Saturday, April 22, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Mark 11-12
Today’s reading in the Gospel of Mark records the beginning of the final week of Christ’s earthly ministry. Tradition states the “Triumphal Entry” of Christ (Mark 11:1-11) into Jerusalem occurred on Sunday, although there are many that believe it most likely occurred on the Monday before the Day of the Passover and our LORD’s appointment with the Cross.
Christ’s cursing the fig tree that bore nothing but leaves and driving the money-changers out of the Temple are both recorded in Mark 11:12-21.
Two topics, “Faith” and “Forgiveness”, are the subject of Mark 11:22-26 and the LORD’s instructions are both beautiful in their simplicity and convicting in their application (Mark 11:22-26). Many profess faith in God; but how many believe God will not only hear our prayers, but will answer them?
Christ’s challenge on faith and prayer precedes the admonishment: “if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25-26). Thirty-eight years in ministry has taught me there are many church members who bear about in their souls a spirit of bitterness. In my opinion, one of the most besetting sins in the 21st century church is an unwillingness to deal with offenses in a biblical manner motivated by love for God and love for others. Too many allow bitterness to fester in their soul and, like cancer in the body, spread until it infects spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Some reading this devotional harbor bitterness toward parents for what you perceive were slights during your youth. There are parents struggling with bitterness because their child has disgraced the family by foolish, sinful actions. Hurting words and broken vows have embittered marriages. Church members are bitter with fellow believers and pastors are hurt by slights and offenses.
You need not wonder why you have lost your joy and your prayers go unanswered if an unforgiving spirit haunts your soul! I challenge you to meditate on this truth: An unwillingness to forgive others is not only a seed that will eventually bear bitter fruit; it is indicative of a soul that has never entered into God’s forgiveness (Matthew 18:23-35). Harbor an unforgiving spirit and you do so at the sacrifice of your prayers going answered (Psalm 66:18).
Believer, you are commanded to be “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Grasp the magnitude of the sins God has forgiven you and you will find no excuse to not forgive others!
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith