Getting Over It

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By: Alyson Hudson

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” Mark 11:22-23

It’s hard to imagine that anyone would ask an enormous mountain to go flying into the sea. But what if the mountain was symbolic for a huge obstacle in the way of your walk with God? Perhaps the obstacle is something that you need to spiritually “get over,” like a reading disability, not being invited, a broken relationship, or a parent’s divorce.

Jesus’ answer is simple, yet profound. “Have faith in God.” If we put our faith in God, then and only then can the mountain be overcome. Often times when we face big mountains, we place our faith in the things we can see – ourselves, parents, friends, music, popularity, or test scores. But those things have no lasting power to help us conquer the obstacles we face.

If your faith is truly in God and His power, then you will have enough strength to fling those mountains right out of the way. Jesus encourages us to ask with a heart full of belief because the God who makes the mountain can also help you get over it.

Prayer: God help me to put my complete faith in You. Help me to identify the moutains in my life and give me the courage to ask and believe that I can get over them with Your help.

Journal: What is in your path that’s keeping you from becoming more like Jesus? What obstacle do you need to get over?

Dig Deeper: James 1:5-6, Matthew 21:21-22, Matthew 7:7

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Last to First

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By: Suz Wedekind and Mycah Hunter

 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:29-31 (NIV)

 I once saw a video of a middle school track meet. After most of the participants finished the race, they went back to the one runner who was last. Instead of leaving him to finish the race alone, they ran with him and cheered him on as he finished the last few hundred meters. What an amazing display of compassion! Reflecting back on such an amazing act of kindness, one question stood out to me. How much braver is the one who is last than all the ones who finished before?
We often hear phrases like: Survival of the fittest, It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and Nice guys finish last. These are common concepts that mean: Do whatever it takes to be first, successful or the best, even at the expense of others. While these ideas are widely accepted in the world we live in, they are not for Jesus. He turns this idea of a “me-first mentality” on its head by saying, “but many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Jesus is telling us that in His Kingdom, the values of this world are reversed. Those who seek attention and recognition here will have none in heaven. Those who humble themselves and serve others here will be great in heaven. 
Today, let’s leave behind our selfish ambitions and prideful spirits. True bravery is giving up our agendas to serve the broken and the hurting. It’s easy to finish first—to win the medals and get the praise. It’s a lot harder to finish the race with humility. We must remember, Jesus measured greatness in terms of service, not position or success. Life is not all about winning the race. It’s about finishing it well.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for being a living example of selfless love. Help me to catch my pride in wanting to be “first.” Teach me to filled with humility and service for others.

Journal: What do you think it means that the first will be last and the last shall be first? How will you humble yourself this week to help someone else?

Dig Deeper: Colossians 3:12, 1 Corinthians 13:4, Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 4:2

 

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Who is the Greatest?

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By: Mycah Hunter

They came to Capernaum. When He was in the house, Jesus asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:33-35

Have you ever disobeyed your parents because you thought they were wrong and you were right? Or maybe you’ve bragged about being the best at something in front of your friends in order to make yourself look better. This is called pride.

In today’s key verse, we get a true glimpse into the behavior and hearts of a few disciples. You may have thought that Jesus’ disciples were always perfect. However, Scripture shows us that, at times, they were both proud and self-seeking as they argued over which one of them was the greatest. They, too, struggled with pride.

Pride can make you stubborn, even when you know you’re wrong. It can keep you from saying you’re sorry, obeying authority, or even trying new things. Pride puts YOU at the center of your life, instead of putting your hope and trust in God.

Jesus explains to the disciples that if they want to be first, they must be last, and be a servant to all. He’s teaching them that the opposite of pride is humility, or to be humble.

The way you can be humble is by admitting when you’re wrong, respecting the needs of others, and giving all the glory to God. To be humble means to live your life like Jesus did. He was the perfect example of humility as He came to earth and died on the cross to save us from our sins—the true servant of all.

Prayer: Lord, you said, “He who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). Help me to see when I am being prideful and forgive me for the times my pride has caused me to turn away from You. Open my eyes to the blessings of humility so I may live confidently in Your promises.

Journal: How has pride stopped you from admitting you were wrong, respecting the needs of others, or trusting in God? How can you be more humble?

Dig Deeper: Psalm 139:23-24, 1 Peter 5:6-7, Philippians 2:8-11

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Secret Weapon

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By: Joani Ross

Then Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke openly about this. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But after turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.” Mark 8:31-33

How do you take hard news from friends? Are you sympathetic, or do you want to jump in and fix things for them? Peter was definitely in the “fix-it-change-it” mode when Jesus told them about His impending suffering, rejection, and death.

Jesus’ response, “Get behind me, Satan” seems pretty harsh at first glance. But this was serious business to Jesus.

Peter’s intentions weren’t evil. He loved Jesus, and he didn’t want Him to suffer and die. But this wasn’t God’s plan and Jesus knew it. Jesus recognized the devil’s tricks and wasn’t going to tolerate anyone stopping His reason for coming to earth—to endure suffering and to die for our sins. Jesus had to call Satan out.

