Matthew 22, Luke 22, Mark 1

Hello friends! It’s been lovely sitting in this Tennessee traffic with all of you. I decided this was a perfect time to share my blog. So the reading is over Matthew 22, Luke 22, and Mark 1, but I am going to be focusing mainly on a few verses in Matthew 22 and Luke 22. In Matthew 22, a Pharisee asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, and Jesus replied in Matthew 22:37-39:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.”

In Luke 22, Jesus’ disciples were arguing about who would be considered the greatest among them. Jesus replied in Luke 22:27 saying,

“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”

These two passages really stuck out to me because they are basically what Jesus’ mission on earth was: to love and serve others. And since this was the mission of Jesus, it should be our mission as well. In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love God and then to love others. I feel like we all know this verse and have heard it numerous times, but it can be hard to do this a lot of times. Loving God and others with everything we have can be difficult because we are too concerned with ourselves. We need to shift our focus on God rather than ourselves. My prayer for myself this summer is to have a love like Jesus does; a messy, unconditional, and extravagant love. I want to be so in love with God and his people. And that’s what Jesus tells us to do in these verses, and that’s what he did while he was on earth.

Jesus then talks about serving in Luke 22:27. He says to his disciples that a person at a table is greater than the person who is serving, but he is among them as someone who serves. By saying this, Jesus is showing the importance of serving. In the world’s eyes, a person would be considered greater if they were being served, but Jesus says that it is greater to be the one who is serving. If Jesus, the son of God, came to earth and served others rather than was served, we should eagerly do the same. If we truly want others to come to know Jesus, we should be representations of Jesus, and in order to that we need to love and serve others. My prayer for us this summer is that we learn to love more like Jesus loves, and to seek out opportunities to serve others!

Love all of you

Katie McCormick

1 John chapters 1-3:10

So 1 john chapter one talks a lot about walking in light and dark. It compares walking in the light to following Jesus and walking in the dark to living a life of sin. Chapter one talks about how even though you may believe in Jesus you have to actually walk in the light or your belief is for nothing. This is very convicting because it is easy to just say you believe in Jesus and not do anything about it because following Jesus can be one of the hardest things to do. Walking in the light is ultimately more rewarding and that is why Jesus wishes it upon us. Chapter one also mentions fellowship with one another when walking in the light. Fellowship is so important in maintaining a walk in the light. We need others to pick us up when we fall and hold us accountable. They will help you grow and walk in the light exponentially more than by yourself. I truly believe one cannot fully walk in the light without fellowship with others, as stated in 1 john chapter one.

Chapter 2 talks about several issues. The first one that stood out to me was if one says they know God but does not obey his commands is a liar. One cannot know God and then turn and do the opposite of what is commanded. This is living a double life and a life not of truth. It is true that none of us are perfect but if we claim to know Jesus then we must do our best to live as Jesus did. There is a difference in claiming we know Him and willingly not obeying the law and claiming we know Him and trying to obey the law but falling short on occasion.
The second issue that stood out to me in chapter 2 was when the text talks about hating brothers. It states that if one claims to live in the light but hates his brother is surrounded by darkness. This means that if we love Jesus but hate someone, we cannot follow Jesus to the full. Jesus commanded us to love our brothers and sisters always and by not doing this we would not be following Jesus.
The final issue in chapter 2 that stood out was the Do Not Love the World section. Chapter 2 explains how if we love the world, the love of the father will not be in us. Loving the things of the world will never last, the sinful desires will fade and this is why they are not righteous things to love. If we love God and do the will of him, this will last and last forever.

The take home message from these chapters is follow Jesus with our lives because that is the best life he intended and the only way we should consider ourselves Christians is to do this. Thanks for reading!

Dog Puke and Foolishness By: Alyssa Schenkel

So I bet you are thinking, “What in the world does dog vomit have to do with the bible?” Well we will get into that shortly. But first lets look at how one can truly get into heaven as proclaimed by the scriptures! 

Lets be real here, everyone wants a set of guidelines that we can use to get skim by with and still make it into heaven. Well thats not the way it works my friends. In 2nd Peter 1:5-8 it states that a person has to build things off one another such as; goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. “For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2nd Peter 1:10-11). This is not something that is an easy task, but it can be achievable! You know what else, this is the kind of person that most people want to hang around with, rather than someone just trying to do the bare minimum.  

