The One Who Invites – Follow Me

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In Jesus’ day a Rabbi (teacher) would only choose the best of the best students to study under them. Students who showed great potential – usually those who had tremendous knowledge of the Old Testament – were deemed worthy of continuing education. As such, a Rabbi would approach only a select few students to say, “Follow me.” To receive such an invitation was a great honor. 

When Jesus approached men such as Peter and his brother Andrew, as well as James and John, it’s likely that other Rabbis had passed them by. As trained fisherman, it is not that they would have been uneducated. Nevertheless, they were not seen as the best and brightest of their graduating class. As such, they turned their attention to a career as fishermen.

But Jesus did not pass them by. He saw something within them nobody else could see. He was able to see the depths of their potential. He was able to see beyond their head knowledge and instead see their full purpose. So He invited them to follow Him so they could discover and fulfill that purpose. It’s the same invitation He offers you today. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     MARK 3:7-19, MATTHEW 4:19, 9:9

What kinds of people did Jesus invite to follow Him? What does this say about His nature and character? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, there are moments when I feel unworthy to receive an invitation to follow You. Yet, Jesus’ choosing of the twelve disciples shows that He wasn’t looking for what society may have deemed the best and brightest. He was able to see something within them they couldn’t see within themselves. Today, help me to see myself in the way You see me. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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The One Who Heals – Write it Out

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Take the opportunity to review this week’s questions and scripture readings. 

What is one way you’ve grown this week in your understanding of God, yourself, and others? 

Take some extra time today to write out a prayer to God. Share your heart, fears, and feelings with Him, knowing He is intently listening, and believing He is with you in all things.

The One Who Heals – Follow the Law of Love

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Think about a time when you felt totally, completely, wholly loved. What was that experience like? Why do you think that memory has stuck with you so strongly through the years? 

When Jesus interacted with people, there’s no denying that He had a tremendous impact on their lives. Those He healed were immediately freed from a burden that may have been hindering them for years. Those who struggled with unforgiveness were challenged to forgive those who had wronged them. Those who had sinned against others and were experiencing shame were challenged to receive forgiveness. In short, those who listened to His teachings remembered the stories and illustration He used for years.

Some would’ve taken the opportunity to compare His teaching to the Old Testament, only to discover that His life completely adhered to the most important law – the law of love. 

Today, write out your own definition of the word love. Then spend some time reviewing some of the passages you’ve read this week. In what ways is your definition of love similar to or different from the life and ministry of Jesus? 

READING & JOURNALING:

     MARK 2:18-3:6

In what ways is your definition of love similar to or different from the life and ministry of Jesus? 

What is one way you will adhere to the law of love today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, as I wrote out my own definition of the word love today, I acknowledge that it still felt somewhat incomplete. It’s difficult to define such a complex word in just a few words. However, I continue to realize how Jesus lived out of the law of love in every circumstance. Help me continue to be like Him and to reflect His love upon a broken world. I pray in His holy name. Amen.

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The One Who Heals – The One Who Heals

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If you read through the Gospels carefully, you’ll discover that people respond to Jesus in a number of different ways. Some were attracted to His teaching. He showed tremendous care and compassion toward those who were beat down and despised and they eagerly listened to His teaching. Others were more ambivalent. They had likely heard a number of good teachers throughout their lives, yet didn’t have a strong desire to listen to or apply the principles from the teachings they heard. 

But there was another group of people who responded to His teaching quite harshly. They believed that Jesus was breaking God’s laws and not upholding them. Following and obeying the law was most important to them. 

Jesus, however, never did break God’s law. Instead, He practiced living out the principles of God’s law in the manner it was intended to be lived out. Not as a checklist, but as a path to overcome the consequences of sin and death. The result is extraordinary. Jesus healed people of their physical and spiritual pain. And their lives were never the same again. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     MARK 2:1-17

What sticks out to you from this passage? 

What areas of your life do you consider to be healthy? Do you have any you consider to be sick (Mark 2:17)? What steps will you take today to be in good health emotionally and spiritually? Be specific. 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, it’s clear from the Gospels that Jesus was, and is, One who heals. The healing He provides may be physical, but the real healing is a spiritual one. Today, I simply ask that You help me to remember that I’ve received a tremendous spiritual healing and I can cling to it in every circumstance. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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The One Who Heals – A Quiet Place to Pray

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Imagine for a moment that you’ve just finished a very busy day. You were on your feet for 16 or more hours. You interacted with hundreds of people, each of whom was vying for your time and asking if you could help them in some way. Finally, the day comes to an end and you quickly fall into a deep sleep. 

How would you begin the next day? Would you choose to sleep in? Would you plan to get up at the normal hour but take the day nice and slow? 

The above scenario was common during the life and ministry of Jesus. But on more than one occasion, He responded by getting up early the following day and then seeking out an isolated place to pray. He wanted to eliminate any possible distractions so He could spend some one-on-one time with his heavenly father. 

As you read today, take some time to think about why Jesus sought out an isolated place to pray. Similarly, take some time to identify any distractions that may be hindering your prayer life. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     MARK 1:35-45

Why do you think Jesus got up early to seek out an isolated place to pray? 

What are some things that are distracting you from spending quality time with God in prayer? In what ways would you benefit from regularly spending time alone in prayer? Be specific.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, Your Word says that each and every moment of my life ought to be in prayer – in close communion with You. Today, may I recognize Your gracious presence in every area of my life. I also pray that I’m able to easily recognize Your voice and be comforted by Your presence. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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The One Who Heals – Who is this Jesus?

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A.W. Tozer once wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

If you dig through the layers of this statement you’ll recognize that it has profound implications on your day-to-day life. The most important thing about you all boils down to what comes into your mind when you think about God. 

So…what thoughts do come into your mind when you think about God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)? If you had to narrow it down to just two or three words, what would you say? 

The unfortunate truth is that for many of us, we see and think about God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) through the lens of our culture. Your family of origin, your childhood church experiences, the entertainment industry, all impacts what you think about when you think about God. Much of it may be accurate. But some of it may be woefully inaccurate. 

As we begin this new message series, consider this: What is your understanding of God? Is it from your culture or from the Scriptures? As you read today, begin to expand your understanding of God. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     MARK 1:21-34

If you needed to use just two or three words to share your understanding of God, what words would you choose? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that my culture likely has a greater impact on my view of You than I may realize. As I read through passages in the Gospel of Mark this week, I simply pray that my understanding of who You are will become more and more aligned with the Scriptures. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Overcome: Judgment – Write it Out

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Take the opportunity to review this week’s questions and scripture readings. 

What is one way you’ve grown this week in your understanding of God, yourself, and others? 

Take some extra time today to write out a prayer to God. Share your heart, fears, and feelings with Him, knowing He is intently listening, and believing He is with you in all things. 

Overcome: Judgment – True, Helpful, and Kind

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Imagine for a moment that somebody you love and care about is making some unwise or unhealthy decisions. (Maybe you don’t need to imagine it and you’re able to think of somebody rather quickly.) 

How can you approach them to share your concern for them? 

Some may try to avoid the discussion altogether. If you can avoid tension and conflict, then avoid it at all costs. 

Some may confront the situation head-on. If something is true, then it’s OK to just share it. The truth is all that really matters, right? 

But in most situations, neither of these approaches is best. By avoiding the discussion, you may find yourself judging them from a distance. By using the second approach, you may make the other person feel judged.

What’s the solution? Well, it isn’t easy. But you can never go wrong by sharing what is TRUE in a way that is both HELPFUL and KIND. Today, be intentional in being helpful and kind toward yourself and toward others. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     1 CORINTHIANS 13:1-7

Have you ever experienced somebody sharing a hard truth with you in a way that was both helpful and kind? What was that experience like? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I recognize that it’s easy to think of what’s true, but it isn’t always easy to share what’s true in ways that are both helpful and kind. Continue to help me grow in being helpful and kind toward myself and toward others. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Overcome: Judgment – People are People

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In his book Everybody Always, Bob Goff writes, “God makes people, and people make issues, but people aren’t issues. They’re not projects either. People are people.”

Let’s be honest, there are times when…

…we see another person as the issue. 

…we see another person as a project.

…we see another person as an object that needs to be ‘fixed’. 

…we see people in ways that God does not see them.

But the Scriptures provide a very different way of seeing people. The Scriptures teach that all people are created by God (Genesis 1:26), in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) for the glory of God (Colossians 1:16). As such, God is inviting us each and every day to…

…see people as part of His grand creation.

…see people as something created in the image of God.

…see people as something created to reflect the glory of God.

Which of the above lists best represents how you see others?

READING & JOURNALING:

    MATTHEW 7:1-5

What steps can you take today to see yourself as God sees you?

Similarly, what steps can you take today to help others see themselves in the same ways God sees them? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today’s reading helps me to see that I don’t always see myself as somebody created by You, in Your image, and for Your glory. Similarly, I don’t always practice seeing others in these ways. Help me to see myself and others as You do. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Overcome: Judgment – Bless and Encourage

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Imagine for a moment that you have a friend or family member for whom you’ve been praying for a long time. One day you feel led to share the Gospel with them and you enter the conversation prayerful that they’ll be receptive. But after you meet with them they respond by saying something like, “I really do appreciate your concern for me, but I admit it’s hard for me to want to be a Christian. All in all, I’ve found Christians to be some of the most judgmental people I’ve ever met.”

Unfortunately, the above scenario has the potential to become reality. There are those outside the faith who have observed or personally experienced a lot of judgment and condemnation from those who claim to be followers of Christ. Even worse, there are many within the faith who have experienced the same!

There may be many reasons for this, one being that we don’t take intentional time to really reflect and identify our own judgmental thoughts. Today, take some time to identify any judgmental thoughts you may have. Then, bless and encourage someone you’ve had judgmental thoughts toward.

READING & JOURNALING:

     JAMES 4:11-12

How regularly do you find yourself seeing others and/or their behaviors through a lens of judgment or criticism?

Today, take the opportunity to bless and encourage someone you’ve had judgmental thoughts toward.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, throughout my life I’ve discovered that there are consequences of seeing everything through a lens of judgment and criticism. Change my heart so that I live in love and not in judgment toward others. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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