15th June: Mark 2:13-3:12
Jesus changes people. Levi became Matthew (14). He became 'a new creation' (2 Corinthians 5:17). The change of name marked his new birth (John 3:6). To be changed by Jesus you must recognize yourself as a sinner (17). There is a world of difference between legal obedience - 'old wine' - and Gospel obedience - 'new wine' (21-22). There is an eternity of difference between belonging to God's Kingdom and remaining outside of His Kingdom (John 3:3,5,7). The religion of the Pharisees was legalistic. The obedience of Jesus was spiritual. Will we follow Jesus, or will we be like these 'religious' men who planned 'to destroy Him' (6)? It is sadly possible to participate in 'religion', professing faith in 'the Son of God', in an 'unclean spirit' (11). Prompted by the Holy Spirit, let us truly confess that 'Jesus is Lord' (1 Corinthians 12:3).
16th June: Mark 3:13-35
The conflict intensifies. The 'twelve' are 'sent...to cast out demons' (14-15). Jesus is accused of being demon-possessed (22). Jesus warns against 'an eternal sin' - blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (28-30). With the offer of forgiveness - 'the blood of Jesus...cleanses us from all sin' - , there is the call to 'confess our sins' (1 John 1:7,9). 'If we say we have no sin' (1 John 1:8,10) and no need of Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we resist the Holy Spirit who seeks to convict us of our sin and lead us to the Saviour (John 16:8-9,14). Are you anxious about 'an unpardonable sin' ? Let the Holy Spirit lead you to the Saviour. Take your sin to Jesus, and let His 'perfect love cast out your fear' (1 John 4:17). Do you think you cannot be forgiven ? God's thoughts are 'higher': 'Return to the Lord...He will abundantly pardon' (Isaiah 55:6-9).
17th June: Proverbs 4:1-9
This is 'a father's instructions' to his 'sons' (1). The father has been a 'son' (3). He has wrestled with temptation. He has needed the exhortation - 'Let your heart hold fast...' (4) - and the warning - 'Do not turn away...' (5). Now, we turn to the divine Father and Son. The Father does not keep His distance from us. Through the Son, He has come near to us. Through the Son, we come to the Father (John 14:9,6). When Scripture says, 'Get wisdom' (7), it means this: 'Come to the Father through Jesus the Son'. Wisdom brings 'a beautiful crown', 'the crown of righteousness', 'the unfading crown of glory' (9; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4). Be wise. Be ready for the Lord's Return (Matthew 25:1-13). 'Purer...higher...greater - Our wonder, our worship, when Jesus we see!' (Church Hymnary, 374).