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Monday, June 20, 2016

Day 93: Mark 14:26-52 & Psalm 94 - What Does Our Boasting Reveal About Us?

Today's Reading: Mark 14:26-52 & Psalm 94

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What Does Our Boasting Reveal About Us?

But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. - Mark 14:31

Jesus' words were very clear: "You will all fall away." He knew well what was coming, and He understood that when the Shepherd was struck, the sheep would indeed scatter. But Peter thought he knew better. Peter said boldly, "Even though they all fall away, I will not."

Jesus then turned personally to Peter and spoke directly to him: "Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Now, here's a hint: When Jesus says, "Truly, I tell you," you keep your mouth shut and accept what He says. But not Peter. He doubled down on his boasting: "If I must die with you, I will not deny you." 

Now, so that we're not too harsh on Peter, Mark says, "And they all said the same." In just a few short hours, Jesus would be left all alone, but at this moment, all of His disciples are confident they will stand strong with Him, even unto death. How wrong were they? Peter, James and John couldn't even stay awake and pray with Jesus for a single hour! (v. 37)

It's far too easy to shake our heads at these foolish disciples, but are we any different? How often have we had an over-inflated view of our own righteousness or competence? How often have we strode boldly into battle, trusting in our own strength, only to fall flat on our faces, wondering what happened?

Before I left for college, I boldly told my youth group how college would not change me, but I would change my campus for Christ. I failed, miserably. Before I got married, I was an expert on marriage, having read books and listened to sermons and given advice to many. Today, my wife and I celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary, I could not even begin to count the number of times I have failed to live up to my own expectations over the last 18 years. I could say the same thing about parenting, which seemed to easy and clear, until I had children.

Our boasting and our self-confidence shows that we do not understand God's word and we do not understand our own hearts. The Bible tells us very clearly about our own sin, weakness and absolute dependency on the grace of God for every good in our lives. But we are slow to listen, slow to understand, quick to trust ourselves and quick to boast in our own ability.

Let's learn our lesson from the disciples and say with Paul, "But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14, ESV)

Prayer Based on Psalm 94:

O Lord, God of vengeance,
    O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
    repay to the proud what they deserve!
O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
    how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
    all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O Lord,
    and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
    and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The Lord does not see;
    the God of Jacob does not perceive.”

O Lord, so often I am among the dullest of the peoples!
   Have mercy on me. When will I be wise? 
You who planted the ear, do You not hear?
You who formed the eye, do You not see?
You who disciplines the nations, do You not rebuke?
   O Lord, may I receive Your rebuke with a tender heart!
You who teaches man knowledge—
    the Lord— You know the thoughts of man,
    that they are but a breath.

Blessed is the man whom You discipline, O Lord,
    and whom You teach out of Your law,
to give him rest from days of trouble,
For You, O Lord, will not forsake Your people;
    You will not abandon Your heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous,
    and all the upright in heart will follow it.

If You, O Lord, had not been my help,
    my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
    Your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
    Your consolations cheer my soul.

You, O Lord, have become my stronghold,
    and the rock of my refuge. 

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