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May the peace of God reign in this place
and the love of God forever hold you tight,
May the Spirit of God flow through your life
and the joy of God uphold you day and night.

Daily Devotion for June 11, 2014

<i>Mark the Evangelist</i>, fresco in Santa Maria Novella, Florence, by Domenico Ghirlandaio ca. 1490.
Mark the Evangelist, fresco in Santa Maria Novella, Florence, by Domenico ca. 1490.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


A very inspiring contemporary song of faith and comfort, by the popular group, 4Him.

To Help Others This Day

Heavenly Lord, I pray that this day, you will continue to bless me, that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak. Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. I pray for those that are lost and can’t find their way. I pray for those that are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don’t know you intimately. I pray that others will find your strength, so that they can love and help one another. I pray for those who don’t believe, that they may find you.

And when this world closes in on me, let me remember the example of my Lord and Savior: to slip away and find a quiet place to pray. Remind me, nudge me, let me remember to find you when I’m feel like I'm pushed beyond my limits. In Christ's name, I come to you,



[Let me encourage others.]

For My Enemies

O  God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead me from anger, prejudice, and selfish pride to acceptance, love, truth, and sympathy for all people, and especially those who would be my enemies in this life; and if it is your will, enlighten those who hate me, and bring them into your holy truth, that they may find you. Deliver all of us from hatred, cruelty and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Benediction (from the Epistle of Jude)

Now all glory to you, great God, who is able to keep us from falling away and will bring us with great joy into your glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to you who alone are God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are yours before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time!


Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.

<i>Resurrection</i> by Hans Thoma, ca. 1889.
Resurrection, illustration by Hans Thoma, ca. 1889.

The Writing of Mark

[The Apostle John said:] “Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord's sayings.”

~ Papias of Hieropolis, History of the Church (100 A.D.)

Blue Latin Cross

Mark 1:1, 4:1-11 (ESV)

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

         *         *         *

Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:

“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.

And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables . . . .”

Notes on the Scripture

Overview of the New Testament: (2) The Gospel of Mark

Mark was the first Gospel written (@ 65 A.D.) and might be nicknamed “the Gospel of Peter” or “the Gospel to the Gentiles”. Numerous internal clues show that it was intended to be read by Gentiles, such as explanations of Jewish ritual and a comparative lack of Old Testament quotes. Mark probably wrote at least part of it while in Rome; but, notably, it was not written in Latin. This shows an intended audience among Greek-speaking Gentiles largely outside Italy.

The lion symbol of St. Mark
The winged lion, symbol of St. Mark

Mark is by far the shortest of the four Gospels, a straight-to-the-point document that concentrates on two periods: Jesus' ministry in Ch's 1-8, and His passion in Ch's 9-16. To get a feel for how direct Mark is, compared to the other gospels, one need only compare the opening lines. Matthew begins with a long, dull genealogy; Luke's Christmas story takes up two full chapters; and John begins with poetry and theology. But Matthew hits the ground running: He says “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” and then launches straight into Jesus' baptism by John, the temptation in the wilderness, calling the first disciples — all of this in the first half of the first chapter! At 1:21, he turns to his primary business, an eight-chapter account of Jesus' miracles interspersed with his teachings.

The turning point to the passion story occurs in Chapter 8-9, where Peter realizes and articulates the divinity of Christ and is then witness to the Transfiguration. At that point, Jesus begins to inform the disciples of his destiny, to die on the cross and be raised again, and the action shifts as He begins his journey to Jerusalem. The second half ends with three women going to Jesus' tomb and being told by “a young man in a white robe” that He has risen from the dead and that they will see him again.

Accounts of Christ's post-resurrection appearances and the Great Commission appear in most Bibles after Mark 16:8, but it seems these were appended to the manuscript later on; both their authenticity and their canonicity are doubtful. Since we are talking about the Word of God, best practice may be to ignore Mark 16:9-20, especially considering that the added verses are the sole authority of such dubious worship practices as snake-handling and drinking poison.

The structure and time period of Mark are bare-boned, concentrating heavily on Jesus' miracles, but the writing style is just the opposite, characterized by vivid detail of the incidents that Mark does treat; for he had a wealth of detailed information from Peter. This reflects the purpose of Mark's Gospel. The Gentiles had no use for Jewish prophecy. The idea of Christ being born to a virgin in Bethlehem, for example, or Jesus' genealogy, which was so important to the Jews, was meaningless and possibly even counterproductive in spreading the Word to the Gentile populace.

They needed, rather, to be convinced directly that Jesus was the Son of God and had come to save their eternal souls, by hearing about his miraculous works; and also, to hear the basic doctrinal teachings directly, with explanation of the background teachings of Judaism where necessary. And that's exactly what Mark provides.

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2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV): For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions . . . .

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