“Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave, just as the Son of Mad did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many”
Do you ever think about why you do what you do? Do you ever say the word’s “What’s in it for me.?” If we are honest, in worldly matters, we probably say or think this more than we realize. I mean, we want to make it, to make a name for ourselves, to leave behind a mark to be remembered. Who doesn’t want to be the best at what they do? Who doesn’t want to be the greatest at_______________, you fill in the blank? We as humans are innately self-centered and desires to gain for himself whatever he can.
The Disciples wanted to be great in God’s kingdom, but they thought about it in worldly standards.
Jesus reminds us in this verse that the path to greatness in His kingdom is very different from the world. To be great in the Kingdom means becoming a servant. But even further than that, to be first, you must become a slave, which was even lower than a servant as a slave was owned by his master and could only do what the master wanted.
Paul, the apostle, often referred to himself in this way… a bond-servant, a slave of Christ.
While there are many who claim that Jesus is their Lord, only a few are His slaves. Jesus gives us His example to follow, as He came to serve and not be served and to give His life as a ransom.
How are you becoming great? Is it by worldly standards or by the example of Jesus?
Father show me a new and fresh way to serve You today. Change my heart and make me your slave, of my own free will, so that I can serve others in the precious name of Jesus.
Week 5 Day 2
Read Matthew 21
Matthew 21 marks Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and begins a series of parables and teaching moments. Each of these parables brings a very special emphasis to how we respond to God’s leading and will for our lives.
The parable of the 2 sons is such a powerful example of how many in our day respond to Christ’s leading. Often times, we hear God’s call for a specific response, whether it be a life calling or something as simple as a specific instance of service for Him.
Our lives sometimes get so busy, that we hear the call and commit and then back out or don’t follow through because other things seem so much more important at the time. Sometimes we do as the second son and say no, but as we dwell on God’s will for our lives, we go ahead and follow through with what God is leading us to do.
There is nothing more important than hearing and following the call and will for God in our lives. Even those “little things” that seem so simple to us, could have a life changing effect on others.
Where are you in following the voice of God when he speaks?
God, give me the desire and patience to hear AND follow your voice when you speak. Forgive me when I fail to respond to your leading and encourage my heart to be so sensitive to your voice that I don’t miss out on anything that you are doing in my life and in the lives of those around me.
Week 5 Day 3
Read Matthew 22
A Lawyer asks Jesus a question in an attempt to trick him, “What is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus’ response was twofold: first, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. I’m sure that as the lawyer listened to this first part of Jesus’ answer, he was thinking….This is easy…. How easy it is to love the Lord God! I can even love the Lord with all my heart, mind and soul. Look at me, I’m following the greatest of the commandments!
But when Jesus continued with his answer in the second part, that you should love your neighbor as yourself, and that on these two commandments, depend the whole law and the Prophets. Can you image how quickly the lawyer’s attitude changed?
You see it’s not just loving God, it’s about showing the love of God through loving others! We can all get very comfortable when we just look at ourselves in relationship with how we think we love God…. I read the Bible, I go to Sunday school, I worship in church, I give my money, I even sing in the choir.
The real question is, how are we doing with loving our neighbor? And who is our neighbor???How are we doing with showing the love of God to those who are different from us, who are not in our circle of friends, who look, do things and act differently than us.
The Message version of the Bible states it this way… These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and Prophets hangs from them!
Lord, help me to love YOU with all my heart, mind and soul today and every day. Help me to not be so focused on myself and my world and that I neglect loving You with all my being. Father give me the strength, passion and courage, yes courage to show the love of God to others, to those who are different and those that are hard to love.
Week 5 Day 4
Read Matthew 23
WOW! What a chapter….
Webster defines hypocrite as a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie those stated beliefs.
It is so easy to look at this chapter and at the persons involved, the scribes and Pharisees and agree with Jesus and say woe to you!! We also have the unique ability to look at those around us and do the same thing…even in church!
What is so hard, is to look at ourselves and see the scribe or Pharisee that lives with in each of us. We don’t want to imagine that WE could really be one. Why, we would NEVER be like them! After all, we love God with all our hearts, souls and minds, right?
How often do our lives truly reflect the ways of the scribes and Pharisees? How often do we say one thing to impress someone, act in a certain way to be accepted, and profess to believe a particular theological thought to appear knowledgeable, or just simply “put on” to keep from showing our true selves?
Identify one area in which you are not truly expressing what’s in your heart. Pray daily for God to reveal that to you and to show you how to change.
Lord Jesus, reveal in my heart where I am not being honest and truthful and where I may be possessing the traits of the scribes and Pharisees. Give me the strength to acknowledge and to agree with You what you reveal. Lord, give me the grace to overcome and may my life truly reflect what I believe and know to be of You.
Week 5 Day 5
Read Matthew 24
Who is your favorite celebrity? Is it a movie star like Tom Hardy or Will Smith? Maybe Jennifer Lawrence or Blake Lively. Maybe a cooking star like Guy Fieri or Ina Garten. What about a famous person from history…Oswald Chambers, George Patton, Ernest Hemmingway or Mother Theresa. Think about the most famous person you have ever heard of or someone that you would like to spend an evening with. Got it? OK….
This person sends you a personal note, email or phone call (I know, use your imagination a bit) and they tell you that they are coming to visit at your home for the evening on April 10th, 2019. What are you going to do? If this person is a movie star, are you going to watch all their movies prior to the evening? If they are someone from history, are you going to read up and study all you can about the person? If it’s Ina, are you going to clean your kitchen and stock up the pantry? The big question is, “How are you going to spend your time between now and April 10th?” What would you do differently if you knew you were going to spend an entire evening with the most famous person of your dreams? OK….What would you do if this person says I’m coming for a visit during the week of April 10, but not sure which day they will be there. Now, how do you plan and how do you prepare? It could be Monday… it could be Thursday or Saturday…
Let reality now set in….The King of all kings, the creator of this world, the Savior of your soul is coming for you. He’s already sent the notice, the catch…He’s not saying when He’s coming. How are you living? How are you planning and preparing for the Lord Jesus to arrive?
It could be tomorrow! It could be next week or next year! But what if it’s today? We need to live like today is the day, every day!
What a wonderful promise! We don’t know when, but we do know He is coming!
Start with today… what would you do different if you knew today is the day!
Father, thank You for the promise of your return. Prepare my heart to be ready! Help me to live expectantly as if I knew that today is the day!
February 4th, 2019
by Craig Bowers
Read Matthew 25
The Kingdom of heaven is the key subject of this chapter. The Kingdom of God is the first truth of the Gospel. The second truth is that Jesus Christ is the King of the Kingdom. In this chapter, Jesus describes the Kingdom using 3 stories. The bridegroom & ten maidens, the man on a journey & his 3 stewards, and the King & the sheep and goats.
What do they teach us? That we are held responsible for our response to the Lord who is pictured as a bridegroom, a man on a journey, and a King. We are either wise or foolish in our preparation for meeting Jesus. We are either wise or foolish in our management of His trust. We are either sheep or goats in our relationship to the Christ.
The foolish maidens found the “door was shut.” They begged for it to be open but it was not, (verses 11-12)! The foolish steward was “cast out… into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (verse 30). And the goats went into “eternal punishment” (verse 46).
What is the only wise response to the King? Surrender immediately to His rule and demonstrate that relationship by living in light of His accounting and sharing His love with others!
In these three stories, once the Lord returned, did the foolish have another opportunity to become wise? Yes or no
Since they were not given another opportunity, what does that say to you about reaching the lost?
My King, may the evidence of your reign over my life be clear in my management of life and my love for others!
February 5th, 2019
by Craig Bowers
Read Matthew 26
Judas’ betrayal came to a head over money. He scoffed at the Lord’s priorities. From his perspective, he knew more about money than the former carpenter turned Rabbi. The woman with an alabaster vial of perfume worth a year’s wages “wasted” it on Jesus. How offensive that must have been to Judas. He was not alone in his anger! The word “indignant” in verse 8 according to Thayers means, “to feel pain, grieve (others besides); to be indignant….” Several disciples were caught up with Judas in their anger over the “waste.”
The chapter continues to expose the unhealthy perspective of the disciples! Their leader, Peter, denied because of his own weakness. The other disciples quickly joined in. They declared flatly that Jesus was wrong - they would never deny him! Hours later as He sought their comradery in prayer, the inner circle fell asleep. The chapter ends with the movement toward the cross. Interestingly, it appears that Jesus is weak as he is spat upon, slapped, and beaten.
Could our perspective be unhealthy? Do we get fired up about things we may not have God’s heart on? Our perspective is greatly influenced when we embrace humility and truth.
Are you willing to ask the Lord to change an emotionally charged perspective? Yes or No
Identify one perspective that Christ is asking you to reevaluate.
Lord, may I have the humility to realize that my emotionally charged
perspective on ……………… may be unhealthy. Give me the wisdom to listen to the truth, even when I don’t like it. I want to see things from a Kingdom
February 6th, 2019
by Craig Bowers
Read Matthew 27
Let’s focus on one statement in this chapter that Jesus made while dying on the cross. It happened at 3:00 p.m. He had been on the cross for six hours. Verse 46 records that Christ said, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” He spoke those words during the traditional time of the Jewish second hour of prayer that is called the “gift offering.”
Why did the Father forsake the Lord Jesus? How is that possible? One of the greatest dreads for Christ on the cross was the shame, Hebrews 12:2. What is shame? It is when you have no one to support you, no one standing with you! You feel alone and unworthy.
The Triune God had always experienced perfect harmonyuntil the cross. When the sin of humanity was placed on Jesus, the Father had to turn away. The Father could not look on Jesus because “Hebecamesin who knew no sin.” For the first time in eternity, Jesus and Elohim were separated. WHY? Because sin always separates! Sin separated the first couple from God. Jesus reconciled us to the Father on the cross as He Himself was separated from the Father.
The cost of the cross is unimaginable to us! For the perfect Lord to have the horrid sin of all humanity placed on Him and then to experience separation from the Father is more than our minds can conceive. Yet, we know that He endured that because of His love for us.
Jesus experienced the cross for you. How does that make you feel?
My Lord and my King, I bless you and worship you for you are worthy of my worship. You took on my sin so that the separation of sin could be broken. Thank you Father. I praise your holy name…
February 7th , 2019
by Craig Bowers
Read Matthew 28
Two of the cornerstone truths of Christendom are here – the resurrection of Jesus and His Commission to the church. Let’s focus on the Commission found in verses 18-20. Traditionally known as the Great Commission (GC) it is also referred to as the Great Omission!
The commission of the Church is based on theauthorityof Jesus Christ. He has all authority. His authority gives Him the right for proclaiming the mission of the church. He is the Head of the Church, the Savior, and the King of the Kingdom. HE sets the marching orders.
The GC is very simple. There is only one imperative in the passage:Make Disciples. How? Through evangelism, “Go”; assimilation, “baptize them”: and education/accountability, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
However, it seems that we feel successful if we do one of these three at the neglect of the other two. If we accomplish two out of three, we have failed. We MUST fulfill the GC by consistently fulfilling all three. We seem to complain that the church isn’t baptizing people. Some will go further by pointing out the lack of depth among those who have been in church “all their lives.” We must seek toMake Disciplesby an equal emphasis on all three. A church that wins people to Jesus but fails to integrate them into the life of the church as well as provide relationships for growth is like someone who has a baby and feels their responsibility is over! How ludicrous.
The Great Commission is not for a select few in the church. When you surrender to the King, you are responsible to fulfill His Commission.
On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “pathetic” and 10 being “passionate” how would you rate your current participation in the pursuit to fulfill the Commission of the King? (Circle one) 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
What do you need to do to move from where you are to where He wants you to be in that pursuit?
My King, may the desire of my heart out of my love for you move me into active participation of your Commission.
February 8th, 2019
by Craig Bowers
Read Mark 1
The word “immediately” is used 40 times in Mark’s fast and furious, action packed race through the Gospel. We sense the urgency of God’s work.
“Immediately” is used ten times in the first chapter. Mark sets the bar. One of the youngest of the 12 Apostles, John Mark rivets us with the priority of the Kingdom work. I imagine John Mark may have been impatient and impetuous. It may be that you are wired the same way. Those qualities may have been why Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. Usually, emotional reactions aren’t the best! However, we know that John Mark matured greatly and learned to stick to his commitments.
As you read through Mark, think about the urgency in your own spirit. What creates a fire in you? What is it that hastens your step? Usually, a sense of urgency is based on a deadline or something destructive. For example, we may sense urgency to get to the hospital when a family member is having a baby! Or we may (better) sense urgency when something is burning on the stove!
