Monday, December 24, 2007
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeard with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on wholm his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into ehaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
Remember the Reason for the Season is JESUS.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
I'm sure over the years I've been given hundreds of Christmas gifts... some I remember others I don't. I remember a set of blue suitcases, new Christmas pajamas, a care bear, a little baking set, and a very special letter.
My parents had just finished reading a book called "The Gift of the Blessing" and decided that for Christmas that year each of their kids would receive a letter of blessing from them. I still have mine 15 years later and I will always treasure it. It outlined the gifts and talents my parents saw in me, the character traits they admired in me and the things they daily prayed for me. I have read it often and it has been a huge encouragment to me.
This year, why not use the space on your Christmas cards to write more than "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year"? Take a moment and think about what makes a certain person so special to you... use your Christmas cards as an opportunity to give the "Gift of the Blessing". If you do I promise your card will be around long past Christmas.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Last month I was shopping at "Save On Foods" and I saw on the computer screen at the checkout that I had enough "Save On More points " for a free iPod. I wondered if there was a catch so I inquired at the Service Desk. No catch. More than that, I did not even have to order it. They had one there. In the box. Pristine perfect. What a gift I thought. A bonus from the groceries that I had to buy anyway. So I took my iPod home and then began to figure out how to use it. Well, I got so far and then when I could go no further in figuring it out, I had to phone the Customer service number printed on the little brochure in the box. The lady was helpful, up the point when she asked me to look for a certain icon on my computer. Three times I told her I could not see it. The lady must have had patience, because I was about to say the icon was not there a fourth time, when I saw it.
It had been there all the time.
I just could not see it.
There. Right in front of me.
At Christmas time we remember the free gift that God sent to us in the form of Jesus. To be born as a baby and to grow up and die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. God’s grace. Pristine perfect. The Perfect Gift. Up until the age of 22, Christmas time had just been another holiday for me. Then there came a time when I saw my need of Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. He had been there all the time. I just had not seen Him. There. Right in front of me.
There is a line in the Christmas carol, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" that says, "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see Hail the incarnate Deity"
God became flesh. God became human. We see God in Jesus Christ.What a privilege we have to see and receive the free gift of salvation through God’s Son, Jesus.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Does God exist? This is so true!! This is one of the best explanations of why God allows pain and suffering that I have seen. It's an explanation other people will understand:
A lady named Sheryl went to a beauty shop to have her hair cut and her nails painted and trimmed. As the lady began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the beautician said: "I don't believe that God exists."
''Why do you say that?" asked Sheryl, who has MS.
"Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things."
Then Sheryl thought for a moment, but didn't respond because she didn't want to start an argument. The beautician just finished her job and the Sheryl left the shop. Just after she left the beauty shop, she saw a woman in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and not groomed at all. She looked dirty and unkempt.
Then Sheryl turned back and entered the beauty shop again and she said to the beautician: "You know what? Beauticians do not exist.''
"How can you say that?" asked the surprised beautician. "I am here, and I am a beautician. And I just worked on you!''
"No!" Sheryl exclaimed. "Beauticians don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty, long, unkempt hair, like that woman outside.''
"Ah, but beauticians DO exist! What happens is, people do not come to me.''
"Exactly!" affirmed Sheryl. "That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! What happens is people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."
Sunday, November 25, 2007
But the difference that struck me with the Hall of Faith, is that these men listed in Hebrews 11 weren't in a contest, or sports challenge trying to get recognized for their great abilities... rather, they usually were simply following God's commands and they seldom received the rewards while they were alive.
What does it take to be inducted into the Hall of Faith?
What is FAITH??
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. Hebrews 11:1-2
What did these guys hope for? They wanted to please God. That was it. That was their goal. So how were they equipped? Were they men of valour and courageous as kings? Not usually!
By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. (vs. 4)
Did you catch that? Abel died... and part of the reason was because of his faith. He didn't get a reward for living in faith, at least not that he saw on this earth. But his eternal reward outshines all that we could hope for here. God approved of his actions because it says, "God spoke well of his offerings."
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (vs. 5-6)
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (vs. 7)
Would you have done what Noah did? The people in Noah's day had never even seen rain, so to talk about a flood was pure foolishness by their standards. But Noah stood his ground, build his ark and let his faith in God be the guide. What God said to do, he did, and for that he was saved along with those who would listen to him. Have you seen the movie "Evan Almighty?" It is a modern day telling of Noah's Ark. Although the whole world doesn't get wiped out like in the Bible story of Noah, it shows faith in God, and how we need to trust God even when we can't understand.
LET GOD GUIDE.... GO.....
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
By faith Abraham, even though he was past age-and Sarah herself was barren - was enabled to become a father because he considered him fitful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. (vs. 8-12)
Wow- Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. Sarah was 90. God keeps his promises. Just follow his leading, and believe.
BELIEVE AND DO.....
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (vs. 13-16)
There is more to it than just believing... you must live by faith, which implies action. To say you have faith means nothing, without doing something with it you are speaking meaningless words.
If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (James 2:16-18)
Have you been inducted into the Hall of Faith? Do your actions back you up?
This is where I had to turn the page for verses 17-40 of Hebrews 11... so this is where I'll stop. If you want to read the entire chapter click here for Hebrews 11. I will come back soon to write the rest!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Thanks for leaving a comment!
ps- remember that even if you don't go to our church, you can be a part of this study, right here on this blog... so please feel free to leave a comment as well, with your choice for women of the Bible to study.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Hope you can all find some time to just "be" this weekend!!
"Be still, and know that I am God" Ps.46:10
Monday, November 12, 2007
The next study will start January 8, 2008.... more details to follow. We (Leanne, Jane and myself) will keep posting weekly on this blog, so please stay with us through the winter!
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
If you had been a follower of Jesus at the time of His arrest and crucifixion, do you think you would have stood by Him in His final hours?
What do you think the motive was behind Judas' betrayal of Jesus? Was he just responding to the officials' plea to help them find and arrest Jesus? Or was he really hoping that Jesus was going to establish His kingdom on earth, and because Jesus failed to do this, he decided to betray him? What about Judas' greed? Is that the reason he turned Jesus over to the officials? Or was it the voice of Satan that urged Judas to betray Jesus with a kiss?
In the Upper Room, Jesus reinterpreted the elements of the Passover meal to explain the new Covenant. The bread had previously been described each Passover as "the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate when they came from the land of Egypt." Now, it would represent Jesus' body, broken for us, and the wine represented His blood, shed for us. Jesus was the ransom for many. We remember his shed blood and love for us each time we participate in communion... an act of worship.
Read Mark 14:53-65
What false charges were made against Jesus?
Why did the Sanhedrin face difficulty in convicting Jesus?
How did Jesus respond to the High Priest's questions?
Why did Jesus declare in public that he was the Son of God?
Who denies Jesus?
What did Peter do after he heard the rooster crow?
Jesus came before Pilate and confirmed that he was King of the Jews. He didn't answer any other charges. Then Pilate asked the crowd who they wanted released... Jesus or Barabbas... they chose Barabbas and shouted for Jesus to be crucified.
Jesus was mocked, and forced to carry his own cross to Golgotha. Jesus cried out, "My God, why have You forsaken Me? And then he died. Joseph of Arimathea asked for Jesus' body and buried him in a tomb, and rolled the stone against the opening.
Mark 16:1-20... the stone could not keep Jesus in the grave. The most surprising or shocking think to ever happen in your life could not match the surprise that awaited the women at Jesus' tomb after his crucifixion.
After Jesus rose from the grave, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, a pair of the disciples, and then to the gathered disciples. Jesus proclaimed the missionary commission of the disciples and described signs that would accompany those who believe.
With his time and ministry on earth complete, Jesus ascended into heaven and took his rightful place at the right hand of God. The disciples took the gospel message and spread it all around.
Jesus lived as we live and suffered as many of us suffer. Mark clearly shows us in his gospel how Jesus made great sacrifices to become one of us. His mission on earth was that "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45
Monday, October 29, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Mark 13 - 14
The Great Tribulation
"What will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?" (Mark 13:4)
Why did Jesus emphasize the urgency of flight?
How did Jesus describe the times to come?
What warnings were given?
What will be the signs of the coming of the Son of Man?
What is the meaning of the parable of the fig tree?
The disciples asked about specific signs so they would recognize the coming of the end times. But what was Jesus' response about his return?
Does this give you a sense of urgency?
Suffering And Death
Mark 14:1 - 15:47
Something to think about: if you had been a follower of Jesus at the time of His arrest and crucifixion, do you think you would have stood by him in his final hours?
What did the woman do with the flask of costly oil?
How did the people nearby react?
The priests and scribes originally planned on waiting until after the eight day festival, and the crowds were gone, to arrest Jesus... what made them change their minds?
The Lord's Supper
Why was Jesus so secretive about the location of the Upper Room?
How did the disciples respond to Jesus' announcement that one of them was a betrayer?
Mark 14:27-31 - Jesus predicts Peter's denial...
What did Jesus say about the disciples stumbling?
Who was so sure of his faith that he promised to die with Jesus rather than to deny Him?
Mark 14:32-42 - Gethsemane
This is Jesus' most human hour... he prayed that the cup be taken from him, but "Thy will be done." Such an amazing example of obedience to the will of God.
Jesus uses the term "Abba," an intimate expression for "father," in His prayer to God. It is the only time this word appears in the Gospels. Why would Mark include this detail a this moment?
In His humanity, what did Jesus ask for?
How are Jesus' words in this passage a model for our own prayers?
How did Judas identify Jesus to the multitude?
How did one disciple resist Jesus' arrest?
What did Jesus say in protest to those arresting him?
Jesus then said, "But the Scriptures must be fulfilled." - what did he mean by that?
What happened to the disciples? Why doesn't Mark simply say, "the disciples fled"?
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
this week Mark 11 and 12
Thanks Helen for leading our study this week. Here are some of the things we discussed...
The Triumphal Entry - Mark 11:1-11
Jesus sent 2 of his disciples to get a colt from the village ahead of them and bring it to him. He road into the city on it. Many people spread their robes on the road in front of Jesus and the crowds lined the street shouting "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!"
What is different about the way that Jesus entered the city? Usually Jesus travelled by foot, not riding on a colt or horse. The people were waiting for him to overthrow their oppressors, and this is perhaps the first time that they saw him doing something that looked to them like an earthly king. A king would not walk from town to town as Jesus had been doing.
Jesus Clears the Temple: Mark 11:12-19
As Jesus was leaving Bethany, he saw a fig tree in the distance. He was hungry, so he went towards it to see if there were any figs for him to eat. It was not the right season for figs, so the tree was empty. Jesus cursed it and said that nobody would ever eat from it again.
Then he went to the temple and found that it was not being used as a house of prayer, but a "den of thieves." When people would come to make sacrifices and offerings at the temple, they would buy doves, and other animals for the offerings, but coming from all different countries, the people would often need to have their money exchanged to local currency in order to make their purchases. The money changers were not honest in their transactions. Also, the merchants selling doves may have been charging outrageous prices, and Jesus was mad.
Seeing Jesus do this, the chief priests and teachers of the law began to look for a way to kill Jesus. They were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. So, what were they afraid of? Jesus himself, or perhaps losing popularity to Jesus as the crowd began to favour his ways and teachings over theirs. Nobody had ever questioned their authority before, and they didn't like it.
As Jesus explains the withered fig tree to his disciples, he ends with "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. But if you don not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your sins." (Mark 11:25-26)
In our discussion, Leanne pointed out that Jesus was upset about the fig tree, and the temple... both were not doing what they were made to do... and later in the Bible our bodies are called the Temple of the Holy Spirit. How often are we not treating it as a Temple?
We also read through Mark chapter 12. The most discussion was spent on the section about the Widow's offering in verses 41-43. "Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasure. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on."
What are we offering to Jesus that costs us everything we have... time, money, popularity....?
Sunday, October 21, 2007
"The greatest difference between present-day Christianity, and that of which we read in these letters (of the New Testament), is that to us it is primarily a performance; to them it was real experience. We are apt to reduce the Christian religion to a code or, at best, a rule of heart and life. Perhaps if we believed what they believed, we could achieve what they achieved."
- J.B. Phillips
Monday, October 15, 2007
Here are the notes we will be going over this week:
Mark 8:31-10:52 Journey to Jerusalem
- In this section of Mark, we see how Jesus moves past showing his disciples who he is, and starts telling them about what is mission is on earth.
- We also read about how Jesus teaches his disciples about his future betrayal, death and resurrection.
- We learn about the Transfiguration
- Jesus teaches many lessons about a servant attitude, sin, and discipleship, marriage, divorce, childlike trust, wealth and salvation.
- Over and over the disciples seem to miss the point that Jesus tries to convey
- Jesus continues to heal people. When he healed a blind man he showed his disciples how that was like them, and Jesus would open their eyes so they could finally see and understand who Jesus is.
What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?
- what must you do to follow Jesus?
- How can someone lose his life to save it?
- What happened in the transfiguration?
- What does it all mean, and did the disciples understand?
- Why couldn't the disciples heal the boy?
Jesus predicts his death in Mark 8:31-33, 9:30-32, 10:35-45.
- Did the disciples "get it?"
Mark 9:33-37 - who is the greatest? What importance does attitude play in the service of God?
Mark 9:38-42 - A man is driving out demons in Jesus' name, and the disciples told him to stop. What was Jesus' response?
Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. This is not just the words of a Sunday School song, it is right there in the Bible. Mark 10:13-16. Why did the disciples rebuke the people that brought little children to Jesus? How can a child be more suited or ready to receive the gift of eternal life than an adult?
Mark 10:17-31 - Jesus teaches a rich man how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Friday, October 12, 2007
We looked at Mark 6:7 - 8:30 Jesus' Ministry in Galilee and Beyond.
What are some of the traditions that you have? Where do traditions come from?
- In our homes
- In our churches
Mark 6:8-12 In this passage, we see for the first time Jesus sending out his disciples on their own in pairs to do ministry without him right by their side. What did Jesus tell them to do? What were they allowed to take along with them... why?
(6:14-16) People had all different theories on who Jesus was... what are they?
(6:19-29) Do you see a parallel between the deaths of Jesus and John the Baptist? What did people think of John the Baptist?
(6:30-44) Jesus feeds the 5,000. How did Jesus see the crowd? What was the difference between Jesus' suggestion and the disciples' suggestions on what to do with the crowd? What happened?
(6:45-52) Jesus took some time to pray by himself. The disciples were on the Sea of Galilee and a storm came up. Jesus walked out to them and told them not to be afraid.
What was the disciples' reaction to seeing Jesus on the water?
Did they know who he was?
How often do we not recognize Jesus?
(6:53-56) Jesus was at the height of his popularity in Galilee. How does the scene in this passage contrast with events soon to come?
(Mark 7:1-23) The Pharisees were on a constant mission to find fault with Jesus. What was their complaint? What did Jesus say in response to their criticism? What are 13 things that come out of a man and defile him?
What is the difference between man's traditions and God's law? How can we mix these up?
(7:24-8:10) Jesus did many miracles among the Gentiles.
Healing a Gentile Woman's daughter - How did Jesus respond to the woman's request to heal her daughter? What did she say?
Healing a deaf-mute - What did Jesus do as he healed this man? How is this healing symbolic of Jesus' earthly mission?
Feeding 4,000 people - How is this similar to the feeding of the 5,000? Is there anything different besides the numbers? The disciples had seen Jesus do a similar miracle before, and yet they couldn't come up with this as a solution to feeding all these people. Why?
(Mark 8:11- 12) The Pharisees demanded to see a sign from Jesus to prove His authority. What did Jesus do about their request?
Read Mark 8:13-21... What was Jesus telling his disciples? Did they understand? What questions did he ask them to show their lack of spiritual knowledge?
Then Jesus healed another man, but it was not the same way that we are used to reading about... What is different about the story in Mark 8:22-26?
(8:27-30) Who did people say that Jesus was? Who did the disciples say he was? Who do YOU say he is?
Monday, October 8, 2007
A quick reminder that tomorrow is Ladies Bible study... come and have a coffee at 9am, and we'll open our Bibles to Mark 6:7 - 8:30 (Ministry in Galilee and Beyond) at 9:30. Hope you can all make it!
Bring your Bibles and I'll see you in the Fireside room!
ps- the notes from last week, and the questions from this week will be posted on Tuesday afternoon if you are following along!
ALSO... A BIG WELCOME TO LEANNE AS GUEST WRITER ON THIS BLOG! THANKS FOR POSTING, LEANNE!
Friday, October 5, 2007
It's amazing how little, everyday things can give you such a clear picture of God. I know he's waiting to spend time with me and yet so often my response is "I'm coming Lord, I just have to fold the laundry and empty the dishwasher first, but I am coming, I promise..." And I leave him waiting, with his arms open wide, longing to embrace me...
Take a moment to spend some time with the Father... the laundry can wait!
Thursday, October 4, 2007
If we look at the Old Testament we see countless examples of God using people that felt so inadequate, and often needed to be coaxed into doing what God called them to do.
Esther... when Mordecai asked her to go to the King and tell him about the plot to kill their people, she sure didn't want to... but she did, and her people were saved. Read the whole story in the book of ESTHER.
Gideon was not excited about going into battle with such a small army, but God gave him an amazing battle plan that caused confusion in the enemy camp, and the victory for God's people. Read more about Gideon in JUDGES ch.6
Ruth... the perfect example of how you need to lose your life to gain life. She walked away from the people that she knew and was related to, followed her mother-in-law to a foreign land, all because she knew that she wanted to be with God's people. That's faith! Read the whole story in the book of RUTH.
There are so many other examples in the Bible of how God used everyday people to fulfill his plan. What is your favourite Bible story? Why? Please share in the comments.
What about YOU!? Is God calling you to do something that you might not understand or even be too thrilled about? Take a leap of faith and you will see how God's plan is always best.
Quilt made by the ladies at Sidney Pentecostal Church - Sidney, BC
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Mark 3:7 - 6:6 Later Galilean Ministry
Parables and Miracles in Jesus' ministry:
1) What is a parable?
* Mark 4:1-20 - Parable of the Sower
- what are the 4 ways people respond to the message of Jesus?
* Mark 4:21-25
- what is Jesus talking about when he mentions "light?"
* Mark 4:26-29 - Parable of the Growing Seed
- How is this parable like the parable of the sower? What do you think this parable means?
* Mark 4:30-32 - Parable of the Mustart Seed
- Who does the mustard seed represent? What about the birds?
