Bible Reading

Turning

Mark 1:2-8

By Pastor John

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  (ESV)

The other day I was at Hallandale’s MLK parade. I saw an elected official that I had met once before. She was walking towards me with two aides, one on each side. I had met her aides several times, and was more familiar with them than her. But with poor form, I reached my hand out to shake the hand of the aides first instead of the official. As my hand reached out, the aide realized I was reaching out to shake his hand rather than his boss’s. He pointed me towards his boss, and I made a turn to shake the official’s hand.

It made me realize that those aides are there to point people to the official. They might go up to someone, get their attention and help turn them towards the official who is walking up so that the person is ready to meet the important dignitary.

When John the Baptist appears on the scene, he is much like those aides. He gains attention, but only so that he can point people to someone more important. If people reach out for John the Baptist without seeing who he is pointing to, they’re missing the point. John’s role was to turn people in the right direction so that they were ready to meet Jesus when He came. That turn in the right direction is called repentance, which was the center of John’s ministry.

Repentance is a turn from self towards Jesus. It is radical and disruptive in nature. Repentance means turning from thinking the world revolves around you to orbiting your life around Jesus. He becomes the expert in all areas of your life. While Jesus welcomes you into His presence, He isn’t a genie, but a Lord and Master…God Himself.

And that is why we can’t dilly-dally when Jesus calls us to follow Him. He is so important that we must drop what we are doing and turn towards Him. It isn’t quite enough to just ask for forgiveness from your sins, then turn right back towards them. Following Jesus requires that we turn from them and to Him.

What did Jesus really mean when he said....png

The Light Breaks Through

Mark 1:1

by Pastor John

It was a long night of longing for sunlight to break the horizon and breach through my window.

In 2009, I took my first trip to West Africa to connect with church leaders in Liberia, Ghana and Togo. On my first night there, I had jet lag and I couldn’t sleep. My stomach was unsettled from adjusting to the food. I couldn’t get my body in a comfortable position so it wouldn’t touch the mosquito net draped over my bed. Then my friend started to snore in the bed across the room.

I tried to pass the night by listening to a podcast on my iPod (I didn’t have an iPhone yet) and fiddling with some gear. But it didn’t help. The darkness lingered for what seemed like days. I resigned that I wouldn’t get to sleep, and lay there longing for the sun to break through and the day to begin.

And then it did. Light shined through the streets and into our room as roosters crowed and people began to move through their yards.

The sun had come up. Light had breached into the darkness.

We live as broken people in a dark world. By dark, I don’t mean a lack of sunshine, but one where sickness and disease is rampant, where people are burdened & ostracized, where demonic forces oppress and beat people down. This makes us long for the healing touch of God.

Mark starts off his gospel, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Mark doesn’t start off with darkness. Rather, he announces that light has broken through. Mark will spend many chapters showing us how the light chases back the darkness, but for now, he just announces the light: Jesus, the Son of God.

And that is good news.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for being the light to us in a dark world.

Today's Scripture for Charting the Way

Today we kick off 2017 by remember the ground we covered in 2016 and looking to the path ahead in 2017. We're charting the way.

The word "way" appears a lot in the book of Psalms. It corresponds to God's path, the choices people make for their life decisions, and the direction God leads his people. We hope you are encouraged by how God has led us as New City Fellowship in His way!

Holy Ways - God's ways are different and set apart. They're going to seem unfamiliar to us because He isn't like us. But there is no god who is like our God!

Holy Ways - God's ways are different and set apart. They're going to seem unfamiliar to us because He isn't like us. But there is no god who is like our God!

God's chosen path for His people took them through what seemed an impossible path. With their backs up against an ocean and their enemies in pursuit, he opened the Red Sea for them to cross through. Though he opened a path and led his people, there were no footprints. I find that encouraging. So often God opens doors to us, yet remains unseen.

God's chosen path for His people took them through what seemed an impossible path. With their backs up against an ocean and their enemies in pursuit, he opened the Red Sea for them to cross through. Though he opened a path and led his people, there were no footprints. I find that encouraging. So often God opens doors to us, yet remains unseen.

Let's ask God, in faith, to show us where He is leading us in 2017. And we will follow Him!

Let's ask God, in faith, to show us where He is leading us in 2017. And we will follow Him!

One-Year Bible Reading Plan: WHICH?

Every year around this time, people commit to reading through the Scriptures in the coming year. It is a challenging feat that takes some careful planning and discipline. The most basic decision is “which Bible reading plan will I undertake”?

There are plans that focus on reading the Old and New Testaments together. Other plans order the Bible chronologically in the original sequence of historical events. Still, others focus on reading a chapter from each section of Scripture (history, prophets, Gospels, etc).

I want to propose another option put together by The Bible Project. The base of their plan is pretty simple: you read several chapters of Scripture every day starting from Genesis and ending in Revelation. Every day, you also read through a Psalm, which can be the focus of your prayers.

What’s so special about that?

What makes this Bible reading plan unique is the companion videos. The Bible Project has put together fantastic videos explaining the theme and purpose of every book in the Bible. They’ve also made videos that have to do with various overarching Biblical themes. Take 15 minutes to watch this video on the book of Psalms and the Biblical theme of “heaven and earth”. It is worth your time:

 

Did you gain some perspective and learn something new? Of course. You saw a structure and purpose behind the book of Psalms that you probably wouldn't have noticed if you just opened to a random chapter and read. And if you watched through the end of "Heaven & Earth", you came to a deeper understanding of why our church is called "New City".

What makes The Bible Project’s reading plan unique is the companion videos. I find that when people read through the Bible, they may not have the tools to make sense of what they are reading. They get lost in the trees because they can’t see the forest. The Bible Project’s plan helps you keep perspective on what you’re reading by including around one hundred video interludes.

So during your ten days in Leviticus, three separate videos are offered to help you understand the overarching theme of what you’re reading. And they’re very easy to find. Just google “The Bible Project Leviticus” and it should pop up as a YouTube link.

Check out the plan.

Look for the next blog post: “One-Year Bible Reading Plan: WHY?”