What lights the fire in your heart? Politics? Hunger? Injustice? I think Mark’s urgency was rooted in the weight of eternity. Everything else pales in comparison. Hundreds of years from now, the only thing that will matter is your eternal destiny. Does that create a sense of urgency in your heart to witness to your family and friends?
Think about how much energy and time you spend on those things that capture your heart.
How would your life be different if that same energy and time was funneled into seeking Christ’s Kingdom?
Our King, may the urgency to fulfill your agenda eclipse my agenda.
February 11th, 2019
by Kevin Calhoun
Read Mark 2
The second chapter of Mark contains several interesting narratives involving Jesus and those who are opposed to Him. These narratives include the healing of the paralytic (assisted by four friends), Jesus sharing a meal with tax collectors and sinners, and the disciples picking grain on the Sabbath. In each of these cases, Jesus encountered anger and hostility from both the Scribes and the Pharisees. The responses given by Jesus are quite interesting. The response I find most encouraging is in verse 17 when Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:15, “. . . Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners . . .” That is the Gospel in a nutshell. We are all separated from God because of sin. Furthermore, there is nothing we can do to remedy that situation. We cannot earn our salvation, we do not inherit it, we cannot purchase it, and we certainly do not deserve it. Christ Jesus did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Through His death upon the cross, His burial, and His resurrection Jesus paid the penalty for sin. All who turn to God by faith in Jesus shall be saved.
I am so glad Jesus came to call sinners to Him. Therein is my hope for all eternity.
Have you turned to God by faith in Jesus and repentance of your sin?
Dear Lord, I want to thank You today for our hope in Christ Jesus. I turn to You by faith in Jesus and repentance of my sin. Please forgive me, Lord, and lead me today and every day! Amen!
February 12th, 2019
by Kevin Calhoun
Read Mark 3
In Mark 3 I am drawn (and convicted) to a statement made by Jesus.. When a group of people told Jesus His mother and brothers were looking for Him, Jesus replied, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoeverdoes(emphasis added) the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother” (vss. 34-35).
I am drawn to this passage because of the call to obedience and holiness. This call to holiness is not merely a self-help comment about what we “must” do to be better people. That thinking leads us to moralism (just be a better person) which is not helpful at all.
J.C. Ryle wrote, “We must be holy, because this is one grand end and purpose for which Christ came into the world. . . . Jesus is a complete Saviour. He does not merely take away the guilt of a believer’s sin, he does more – he breaks its power.” ** Yes, Jesus saved us “from” sin. But He also saved us “unto” good works, (Ephesians 2:8-10).
In the great commission, Jesus commands us to, “Go therefore and make disciples . . . teaching them toobserve all that I have commanded you,” Matthew 28:19-20. We are called to obedience. We are called to holiness.
Is the pursuit of holiness a passion in your walk with Christ?
Lord, the closer I get to You the more I realize my need for You. I want to walk in obedience, but I cannot do so in my own strength. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may be strengthened by Your grace.
** J.C. Ryle,Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots, 49.
February 13th, 2019
by Kevin Calhoun
Read Mark 4
I believe we would all agree that life can be very difficult. Storms can come in many ways and from many directions. They can involve our family, our friends, or us personally. They can also be devastating to us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In fact, some storms can “shake us to the very core of our being.” None of us is immune to these storms. However, through faith in Jesus, we do not have to face these storms alone. We have a Savior to whom we can turn and in whom we can trust.
In Mark 4:35–41 we read about a storm that arose while Jesus and His disciples were in a boat. The storm arose quite suddenly and was very strong in nature. The disciples woke Jesus up from a nap because they were afraid. After Jesus calmed the wind and the sea, He said to the disciples, “Why are you so timid? How is it that you have no faith?”
I find great comfort in this passage because I face times of doubt and discouragement as well. I know Jesus is Lord and I believe in Him, yet I still grow anxious and afraid on many occasions. In times like these, I am grateful that God does not turn away from me. Even in my doubts and fears, Jesus is there to say, “hush, be still.”
What causes fear, anxiety, and doubt in your life? ________________________________________________________________
Lord, thank You for being with me in the storms I face! Thank You for being a steady foundation for me! Thank You also for drawing me back to You when I face anxiety and doubt! Amen!