- Why was it so hard for the disciples to see the truth behind Jesus' parables?
2) What is a miracle to you? When we hear that word used so lightly in today's world, we often don't think of it in its true form: a life changing act by God.
* Mark 4:35-41 - Jesus calms the sea
- The Sea of Galilee was also called Lake Tiberias, a freshwater lake that was eight miles across, known for its good fishing. It is still known, to this day, for its sudden, furious squalls caused by cool air from the Mediterranean Sea that is drawn down through the narroow mountain passes that surround it. This cool air clashes with hot, humid air lying over the lake, and stirs up large waves that are dangerous for the fishing boats.
* Mark 5:1-20 - Jesus heals a demon-possessed man.
- the demons knew exactly who Jesus was and called him "Jesus, son of the Most High God."
* Mark 5:21-34
- Jesus heals an afflicted woman
- what would it mean to this woman to be healed?
* Mark 5:21-24, 35-43 - Jesus restores a girl to life
- Jarius shows great faith.
3) Returning to his hometown, Jesus faced rejection:
* Mark 6:1-6 - Jesus rejected at Nazareth
- so many had a hard time accepting that Jesus had the authority of God.
Summary: Jesus continued to draw large crowds... so much so that he had to retreat to the water and private places to have a rest. Jesus appointed 12 apostles from those who followed him. In the section that we studied today, we see a contrast in the faith of different people. Think about who had great faith, and who had little faith. We have the same evidence today... will we believe?
Monday, October 1, 2007
Jesus started his ministry with 4 key aspects: teaching and working with his disciples, preaching to the people, miracles of healing and driving out demons, and coming into conflict with authorities who felt threatened by him.
Jesus entered Galilee and said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15). There were probably some mixed feelings about this statement. Some maybe thought to themselves, "here comes another one!" Or, maybe they saw Jesus as different right away. At any rate, the Jewish leaders were not seeing what they thought they would in a King. A local man, who was born in a barn, not paraded into town in royal robes. Some of the Jewish people had a hard time accepting Jesus for who he was because he had no intention of overthrowing the Romans, but rather, he came to save people from their sins and tell of the Kingdom of God.
A little bit later in the chapters, Jesus called his first disciples. He called Simon and Andrew, and then James and his brother John. Fishermen. Hard workers, but not glamorous positions. Why did Jesus choose them? Why did they follow him? Well, perhaps he wanted to get his point across that he really doesn't care what you do, or what you have done in the past, he can use you if you are willing. Also, these guys probably saw a great man standing in front of them on the seashore, and they wanted to follow him. Whether they fully understood who he was or not, I don't know. But, as was the custom of the day, a Rabbi would call students to study under him. If you didn't get chosen for this, then you would fall into your family's occupation. For these 4 guys, it was fishing. But to be called now, they got a second chance to learn something new. Obviously they wanted this, because the Bible says they left their boats, father, hired men, etc, and got up and followed Jesus. Wow! Would we do that today? If Jesus walked up to you and said, "leave your life as you know it and follow me..." would we? The commitment of a disciple had to be total commitment.
Often when Jesus healed someone, he would tell them to go to the priest, or to their families, but "don't tell anyone, keep quiet about what has happened to you." There are some different thoughts on why this might be:
1) Jesus wanted his identity to be kept silent because he didn't want to cause a misunderstanding about what his work would be.
2) He didn't want to only be seen as a miracle worker.
3) He didn't want a lot of publicity to hinder his work.
4) He didn't want to cause his death to come about too soon... he wanted to finish his ministry work.
5) People had to be pronounced clean by a priest, if it was made known that Jesus had healed the leper then the priest's decision may have been prejudiced.
But, as Mark reports in his gospel, the leper went and shouted about his healing anyway. How could he not? Being a social outcast for the entire time of his affliction, and then to be healed in an instant... who wouldn't want to shout their praises?!
Conflict between Jesus and the Jewish Religious Leaders was starting to heat up. Mark chapter 2 deals with a couple reasons why... The people were contiuously amazed by Jesus' miracles, and this caused the religious leaders to take notice of this man Jesus. The leaders were shocked when Jesus told people their sins were forgiven, and thus proclaiming that he was God, because everyone knew that only God had the power to forgive, even though he gave people the power to heal through Him. The leaders perhaps felt like they were going to be dethroned by Jesus as his popularity grew. Also, Jesus ate with "sinners." When Jesus called Levi to be a disciple(whose name was changed to Matthew) the Pharisees questioned what Jesus was doing. Jesus said, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." Mark 2:17.
Another conflict came when the Pharisees saw Jesus and his disciples not fasting on the Sabbath. Major offense! Jesus said his disciples couldn't fast while the bridegroom was with them. He said, "the day will come when the bridegroom will be taken away form them and on that day they will fast." Mark 2:20.
