Difficult Verses: Mark 9:35

One of the advantages of having a Bible reading plan is that you don’t only read the “greatest hits of scripture,” but also encounter passages that are downright difficult. Here’s something I’ve noticed about Scripture over the years. For every Philippians 4:13 and John 3:16 there are verses that are highly challenging. In fact, sometimes we flat out what to ignore these verses. This may be because they go against our culture, seem strange to us, or are just simply incredibly difficult to live out. Over the next few weeks I want us to dig into some of these difficult verses. 

And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35

This verse may seem innocuous at first, but lets really think about it. If you truly want to be a follower of Christ then Jesus is commanding that you a) count yourself less than everyone else and b) be willing to serve everyone else. Jesus is not only asking us to serve those that we are comfortable serving (i.e. people that are like us), but to be ready to serve ALL people. Think about that for a moment. Are you really willing to serve ALL people? Are you willing to serve people who differ politically from who, have made poor and sinful choices, have wronged you, have committed crimes, etc.? This may seem easy to do, but when push comes to shove many of us are more than hesitant to truly serve the least and the lost. 

Let me be vulnerable for a moment. When I moved to rural Iowa to serve as an outreach pastor I thought I had a really open mind and heart. However, I soon found that to be far from true. While I enjoyed helping people like me (educated, middle class, and white), I struggled to help the least of our community (poor, often seemingly unwilling to work, recently imprisoned, etc.). I looked at many of them and thought “they’ve gotten themselves into this situation, and they can get themselves out.” However, that’s not how Jesus sees it. Jesus wants us to be part of the solution in helping the least and the lost emerge from the mire they are stuck in. This doesn’t mean we have to be ok with their sins and poor decisions. On the contrary, we are to help them change those behaviors so that they become disciples of Christ. 

In closing today I am reminded of the Great Commission. There Jesus tells us not to simply share about Him, or to do a good act here and there. Rather, He instructs us to make disciples. He urges us to help people become who God has made them to be. Who in your life represents the least and the lost? What can YOU be doing to disciple them? 

True Manhood Part 3

Philippians 2:9 New International Version (NIV)

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,

In true manhood, if you are not serving others like Jesus, you are not walking in Biblical manhood. It is hard and uncomfortable to serve others like Jesus did. It is called sacrifice. The world says leadership amounts to privilege. The Biblical vision of leadership is sacrifice.

Often times we want rewards for our sacrifice. We want to be esteemed in what we did for others. We could never give in to the thought of our sacrifice of being stripped of our dignity, placed on a cross for all to see, and mocked.

Our God sent his Son as a Sacrifice of true manhood. As a matter of fact, every knee will bow in heaven and on earth to Jesus.

You see, true manhood is not afraid to kneel before god, come before God in humility, and ask how to live a life of true manhood that honors God.

True manhood also confesses that Jesus is Christ the Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:11). When you confess your failures, sins, and weaknesses, Jesus makes you stronger.

True manhood does not stop you from calling out to Jesus. It does not let pride stop you from kneeling. Jesus is elevated to the place of honor, and we bow before him.

True manhood lets your wife and children see you kneel before Christ the Lord.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Good Father

Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NASB) ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord , ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord , ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the L ord , ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’ 

This past week, this passage has served as powerful reassurance.  It is reassurance of God’s desire to restore all aspects of my life.  It is a statement of His love and unwavering affection as the ultimate Father.  It is God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “if you seek Me out, I will be here and available to you entirely.  If you pursue Me, with the entirety of your heart, I will not leave you to your afflictions.  If you call on Me, I will answer you and bring you back from physical, emotional and spiritual doom.”  This is what He desires more than anything.  He desires to have us desire to draw close to Him, you lean on Him for everything.  He desires to provide us with all that we need, as the great  and loving Father He is.  We merely have to desire to ask Him, then let Him!  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Stumbling Blocks

