Peter – Unclean Hands or Unclean Heart?

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Jesus and his disciples stayed so busy going from village to village sharing the gospel, they had little opportunity to observe traditions the Pharisees thought important, like ceremonially washing their hands.

Now we’re not talking about scrubbing hands to keep from getting germs—they didn’t know about germs. No, the religious leaders’ concern was that they must ceremonially wash any Gentile contact off their hands and, by golly gum, Jesus and his disciples should do that as well.

Jesus countered by quoting Isaiah’s words,

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” Mark 7:6-7 

Jesus went on to describe a law the leaders had made that over ruled one of God’s own commandments. Then he gathered a crowd around Him and emphasized that,

“Nothing outside a man can make him “unclean” by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’ ” Mark 7:15

When the disciples were alone with Jesus, Matthew remembered that Peter asked Jesus to further explain his parable. I picture Jesus closing His eyes and breathing deeply to maintain patience as he said,

“Are you so dull? Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, he declared all foods “clean.”) Mark 7:18-19

Don’t let that parenthetical remark slip by you. After the resurrection, Peter will have to have a roof-top vision to truly understand this, but note this beginning point.

Jesus explains a little more about the “heart thing.”

“What comes out of a man makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ ” Mark 7:20-23

I’m trying to think of a modern day application to this principle. The “worship wars” of the last few decades have about declined from their peak and most churches have settled into whatever style they are going to have, but I think it’s worth using as a good example of arrogance emanating from the heart. 

The traditional side said, “This is how we’ve always done it. We don’t want all those jazzy instruments in the church. It’s like making our sanctuary a bar. What sense does it make to sing two or three phrases over and over? Our texts are solid and enhance our understanding of the elements of our faith.”

The contemporary side said, “We need to meet people where they are with relevant texts and music. All gifted musicians should be able to use their gifts. No more old songs. We sing songs that engage the singers and bring life.”

Jesus might say, “It matters not your style, what matters is your heart. Are you worshiping the song, the sound, the singer, the tradition, the performer… or your God?”

~ Joyce ~ 



Peter – Born Again

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Back to Peter. Last time, we found Peter out in the boat with Jesus. He doesn’t catch fish all night, but at Jesus’ command, the boat overflows with the fish he hauls in.

This personal miracle seems to speak to Peter in a unique way. He is convicted of his sin, for he kneels at Jesus’ feet and cries out,

“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Luke 5:8

Peter will have much to learn, but yielding to Christ is a beginning step of trusting.

The night Nicodemus comes to visit Jesus provides another understanding of who Jesus is. Possibly Peter could have been nearby as Nicodemus comes to ask his questions. Nicodemus says,

“Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” John 3:2

Jesus cuts right to the chaste of what Nicodemus needs to hear.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, He cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

Perhaps Peter thinks the same thing as Nicodemus. How can a man enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time? They soon learn that Jesus is speaking figuratively. We are born of flesh—born physically, but we must also be born of the spirit—born spiritually.

How to do that? Another part of the conversation includes John 3:16…

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have life eternal.”

Believe. Believe and not perish. Have eternal life. Jesus goes on…

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.”John 3:17

Saved through him.

Little by little, Peter must internalize these words. He has the next three years to do so as he learns to trust what Jesus says and does. Jesus will correct Peter, lead him, empower him, teach him, rebuke him… forgive him.

But the first step for Peter—and for us all—is to be assured of spiritual rebirth.

How do we share the joy of believing and looking forward to life eternal with the Father?

I have a friend at the Y with whom I chit-chat at times when we end up on the recumbent bikes side by side. Last week, she was wringing her hands, so to speak, about all the weather disasters and the mass killings, etc. I said, “Oh I know, it’s awful. It makes us realize how much we need to depend on our faith.” She was getting off her bike, but at least I planted the thought.

We must share our faith, even in simple ways, because there’s a world out there that hasn’t come to spiritual rebirth. Help us, O Lord, to be bold.

