To Live is Christ

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A daily devotional series from the life and teachings of Jesus

Introduction

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This daily devotional series is the combined effort of the DeKalb, IL congregation of the Chicago Church of Christ.  We are a 57-member congregation about 60 miles west of Chicago.  DeKalb is a campus town and the location of Northern Illinois University.  DeKalb has had a continuous ICOC campus ministry here since 1978.

Our congregational theme for the year comes from Philippians 1.27 “To live is Christ.”  These devotionals are a reflection of our time in God’s word to have a deeper connection with Christ and his teachings.  You will notice for each of the devotionals a date following the name of the author, this is the author’s date of baptism.  As reflected in those dates, we are a congregation that is a mix of some seasoned disciples and many young Christians.

This series is being distributed Easter Sunday 2021.  We sincerely hope that each devotional is an opportunity for you to have authentic daily time with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

To get the most out of this daily devotional series we suggest opening your time with prayer to center yourself on God during your devotional time and to connect with your reading.  Read the given passage, then the shared thoughts, and finally the questions for reflection.  Take notes on your reflections in the pages or in a personal journal.

The devotional series consists of 31 daily devotionals divided into 3 sections:

  • Jesus and the church
  • Jesus and the gospel
  • Jesus and the mission

If you would like to give feedback or comment on any of the devotionals, we welcome you to post your comments to our church Facebook page.

Sincerely,

Phil Perez

Evangelist,

DeKalb Church of Christ

 

Jesus and the Church

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What He Prayed About in His Final Hours  

Peter/Stephanie Hinsch 07/21/2002-04/08/2009

John 17

It was the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.   He spent the whole night praying to his Father and preparing himself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the task ahead of him.  He knew fully the evil that was about to assault him, and he knew that he was going to die a criminal’s death.  In these final moments before enduring the impossibly difficult trial ahead, what did he pray about?  We know from verse 1 that he looked toward heaven, and prayed, likely with hands outstretched towards heaven.  He must have been praying out loud, or else his incredible prayer would not have been recorded.

The first thing he asks of the Father is that he would be glorified in the Father’s presence as he had been before he came to earth.  First and foremost, he longed to be with the Father again.  To him, better was one day in the house of the lord than a thousand elsewhere!

Next, Jesus prayed for his disciples- his closest friends and students.  He tells God that they have believed in him and become very dear to him, and he asks God to protect them, that they would be one with each other as he is one with the Father.  His primary concern for his disciples was that they would be protected and unified.

After praying for his disciples, he then prays for those who will believe the message of the disciples – the church!  This includes us!  Jesus actually prayed for you and me!  And what did he ask God to do for us?

  • Jesus’ primary concern for his church was that we would be unified – both with each other and with him and the Father.  He said this was how the world will know that he was sent from the Father, and that the Father loves us – by our unity.  Of all the many things he could have prayed for us about – courage, boldness, wisdom, prosperity, peace, etc. – Jesus chose to ask God to help us be unified with each other and with God.  We cannot miss the significance of that!

Reflection

What is your primary prayer for the church?  Does it match what Jesus prayed for?

Jesus said that the world will know Him and know the love of the Father if his disciples are unified.  How do you feel about this statement?

Do you feel unified with the disciples in your ministry?  If you don’t, how can prayer change that?

 

Dealing With Disagreement

Jarvis/Victoria Mott 05/05/2013-08/28/2013

Romans 12:17-19

We see Paul in this chapter addressing the church about a variety of things concerning Jews and Gentiles. With these verses he focuses on topics such as not repaying evil for evil and to let God take care of outcomes rather than taking matters into our own hands.

In an ideal setting, the church is a safe beacon for both those who follow Christ and those who are coming to know Him for the first time. However, like with many social gatherings such as family or work, humans bring with them different backgrounds and viewpoints which often can unintentionally come into conflict with one another. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to keep unified with our brothers and sisters, but once the topic of politics, sports teams or controversial events in the world come into the picture, the mood can quickly shift.

To be clear, God made all of us to enjoy and value different things; otherwise, we would all be a carbon copy of one another and wouldn’t bring anything new to the table. The issue stems from when we personalize the things we love in the world so much that the minute someone goes against something we love, we can get easily offended. We forget that we are all children of God despite different opinions.

This passage it’s not talking about a lot of the unintentional harm that we can cause to one another, but it directly addresses the harm that we intentionally inflict on one another. Sometimes we can hold on to a belief so much that once someone says something in opposition to it, we can take it out on them. There can be so much division in these beliefs and it can be so damaging to our unity.

Like Paul says in v.18, “live in peace with everyone”. It’s okay to believe in different things or research certain topics, but when it comes to fighting on social media over your beliefs, or avoiding someone in service due to different beliefs, this is when we should examine ourselves.

Reflection

What’s your initial response when someone says something you don’t agree with?

How could you act more like Jesus in your response? Would He respond the same way?

 

Many but One

Brian & Chantal Schwebach 09/30/2001-10/13/2002

1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Jeremiah 9.23-24

We are the body of Christ.  “Though we are many parts, we are one.”  This scripture shows the two extreme points of view.  We can either view others so highly that we feel like we don’t belong or view ourselves so highly that we feel like we don’t need others.  Both are a dangerous place to be.  We need to remember that we were all baptized by the same Spirit and Christ is our head.  Jeremiah 9:23-24 reminds us that despite our talents or our position, in the end, the only thing that really matters is a relationship with God.  We all have our strengths and our weaknesses.  We come from different backgrounds and have had different life experiences.  And God has placed each of us exactly where He wants.  This scripture shows us how much we need each other.  We all have something to give and contribute.  We need for everyone to do their part.  In a small church, this is even more important.  We need the teachers, the worship leaders, the house church leaders and the coordinators.  But, we also need the encouragers, we need servants, we need the prayer warriors and so much more.  Jesus set the example for us (John 13:14-17, 1 John 3:16, Acts 20:35).

During this past year, it has been a challenge for me to figure out what my new role in God’s Kingdom looks like during the pandemic. Previously, I enjoyed encouraging my brothers and sisters through conversation, hugs, serving in the Kingdom Kids, and meeting needs within my church family as I saw them arise. I’m not sure if others can relate, but now, as I log onto zoom meetings with my church family, I find myself feeling more like a bystander, and less like an active participant. Engaging in conversation and connecting with my brothers and sisters over zoom has been a challenge for me. I want to change and grow in this area. Instead of logging on to our church meetings with the mindset of “what I can receive” and focusing on myself, I need to seek out my brothers and sisters, and find ways to be a blessing to them. In Proverbs 11:25 it reads, “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” May we continue to lift each other up, be a blessing and help water our church family through this season.