February 14th, 2019
by Kevin Calhoun
Read Mark 5
In the same way Mark 4 was filled with parables of Jesus, Mark 5 is filled with numerous miracles of healing. We read about the healing of the Gerasene Demoniac (verses 1-20), the healing of Jairus’ daughter (verses 21-24, 35-43), and the healing of the woman with the issue of blood (verses 25-34). I always enjoy reading these passages.
What captures my attention in these verses is the response of Jesus to the demoniac in the first healing. The man who had been healed then wanted to accompany Jesus on His journey. Jesus, however, told the man to go home to his people and tell them what had happened. We then read, “And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him. . . ” (verse 20). This man could not contain himself. He wanted to tell everyone about Jesus.
Those of us who have trusted in Jesus for our salvation have received the greatest gift of all. But I sometimes wonder if we are as excited about our faith as the healed demoniac. We cheer for our favorite sports team (and wear their colors when they win), and we get excited about what we receive for Christmas (and tell others about the gifts). But do we tell others about our faith in Jesus.
We are called to be witnesses for Him!
Make a list of opportunities you have each week to share your faith.
Lord, thank You for the salvation you have provided in Jesus. Thank You for changing my life. I pray I will be a faithful witness for You each day! Amen!
February 15th, 2019
by Kevin Calhoun
Read Mark 6
Mark 6 contains a very familiar miracle: the feeding of the 5000. With only five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus fed the multitude. This, however, is not the most amazing picture for me in these verses. Even more amazing is the presentation of Jesus as a shepherd to His sheep.
Three times in this passage (verses 30 – 43) we have a description of the location of the miracle. In verses 31 and 32 it is described as a lonely place. Then in verse 35 it is described as a desolate place. Some translations even use the phrase “desert place.” Then, in verse 39, the crowds are told to sit in groups on thegreen grass.
How can a lonely, desert, desolate place contain green grass?
The answer is found in verse 34: “He felt compassion upon them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” While reading this description of Jesus, the crowd, and the location; I am taken to the familiar passage in Psalm 23: “The Lord is myshepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down ingreen pastures. . ."
Yes, we are all like sheep without a shepherd. Yet, Jesus has come that we might find rest in Him. He makes us lie down in green pastures. He leads us beside still waters. He restores our soul. Oh, what joy we find in Jesus!
Describe a time you felt alone and desperate for help.
Lord, I come to You today seeking rest and comfort. I know I will find it only in You. Hold me in Your arms today. Fill me with assurance of the love I have in Jesus. Amen!
February 18th, 2019
by Jonathan Norton
Read Mark 7
In chapter 7 Mark begins to record the important teachings of Jesus. The first lesson we see Jesus teach here istradition vs. truth.In verse 8 Jesus says“you leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men”. And he continues in verse 13 by saying that you make void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. Unfortunately today we sometimes become like the Pharisees who thought they were holy because they obeyed the law. But Jesus teaches that a person who obeys the law externally can still break the law in his/her heart. We must understand that the law can bring a sinner to Christ, but the law cannot make a sinner like Christ.
Some traditions are helpful reminders of our heritage. But we must constantly beware that we do not allow tradition to take the place of truth. True worship comes from the heart, and it must be directed by God’s truth, not man’s personal preferences. If we began to place emphasis on our personal traditions above the word of God we will eventually lose the power of God’s word in our lives.
It will do us good to evaluate both our church traditions as well as our personal traditions from time to time. We must examine them in the light of God’s word and be willing to make changes when the Holy Spirit convicts us.
What are some traditions you need to examine today?
What are some positive and negative effects of longtime traditions?
Heavenly Father, please help me not to place traditions, rituals or ceremonies over your word. I pray my worship truly comes from my heart and that everything I do be guided by your truth and may I never lose the power of your word in my life. Amen
February 19TH, 2019
by Jonathan Norton
Read Mark 8
In verses 14-21 we see Jesus ask His disciples several questions to rebuke them for their hard hearts and lack of faith. He also wanted to remind them of how He always has provided for anything they could ever need. Jesus was much more concerned with spiritual truth, not simple physical matters. That is His concern with still today.
In verses 31-38 we see Jesus foretell of His death and resurrection. Jesus also gives us the foundation of what it means to be a true disciple of Christ. We must deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Him. These three things must be done every day, not just whenever we feel like it.