Jesus also challenged their view of what was right and wrong on the Sabbath. Jesus said, "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27). If Jesus healed people, ate grain from the field, and told the story of David and his men eating temple bread on the Sabbath, then it shows that it is more important to obey the Spirit than the letter of the law.
At the end of this Bible text, we read that the Pharisees went out and started plotting to kill Jesus, along with the Herodians. They had had enough of Jesus' teaching, and wanted to end it. Why is it that even today, Christianity is the one belief that people find the most threatening? I believe it is because it is the only one that is completely true. Why is the name of our Lord and God usually the choice for taking in vain? I never hear people cursing with the name of Buddah or other gods.
Hide His word in your heart.... one thought I had while watching Survivor China this week was that if we are ever in a spot without our Bibles, it is so important that we know how to recite verses from the Bible. There is a Christian on Survivor right now, and I hope she goes far. She has already had her faith tested a couple times, one instant was on the first day when she got up and fled a Buddist temple because she said she would not put her face on the ground for anyone but Jesus Christ. Then this last week, she was just wishing for her Bible. She said through tears, "If I just had my Bible, then I could spend time reading it and praying for God's strength." Don't wait for Survivor!! Read it now. I am being challenged this year, both by this Bible study, and by the group of ladies at BSF on Thursday mornings. There is a difference between reading the Bible and studying the Bible. Studying it involves thinking and praying, and writing down your thoughts. This is when it comes alive and we remember it.
"Grace be with you all." Hebrews 13:25
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
We looked at Mark 1:14 - 3:6 and here are some of the questions we discussed.
Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. " The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" Mark 1:14b-15
His ministry consisted of several things... preaching and teaching, performing miracles like healing people and driving out demons, and working with his disciples. Jesus also drew the attention of the Jewish leaders and came into conflict with them because of His teachings.
1. Why did Jesus start His ministry by saying, "The time is come. Repent and believe..." what would this mean to his listeners?
2. Jesus didn't just come out and say who He was and what He was doing there. Why do you think He chose to not explain this right away?
Read Mark 1:16-20
3. Would you leave your job and follow Jesus at a moment's notice?
4. Why do you think Jesus chose fishermen to be His first disciples?
Read Mark 1:21-34
5. What an amazing day! What do you think was going through the disciples minds after that first day with Jesus?
Read Mark 1:40-45
6. How strong was the leper's faith?
7. Why is it significant that Jesus "touched" the leper?
8. Why do you think Jesus repeatedly told people that He healed throughout the Gospels to "not tell anyone," but to go directly to the Priest, or to their families?
Read Mark 2:1-3:5
9. Who has the power and authority to forgive sins?
10. Why were the Jewish leaders upset by what Jesus said to the paralytic?
11. Who was upset that Jesus chose to dine with Matthew? Why did this bother them so much?
12. How do you think the Pharisees viewed themselves?
13. Why did Jesus say His disciples didn't need to fast while they were with Him?
14. Think about Jesus' actions on the Sabbath. Why did He not follow the law as the Jews knew it?
15. The Pharisees watched Jesus closely. Why?
16. Why did the Pharisees feel so threatened by Jesus?
Throughout His ministry, Jesus' fame and influence grew quickly. People followed Him everywhere. He showed that he was God's agent through his authoritative preaching and miracles of healing.
Have a great week everyone! Hope to see you next Tuesday. I will post some thoughts on these questions before next Tuesday.
Monday, September 24, 2007
John the Baptist came preaching a new Baptism of Repentance for the forgiveness of sins. God's mission for him was to prepare the way for Jesus to begin His ministry. Baptism is the symbol of cleansing used to show repentance and the receiving of forgiveness. This was necessary in preparation for the Messiah whose role was to baptize with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ the Son of God. By calling Jesus the Son of God, and the Christ, it would have caught the people's attention. These were names from God. A title sets the listener/reader up for expectation. A name places you in society, and names/positions of respect have to be earned.
Does the idea of someone being both human and Divine prove to be a difficult concept to grasp? Some at our study last week said yes, some said no. We don't understand everything that Jesus taught, or who He is, nor do we need to know everything. We just need to believe. To accept through faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Before Jesus began His earthly ministry he may not have given too many hints about what was in store for Him on earth. But He was most likely not just like everyone else. Think about Him talking with the church leaders when he was only 12 years old. Not every 12 year old could do that so easily. But then to many who knew him from living in the same town, He was a local boy - Joseph's son - a carpenter. So when Mark opens his Gospel by introducing Jesus as "Jesus Christ the Son of God" it would cause some people to sit up and take notice... they would want to see what was so special about Jesus.
So, this is where John comes in. The Old Testament prophesy says, "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way - a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' " (Mark 1:2-3).
