Acts Chapters 5-7

Well, things are beginning to happen.  The apostles have a lot to take care of now.  The number of believers is growing rapidly, needs are arising in the community and there are not enough leaders to handle the teachings, preaching and all of the needs.  Stress is building.

Crowds of people are flocking the apostles and carrying the sick to just be near to them with the hopes of being healed.  It sounds like mayhem!  The Sadducees and the High Priest were angry and jealous of all the attention the apostles were getting.  They decided to arrest them and put them in jail.  However, God had a different plan.  While the apostles were locked up in jail, He sent an angel to free them.  The jail guards never even knew they were gone!  God told them to return to the temple and continue preaching!  To the very place where they had gotten in trouble for preaching!

The next day, the the high priest called for the apostles.  The guards went to unlock them and realized they were gone!  They were perplexed to say the least.  Someone told them they were back in the temple preaching, so they once again went and arrested them.  They wanted to kill them.  Here is where it gets really interesting.  One member of the council names Gamaliel, who happened to be an expert on religious law, addressed the council.  He basically said to leave them be.  “If they are teaching and doing things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown.  But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them.  You may even find yourselves fighting against God.”  (Acts 5:38-39)

I can’t help but wonder if this highly esteemed, very popular member of the council was beginning to believe!  He stopped the Sadducees from killing the apostles and gave more opportunities to spread the news of Jesus.  Did he realize what he was doing?  Did he think it would fizzle out like some false prophets in the past or was he recognizing the real deal and was afraid to mess with God?  Makes you wonder a bit, doesn’t it?

Chapter Six shares with us how the apostles decided to appoint 7 men to serve the immediate needs of the group of followers.  This would give them the opportunity to focus more on praying, teaching and preaching.  The people chose the 7 men and they were prayed over by the apostles.

One of these men, Stephen, was full of God’s grace and power.  He performed miracles and signs among the people he served.  He was soon arrested for all of this.  As they started questioning Stephen, accusing him of blasphemy and such, he face became bright like that of an angel.  He had complete peace over him despite what was going on.  He was accused of speaking against the temple and speaking against Moses.

Stephen replied with a long narration of the Old Testament.  He proved to them he was a man of God and knew the law.  He knew the ancestry and he understood the chain of events that had taken place in the past to bring him to this very point in time.  At the end of his narration and retelling, he told them that they are doing the exact same as their ancestors did to every other prophet before, persecuting those following God’s Word.  He told them they were deliberately disobeying God’s law.

Needless to say, the leaders of the church were furious.  As they raged, Stephen looked up and saw Jesus standing at God’s right hand!  He announced his vision which only made things worse for him.  They dragged him outside and stoned him to death.  The official witness of this stoning was a man named Saul.

Stephen was the first martyr to die for Jesus Christ.  He wasn’t afraid.  He even declared in his last breath, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!”  (Acts 7:60)

I wonder if I am that faithful.  Can I be that strong in the face of adversity and persecution.  We live in a country where we are blessed with the freedom to worship and pray.  We do not need to hide or fear for our lives.  There are many in this world that do suffer persecution for being Christians still today.

I’d like to ask you to say a prayer of Thanksgiving.  Don’t take for granted the freedom you have to worship and pray.  Thank God for it and dig deep.  Share your feelings with him and also pray for those in the world who face torture and death because they love Jesus.

God bless you all.  Have a wonderful week.

Wednesday – Acts 5
Thursday – Acts 6
Friday – Acts 7
Saturday – Acts 8
Sunday – Acts 9
Monday – Reflection
Tuesday – Praises & Petitions

Praises & Petitions Week 4

Can you believe we are finishing up week 4 of our New Testament study together?  I can’t!  January is almost over and it has surely been a whirlwind of a month.  I live in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  The past few weeks we have had temperatures close to zero and wind chills about 15 below.  This is not typical for our area, so it’s been quite a frenzy of how to handle it all.  I’m not sure what the fuss is, really.  It’s cold, really cold.  So, bundle up in layers and continue on with your activities.  However, city and county schools have been closed, or delayed for just about the entire month.  (Not my school, thankfully!)  I feel bad for the students and teachers.  There is no way to teach or plan when you don’t know when you will be in school or for how long.  The thing that really gets me is if you delay one or two hours for cold weather, it only bring the temps up about 4 degrees if you are lucky.  From zero to 4, (or sub 12 to sub 8), does that really help that much?  I can’t figure it out!

