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?

 

 

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?

 

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

The Scandal of a Scarcity Mentality

Oh the Scandal!! What shame!! What embarrassment!! How preposterous the situation…

When we are called to “dare greatly” but then we get sucked into the scandal of a scarcity mentality, also known as “the never-enough problem” (Brene Brown). Writer Lynne Twist said it best, “For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ The next one is ‘I don’t have enough time.’ Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it.”

How scandalous. I’m guilty. I just caught myself saying I needed more sleep. Yet, it goes deeper than that. In our narcissistic culture, we are bombarded with overt comparison and the feelings of not being good enough or the fear of being ordinary. We struggle to be seen and heard because creativity has been silenced and suffocated. “We get scarcity because we live it (Brene Brown).” So how would you respond when you hear or see the phrase: Never _______________ enough? Fill in the blank for yourself.

Never good enough.

Never perfect enough.

Never successful enough.

Never safe enough.

I’m sure your own word popped up at some point. The good news is that we can heal from this! We can come together and challenge this scandalous mentality. We find the solution played out in the familiar miracle of the Bible when one little boy’s lunch made a ‘huge picnic’ possible after Jesus multiplied and blessed it. This is week 3 in Lisa Harper’s Bible Study, The Gospel of Mark: The Jesus We’re Aching For. In this story in Mark 6:30-44, the disciples are putting on a scandal with their scarcity mentality. However, Jesus so “gently pushed them a little further than they were used to going with the question, ‘What do you have that we can work with?” Here’s the solution. The opposite of scarcity is enough. Bottom line:

Our scarcity + faith in Jesus = MORE THAN ENOUGH~ Lisa Harper

The love and compassion for Jesus is too powerful. As Lisa Harper stated, “The only true eternal scandal would be for us not to see Jesus for who He is. Jesus is the Messiah. He is our only hope.” Thank you for joining me in week 3 of the Bible Study. I pray you are blessed and the Glory of Jesus is revealed in your life!

The Gospel of Mark Book

Week 3: The Scandal of a Scarcity Mentality

Scripture Reference:

  • Mark 6:30-44

Reflective Questions:

  • What basic necessities (i.e. time, money, food, energy) do you need God to replenish for you this season?
  • Mark 6:42 says, “All the people ate and were satisfied.” How would you define being satisfied, spiritually-speaking? Are you satisfied that way?

The Soil of Your Heart

Welcome back to The Gospel of Mark: The Jesus We’re Aching For Bible Study (By Lisa Harper)! We are in week 2. Just a reminder, you can visit every Thursday morning for a Bible Study post on the current series I am in. This morning we are going to focus on a lot of reflective questions. Take some time today and the remaining week to ask yourself these soul searching thoughts. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

The Gospel of Mark Book

Week 2 “Chickens or Champions” (The Soil of Your Heart)

Scripture References:

  • Mark 4:1-20 (Parable of the Sower)

Reflective Questions:

  • How have you seen and experienced the ways Jesus can mend even the most difficult relationships?
  • If your closest friends and family were asked whether you were more of a “doer” or a “talker,” what do you think the consensus would be? Why?
  • What distractions most often prevent you from paying attention to what God is saying to you through both His Spirit and His Word?
  • Describe the last time a tribulation or storm threatened your faith. Did your spiritual roots and foundation hold firm or did you find yourself pulled away from Jesus and shaken to the core of your beliefs? Explain.
  • The size of our fruit depends on the softness of the soil. So how about it? How tilled up would you say your ground (heart) is right about now? How has God faithfully plowed you recently? (Psalm 119:75)

 

 

Aggressive Grace

Every Thursday morning I will post a summary of a Bible Study lesson based on the current study I am in. Join me in this 7 week study on the “Gospel of Mark: The Jesus We’re Aching For” by one of the best Bible teachers and communicators today, Lisa Harper. I will tell you right now, week 1 study is powerful, real, and relevant to all of our lives. The study itself is in-depth, so I encourage you to dive deeper into the book on your own. However, these posts will highlight three components I pull from the lesson: scriptures, main points, and reflection questions. So with that being said, let’s jump in and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

The goal is not the study. It’s finding Jesus in it! – Chris Hodges

The Gospel of Mark Book

Week 1 Aggressive Grace

Scripture References:

  • Mark 2:1-12 NCV

Summary Point 1:

  • Mark 2 tells how one man’s greatest concern pales next to Jesus’ far greater compassion. The Messiah went beyond the paralytic’s immediate comprehension of need. The King lavished the paralytic with infinitely more treasure than he had the foresight to ask…He didn’t just heal the man’s legs; He saved the man’s life.
  • Reflection Questions: Would you describe the prayers you’ve been praying lately as audacious or anemic? What’s the most audacious “mountain tossed into the sea” prayer request on your heart this season? Do you feel like you’re whispering it toward heaven with hesitation and trepidation or bellowing it to the Heavenly Father who delights in meeting your needs?

Summary Point 2:

  • Jesus forgave the paralytic and the man didn’t even ask for repentance! Jesus was so incredibly eager to restore the paralytic into a right relationship with His heavenly Father that He preempted the guy’s repentance with mercy. Jesus pursues with aggressive grace and His kindness leads us toward repentance.
  • Reflection Questions: When have you experienced the grace of God totally apart from your own seeking it? How has God’s mercy steered you toward repentance lately? 

 

Religion teaches, “I obey, therefore I’m accepted.” The Gospel teaches, “I’m completely accepted, therefore, I obey.” – Dr. Tim Keller