31 December 2020

Proverbs 16:1

To humans belong the plans of the heart,
    but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue

The mystery of how this truth takes place is deep, beyond our understanding. Our question is not how this can be, but why we are being told. What message is God conveying to us?

If you are rebelling against God, if you are plotting against him, then know that your best laid plans are but serving his will. Joseph’s brother’s evil intentions were used to bring deliverance unknowingly for their families years later. Pharaoh’s hardened heart against the Israelites only served to magnify the saving power of their God. Rehoboam’s rejection of wise counsel led to the split of Israel, yet it happened in fulfillment of God’s own words. Shake your hand as you will against the God in heaven; you cannot defy his ultimate, mysterious counsels.

If you are the victim of unjust actions, know that, if you are in Christ, God uses all things for your good and for his glory. You do not need to understand the “why”; and, indeed, you will get caught in a never-ending tangle of trying to interpret every episode of your life if you make the attempt. We do not have the capability within ourselves to understand the deepest counsels of God. But we do have the capability to trust our heavenly Father who knows the number of hairs on our head. And we have all reason to trust him, seeing how he planned and carried forth the most mysterious, most wondrous plan of all – our redemption through Jesus Christ.

Let the rulers of this earth make all their plans; let the enemies of God shake their fists all they want. What will take place is what God will use for his glory and for the good of his people ultimately. Don’t worry about the plans laid against you in court or at the office or among your neighbors. Whatever anyone intends for evil, God intends (and will see that it happens) for good.


Mark 3

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.


Crowds Follow Jesus

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.


Jesus Appoints the Twelve

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve[a] that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.


Jesus Accused by His Family and by Teachers of the Law

20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family[b] heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”