Tuesday Morning: 30 Apr 2019 – Mark 4:21-41 ~ Kingdom Revelations and Authority

Tuesday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for Peace – Tuesday)

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Mark 4:21-41 (NLT)

Parable of the Lamp

Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.”

Parable of the Growing Seed

Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

Parable of the Mustard Seed

Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand. In fact, in his public ministry he never taught without using parables; but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them.

Jesus Calms the Storm

As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
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Morning Reflection:

“Pay close attention to what you hear.
The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given
—and you will receive even more.” – Mark 4:24

 So what are we to make of Jesus’ Kingdom revelations?

+ The Lamp: The kingdom of God, as embodied in Jesus’ Person and ministry, was now a veiled revelation to those without, but He intended that later it should receive a glorious manifestation through the ministry of His followers.
+ The Growing Seed: Growth of the believing community would increase, though no one could really explain why it was growing except that God was responsible for it. Eventually there would be a harvest of the crop when God, the ultimate sower, saw that the time was right.
+ The Mustard Seed: When Jesus came declaring that the Kingdom of God was at hand, He planted the seed. That beginning was very inauspicious. Nevertheless, Jesus assures the disciples that the Kingdom of God would one day be impressively large.
+ The Storm: Jesus demonstrates his Kingdom power over nature. He is Lord over all of creation. Faith overcomes fear.

Questions for consideration: Re-read these Kingdom stories and ask the Holy Spirit to apply them to your personal circumstances.

  • Which one of these stories do you find most encouraging? Please explain.
  • Can you think of examples of how one or more of these stories have played out in your memory? Please explain.
  • In your present situation, where do you need Jesus to exercise his authority over creation? What storm do you need Jesus to calm? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Prayer for those who are doing the persecuting:

Merciful God: Open the eyes and soften the hearts of the people who have brought unfathomable suffering and abuse upon Christians, especially those who have perpetrated the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka. Remind us again that you sent your Son to save the whole world, and that you don’t want anyone – even these people – to perish.  I ask this in Jesus’ name, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

My prayer:

Lord Jesus: Give me eyes to see and ears to hear – that I might understand the workings of your Kingdom all around me. May I value the slow and steady growth produced by faithfulness to your Word. Show me the potential of small beginnings and give me the faith and vision to discern what they can become. And when I am afraid, still the storms raging within me that I might persevere in faith, hope, and love. All to the glory of your name, and the advance of your Kingdom. Amen.
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“Kingdom Come” – Darlene Zschech

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Monday Morning: 29 Apr 2019 – Mark 4:1-20 ~ understanding the secret of the Kingdom of God

Monday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for the Renewal of Life – Monday)

O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Mark 4:1-20 (NLT)

Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed

Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore. He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant.

He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:

‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.’”

Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 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. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, 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. 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!”
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Morning Reflection:

Insiders and Outsiders

“You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God.
But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders.
– Mark 4:10

In today’s reading, Jesus draws a distinction between those who accept his teaching (insiders) and those who reject it (outsiders).

+ The “insiders” are given new revelations about the coming messianic kingdom in parables which the Holy Spirit enables them to understand.
+ The “outsiders” remain clueless – unable to comprehend the parables and the significance of what is happening in right front of their eyes.

God uses revelation to enlighten the receptive, and befuddle the unreceptive.

Questions for consideration:

Please re-read Jesus’ explanation of the parable and consider the types of soil –

  • The Footpath: Have you ever heard and not understood? What was Satan’s role in this? Do you know others who are in this situation? Please explain.
  • The Rocky Soil: Have you ever been excited about something you heard, but never followed up? Can you think of ways that you can become more “rooted” in God’s word? Please explain.
  • The Thorns: What are some of the worries or desires, that crowd out God’s word in your life? How do you decide on your priorities? What influences your decision-making? Please explain.
  • The Good Soil: What sort of harvest (good fruit) is God producing in your life, e.g. love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? How have you influenced others to receive and believe the Good News of the Kingdom of God? Please explain.
  • Do you consider yourself an “insider” or “outsider”? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Prayer for Christians in the midst of persecution:

Heavenly Father: I pray for Christians suffering persecution and hardship because of their faith. Meet them in their deepest sorrow and comfort them. Strengthen them in faith that they may continue to follow you, and empower them with your Spirit to respond in love to the evil shown by their persecutors – that doors will open to share the Good News of your Kingdom. I ask this in Jesus’ name, who lives and reigns with you in unity with the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

My Prayer:

Heavenly Father: I am receptive and do want to understand the revelation of your Kingdom and its presence in and around me. Please forgive me when I miss your clear teaching altogether; when I fail to follow through on what I do understand; when I let other things take precedence over seeking your Kingdom. Produce in me the good fruit of your Spirit that I might influence others to follow Jesus. All to the glory of your name. Amen.
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“Kingdom Come” – Covenant Worship

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

2nd Sunday of Easter, 28 April 2019: Revelation 1:9-19, John 20:19-31 ~ believing in him you will have life

The Second Sunday of Easter

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Opening Prayer:

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that we who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may demonstrate in our lives what we profess by our faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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“Revelation Song” – Kari Jobe

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A Reading from the Letters: Revelation 1:9-19 (NLT)

Vision of the Son of Man

I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God’s Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and for my testimony about Jesus. It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast. It said, “Write in a book everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.

“Write down what you have seen—both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen….”
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A Reading from the Gospels: John 20:19-31 (NLT)

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Purpose of the Book

The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.
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Intercession:

God our strength and our life: You give hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless, through the resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ. Hear us as we pray –

+ That your people may grow in unity of faith, hope, and love….
+ That leaders of your people may rely on you for wisdom and sound judgement….
+ That all believers may have life to the full, through the power of Jesus….
+ That doubters may be persuaded by the strong faith of believers….
+ That any divisions among us may be overcome….
+ That those in need may experience friendship and practical care….
+ That believers suffering persecution may be protected and delivered from evil….

God our strength, the resurrection of Jesus renews our hope: hear our prayers and help us, we ask, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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“Not Afraid” – Jesus Culture

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Benediction: Revelation 1:5-6

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Saturday Morning: 27 Apr 2019 – Mark 3:13-35 ~ Jesus’ New Family

Saturday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for Sabbath Rest – Saturday)

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and set aside a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared to meet you in worship, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Mark 3:13-35 (NLT)

Jesus Chooses the Twelve Apostles

Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, giving them authority to cast out demons. These are the twelve he chose:

Simon (whom he named Peter), James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).

Jesus and the Prince of Demons

One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.

But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”

Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

“I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” He told them this because they were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.”

The True Family of Jesus

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.”

Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
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Morning Reflection:

Jesus’ New Family

If we look at these three stories together, a common theme emerges – Jesus is beginning to surround himself with a new family of faith. A few things are noteworthy –

Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and
called out the ones he wanted to go with him.
And they came to him.
– Mark 3:13

+ Jesus chose “the twelve” he wanted to go with him, and they responded in faith by following him. Jesus’ new family of faith is beginning to take shape.
+ Jesus gives them special authority for ministry – beginning their training to carry on his ministry of preaching, teaching , and healing.

When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away.
“He’s out of his mind,” they said.
– Mark 3:21

+ Jesus’ natural family doesn’t understand who Jesus is, and what the Holy Spirit has empowered him to do. They are becoming a hindrance to him.
+ Jesus remarks that “a family splintered by feuding will fall apart,” in response to the religious leaders’ questioning his authority.
+ Jesus’ new family is shaped by faith and unified by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”
Then he looked at those around him and said,
“Look, these are my mother and brothers.
Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.
– Mark 3:33-35

+ Jesus’ new family of faith takes priority over his natural family.
+ Jesus’ new family of faith is open to anyone who does God’s will, i.e. who believes in Jesus and follows as he leads.

