Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1:35–39, NIV)
Someone once said the greatest single argument in favor of prayer is this: Jesus prayed.
How does the start of Jesus’ day compare to the typical start of your day? In what ways might you make your day more like Jesus’?
What do you sense Simon’s thinking was in trying to find Jesus? What was most important to him? What was most important to Jesus?
How are prayer and “preaching” related? What might you pray to better help you share the message of Jesus with others?
Numbers 16.41-18.32; Mark 16.1-20; Psalm 55.1-23; Proverbs 11.7
Your Bible probably mentions in a note or by using italicized typeface that verses 9-20 of Mark 16 are not in the most reliable of our Bible manuscripts. I think for some, the fact that the women come to the tomb, Jesus is not there, and they leave “trembling and bewildered, and … frightened” just seems like too strange of an ending. Yet, if you have been reading Mark’s gospel closely, it makes perfect sense. In a way, Mark is just identifying the reaction many of us would have had if we found ourselves in these women’s shoes. He also leaves us with an important question: These women ran in fear. What are you going to do?
So let me get this straight. The Lord punishes Israel for grumbling against Moses and Aaron, people are killed over their complaints, and then the very next morning … the people start to complain all over again. What’s wrong with these people?
What does the fact that the women brought spices to anoint Jesus tell us about their understanding of the situation at hand?
“Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you.” (Ps. 55.22) What burdens do you need to give God today?
What is the connection between wickedness and relying on our own strength?
Numbers 15.17-16.40; Mark 15.1-47; Psalm 54.1-7; Proverbs 11.5-6
If you read Mark 15 carefully, you discover there were at least two people who knew Jesus’ true identity. In the midst of the accusations, the mocking, the jeering, two of the most unlikely suspects understand that the man they are witnessing is indeed the Son of God. Which brings the focus on us. Many reading this might claim to follow Jesus, but in the midst of the chaos of this life, do we stop and proclaim: Surely this man is the Son of God?
What things similar to the blue tassels of the Israelites might we use to help remind us of God who rescues us?
How bad would a group of people have to be that they preferred a known murderer to someone who brought life to others, instead of take it away?
In what ways have you been able to say: God is my helper?
What examples can you give of ambitious people who have been trapped by their desires to get ahead?
Numbers 14.1-15.16; Mark 14.53-72; Psalm 53.1-6; Proverbs 11.4
If you were accused of something you did not do, how much effort would you expend to prove you were not guilty? I can’t help but think I would say anything and everything that might help my cause and when people did not listen, I would say it again, only louder. Yet there is something incredibly powerful (truth be told, maybe even speaking louder than all the voices!) of someone accused, yet refusing to defend himself or herself from false accusations. Had you been a bystander during the “trial” of Jesus, how do you think you would have reacted to his silence?
Can you think of a time when you refused to listen to someone trying to persuade you to follow God in the midst of a trial or during a choice you had to make? How did not listening turn out for you?
How maddening would it have been for Jesus to have to sit and listen to the Jewish religious leaders try to find people whose stories would align, all the while seeing them not being able to do so?
If God looked down form heaven today to see if anyone was truly wise and followed him, what response do you think he would give? How does your life support or detract from that response?
Riches versus right living. Which would you prefer?
Numbers 11.24-13.33; Mark 14.22-52; Psalm 52.1-9; Proverbs 11.1-3
If we had been counting from the time God appeared to the Israelites in Egypt to this point in our story, how many miraculous, powerful things do you think we would have seen God do? Just a cursory reading indicates that at every turn, God was with his people. He provided them with everything they needed and rescued them when they needed his power the most. So just why would the Israelites, specifically they 12 spies, suddenly decide God was not powerful enough to defeat the people of Canaan? Are we ever guilty of doing the same thing?
Moses is described as the most humble man that ever walked the face of the earth. Why does God use the most humble people to do the greatest good?
Jesus requests that God use some other way besides the crucifixion to accomplish his purposes. In other words, Jesus was not exactly wild about the suffering he was about to undergo. What does this tell you about his humanity? About the trials and suffering you might face?
Why would someone boast about wrong doings, when they should be repenting?
When have you seen honesty guide good people, or a more modern way of saying this: a time when honesty proved to be the best policy?
Numbers 10.1-11.23; Mark 14.1-21; Psalm 51.1-19; Proverbs 10.31-32
I would like to say it is never the case, but truthfully, it is too often the case. The Lord provides for his people, no, the Lord provides for me, but I quickly forget his blessings, his power, his care for me. And what do I do? Whine about it. Complain about what I do NOT have, ignoring what I DO have. What about you? How do we keep from missing the blessings and whining about it?
Why would anyone ever think that God was not powerful enough to do what he said he would or what he promised to do?
In what ways do we criticize the worship and praise of others, even when it is subtle or perhaps, when we feel it is justified? How do Jesus’ comments to Simon change how you approach your criticism?
Pray Psalm 51 today.
Are your words helpful?
Numbers 8.1-9.23; Mark 13.14-37; Psalm 50.1-23; Proverbs 10.29-30
We should not be surprised when people working to help us live a better, fuller life recommend listing the things for which you are grateful. The simple act of saying “Thanks” results in a myriad of blessings. (If you have practiced the discipline of regular gratitude, you know first hand the importance of this simple act.) God calls upon his people, in the midst of their doing their best to NOT follow him, to give thanks, allowing their thanksgivings to be the sacrifice you bring before God. For what are you thankful today?
What advantages do you think there would be in having God direct your comings and goings via a cloud or some other similar method? Can you think of any disadvantages to this?
Do Jesus’ words about the end times scare you? How can we live with assurance even though we do not know the exact time Christ will return again?
Psalm 50 is set like a courtroom scene, with God coming to accuse his people of their lack of full obedience to him. If God were going to bring you on trial, what sort of things do you think he would say about you?
How has God proven to be a stronghold, an unmoving, consistent force, in your life?