The last post reflected on Chapter 10, click here for that post. Today we reflect on Chapters 11 thru 13. I use Max Lucado’s Life Lessons* as a study guide.
Lesson Eleven: The Greatest Commandment
Text: Mark Chapter 11 thru 13 (click here for text)
My Personal Thoughts On This Reading:
I found so many things in this reading that I could discuss and study there is no way I could cover it all in today’s blog. Then again, that’s the reality of this. There is no blog, commentary, or study guide that will ever be sufficient enough to read in place of His Word. Therefore, I again recommend reading along in your Bible. His Word will always speak for itself in Truth.
Have Faith in God
Before I try to convey my thoughts, I first want to say I do not believe in prosperity theology. While I admit I haven’t yet read the entire Old & New Testaments, I have read enough to see no indication Jesus ever promised financial blessings if we believe in Him. What I do see repeated through Scripture is His teaching us to Pray, Trust, Ask, and Receive.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11: 24-25 (NIV84)
In Matthew, Christ also taught us about prayer, providing us with what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer”. The thing is, this prayer was meant for us to use. It was the Lord teaching us how to pray. The “your kingdom come, your will be done” is key for me because it’s what I need to remember when I pray.
Sometimes it’s easy to go before God in prayer thinking about my own will instead of His.
I want a promotion – “God help me do well at work today”.
I don’t want to fight with children -”God give me patience with my children today.”
I’m sick and it’s an inconvenience – “God heal me quickly”.
The budget is tight and I want new clothes – “God please send us some financial blessing”.
While I can pray these prayers and God is capable of and may even answer these prayers, am I praying with the mindset of His kingdom coming and His Will being done? If not, am I really praying with a God focused Faith? Do I believe His kingdom is coming and it’s about His will more than my own?
I know in my personal prayer life, there is a profound difference in me when I purposefully center my prayers around His Will instead of my own.
“God, help me do well at whatever work you give me today so it can all be used as an opportunity to point back to You.”
“God, give me patience with my children today, and wisdom, so I can point them in the way they should go and reflect your Gospel and Truth to them.”
“God, give me the endurance and perseverance in this sickness to keep Faith in you and to suffer well.”
“God, show me how you want me to spend my finances. Thank you for everything you are providing and teach me how to live with less so I can trust in your provision more.”
I do believe when our prayers are totally in line with God’s Will and His Purpose, whatever we ask for in Faith we will receive. How blessed we are to have the Holy Spirit living within us, interceding on our behalf, testifying within us to the Truth of Christ Jesus.
I also believe the reason Christ teaches us in Mark to forgive others so that we may be forgiven, is because to refuse forgiveness to someone else puts us in a deadly position of pride. I read recently “When I become bitter or unforgiving toward others, I’m assuming that the sins of others are more serious than my sins against God.” (Feminine Appeal** by Carolyn Mahaney, quoting her husband’s words from his book The Cross-Centered Life***)
When we stand pridefully before God in prayer, it’s like a child who has been disobedient off and on all day, coming before a parent with an attitude of authority and superiority asking for stuff. Even if what they are asking for is good, as a parent, I can tell you that being approached like that would make me look back at the child with my arms crossed and say, “Mister, you better go back to your room and find yourself a new attitude first!”
I believe when we start to humble ourselves in prayer with the help and assistance of the Holy Spirit, we really start to see God moving in us in a transforming way. He grows our Faith, and we grow a deeper understanding of our need for Christ on the cross. We also grow a deeper and more fulfilling understanding of what Jesus meant when He taught us, “Ask and you shall receive.”
The Most Important One
We also read in this section of Mark the Most Important Commandments we have to follow.
The Greatest Commandments of all given to us by Jesus is to love God and to love others.
The key to understanding this is to first ask ourselves, “What is His definition of Love?” I believe sometimes we read this and become convicted we need to love more, yet the type of love we think about is a worldly love taught by the culture. The danger here is we bypass learning what God teaches us about love, therefore, we still are not loving God and others.
One of the most well known passages about Love is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
What we see here I believe is a different kind of love that may not always fall inline with what the culture calls love. Love in this passage is not described as a “feeling”. It does not say “you must like someone and have an emotionally feel-good-feeling about them to love them”.
It does say “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth”. I think when we rejoice in Biblical truth with patience, kindness, and no self-seeking, we are just beginning to understand a Biblical love that is about action, not emotion.
A Biblical love that speaks truth no matter what, and is covered in these other aspects of love instead of our own agendas, our own frustrations, and our own pride.
I also believe Biblical love does not keep silent when we see someone rejoicing in evil. Even though it hurt at the time, I am thankful for those in my life who showed me Godly love by speaking Truth to me when I needed it most. Their humility, patience, and kindness in speaking such truth poured love over me. They loved me in a way that pointed me back to God’s truth and His pure love.
While I believe the Bible has much to teach about love, I will end today’s post with this – The Greatest Commandment is to Love God with Everything we have, and to Love each other, our neighbors, as ourselves. It would make sense to me that we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to help us live this commandment, as well as pray the Holy Spirit would teach us through God’s Word what Love really is.
My Personal Application:
To follow the Lord’s teachings in my own personal prayer life. To ask the Holy Spirit to continue teaching me how to pray, and to continue teaching me how to Love. To seek to forgive others each time I am asking the Father for forgiveness for myself.
I encourage you to read along through the Gospel of Mark.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and how the Lord is using this time in His word to draw you closer to Him.
Let us encourage and uplift one another as we strive to Follow Him.
To follow along this week, read Mark Chapters 14 thru 16.
In Love & Faith,
*Books Referenced in This Blog:
|Life Lessons: The Gospel of Mark|
|Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and MotherBy Carolyn Mahaney
Do you long to grow as a wife and mother? Experience the transforming truths of Titus 2 with Mahaney as your guide! Providing the warm support of a good friend, she helps you become a blessing to your family by encouraging you to practice seven virtues of a godly woman. Foreword by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
|The Cross-Centered LifeBy C.J. Mahaney
Sometimes the most important truths are the easiest to forget. It’s time to get back to the starting point of the Christian life – the cross of Christ. Jesus’ work on your behalf must be the central motivation for your life and faith – the main thing.”Never lay it aside. Never move on,” says C.J. Mahaney, who shows you how to center every day around the cross of Calvary and how to escape the pitfalls of legalism, condemnation, and feelings-driven faith.