Mark 9. Forum Discussion

Removing stumbling blocks from our lives

Chapter 9 begins with Mark writing about the transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus took Peter, James and John to go with Him up a high mountain by themselves. When they got there, Jesus was transfigured before them, and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white. Elijah and Moses appeared along with Jesus. Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!”

Mark records another miracle where a demon-possessed son is healed. Originally, the disciples tried to cast out the spirit unsuccessfully. When the boy’s father has a conversation with Jesus he says, “But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Jesus replies, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”

Later in chapter 9, Jesus says:

“If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.] If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.] If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” – Mark 9:43-48.

Jesus is telling us to remove those things from our lives that cause us to stumble. He gives some very dramatic examples:

  1. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off.
  2. If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off.
  3. If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out.

The things which cause us to sin and separate us from God are probably much more subtle. Maybe it is alcohol, maybe it is the language that comes from our mouths, maybe it is the love of money? The message here is clear, whatever is causing us to stumble is not worth forfeiting our souls over.

To be successful in removing the stumbling blocks from our own lives requires us to be honest with ourselves. We need to recognize what behaviors and situations put us at risk and be strong enough to remove them. Next, we need to work on a plan that puts us in position to succeed at changing our behavior for the better.

Whatever time we spent stumbling in the past can now be redirected and used to glorify God.

God delights when we make good decisions in this way.

Consider Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

When we take something that was a problem in our lives and replace it with something that is righteous in the eyes of the Lord, we are becoming better servants of God. Taking that one step further, if we replace the time that we spent trying to please ourselves, and invest it in learning about God, or helping our neighbor, we are really going to develop spiritually.

God has a plan for each of us. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

But God’s plan cannot work unless we follow it. One of the great things we can do to help ourselves be successful is to make a conscious effort to identify the current stumbling blocks in our lives. Once we have identified them, we should put together a plan to eliminate them. If we do not feel that our plan is going to work, we can go to a more experienced Brother or Sister for some advice.

We all have stumbling blocks in our lives that cause us to sin. Satan loves stumbling blocks! As we age, the stumbling blocks may change, but they do not go away. The only way for us to truly get Satan to flee from us is to resist the temptations that he throws our way.

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7.

As we remove stumbling blocks, we will begin to feel a newfound peace. That feeling of peace will help us to repeat these actions by removing more stumbling blocks and devoting more time to the Lord.

As we stop doing the “bad” things in our lives, we will have more time to do the “good” things. To help us get started, it is always a good idea to set a few goals. Our goals should be obtainable, and we should hold ourselves accountable to achieve them. Here are a few thought starters to help us make our own lists:

Maybe our goal is to send 10 cards per month to people who need encouragement?

Maybe it is to spend 30 minutes every day studying God’s word and thinking about what it means.

Or maybe it is having somebody new over to your home for a meal once per quarter.

Whatever goals that God puts in our heads will be a blessing if they are directed at serving Him, and not ourselves.

Goals are extremely effective. They help us act on our faith. Sometimes that requires only a small step in the right direction, and other times it may require a huge LEAP of faith. Whatever the case, goals help us to act and action is how we demonstrate our faith. As it says in James 2:18:

“But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Wherever we are in our relationship with God, it is always a great exercise to examine our lives and look for stumbling blocks that can be removed. Replacing the time that we formerly spent doing those activities with activities that glorify God is something that is really fulfilling and a joy to experience.

As we set spiritual goals for ourselves, we can be encouraged by the words that Jesus spoke in Mark 9:23:

“All things are possible to him who believes.”

Thank you for joining us today. Please join us again tomorrow as we look at Mark 10 and, “Receiving the kingdom of God like a child.” May God’s blessings be upon you until then. Amen

Comments

Michael

I think that God created earth to be beautiful and to give us a tiny glimpse into what heaven will be like. I think Jesus liked to go places where His creation could be admired.

I also think that Jesus needed a quiet place, away from people, so that He could clear His head, or recharge His batteries. He was both God and man. The human side of Him probably benefited from time spent in nature, just as we do today.

Reply
Tommy

Jesus loved and was protective of children. Another example of His warmth and compassion. Thank you Jesus for being the perfect example for us to follow.

Reply