Reflection

Do I feel tempted to believe I don’t belong?

Do I look down on others?

Do I work at building unity?

Do I use my gifts to serve the rest of the Body (Christ and the Church)?

When I attend a meeting of the body, am I more focused on giving or receiving?

 

The Foundation of God’s Temple

Reggie/Ashley Onate 03/16/2009-05/10/2004

1 Corinthians 3: 10-16

In this chapter, Paul is addressing an issue in the church of Corinth having secular standards of

missionaries and pastors. Paul explains that he and Apollos’ teachings are both from God and

they are equally used in building up God’s church. Fighting over this matter is trivial because it is all about God in the end. Corinth is still a young church that needs to mature from worldly values to spiritual insight.

Paul helps them understand by comparing the church to both a field and a temple. This verse we are focusing on expands on the metaphor of the church as a temple. Paul explains part of his responsibilities in establishing the church in Corinth. The teachers of the church were the ones in charge of building up the church. He establishes that Jesus is the only foundation of the church. No other foundation can support the church building as God’s temple. Paul compares one building that is built on a solid foundation to one built with disregard to the existing foundation. The fire that is used in the passage represents a test as to whether the teachers of the church built on the right foundation – the foundation of the gospel. Paul reinforces that the church is God’s temple. God lives in us through His Spirit.

Reflection

Is my foundation built from Jesus and his teachings or am I building without regard to Jesus?

Have I been building up the church/God’s temple on another foundation? If so, what have I built it on?

How can building on a foundation other than Jesus affect my daily walk?

Am I building God’s temple as if He resides in it?

 

Reconciliation 

Albert/Kathryn Dennison 03/16/2009-06/05/2011

Matthew 18:15-20 

Throughout Matthew 18, Jesus directly addresses relationships between brothers and sisters in the church. It is important to note that he bookends verses 18-20 with a parable on seeking the stray, a parable about radical forgiveness, and a parable on mercy; all traits that are vital in relationship building and reconciliation.

18.15-17 present a plan for reconciling with a brother or sister who sins against us and also for discipline if reconciliation is continuously refused. Witnesses here refers to those who have seen the offense, not just people we have roped in to confront someone we think is in sin.

18.18-19: Our earthly relationships are conduits for Jesus’ presence and have the power to either reconcile or exile. Jesus does not underestimate or undervalue our unity through relationships in the body. Instead, he shows the consequences of disunity and lack of reconciliation.

18.19-20: Just as God and Jesus are one, Jesus specifically says that he will be with us, even in our smallest gatherings of two or three. With Jesus, we have the potential to achieve unity in the body.

Reflection

Is there a brother or sister that you need to reconcile with?

Are you withholding reconciliation from a brother or sister?

How would Jesus treat you in these situations?

 

How Does God View our Society?

Tom/Kathi Wingfield 07/05/1973-02/28/1990

Mark 6.34

With all of the rival and extreme emotional views in our society, I have questioned what should

be my reaction and how should I respond. I asked myself how Jesus would respond and I found the answer in Mark 6:34.

Jesus did not condemn or even look down on people. He knew that everyone has the desire to

stand for something and be heard for their opinions. However, he acknowledged that they were

like sheep without a shepherd. Many people are fighting for things without really understanding

the results they are trying to achieve. It is great to want equality and everyone to be heard, but

how should we express our feelings and make real change? Jesus shows us the way in verse

34. He had compassion on them and taught them.

I admire people who have a strong conviction and a desire to make a change. Rioting, looting

and vandalism will only create more hatred and division within our society. As Christians we

should have compassion on everyone and understand the need people have to be lead to have convictions rooted in the Bible. If each person would understand the love of God, there would not be the fighting and division we see in the world today. I know some people fight in the name of Jesus, but do they exemplify the compassion that Jesus showed? Our role is to show this love and teach others about God’s love. Until Jesus returns to earth, we will always have opportunities to show compassion and teach.

Hope Worldwide has many programs that help the poor and needy and teach them about God.

We can find these opportunities in our community. This quiet time gave me the motivation to

help an elderly neighbor. This could very well lead to a teaching opportunity. My encouragement is for everyone to look for opportunities to show compassion, let people express their opinions, and teach about the love of God.

Reflection

Is there an opportunity to show compassion to someone close to you?

Is there an opportunity to share convictions rooted in scripture?

 

Head of the Church

Clyde/Charlotte Banks 11/15/1980-06/01/1989
Colossians 1.15-20

Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae was written while he was in prison in Rome awaiting trial before Caesar. The Christians in Colossae had not met Paul; however, they respected his leadership. Paul’s reasoning for writing the letter to the church was because of the news that Epaphras brought him from the Christian community in Colossae that non-Christian teachings were circulating within the Colossian church. The problem was syncretism: Jewish and Gentile beliefs and practices were being combined, creating a sort of hybrid religion that no longer resembled true Christianity. Paul’s response? Jesus has all Supremacy.

Who is Jesus?

This passage contains a beautiful description and image of Jesus and his relationship to his people and the world.  Paul provides a list of who Jesus is.

1. The Image of God

2. The Firstborn: The very first born – Out of all that God created, Jesus is the first.

3. The Creator of all things: Created by Him and for Him.  What has not been created by Jesus?

4. First in everything:

5.  He holds all things together: Remember a time when it felt like everything was going wrong? Jesus was still holding it together.

6. He is head of the body- the church: We the people are the body of Christ and Jesus is the Head of us.

7. He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead so that in everything he might have the Supremacy.

8. He is filled with all the fullness of God: Wow, all the fullness.

9. He reconciles and restores our broken relationship with God: There is no amount of brokenness Jesus can’t restore.

10. He is the peacemaker: He brought us peace by his blood shed on the cross. Amen!

When we read the word of God, we should see Jesus. When we see Jesus we should see God.

Reflection

Who do you see when you reflect on who Jesus is?

What would your list of his characteristics look like?

Does Jesus have all the supremacy in your life or do the worries of this life get in the way?

 

The Obeying Church

Suzanne King 05/31/1995

Ephesians 6:5; Romans 5:8; Isaiah 43:3

Ephesians 6:5 “Slaves obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.”

Romans 5:8

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Isaiah 43:3 “For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior, I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.”

