Lenten Bible Study

March 25 Lenten Bible Study:  Mark 4: 1-20 Seeds of Faith

Opening Prayer

Read Mark 4: 1-19

Consider:  what is a parable?

Do you always understand parables?

Do they sometimes make you confused/angry?

PG Woodhouse writes that a parable keeps something up its sleeve which suddenly pops up and knocks you flat.

My New Testament professor, Lloyd Gaston taught that parables had a twist that makes you sit up and take notice and could even make you angry.

Luke 15: 1-7

 1-3 By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.

4-7 “Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

What jumps out at you?

  • Persistence of the shepherd?
  • How much the shepherd would risk to find the sheep?
  • The tender care of the shepherd?

Now put the parable in context with the judgment in the preamble:  he eats with sinner/treats them like old friends.

I preached on this passage the Sunday after 9/11

In the context of befriending sinners I looked for what twist might make us angry

The lost sheep are the ones Jesus goes looking for.  Tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes.

Then I asked the question:  What if the lost sheep Jesus is talking about was one of the pilots that deliberately crashed the planes into the Twin Towers?

We need to be willing to understand that Jesus came for all sinners.  Sometimes in difficult times that is a truth that we may not be willing to accept.  Yet it doesn’t change that it is Kingdom Truth.

Answer:  How do we listen for Kingdom Truth in the Scripture and especially the Parables?

How do we listen for unpleasant truths, hear and obey?

Mark 4: 3-9

3-8 “Listen. What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled among the weeds and nothing came of it. Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams.

“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Question:  What does really listening look like?  How can we do it?

 

Consider:  Hearing spiritually is related to the concept of deep listening. Deep listening is the idea that we listen with compassion. We listen to understand and finally we listen with intention, specifically the intention to act. In other words, to open one’s ears is to open one’s heart. In fact, the Greek word eisakouo can be defined as to hear, to heed, or to obey. Just as a teacher may instruct his/her students to listen closely because the material can be on the test; Jesus ends the parable by telling the crowd to listen not only to understand, but also to act on the teaching, to obey, and in this particular case, to participate in the manifestation of God’s kingdom on the earth.  Jennifer Kaluund, working preacher

What are you listening for when Jesus talks about the see that is scattered?

Parables are used by Jesus to teach.  Through them he invites the listeners to discover new insights and discoveries.

Parable:  parabola in Greek… means to toss near or put aside

If I toss something near to you what do you have to do?

Stretch or reach for it.

Think about teaching a baby to crawl.  You put their favorite toy just out of reach.

Do you do that to be mean?  No.  You do that to encourage the baby to develop new skills….crawling.

So Jesus tossing the seeds of the word by us, or putting them just out of reach of us for a reason….

So that we will stretch our faith.

Mark 4: 10-13

10-12 When they were off by themselves, those who were close to him, along with the Twelve, asked about the stories. He told them, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom—you know how it works. But to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight. These are people—

Whose eyes are open but don’t see a thing,
Whose ears are open but don’t understand a word,
Who avoid making an about-face and getting forgiven.”

13 He continued, “Do you see how this story works? All my stories work this way.

Does any part of this passage make you sit up and take notice?  Make you angry?

These are difficult verses.  Is Jesus saying he deliberately hides the meaning of God’s word from people?  Or stating a reality of what happens in the hearts of listeners until they are ready to hear?

What in these verses makes you stretch to have an understanding in faith?

Can you see how this parable is an open-ended invitation to:

  • Enter the story
  • Gain new insights
  • To see things in a new perspective

How are you being invited to place yourself in the story and explore what it means to live faithfully in God’s world.

Jesus scatters the seed of God’s word and invites us to listen.

In the parable how is the soil invited to listen?

Standard farming practice at that time would be to scatter the seed and then plow to work the seed in.

How does this give you encouragement to sow widely as you share the good news of the kingdom with others?

What are some examples of Jesus sowing the seed widely, regardless of how it is received?

Mark 4: 14-20

14-15 “The farmer plants the Word. Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. No sooner do they hear the Word than Satan snatches away what has been planted in them.

16-17 “And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.

18-19 “The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it.

20 “But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.”

 

What are the barriers in your life that prevented you from hearing the word?

  • Hard soil
  • Rocky soil
  • Thorny soil
  • Deep fertile soil

Do you recall a time when you suddenly realized what you previously did not understand?

Why do you think Jesus took the time to teach the disciples what this parable meant?

Having learned about this parable do you think they were then more likely to know how to listen to other parables?

How does the lesson on how to listen to a parable help you to know how to listen for the twist or startling moment that makes you sit up and say, What?

Does the lesson help you to ask more questions?  Give you a willingness to learn and hear?

Reread Mark 4: 1-20

In this parable what is the secret of the kingdom?

Put your skills to the test:

Choose one of these parables:  lost coin, or prodigal son

In both there is an extravagance.  Explore what that extravagance teaches a about the kingdom of God and God’s mercy?

Closing meditation:

Ponder the words of the hymn:  There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

1 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,

like the wideness of the sea.

There’s a kindness in God’s justice,

which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows

are more felt than up in heaven.

There is no place where earth’s failings

have such kindly judgment given.

2 For the love of God is broader

than the measures of the mind.

And the heart of the Eternal

is most wonderfully kind.

If our love were but more faithful,

we would gladly trust God’s Word,

and our lives reflect thanksgiving

for the goodness of our Lord.

 

 

Mark 3: 7-19  Disciples

Hello everyone.  Here is tonight’s study.  We so appreciate you joining us on line.  Blessings.  Ena

Opening Prayer

Read Mark 3: 7-19

Initial Discussion:  What does it mean to you to be a disciple of Jesus?

In this passage, when did the followers become disciples?

Read:  Mark 1: 16-20

16-18 Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed.

19-20 A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee’s sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed.

 

Discuss:  we read this a few weeks ago.  What does this suggest about when a person becomes a disciple?

Consider:

  • Definition of disciple

1: one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as

A: Christianity : one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ’s followers according to the Gospel accounts  Merriam Webser

Discuss:  did disciples begin and end with the 12 apostles?

  • Desiring God Blog: A disciple of Jesus is a worshiper, a servant, and a witness.

Compare these two definitions.  How do they resonate with your definition of a disciple?

…your sense of calling as a disciple?

Consider from Desiring God Blog

The standard definition of “disciple” (noun) is someone who adheres to the teachings of another. It is a follower or a learner. It refers to someone who takes up the ways of someone else. Applied to Jesus, a disciple is someone who learns from him to live like him — someone who, because of God’s awakening grace, conforms his or her words and ways to the words and ways of Jesus. Or, you might say, as others have put it in the past, disciples of Jesus are themselves “little Christs”

  • What do disciples do?

Learns from Christ to live like Christ

By grace conforms their words and ways to the words/ways of Jesus

What do you think about the definition:  “little Christs”?

How does this further our understanding of being a disciple?

Read:  mark 3:  13-19 He climbed a mountain and invited those he wanted with him. They climbed together. He settled on twelve, and designated them apostles. The plan was that they would be with him, and he would send them out to proclaim the Word and give them authority to banish demons. These are the Twelve:

Simon (Jesus later named him Peter, meaning “Rock”),

James, son of Zebedee,

John, brother of James (Jesus nicknamed the Zebedee brothers Boanerges, meaning “Sons of Thunder”),

Andrew,

Philip,

Bartholomew,

Matthew,

Thomas,

James, son of Alphaeus,

Thaddaeus,

Simon the Canaanite,

Judas Iscariot (who betrayed him).

What was the plan?

Whose power were the disciples using in this ministry?

Any surprises on the list?

Consider:

Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible (Notes)  We know a few of the more famous and infamous disciples, but there are many in this list we know nothing about at all.  In our own discipleship, we may be asked to do some work or to take a stand that gets noticed by others.  But often discipleship consists of faithfulness in the small, even mundane, acts of Christian service, perhaps unnoticed by all except God.

Question:  are there expectations of Disciples, then and now?

Is being a quiet disciple less important than being a well-known disciple?

Judas is on the list of disciples.

Why do you think he was not removed from the list?

 

Read:  Matthew 28:18-20 The Message (MSG)

18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

  • So the tasks of the disciples:
  1. Proclaim the word
  2. Banish demons
  3. Train other disciples
  4. Baptise
  5. Instruct the believers in Christian living (how different from training?)
  6. Trust in Christ’s presence with them

 

Disciple as Servant

Read Mark 10: 35-45

35 James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.”

 

36 “What is it? I’ll see what I can do.”

