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Bible Challenge – James 2

September 14, 2010 2 comments

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that faith save anyone?” James 2:14

Don’t talk about IT, BE about IT! This has been a phrase that has been piercing my heart all summer.  Let’s face it, it’s easy to say that we are Christians, but it a whole different thing when we try to live out the things we say we believe.

Growing up as a kid, I was taught this phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.” If we were to pause for a moment and think about what our actions are saying, it might scare us. Many times, good or bad, we are labeled by our actions. When our words and actions align these labels tend to be positive. However, if our words and our actions conflict, these labels tend to be negative.

I’m wrestling with this thought but I think there is a lot of truth to it, many times our words reveal the intentions of our heart, but our actions reveal the meditation of our heart! It’s a powerful thing when our words and our actions actions align with our Faith in Christ Jesus. Don’t be fooled, people are watching! They are comparing the things we say with the way we live and they are more likely to listen to us when they see our words and actions don’t conflict.

So here is the challenge for today, let’s put our faith in action.  Let’s show the people around us what it means to have a relationship with Christ not just by the things we say, but by things we do. Don’t just talk about IT, BE about IT!

Father today, help us to live out the things we say we believe. When the temptation comes to do something that is in opposition of what we believe, empower us to resist that temptation. Let our actions speak louder than our words so that you can receive all the glory and others can see the difference you are making in our lives.

“Preach the gospel always, If necessary use words.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi.

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Mark 6:7-13

February 23, 2010 Leave a comment

“And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil[a] spirits.” v. 7 (NLT)

The Disciples were sent out in pairs.  Individually they could have reached more areas of the country, but this was not Christ’s plan.  The advantages in going out by twos include:

  1. They could strengthen each other.
  2. They could provide comfort in rejection.
  3. They could give each other discernment, and fewer mistakes would be made.
  4. They could stir each other to action as a counter to idleness or indifference.

Our strength comes from God, but He meets many of our needs through teamwork with others.  As you serve Christ, don;t try it alone.  – NLT Life Application Study Bible

Today: Who are you teaming with to share Christ with others?  Do you have someone that you can stack hands with so these 4 things can happen in your life?

Prayer: Father, you have called us to be light in dark places, to share the hope of the Gospel with love and compassion.  But for some reason fear gets the best of us.  We fear what they might say, or what they might ask that we can’t answer.  Help us not to fear, but to trust that you will guide us and give us the power we need at the appropriate time,  whether it’s sharing with someone who is open to you and we are received with love, or sharing with someone who is closed to you and rejects you and persecutes us with words or action.  Regardless of the outcome, let us go with Boldness and Power that comes from you through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Mark 6:1-6

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” v.4 (NLT)

Jesus understands rejection, ridicule, and disappointment.  Sometimes the hardest people to share the Truth of the Gospel with are the people that are closest to us.  I find it interesting that the people were amazed by His teaching and the power He had to perform miracles, but when they started talking about who He was and where He came from they started to scoff, discredit, and reject the things He was saying.

Here is the lesson for us.  The Gospel is powerful, it can change the hardest heart, but sometimes people will reject it and the messenger that brings it.  If Jesus experienced this, why should we think that it can’t happen to us.  Here are four reasons I think this happens

  • People are afraid of the things they cant explain! (fear)
  • People are comfortable in the here and now! (complacency)
  • People think they are ok! (pride)
  • People don’t want to deal with their stuff (guilt)

I am sure there are way more reasons that people have to not accepting the the Gospel, but these are ones that I hear more than others.  Remember, our job is not to change them, our job is to share Christ with them.  The way that they respond, is up to them.

Today: Are you sharing the Gospel with the people that are closest to you?  Have you experienced some rejection?  If so, it’s ok, even Jesus was rejected by those that knew Him the most!

Prayer: Father help rest in the Good News, knowing that it has the power to transform the softest and hardest heart.  Help us to share your truth with the people that are closest to us.  Help us to love them unconditionally regardless of how they respond to the Gospel.  Let us not seek their approval or their applause but, let us seek to please you, for you have done great things for us.  Let us experience your power and your peace as we boldly proclaim your truth and your love for us!  Advance your Kingdom through us!

Mark 5:21-42

February 16, 2010 Leave a comment

“Don’t be afraid. Just have faith!” v. 36 (NLT)

In this passage we see fear expressed in two similar but different ways.  Both however reveal that Jesus has the power over life and death.

  • The woman was fearful that her condition disqualified her from meeting Jesus.  She desperately wanted Jesus to heal her, but she knew that her bleeding would cause Him to be unclean under Jewish law if she touched him.  Therefore she tried the sneak attack!  She believed if she could just touch Him, she would be healed … and she was.  Sometimes we feel that our problems will keep us from God.  Our shame, our situation, or what others might think, say, or do, keeps us trapped from experiencing the Life Changing Power of Jesus. The good news is that He is always ready to help, no matter how impossible the problem seems to us.  We should never allow our fear to keep us from approaching Him!
  • Jairus was fearful that it was too late.  He had sought Jesus, but now he’s just gotten word that his daughter is dead.  In the midst of confusion, anger,  mourning and serious crisis, Jesus says these powerful words, Don’t be afraid. Just have faith! These words speak to us today.  These words bring both hope and promise. The next time we feel hopeless and afraid, we need to remember these words and let them go deep into our heart. The situation we are facing may be intense, but Jesus can calm our fears and help us through any situation.

Today, where do you need to experience Jesus? Is there something that you are holding back in fear?  Maybe its fear or maybe its shame, whatever it is, Jesus can bring healing to that situation if you will seek Him.

Prayer: Father, we need you in every situation.  Help us not to hide in the crowd!  When things get intense, help us to not be afraid but to trust you completely.  Increase our faith, so we can experience the miracle! In our darkest hour let us remember that you never let go!

Mark 5:1-20

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

“When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. 7 With a shriek, he screamed, ‘Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!’ 8 For Jesus had already said to the spirit, ‘Come out of the man, you evil spirit.‘” v. 6-8 (NLT)

There is a powerful and interesting thing that happens when people meet Jesus.  This particular encounter is one of my favorites because it shows the Radical Life Changing power of Jesus.  This man, a social outcast, who cannot be restrained by chains any longer, walks around the burial caves and hills howling and cutting himself.  This guy was scary, I don’t see him being invited to many social gatherings.

However, this man has an encounter with Jesus!  Jesus looks beyond the physical and see the spiritual and transforms this man from the inside out.  The people didn’t know how to respond to this.  In, fact:

“the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.”  v. 17 (NLT)

It’s interesting to me that people respond to Jesus in such different ways.  Many times people, hear about Jesus, see how He changes others from the inside out, but still want nothing to do with Him.  While others respond to what they have heard and seen and are willing to allow Him to change them from the inside out.

Today, how do you respond to Jesus? Are you letting Him transform you from the inside out?

Prayer: Father, help us see the spiritual not only the physical.  Help us to see our need for you first, so we can see how much others need you also.  Let us respond in faith, instead of fear so we can experience the radical life changing power of Jesus. Let our story and life be a testimony so others can see the power of Jesus and be open to what He could do in theirs also!

Mark 4:35-41

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

“Then he asked them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?‘” v. 40 (NLT)

The Storm!  Probably one of the most intense experiences the Disciples had with Jesus.  They were fearful for their life! They had done all they could, the boat was taking on water and Jesus was sleeping as if they were on a peaceful boat ride.  In a panic they woke Him!  Calmly Jesus stands up and say’s, “Silence! Be Still!” Suddenly the wind stopped and the waves calmed.  Then he asked “The Question.”

Fear is a real thing.  It can challenge our beliefs, sideline us from trying something new, or paralyze us from stepping out in Faith.  In Fact, Fear is the total opposite of Faith.

Storms will come and go.  Some will be more intense than others.  But how we respond to these storms is important.  Fear will be our natural response.  It causes us to internalize the situation, causing us to look for immediate answers, or a quick fixes.  Faith however, causes us to focus on Jesus instead of the storm.  It allows us to look outside ourselves, develops our character, opens our life to experience a miracle and the peace of God. Jesus can make a difference no matter how weak or fierce the storm you are facing is! The question is, are you stepping back in fear or stepping out in faith?

Today, what storm do you need to put faith in Jesus?

Prayer: Father, I admit, sometimes I step back in fear, instead of stepping out in faith.  I know that you have the power to handle any storm that comes my way.  Even if I don’t understand why things happen the way they do, let me trust you with each situation, the good and the bad.  Grow my Faith and develop my character, so the storms become smaller and smaller now matter how intense they are.

Mark 4:13-20

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? 14 The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. 15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. 16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 17 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, 19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. 20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”  v. 13-20 (NLT)

We all respond to Truth differently.  In this passage Jesus uses a word picture of a farmer planting seed to help explain what takes place in peoples heart when they hear the Gospel.  The way we respond is an indication of what type of heart we have when we hear that truth.

  • The footpath = a HARD HEART
    Sometimes we hear truth and before it can penetrate our heart we move on to something else. However, sometimes we hear the truth and reject it completely.  Either way, we have made a choice to not respond to the truth and allow it to begin it to take root in our heart.
  • The rocky soil = a SHALLOW HEART
    Sometimes we respond to the truth with much excitement, but then lose that excitement when things get difficult or the newness begins to wear off.  We lack the discipline of taking care of that truth that has been planted in our heart.
  • The thorny soil = a CROWDED HEART
    Sometimes we respond to the truth excitement, develop some disciplines to take care of the truth, but when it comes time for others to see the truth that we have, we let their opinions or our fear keep that truth trapped inside us.  When we do this, we let other things crowd out the truth and keeps that truth from producing fruit and naturally planting more seed around us.
  • The good soil = a SOFT HEART
    Sometimes we respond to the truth with excitement, develop some disciplines to take care of the truth, share that truth with others around us, and then we get to see that truth begin to take root in another persons life. When we do this, we allow God to use us in a powerful way!

Notice that all of these soils/hearts had the same seed/truth given to them.  The difference was how they responded to that truth.

Today, how do you respond to truth? I don’t know about you, but I want to have a soft heart that allows others to see the truth and then experience it themselves.  Will you join me?

Prayer: Father, I want to have a soft heart and receive the truth in away that it changes me and has the opportunity to change the lives of the people around me.  Help me to have a disciplined life that protects and allows that that truth to be deeply rooted in my heart.  Help me to not let fear, or the crowd around me keep me from sharing the truth that I have received.