Jesus is our Lord and Savior who knows all things and helps with all things. We are to obey him and in turn obey our earthly masters (bosses).  It can be hard to obey Christ if we think about how obedience to earthly masters doesn’t always result in positivity in our life.  The benefit of obeying Jesus is that he has demonstrated his love for us and just as Isaiah 43.3 reflects God’s willingness to give a ransom and sacrifice for those he loves, Jesus has been given as a ransom for us.  This gives us a sense of his love and grace that should make him easier to obey while dealing with many situations. We don’t necessarily get that from our earthly masters.  As Disciples, we are asked to trust God even with the obedience to the authorities in our earthly life which is not always easy.

As we learn to obey our earthly masters, we reflect a trust that God will take care of us no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

Reflection

How do we respond to a call to obedience?

How do we see obeying Jesus as a blessing in our life?

How do we handle things when we have earthly master we don’t want to obey?

 

Jesus and the Gospel

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Women of Faith

Ariella Peets 04/28/2018

Matthew 15:21-28, Luke 18.1-8

The Canaanite woman comes to Jesus to receive healing for her daughter but is confronted with hurdles. She is insistently asking for help but instead of perhaps receiving the response she was hoping for, she is ignored by Jesus. Then, when she pursues Jesus further, the disciples even ask Jesus to send her away. These hurdles are enough to discourage most, but the woman’s faith in that Jesus can help is still rock solid. Her persistence and faith reminds me of another woman in the bible, the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8.

In our own lives, we face so many hurdles and points of struggles, just like these two women. In Luke 18, the persistent widow urgently seeks justice and the mother from Matthew 15 is seeking peace and healing from the demon possessing her daughter. When they are confronted with life’s struggles, they turned to God.

Reflection

What are you seeking from God?

When troubles come our way, who or what do you instinctively turn to?

In Matthew 15, when the woman was ignored by Jesus and pushed away by the disciples, she didn’t turn away or give up. Instead, she had so much faith that she persisted and continued to trust in God. This is often a fork in the road for us, when we are faced with difficult resistance. Are we quick to be discouraged and give up or are we strong in the faith that God will provide for our circumstances?

Reflection

What are some ways, in our own lives, that we stay anchored in God’s promises?

How can we remain faithful and urgent in pursuing Jesus, despite our hardships?

Zacchaeus: Zealous repentance

Jill Perez 07/09/1993

Luke 19:1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and met a man named Zacchaeus; he was the chief tax collector, and the Bible says he was wealthy.  Tax collectors at that time were typically wealthy men who were paid for the privilege of collecting taxes in a region.  It is almost certain that they often overcharged people and pocketed the surplus.  In the gospels they are denoted as “sinners” or classified as “robbers”.  They were considered to be betrayers of their own people, who sold their services to the foreign oppressor to make money at the expense of their own countrymen.  Although, Zacchaeus likely lived up to this reputation of the tax collectors he had a different attitude when Jesus came along.  With the crowd gathering, Zacchaeus though being short, did not let the crowd deter him from getting to see Jesus so he climbed a sycamore fig tree, and he was noticed by Jesus.  After Jesus asks him to come down and let him stay at his house, Zacchaeus’ heart of repentance was immediate by gladly welcoming Jesus to come stay with him and without being asked to Zacchaeus offers to give back what he cheated the people out of.  Jesus was willing to associate himself with the sinner, that he might save them.

Reflection

Would your home be ready to have Jesus over?

What do you think makes Zacchaeus appear to be so zealous and joyful?

Do you get the sense that people are drawn to Jesus because of your life?

Turning Point

Phil Perez 07/09/1993

Matthew 16.13-20

Jesus has taken the disciples to a region far north of Palestine called Caesarea Philippi, a city known for being a getaway location.  It is quite possible to think of this as we might consider a retreat.

This episode in the gospel is considered to be the hinge, or turning point of the gospel.  It is a watershed moment for the disciples.  It is after this episode that Jesus informs the disciples about his impending death and resurrection.

Jesus’ main question is a good question of reflection for us: Who do you say I am?

The people compare Jesus to three strong prophets: Elijah, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist, some of the toughest prophets of the bible.

Who we believe Jesus to be determines much in our response and relationship to him.

Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of the living God becomes the rock that the church is built upon.  Jesus praises Peter’s response and then gives him the keys to the kingdom.  This is special and significant because in the book of Acts Peter is the main figure at each of the significant entries of the Jews (Acts 2), Samaritans (Acts 8), and Gentiles (Acts 10).  Peter might be thought of as the first kingdom usher as he helped people enter into God’s house.

Reflection

Who do I say Jesus is?

How is my answer reflected in daily life?

How has my answer to this question changed over time?

 

Jesus and the Beatitudes

Rebekah Weidner 09/16/2001

Matthew 5:1-12

The “blessed” statements or beatitudes come at the beginning of the famous Sermon on the Mount, introduced at the start of Jesus’ teaching ministry. Although this entire sermon did not likely happen all at one time, it is significant that Matthew places the beatitudes at the forefront of this sermon, as often a rabbi would begin their teachings with a list of the basic principles of what they are about. He calls his disciples to gather in response to seeing the large crowds from all the surrounding areas (and conflicting backgrounds) coming to him.

The word “blessed” in Matthew 5 can be translated to “happy,” but on a surface level that doesn’t seem to make sense with the list that Jesus gives here. He lists who are meek (under control, possibly marginalized), poor in spirit (experiencing spiritual poverty), mourning, or hungering and thirsting for righteousness (implying they are lacking). Or in the second half of the beatitudes, he refers to those who are doing the hard work of showing mercy, pursuing purity, being a peacemaker or those being persecuted. I don’t think any of these situations would be worthy of a “#blessed” on social media in today’s culture.

A New Definition of “Blessed”

Possibly a better way to think about what Jesus is referring to as “blessed” in the beatitudes is the idea of being within God’s favor or being under God’s blessing. Jesus is clearly not talking about a sunshine and rainbows happiness that comes from positive life circumstances or even a reward for having it all together. He instead declares blessing on those who are experiencing brokenness and those who are courageously responding to the broken world. His opening message challenged the religious idea at the time of who was “in” and who was “out,” and is still a counter-cultural teaching in today’s culture.

Reflection

How do I tend to judge who is “in” or “out” of God’s favor? Does that align with Jesus’ teaching?

In which of these areas is Jesus calling me to engage with the broken world? (Examples: being a peacemaker, pursuing a pure heart, showing mercy)

Do I place more value on being “#blessed” or being blessed in the manner Jesus teaches about in Matthew 5?