When we feel attacked, we can also utter the words, “Get behind me, Satan.” Just saying these words and praying to Jesus changes my mindset and allows me to see these kinds of attacks for what they are. James 4:7 in The Message says, “let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time.” Give it a try. I’ve got God’s work to do, and so do you.

Prayer: God, the devil is tricky and no one knows this more than Jesus. Thank You that I can call out to You when I am feeling attacked. Help me recognize the devil’s strategies and not be deterred from the work You may be calling me to do. Thank you for sending Jesus to be an example to me.

 Journal: Have you ever felt attacked when you were doing what you thought God wanted you to do? Did it make you want to quit or give up? What strategies have you found help you press on during these times?

Dig Deeper: Matthew 4:10, Ephesians 6:11, James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:8

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To Post or Not to Post

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By: Annie Pajcic

Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then, spitting on his own fingers, he touched the man’s tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Be opened!” Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly! Mark 7:33-35 (NLT)

In our social media craze, we post everything from vacations to haircuts, sore throats to broken bones, surgeries to surprise birthday parties. My question is—why? Do we want the attention? The compassion? The praise? Of course, it is not a bad thing to post your favorite dinner, but we should always be careful of our motives behind each post.

As Jesus was gaining popularity, many were running to Him for healing. Notice the words “Jesus lead him away from the crowd so they could be alone.” It is clear to me that Jesus did not want this miracle posted on Instagram! In fact, we see Jesus telling the people in verse 36 not to tell anyone. He healed this deaf and mute man because this is what God had sent him to do.

When Jesus left the crowds, He opened the man’s ears first then touched his tongue. Why is this significant? We need to hear God’s voice and listen for His direction before we speak—or post.

The next time you are quick to add something to social media, stop and step away from the crowd. Check your motives and ask God to open your ears and eyes. We don’t always have to make sure everyone is watching when we do something spectacular. What we need to do is what God sent us to do—show compassion, serve, and love one another .

Prayer: Lord, teach me not to seek the approval of others—especially when posting on social media. Open my ears and my eyes to hear and see the things only You desire.

Journal: Look at your past five posts. What was your motive behind them? If Jesus stepped away from the crowd to perform a miracle, what can it teach you today about your public actions and your desire to be noticed and applauded?

Dig Deeper: Matthew 6:6, Galatians 1:10, Matthew 6:33

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Soft Hearts, Open Eyes

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By: Elizabeth Peters, Tween Guest Writer (Age 12)

He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately, he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. Mark 6:48-52

The disciples had been following Jesus everywhere and had witnessed Him perform miracle after miracle. He had healed the sick, taught the people with great authority, and even multiplied bread to feed 5,000 people! When Jesus walked on water, His disciples were completely amazed. Why was it that after seeing Jesus perform incredible miracles that His disciples still did not understand the power of Jesus? Scripture says their hearts were hardened. What does this mean?

The word harden actually means dull, or to lose the power of understanding. A heart can be hardened by following the ways of this world instead of following the Word of God. When we tell those little white lies, disobey our parents, cheat on that test at school, or harbor bitterness towards our siblings or friends, our hearts slowly become hardened. And hardened hearts can keep us from recognizing who Jesus is and what He is doing in our lives. If you want to see the awesome miracles Jesus is performing today, ask Him to soften your heart and open your eyes to see Him.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I surrender my life to You. Please soften my heart so I won’t be dulled by the things of this world. Keep my eyes sharp to see you and quick to understand what You are doing in my life. Amen.

Journal: What is hardening your heart today? How can you let Jesus soften your heart? How can you be more sharp to understand His ways?

Dig Deeper: Psalm 139:23-24, Psalm 119:18,  Psalm 119:130, 1 Corinthians 2:12

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Save

Paper Faith

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By: Leah Clancy

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:36 (NIV)

When we read about the incredible miracles Jesus did, it’s easy to think of them as just stories. The people can seem like ancient characters living in foreign lands. The letters, words, verses, and chapters typed out on faded paper can read more like a textbook than God’s living Word. We know the stories in the Bible are true, but it is easy to forget they are real.

In Mark 5, we read about real people who were desperate for help. They hadn’t read about Jesus, but they had heard stories about His miracles. These people believed Jesus was so powerful, that a simple touch from Him was all they needed to be healed.

Jarius had a daughter who was sick and dying. He begged Jesus to touch her so she would be healed. When Jesus saw Jarius’ daughter, He touched His hand to hers and brought her back to life (Mark 5:21-24,35-42)!

The bleeding woman thought that if she could only touch Jesus’ clothes, she would be healed. When she reached out to Him, Jesus immediately felt her touch and healed the woman because of her faith in Him (Mark 5:24-34). Jarius and the bleeding woman experienced the REAL healing touch of Jesus because they were brave enough to believe He was more than a man in a story.

Jesus offers us the same power and love. Jesus is real, and He is here. Jesus is calling us to have more than a paper faith. We can trust Him to reach into our stories and touch us with His healing hand.

Prayer: Thank for Your healing touch. Help me to have a real faith to believe in You—as real as it was for the people in the Bible.

Journal: Why can you believe that Jesus’ power is real for you, too? What are the pieces and parts of your life you would like Jesus to touch and heal?

Dig Deeper: Mark 5:24-34, Mark 5:35-42, Mark 10:16

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