If John the Baptist had not gone ahead, the people would not have been ready. Think of when a king would come to a town in ancient times, a messenger would go ahead and make the people ready. They would make sure their town was clean, and that there was a path for the king to ride on, perhaps an elegant place to stay, etc. When I was a Page in the BC Legislature, each day the Sargent at Arms would come to the back of the house and call out in his loudest voice, "Make WAY for Mr. Speaker." Then everyone would stop talking and stand... they were prepared, so they could be ready. If you have been to a wedding, you know that this happens then, too. The pastor would tell you to rise, and you would stand and watch a glowing bride walk down the aisle.
The Bible is like this for us, too. It has all we need to know about how to get ready for when Jesus returns. We should not be surprised at what is going to happen. Even though we may not be told everything about what is going to happen, we know how to be ready.
We meet again tomorrow to talk about Jesus' "Early Galilean Ministry." We will be looking at Mark 1:14 - 3:6. We'll be meeting at the church tomorrow at 9am. Hope to see you there, and if you can't make it, join us online, right here, afterwards!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
As we go through this week, and look at the questions from this study, please feel free to add comments or questions in the comments section on this post, or any other post on this blog.
Mark - Lesson One
Read: Mark 1 : 1-13 Preparing for Public Ministry
(some questions taken from Nelson IMPACT Bible Study Series MARK).
- Mark is believed to be the first Gospel written, as there is evidence that both Matthew and Luke have referenced Mark in their Gospels.
- written around A.D. 58
- Mark writes about Jesus as the Perfect Servant. Mark himself was a servant, so was the perfect person to give this perspective on Jesus.
- Mark is often referred to as the action packed, fast paced Gospel. He deals with the "now" rather than looking back at the Old Testament... he wrote about what Jesus was doing, rather than what he was saying.
- Mark was described by some as Peter's interpreter, which is also helpful for new Christians reading Mark because he explained things clearly.
- The Gospel of Mark opens by identifying Jesus as the "Son of God" and spends the rest of the book demonstrating why we should see Jesus this way too.
Think of the significance and meaning of each of the parts of the title of Jesus: "Jesus Christ, the Son of God." What does each one mean? How do you relate to each one?
Do these help you relate easier, or with more difficulty to Jesus?
Mark 1:1-3 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ the Son of God. It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way, a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' "
1. What was God's mission for John?
2. How might the people have responded differently to Jesus if John hadn't prepared the way?
Mark 1:4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
3. What is Baptism?
4. Why was John's baptism necessary?
Mark 1:9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
5. Why did Jesus ask to be baptized?
6. How was Jesus clearly set apart from everyone else who was baptized that day? (read Mark 1:9-11)
Next in this chapter comes a couple verses on how Jesus was led into the desert for 40 days, and was tempted by Satan.
7. Why would God allow Satan to tempt Jesus just before the beginning of His ministry?
8. Do you think that Jesus was really tempted?
9. Why is the final verse in this section "and the angels attended Him." (vs. 13) so important?
Thanks for joining us! May God bless you today :)
Monday, September 17, 2007
Verses to read this week:
We will take a look at how the book of Mark is laid out, as well as some background info on Mark and the Gospel he wrote. The focus this week is Jesus preparing for public ministry.
Hope you will join us!! Come back tomorrow for some questions, and you can add your comments and questions in the comments section on the posts as well.
Monday, September 10, 2007
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Here's part of what I read yesterday.....
Chasing the Caterpillar (excerpt from chapter 8, p. 99-100)
The Great French naturalist Jean-Henri Fabre once conducted a fascinating experiment with processionary caterpillars, so called because they tend to march in unison. He lined them around the inner edge of a flower-pot and then monitored them carefully as they marched in a circle. At the end of the third day, he placed some pine needles, which is the favorite food of caterpillars, in the center of the pot. They continued walking for four more days without breaking rank. Finally, one at a time, they rolled over and died of starvation, just inches from their ideal food source.
These furry little creatures remind me in some ways of today's moms. Most of them are trudging around in circles from morning to night, exhausted and harried, wondering how in the world they can get everything done. Many are employed full-time while also taking care of families, chauffeuring kids, fixing meals, cleaning the house, and trying desperately to maintain their marriages, friendships, family relationships, and spiritual commitments. It is a backbreaking load. Sadly, this overcommitted and breathless way of life, which I call "routine panic," characterizes the vast majority of people in Western nations.