Reference Material: BEMA Podcast, Session 3, Episode 93

 

If I only

Lindsey Simpson 04/29/2018

Matthew 9:18-22 & Matthew 17:20

Jesus has just finished his Sermon on the mount.  He encounters many individuals in need.  One of those is a father who has lost his daughter the other is a sick woman. Both have faith that Jesus can heal them.

9.21 the sick woman says to herself “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” What a mighty but very small act of faith. The passage notes that this woman has been subject to bleeding for 12 years. Despite her long-term suffering, she had faith that Jesus that he could heal her. Her remark indicates great FAITH that JESUS will HEAL. This is significant because a few chapters after in Matthew 17:20 Jesus says a mustard seed of faith can move a mountain.

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can

say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be

impossible for you.”

Reflection

Do I have enough faith for Jesus to heal?

How do I see my faith healing me?

How has my faith healed me?

Have I ever lost faith that Jesus can heal?

 

The Three Temptations of Jesus

Estefania Zarate 07/14/2018

Read: Matthew 4:1-11

After His immersion in the Jordan, Jesus goes into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights to fast and pray. In biblical times, those seeking revelation from God often retreated to an isolated place and undertook rigorous practices of fasting and praying to have their hearts and minds filled with clarity to hear from God.  While in the desert, He is ‘tempted’ by Satan “the Adversary.” Another rendering of the word ‘temptation’ is ‘test.’ Jesus was being tested but not in ways that a normal person would be. In the first two temptations His identity as the Messiah of Israel is being questioned with ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread’ and ‘If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down.’ (Matthew 4:3, 4:6). But turning stones into bread and jumping off the tallest place of the Temple without being harmed are temptations that are appealing only to one with the power to indeed carry them out. A man can only be tempted if indeed he can succumb to such temptation. We have never been tempted to turn stones into bread, even if we wanted to, we simply do not have the power to do it. This is not a temptation for us, but Jesus had the power to do it and thus it was a temptation. If He really is the Messiah, then He should be able to do it, yet He knows there is no need to prove anything to the Adversary.

The Adversary also knows that God will not let His Anointed One unprotected and asks Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple. The pinnacle was the highest point of the Temple and the place from where priests would identify the morning star, blow the shofar (ram’s horn) and approve the commencement of the morning sacrifices. Priests would continue to blow the shofar throughout the day before offering the day’s sacrifices and the sound would serve as a reminder to the people of their constant need for mercy and the fact that their sins were being atoned for with the blood of innocent animals. Jumping off the pinnacle and landing without a scratch would certainly not be an act that would go unnoticed by all of Jerusalem. This one act would certainly give reasons to proclaim Jesus as the contender to messiahship, but without death. In tempting Jesus to turn stones into bread and testing God to deliver Him from a fall that would surely result in death, Satan is tempting the Messiah to reveal His messianic identity before it is time. The temptation is to shortcut God’s redemption plan and do it the easy way, without death and without glorifying the Father. But the Master knows that God’s plan is better even if it involves suffering, He knows that suffering must come before the glory.

In a final attempt, the Adversary plainly asks Jesus to worship him in exchange for the kingdoms of the earth. This temptation, unlike the others, could be to appeal to Jesus’s humanity and men’s desire for fame and power. The sudden rise in power and status could still be used for the physical redemption of Israel from Rome, yet Jesus knows that man’s methods do not bring Shalom – peace – but God’s methods do. Jesus rebukes Satan, Satan then flees, and angels begin to serve Jesus who has successfully passed the ‘test.’ Later in the Gospels we see Him carry out the bread miracle, but on His terms. See (Matthew 14:13-21). We also see Him perform other signs that attest to His messiahship, not to prove anything to the people but to put God on display and to bring the Kingdom of God to the people, a taste of what the Messianic Era will be like. Jesus does only as the Father tells Him and as He sees the Father do (see John 5:19-23). Jesus was faithful to follow the appropriate redemption timeline that was established, and He showed obedience to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Reflection

We do not all wrestle with the same temptations, but Jesus gives us a model to fight the spiritual battle. What are practical ways you can implement in your daily life to fight temptation? Are you aware of the subtleties that ‘test’ your faith to God? (Ex. Are you with a certain person? In a certain place? Etc.).

Jesus and the Adversary both use the Bible as their “sword” and neither had the conception that it was done away with by merit of the physical coming of the Messiah. If there are parts of the Old Testament that you are not familiar with, how do think your understanding of who Jesus is changes if you spent more time meditating on the Old Testament?

What made it possible for Jesus to totally be able to trust God in life threatening times? Does this temptation of Jesus help you to trust God always? If so, how? If not, why not?

Reference Material: ‘Jesus My Rabi’ Lesson 11 and 12 from the Torah Group Club

 

The Greatest Commandment

Will Von Meding 03/27/2017

Matthew 22:34-38, 1 John 4.19

In this passage the Pharisees approach Jesus and asked a theological test question about the Old Testament commandments. Jesus answers in verse 36 with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” There is a lot to learn from Jesus’s response here.

Jesus was aware that the Pharisees were testing him and were looking for a way to trip him up and make him look bad.  He very well could have rebuked them, but instead, He took this as an opportunity to teach. Often in confrontations like these we can tend to be defensive. How often do we see interactions like this in our life and think to guide that person to God?  Jesus summed up all the commandments into one key commandment that is irrefutable.

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  Our love for God is rooted in God’s love which comes first.

Reflection

Think back to a time (whether today or years ago) when you had an argument or disagreement with someone. How can you follow Jesus’s example here and take it as an opportunity to teach?

What are some good scriptures to refer to regarding our need for compassion through our conflicts?

 

Jesus the Vine

Jacqueline Gray 11/09/2011

John 15:1-6

Why does a vineyard need to be pruned annually? Because without it, the grapes produced will suffer in quality. During the winter pruning season, gardeners cut away plants that will not produce grapes, in order to ensure a healthy growing space for viable plants. It is necessary for gardeners to remove dead branches so that the living ones can thrive. https://kansashealthyyards.org/component/allvideoshare/video/pruning-grapes

In John 15:1-6, Jesus refers to Himself as the “vine”, and His disciples as the “branches.” These roles are distinct and non-interchangeable. The vine can exist without the branches, but the branches will die if they are disconnected from the vine. In the same way, Christ emphasizes to His current and future disciples that we can do nothing if we are not connected to Him. Like branches that are broken off from the grapevine, we all die spiritually if we become disconnected from Jesus, our source of life. When we realize our insufficiency, it is then that Christ can begin His good works in us. Even when we remain connected to Christ, we will still need pruning.  Grapevines need to be revisited year after year to clear away dead and diseased

Plants.  We also need constant attention to remain spiritually healthy. Sin and temptation pop up like weeds in our walks with God. We are constantly either going astray or being tempted to go astray. We need God to be regularly clearing away that which is harmful so that we can produce spiritual fruit. How lucky we are to be under the care of the world’s greatest gardener!

