.pdf

Mark 07.mp3

Don’t search for a method – Mark 7:31-35

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 

Jesus performed many miracles, but it seems like Christ hardly ever did things the same way twice.  Chuck Smith (1927 – 2013), in his Word for Today Bible, saw this as an important point.  

Why did the Lord use such complicated and varied approaches?  Because he didn’t want to create a magic ritual and didn’t want to start a new tradition for doing things.  It should never be about a formula; it should be about the Lord and relying on Him.  He is God, and he does whatever He wants, in whatever way He chooses.

I had to learn this early in my Christian experience.  Growing up Catholic, we had a lot of set forms and traditions.  Some were helpful, most all were harmless, but some could be quite misleading, especially in the way we practiced them.  One of these potentially misleading practices was the Novena, special prayers repeated for nine consecutive days or weeks, which were often accompanied by a specific prayer request.  

Of course it’s fine and often necessary to pray for the same thing day after day, week after week.  The point is that the form – the novena, in this case – does nothing to help or hinder God’s answering of that prayer.

So here I was a teenager, newly awakened to the Christian faith.  A novena was scheduled in our local parish and I took part, putting my request out there before God and whatever saint or saints were seen to be of special help.  And God answered in a wonderful way.  My faith was encouraged.

Some time, a few years later, another big need arose.  Convinced that the novena was the cause of my past blessing, I took part again.  This time, however, no answer.  Not even to this day, almost 40 years later, now that I think about it.  My dire (or so I considered it) need went unmet.  The novena didn’t work.  

As Chuck points out, God doesn’t want us to fall into magic rituals.  Jesus healed often, but when he did, he did so in different ways.  He didn’t want us to imitate his method.  God still answers prayer, sometimes in absolutely convincing, remarkable ways.  And sometimes he doesn’t, or so it seems.  I suppose we should say that sometimes his answer is no.  But none of this depends on the method.  We don’t spit on our finger and touch someone’s tongue to make God work.  Nor do we say special novenas for nine consecutive days.  But we do cry out sincerely and with perseverance, while constantly seeking his will, so that our prayers might be perfectly in line with it.


Mark 4 Verse by Verse

Photo for Mark editedChrist gives us a series of parables which give us insight into the effects of the preached word on those who hear it.  He also calms a storm, prompting his disciples to seriously consider who he is.

Mark 04.pdf

Mark 04.mp3