Our Responsibility to Respond

We did it!! Special thank you to every single person for hanging on to the very end of this 7-week Bible Study in the Gospel of Mark (Lisa Harper). I pray that you were able to take away one thing that blessed you! To end our time in this study, let’s reflect on Mark 16:15-18:

‘He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples with this command to preach the good news to all the world. Our charge is the same.

How will you and I proclaim the hope of the gospel to those around us and to the aching world around us?

One of the challenges of our generation is the illusion of escaping responsibility. We now have a calling and a commission to share what was so generously poured out to us. This takes me to my next point of introducing the next lessons we will engage in for the next weeks. Ask yourself these questions:

Do you question your existence in life?

Do you often wonder what on earth are you here for?

Do you struggle with identifying your passions, gifts, and strengths?

Do you have a hard time making decisions and taking next steps?

If you struggle with answering these questions, chances are this next study is for you. We are going to walk through God’s Word and The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren to discover God’s answer for all of these tough questions. I look forward to next week with you. Be Blessed. Be Revealed.

 

 

 

 

 

The Beautiful Outcome of Our Lord’s Betrayal

Betrayed.

Abandoned.

Humiliated.

Stranded.

Thrown under the bus.

Do you have a few stories of your own that made you feel…drastically alone?

“The sober symphony of Calvary was arranged by these characteristic notes of betrayal.” This was the story leading up to Jesus’ death.

“Our Savior’s murder was not a story just to give us a knee-jerk emotional response, but to show us how carefully and divinely orchestrated a mission of mercy it was.” Imagine how many betrayals Jesus encountered by both friends and enemies, from the garden of Gethsemane to the interior of the governor’s palace?

Yet, he gave no excuses.

“He humbly remained the Passover Lamb and stumbled up a hill to His own slaughter.”

He took the punches, the spit, the ridicule, the bruising, the scourging, the nails…

Yet, “he muted His own omnipotent roar to save us.”

The lash on his back, the thorns on his head, the spit on his cheek, the bruises on his face, the nails in his hands, the spear in his side, the scorn of the rulers, the betrayal of his friend, the desertion by his disciples – these were all the result of sin, and all designed by God to destroy the power of sin. ~ John Piper

Roman crucifixion ranks among the most heartless and inhuman forms of torture and death yet contrived. That such a cruel practice could be transformed into a means of salvation testifies powerfully to God’s grace and mercy for all the world. ~ Lisa Harper

What MERCY!

What GRACE!

As I read this week’s bible study from Lisa Harper’s, The Gospel of Mark, I was somberly and joyfully reminded of the Cross. Jesus’ story of betrayal led to my story of redeeming beauty. Everyday this should be a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude in our hearts. What an amazing reminder of God’s goodness in our lives. Everyday we have access to eternal life, healing, the promises of God, joy, and so much more because of our Lord’s choice of a sacrificial death and resurrection. Sometimes we have to be reminded to keep the main thing the main thing; It’s. All. About. Jesus.

Let’s take a moment right now to thank God for this beautiful outcome!

We have one more week in this study! Join me for the final week of The Gospel of Mark Bible Study next Thursday morning as we close up with a grand finale and release the topic of the next study. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

The Gospel of Mark Book

Week 6: The Beautiful Outcome of Our Lord’s Betrayal

Scripture References:

  • Mark 14: 32-16:8

Reflective Questions:

  • If someone asked you, “Why did Jesus have to die?” how would you answer that person?
  • When you really ponder the symbol of a cross, do you feel more sorrowful or hopeful?
  • What’s the “Oh wow, surely Jesus is the Son of God” moment in your life?

 

 

Featured GUEST BLOGGER — Amy Elaine

I love coming across great websites in the blogging community and social media networks that inspires my soul. This week’s featured author is one that caught my heart. Her website, amyelaine.com, is all about helping heart-shattered lives become whole again and live in victory. Not only does she write, but Amy is a speaker and the host of Real Victory Radio with great podcasts you can listen to on her site.

Below is a link to one of her posts, How to Walk in the Freedom of Your Destiny and Calling.

Fear tried to keep me from staking my claim in the Kingdom. Similarly, shame kept me paralyzed and unable to take possession of what was rightfully mine…Intimacy with God unlocks the mystery of our identity & calling. ~ Amy Elaine

Let’s put fear aside today, walk in the freedom of all God’s called us to do, and move one step closer to developing the purpose within us! Join me in welcoming our guest for this week Amy Elaine! Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

This one’s for the girl who’s been knocked down and counted out, left not just thinking, but truly believing she’ll never find her God-given destiny, her calling. 1,873 more words

via How to Walk in the Freedom of Your Destiny and Calling — Amy Elaine

 

The Beginning of His Earthly End

The Bible is at times hard to read. There are times I’m left with emotions of frustration and hurt because I’m asking God, “Why did that happen in the Bible?” “Have you ever encountered things in Scripture that seemed tough or even wrong with harsh judgements that our soft hearts don’t want to consider?” I was in the book of Genesis two weeks ago and it broke my heart to read about some of the hurtful things that happened to women. Also, other examples of scripture that we may have trouble trying to reconcile with includes the “destruction of the firstborn in Egypt in Exodus 11:5 or eliminating the Canaanites in Deuteronomy 20:17,” as Lisa Harper mentions.