~ Joyce ~

Peter – Going Fishing

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Peter has spent many hours with Jesus. He heard Him teach and watched Him heal—even his mother-in-law.

Now, Jesus will touch Peter at his most vulnerable point, his profession. Peter has been a fisherman of fish for a long time, but on this day, Jesus will teach him how to become a fisher of men. Notice the seven steps.

  1. Look for opportunities

Jesus is standing by the Sea of Galilee trying to speak to the people, but the crowd is having trouble seeing and hearing Him. So… he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen who were mending their nets.

2. Seize available resources

Jesus gets into one of Peter’s boats and asks him to push away from the shore just a bit, then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

3. Move from reluctance to obedience

When Jesus finishes speaking to the people, he tells Peter, ” Pull out into the deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Peter responds, “We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 

4. Recognize when God’s power is at work

They catch so many fish the nets begin to break. They signaled their partners to come and help, and they came and filled their boats so full they began to sink.

5. Allow God to stir a deep confession

Even with all the experience Peter has already had with Jesus, nothing touches him like this. Jesus has entered Peter’s domain. He falls to his knees and, like Isaiah, he says, “Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man!” 

6. Encourage people to catch others

James and John are also a part of this miracle. They’re sitting there with a boatload of fish as well.  Jesus tells Peter, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”

7. Surrender completely

Likely, Andrew was also in the boat with Peter. So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him(Story found in Luke 5:1-11)

How do we apply these steps? Allow me to share my pilgrimage with my friends at the “Y”. I work out on 10 machines and do water aerobics for my rheumatoid arthritis. Since this is one of the few places I meet with people outside the church, I rather see it as my mission field. I try to observe #1—”Look for Opportunities.” That means, I try to be friendly and have Christlike attitudes. 

(#2) The “available resource” I have is the book the Lord led me to write about Nicodemus. Some of the men and women I see each week are devoted Christians, many are in Catholic churches where they do little Bible study, if any, some have only nominal backgrounds in Christianity, and one 80 year-old says she has never been to a church.

(#3 at work.) 21 of these wonderful people bought my book over the past two years and say it was a blessing to them.  The 80 year-old asked for my first book as well. (step #4)

I’m still trying to be a fisher of people. What joy it will be to reach #7! How is your fishing coming along?

~ Joyce ~




Setting Up Traps

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Sometimes, as we read Scripture, we don’t always see, much less think about all the people involved. Last week, we left Aphiemi making excuses to his wife and walking down the streets of Jerusalem to meet a former lover. After their romantic evening, he was about to leave for home.


“Our time together should be worth something, don’t you think?” Marnah hinted.

Aphiemi looked puzzled. “Worth something? What do you mean?”

“Well, you wouldn’t want your wife to know about this little get together, now would you? Three denarii should take care of things.”

“Why you little slut…”

“Uh, uh, let’s be careful. Your precious elders at the Temple would be very disappointed in you.”

Aphiemi’s temper flared, but he could see that he had been trapped. He jingled some coins from his money pouch and threw them on the floor as he stormed out.

How dark the streets were as he shuffled along on his way home—dark as the sin that hung on his shoulders. But more than shame, he felt anger. How dare her trick me in such a way. She will regret this. His mind raced as he tried to think of forms of retaliation, but his thoughts were merely a jumble of revenge with no clear action.

The days wore on. Aphiemi made it a point not to see Marnah again. The money may have taken care of her threats, but not his bitterness.

One day, as Alphiemi came near the Temple, several Pharisees were engaged in a robust discussion about the preacher from Galilee who had caused quite a stir among the people. The leaders had questioned him on several occasions, trying to trip him up, for he had gained quite a following with the people of Jerusalem as well as the crowds throughout Judea and beyond. Every time the religious leaders set a verbal trap, this Jesus caught them instead, making them look weak and feeble.

The next day, Aphiemi observed the teachings of this intruder to the city.

Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them… You have heard it said, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement… You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:17, 21, 22, 27, 28

The intent of Jesus’ teaching went right over Aphiemi’s head. Instead, the wheels began spinning in his mind until he had concocted a perfect plan. He shared the details of his plan with one of the more vocal, angry Pharisees.

“So you see,” Aphiemi concluded, “if the teacher says to stone her, we can let the Romans take care of him, for they, of course, will not allow us to carry out death sentences. And if he says that we should not stone her, we can say that he is going against our law.  “

“Excellent!” cried the Pharisee. “But how are we to set up such a scene?”

“Just leave that to me.”

And so, Alphiemi proceeded with his diabolical plot. With a sly grin, he marched off to find a strapping young man who might like to have an exciting evening.  

Now I will give the Pharisees their revenge and, at the same time, have a satisfying revenge of my own. 


Have you guessed this episode in Jesus’ experiences with the Pharisees? Stayed tuned next week for the rest of the story!

~ Joyce ~

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner!

header image blog

Matthew the tax collector [last two posts] sets up his booth beside the Sea of Galilee ready to collect. But on one particularly day, the teacher he has been watching comes face to face with him. “Follow me,” Jesus says. “Leave the weight of your sin. Hear the God’s call to repentance. Accept the love that you have never experienced.” And Matthew (hated Matthew) gets up, leaves his booth, and follows Jesus.

A question left unanswered from last week – Is his name Matthew or is he Levi son of Alphaeus? Probably both. (Remember Simon—Peter. Saul—Paul.) The word “Levi” means a wild cow or a person pledged for a debt or vow. Whereas, Matthew means gift of the Lord. I think I’d rather be a gift than a wild cow. No wonder he told his story with the name “Matthew.”

What happens next is very typical of new believers. Matthew is so excited about his new-found redemption and the load that has been lifted from his shoulders that he wants to share it. What better way than to have all his friends over for a dinner. In Matthew’s case, he gets to invite Jesus himself to the party!

Now who is on the guest list? Matthew’s friends, of course. Who are Matthew’s friends? Well, certainly not the upstanding members of Capernaum society. No, a tax collector’s friends will be other tax collectors, prostitutes maybe, and other shady characters of the community.

This reminds me of the years we spent struggling with our son. He had wandered in the wilderness making one bad choice after another. But one glorious day, he came to us to share how the Lord had completely turned him around. We were elated and relieved.

A few days later our son’s friends were having a party and he decided to go. Like Matthew, these were the only friends he had—the party crowd. My heart sank. But when he came home, he was so excited. He told us, “I got one of my friends over in the corner and began to tell him what had happened to me.” Instead of joining in, he was witnessing!

Here’s how it went for Matthew…

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. Matthew 9:10

Even Jesus’ disciples bought into this conversion and participated in the dinner along with the “sinners.” What a witnessing opportunity for them. BUT…

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Matthew 9:11

I wish we could hear their responses. Perhaps Jesus’ followers were still trying to figure everything out themselves—a perfect teaching moment for Jesus. He speaks up.

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. For I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners [to repentance].” Matthew 9:12, 13b

This is the same way Mark and Luke record the incident, but Matthew adds one other line.

“But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Matthew 9:13a

The Pharisees knew all about sacrifices in the Temple. It was their duty. It was the law. It was their routine. Not so with “mercy.” In some ways this was a foreign word to them in terms of their experience. I’m wondering if, early on, maybe even the other apostles had a period of adjustment to Matthew. Was he worthy of being one of their special group of twelve?

Mercy. Perhaps we all need more lessons. We’re bombarded with being “tolerant” these days, but I believe showing mercy is quite different. Think on these things

Next week, a story from my childhood for Father’s Day.

 ~ Joyce ~


Peter, Warnings

Peter continues to learn and grow from Jesus’ example and teachings, but on one day, he can’t quite grasp what Jesus is about to tell the twelve disciples.