Nothing grinds my gears more that when someone is claiming to be someone that they are not or giving false knowledge to others. Im sure we all have someone or a group of people that come into mind when thinking about this. In this chapter of the Bible it is clear that God is not a fan of this either. “For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell… to be held for judgement” (2nd Peter 2:4) This what God will do to the false teachers out there. Its interesting how false teachers promise freedom but yet they themselves are slaves of disparity. For people are slaves to whatever has mastered them (2nd Peter 2:19). Which reminds me of a verse from a Kenny Chesney song “Its always your favorite sins that do you in.” This leads us to the dog vomit. 2nd Peter 2:22 is referencing the Proverb 26:11, “So as a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their follies.” Dont be that Dog! Stay away from those sins as well as false teachers. For it is better to run from the worldly corruption than to know the ways of the righteousness and do nothing about it. 

The day of the Lord is kind of a frightening thing for people to talk about. As in 2nd Peter 3 it is saying that fire will reign down and destroy heaven and earth and a new heaven will come about. With this in mind, knowing that the day will come unexpectedly how should we live? “Live holy and godly lives” (2nd Peter 3:11). We need to make sure that we are at peace with God and live a life for Him. But since we know about the end we should be on guard and not get wrapped up in this earthly life, rather the fact that some day you can be having a party with God!  2nd Peter 3:18 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever! Amen.” AMEN! 

Hope that was short and sweet enough for you all!! Have a great day rest of your day! 

-Alyssa

1 Peter 3:8-5:14 ~ Tara Hagan

So fellow Obterns, this is our last week  of the internship. For us, the end of the internship marks the end of summer and the return of school. During the summer its relatively easy to keep Christ at the center of our lives because we are constantly surrounded by people who love Jesus and are pushing us forward in our relationship with him. Many of us don’t have those type of people at the school we are returning to. Life gets busy, homework and tests pile up, and friends and fellow students can tempt us to forget what we have experienced and learned this summer while putting Christ first. But I have good news…. Peter has a few things to say about this!!

1 Peter was written by Peter (no shocker there). And when we first start off today’s reading he starts talking about how we should live in harmony, and be sympathetic, compassionate, loving and humble. I don’t know about you guys, but for me I often fall short in several of these categories. It can be easy to just think “thats easy for you to say Peter! You were one of the first apostles, you were one of Jesus’ closest friends, you were one of the leaders of the first Church. You may be all those things Peter, but I am not!” But lets remember some of the things we read about Peter earlier in the summer…

  • He cut a man’s ear off who was just trying to do his job and follow orders (John 18:10)
  • While walking on water, he took his eyes off Jesus when he saw the wind and the waves and started to drown (Matthew 14:29-30)
  • He swore to Jesus that he would never betray him but then when a young girl spotted him, he denied ever knowing Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75).

I don’t know about you guys, but this doesn’t sound like the Peter we are reading about in today’s reading. We also read back in Acts 5 that after Peter was being persecuted for preaching the good news, that he went away rejoicing because he was counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. This sounds completely different from the Peter that denied knowing Jesus and shrank away from a young girl who recognized him. So… what happened? What changed in Peter to make him humble, compassionate, loving, sympathetic, living in harmony with others, and bold and courageous enough to stand up against severe persecution? Jesus rose from the dead! There is huge power in the resurrection of Jesus! It changes everything! And the greatest news of all… that power is living inside of you and me and Peter! Shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, we received the Holy Spirit. I may be weak, but your Spirit’s strong in me! 

Chapter 4 is mainly about persecution that the Jewish Christians living in exile from Jerusalem that Peter was writing to were experiencing. They had been kicked out of their families, their churches, and their homes. People around them were getting arrested or executed for saying that they believed Jesus was God’s son. They probably knew that things weren’t going to be easy for them and that things may end badly.

Lucky for us, we live in a country where we are allowed to exercise our beliefs how we choose. However, THIS DOES NOT MEAN WE ARE FREE FROM PERSECUTION! Many of you know first hand that following Jesus is not always easy. Many of our family and friends are intensely opposed to our beliefs and our lifestyle. Peter is warning us to be ready! Trial and hardships will come while following Jesus. But their is an important promise for us to remember… God has sent his spirit to strengthen and sustain us! 

One final thought before I go. In chapter 5 verse 7 Peter says “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” You may go through difficult times. There have even been deaths and illnesses of family members for some of us this summer. Some of you are dreading going back to school because you know that the pressures to conform to the typical college student lifestyle will immediately start to hit you. You’re friends may think you’re weird or throw accusations at you for standing up for what you believe or not wanting to go back to old partying ways. Persecution and trials will come. But you were not meant to carry these things alone! Cast your anxieties on him! In verse 8 it says that the devil prowls around like a lion looking for prey to snatch away. Lions hunt and kill the weak, sick, or young animals that are straggling along behind the herd alone. Lions don’t usually attack the ones that are huddled together. We may feel Satan’s work the most when we are alone, not in community with other believers. It is easiest to be snatched away when we are not in community with others. Wherever you are going to school this semester, find a community to share your struggles and burdens with and cast your anxieties on Him.

