Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Olivet Discourse

Sunday, our SS lesson was on Mark 13. This chapter in Mark is known as The Olivet Discourse because Jesus was on the Mt. of Olives. I have been in church all my life, and I cannot remember ever having heard that term. Where have I been, I wonder??? Oh well...

Karen Farah taught the lesson, which offered several challenges; the main one being about The Tribulation. There are different opinions in "the church" whether we as Christians will have to experience the tribulation or whether we will be raptured out before it starts. Some believe, we will experience the first 3 1/2 years but will be taken out before the really bad stuff happens.

Chapter 13 is broken into six sections. It's quite the reading material. Here are the headings:
* Jesus Predicts the Destruction of the Temple
* The Signs of the Times and the End of the Age
* The Great Tribulation
* The Coming of the Son of Man
* The Parable of the Fig Tree
* No One Knows the Day or Hour

Karen was good to not disclose her opinion on what she thought about the Tribulation for us Christians. She challenged us to get in our Bibles, read commentaries, do a Google search, etc. and find out for ourselves what God's word says and ask God to show us what the truth is. We have no way of knowing what God's plans are completely on the matter but we should always be in God's word searching for ourselves and not sitting by, listening to what everyone else is saying without measuring it up to God's word and knowing what we believe. That should always be the case. Do some research...what does the Bible say about it? It's not always black and white but ask God to give you understanding and to show you what is true so you'll know what to process and what to throw out when you hear other's opinions.

Jesus gave three warnings: Take heed so you are not deceived (13:5 & 23); Do not quit (13:9); Watch and pray (13:33).

So what DO YOU believe about the Tribulation: Pre, Mid or Post? Be prepared to explain why when you decide. You can read Mark 13 HERE at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. Deuteronomy 7:9 NLT

Can I just say WOW?!!!! When I saw this verse last week on Bible Gateway as Verse of the Day, it jumped off the page at me and was so full, I thought. So I will break it down - briefly - so you'll know what I thought was so awesome. Here we go...

* The Lord your God: He is MY God. He loves me. He sent His son to die for me. He's preparing a place for me in heaven. He provides for me. He cares for me. He watches me. I could go on and on but HE IS MY GOD!! I am very thankful.

* Your God is indeed God: It's true. I worship the one true, living God. He's been God since before the beginning of time, and He will always be.

* He is the faithful God: God is always faithful. He never lets me down. I may not always understand His ways because His ways are not my ways but He's never gone back on His word. The Bible is full of His promises and He has kept every single one of them.

* He keeps His covenant for a thousand generations: I just said He's never lied but He will always keep His covenant...for a thousand generations? Longer than I can count, for sure.

* Lavishes His unfailing love on those who love Him: I am very loved. I remember after I'd been divorced many years ago, I knew God would help me through it but I also remember thinking "Lord, I hope it's soon." I did get through it and saw Him work in my life in amazing ways. Over. And over. And over. I've been happily married and blessed to have Terry in my life for over 10 years. Oh yeah! God is good to me, even though I am very undeserving.

* On those who love Him and obey His commandments: Some people only want to talk about God being a loving God and He is. His love is unconditional, no matter what I've done. His love is available but His forgiveness is not automatic. There is a stipulation. We have to love Him and obey His commandments as the verse says. My mother told me recently about a lady she knows who says she doesn't believe God will send her teenage grandchildren to hell. I'm sorry but she obviously has not read the Bible because His word is clear. There is life eternal in heaven if you've trusted Jesus as your savior and asked Him to forgive your sins. There is also life eternal in hell because you've rejected Him and not accepted His gift of love and forgiveness.

Life eternal in heaven is for everyone but not everyone accepts. The choice is our's. What decision are you going with? The decision to give God control of your life or the decision to keep control? Oh, my friend...give God control. Let Him come into your life. Life will have hope, purpose and contentment. It is so worth it, and I am so grateful for His love.

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Monday, March 14, 2011


Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:23-29 NKJV

Jesus and his three have just come down off the mountain after Jesus' transfiguration to find his other disciples unable to cast out a demon. Earlier in chapter 6 we see that Jesus had given them the power to do so and sent them out two-by-two. So what's the problem? Why couldn't they do it? Jesus gave them the answer in vs. 29. They had failed to prepare spiritually. They had not prayed or fasted. Jesus said there was no way to cast out that kind of demon without it.

They had done battle with Satan and had failed to accomplish what was needed because they could not tap into the power Jesus had given them. We are just like them. Literally every day we do battle with Satan. He is always out to get us, to make us fail, to get us distracted by life, to get us off track from accomplishing what God wants us to do. We go in and out of every day without spending time with God, without praying and without even fasting, if that's how he leads.

What are we thinking? Don't we know without God, we can do nothing. We have no power. Our abilitly to accomplish anything for God only comes from a special touch from him, and that only comes from spending time in his presense. Just sayin'...

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Sunday, March 13, 2011


Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.” So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “My rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road. Mark 10:46-52 (NLT)

Are you easy to give up or do you keep on going until you get what you want? Are you a push over or are you pushy?