Though we come across passages that challenge us and may seem hard to come to grips with, it’s so important that we understand the biblical context so that we can “appreciate the holiness and goodness of God.” That’s why I love the Bible so much! No matter what we are reading, there is good in it. The Bible is pure, holy, and leads us to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” ~ The  Westminster Confession

Let’s take this passage in Mark 11 for example, about the Withered Fig Tree. In week 5 of The Gospel of Mark Bible Study, we are turning the corner and heading into the scene of Jesus’ last week of His earthly life. After Christ’s triumphal entry to Jerusalem on a donkey, the next day Jesus curses a fig tree that He sees.

“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it.” Mark 11:12-14 NIV

At first glance this is hard to understand. I love how Lisa Harper considers what the disciples were thinking about all of this because the narrative does not mention their expressions. They may have wondered aloud if skipping breakfast had made Jesus light-headed, I mean who would fuss at a tree? However, as we dig into scripture and the context this is what we find:

  1. The fig tree often symbolized Israel’s relationship with God in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 8:13, Hos. 9:10, 16; Joel 1:7; Mic. 4:3-4; Zechariah. 3:10)
  2. God’s chosen people had stopped producing the real fruit of relationship with Him through prayer and worship and were instead engaged in the ostentatious but spiritually barren practice of ritual and legalism. By killing a showy yet sterile tree, Jesus was making the emphatic point that our Creator will not allow unrepentant sinners masquerading as spiritual folks to flourish indefinitely. (Lisa Harper)
  3. In all works in the ministry of Jesus, this is the only destructive miracle. God doesn’t approve when there is profession without reality, talk without walk. (David Guzik)

As you study this passage, remind yourself of the goodness of God’s Holy Word, it’s ability to interpret itself, and reveal the holiness of God. Take some time to reflect on the questions below and I will meet you back here next Thursday for week 6. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

The Gospel of Mark Book

Week 5 The Beginning of His Earthly End

Scripture Reference:

  • Mark 11:1-26

Reflective Questions:

  • What are some examples of things in Scripture that seemed harsh or even wrong until you learned more about the context?
  • How have you come to reconcile these problematic passages?
  • What spiritual principles does this passage in Mark 11:22-26 contain regarding prayer and faith?

 

FREE Book Giveaway!!!

You’re blessed.

You’re wealthy.

You’re thinking, “Who me?! I don’t think so.” Before you disqualify yourself from being in that category, let me change your perception for a moment.

I’m not talking about money. Wealth is far more than dollar bills in your bank account. However, that’s a blessing if you do have that, but wealth is far more.

Wealth is the ability, (resources, strength, and wisdom), to create positive outcomes in the midst of lack, poverty, and/or emptiness.

Wealth is light in the darkness, healing in sickness, prosperity in poverty, wholeness in brokenness, favor in obscurity, love for the unlovely, beauty for ashes, and victors among victims.

Wealth is a “can do” attitude, a “more than enough” mindset, and a “nothing is impossible” belief system.

Wealth is radical generosity, extraordinary compassion, sacrificial giving, and profound humility.

Wealth is always thankful, never jealous, doesn’t brag, celebrates others and looks to the future. (Noella M.)

You can be wealthy in your ideas, your marriage, your wisdom, your skill sets, and in your time.

Are you rethinking your perception about wealth now? I was deeply encouraged by my church’s sermon yesterday and was inspired to write this post as a blessing to someone else. The gist of the message was that we receive blessings and wealth, more than what we need, so that we can be a blessing to others! We have a responsibility as blessed people to take care of those around us!

We can’t forget what the more is for. ~ Chris Hodges

Two years ago a fellow blogger did a free book give away and I was the winner! Once I received the book, her instructions were to read the book and then give it to another individual. So yes, after two years, here it is! It’s a free copy of Lysa Terkeurst’s Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Becoming More

In order to be considered, all you have to do is like this post and leave a comment below on one way you are blessed and wealthy. I will choose a winner and announce them on Friday in the comments! I’m thrilled to bless someone with this book as someone did me!