My class is celebrating the 100th day of school Thursday.  100 days of kindergarten!  This is something I am thankful for.  I am truly thankful to God for leading me to this position as the first kindergarten teacher in this school.  It has been such a blessing in so many ways.  We are busy this week doing everything in hundreds!  For example, drawing pictures with 100 things in them,  doing 100 warm up stretches in PE, making paper chains with 100 links, writing about “I could eat 100…”, bringing in 100 of something, etc.  We are having so much fun this week, I really hope we don’t have any closings in our school before our big day.  The children are so excited and so am I!

I am also thankful for a new opportunity that I am embarking on.  I think I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago.  My husband and I are starting up a Youth Ministry Group in our church with a few other members.  We met last night and everything is falling nicely into place.  Our kickoff event is scheduled for mid-February.  Please keep this very new ministry in your prayers as we take baby steps forward!

Finally, I would like to know what you need prayers for.  I pray for  you all daily, however, if you have any specific needs, please let me know.

I hope you have a wonderful week and are able to stay warm!

Blessings, my friends!
Erin

Acts – Chapters 3-4

How are you all doing?  I hope you are finding some connections in the readings we are sharing.  Monday is a reflection day.  At the end of today’s post, you will find a couple of questions to ponder on Monday.  Don’t forget to be still and listen to God every so often.  We can get so busy, even studying the bible, that we forget to sit back and listen and see how God would like us to apply all that we are learning.

Chapters 3 & 4 show us the very beginnings of what the apostles and believers were facing.  Peter performs a miracle at the temple gate.  He heals a lame man who sat at the gate for 40 years begging.  He tells this man that he has no money for him, but in the name of Jesus Christ, he tells him to get up an walk.  The crowds were astonished!  Peter seizes this opportunity to preach in the temple about Jesus.  He reminds the people that they chose to crucify Jesus, yet he rose and fulfilled the Scriptures!  He tells them to repent and turn toward God right now!  Do they listen to him?  Many do listen.  They are drawn in by the miraculous healing they witnessed and the words of Peter.

Now, there were those who were taken in and there were others who were not too thrilled with the appearance of Peter and John in the temple.  The leading priests did not like Peter claiming a resurrection after death, on the authority of Jesus Christ.  Peter and John were arrested and held overnight.  When the council brought them in for questioning, they were filled with words of the Holy Spirit.  They spoke of Jesus and his crucifixion and resurrection.  They spoke of the Scriptures being fulfilled.  In Chapter 4, verse 11, Peter says, “The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.  There is salvation in no one else!”

The leading priests and the council were disturbed to say the least.  They did not like to feel threatened by commoners and they certainly did not like anyone to tell them they were wrong.  However, many people believed Peter and John and they believed in the resurrection.  If the council acted harshly, there could be a riot.  If they did not act harshly, the news of Jesus would continue to spread.  They were perplexed.  After some time, they let Peter and John go.

Peter and John recognized the severity of the situation and they realized that this was just the beginning of a long and difficult journey.  They gathered all of the believers together and prayed to God.  They prayed for boldness in preaching, healing powers, miraculous signs, and wonders all to be done in Jesus’ name.  As they concluded their prayer, the building shook where they were meeting and the Holy Spirit filled all of the believers.

So, now I want you to take a few moments and think.  Imagine you were one of those first believers.  Do you think you would have the courage to go and preach in the temple? Preach things that you knew could get you arrested or killed?  Do you think you would be able to stand up to the council in the name of Jesus?  Or, do you think you might be scared and cave under pressure?  Might you run and hide or tell them what they want to hear to save yourself for the moment?

See, if I am just thinking about this in the moment I am in right now, I think I would be scared.  I think I would want to stand up and be strong, but I’m not sure if I would be brave enough.  However, with the Holy Spirit,  I know I could!  And that is what we all need to remember.  We are not in this alone!  We are only as strong as our faith in Jesus!

Monday, take some reflection time and think about the questions above.  How would you react if you were Peter or John? If you were a new believer?  Share with us if you would like in the comments section.

Saturday – Chapter 3
Sunday – Chapter 4
Monday – Reflection
Tuesday – Praises & Petitions

Blessings my friends!
Erin

Acts – Chapters 1-2

The Book of Acts or Acts of the Apostles is a fascinating book.  It could be turned into a blockbuster movie, really.  There is so much happening in this book; action, drama, killing, sacrifice, persecution, unity, fellowship, miracles, and more.  Who wouldn’t want to see a movie filled with all of that?  It would surely be a hit!

Acts was written by Luke, the doctor.  It is sort of a continuation of his Gospel.  It is the story of the people who continued Jesus’ mission.  In the early church, the very first Christians needed to first develop their own sense of community for their new church.  They needed to set up a structure, choose leaders and spend time together worshiping God.  Once that was established, they  moved onto evangelism.  The biggest obstacle for them was how to get the Good News out.

There was no email, social  media, newspapers, telephones, text messages, faxes, mail, Fed Ex, UPS, or any other ways to communicate that we know and use today.  The only way to spread a message was to go on foot and share the message by mouth.  These early Christians had their work cut out for them.  Not only did they preach the Good News, they set up churches wherever they traveled.  They gave instructions on how to structure the churches and they wrote letters to check in and see how things were going.  They helped these churches grow.

The early Christian Church withstood growing persecution from the Jewish community as well as from the Roman government.  They also faced inner turmoil as they learned to form their own identity after breaking off from Judiasm and also accepting Gentiles into the church as well.

Jesus had left them with a task almost too large to imagine.  These people we will read about are the people who passed the legacy of Jesus onto us, so that we can share it with our children and grandchildren.

Here is an outline of The Book of Acts:

Chapters 1-7 – Jerusalem – This is the beginning of the church.  These chapters are stories that take place at the time immediately following Jesus’ ascension to heaven.  Everything is new and they are working together to build a community.

Chapters 8-12 – Judea and Samaria – Persecution ensues, leaders step up and meet needs in Judea and other areas.  Philip went to Samaria, Paul converted to Christianity, Peter learned that Gentiles and Jews could be saved, Stephen and James become martyrs.

Chapters 12-28 – The World – Paul led 3 journeys to spread the Word of Jesus.  Paul faced persecution, 3 trials, yet he managed to plant churches all over the known world.

We haven’t even started the chapters and that is already a lot of information to digest!  I hope you are as excited as I am about digging into Acts!  Here we go with chapters 1 & 2.

Shortly before Jesus’ Ascension, he instructed the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes upon them.  He tells them that “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere- in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8)  So, the disciples waited in hiding for this to happen.  While they were waiting, they met with other followers and began to form the structure of the new church.  The first order of business was to fulfill the prediction from the book of Psalms in finding a replacement for Judas the traitor.  After discussion and prayer, the disciples chose Matthias, a man who had traveled with them from the baptism of Jesus to his ascension to heaven.

Seven weeks after the Resurrection, Jesus’ followers were in a meeting place together.  Sounds from heaven were heard and flames of tongues appeared on them. The Holy Spirit had arrived!  Were they scared?  Were they excited?  Did they realize what was happening even though this was the day they were waiting for?  The Holy Spirit filled them with power that would enable them to perform miraculous tasks as well as speak in many different languages.

Outsiders came to see what the commotion was all about.  Some were astonished while others thought they were drunk.  Peter stepped up and explained that they were not drunk, but were fulfilling the prophecy of Joel, predicted centuries before.  The prophecy explains that the Holy Spirit will come upon all.  These followers will see visions, dream dreams and prophesy as well.  He explains that they are living in a time when the Scriptures are being fulfilled.  He talks about King David and how he prophesied of the Holy One not staying among the dead and not rotting in a grave.  He explains that David was speaking of Jesus.

The people are shaken up!  Wouldn’t you be?  They are scared and ask what they should do.  Remember, these are the people who several weeks earlier nailed Jesus to a cross and watched him die.  Peter tells them to repent.  “Turn from your sins, turn to God and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”  (v. 38)He goes on to tell them that this promise is not just for them but for their children, grandchildren and generations to come.  (Yay!)