Reflection

Do you really believe that without Jesus you can do nothing?

How is this belief reflected in your life?

Do you see your need for constant pruning?

What is God trying to prune away in your life right now?

Are you helping or hindering the process?

 

Jesus and Prayer

Kathryn Spielman 07/14/2016

Matthew 6.5-14, Matthew 26.36-44

Jesus in the Son of God who came down not to condemn the world but to save the world. (John 3:17) Throughout the gospels Jesus is teaching his disciples how they should live. Jesus is the ultimate example of the “perfect disciple”. He never sinned but faced many trails to overcome. We have the tremendous blessing to investigate God`s word daily to learn more about Jesus. We will never be exactly like him, but we should be striving to be like Jesus in everything we do.

One of my favorite ways to connect with God is through prayer. Before diving in, I want you to ask yourself: How is your prayer life right now in this moment?

If that question was easy to answer and you feel confident about your prayer life my hope for you is that you can learn to always go deeper in your prayer life, however, If that question was hard to answer and you feel like you recognize your need to grow in your prayer life, my hope for you is learn something new about praying and to remember God already knows what you need. There is hope for you found in the gospels through the son of God, Jesus Christ.

Jesus teaches us in the gospels that part of praying is to listen for God’s will when we pray. My prayer for you is too have ears to hear Jesus and eyes to see Jesus more clearly today.

In Matthew 6: 5-14 Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray.

I encourage you to find a quiet place where you and God can be alone for a short time. Pray to your heavenly father, talk to him, express what you are grateful for and what you need. God wants to and is ready to listen to you any time of day.  Pray to have ears that hear and eyes that see God’s will through your times of prayer.  Pray through this prayer.  Pray about God’s honor (hallowed be your name), pray about God’s will being done, pray for your needs, and pray to have a posture of forgiveness towards others as you seek forgiveness from God.  Have a short time of silence after you are done praying.  Examine if you feel more clarity after a time of prayer and listening.

In Matthew 26: 36-44 Jesus is praying to God and emerges more resolved to do God’s will, which in this moment is to endure the suffering of dying for our sins.

Reflection

What is a personal need you can pray about this week? Share that with your brothers and sisters so that we can pray for you this week as well.

What is a characteristic of Jesus that you want to grow in?

Pray to be more like Jesus in that area.

 

The Light and Salt of The World

Mary Bartsch 10/28/2015

John 9.1-5, Matthew 5.13-16

John 9.1-5

Jesus explains to his disciples that neither the blind man or his parents had sinned, but God showed his power through Jesus.  V.5 – While Jesus is in the world, he is the light of the world.

Matthew 5.13-16

During the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is teaching the disciples.  During this lesson he calls his disciples both the salt of the world and the light of the world.

Reflection

How is Jesus the light of the world through us?

How can we hear Jesus’ message to be the salt and light of the world with a humble and pure heart?

Do you see your personal need to be a light in this world?

How can you be a light to the world today?

 

Like a Child

Eve Besser 10/30/2014

Matthew 18.1-5

In the first century during Roman rule, unwanted babies were tragically abandoned to die.  It was disciples of Jesus that began a new practice during this time.  They would take in and save these unwanted infants retrieving them from their place of abandonment.

Children were not discarded by Jesus.  They were held up as questions of greatness arose. The idea of greatness to many was likely similar to our ideas today: money, status, popularity, power, and control.  Bringing a child in their midst as an example of anyone who wants to be great must have been quite perplexing to disciples growing up in a society that discarded babies.  Children even today don’t seem to possess what we would call greatness by modern standards.  So, what is the greatness Jesus is talking about?  He talks about taking a lowly position with childlike humility as the path to true greatness in God’s kingdom.  The exact opposite of adult human pride often associated with greatness.  Jesus also mentions the significance of welcoming those “lowly” as important, just as they were important to Jesus.  The contrast between the values of the world and the values of Christ’s kingdom couldn’t be stronger.  Simple childlike faith and humility are considered great to God.

Reflection

Do you pray for opportunities to welcome the lowly?

Does your concept of greatness need a makeover?

How can we become great for the kingdom?

 

Lamb of God Once and For All

Joey Callahan 08/17/2015

Hebrews 9.11-15

Under the old covenant, the people of Israel would sacrifice animals to atone for the sins of the people. The blood represents life, and God used this symbol to show Israel that He wipes away their sin and sanctifies them.

John 1:29

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

The ultimate king of Israel, Jesus, would later be the final atonement for the sins of God’s people. All the sacrifices were pointing to this sacrifice of Jesus on the cross once and for all.

Hebrews 9:11-15

The ransom paid on our behalf by our Savior Jesus has truly set us free.  Jesus has become the mediator of a new covenant that we get to have with God.  This means our sins have been completely removed and we have been cleansed so that we may serve the living God.

Reflection

Why is a sacrifice necessary for us to be forgiven of our sins?

Jesus has taken away our sins, yet we still can at times feel very guilty for our sins? How should we wrestle with this?

Why might we feel like we still need to measure up when Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins in full?

What might be holding you back from completely receiving God’s grace as a free gift?

 

Suffering Like Christ

Nick Bradford 05/02/2020

Matthew 5.38-42

As disciples, we experience being born again in Christ only through his Passion, or crucifixion, and are covered in his holy blood through baptism. (John 3.16). Thus, the idea of suffering for redemption is not foreign to us, rather what is foreign is the degree to which we suffer and how we as American Christians react to it.

Oftentimes in our own personal suffering we can resort to playing the blame game to deal with our problems. However, by playing the blame game we become a victim of our own circumstances. Yet how many times have we blamed our sufferings on our boss, coworkers, the government, family, society, the secular world, injustice, racism, bigotry, and even God himself, in extreme cases.

When the Roman soldiers were instructed to crucify three criminals, these soldiers had plenty of reasons to believe that those men were victims, their victims. Jesus was one of those men being crucified. As a Roman or even a regular person, its easy to see how someone could see Jesus as a victim here. Yet Jesus does not view himself a victim.  This is made clear in his conversation with Pontius Pilate in John 19:10-11.  Even when Christ is on the cross, he does not curse the Romans for torturing him or Judas for betraying him. He suffered to redeem mankind and to glorify God because that was God’s plan all along as Romans 5:8 tells us, ‘But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’

Matthew 5:38-42

Jesus takes the eye for an eye form of justice and preaches something vastly different from what we see in that Old Testament passage. According to a Roman edict, Roman soldiers could demand that a stranger carry their pack for up to one mile. No doubt some of Jesus’ hearers may have been asked to do just that and lost hours of work. However, once a mile was up, the soldiers had to take their load back. But Jesus tells his hearers to go a second mile. This was a form of voluntary suffering, but it also served to point out the injustice to the oppressor. This would show the Roman soldiers how reprehensible they were by arbitrarily forcing folks to carry their equipment.

We live in a post-Christian America, where Christians are not considered an oppressed minority even though arguably, we join the most persecuted religious group in history when we are baptized into Christ. Seventy million martyred Christians throughout history is a large enough number to illustrate this. Yet, we can still miss opportunities to get closer to God when we slip into a victimhood mindset. We should be careful not complain, but instead take up our cross as Jesus did for us and learn to endure suffering as Jesus did.

I wanted to share an example of suffering like Christ from the book “Live Not by Lies” by Rod Dreher (pp. 201-204).

Contemporary examples can sometimes hit closer to home. Here is just a single story from a gentleman who suffered beatings, jail time, and religious persecution under the Communists in Eastern Europe.

“Accompanying other persecuted people in their suffering can lead us to deep repentance and spiritual strength. One of Wurmbrand’s fellow Piteşti prisoners was George Calciu, an Orthodox Christian medical student who was eventually ordained a priest. In 1985, he was sent into exile in the United States, where he served at a northern Virginia parish until his death in 2006.

In a lengthy 1996 interview, Father George told about his encounter with a fellow prisoner named Constantine Oprisan. They met when Calciu was transferred from Piteşti to Jilava, a prison that was built entirely underground. The communists put four prisoners in each cell. In his cell was Oprisan, who was deathly ill with tuberculosis. From their first day in captivity there, Oprisan coughed up fluid in his lungs.

The man was suffocating. Perhaps a whole liter of phlegm and blood came up, and my stomach became upset. I was ready to vomit. Constantine Oprisan noticed this and said to me, “Forgive me.” I was so ashamed! Since I was a student in medicine, I decided then to take care of him . . . and told the others that I would take care of Constantine Oprisan. He was not able to move, and I did everything for him. I put him on the bucket to urinate. I washed his body. I fed him. We had a bowl for food. I took this bowl and put it in front of his mouth.

Constantine Oprisan—”he was like a saint,” Father George said—was so weak that he could barely talk. But every word he said to his cellmates was about Christ. Hearing him say his daily prayers had a profound effect on the other three men, as did simply looking at the “flood of love in his face.” Constantine Oprisan was a physical wreck because he had been so badly tortured in Piteşti for three years, reported Father George. Yet he would not curse his torturers and spent his days in prayer.

All the while, we did not realize how important Constantine Oprisan was for us. He was the justification of our life in this cell. Over the course of a year, he became weaker and weaker. We felt that he had finished his time here and would die.

After he died every one of us felt that something in us had died. We understood that, sick as he was and in our care like a child, he had been the pillar of our life in the cell.

After the cellmates washed his body and prepared it for burial, they alerted the guards that Constantine Oprisan was dead. The guards led the men out of the windowless cell for the first time in a year. Then one guard ordered Calciu and another man to take the body outside and bury it. Constantine Oprisan was nothing but skin and bones; his muscle tissue had wasted away. For some reason, the skin pulled tight over his emaciated skeleton had turned yellow.

My friend took a flower and put it on his chest—a blue flower. The guard started to cry out to us and forced us to go back into the cell. Before we went into the cell, we turned around and looked at Constantine Oprisan—his yellow body and this blue flower. This is the image that I have kept in my memory—the body of Constantine Oprisan completely emaciated and the blue flower on his chest.

Looking back on that drama nearly a half century later, Father George said that nursing the helpless Constantine Oprisan in the final year of his life revealed to him “the light of God.”

When I took care of Constantine Oprisan in the cell, I was very happy. I was very happy because I felt his spirituality penetrating my soul. I learned from him to be good, to forgive, not to curse your torturer, not to consider anything of this world to be a treasure for you. In fact, he was living on another level. Only his body was with us—and his love. Can you imagine? We were in a cell without windows, without air, humid, filthy—yet we had moments of happiness that we never reached in freedom. I cannot explain it.

In terms of sacramental theology, a mystery is a truth that cannot be explained, only accepted. The long death of Constantine Oprisan, which gave spiritual life to those who helped him bear his suffering, is just such a mystery. The stricken prisoner was dying, but because he had already died to himself for Christ’s sake, he was able to be an icon to the others—a window into eternity through which the divine light passed to illuminate the other men in that dark, filthy cell.”

Reflection 

Do you see yourself living like Christ when it comes to suffering?

If you are enduring suffering how can you reframe those instances into living for Christ like Constantine Oprisan did?

Are you willing to suffer and possibly die for the faith?

 

Jesus and the Mission

_______________________________________________________

Jesus calls Levi and Eats with Sinners

Grace Sharp 07/15/2016

Mark 2.13-17

The passage begins with Jesus approaching Levi, a tax collector, and asking Levi to follow him. He goes on to dine at Levi’s house and engages with many people who were sinful. Upon finding this out, the Pharisees are taken aback and incredibly judgmental of Jesus’ actions. To dine with tax collectors and sinners was not something that was common for the men associated with holiness. If anything, it would be considered shameful to associate oneself with characters such as these. In contrast to Jesus’ behavior, the Pharisees viewed themselves as superior to these sinful people and did not engage with them. This was a considerable deal for Jesus, a man closely associated with God, to be lowering Himself by engaging with these tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees were therefore astounded by Him and questioned His actions. However, Jesus refutes their judgement by replying in verse 17, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” The choice to engage with these sinners was intentional and monumental. Jesus did not approach sinners in a reproachful or self-righteous manner (how the Pharisees would have); he approached them with love. He knew these people needed repentance and salvation and because of His love for them (for us!), He extended those gifts to them. Jesus was willing to humble Himself enough to interact and give to the lowly, the outcast. He did not consider Himself above eating with “the sick.” It is vitally important to remember what Jesus was able to accomplish through this looked-down-upon tax collector that he originally reached out to; Levi (Matthew), went on to become one of the twelve apostles and preach the Gospel after the Ascension of Christ. This would not have happened if Jesus was self-righteous and refused to associate with such lowly company. This is a such wonderful example of the fruit that God’s love can bear. We must not fall into self-righteousness as the Pharisees did, but remember that Jesus has “not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Reflections

Are we willing to engage with prostitutes, homeless, addicts, social misfits, etc. (all types of people Jesus reached out to), when sharing our faith?