Also, if you want to hear the message to yesterday’s sermon, the link is below:

What the More is For

Have a great week friends. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

Giving Up the “Right” To Ride Shotgun

We are more than half way through The Gospel of Mark Bible Study by Lisa Harper! Welcome to week 4 and I want to thank you for joining me every Thursday morning for diving deep into the study of really pursuing Jesus! Take some time this week to read the scripture reference and answer the reflective questions below. Blessings and let God be revealed in you!

The Gospel of Mark Book

Week 4 Giving Up the “Right” to Ride Shotgun

Scripture References:

  • Mark 9: 33-37

Reflective Questions:

  • When it comes to humble acts of service – like washing someone’s feet or washing someone’s dishes who’s bedridden with a serious illness – are you more comfortable being on the giving end or on the receiving end?
  • Read Proverbs 11:2. How has pride led to a literal painful stumble in your life? Taking the “painful pride quiz” below is a great way to assess where you are currently.
    • Am I upset if I am not praised for my work?
    • Do I like and even long to sit at the head table in the seat of honor?
    • Do I seek credit for what others have done?
    • Do honorary titles pump me up?
    • Is popularity crucial to my sense of self-worth?
    • Am I a name-dropper of those I know (or pretend to know)?
    • Do I think I have something valuable to say about almost everything?
  • What real life situations tend to provoke your pride-disguised-as-insecurity to come out and play?
  • How are you living a life of service or how will you in the future?

Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you. ~ William Law

Let Choices Lead and Feelings Follow

Help! There’s a tornado whirlwind of jeans, tops, and dresses all over my bedroom! I cannot make up my mind on what to wear so I throw every article of clothing I feel like wearing in every direction of my bedroom. Can anyone relate?? I like the idea of wearing one blouse in my mind but I like how another shirt fits and feels better on my body. So I change. After walking out the door and realizing I’m not dressed for the weather, I change again. Then I feel like wearing different shoes because they look better with the new dress I put on. This probably goes on two or three more times. Then don’t get me started on my food options. I will probably feel three different ways about my lunch today when it comes time to chow down. There are so many feelings, no wonder our culture thrives on one of the scariest ideas floating around – that your feelings are truth.
feelings face
feelings faces – bernadinia
Our culture is saturated with feelings! Do not misinterpret this. Feelings are not bad. In fact, they were given to us by God. However, to allow our feelings to dictate what we do and how we identify ourselves in critical areas of our lives is deception and misaligned. Our culture believes that those desires, those urges, and those impulses are who you are. Live how you feel! Do what you want, when you want, and with whoever you want. Follow your heart! This is a horrible existence. The reality is this is not truth. Pastor Judah Smith stated it best, “Don’t follow your heart, question your heart.”

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Don’t follow your feelings. Most of the time we cannot identify our emotions or know what we want. How can we trust the roller coaster ride of our emotions dealing with God, people, careers, etc? Yet, it is a sad reality that the same approach we have towards what we’re going to eat and what we’re going to wear, is applied to other major areas in our lives. One of the best ways to safeguard our hearts and lead a life of decision is to understand that it starts with relationship. Here are three important areas of our lives where we can be a generation of people that choose to live by decision and will, not by emotion and frill. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!
  • Our Relationship with God
    • What if God responded to us out of His feelings? We would not be redeemed today! Someone once told me that they are waiting to feel God before they start following Him. Well, that is the wrong approach to our relationship with our Father in Heaven! Friends, let me tell you that our love for God is an act of the will and selfless surrender of ourselves. It is a decision. (James 4:8)
    • Love is a law and laws have no feelings. Romans 13:8; John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Sometimes you feel like running the red light because you are late, but the law says STOP! (Myles Munroe) God has given us a command to obey, even to the point of loving our enemies. We definitely cannot feel our way to doing that. We choose that!
    • Obey God wholeheartedly – If we think of love primarily as emotional desire and not as active committed service, we end up putting duty and desire against each other in a way that is unrealistic and destructive – Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
  • Relationship with our Spouse

    • Andy Stanley said, “Falling in love is easy; all it requires is a pulse, but staying in love requires a plan.” Love is a verb. You do it. You don’t feel it. Love is an act of the will. We think love is some emotional concoction deep in the soul. However, it is a daily decision to love (verb) our spouse. Then those initial feelings we had when we were all googly-eyed during the dating season will return and stay!
  • Living Out Our Purpose and Calling
    • What is that hard thing God has called you to? Did you start out with enthusiasm and emotion but found yourself giving into your feelings of not wanting to do it anymore? Most people start out feeling one way and quit on a “bad” day. Here’s the thing, you cannot rely on your feelings to lead you to greatness. Greatness occurs through daily habits and choices. Commit, follow-through, invest, practice and deliver even when you don’t feel like it.