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D.Caudery. Today, our chapters, provide abundant ‘food for thought’.  In Exodus ch. 22 we read a range of laws on how the escaped Israelites were to deal with any dishonesty and cheating among them. We understand that when the Bible was available in English 4 to 500 years ago, these laws greatly influenced the formation of English law. 

The people were told (v.20)  “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction.” [v.20]  There was no ‘in-between’ position in this, because there was only one true God – and they were his nation!  We should see ourselves as his spiritual nation – Peter wrote, “you are … a holy nation, a people for his own possession” [1 Peter 2 v.9]

Who – or what – is ‘god’ today?   Jesus bluntly taught, “You cannot serve God and money.” [Matt 6 v.24]  He told them bluntly, you “will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”  Nearly all today make a ‘god’ of money! Either one thing or the other dominates human thinking – and therefore – how they (and ourselves) live.

In the Psalm 76, the worshippers sing to God, “….you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused? …. the earth feared … when God arose to establish judgment, to save all the humble of the earth.” [v.7-9]  These words looked forward to an ultimate time, but is not that time now almost upon us!  Surely God will very soon “establish judgement.”

Our chapter 8 in Mark’s gospel ends with some very straightforward questions Jesus puts to his disciples – they are also questions for you and me!  He challenges them, ” whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”[v.35]   Is it clear what he means?  It is eternal life that we save – because we put no real value, to dominate our thinking, on our mode of living today!

Jesus is asking them (and us) what their priorities were in their lives?  What does the gospel really mean to us?  Is it just interesting to know about it – and nothing more?  Do we talk about it?  Do we keep it to ourselves, because the reaction of others is negative – or worse! 

It is challenging when we read what Jesus said his followers would be “blessed” for!  “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” [Luke 6 v.22] This can be the result of our showing we believe and serve him – and believe his return is very near. True committed followers of Jesus can be involved in situations today in which scoffers “revile you and spurn your name as evil”  This is parallel to what we read in Mark, “… whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”  One way this can happen today – is to lose our ‘reputation’ in the in the eyes of those ‘serve’ money.