Jesus has just ask the disciples what people are saying about him in the new territory where they are ministering. They report that some people say this and some say that. Then Jesus asks the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon gives his well known statement—”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus calls him “Peter” (rock) for the first time. Wow, that is one up for Peter. No doubt his chest is just a bit puffed up.

As Jesus continues to teach the disciples, he lays a heavy load on them.

31 …the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and be killed and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31

Well, in Peter’s mind, that just won’t do. He won’t allow it to happen.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord,” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Matthew 16:22

Rebuke him even! Rebuke the Son of the living God. Well, Jesus has a little rebuking to do as well.

33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:33

Picture this scene. Jesus turns his back on Peter. In essence he is saying that Peter’s words are of Satan. Poor Peter. One up and one down. Jesus reminds them that if they are going to stay with him, they must lead a life of self denial, take up their cross, and follow him.

A few weeks later, they quietly pass through Galilee because Jesus wants to spend some quality time with the twelve, going more in-depth with them. Jesus often refers to himself as “the Son of Man.” Again, he makes that statement to them.

 31 …”The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise again.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. Mark 9:31-32

This is the second time he has warned what will happen. Notice that Peter does not jump up to protest this time. He has learned his lesson. We may wonder why they don’t understand. Perhaps they were afraid to “ask him about it” because they saw Jesus’ reaction to Peter the first time. It is very straightforward—be killed and rise again. They can’t quite grasp it. But remember, our hindsight is more defined than their foresight (or no-sight.)

Weeks go by and they are now on their way to Jerusalem, Jesus’ final trip to the holy city. Once again he pulls them aside. Keep in mind that “Gentiles” who mock and flog would be none other than the Romans. And Romans kill by crucifixion.

33 “We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and they will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later, he will rise.” Mark 10: 33-34

It is all more than they can take in. It’s kind of like hearing the doctor say, “cancer” and our minds stop at that point. We can’t process the rest of the words. Perhaps that’s why the disciples simply do not hear “three days later he will rise.”

As you move through your week, ponder the dark cloud that hangs over the disciples’ heads as they proceed on toward Jerusalem. We can’t rejoice in the Easter victory until we have felt the angst and uncertainty of what will come before.

~ Joyce ~

Peter, the Up and Down Disciple

As we move toward Easter this month, we will look at events through the eyes of Peter. We saw him begin this journey by confessing his sin to Jesus. (See last week’s post – Simon Peter, at the Sea of Galilee.)

Peter had much to learn, but eventually he became a “fisher of men.” When all four Gospels give a list of the disciples, Peter is always listed first. He was a part of the “inner circle” of disciples, along with James and John. Peter was bold and burly before his conversion and that same personality came through afterward. It makes me think of how the Lord takes our personalities and gleans the best to be used for his purposes.

Like the other disciples, Peter had a plethora of exciting experiences as he followed Jesus.

He saw Jesus:

  • heal his mother-in-law
  • heal the paralytic man in Capernaum
  • restore the demon-possessed man on the other side of the sea
  • raise Jairus’ 12 year-old daughter from the dead

Peter heard the teachings of Jesus:

  • words of challenge, fulfillment, and warning
  • messages of belief, trust, and humility
  • teachings about dependence on God, the love of God, the justice and mercy of God

Peter heard the parables of Jesus:

  • weeds and seeds
  • pearls and nets
  • lost things and found things

Now he was rarin’ and ready, but Peter did have his ups and downs. Jesus had miraculously fed 5,000 people on the hillside. Each disciple had collected a basket of the left-overs. (12 disciples—12 left-over baskets), but they still had lessons to learn. Jesus told them to get in the boat and go to the other side of the sea, while he went up the mountain to pray. Into the night , the wind picked up and the men had to fight the waves with their oars.

25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus said to them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matt. 14:25-27

And now, bold and impetuous Peter was ready.