That means this promise is for us!

Thank you God for your forgiveness, you son and your love!  How amazing it is to read about how you began the Christian church through ordinary people like us.  Show us God how to be like your first apostles.  Lead us to share the Good News with others.
Amen

Thursday – Acts 1
Friday – Acts 2
Saturday – Acts 3
Sunday – Acts 4
Monday – Reflection
Tuesday – Praises & Petitions

Mark 16 – The Resurrection

Such a short chapter, yet filled with the promises of eternal life.  I can’t help trying to imagine what I would be thinking if I were one of the 3 women who journeyed to Jesus’ tomb in order to rub burial spices on his body.  Thinking back into the chapters we have read over the past few weeks, Jesus does speak of his resurrection, however he speaks of it in ways that are difficult to understand before it happens.  So, his closest friends are not expecting this at all.

Did they believe the angel? Did they think he was removed by someone?  Were they frightened?  I am sure all of these thoughts ran through their mind.  I’m not sure what I would have done.  I feel like I would have wanted to plant myself right inside the tomb on a big rock and have a cup of tea with the angel so he could explain it all to me in detail!  Probably not practical, but that is what is in my head!

As a mom who has lost a son, oh I would celebrate this day!  I am sure Mary, Jesus’ mother was dancing and crying happy tears!  It is what I think every mother who has lost a child prays for.  The miracle of one more day, another chance.  Maybe somewhere in her heart she knew.  Maybe Jesus shared some private moments with his mom before he was crucified.  We don’t really know.  I like to imagine he said to her before his betrayal, “Mom, they are going to do awful and horrible things to me.  They are going to hang me on a cross and kill me.  But don’t worry mom.  Remember how I was conceived.  I am of the Holy Spirit.  I will be back by Sunday, you can count on it!  Oh, and can you make my favorite supper Sunday?”  (Then a big hug!)  Those private moments aren’t written in the Gospels, but we have to remember that Jesus did have private moments.  We read mostly about his public moments, miraculous moments, mission and ministry moments.  There are so many moments that we don’t know about.

If you were a follower and believer in Jesus during this time, after Jesus was crucified you would probably go into hiding, like the disciples did.  I mean, you followed the very person that they just killed!  And they killed him for what he was preaching, which is what you are also preaching.  Laying low is a good move I would say.  So, in hiding, all of a sudden, Jesus appears to you.  And he is ALIVE!  Would that re-energize you?  Would it take away your fears?  Would it make you want to run outside and share the GOOD NEWS?  I think it would feel like that for me!  I think I would lost my fear of death and gain confidence to do exactly what Jesus trained me for.

So, what did you think of The Book of Mark?  Did you look at anything differently this time through?  Tomorrow we begin Acts of the Apostles.  I will post a separate, new post tomorrow introducing Acts with a little background information for you.

Wednesday – Mark 16
Thursday – Acts 1
Friday – Acts 2
Saturday – Acts 3
Sunday – Acts 4
Monday – Reflection
Tuesday – Praises & Petitions

Praises & Petitions

What a wonderful feeling to wake to the beautiful falling of snowflakes!  I have always been enamored by them.  They fall so silently and blanket the earth in such a beautiful scene.  My husband, the girls and I all have a snow day from school today.  I love snow days, IF we really get snow! I do not like to be off of school if I could have gone in, or if there is not enough snow to play in!  Today, it seems that the Snow Day is worthy of it’s title.  For this, I am grateful to God for the beauty of winter in its simplicity.

I am also thankful to God for the visit with my parents this past weekend.  We had a wonderful time here in the valley and then drove them to spend time with my sister and her family on the other side of the mountain.  It was really a fantastic weekend!  I am thankful for their safe trip here and safe return back to NY as well.

My petitions today are simple but so necessary. I pray for those who are out in the cold with no home or shelter.  As beautiful as this snow is, it reminds me that there are people out there who go without.  We are blessed and I must not forget this.  I pray that God will find shelter for these people and protect them from the harsh temperatures.

What are you you thankful for today?  How can I pray for you this week?  