 

37 “Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.”

 

38 Jesus said, “You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptized in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?”

 

39-40 “Sure,” they said. “Why not?”

 

Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.”

 

41-45 When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

Consider:  what should the aspirations of a disciple be?

What does it mean to be a servant.

Sing Maranatha, Make me a servant  (Use the link, or just sing if you know it)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6U8O_WnPZY

Make me a servant Humble and meek

Lord let me lift up Those who are weak

And may the prayer Of my heart always be

Make me a servant Make me a servant

Make me a servant today

Make me a servant Humble and meek

Lord let me lift up Those who are weak

And may the prayer Of my heart always be

Make me a servant Make me a servant

Make me a servant today

Make me a servant Humble and meek

Lord let me lift up Those who are weak

And may the prayer Of my heart always be

Make me a servant Make me a servant

Make me a servant today

And may the prayer of my heart always be

Make me a servant Make me a servant

Make me a servant today

Final Thoughts

Closing Prayer

Please also pray for those affected with Covid 19 and for all government and medical officers at all levels who are scrambling to respond quickly as new information becomes available.

 

 

 

 

Hello everyone:   Here is our second installment:  mark 2: 1-7  Forgiveness.

Bible Study:  March 11, Forgiveness

Gathering Prayer

Read:  Mark 2: 1-17

General Discussion:  what does forgiveness mean to you

  • for·give·ness

noun

  1. the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.

 

Discuss:

 

Who to forgive?

When to forgive?

Why to forgive?
how often?

 

Read Matthew 18:  21-22

21 At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

 

22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

 

Discuss

Are there limits to forgiveness?

 

How doesour willingness to forgive again and again connect us with the will of Christ?

 

Read:  Mark 2: 1-5

After a few days, Jesus returned to Capernaum, and word got around that he was back home. A crowd gathered, jamming the entrance so no one could get in or out. He was teaching the Word. They brought a paraplegic to him, carried by four men. When they weren’t able to get in because of the crowd, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher. Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said to the paraplegic, “Son, I forgive your sins.”

Who?  When?  Why?

Those who seek healing
when they come to you
because of their faith

But no one asked to be forgiven—does that matter

Did forgiveness make his complete healing more likely?

When people don’t feel forgiven can this be a barrier to them feeling whole, or having faith?

What do you think is the freeing effect of forgiveness?

But does everyone feel the same way about everybody deserving forgiveness?

Read:  mark 2:  6- 12

6-7 Some religion scholars sitting there started whispering among themselves, “He can’t talk that way! That’s blasphemy! God and only God can forgive sins.”

 

8-12 Jesus knew right away what they were thinking, and said, “Why are you so skeptical? Which is simpler: to say to the paraplegic, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or say, ‘Get up, take your stretcher, and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both . . .” (he looked now at the paraplegic), “Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home.” And the man did it—got up, grabbed his stretcher, and walked out, with everyone there watching him. They rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”

Discuss:

What are the attitudes of the Pharisees about Jesus announcing forgiveness?

Did they have another attitude following the healing?

How do we feel when someone we don’t feel deserves forgiveness is given grace?

A shorter prison term for a child abuser?

Or a person who robbed a senior of their life savings?

Or a person who drove drunk and killed someone in an accident?

Are there some sins that are worse than others?  Who gets to decide?

What is the difference between forgiveness and cheap grace where everything is forgiven.

Do we forgive the unrepentant?

Do we forgive them to set ourselves free from the anger/betrayal we feel?

  • Quote:

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.  Mark Twain

What does this quote say about us when we live a forgiving life-style?

Read Mark 2:  13- 17

13-14 Then Jesus went again to walk alongside the lake. Again a crowd came to him, and he taught them. Strolling along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, “Come along with me.” He came.

 

15-16 Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?”

 

17 Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.”

Contrast the Pharisee’s attitude toward tax collectors and “sinners” with Jesus’ attitude

How does Jesus act like a “doctor” for each of these two men?

How is sin like illness, especially leprosy and paralysis?

Jesus came announcing the kingdom and proclaiming forgiveness.
who was the forgiveness for?

What change would need to take place in the Pharisees before they could hear Jesus call?

The Pharisees objected to what Jesus did.  What objections might people have today when we talk about forgiving others?

