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The Footsteps of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark.

It does not take long to traverse the land where Jesus was born, grew up, called his disciples and brought the world a love like no other, did the miraculous and then turned his face toward Jerusalem and a lonely, God-forsaken place called Golgotha. I know. I just traveled with 38 others to experience each of the places—and seeing is believing. I apologize for my lapse in writing. I came face to face with my frailty on my beautiful Israel trip. Just only so many hours...only so much energy...only so much inspiration. But, I'm back, and I believe God has inspired me with MORE. Why not get a friend to sign up with you? Talk about these Morning Briefings and the challenge questions; look up the scriptures in the footnotes and read for yourself. Ask God to speak to you. Ok, let's goooooo...

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While prophets had foretold his coming, Jesus’ physical story begins in Nazareth, the village where God visited a young maiden to tell her she would bear a son—not just any son, mind you, and not after she had been with a man—but the Son of God, Messiah, brought about by the Holy Spirit1. Another angelic visit to Nazareth, this time to Mary’s betrothed, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins.”2 >today the beautiful Basilica of the Annunciation encapsulates the place of the announcement to Mary in Nazareth. [below] Fulfilling the requirement of the law for a census, Joseph took Mary with him to Bethlehem, some 90 miles at that time, where Mary delivered the Son of God—not likely in a stable as we grew up envisioning, but in a cave. Seeing is believing. The topography of Bethlehem, its very hilly, rocky nature and many, many caves, tells us the real story. >today the Church of the Nativity encapsulates the cave where Jesus is believed to have been born For almost thirty years, Jesus grew up in tiny Nazareth, in a religious home, observing the customs and feasts of the Jewish people. And then, when it was time to begin his ministry, he went out to the Sea of Galilee. This is where our story picks up in the Gospel of Mark. Mark is the earliest of the gospels written, and the shortest. Come with me as we look for Jesus in Mark’s account. In the last 15 years of Morning Briefings, I have taught through Matthew, Luke and John, but this is the first time for our brother Mark. Each day before you read the passage, pray something like this: Heavenly Father, give me the wisdom to understand the scripture I read today. Guard me from distraction, and deposit the truths of your unchanging words in my mind and deep in my soul. Accomplish what you please in me through your Word, O Lord, as I follow in the steps of Jesus. Amen.3 Mark 1.1-8: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way; 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.’” 4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8 I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Mark stakes his claim in the first sentence of the good news: he is going to tell us about Jesus, who is the Messiah and the Son of God. Bam. He does not mince words, does not equivocate. Immediately he quotes the prophet Isaiah who had written some 700 years before that there would be a messenger who would prepare the way for Jesus—John the Baptist. John preaches of the need for people to repent of their sins, to show their cleansing through baptism in the waters of the Jordan River. His clothing sets him apart, and so does his diet. Today, we would call John extreme. Without doubt. And he isn’t messing around. He does what he had been born to do—he shows people their need for forgiveness of sin and points them to the One who was coming after him, the Mighty One. We can know and walk daily with this One, the Son of God, and truly how sweet life is with him. And today, we can learn from John--a model of faithfulness, which speaks to me. Sign me up, I say! I want to be faithful today . . . yes, one day at a time, for today is all I have. Amen. I'm wondering: Are you doing what you have been born to do? Are you distancing yourself from sin, and are you seeking to do God’s best each day? Three questions for thought. To cast our gaze upward, a song: Walking in his presence, Christine 1 – Luke 1.35 2 - Matthew 1.20-21 3 - Friend, God attaches a promise to his Word-- '...It (My Word) will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.' Isaiah 55.11 It is never a waste of time to read and study the Bible.

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