Posts tagged "Week 2"
By Steve Scurich
AND THE MAN JUMPED UP, GRABBED HIS MAT, AND WALKED OUT THROUGH THE STUNNED ONLOOKERS. THEY WERE ALL AMAZED AND PRAISED GOD, EXCLAIMING, “WE’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE!” [MARK 2:12]
Of course, we are amazed when we read about the miracles Jesus did in the Bible. However, when I think about it, miracles are always happening. I have prayed many times for healing, for friend’s challenges, for family, and for God’s will to take control of my life. When these prayers are answered, I am surprised! Why? I like to think that I have faith in our perfect God and believe that He can do whatever He wants. Often times my initial response is surprise that shows my lack of faith. After my initial reaction, my response is praise and thanks. I need to get to a place where I begin to expect miracles in life. They may not always be directed at my specific needs or requests, but I know miracles are all around me, happening all the time, and they come from God.
I have a friend that was diagnosed with ALS (avg. life expectancy is 2-5 years following diagnosis). I remember the day he told me as if it were yesterday. My wife and I were just about to sit down for dinner at a restaurant; we ordered, couldn’t eat, and took our food home. We cried and prayed for he and his wife a lot that night. The following week, I presented the story to our small group and we proceeded to pray for God’s will on his life, but if there was a chance for healing – that would be amazing. Two months later during a follow up appointment, my friend’s doctor changed the diagnosis to nerve damage. This required surgery, but it was great news nonetheless! Sure, it may be easy to say, “what was the doctor thinking with the initial diagnosis?” but I know God stepped in and decided He was not finished with my friend on earth just yet. Upon hearing the news (and tears of joy running down my face), my wife and I talked about how much we were surprised that God answered our prayers. I suppose it wasn’t so much that we were surprised He answered, but that His answer was “Yes!”
I believe God answers prayers in three ways: Yes, No, or Wait. Although his answers may confuse or disappoint me at first, I always seem to understand why at some point in my journey. He knows what He is doing; I need to respond with faith. That is how we receive grace. I can give you a dollar bill from my pocket, but it is not yours until you receive it. We all need to joyfully receive God’s grace, love, and answers to our prayers. It is our inheritance. We are loved enough to step up with confidence and receive His gift – after all, He paid an enormous price for us through His son, Jesus Christ.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
How do you react when God answers your prayers? Does your response show unwavering faith in a big, perfect, all knowing, and loving God that can do whatever He wants?
Lord, you amaze me. You came down from your throne to show me how to live and by doing so, how much can be accomplished by faith in You! Help me to always respond with faith in your amazing love for me. Amen.
By Justin Leach
SO I WILL PROVE TO YOU THAT THE SON OF MAN HAS THE AUTHORITY ON EARTH TO FORGIVE SINS. [MARK 2:10]
In this account, Jesus is accused of blasphemies by the scribes for proclaiming the sins of the paralytic man forgiven. This would certainly be accurate if He were but a mere man. Jesus’ divine authority is asserted with his forgiving of sins, because only God was recognized as having the power and authority to forgive sins. Jesus heals the paralytic man so the observers will recognize Him, not as a mere man, but as the Son of Man with God-given authority to forgive the sins of man.
Many times, like the scribes, we can be focused on the manifestation of visible miracles in our lives as proof of God’s divinity and miracle-working power and overlook the truly amazing miracle that is the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ. Jesus came down from glory to heal mankind by showing the world the love of God through compassion and forgiveness.
No matter what we have in our past, Jesus only asks that we come to Him in faith as our Redeemer and He has the authority to forgive us our sins and place us in right-standing with God.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Am I waiting to see God’s miracle working power with my eyes or feel it with my heart?
Jesus, thank you that I have been set free from the power of sin and death. By mercy and grace and through your divine authority my sins are forgiven. Keep me mindful of the incredible sacrifice you endured for me on the cross and the amazing miracle of your resurrection as proof of God’s love for His children.