I love you all and I am so incredibly blessed to have all you amazing people!

Tara

James 1-3:12 – Taylor Hassell

What’s up my beautiful people?! Time for Blog #2 from cha boi Taylor Cash.

So, the book of James was written by James to all Christ followers around the world as a “guide” of how to live as a Christian. Chapter 1 addresses faith. James tells us that in times of trouble, we shouldn’t feel scared or discouraged or down, but feel joy! We should see these hard times not in a negative light, but look at them as an opportunity to grow our faith! When we learn to hold on to Jesus in times of trouble or sadness, our faith is able to grow more and ultimately make us more complete. This first section of James really hit home for me personally. I know that we are all in different seasons of life, but just as we talked about at BigStuf, God promises us trouble. Life is full of peaks and valleys, and everyone will be in a valley at one time or another. This first section of Chapter 1 really offered me some encouragement to know that it’s okay to not be okay, and to use tough times not as an excuse to feel sorry for myself, but as a catapult to launch myself towards God and grow my faith more than I ever have before.

Another cool part of Chapter 1 is verse 5, where James encourages us to ask God for wisdom, and reassures us that God will provide us with wisdom without looking down on us or criticizing us for needing it.

One final thing in the first chapter that I highlighted was verses 19-25. This section reminds us first about listening. I know for me, whether I am trying to help someone in a time of need or I’m in an argument or a debate, I always feel like I have to say something or have an answer. Verse 19 reminds us to be quick to listen and SLOW to speak. That is definitely something that I need to remember for myself. The rest of this section ultimately just reminds us that intention means nothing without action, and listening to God’s word without applying it or living by it is useless.

Chapter 2 is a more generic chapter that reminds us to love people as God loved us, and to love your enemies the same way you love your friends. It also reminds us how important faith is, and gives examples of how showing faith always yields big rewards from God.

I was only assigned the first 12 verses of Chapter 3, but boy is this section a big one for me. This is about controlling your tongue. I am really really bad about cussing, and it bothers me that I am not better about controlling my word choice. This section addresses cursing, but more than just that, it talks about being conscious of everything you say. Chapter 3 starts by talking about how powerful and dangerous the tongue is. It gives two really cool examples about how small things (like our tongues) ultimately control huge things. One example is the way a bit in a horse’s mouth controls which way it walks, and another example talks about how a small rudder dictates the direction of a gigantic ship. I think those are very good, very real examples that can help illustrate how powerful our tongue is. It goes on to describe the tongue as fire, as James tells us that it can spread evil throughout our entire body. Ultimately, what God is telling us through these 12 verses is that it is wrong to let nastiness and praise come out of the same mouth. We shouldn’t talk bad about people or say awful things with the same mouth we praise The Lord with. This final section was definitely something that I personally needed to hear, and helps offer encouragement to continue to try to manage and ultimately tame my tongue.

Thanks for reading my blog today, guys! Make it a great day today and don’t forget to be hounding your kids to be at The Edge on Sunday! It’s gonna be killer! I love each and every one of you guys and I am so so thankful to have all of you as a part of my amazing community! You guys are great!

Cash, out!

Hebrews 11-13

I found one main constant in these final chapters of Hebrews: faith. What is faith? Why do we need faith? What does faith do for us? Why does God desire us to have such a strong faith in Him? #letsgo

Faith: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (11:1)

I feel like a lot of the times, life can’t be counted on. The world is often times a shady place and it’s unreliable. Our faith in our parents are not always there. Our faith in our government is sometimes scary. Our faith in the education systems are lacking. Our faith in ourselves to stand up for what is right gets a little touchy. Faith. It’s quite a challenge. It’s trusting something when you are not totally sure of the outcome but believing that it will work out for your good. Chapter 11 is all about ancients from the Old Testament completely relying on the Lord to provide freedom and justice. “This is what the ancients were commended for.” Commended means to deserve attention or praise. The people in the O. T were praised for their faith in our Lord. Even when they were put into times of hardship, manual labor (oh Noah), extreme wandering (Where ya going Mos?!), or even to be led through a massive wave, people still held onto one thing: Faith in God. They were not sure of how things would end or even the road the Lord would put them on but still, they trusting Him to pave the way which led to righteousness in His eyes.

