Proverbs 1-2 B

Welcome to the proverbs. I’m getting excited to be in this book, because I desperately want to posses wisdom and wear sound instruction like jewelry (1:9).

As I made my way into this familiar introduction, this phrase leaped off the page:

“Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

(1:7b)

I was, yet again, reminded by the foundational need for humility on the path toward wisdom. It’s only been in recent years when I’ve allowed myself a measure of comfortability in being wrong. Maintaining a posture of learning is a key life skill.

Sometimes it can be exhausting. As I continue the steep upward climb of language learning and exploration of this new cultural, historical context, I’d like to find something to fancy myself an expert on. But alas, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know (a bonus non-Biblical proverb).

When it comes to content on social media, it can be easy to roll my eyes at other people and write them off as uneducated. But all of us doing this hasn’t resulted in a ton of productivity. We all need to take a posture of learners, researchers, listeners and remember(-ers?) of the good things our parents taught us when we were little about kindness and compassion. (Hopefully enough of us were taught that).

Join me as we spend the next few weeks in this rich book. Let’s be ready to be wrong, to be challenged, and to grow. Not just surrounding ourselves with what we already know or want to hear. Only a fool stays where they are.

-Bethany

Mark 15-16 B

How lovely that our reading has coincided with Easter weekend! I love this story, but sometimes struggle to see it with fresh eyes.

“A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.)” 

I find this to be such an interesting detail to the story. The recipients of Mark’s letter must’ve been familiar with Simon, if he’s name dropping his parents to give context?

Throughout the Bible, we are offered help from God. Soar on his wings like an eagle, cast your burdens on him, take his easy and light yoke, etc etc. He’s extended his hand to us and offering us freedom from our sins.

Let’s not forget what we’re being invited into. First of all, Jesus’ love and acceptance is available to absolutely anyone, and there is no shame or guilt that should keep you from receiving his grace. He has experienced AND conquered pain, suffering, death, dying, the grave, mourning, grieving, sin, shame, guilt and any other emotion or experience that takes the life out of you.

But Simon lugging the ol’ rugged cross up the hill, reminds me that I am called to get my hands dirty and serve Jesus. Love unlikeable people, give away my money, involve myself in foster care, advocate for ALL people to be loved and so on.

What is something you saw with fresh eyes reading these chapters? What are your thoughts on Simon’s involvement in the crucification? Take a minute and ask God how you can get more involved in his work with mankind.

Happy Easter!

 

-Carly

Mark 13-14 B

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures’.” (14:48-49‬)

As I was reading, this time, I started asking myself, what is with all the drama about Judas’ betrayal? All he did was tell them where to find Jesus, one night, when they were usually very aware of his location. Big deal right? Jesus even calls this out, “why the theatrics? You see me every day.” But then He gives the reason: to fulfill Scripture.

The prophesies concerning the Messiah were not like horoscope predictions: likely or easily fulfilled. They were very specifically unlikely.

This is also evidenced in Peter, who swore he would never deny Jesus–even following Him to the death–but then did so, maybe an hour later.

It takes me back to the purpose of this letter: to ask all the questions and present all the evidence concerning the Christ-hood of Jesus. He had power over sickness and demons. He fulfilled even the most improbable prophesies.

The long awaited Messiah had come and somehow it went down in a both predictable and surprising way. Down to the last moment, falling asleep in the garden, the disciples didn’t seem to get Jesus was about to die, even though He’d been talking about it non-stop.

It is so very relatable to be constantly instructed with the Truth, and then still blink at it, like it’s not sinking in at all.

Is there something the LORD is constantly telling/reminding you? What is keeping those words from sinking in to your heart? Whether it’s about self worth, identity, the importance of forgiveness, the vitality of grace, etc. it’s time to get the message.

Talk to the LORD about it, today, and ask Him to reveal what is in the way of the truth sinking in.

-Bethany

Mark 11-12 B

Deep theology aside, Jesus cursing the fig tree cracks me up. I love it’s placement in Mark, added into the narrative like a sticky note placed at the last minute. Right in-between stories of everyone challenging Jesus’ intentions and power, we see him (finally) losing it a little. On a tree.

It’s wonderfully human of him, really. Hungry, he looks up into the branches of the tree and can’t find any fruit, so with one word, he zaps it and the next day it’s lifeless. Mark notes that in this tree’s defense, figs are not in season quite yet.

This brief commentary I found from the Gospel Coalition gave me a lot to think about; give it a quick read.

Jesus knows what to expect from me. He knows what resources I’ve been given, what season of life I’m in and whether or not I’m capable of bearing fruit.

Notice the season you’re in. We aren’t expected to pump out ‘fruit’ in our lives constantly. Hard seasons come and go; sometimes it’s winter. But if we’re healthy and investing in the Lord, the fruit should naturally bloom.