Bartimaeus was not going to give up. He had a problem and knew Jesus was close. He was blind. Unless someone was going to help him get to where Jesus was, he had one chance, and this was it. Not being able to see, he wasn't sure exactly where Jesus was. All he knew to do was start yelling as loud as he could. He was getting on their nerves but was not going to give up. He just yelled louder. Result? Because of his faith, he was healed...immediately.

We say we have faith. We know we can hope. But do we really believe? Do we really trust God enough? We need to be like Bartimaeus. Keep yelling OR keep asking God. I'm trusting God to heal little Luke Akerstrom. Brandi and Magnus did not ask for this. Luke was a picture of health with a promising future. I am trusting God to do something BIG. When they have exhausted all there is to be done in the medial field and there seems to be no hope, I am asking God to do a miracle. Brandi and Magnus have been faithful and continue to give God the glory. God will continue to receive the glory! Keep the faith, Brandi and Magnus.

Read about Luke's story HERE.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011


Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)

I don't know how to share the gospel. What if they ask me something I don't know? I'll get embarrassed. I don't want to offend anyone. They don't want to hear that.

We can really come up with the excuses, can't we? I think my favorite excuse maker in the Bible is Moses. He said he wasn't a good speaker. God didn't really agree with him but he did give into Moses' request and allowed Aaron to go with him when he would see Pharoah.

I can understand Moses' reservation. With his background and connection to Pharoah and the fact that the entire nation of Israel was in slavery, it was a mighty big task to go before him and demand he let them go. Of course, I'm processing that with my very limited human way of thinking, mind you. Had Moses been doing it on his own, and I'm not talking about Aaron, the task would have been insurmountable, for sure. But Moses carried it out. God is always able.

So! 1 Peter 3:15 says we should always be ready. Always be ready to explain our hope. As Christians we certainly have reason to hope. Actually, because of what Christ did on the cross,we have more than hope. We have a guarantee because Christ defeated death. If we worship Christ as Lord, the guarantee is ours. Why wouldn't we be ready to share what Christ did for us? Why wouldn't we? Really!

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Thursday, March 10, 2011


Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them. Mark 9:2-8 NLT

The disciples have seen a great deal from Jesus and have heard him teach. They had followed him at his request. We see times of great faith and belief and a few verses later, we see ignorance and lack of understanding. Jesus often would choose his specail three to go with him. They saw and heard things the other disciples were not privy to. God must have thought they needed some reassurance. While on the mountain top there is a huge change in Jesus' outward appearance. We see in just a moment that it's a result of being in the presence of God. He acknowleges and confirms Jesus is who he said he is.

Note to self...I'm a believer. I trust Jesus with my eternity. I've received Him in my heart. He changed my life. Because He gave me the Holy Spirit to help me live out this Christian life, I have also been in the presence of God. They are part of each other. Just like Jesus, shouldn't there be an outward change as a result of what happened inside my heart?

If people around us cannot see evidence of a change in our lives, there is something greatly wrong with our experience. We need to be telling people about how our lives were changed but most importantly our lives should show evidence of the great change that happened inside. Just sayin'...

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.” Mark 8:27-29 NLT

Jesus asked the disciples who people were saying He was. There were a couple different opinions but Jesus went on to ask who THEY said he was. Jesus was really interested in the opinion of his disciples. Afterall, he'd been pouring his life into them. They'd seen him heal the sick, cast out demons and perform all kinds of miracles. They'd heard him teach. They'd had private conversations with him where he would explain his parables. Peter quickly responds and declares his faith in Jesus. "You are the Messiah (the one we've been waiting for)." Matt. 16:16 records his declaration a bit differently, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Just as there were different opinions about Jesus then, there are just as many varying opinions about Jesus today. BUT there is only one right answer, and Peter gave it. Jesus is THE Christ, the Son of the living God.

So who DO you say Jesus is? More importantly, what does your life say about who Jesus is? Talk is cheap. How you live your life, the choices you make, your priorities - that really speaks about who you say Jesus is. Just sayin'...

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Then Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people. And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits...So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil." Mark 6:6b-7, 12-13

We've been studying the book of Mark in our Sunday School class. We often take familiar verses for granted but each week I've taught there has been at least one thing that spoke to me specifically. I'll be writing about some of those.

In the verses above what was so special about these men, his chosen disciples? Nothing really. Think about the men mentioned in the Bible...fishermen, tent makers. What was special about Moses? He said he couldn't speak well but God used him to free the Israelites from Egypt. What was special about Noah? He'd never seen rain. Didn't know what God was talking about but he built the ark, just as God had instructed and saved his family to be the next generation after the flood. What was special about Joseph or David? They were nothing but shepherd boys. One was hated by his brothers but used to save his people when there was a famine. One became a king and was guilty of adultery and murder but was said to be "a man after God's own heart."

The only thing I can figure was special about these men AND the disciples was their willingness to be obedient to God's instructions. As soon as Jesus called the disciples, they obeyed. They immediately left and followed.

Is there anything special about you? If you're like me you would say "for sure NO!!" But God wants to use you and me...just ordinary people. One thing that is most definite is when God calls you, He will equip you with everything needed to accomplish His task.'s perfectly fine to be "just" ordinary. God likes it that way. Just sayin'...