November 29, 2017 Daniel 9,10; Psalm 123; Mark 15:21-47

These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.

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YOU!!!… Carry the Cross!! | Joni Tyner

S~ “A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and the forced him to carry the cross.” Mark 15:21 (NIV)

O~ I’ve been thinking about what this Simon thought about as he was unknowingly pulled into the story of Christ’s crucifixion. The Bible says he was on his way in from the country.  It would appear that he knew nothing of what was going on with Jesus.  He was coming from the opposite direction. It would also appear he was a common man, he was with his children, there is no mention of servants.  I did some internet searching to learn more about Simon from Cyrene. Some believe he was a Jew that lived in Cyrene, coming into Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. I’ve been thinking about what his life looked  like before that day.  Did he love God? Was he a follower of the Law or simply a lost Gentile?  Mostly, I’ve been thinking about who he became after his encounter with Jesus.  It HAD to be life changing to see Jesus like that,  to have the difficult task of physically carrying the cross.  I’m guessing he was walking near Jesus, did he know he was in the presence of God?  I think he did. I thought about all the other nonbelievers in the Bible who encountered Jesus, they had variety of problems and illnesses but their hearts were radically changed by His touch.  People were healed by their faith in Jesus. One woman was healed of bleeding by simply touching Jesus’s robe.  (Mark 5:27)  I couldn’t find definite scripture that said that Simon of Cyrene became a believer, but many commentaries felt he did because of the mention of his two sons by name. This would have been highly unusual for Mark to mention children  by name unless there was a special relationship with them. Some commentaries feel that they became part of the new believers in Acts and were close to Paul, thus it would stand to reason they became believers through this experience.

A~ This is just another example of why I am so enjoying reading the Bible and then following through with journaling.  This scripture came alive, I wanted to know.  What did he think?  What was a like to “help” God in that moment?  I also thought about how often we are be-bopping along in our own life, going our own direction, and out of nowhere, we are forced into circumstances we didn’t choose or really want to be a part of. God is calling us, at that moment, to make the choice to carry His cross. We didn’t choose the situation, but we have the choice to be obedient of what He asks of us.  It will likely be out of our comfort zone, it will probably require sacrifice, (as in pain, questions, …this isn’t fair!!)and it is going to take more than we can do on our own, we will need Him for strength.  I believe Simon was forever changed by a Divine appointment that day—his life would never be the same. Also, it changed the direction of his family and the generations that followed by meeting Jesus.  I think our lives—and the generations that follow us, will be impacted for eternity as we make the choice to take up His cross and follow Him.

P~ Dear Lord, there are so many Divine appointments that you have given me the opportunity to respond to as I have been “passing by”. Give me eyes to see these opportunities as well as a willing heart to respond. I want my life to be forever impacted by encountering You. I’m weak, I don’t like some of the “crosses” I’ve had to carry, but I trust You are doing a work in my life to change me.  Thank you for this scripture about a Divine appointment, it’s so hard to think about the torture You went through for my behalf, I’m forever grateful.

Curtain torn | guest post

S~ And the curtain in the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Mark 15:38 (NLT)

O~ This is all the stuff I’ve heard from sermons or Bible studies, but I think it’s true.  The curtain that was talked about in Mark 15:38 separated the rest of the Temple from the Holiest of Holies – the place where God was at.  The curtain was huge!  The curtain was thick!  This curtain wasn’t like your living room curtains, it was heavy, thick, huge, made to keep people out of that area.

A~ And then the curtain was torn top to bottom when Jesus breathed His last.  The curtain that separated us from God was down.  So now, literally, nothing separates me from God.  But for everyone else too!  God tore that curtain for every.single.human.  Why?  I don’t know.  I can only guess why God tore the curtain.

Because everyone matters to Him.  Everyone!

It reminds me of the woman who followed me out of Walmart last week.  She had a black and blue eye, was from a different county and her eyes had a sad look.  I was in my nursing uniform, so I think that automatically makes me a safe person to talk to.  I was so impressed in my heart to speak to her.  To tell her that she matters.  To tell her that her Creator loves her so much and He has plans for her.

But I didn’t listen to my heart.  😦  I walked to my car and drove off.  She did the same I’m sure.  I missed an opportunity to share how the curtain that separated was now in two pieces.

P~ Father, please watch over that woman from Walmart!  Place people who love You in her path again!  If it’s me, don’t let me miss Your divine appointment again, please!  Thank You for the physical tearing of the curtain that separated us from You!  I LOVE YOU!  I pray all this in Jesus’ Name!  Amen!

To Follow Jesus | Kelley Deases

S~ In Galilee, these women had followed him [Jesus] and cared for his needs.  Mark 15:41a (NIV)

O~ As I was reading (for the hundredth time, it seems) the agonizing account of the events leading up to and including Jesus’ brutal execution on a cross at the hands of evil men, I paused over this part toward the end.  Mark’s gospel mentions a few women by name and others as well who bore witness to this horrific drama as it happened before their eyes.  Scripture records these women were followers of Jesus who cared for His needs.

A~ It struck me how like that following Jesus can be.  As I seek to be about His business, the things I see and come in contact with are often heartbreaking.  Last night, my husband and son and I delivered a meal to a hospital room where my friend’s 5-year-old nephew has been residing for some time now.  The boy’s parents are trying their best to juggle the care of their very sick little boy, the care of two other children besides, and jobs and finances and emotions and life.  I had never met this family before yesterday, but my heart just ached for the journey they are on.  But that’s how it is when you go where God is leading — it’s usually not to a place of comfort and ease; it’s where people are hurting and His light needs to shine.

P~ Father, You know it is not easy for us as frail humans to go where You would have us to go.  But, just as You did last night in our Divine encounter in a hospital room, bless those difficult steps we are called to take until we would desire to be nowhere else than on Your path.

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