By Steve Scurich
BUT SOME OF THE TEACHERS OF RELIGIOUS LAW WHO WERE SITTING THERE THOUGHT TO THEMSELVES, “WHAT IS HE SAYING? THIS IS BLASPHEMY! ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE SINS!” [MARK 2:6-7]
In Mark 2:6-7, Jesus is being accused by the religious teachers of the day that He is committing blasphemy, which, if he were only human, they would be correct. In fact, Jesus had every right to forgive the man’s sins, which is much more valuable than the healing of his body – it is a healing of the heart! In Matthew 5 (The Sermon on the Mount), Jesus said, “And if your hand – even your stronger hand – causes you to sin, cut if off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” -Matthew 5:30 (NLT). From this, we can understand how much it means to have our sins forgiven vs. part of our human body healed. It means eternity in heaven vs. hell.
Many times, as a Christian, I struggle with thoughts of what people think about me. The things I say, the way I live my life, and how to handle disagreements with others. We are taught to let God lead, to focus on eternal life, and to seek answers from scripture. Sometimes, I feel very little compassion toward a friend (especially a Christian friend) whose actions I know are wrong. How do I approach them with my concern? When is the right time, place? What will their reaction be? God help me! The truth is that it is critical to have the Holy Spirit be your guide. We need the Spirit to not only guide my attempts to approach and listen to a friend in need, but also to guide me in having compassion on them. Good advice, guided by the Holy Spirit, may help determine where my friend spends his/her eternity, regardless of what others may think.
Jesus had compassion on the paralyzed man and the crowd around Him. Jesus used this occasion as an opportunity to teach about forgiveness. Beyond our physical healing we desperately need to be healed from our sins and experience His forgiveness. Jesus did not care what the “authority” of the day thought about His actions. He is the ultimate authority, He knows what is best for everyone, and He is whom we should all turn to for advise and healing. Jesus lived his earthly life guided by the Holy Spirit in everything He did; we need to consistently try to do the same. If we fall, we need to get up and keep trying. We need to take leaps of faith. We need to stop looking for the approval of man, and seek God. It is critical!
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Think about someone close to you who is leading a life apart from God. What is the best way to approach them about your concern?
Father God, help me to find in You the wisdom to know how to handle my concern with ________. I can’t do this alone; I can’t rely on my own guide to lead me down the path that is best for our relationship. I need you to fill me with your Spirit, compassion, and strength. Jesus, take my hand and lead me to be like you, help me to discuss your will for the life of my friend. For only You can forgive sins. Amen.
By Gavin Thames
WHEN JESUS SAW THEIR FAITH, HE SAID TO THE PARALYTIC, “SON, YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN.” [MARK 2:5]
In Mark 2, Jesus was teaching in a house so full of people that not even one more could enter. There were four men determined to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed, but they could not get in. The boldness of their faith, combined with a little creativity, paid off. The men broke through the roof right over Jesus’ head. I can imagine the noise, the debris falling down on Jesus, and the crowds looking up to the ceiling to see what was happening! The men proceeded to lower the paralyzed man to Jesus, hoping for a miraculous healing of his body. Jesus had a different plan.
When Jesus saw their act of faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now wait a minute…what just happened? They came to Jesus for physical healing, but Jesus chose to address the paralyzed man’s greatest need, the healing of sin that infested his heart. Jesus knew the man needed a heart healing above all else. As a bonus, Jesus also healed the man’s paralyzed body, because of the faith of his four determined friends.
I don’t know how many times in my life I have prayed for relief from difficult trials and circumstances, which were brought on by my own foolishness. Thanks to the forgiveness, grace, and mercy of Jesus, I have been delivered - miraculously at times. More often than not, Jesus has used the messes I’ve created to humble me and bring me to my knees, so that He can heal my heart.
I find it comforting to know that Jesus is always standing ready to forgive me, restore me, and carry my burdens if I simply humble myself and place my trust fully in Him. As you face your own trials, temptations, and difficult challenges, keep your eyes on Jesus. He will always forgive you, restore you, and provide exactly what you need to get through any circumstance.