Questions for consideration:

  • Do you believe that you chose Jesus, or that Jesus chose you? Is there a difference? Please explain.
  • Do you believe that Jesus’ authority has been given to you, or only to a special few chosen for leadership? Please explain.
  • Have you ever been involved in a family of faith that was torn apart by feuding? What was your role? How did it turn out? Please explain.
  • Have you ever had to chose between your natural family and your spiritual family? Did you suffer for it? How did it turn out? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Prayer for the practical needs of persecuted believers:

Heavenly Father, our provider and sustainer: Attend to the needs of your family suffering great hardship and persecution, especially –

+ That they would have access to a Bible…
+ That they would have the courage to remain in their homeland…
+ That those rejected by their family and friends would be welcomed into your family where they are loved and supported emotionally and physically…
+ That socially vulnerable women and those who have lost custody of their children would be protected and their children returned…
+ That those who are destitute would find jobs and safe places to live…

Heavenly Father, you know each one of your children by name: Have mercy on them and attend to their needs. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

My Prayer:

Heavenly Father: It’s my heart’s desire to do your will by believing in your Son Jesus Christ and following him as he leads. Thank you for including me in your family of faith. Please forgive my insubordination – either witting, or unwitting – and help me to trust you in all things. Grant me the authority that I need to carry on the ministry that you have given me. And open my eyes to new opportunities to be a bearer of the Good News of your Kingdom. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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“Who You Say I Am” – Hillsong Worship

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Friday Morning: 26 Apr 2019 – Mark 3:1-12 ~ vast numbers of people came to see him

Friday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for Endurance – Friday)

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Mark 3:1-12 (NLT)

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.

Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.

He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.

Crowds Follow Jesus

Jesus went out to the lake with his disciples, and a large crowd followed him. They came from all over Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far north as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him.

Jesus instructed his disciples to have a boat ready so the crowd would not crush him. He had healed many people that day, so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him. And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” But Jesus sternly commanded the spirits not to reveal who he was.
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Morning Reflection:

“The news about his miracles had spread far and wide,
and vast numbers of people came to see him.”
– Mark3:8b

The contrast between the two responses to Jesus’ healing ministry is striking. In the first, the religious leaders respond by plotting to kill him. In the second, huge crowds of sick people flock to him for healing.

+ The Religious Leaders: They opposed Jesus because he posed a threat to their power and authority. They could have just ignored him; instead, they plotted to kill him.
+ The Huge Crowds: Sick people flocked to him to receive the physical benefits of his healing ministry. But they don’t seem to have much interest in worshiping him as “Son of God”, or “Son of Man.”

He had healed many people that day,
so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him.

– Mark 3:10

Questions for consideration:

  • When you think of religious leaders, who comes to mind? Do you think that Jesus would be a threat to their authority? Please explain.
  • What power and authority do you have in your own life? Do you feel threatened by Jesus? Please explain.
  • In reading the Gospels, we frequently run into people who flock to Jesus because of what he can do for them, but have no interest in following him, especially when it becomes costly. Can you identify with them in any way? Please explain.
  • Jesus was amazingly gracious to all who came to him for healing. Have you ever received God’s mercy and grace in your life, in spite of being driven by need rather than devotion? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Prayer for world leaders to fight against Christian persecution:

Sovereign Lord: All authority vested in governance comes from you and is accountable to you. Stir the hearts of every world leader to carry out their responsibilities justly and peacefully with special attention to Christians who are defenseless, in need of protection. Give them the wisdom to enact the necessary policies and procedures to make a lasting, global difference. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

My Prayer:

Lord Jesus: Search my heart and forgive my selfish motives in coming to you. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me, that I might relinquish my control and willingly follow your leading, whether I understand it or not. On the other hand, give me wisdom and sound judgement that I might use the resources you have given me to advance your Kingdom purpose – to be a light to the nations and a source of help, healing, and hope. In your name I ask it. Amen.
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“Wonderful Merciful Savior” – Selah

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen