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

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