“COUNT IT PURE JOY WHEN YOU FALL INTO VARIOUS TRIALS, KNOWING THAT THE TESTING OF YOUR FAITH PRODUCES PATIENCE.” [JAMES 1:1-2]
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
What prevents you from placing 100% of your faith and trust in Jesus?
Jesus, thank you for being in total control of my life and circumstances. I put my trust in you. Thank you for your forgiveness and restoration, and for growing my faith in times of trial.
By Jan Kontilis
“FOUR MEN ARRIVED CARRYING A PARALYZED MAN ON A MAT. THEY COULDN’T BRING HIM TO JESUS BECAUSE OF THE CROWD, SO THEY DUG A HOLE THROUGH THE ROOF ABOVE HIS HEAD. THEN THEY LOWERED THE MAN ON HIS MAT, RIGHT DOWN IN FRONT OF JESUS. [MARK 2:3-4]
The four friends of this paralyzed man would not let anything stop them from the opportunity to have their friend meet Jesus and be healed. They went to extraordinary lengths to help a friend in need.
This passage describes one of the basic Christian virtues—helping others in need. Helping someone in obvious physical or emotional distress is second nature to most of us, but do we also recognize someone spiritually in need? Are we seeking out those people, acting as a group to help others as these four friends did? Any one of them individually would have been unable to accomplish what they were able to achieve collectively. And the result was miraculous.
Are we using the strength of our Christian community to find those seeking Jesus? At some point in our lives, we were all seeking Him. Are we open to other seekers? Do we have a “close” community or a “closed” community like the crowd in the verse?
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Are we prepared as a church family to help others who come seeking? Are we willing to take action and seek out those who need to hear the Word of God?
Jesus, help me to recognize those in spiritual need and give me the strength to encourage them to join our community and hear your Word.
By Jake Kowalla
“WHEN HE HAD COME BACK TO CAPERNAUM SEVERAL DAYS AFTERWARD, IT WAS HEARD THAT HE WAS AT HOME. AND MANY WERE GATHERED TOGETHER, SO THAT THERE WAS NO LONGER ROOM, NOT EVEN NEAR THE DOOR; AND HE WAS SPEAKING THE WORD TO THEM.” [MARK 2:1-2]
The scripture paints a great picture of Jesus! Here is Jesus, in a house, in Capernaum. The name of the city means “village of Nahum”. Nahum was a prophet, whose name meant comforter. Jesus brings comfort to the city of Capernaum.
He is in this city because of the unbelief of those in Nazareth, his hometown. Word spreads of Jesus’ presence and the crowds are drawn to him. Jesus isn’t out on the streets attempting to draw people in, He isn’t preaching on the street corners or from a pulpit, the people are drawn to the comforter. The people in the crowd come from all different backgrounds and circumstances. Some are sick, curious, true seekers, and religious leaders. I mean this place is jammed pack with people who are listening to Jesus. The scripture tells us, “He was speaking the word to them”.
The Greek word for “word” used here is laleo, meaning, “to use words in order to declare one’s mind and disclose one’s thoughts”. Can you imagine? Here is God, disclosing his thoughts to the crowd! The words fall with power on many of the people and those who are seeking Him find Him.
“FAITH COMES BY HEARING AND HEARING BY THE WORD OF GOD”. [ROMANS 10:17]
I imagine the sick and curious were thinking, “yeah…these sermons are great, but I’m sick, I’m hurting. I need more than words at this point.”
Stop for a minute and think about Romans 10:17. If hearing the word produces faith, if it’s the word that separates marrow from the bone, the soulish from the spiritual, and faith the size of a mustard seed moves mountains, then the word produces faith.
Faith is the catalyst for change; faith lets me give my sovereignty to God and accept His sovereignty. Faith says, “Here you go God, I trust you.” Jesus is here and His word is unchanging, available, and full of the power to activate faith and to change our hearts and minds. The very same power of the word we read about many generations ago is the same power available to us today. Allow the very words of God in the scriptures to grow you and build your faith today.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Am I allowing the power of God’s words to work in my life?
Jesus, give me ears to hear your word, your voice, and let me draw near to you, let your heart and thoughts be mine.