Are we allowing God to work through those who are lowly? Are we allowing God to work through us, who are lowly?

Are we humble enough to remember that we are all sinners, all equally “sick” without Jesus?

 

Jesus and Discipleship: Counting the Cost

Chiedu Okonmah 01/28/2018

Luke 14: 25-33

Whenever Jesus traveled, he made sure to teach. One of Jesus’s most difficult teachings can be found in this passage. Jesus constantly brought people’s attention to their need to reflect and change aspects of their lives in order to be His disciple.

First, Jesus tells people that they need to hate their close loved ones in order to be His disciple. This should not be taken out of context, though. Jesus is not saying to literally hate your loved ones. In fact, He preaches the opposite (Matthew 22: 39). So ,what does Jesus mean? Jesus wants us to make Him the priority in our life. There should not be a single person or thing that we value or want more than Jesus. Jesus is before all. When we make other people or things a priority over Jesus, we tend to compromise our convictions about our faith for those people and things. Jesus should be number one.

Jesus also gives these two illustrations. The first is building a tower. Jesus talks about making sure to ‘estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it’. We have to understand that being Jesus’s disciple is not a one-time decision that we occasionally follow. It is something that we follow for the rest of our lives, and we should want to end our lives with finishing the race of discipleship. With all this, there is much to consider and think about when building our ‘tower’.

Lastly, Jesus talks about a king going to war against another king. Put yourself in the shoes of the king with 10,000 men and think of God being the king with 20,000 men. The wise thing to do, like Jesus says in verse 32, would be to give up and make peace with God. In this way, Jesus is saying that we should be giving up and surrendering everything to God. Notice how Jesus ends verse 33 with ‘cannot be my disciple’. All these things need to be considered and done if we are to call ourselves disciples of Jesus.

Reflection

Is there anyone or anything that I am putting over Jesus in my life?

How am I making sure Jesus is my priority, daily?

Is there anything that I need to surrender to God?

 

Jesus and the Mission: Sending Out of the 12

Princess Jeremie 07/16/2020

Luke 9.1-9

Jesus had called the Twelve together and gave them the power and authority to drive out demons and cure diseases. He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Jesus gives the Twelve a specific set of instructions and it gives us a model of what should be following when we go share our faith with others.

Jesus tells them to take nothing for the journey-no money, no food, no bag, etc. This reminds us that when we go and share the good news that we do not need to rely on material possessions to sustain us, that God will provide what we need to go and make disciples.

In verse five, Jesus tells them that if people do not welcome them, they are to leave their town and shake the dust off their feet. This is significant because as we go and share our faith with others, not everyone will be receptive to us and this instruction that Jesus gave reminds us to dust off our feet and not be discouraged if someone says no.

Reflection

Do you get discouraged when the person you reach out to is not receptive? If so, what are some ways you can overcome this discouragement?

How do you reach out to those around you?

What are some ways you can apply Jesus’ direction to the 12 when reaching out to those around you?

 

The Three Participles of Jesus’ Ministry

DJ Berry 11/25/2016

Matthew 4:12-25

This passage is broken up into three major parts: Jesus Begins to Preach, Jesus Calls His First Disciples, and Jesus Heals the Sick. 4.23is a verse towards the end of the passage and it summarizes Jesus’ ministry: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”  It is sometimes referred to as “the three participles of Jesus’ ministry. Following this description of his ministry the bible points out that Large crowds began to follow him.

Earlier in the chapter Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist and led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. It is after this significant event that Jesus begins his ministry.

Preaching

Note in verse 17 what message Jesus began his ministry preaching. He says “Repent, for the

kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is really cool that we get exactly what Jesus said and what he was preaching. Out of all the things that Matthew heard Jesus preach this is what he shares with us. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” It’s awesome to invite people to church, bible talks, and events. It’s awesome to preach about the ‘attractive’ parts of the bible like love and grace. Repentance can be hard to talk about because then you have to get into sin as well.

Reflection: Do you preach repentance like Jesus did?  

Teaching

Jesus called his first disciples, Peter and Andrew while they were still living life as fishermen and said “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” He gives them a promise that if they follow him he will teach them how to become fisher of people.  By the end of his ministry (Matthew 28:18-20) he sends them out into the world as ones taught how to be fishers of men ready to teach others “all he has commanded them.”

Reflection: In what ways are you being taught to be a fisher of men?

Healing

Jesus healed the sick too.  Just because he was healing people and teaching his disciples didn’t mean he stopped preaching. He was doing all three, he was a triple threat. We may not be able to heal the sick in just the same way Jesus did but we can help to meet people’s physical needs and bring healing in many ways.  Giving out of what we have and serving those with needs.

Reflection: Are you giving and meeting the needs of others like Jesus did?

Large crowds followed Jesus, his teachings, preaching and healing moved people towards being part of God’s kingdom which was near.

Reflection: Which of these three is a strength for you/which is a weakness?  How can God use both to bring people into his kingdom?

 

Invitation To All

Taryn Andros 01/0/2018

Matthew 22:1-14 The Wedding Banquet

Jesus tells a parable about the kingdom of heaven and compares it to a king hosting a wedding banquet who sends out servants repeatedly with invitations to join the event.

The role of the servants versus the role of the king are strikingly different. The servants went out into the streets and spoke with the people about the king’s free party, they were told to “go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find”(verse 9).The servants did not control the responses of those who received the invitation, they were simply told to invite as many as they could. The king ultimately decided who came into the banquet; it is obvious that the king had the sole authority to say who was chosen to be let in or thrown out. I believe the parable reflects that the kingdom of heaven is to be proclaimed to any person that we can find and different people will have various responses to the invitation. Our invitations ought to capture people of all races, nationalities, cultures and economic backgrounds in the streets and towns we find ourselves in. The role of the servant is significant to us, because we too have His invitations to pass out–whether a physical piece of paper to church service or a text message to a Bible study, we are to tell all that they are invited to share time with God, to come and learn more about Him and His love for them.

