March 18-24 – Mark 12-14
What does it mean for us to discern the times today and to retain hope in the face of so much violence and discouragement? In the midst of the troubles of our world, where is God calling you to deeper prayer, new or renewed action, or to particular changes?
This year for Lent we are encouraging everyone to read through the Gospel of Mark. Each week we will have reading suggestions and questions for you to think about. No quizzes, no tests — you won’t be graded or asked to write an essay! This is for your personal devotional time and spiritual growth.
However, since everyone in our congregation is receiving these study guide questions, you are welcome to share your thoughts with someone in your Life Group, Bible Class or the person in the next pew on Sunday morning. Or share the Lenten Bible study with a friend, neighbor or family member!
Thanks to Stephen Handy, Robert Johnson and Rick Quinn for our study questions!
Week 1, February 18-24
Mark 1 Mark’s gospel appears to want to keep the secrecy of Jesus as the Messiah until the appropriate time. Every time Jesus performs a miracle or makes a claim, Mark tries to keep it quiet. During this Lenten Season, how are you preparing for Jesus Christ to shine through you at the appropriate time?
Mark 2 The observance of Sabbath is a commandment from the Old Testament as a time for rest and reflection. For followers of Jesus Christ, the Sabbath is also considered a spiritual practice. Mark’s gospel tells us that Jesus is the LORD even of the Sabbath. How will you intentionally incorporate the Sabbath as a spiritual practice during this Lenten Season and beyond?
Week 2, February 25-March 3
Mark 3 This chapter begins with the story of a man with a withered hand. What would it look like for you to “stretch out your hand” toward God? How can healing happen for you during the next 5 weeks of the 2018 Lenten season?
In Mark 3:13-19 Jesus makes an “investment” in the lives of 12 people by appointing them as apostles. In whose lives have you invested in the past year? Celebrate this!
Mark 4 Jesus directs us to plant seeds in anticipation of fruitful outcomes. Whom do you see yourself planting seeds for, and what growth do you hope for this year?
Mark 5 As you read Chapter 5, get out a piece of paper and make a list of words you would use to describe the character of Jesus. After you finish, look at your list. Meditate for a few moments on 1) who God is and 2) your commitment to “let your light shine”!
Week 3, March 4-1
Mark 6 This chapter begins with the story of Jesus visiting his hometown, only to face rejection of his authority. When have you recently felt rejected by others? When have you rejected someone’s advice and then regretted it later? Pray a short prayer for patience, knowing that God understands your needs.
In Mark 6:30-44 we hear the miraculous story of the feeding of the five thousand. In addition to helping our brothers and sisters alleviate physical hungers, think of another, invisible hunger that you can help others with. Make a commitment to explore an opportunity to help someone in this way.
Mark 7 The opening of Chapter 7 includes these stirring words: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Can you think of a spiritual goal in your life that you’ve paid “lip service” to, but have yet to put into action? How will you put more “heart” into it next time?
Mark 8 In the second feeding miracle, once again the disciples seem more focused on roadblocks to success instead of trusting in God’s plan. What negative attitudes most often hold you back?
In Mark 8:31-38 Jesus gives his iconic command to “take up your cross and follow me.” Did you promise to “give up” anything for the season of Lent? If so, reflect on your progress and how these words of Jesus might inspire you. If not, think of a sacrifice that you can make between now and Easter that helps renew your focus on what’s truly important in your life right now.
Week 4, March 11-17
This week’s reading starts with two contrasting stories. The first is the Transfiguration story. Transfiguration moments happen in life when, in the journey of discipleship, our stories become one with the story of God’s Kingdom. The second, and contrasting story, is the disciples’ failure to help a young boy afflicted by demons. Each of us as followers of Christ probably has a similar story of experiencing failure or defeat. How has your discipleship been impacted by moments of transfiguration and/or moments of defeat? What is God calling you to in the midst of these experiences?