Quote:

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Discuss:

What does this quote suggest about our ability to see ourselves honestly?

How does this make it possible for us to see others differently?

Increase our capacity to forgive?

 

Read:  Matthew 6:9-13

9 Therefore, this is how you should pray:

 

‘Our Father in heaven,

may your name be kept holy.

10 May your kingdom come.

May your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread,

12 and forgive us our sins,[a]

as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.[b]

13 And never bring us into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.’[c]

 

Discuss:

How is prayer and forgiveness linked?

What does it mean to forgive others like God has forgiven us?

How is forgiveness God’s will for each of us?

 

  • Quote:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Discuss

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” -John 8:12

When we forgive how does this bring light into our lives?

Healing?

Wholeness?

Apart from the forgiving grace of Jesus, we live in darkness. We have limited capacity to understand who we are or what we see in the world.

 

Final Thoughts
How do we live as forgiven people?

Believe our own forgiveness
Extend forgiveness to others

Closing Prayer

 

Hi all:  This week we began our Lenten Study based on the Gospel of Mark.   Here it is:

Lenten Bible Study

Opening Prayer:

Read:   Mark 1: 1-20  Repentance

Think about important people, events and places in your spiritual development.  How have they shaped you and how you tell the story of Jesus?

Read Mark: 1-3  1-3 The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Watch closely: I’m sending my preacher ahead of you;
He’ll make the road smooth for you.
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!

 

Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus, tracing his heritage through some of the most noteworthy men of the history of God and his people as revealed by God in his Word.

Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Boaz, David, Solomon, kings, prophets, priests.  But Matthew also notes the questionable women and relationships in the family tree:  Tamar,(incest) Rahab (a harlot) and Ruth (a foreigner/refugee) Bathsheba (Uriah’s wife that David stole) an emphasis on both the worthiness and unworthiness of Jesus ancestry…all of them redeemed and deemed acceptable by God.

Luke begins with prophecies about the birth of John and Jesus.  He is tying the birth of both into the long history of God’s promises to his people, promises now fulfilled in these two births and intends it to be an orderly account, some would say almost clinical reflecting that he is a doctor.

John’s Gospel begins with a poetic account of Jesus coming into the world as the word of God to illuminate the darkness in which we live.

But Mark has urgency.  Mark begins was a breathless declaration it starts here—a messenger to prepare the way, and not just any messenger, a wild-man shouting in the desert.  One commentator this message called it a big block of ice, dropped into the deep end of the pool… the impact of this startling good news arcs in all directions.  By verse 5 we are all drenched—and standing face to face with the wildest person in the New Testament>John the Baptist.

What does the first verse reveal about Mark’s own view of the events he is about to describe?

Its new

It is starting

There is preparation that is necessary

It is rooted in God’s promises of a pathway to salvation

More importantly Mark considers this to be good news.

Really, good news?

Those promises are specifically rooted in the particular prophecies of Malachi and Isaiah

Read:  Malachi 3: 1-4

Malachi 3 “Look! I’m sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Leader you’ve been looking for will enter his Temple—yes, the Messenger of the Covenant, the one you’ve been waiting for. Look! He’s on his way!” A Message from the mouth of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

2-4 But who will be able to stand up to that coming? Who can survive his appearance?

He’ll be like white-hot fire from the smelter’s furnace. He’ll be like the strongest lye soap at the laundry. He’ll take his place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes. He’ll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver, until they’re fit for God, fit to present offerings of righteousness. Then, and only then, will Judah and Jerusalem be fit and pleasing to God, as they used to be in the years long ago.

When Mark uses this passage as part of his declaration that the good news starts with John, preaching and baptising.   what is he saying about John?

God’s messenger who clears the way for God

John’s emphasis on repentance as the preparation to meet God

That listening to John will be good for us.

What does John ask of us?  Repent!  Repent and believe the good news!

What does repentance mean to you?

Read Wikepedia:  definition of repentance

Repentance is the activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs, which is accompanied by commitment to change for the better.[1] In modern times, it is generally seen as involving a commitment to personal change and the resolve to live a more responsible and humane life. In other words, being sorry for one’s misdeeds. But it can also involve sorrow over a specific sin or series of sins that an individual feels he or she has committed. … In religious contexts, it often involves an act of confession to God or to a spiritual elder (such as a monk or priest). This confession might include an admission of guilt, a promise or intent not to repeat the offense, an attempt to make restitution for the wrong, or in some way reverse the harmful effects of the wrong where possible.