Are you one of these harried women running in endless circles? Have you found yourself too busy to read a good book or take a long walk with your spouse or hold your three-year-old child on your lap while telling him or her a story? Have you taken time to study God's Word - to commune with Him and listen to His gentle voice? Have you eliminated almost every meaningful activity in order to deal with the tyranny of a never-ending "to do" list? Have you ever asked yourself why in the world you have chosen to live like this? Perhaps so, but it is not an easy problem to solve. We live our lives as if we're on freight trains that are rumbling through town. We don't control the speed - or at least we think we don't - so our only option is to get off. Stepping from the train and taking life more slowly is very difficult. Old patterns die very hard indeed.
When was the last time you had friends drop by unexpectedly for a visit? For many of us it's been entirely too long. There was a time when families made a regular habit of packing into the car and driving over too a friend's home for an afternoon of good conversationand a piece of banana-cream pie. It was one of life's special little pleasures. (end quote)
I loved it growing up when people would stop in and stay for coffee. When we saw people coming in the driveway we would yell out to our parents that we had company, and my mom never skipped a beat. She would tell one of us to put the coffee on, the other to clear the table or "disappear" this or that, and one would have the job of "stalling them in the drive!" By the time the small talk outside was done between the visitors and my dad, or one of the kids, my mom would appear at the doorway and say, "Please come in for coffee!" When the guests would enter the kitchen, the table would already be set and it would seem like we were expecting them to come!
There is one man, in particular, who would visit often and my dad loved chatting with him around the table or in his workshop. This man, who now, unfortunately, lives too far away to drop in like this, would come with an empty container, knowing that my mom would not let him leave without a fresh batch of cookies. And if there weren't fresh cookies already, then she would bake them while he was there.
I wish people would do this more often. We do it once in awhile.... we've stopped in on Steve's aunts and uncles, and will drop in on his parents. But there are only a few friends that I would do this to because what if people don't feel comfortable with it? When someone comes by our house unannounced, it is not guaranteed to be as clean as if they were invited, but that doesn't hinder the visit. So what if I am folding clothes on the couch while the kids play at my feet? Shove the clothes over, watch where you step, and friends - have a seat!
Maybe this all sound too "Leave it to Beaver" for you, but I think it sounds like a much happier way of life... many people don't even declare their Sundays as a day of rest anymore. Whatever happened to Sunday afternoon naps? (well, we still have them!) So, here's my challenge, slow down, and enjoy a simpler day.
Excuse me now, my tea is ready!
Monday, September 3, 2007
"Don't worry so much about what others think of you,
they are not thinking of you that much!
What matters is what God thinks. Think about Moses, or Gideon (my boys' personal fave, thanks to Veggie Tales!), or Noah, Esther, or Mary... if they had listened to what other people thought, rather than following the voice of God, they would have accomplished nothing.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Today a man is somewhere proclaiming the good news
winning families to Jesus all around his neighbourhood
He tells them that God is able to make their house a home
He wants to win his world for Christ, but he can't do it alone
But each one can reach one
As we follow after Christ
we all can lead one
We can lead one to the Saviour
And together we can tell the world
that Jesus is the way
If we each one reach one
The message is unchanging, "go ye into all the world and share the love of Jesus
far away and door to door."
You see just like somebody told you that Jesus loves you so,
you must tell someone who will tell someone
until the whole world knows
So will you go and labour will you hold high your light
One by one and 2 by 2 we can win our world for Jesus Christ
But each one can reach one
As we follow after Christ
we all can lead one
And we can all lead somebody to the Saviour
And together we can tell the world that Jesus is the way
If we each one reach one
Monday, August 27, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Can you remember what A.J. Gordon told his readers about the two groups of struggling writers he was acquainted with, who gathered regularly to read their work to each other? The men's group was called "the Stranglers," and the women's was called "the Wranglers." The Stranglers crucified one another's work with savage criticisms, pointing out too plainly the obvious failings in the efforts, while the Wranglers kept looking until they could say something positive about everyone's work. Out of the group of men, not one made it as a noted writer; but out of the women there were several, including the author of "The Yearling."
(pg. 47, originally from A.J. Gordon's "A Touch of Wonder").
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Scott was another story. Through tears and trembling, he did everything that Mike asked him to do. Each time Scott had a turn floating on his back I could hear Mike gently say, "I won't let you go. I will always hold you." So Scott progressed. It was so hard for him because he was so afraid, but he trusted Mike to never let go. Todd didn't and he gave up the lesson.
Today, Todd wouldn't even go in the pool (although with much coaxing and bribing... I think I have convinced him to participate tomorrow!!!!). And today Scott did the same kinds of things as yesterday, but with a huge smile on his face! No tears today, only joy. He learned to trust his teacher and is learning the skill of swimming with smiles.
FROM THE BIBLE...
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
I like this verse in the Message too...
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.
Friday, August 10, 2007
There is always so much love at a wedding! This one was no exception. "And now I will show you the most excellent way.... Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres. Love never fails. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 12:31b, 13:4-8a,13)