Mark 1 – SOAKing the Bible

  
I recently read Mark as a part of my year read through the entire Bible, though I did not pause to SOAK it like we are now. As I expected, there were so many verses I could have chosen to write about–I was a bit overwhelmed after Job where I often struggled to connect to even 1 verse in each chapter. The one I chose this read through Mark 1 is verse 35 because I am on a mission to be more Christlike. In this first chapter we see the importance of prayer/Bible time as Jesus started His day in prayer. We should all strive to be like Christ, praying, loving, serving, caring for others. We are some people’s only glimpse of Christ and while we cannot ever be perfect, we have a responsibility to others to help them see Christ so they will recognize their need for Him and want to be His. If we want to be successful fishers of men (verse 17), we have to be like Christ. Plus, our time in the word transforms us. I can personally attest to this based on my experiences in the last year in my walk with Jesus.

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Mark – Starts March 7th!

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I’m so excited for this! After Job, I’m ready for some Jesus! Are you in an online group? Do you want to start one? I’d be happy to help you get started. Ideally groups are no more than 25 people. You read 1 chapter a day Monday-Friday using the SOAK method.

SOAK stands for:
S-Scripture (pick a verse or 2 from the chapter that stood out to you).
O-Observation (what is happening in this section).
A-Application (how does this verse apply to you right now, why do you connect with it, any other thoughts).
K-Kneeling in prayer (write a prayer that can relate or not).

This is a simple method of digging deeper and all you need is access to a Bible and paper or a journal. If you want to see examples from Job, go on Instagram and search the hashtag ‪#‎GoodMorningGirls‬. You don’t have to have a group, but it makes it more fun and meaningful.

The greatest injustice in the world is how we treat God

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The beginning of the BSF lecture on Monday night was a list of the greatest injustices in the world. I just googled it myself and here is one list of the top 10:

1. Poverty
2. Starvation
3. Gender inequality
4. Elderly
5. Widows
6. Orphans
7. Racism
8. Abuse
9. Sex-trafficking
10. War & Grief.

The most compelling part of the lecture was the end, when she suggested that, “The greatest injustice in this world is the way we treat God.” Talk about convicting! He created the world, He created us. We must honor Him, thank Him, ask for forgiveness for our sins. So much of the world chooses to ignore Him.

I want to take this even further, though, and say that when we don’t take care of others, we are also disrespecting God. This is what hit closest to home for me personally. When we live selfishly, we are showing injustice to Him. The Bible is clear that we are to care for those who cannot take care of them. How much more could I do? A lot.

See:
Deuteronomy 15:11
Matthew 5:42
Matthew 25:35-40
Luke 12:33-34
John 15:12
James 1:17
Acts 20:35-38
Romans 15:1
The list could go on and on…

We are selfish, we must change. I want to do more for others. I’m saving money right now, dialing down debt, and when that’s done, I cannot wait to use God’s money to help others. If we all did a little–I’m not just taking financially–if EVERYONE did a little, we could take care of everyone on the list above and at the very least stop the injustice we show to God. So for now, I’m praying for God’s wisdoms to show me where He wants my service and my money.

When we add conditions to God’s grace, we undermine God’s glory

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God’s grace is so simple, yet completely unfathomable. Yes, you can make the worst choices in life and Jesus will still welcome you with open arms if you choose Him. You can live an entire life in sin and realize your mistake on your deathbed and still have time to choose Jesus. Is it fair? No! Is it fair that Jesus who was sinless had to die on the cross to reconcile us all to God? No! Jesus died for each and everyone of us knowing that we aren’t perfect and that many of us would not choose Him in the end. He loves us whether we choose Him or not.

I have been asked many times, “do you think Hitler could be in heaven.” I used to say, “There’s no way!”  But I’ve changed my mind. He might be…
Matthew 12:31 says, “And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”
Matthew 20 contains the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Some workers were hired for a fee early in the day, others hired later were offered the same fee. When they all received their payment, the workers hired first grumbled because they felt they should be paid more for working more. Here’s was the owner’s response in Jesus’ parable:
“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’”  Matthew‬ ‭20:13-15‬ ‭
And so it is the same with God. God’s grace is generous beyond anything we can imagine.
As Romans 8:38 says:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”
So, yes, there is a chance Hitler is in heaven despite all the evil he unleashed in this world because if he did repent and choose Jesus in the end, God’s grace would apply to him too. That is perhaps the toughest pill to swallow as a Christian. But that’s how God’s grace works. Nothing about being a Christian is fair except this: God loves us all the same whether we love Him back or not and He offers us all the gift of grace through Jesus Christ no matter our sin.
Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
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Could it be any simpler?
Romans 11:6 says, “And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
So then why do we bother trying to be “good.” Because once we choose Jesus, we are convicted to be better. We are still far from perfect, but we want to emulate Jesus through our actions. We recognize what an amazing, undeserved gift grace is and we want to honor God by being better. BUT, this does not mean we are “better people” than anyone. We are still sinners who recognize how badly we need God’s undeserved grace. #GloryToGod
I do want to add something in anticipation of comments. I do not believe you will find a true believer who blatantly sins for fun and says, “I can do whatever I want because Jesus is my savior. It’s my get out of jail free card.” Perhaps a few exist, but that’s between them and God.

Confession Time

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I have thought a lot about posting this.  I don’t really want to, but I feel that maybe it will help someone.

Last fall, there was a shooting in Oregon where Christians were asked to stand up and were killed for their faith.  It was hard to process, and it brought up some hard questions.  What would I want my children to do?  What would I do?

And here’s the truth: I would have wanted my children to stay seated to save their lives, and I would have done the same with 100% certainty.

But here’s what the Bible says about denying Jesus:

If we endure hardship, we will reign with him.  If we deny him, he will deny us. 2 Timothy 2:12

But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. Matthew 10:33

But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels. Luke 12:9

And who is a liar?  Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ.  Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist. 1 John 2:22

My response was a clear red flag.  These were the wrong answers for someone who truly believed in Jesus and trusted in salvation.  I knew with this realization that I was no where near where I wanted to be with God.   Rather than become despaired, I chose instead to continue to focus on my relationship with Jesus by spending more time with Him.  I was in an in person Bible Study, an online Bible study and my own personal study already though, I only occasionally went to church.

So… What more could I do?  I took opportunities that came my way!  I attended a women’s conference, I tried (and fell in love with) a new church, listened to countless podcasts on faith, participated in an Explore God discussion group, read the Case for Faith, joined another in person Bible study, began listening to worship music outside of church (Air1 anyone?) and faced a phobia that was limiting my world.  Through it all, my mom began to point out some changes in me.  I became a patient person–what?!  I stopped having severe road rage–what?!  I put feet to my faith by flying to Florida despite a flying phobia and relied on God every step of the way–what?!

Let me be clear, I cannot take credit for any of this.  This is all GOD!  This is all about how Jesus can transform if we come to Him willingly and we stay with Him.  I am far from perfect, but I know first hand that Jesus changes us.  The only way to become like Jesus is to study Him and spend time with Him.  I am still a hot mess, my house is a wreck, I sometimes say bad words, I drink wine fairly regularly, I gossip (working on that!!!!) and I somewhat compartmentalize my faith because it is hard to find that balance in public education, but nevertheless, Jesus is making me want different things.  He’s convicting me in ways He didn’t before.  He is changing me.

I realized the other day that my answers to those original questions have changed.  Today, I would want my children to stand up for Jesus.  Today, I would stand up for Him too.  I pray that we are never in that situation, but if ever we are, I pray that we will bravely stand up for Jesus as He stood up for us and died on the cross.

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