Discuss

  • Metanoia

Literally, it is a Greek word meaning “change of mind”. Yet the full meaning is somewhat more. In the New Testament, the word metanoia is often translated as “repentance”. But this kind of repentance is not about regret or guilt or shame; it implies making a decision to turn around, to face a new direction.

We commonly think of repentance as a turning around, changing our lives.  It can include saying we are sorry, making amends, seeking forgiveness.  Things we think we can do on our own power… but the repentance that is necessary for preparing to meet God sounds, painful.

But U Turn as a metaphor for repentance has limitations.  When driving and lost we can make a U turn and go back to the place where we turned the wrong way and recorrect.  In life, we can turn the direction of our lives around, but it is not always possible to go back to where you went wrong and start again.  In that case repentance relies on forgivenss to clean the slate, forgiveness from God and forgiveness from ourselves for the decisions we made in the past that we regret, but which in some cases will affect our whole lives.

So what do the prophets say forgiveness from God looks like?

AfIt is an encounter with white hot fire
strong lye soap
being scrubbed clean
having all our impurities removed
being made fit for God

Yikes!

Read Isaiah 40: 3-5

Thunder in the desert!
“Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road straight and smooth,
a highway fit for our God.
Fill in the valleys,
level off the hills,
Smooth out the ruts,
clear out the rocks.
Then God’s bright glory will shine
and everyone will see it.
Yes. Just as God has said.”

Is this a gentler view of repentance?

When we think about the mountain roads we travel, what is entailed?

Blasting rock
bulldozing and carting away the rubble
grading the ground and scraping away the high spots
covering it with hot asphalt and rolling with heavy machinery until it is flat

Even in the day that Mark was writing, creating that road required back-breaking work, all done by humans with no mechanical assistance

There is no mistaking it:  repentance is hard work

As with all difficult things in the Kingdom, we are grateful we don’t have to do this in our own power.

So we have John in the desert, shouting at us to repent and believe the good news.

Something is being asked of us

When we hear John, a response is demanded from us.

Read:  Mark 1:  4-8

4-6 John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.

7-8 As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”

Discuss

Note:  this response is the beginning of our discipleship

What does discipleship mean to you?

Reading scripture, praying, loving others, worshipping etc.

Consider this:

The With God Life

The Bible is all about human life “with God” and how God has made this “with God” life possible and will bring it to pass.  The name Immanuel, meaning “God with us” is the title given to the one and only Redeemer, because it refers to God’s everlasting intent for human life—namely that we should be in every aspect a dwelling place for God.

What do we need to do to become a dwelling place for God?

When you moved into your home it was an empty space.

How did you turn it into your home?

Furniture, family photos, favorite paintings etc.

So repentance that prepares us to be a dwelling place for God involves turning around, confessing, changing our ways etc, but also:  means an emptying of ourselves so that God can move in and put his mark on us, inwardly as well as outwardly.

Discuss

Read Mark 1: 9-11

9-11 At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”

12-13 At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.

14-15 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”

What steps did Jesus take to empty himself before God?

Baptism/ testing/ obedience/ submission/ teaching about the kingdom of God

Teaching others how to be a part of building the kingdom of God

Are you beginning to see that Mark had a sense of urgency, now this, then this and immediately that.  Building God’s church is important and there is no time to reflect on details, this is “get’er done time”

Read Mark 1: 16-20

16-18 Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed.

19-20 A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee’s sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed.

 

When we repent and become an empty vessel for God, what are the next steps?

Don’t ask questions go where God asks

Immediately leave your family and your security and go with Jesus

Read Luke 9: 57-62

57 On the road someone asked if he could go along. “I’ll go with you, wherever,” he said.

58 Jesus was curt: “Are you ready to rough it? We’re not staying in the best inns, you know.”

Jesus said to another, “Follow me.”

59 He said, “Certainly, but first excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have to make arrangements for my father’s funeral.”

60 Jesus refused. “First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent: Announce God’s kingdom!”

61 Then another said, “I’m ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home.”

62 Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.”

 

Discuss

It’s no wonder repentance is such hard work and a painful process, it is the preparation for living the with God life of discipleship

 

Final thoughts

Closing prayer