28 Lord, if it’s you, ” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 Come,” he said. (with a smile?) Then Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matt. 14:28-29

You’ve got to hand it to Peter. It was indeed a bold move. He had great faith to even try, but why? What was the point? Was he taking things into his own hands? Testing Jesus? Or just being unbridled Peter?

30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matt. 14:30-31

It was quite an emotional scene for all of them. Jesus and Peter climbed in the boat, the wind died down, and the waves of their emotions settled to the point that they could grasp all that had just happened. Their response?

33 Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

How often have I thought, what do I need to do? And I take  things into my own hands rather than asking Him what I need to do or I brood over an issue or decision without asking Him to intervene. Yes, like Peter, we have our “ups and downs” too. Are you thinking of a circumstance in your life when you have failed to put things in His hands? Reach out. He’s there to take your hand. He loves you so much that he offers his nail-scarred hand of sacrificial love to you.

~ Joyce ~

God So Loved

Today we conclude Nicodemus’ night time discussion with Jesus. Jesus has been discussing the Spirit and now he turns to the subject of belief, namely belief in Jesus as, not just the Son of Man, but also the Son of God. Jesus refers to an Old Testament event where the Israelites wandered in the wilderness and were bitten by poisonous snakes. To save the people’s lives, Moses lifted up a bronze serpent. If they looked at the serpent they lived. Jesus uses this as an illustration of how he will be lifted up (on a cross) not just for life here, but also for eternal life through him.

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,  15 that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.    John 3:14-15

Nicodemus probably doesn’t equate the idea of being “lifted up” with crucifixion at this point, but Jesus goes on to say one of the most memorable verses in the Bible. Connect verse 15 to verse 16 and you will understand the word, “For”.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.   John 3:16-17

My pastor summarizes that powerful verse like this, “God loved. God gave. If we believe, we receive.” It is a picture of God’s mercy to us—we who are undeserving. By contrast, the next verse demonstrates God’s justice.

18 Whoever belives in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.   John 3:18

It is not complicated. Believe, receive eternal life. Don’t believe, receive condemnation (eternal death.) Nicodemus must still have a blank look or a frown on his face because Jesus once again illustrates with one of his favorites—light and darkness. Why does a child go off in the darkness to do his bad deeds? Because he doesn’t want anyone to see what he’s doing, of course. Jesus compares himself to the light and evil to the dark.

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.   John 3:19-20

Jesus is the essence of light—truth, God’s righteousness, wholeness, deep abiding joy. If we follow that light and walk in that light, our good deeds will not be of ourselves. Instead, it will be His light shining through us. It is as if Jesus is telling Nicodemus, “You have come to seek the truth about me. Trust me, Nicodemus. Believe in me, Nicodemus.”

21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.  John 3:21

This is a key, culminating, convicting thought for Nicodemus. Much of what he does is driven by the desire to be seen upright in the eyes of men. It is a defect that Jesus often criticized in the Pharisees. Jesus knows that Nicodemus needs a change inside of him. Only the Spirit can make that change, but Jesus must also see that Nicodemus desires to know the truth. Look how many times he mentions it.

3 In reply Jesus declared, I tell you the truth…

5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth… “

11 “I tell you the truth… “

21 “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light…”

Jesus must have seen a man who was struggling deep in his soul and a man who wanted to know the truth. Thus the title of my book—A Heart for Truth. At this point, we have no indication that Nicodemus has made any commitment yet, but his mind has been stretched. Jesus has planted seeds of truth in his heart. Next week, we move to another incident with Nicodemus.


Born Again


Last week we learned that Nicodemus was a part of the upper crust of Jewish religious society in Jerusalem. Let’s see what he says to Jesus in this one-on-one discussion.

2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” John 3:2

Is Nicodemus just buttering him up or stating an observation? We don’t know. It feels like there is a question coming to me. But before Nicodemus can say another thing, Jesus steps right in to the conversation. As he often does, it appears that Jesus goes off in a different direction, but he always has insight into the bigger picture. He knows what Nicodemus needs.