Mark 13-15 – Jesus’ Human Side Revealed

So, is it just me or do these 3 chapters have your head spinning?  There is so much happening here from Jesus sharing the future coming with his disciples, to the Passover Supper, the betrayal and the death on the cross.  So many emotions in Jesus and his disciples.  So much to take in and understand for those disciples.  So much faith was needed.

And Jesus…  In chapter 14, we get to see a very human side of Jesus.  Let’s remember that Jesus knew all along what his fate was.  He knew he was born to die a horrible death, in order to be the sacrificial lamb for all of mankind.  He knew that his mission and ministry ended on the cross.  Yet, in these last hours, he shows us an emotional, very human side.  Verse 34 says, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.”  Verse 36 continues with Jesus in prayer.  Jesus says, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you.  Please take this cup of suffering away from me.  Yet, I want your will, not mine.”

In his final moments before he is betrayed, he reaches out to his Father in heaven and asks him to spare the death that is coming for him, but only if it is his will.  And while we know God can do anything, he did not spare his son of the suffering.  While this seems awful, it is what has saved each of us and it is what has given us a place in heaven with Jesus.  Thank you Jesus for dying for us.  Thank you God for sending us your son and for knowing what is best, even when we can’t see it.

I recall praying a similar prayer when my son was ill.  He had brain cancer.  From diagnosis to death it was only 30 days.  I think it was 2 days before he died, I realized that he was not going to make it much longer.  I remember so vividly standing in his hospital room hugging my husband.  We prayed for a miracle.  However, we also realized that God’s will may not be our will.  We also prayed for strength to endure what was coming.  It was one of the most difficult prayers I have prayed.

When I read that Jesus also prayed this same prayer, to spare him from the suffering and death, but only if it was God’s will, it made me feel good inside.  Good isn’t really the right word here, but I can’t name the feeling at the moment.  How many times do we pray for something and get angry, upset, mad or frustrated when we don’t get what we prayed for?  Yet, even Jesus did not get what he prayed for.  What makes us think we are better than Jesus?  He sacrificed himself for us and yet, he did not get his last prayer request.  He knew he wouldn’t be spared, yet he still prayed that prayer.  I have to wonder if he did that to show us, about 2,000 years later, that we need to trust in God’s plan whether we understand it or not.

Thinking back to that dark, quiet night in the hospital room almost 8 years ago, God did answer my prayer.  He did not send me a miracle and save my son from cancer, but he gave me and my husband a strength we never knew we had.  He carried us through those dark days and continues to do so today.  Your prayers may not be answered in the way you think they should be, but when you sit and reflect on them, you may realize they have been answered in another way.

Think of a time when you prayed for something and something else came out of it.  Can you share with us?  How did you feel at the time?  How do you feel now, looking back at the situation?  I think a prayer journal would be a great way to illustrate these situations. I just may need to start one!

Friday – Mark 13
Saturday – Mark 14
Sunday – Mark 15
Monday – Reflection
Tuesday – Praises & Petitions

Blessings my friends!

Erin

Week 3 – Mark 11-12

Wednesday – Chapter 11
Thursday – Chapter 12
Friday – Chapter 13
Saturday – Chapter 14
Sunday – Chapter 15
Monday – Reflection
Tuesday – Praises & Petitions

Well, these two chapters, Mark 11 & 12 really have me thinking about many different things in so many directions.  I am going to do my best to make some sense of it for you.

Chapter 11 begins with Jesus and his disciples entering Jerusalem.  The Palm Sunday Celebration we are so familiar with.  He sends for the colt to ride into the city on.  People lay down their cloaks and wave branches praising him as he rides by.  Here are some of my questions.  How did the people know he was coming?  They were lining the streets like a parade.  Who told them to wait for him?

The chapter goes on to explain that after the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus has a few ugly moments.  I know, it’s hard to believe!  We learn that Jesus was hungry and goes for a fig off of a fig tree.  The tree has no fruit on it and Jesus curses the tree forever.  Wow!  That’s dramatic, huh?  Then, he enters the temple and drove out all of the merchants, turning tables over and becoming very angry.  I can’t help but wonder if he was becoming nervous or anxious, knowing what was coming in just days.  This wasn’t the normal reaction or behavior of Jesus. I’ve always pictured him as calm, cool and collected.  Certainly not emotional, dramatic and angry!

Jesus shares with the disciples that they can do anything if they truly have faith in God.  We have heard this.  We know this.  What I don’t ever remember reading or hearing in connection to this statement is verse 24-25.  “You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it.  But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

When I read this, I felt a wave of emotion come over me.  I have to forgive and let go of all my grudges.  Wow.  I do recall that God wants us to forgive and let go, but I don’t recall it being in connection with your prayer requests.  Basically, God is saying to cleanse yourself of negativity before you ask me for your petitions.  Very powerful.  Now, I don’t have many grudges, but I do have a couple.  It’s not that I don’t want to let them go, I really don’t know how to.  I pray about it and I try to forgive, but then something small happens and I am all worked up all over again and all of the past feelings come pouring through again.   So, how do I let go of the grudge?  I guess that is going to be something I work on diligently.

How do you feel about verses 24-25?  Is this new to you also?  How are you planning to let go of your grudges?

In chapter 12, I’d like to talk about verses 30-31.  It is ironic in a way.  I am currently reading a book called “Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry” by Doug Fields.  I am preparing to begin a youth ministry in our church.  Anyway, Doug Fields used these verses in talking about ministry work, specifically youth ministry.

He shares how to stay Spiritually Fresh.  Ministering to others is good work, but it does not strengthen your relationship with God on it’s own.  Your relationship with God needs time separate from ministry.  He says faithfulness in the first command of loving God first with your whole heart and soul, results in  obedience to the second command of loving your neighbor as yourself.

It is very easy to get wrapped up in “good works” and ministries and forget to feed your own spiritual soul.  God loves you and wants to spend time with you, so that you can spend time with others and share  his blessings. Isn’t it true that when we over schedule ourselves, even if it is in ministry, that we become frazzled and stressed out?  This is not God’s intention.  Let us remember how Jesus ministered to thousands of people all the time, yet he never forgot to stop and be alone with God, the Father.

Share with us how you feed your spiritual soul?  What are some ways to keep your heart healthy with God?

Each morning, I listen to praise music on my way to work.  When I arrive at school, I kneel at the alter in the sanctuary with my daughter and we pray.  It is just for few moments, but we start everyday with prayer.  I minister as I teach all day long, so I need that start of the day peaceful prayer.  In the evenings, I read devotions and verses with my girls and we talk about them.  After they are in bed, I read the bible and reflect on it. Sometimes, I discuss it with my husband.  I also write about it here on my blog a few times per week.  Before bed, I pray once more, thanking God for another day.  That is a typical day for me.

I am going to challenge myself to try some new things to keep my heart and soul fresh!  I challenge you to do the same.  Here is a list of ideas that I got from Doug Fields book, mentioned above.  (p76)

  • Journal about a meaningful bible passage.  How does it connect to your life?
  • Meditate on a single verse or phrase and consider what it means to you today.
  • Seek extended solitude. Be still and listen to God.  Don’t pray.  Simply be quiet and write down what comes into your mind.
  • Pray through a passage of Scripture, personalizing it for yourself or a loved one.
  • Journal about your life.  Examine yesterday’s actions.  Did you miss what God may have been trying to teach you?
  • If your bible reading plan has become stagnant, replace it with a devotional book or a commentary.
  • Read a large portion of the bible quickly. Don’t stop to think about every verse.  Treat it like story.
  • Read a small portion of God’s Word and digest each verse.
  • Write your prayers in a prayer journal.
  • Read from a translation or paraphrase that you haven’t read before.
  • Write down life lessons you’ve learned recently.  For example, what you’ve learned over the past month.
  • Listen to Christian music and meditate on the lyrics.

I hope that you can try some of these ideas and maybe share some of your own in the comments below.  Blessings my friends!  Have a great week.

Erin

Praises & Petitions Week 2

Hi Everyone!  I hope you are finding peace in the readings of Mark.  I have been enjoying the stories with a new perspective!  Today is all about prayer.  Share with us your praises of the week and also any needs you may have right now.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for my husband.  He works hard every single day to provide for us and never complains.  He helps out with the house and the children whenever he is able and he is just so good to me and our children.  I can only hope and pray that one day, our girls will find a husband as good as their dad!  Thank you God for my husband.  Please keep him safe as he will soon be traveling to a conference.  You know my anxieties when my husband travels. Please help me to trust in you while he is away.

Also Lord, bring peace to our pastor’s family.  They have recently lost a family member and are grieving.  Help us minister to them as they minister to so many others everyday.

Thank you Lord for all of your blessings that you pour out onto us everyday.

Amen

Mark 8-10

Friday – Chapter 8
Saturday – Chapter 9
Sunday – Chapter 10
Monday – Reflection
Tuesday – Praises & Petitions

“The miracles of Jesus were the ordinary works of his father, wrought small and swift that we might take them in.”  – George MacDonald, 19th century Scottish minister and writer

Chapters 8-10 cover many of Jesus’ miracles as he traveled around with his disciples.  He fed thousands, again, with only a few loaves of bread and some fish, he brought sight to the blind, cast demons out of children, made the deaf hear, and more.  During his journey, he talked with his disciples about what was coming.  He predicted his own death and resurrection, multiple times.  His disciples did not understand what it all meant.  They did not like hearing about his death and they couldn’t wrap their heads around rising from the dead.  They were a little frightened and anxious.  Wouldn’t you be?

Jesus knew his time was limited.  He was trying to give his disciples information to help them when he was arrested and crucified.  He was teaching them how to follow him when he wasn’t present.  They didn’t get it.  Would you get it?

Jesus also gave many people indications on how to obtain eternal life.  Have faith like a child, serve others and put yourself last, sell all of your belongings and follow Jesus.  He was in fact leaving his wisdom with his followers so that they could continue the ministry he had started.

These chapters cover miracles, the prediction of Jesus’ death and resurrection, marriage and divorce, children, faith, wealth and eternal life.  That is a tremendous amount of information to digest, don’t you think?

So, in my own reflection of these difficult topics, one thing stuck out to me.  In chapter 8, Jesus feeds 4,000 people again with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish.  His disciples, again, were questioning how there would be enough food.  Remember that not long ago, (in chapter 6), Jesus fed 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and had 12 full baskets left over.  So, in my mind, the disciples have witnessed the power of Jesus and have witnessed specifically his miracle of producing enough food.  Why then were they concerned?  This happened again when they all left on a boat to cross the lake.  The disciples did not bring any food and found just 1 loaf of bread.  They were worried and Jesus again said to them, “Why are you so worried about having no food?  Won’t you ever learn or understand?” (Mark 8:17b)

I don’t know.  I think if I were Jesus and my disciples were acting like this, I would be pretty annoyed!  I mean he proved to them over and over what the Holy Spirit could do and they still worried and questioned.

Now, bringing this to today, aren’t we just like the disciples?  Here we are reading about these miracles, learning about them since we were young some of us, and as we read, we say, “Yes!  We believe!  We know Jesus can do anything!’  Then, we go to work the next day and….. worry.  Worry about our job, our mortgage, our home, our children, our parents, our friends, money, our church, illnesses, school, cars, etc.  The worrying never stops.

Aren’t we acting just like the disciples?  Shouldn’t we know better?  And, we have hindsight, which they did not have!  We know where this story goes.  We know that Jesus sacrifices his life for us an rises from the dead for us.  So, what are we worrying about, really?  I will need to remind myself of this next time I start worrying!

Let’s do this.  Think  of something that is weighing on you now or has been recently.  Let’s let it go together.  Share it in the comments section below and ask God to take the worry away from you.  We know that we don’t need to worry, it is our human nature.   It is not what God wants for us.

My recent worry is my job, which I love.  I am teaching kindergarten right now.  Next year, I will be teaching a kindergarten/first grade combo class.  I am extremely excited about this, but I am also nervous. Can I do it?  Will I find the time I need to prepare and implement everything that needs attention?  Will I still be able to make it fun for the children?

God, please take my worries.  I know you have placed me in this school for a reason and I trust in your plan.  I will take one step at a time to prepare myself for your work in this school and I will embrace the changes that lie ahead with confidence in you!
Amen

So, what are your worries?  How can we help you give them to God?