God has chosen each of us to participate in His grand plan. We are His servants, entrusted with sharing the message of Jesus daily; we have been selected to propel His invitation forward into the lives of men and women around us!  Inviting entire towns, the aisle at the supermarket, as many as we can, so the banquet of the King to be filled.  It is not up to us to decide who makes it to His table nor is it up to us to provide the lodging, entertainment, or food for the guests. The guests and the celebration belong to God. We must remember the place we serve as a bringer of the invitations and appreciate the role God has chosen for us.

Reflection

Do I consider it a privilege or burden to invite others?

Do I tend to pre-judge people, or show favoritism when sharing my faith towards a particular type of person…do I judge others according to their appearance, observed behavior, or economic status?

Is there anything stopping me from prioritizing time in my schedule to invite people to tell others about the amazing banquet God has prepared for them?

 

The Miraculous Catch of Fish

Kyle Mathas 07/29/2016

John 21: 1-14

This passage comes after Jesus’ death. The disciples were probably feeling a mixture of emotions. The disciples, led by Peter, decide to go fishing, just as they were when they were first called by Jesus.  They had caught nothing.  Early in the morning, a man unrecognizable to them calls to them from the shore.  He directed them to cast their net to the other side of the boat. The disciples trusted in the stranger and it worked.  they got 153 large fish.  It worked because the man they didn’t recognize was Jesus. Peter plunges into the water to get to Jesus as fast as he can while the other disciples tow the miraculous catch of fish to the shore.  They ate well with Jesus that day.

It takes trust in God that he will show you the things that you might be missing. There may be people in your life that could be like Jesus on the beach with the disciples. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

Pray to God for understanding and revelation and for you to be open to what God may show you through others.

Reflection

Why do you think the disciples agreed to throw their net to the other side of the boat?

What things in your life is Jesus trying to show you that you might be missing?

How might the large number of fish be tied to how the disciples were going to be used to bring many to God through Christ?

Pray for 10 minutes today that God will reveal those things in your life and that God can encourage and empower you to act on those things in your daily walk with God.

 

Receiving the kingdom like a child

Gabriel Cross 01/26/2017

Mark 10:13-16

Children approach but get rebuked by Jesus’s disciples. Jesus uses the opportunity as a teaching moment. He tells them of the heart they are to have as his disciples.

The idea of being like a child can often have negative connotations, but Jesus does the opposite here. He shows the surrender, openness, and humility in the hearts of children. All who come to him must receive the kingdom of God just like this. We must do the same. Pushing past pride and preconceived notions is what it will take for us to receive the kingdom of God as little children. It takes boldness and strength in order to surrender so fully. It takes trusting in God as our caretaker, without fully understanding everything He does.

Reflection

How can I in my life better receive the kingdom of God like a little child?

What makes this tough for me?

Am I willing to strive for humility and surrender even when he current plans are a mystery to me?

 

Jesus and the rich in this life

Tilmon Wooden 03/12/2016

Mark 10: 17-31

This story is about Jesus advising a rich young man about spiritual life.  This account does not end well for the young man. It starts off with the young man running up to Jesus with a great question about how to get eternal life. In the verse 17, he calls Jesus “Good teacher.” Jesus asked him why do you call me “good?”  Likely Jesus wanted him to reflect about that. Jesus then tells him the commandments which the young rich man already knows and claims he follows. It seems though he might have just wanted Jesus to give him the answer to the solution rather than Jesus being the solution. Even so, Jesus challenged a tough obstacle in his life by ask him this which starts in verse 21.

“Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.”

After hearing that the young man chose earthly wealth over God. It can be incredibly hard to give up the things you worked so hard for or have in this world but without sacrifice, how will we accomplish our mission as disciples? Jesus said himself that we already have treasures in heaven so why do we hang on to our earthly desires so much? If we let this get in the way of fulfilling our mission of getting to heaven then we are no better than the rich young man. We cannot corrupt ourselves with idolatry and evil desires of this world.

Reflection

What desires did I seek before God? Do I still hang on to it?

How did I overcome my earthly desires and put Christ first?

What do I view differently now about my desires?

 

The Great Commission

Gregory Reynolds 11/19/2017

Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus spent the majority of his life on earth preparing the world for this exact moment. At the moment of this verse, Jesus had resurrected from the dead after being crucified and buried in a tomb for three days. Jesus’ appearance to many of his disciples after being resurrected from the dead was a miraculous, life altering experience. Raising from the dead is such a mind blowing thing to think about, so if Jesus being God in the flesh wasn’t enough to establish His authority, this final act surely put the cherry on top.

Notice how in verse 19 Jesus tells his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. It is said in such a way that implies that “going” and “making disciples” are two different commands. Jesus calls us to just get up and GO. He calls us to start up our engine first and foremost before we do anything else.  Getting up and going may be the most difficult part for some (myself included), but also could be the easiest for many others. All in all, we’ve just gotta get up and go. It is impossible for us to study the Bible with people and teach them to obey all that God has commanded, and then baptizing them without first getting the courage to go out and find said people!

Reflection

When was the last time that you just went?

When was the last time you built up the courage to just get up and go?

Am I faithful that going will produce fruit in my life?

How can I “get up and go” today?

What is holding me back from going?

 

Jesus prays for all future believers

Kaylyn Gunn 11/9/2020

John 17:20-26

Prior to this prayer in this passage, Jesus has spent time washing the Disciples feet and having dinner with them. After this prayer he went to the garden of Gethsemane and was preparing to face his inevitable death. Even knowing that his death was near, Jesus took the time to pray for all of us!

John 17:20-23 with his own unified relationship with the Father in mind, Jesus prays for all who would come to believe through the message the disciples would spread. That we will also all be brought into oneness with the Father just as he prayed that for the disciples in the preceding verses..

John 17:24-26, Jesus speaks about how glory was given to him before the creation of the world; he wants the world to see his glory and to know him. Jesus wants everyone in the world to share in what he has with the Father and what the disciples have with each other so that the world can experience God’s love and to have Jesus in them as well.

Reflections

How would you spend your time if you knew you were going to be crucified?

Would you be thinking and praying for others?

In what way can you pray for the world to know Jesus and to be brought into unity with Jesus and the Father.