Don’t miss the context Bethany gave us on the significance of Jesus riding in to Jerusalem early on in these chapters.

 

-Carly

Mark 9-10 B

“They asked Him, saying, ‘Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ And He said to them, ‘Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him.'” (9:12-13)

The Scriptures available to the scribes were full of prophesies about the Messiah; both as triumphant king and suffering servant. He would wear many hats! However, since those two things didn’t seem to make sense together, they ignored the prophesies about suffering. This is how Peter can, in one moment, proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, and in the next moment, rebuke Him for saying He would suffer.

They missed the coming (and going) of the second Elijah (John the Baptist), because he came and went tragically, without fanfare. This doesn’t feel very hopeful. Why are these the fulfillments of prophesies they’ve waited so long to see? Even after Peter is set straight, the disciple’s next conversation is about their prestigious positions in the Kingdom (now that it’s been confirmed: Jesus is the Messiah).

These chapters take place on the way to Jerusalem and it seems all kinds of people are joining the caravan. A rich young ruler wants in, but Jesus tells him following would require giving up his wealth, so the man leaves. A blind man wants to see, and the disciples try to keep him away, but Jesus heals him and he joins the party. What a contrast.

Jesus tells them being great in His kingdom means being a servant. It won’t look like how Gentile Kingdoms are set up, with people of greatness lording over their subjects. It doesn’t seem like these truths sink in, because of all that follows. They’re not going to get it until after the resurrection.

As we sit on this side of the resurrection, knowing full well that our Messiah is King, but also a suffering servant, asking His disciples to take the positions of servant also, how is it we still seek prestigious titles and go to great lengths to avoid pain?

I am very guilty of this. Carly and I often talk about how we are Enneagram 7’s, which are identified as avoiders of all discomfort. Deciding to follow Jesus, naturally, is a draw toward someone who will care for us, kiss our boo-boos and make them all better, lead us into adventure and unpredictable excitement. We rush to the phone and call each other whenever life goes sideways and we face “the dark place”. In those moments, we do our best to remind each other that LIFE ISN’T ALL ABOUT AVOIDING PAIN (but also give each other stellar pep talks). Following Jesus is no exception.

Is there something Jesus is calling you into that you’re avoiding, because you know its going to hurt or be uncomfortable? Are you wanting to be an influencer for the Kingdom, but struggling with the idea of servant-hood? Talk to Him about it today.

-Bethany

Mark 7-8 B

I’ve always laughed at the verse where Jesus sighs heavily and makes a snide remark. “What’s with this people?”

Sometimes I’m like the Pharisees in this verse, and I need a flashy reminder that Jesus is God, All-powerful and Mighty. I want him to do something big and tangible, and I want him to do it right now.

But reading these chapters, I notice Jesus’ very being is miraculous. He’s on these people’s level. He notices when they’re hungry and thinks it’s important to provide a meal.

I like that Mark shares the story of the Gentile woman. Jesus’ words sting when I read them, calling this frantic mother who’s advocating for her child a dog. Over the years, I’ve heard sermons that try to smooth this over. But the analogy Jesus makes really pinpoints the social standings of Gentile women; they were like dogs sniffing around under a table, hoping for a scrap from the rest of society. He calls this out. Like, “according to everyone’s social standings, you don’t deserve me.” And then speaks with her (a cultural no-no) and sends her back to her perfectly healthy child that he’s healed.

The Jesus we find here is compassionate, attainable, sensitive and practical. He wants big things for his people, like a massive change in perception, healing from their illnesses, rescue from spiritual troubles and he wants to send them home with full bellies.

What’s your version of Jesus? Do you ask him for a big, flashy sign to prove himself as God? Do you teach for him, even when society says you don’t deserve him?

Notice your tendencies towards him today.

-Carly

Mark 5-6 B

I can’t help but notice the theme of super natural power. Mark hasn’t focused on Jesus’ message much compared to His actions and authority over unclean spirits and disease.

The same is true in what He passes on to His disciples:

“They went out and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.” (6:12-13‬)

Compared to the book of Matthew, there aren’t a ton of red letters in this gospel. When He does speak, it’s through parables. What was setting Him apart from other rabbis with something to say, was this power and authority.

Unclean spirits couldn’t help but shout. An unclean woman is made clean, just by touching His clothes.

Everywhere He goes, people are lining up their sick, diseased and dying. I’m not sure how much of this I would have wanted to be around for. A trail of stained mats and the lingering smells of the once rotting? No thanks.

However, I think my eyes would have been glued on Him. My ears would be perked. What will this man say? Is there anything He can’t do?

Jesus was an incredible mixture of power and compassion. We often see power used for self promotion and the oppression of others. Instead, He is quietly healing everyone who approaches.

Instead of making any further comments or observations, I think I will invite you to take time and meditate with me on the power of healing; along with the power over demons. What does this say about Jesus?

What are your thoughts?

-Bethany