Like yesterday’s lesson we see another reminder today of where our focus should be as a Christ disciple. Jesus rebukes Peter in verse 33 when He says “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man”. This is a reminder that if we argue with God’s word, we are opening the door for Satan’s lies. We must keep our minds on the things of God through the study of His word. His word is truth and as he states in verse 32, He has“plainly”given us all we need to succeed.
What questions has the Holy Spirit placed on your heart today to remind you of a spiritual truth He is teaching you?_________________________
Lord, I pray that I remain faithful to the study of your word and seeking your spiritual truths. Prick my heart oh Lord with questions that will convict me of anything I am focused on of this world, and re-direct my focus to the things of above. Amen.
February 20th, 2019
by Jonathan Norton
Read Mark 9
This chapter has three key verses that each Christian should memorize.
Verse 7–“This is my beloved son, listen to Him”.Verse 23–“All things are possible for one who believes”. ThenVerse 35where Jesus says“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all”. These verses give us three important words of the Christian faith: Listen, Believe and Serve. We are called to live out these words daily in our walk with Jesus.
In verses 1-13 Mark records the incredible event of the transfiguration of Jesus. This is where Jesus allowed His glory to radiate in a way the disciples had never seen before, and that mountaintop became a Holy of Holies! Wow, what an awesome miracle to stop and dwell on for a minute! This event was a vivid confirmation of Jesus’ words yesterday in Mark 8:38, and it was a demonstration of the glory of the future kingdom (John 1:14 & 2 Peter1:12-21). We must keep in mind that He has shared this glory with us and promised us a glorious home forever (John 17:22-24). According to Romans 12:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18, we as believers today can experience this same transfiguration glory. The word “transfigured”means a change on the outside that comes from the inside. Isn’t it cool to think that is what Jesus wants to do with us today?
In what ways are you demonstrating that you Listen, Believe and Serve Jesus daily? _ ____ _____________________________________________
Take a minute to reflect on the Transfiguration. Then list some ways God has shared His glory with you, or where you have seen God’s glory revealed to you. ___ ___ _______ __________________________________
God, thank you for transforming my life. I give you all the praise and glory for all that you are, all that you do and for your word. I pray I listen to you each day and may I share my belief in you through serving others. Amen.
February 21st, 2019
by Jonathan Norton
Read Mark 10
We see three times in this chapter Jesus teaching on humility.Verse 15–“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”Inverse 31– “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”Andverse 43where He says“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant”. Simply put we are called as Christians to be humble and to serve others.
Inverses 35-45we still see the disciples clearly struggling with understanding this teaching of humility. They were trying to gain what they thought was a position of importance in God’s kingdom. But position or status is not what Jesus wants us to focus on. Inverse 43-45we are reminded that Jesus is the ultimate model of Servant Leadership(John 13:13-15). Our Savior and Lord gave up His privileges and His life as a selfless sacrifice in serving others(Philippians 2:5-8). If the creator of the universe could be humble and always serve others why can’t we? When we consistently measure ourselves against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords it should humble us and create within us a desire to serve others.
True humility means knowing yourself, accepting yourself, being your best self, and giving yourself to others. Which one of these areas do you need to pray God would help you with today?________________________
Most Holy God I pray that you will humble me in the areas that I need to be humbled. May you place in me a sincere desire to serve others and share the love of Christ with all those I come in contact with. Thank you Jesus for being the perfect servant model. Amen.
February 22nd, 2019
by Jonathan Norton
Read Mark 11
Prayer is the key word that God laid on my heart in this chapter. In verse 17 we have the reminder that God’s house should be a house of prayer. But we must remember that our church buildings are not the only house of God. His house is wherever His people are. We are the church and we should take prayer wherever we go. What a blessing to know we do not have to go to a temple or church to enter into His presence. That is why“Prayer is our Attitude”is one of our Core values here at Wynnbrook.
In verse 24 Jesus says“whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours”. As Christians it is important that prayer is not just an emergency line we call on when we have a problem. Real prayer is a part of our constant communion with God and worship of God. If we desire God to answer our prayers we must be in true fellowship with both our heavenly Father and our brothers and sisters in Christ here on earth. Prayer is a team game! After all the first word in the Lord’s Prayer is“Our”Father in heaven, not“My”father. Yes there are times when we pray in private, but there is also power in cooperate prayer.
What or Who is God prompting you to pray for today?________________________________________________________________
How often do you pray with others throughout your day?________________________________________________________________
Our Father in Heaven, we thank you for the power you have given us through prayer. We thank you for answering our prayers according to your will. What an incredible blessing it is to know that we have a God who listens to our every prayer. May prayer be our attitude daily? Amen.
February 25th, 2019
by J.T. Overby
Read Mark 12
A scribe comes to Jesus asking him what is the most important command. Jesus then quotes from Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19 to say that the greatest command is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. There is a problem here though. Later in Deuteronomy 30, Moses says to the people that both blessing and finally curse will come upon the people because they can’t and won’t love God with all they are. But there is hope.
In verse 6, Moses says that God will one day give them a new heart so that they can love God and obey him. How is this possible? We see a hint of how this is done in the parable of the tenants. The owner of the vineyard sends his son to the vineyard but is killed. Paul says in Galatians 3 that Jesus came to take our curse of sin and disobedience upon himself so that we could enjoy all the blessings of his faithfulness.
We have a new heart and a new life in Jesus that enables us to love God and love people just as Christ did us. The sacrificial love of our Savior should motivate us to give all we are in love to God and others. May we empty ourselves like the widow at the end of Mark 12, and give all we are in love to God and others so that he may be glorified in all things.
Spend a few moments just thinking on who God is, as the gracious Father who sends his Son to die for us. Then spend a few moments thinking on Jesus, and all he did for us and the great love he had for us that motivated him to die for us.
Are there areas of your life that you are living for love of the world? What do you need to give away in order to better love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
God, may your love be our greatest treasure. May we see more clearly how great your love is for us that you would send your Son to die for us, so that we may love you and love others as you have called us to. Amen.
February 26th, 2019
By J.T. Overby
Read Mark 13
Teachings like the ones we find in Mark 13 were not meant to cause us to speculate about when all these things will happen. In fact, the disciples were speculating about the coming judgment when Jesus teaches him these things. There are sufferings we all experience. This age will surely come to an end, but our concern must not be about figuring out when that will happen. Rather, we must hear and obey the commands of Jesus in Mark 13. We must be on our guard (v. 9). We must not be anxious about the coming judgment and the sufferings that will be experienced before that day comes, because the Spirit will lead us and guide us (v. 11). We must know that God will keep us and we will be saved by enduring in Him (v. 13). We must look to Jesus and trust that he is the true Christ, the true King who rules over all things, who is surprised by nothing, and is already victoriously seated on the throne. He will come again to us and we will reign with him forever (v. 27 and Revelation 22:5).
If God is for us who can be against us (Romans 8:31). Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). We will experience suffering in this lifetime. Because the world hated Jesus it will hate us because we are in Him (Joh 15:18-19). However, the positive is true as well! Because we are in Jesus, God the Father sees us as he sees His Son (John 15:9). He loves us and cares for us and will keep us and protect us until He returns. We have nothing to fear in Jesus.
If you haven’t, read over the passages listed above in today’s devotional. How does the Word bring you peace and joy knowing that even though we may suffer in life, we are deeply loved and secure in Jesus? ________________________________________________________________
Are you anxious about tomorrow or the future? Why? Are there areas of your life you are not trusting to the Lord? Confess those to Him in prayer and let God’s Word bring you comfort._________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
God, it is so easy to be consumed with thoughts of the future. We can so easily fall into fear and anxiety at the thoughts of what may come. Give us grace to trust in your loving hands that hold us—the hands that were nailed to the cross out of love for us. Give us a renewed sense of peace and joy in your salvation. Amen
February 27th, 2019
by J.T. Overby
Read Mark 14
In the mind of the disciples, it wasn’t supposed to go this way. They believed Jesus to be the Christ, the anointed King who would bring God’s Kingdom into the world, who would free them from Roman oppression and once again build up Israel. However, Jesus is betrayed in the Garden and handed over to men in works with the Serpent, just as man betrayed God in the Garden for the Serpent’s lies before. He was betrayed by one of the twelve and the disciples ran. Their Christ was headed towards his death.
All we see here happens at Passover. This was the biggest feast of the Jews. This was their time to gather in homes and tell of God delivering Israel from slavery to Egypt. This was where they turned their minds to God in prayer that he would once again deliver them. I suspect many, not just the disciples had to be thinking that maybe this Jesus could do just that. All around the country side hope filled the homes as maybe God was hearing their prayer through Jesus.
But in the middle of the night Jesus was being sentenced to death. He was drinking in the cup of God’s wrath. He was taking upon himself our chains that enslave us to the cross. Deliverance was coming. A better Exodus was here. The Passover for all nations was coming. But it was coming through the cross. Over the next few chapters we will see just how this dark story develops, but develops into our victory in Jesus.
Spend a few moments reflecting on the dark events in this chapter. Reflect on the betrayal by Judas, the Passover and institution of the Lord’s Supper, the prayer in the Garden, the sham trial, and the denial by Peter.
How does having a better understanding of the darkness and evil of this chapter give you a deeper and more intimate appreciation of God’s love for you? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
God, give me grace to better understand just how evil and wicked the events of this chapter are. Give me grace to see my own sin for what it is, and how my sin led you to the cross as well. Give me grace to see your great love for me and others through what you did for me on the cross. Amen.
February 28th, 2019
By J.T. Overby
Read Mark 15
Jesus is taken from his own people and handed over to the Romans for them to do the dirty work. They knew how to inflict pain and how to bring death. Jesus, knowing full well what is coming for him does nothing to stop it. He doesn’t offer up any lofty arguments to talk his way out of the suffering. He is drinking the cup of the Father’s wrath so that we can know his love. The Jews plead for a murderer to be released over Jesus, and it is there we see the glorious exchange take place for us as well. We, the guilty party, get to walk free while Jesus goes to the cross, taking out sentence of guilty with him.
Jesus is mocked, beaten, tortured, and finally stripped of his garments and put on the cross. The world then stands around and mocks him. From the soldier standing around, the Jew passing by, or the religious leader, they all mock and scorn him. “He saved others, why doesn’t he save himself!” But Jesus came for this.
Finally, after three hours on the cross the world goes dark. All of evil has summoned their best punch and given it to Jesus. Not only that, but Jesus now feels forsakenness from the Father on the cross as he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” After three hours in darkness he cries out and breathes his last.
The supposed Christ, the bringer of the Kingdom of God, the one who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and brought the dead back to life is now dead. Now what?
Spend a few moments silently reflecting over the events of this chapter, the weight of what we see our Savior going through here. Yes, we know how the story ends, but let the weight of what happens in this chapter hit you. Know that even in the darkest moments, when all hope seems lost, when God is nowhere to be seen, we know our Savior went through infinitely more suffering—for our sake.
God, give me eyes to see even the most familiar parts of Mark 15 in new and life-giving ways. Give me grace to feel the weight of darkness better. Give me grace to appreciate your love and light all the more! Amen.
March 1st, 2019
by J.T. Overby
Read Mark 16
The first day of the week didn’t start with joy, celebration, and hope. Instead it started with sadness and mourning. The women come to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. As they go, they are even hit with the realization that they won’t be able to roll back the massive stone. It is a new day, but darkness feels so close. Then as they approach the tomb, they see the stone already rolled away. I can’t imagine the fear and confusion they might have felt in that moment. I’m sure it wasn’t happiness as they probably thought something evil had been done and something done to his lifeless body. But as they approach, they see a young man sitting where his body was supposed to be. The lifeless body of Jesus was not there. That wasn’t because any evil had been done though. The young man had the most alarming message. Jesus wasn’t dead! Jesus had been risen from the grave. He had conquered death and the enemy. All of darkness collided on Jesus on the cross, but Jesus won. Jesus conquered our true enemy. Our debt was paid and our Savior is alive.
We know from the other gospels that after Jesus spent time with the disciples and other followers that he ascended to the throne. Our risen Savior, flesh and blood, one who suffered and was tempted just as we are, one who can sympathize with us, is now reigning. All authority over heaven and earth has been given to Him. The darkness that was felt no longer reigns. Light has broke through and we have life in Jesus.
Put yourself in the shoes of the women as they head to anoint the body of Jesus. What thoughts and emotions flood your heart and mind? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Now imagine hearing the news that Jesus is alive, and imagine the moment of seeing your risen Savior who you saw die on a cross? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
We don’t have to imagine that for long. The day is coming when he will come again and we will see our beloved Savior!
Make me a person who lives in the light of resurrection. Give me grace to know you are alive, you are reigning, and that the darkness I feel all around does not. Give me grace to know the life I have in you all the more! Amen.