A few times this past week, I encountered several obstacles in the road as I traveled the daily highways of life.  Not counting dead animals, I had to swerve around large concrete chunks, potholes, and several pieces of truck tire.  I got stopped behind someone on a roundabout who didn’t understand how to use it as traffic got backed up behind them.  You never know what you may find as you drive through Iowa.  There are many times I’ve had to slow down or drive around deer, cattle, and others animals as well.  What do you do when you encounter obstacles like this?  You could say ‘I have the right to be here more than they do’ and just drive through them, while putting yourself and your vehicle in danger.  You could just drive around them and hope nobody else runs into them.  You could stop and remove the obstacle from the road if you don’t put yourself or others in danger doing so.  I’ve done all of these at different times, but any decision has risks and rewards.  How do you deal with life’s obstacles?

It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.  Romans 14:21

I saw someone post a question this past week about a scenario they encountered.  They had a relative staying with them for a couple days who was a recovering alcoholic.  They were questioning whether they had the right to have a drink (of alcohol), despite the fact that this person was staying with them during this time.  The (not necessarily Christian) consensus was to ‘suck it up’ for a couple days and put the other person’s needs above their own desires.  As Christians, this should be a no-brainer, but do we ever act in ways that put our own preferences and desires above the needs of someone with less will-power or faith than us?  What stumbling blocks have we not only left for others, but because of our actions or inaction, actually placed in front of others in their walks?  We might feel justified in everything we do, but does that make it always the right or best thing to do? 

Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  1 Corinthians 1:22-24

In this passage, we are reminded that God’s way of doing things is often counter to what we would do or expect.  Were there any stumbling blocks or issues that initially kept you from understanding and receiving Christ as your Lord?  For many, the concept that salvation is bestowed on us by grace through faith is counter to our tendency to have to earn everything we have through our own works.  None of us can earn salvation, even after we have received Christ, but there is still a tendency to keep or prove our salvation through our own good works.  None of us are perfect, but are in daily need of God’s grace and forgiveness.  Let us not demand perfection from those around us either, but offer them grace, and forgiveness, and encouragement to grow closer to the Lord.  May your life be one of guidance to those around you, leading them by hand around stumbling blocks and obstacles along the narrow path as they continue to walk toward Jesus!

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.  Romans 14:13

Yours in Christ,
Clark

5 Ways to End the Summer Slump

Every summer christians all over the world get stuck in a slump.  During the school year there is clear routine and schedules.  During the summer, all of the routine and schedule gets thrown out.  So how do you keep your relationship with Jesus healthy?

I wish every person would read through the Bible every year, go to church every week, serve using their gifts and talents every week, spend time as a family talking about what God is doing in each person, serve people everyday, tithe to a local church, and be generous as a lifestyle not just to get the tax break (however I am very grateful for that break).  I know most of you would aspire to do many of those things but won’t.  So if I could encourage you to do one thing this summer it is this…..

Pray for at least 5 min a day

Pray like this…

  1. Say out loud that God is God. He is holy, righteous, good, kind, perfect, worthy of honor, worthy of praise, or anything else that speaks to His great value.
  2. Say out loud 10 things you are grateful for.  There is nothing that sets our heart right like gratitude.  If there is someone close to you that you are struggling with, speak 3 things that you are grateful for about them
  3. Confess the places you struggle with and ask God for strength and courage to life apart from sin. It is for freedom He sets you free, and by grace that you overcome sin. 
  4. Ask God to give you 3 people to encourage today.  They might need prayer, affirmation, or just someone to ask how they are doing and really listen for an answer.  
  5. Ask God to speak to you.  Now listen with your eyes and ears.  You might see something or hear something that will fill your soul

You will be surprised how fast 5 minutes will turn in to more.  

Psalm 27:Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
    Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
    And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
14 Wait patiently for the Lord.

    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

So today… Pray. God loves you and is for you.  His is not looking to catch you in sin but to forgive and save you from it.  Approach Him as a loving Father.  If you have never known a loving father, let Him show you and heal you.  He wants you to hear His voice more than you will ever want to hear his voice.  Go pray

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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