3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3

“Born again.” No that phrase didn’t originate during Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign, it came from this scene with Nicodemus. It is the essence of what Nicodemus needs, but doesn’t know. Of course, in the literal mind of Nicodemus, he takes offense at what seems a ridiculous statement. It takes him completely off guard.

4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” John 3:4

Jesus is talking about spiritual things while Nicodemus is thinking with his physical mind. Every day a good Jewish man gets up and recites the shema from Deuteronomy that he must love the Lord with heart, mind, and soul. Perhaps “soul” has just become a word to Nicodemus. Jesus spells it out.

5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit [capital “S”] gives birth to spirit. [lower case “s”] 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ “ John 3:5-7

Nicodemus’ blank look must necessitate further explanation, so Jesus gives an illustration, typical of the parable-teller.

8 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

The Spirit is not something to be dissected and discussed like an oral law. The Spirit works in the inner man, in his very soul.

9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. John 3:9

I think I hear Jesus giving a sigh at this point which comes forward as a rebuke. They tended to be very straight forward, plain-spoken, even abrupt in their culture – not like our southern hospitality style.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and you do not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” John 3:10-12

I have to wonder how many times Jesus looks at me with a sigh and a shake of the head, wanting to share the jewels of heaven with me, but I’m occupied with the plastic jewelry of this world. How many times have I quenched the Spirit because my head and my heart are preoccupied with the mundane?

Draw us close, oh Lord, that we may sense your Spirit moving in our lives, moving strong and forceful, gentle and caressing – like the wind.

~ Joyce ~





Perhaps you’ve read the humorous tales of the housewife who sits down to write a few bills when the phone rings. She goes to another room to look up an address for the caller. On her way back, she remembers that she forgot to take her medicine that morning. She goes to the kitchen, takes the medicine, and sees the breakfast dishes in the sink.

“Might as well put these in the dish washer while I’m here,” she says to herself, but the dryer buzzer goes off. “Oh, I need to get the clothes out before they wrinkle.” Off to the laundry room. And so it goes. The bills don’t get paid and the dishes are still in the sink, etc. etc.

Ever have days like that? Well, Jesus did too, except he got everything accomplished in spite of the interruptions. Think back on the events we have covered. He teaches in the synagogue amazing the people with his teaching. A man with unclean spirits interrupts the service and Jesus heals the man.

Jesus goes to Simon and Andrew’s house to eat lunch, but they are interrupted when they find Simon’s mother-in-law ill. Jesus heals her. News spreads about the morning healing and at sundown, Jesus rest is interrupted by a constant stream of people at the door to be healed.

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, 33 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. – Mark 1:32-33

Notice that they brought all the sick. Capernaum would not be as large as Jerusalem or as small as Nazareth. It had a synagogue and was on a trade route so it would be of moderate size. We don’t know how many “all” is, but likely it took him well into the night to finish this extensive healing ministry.

While he was drained physically, he was also drained spiritually. The next morning, very early, he felt the need of a private time of prayer.

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. – Mark 1:35

I am always amazed by the fact that, though he was divine, Jesus was also human and had the need to pray, to draw strength from the Father, to seek direction, and to clarify the calling. I am convicted that, if he needed these times of solitude, then certainly I need them as well to overcome the distractions and interruptions in my life. I, too, need to draw strength, to seek direction, and clarify my calling.

Well, here comes the next interruption––even his prayer time is interrupted! Simon and the crew can’t believe he isn’t right there and available the next morning.

36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed; “Everyone is looking for you!” – Mark 1:36-37

Undaunted, patient as can be, Jesus has had enough prayer time to be re-energized and ready to move on with his calling.

38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else––to the nearby villages––so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. – Mark 1:38-39

Even in the midst of his interruptions, the calling was clear––stay the course. Preach! Our callings may take a different form, but we can take lessons from our Master. Overcome interruptions, stay the course, and pray for clarity and stick-to-it-tive-ism.

~ Joyce ~