But wait. “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” So they didn’t receive God’s full promise? Not yet. God had bigger and better things in store for them: Jesus and his death and Resurrection which would lead to eternal life. If your faith is being tested right now, and it looks like God isn’t answering prayers or solving your problems, or finishing his promise – just wait. Patiently and prayerfully wait. It just means He’s not finished yet.

NOW COMES MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE PASSAGE. ARE YOU READY? (Go read it for yourselves, I’m going to paraphrase. For those of you who don’t know what that means: I’m going to summarize it in my own words. It’s August. I’m a teacher. My mind is preparing.)

And so because we have read about all these incredible people from the Old Testament, and we have seen their faith in all kinds of different seasons, we should be THROWING off everything that makes us sin. Bad relationships, sexual television shows, porn, our social media, buffets:), parties, addictive stimulants, ect. It wraps our minds up in everything negative and against the will of Jesus. So THROW IT AWAY. And let us run, not leisurely walk, or even jog at that matter, ( God spits out the lukewarm believers), the path that Jesus has for our lives. Not with unsteady feet, but with ready and willing feet that are pumped to run that path. Not looking at anything but Jesus, who died for us and perfected our eternity. Without him, we would be nothing and would still be trying to cover our sins up with dead animals. We need to be running to him with our eyes solely fixed on the prize of Jesus because of what he did. He walked himself to the cross. He willingly laid down and did not try to take his hands or feet away while crazy, hateful men torn into his skin. He did this, knowing that in just a few days, he would be sitting at the right hand of God, perfectly renewed and in all of his glory. Because of this reason, we should not grow weary, get tired, loose the flame, and feel defeated. Because of the wondrous rescue mission Jesus did for us, we need to be running.

Whew.

We can do this, knowing in full faith that “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” He did not leave me when I was in complete rebellion against Him. He did not forsake me when I was hurting and in despair. He isn’t unaware of your trials right not, and if you’re in waiting, keep praising. He’s coming. If you find strength and comfort in worship, listen to this song. It’s all about HAVING to believe when things are not going right and HAVING to praise when time and time again, you mess up. Look to the Mountain of Zion (Jesus) – Hebrews 12: 18-28. This mountain is no longer something we should be afraid of or even not allowed to enter. This mountain is fully aware of your sin yet loves you even more.

 

Hebrews 8-10 by Kelsey!

Hey guys, thanks for reading my blog! I’m just gonna go ahead and jump right in. Okay, so first of all, I don’t know about all of you but for me Hebrews isn’t necessarily the easiest book to read. It’s easy for me to get lost in the deeper theological issues and in the “technicalities” of the covenant and symbols of the Old Testament vs. the New. BUT, when I take a step back, I realize that one truth rings true throughout this entire book and that is Jesus is greater! The author gives us example after example of how ridiculously greater and enough Jesus is. I know for myself that when my walk with Jesus isn’t right and I find myself placing things, people, myself, anything above God, my initial reaction is to try and belittle or “bring down” these things and although I think that is important to do and a great step, we shouldn’t stop there! Not only do we need to put into perspective how irrelevant most of these things are, but we also need to get God out of our stupid little box we most likely put him in and build Him up! Reflect on His greatness, His holiness, His mightiness! Hebrews 9:12 says “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” Because the law required that “nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” and “How much more then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God” How much greater was this sacrifice? This new promise was and is so much better than the old! He died once and for all! Gone are the ways of multiple sacrifices that were only temporary and here is a perfect, loving, awesome God who can now fully cover us and our sins! I don’t know about you guys but for me, growing up in church it’s pretty easy to just “accept” what Jesus did for us on the cross and become a little numb to it. These chapters help me to slow down and reflect and start to grasp a little more how utterly amazing and incredible and loving and selfless and perfect and superior the cross was! Like c’mon guys this is what it’s all about! Just take a second and stop and think…our God really rocks!

And the good news doesn’t stop there! These chapters remind us that through this sacrifice we have been made holy!

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more”

“so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people”

“And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”

“because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy”

“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more”

Just like Tom mentioned tonight our sins are separated as far from us as the east is from the west. Let’s stop focusing on what we did to separate us and focus on what He did to redeem us and bring us home! We are a new creation because of this amazing act of unfailing love. This new promise that surpassed the old, insufficient one presents us as holy and blameless to God. We need to start viewing ourselves as God sees us instead of how the world sees us. Let’s not belittle what Jesus did for us by holding on to past regrets and instead focus on Him. Get rid of these lies the world is constantly throwing at us and focus on this truth, right here, that God loves us so much He did what we could never do on our own to win us back!

We can do this y’all!

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” –Hebrews 10:23